Do you have a favorite holiday cookie recipe? Email it to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) by Thursday, December 12th for a chance to win this beautiful Julia Knight Peony Two-Tiered Server with matching plates (value $330).
Be sure to include the good stuff: Where did the recipe come from? Has it been in your family a long time? Is it part of any special holiday traditions?
I’ll select three finalists, bake all three cookies and pick a winner with the help of some friends. The winning recipe will be featured on Once Upon A Chef the week before Christmas.
Note: All types of cookies will be accepted, including bar cookies. Basically, if you can put it on a cookie tray, it counts.
You must be a Once Upon A Chef email subscriber (subscribe here) and resident of the contiguous US to participate. Thanks to all those who enter — I’m looking forward to seeing (and baking) your great recipes — and to Julia Knight for sponsoring this contest!
Kale, a.k.a. the “queen of greens,” is one of the healthiest things you can eat, but it doesn’t always taste great raw. In fact, I once read an article that likened the experience of eating raw kale as feeling like your mouth was being battered by a giant tree. But a good kale salad, prepared properly with the right mix of ingredients, can be a revelation. This version — made with tender baby kale, crispy roasted chickpeas (love!), nutty Parmigiano-Reggiano and a zingy lemon vinaigrette — is just that. It makes a satisfying and healthy lunch all on its own, or a perfect side to jazz up a simple rotisserie chicken for dinner.
This year, I’m having a small family gathering for ten people so I’m trying to keep the menu pretty simple, although it still seems like a ton of food! It’s so hard to cut back, as everyone has their favorite dishes and special requests. The only thing the whole family can agree upon is the Pumpkin Cheesecake — it’s a bit of a project, but quite possibly the best Thanksgiving dessert ever. Thankfully, most of the menu can be made ahead of time, including the soup, salad dressing, cranberry sauce, all the sides and dessert. The only dishes I’ll have to prepare on Thanksgiving day are the turkey, the biscuits and the gravy. Happy Thanksgiving!
Soup, Salad & Bread
Super Simple Butternut Squash Soup
Best Buttermilk Biscuits
Mesclun Salad with Goat Cheese, Maple-Glazed Pecans and Maple Dijon Vinaigrette
Simple 2-Hour Roast Turkey
Fresh Homemade Cranberry Orange Sauce
Roasted Carrots with Thyme
Sweet Potato Pecan Crisp
Roasted Brussels with Balsamic Vinegar & Honey
Challah, Wild Mushroom & Herb Stuffing
Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust, Caramel Sauce and Whipped Cream
And, finally, over the Thanksgiving holiday, I’ll be home with the kids baking our family’s favorite Pumpkin Bread recipe. It’s super easy and so delicious. Watch the video for the step-by-step instructions.
Ever since I started hosting Thanksgiving dinner ten years ago, I have been on a quest to make the perfect Thanksgiving turkey. I’ve brined it, deep fried it, marinated it, injected it, buttered it, dry-rubbed it, butterflied it and stuffed it. I’ve tried Kosher turkeys, organic turkeys, free range turkeys and self-basting turkeys. A few years ago, I even bought an oil-less outdoor propane turkey fryer called “The Big Easy, ” which freed up my oven and actually made a wonderfully crisp-skinned and juicy turkey. (If you want to spend $100 on a large piece of equipment that will likely sit in storage collecting cobwebs 364 days a year, I highly recommend it!)
From all this fussing with turkeys, I’ve come to realize that my turkey will never be perfect. Let’s face it: turkeys, on their own, just aren’t very good. That’s what gravy and cranberry sauce are for. As Mary Risley from Tante Marie’s Cooking School so humorously points out in the video below (which you should definitely watch, especially if you have any turkey-cooking anxiety), “I have never had an outstanding turkey.”
(Viewer discretion advised, as this very funny video contains some foul language)
Short of purchasing a special turkey cooker (this is the one I have), it is near impossible to cook a turkey perfectly: the white meat always cooks before the dark meat is done and the skin on the bottom is never crisp (unless you flip the hot, sputtering bird mid-way through cooking – ummm, no thank you!).
So is it really worth it to go to great lengths – brining in big coolers for days in the garage, risking life and limb deep-frying in the driveway, pre-icing the breast of the turkey so it cooks more slowly (I swear, there’s a very respectable cooking magazine that wants you to do this) – to make that End-All-Be-All turkey?
It’s up to you, but I don’t think so. I’m not interested in babysitting my turkey for three days to get marginally better results at the end.
My advice to you on Thanksgiving is to keep it simple. Make an easy roast turkey (i.e., just put the #&?@#!#% in the oven) along with an over-the-top delicious gravy and some cranberry sauce to go with it. Focus your time and creativity on the side dishes and desserts because that’s what everyone really looks forward to anyway.
Of course, I would not leave you high and dry without a recipe. And, you know me by now, I would not just haphazardly “stick a turkey in the oven.” But, funny enough, my favorite recipe — the 2-Hour Turkey — does just that. Developed by Sunset Test Kitchens for Safeway (I know, but trust me), the 2-Hour Turkey requires no brining or stuffing, fancy seasoning, trussing or injecting. It’s just a plain ol’ turkey seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted in a 475-degree oven until the skin is crispy and brown and the meat is juicy. From all my turkey travails, I can tell you that this simple high-temperature method is the absolute best (and most sensible) way to cook a turkey.
Believe it or not, depending on the size of your bird, the turkey cooks in 1-2 hours. I know it sounds impossible if you’ve been waking up early for the last twenty years to slow cook your turkey but I promise you it works. The turkey is cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees in the oven (not the 175 to 180 degrees most experts recommend) and comes up to just the right temperature while it rests.
Rather than post the recipe here, I am giving you a few links to the Safeway website, where the recipe is very well written with detailed step-by-step photos and a FAQ section that answers every possible question you could ever have about a turkey. Be sure to read through the recipe carefully now so that you have everything you need on Turkey Day — and follow it to a tee (including cleaning your oven beforehand so it doesn’t smoke from the high heat). I also recommend reading through the FAQs so you can anticipate any issues that might arise.
Click here to print the recipe. Click here to see step-by-step photos and read the turkey FAQs. Click here if you’d like to watch a short video to see how it’s prepared. Click here to see how to carve a turkey.
Note that the recipe calls for a certain brand of turkey that Safeway carries; don’t worry about that — any turkey will do. I’ve made the recipe with both a Kosher turkey and Butterball turkey and both came out great. Same goes for the olive oil — any brand will work. Just don’t use butter as it will burn. Also, the recipe does not give quantities for salt and pepper. It’s personal preference but, for my 12-14 pound turkeys, I use about 2 tablespoons of kosher salt and 1-1/2 teaspoons of black pepper.
Finally, keep in mind, while the 2-Hour Turkey might be one of the best, juiciest turkeys you’ve ever made, it will still taste like turkey! Be sure to make my gravy and cranberry orange sauce to go with it.
Click here for my gravy recipe. Click here for my cranberry sauce recipe.
A Few Final Thoughts on Turkey
- Depending on where you buy your turkey, you might be presented with several options like Organic, All Natural, Kosher or Self-Basting. I like Kosher turkeys best but they can be expensive and hard to find. The good news is that it doesn’t matter much which type of bird you buy for this recipe — they all work well! (If you want to read more about the different types of turkeys, click here.)
- Most recipes, including this one, will advise you to save the turkey giblets to make turkey stock and gravy. It’s a good idea but, to be honest, I never bother – there’s too much other cooking to do on Thanksgiving. The drippings from the roasted turkey will give you plenty of flavor for your gravy, and you can use store bought chicken broth for the rest. Keep it simple!
- No matter how you cook your turkey, leave it un-trussed (don’t tie the legs together) – it’s easier and the turkey will cook more evenly. Many turkeys come with a plastic binder that holds the legs together; just cut it off. Or sometimes the skin is pulled around the legs to hold them together; you can cut that off as well.
- Don’t go crazy trying to flavor your turkey with herbs and spices. Salt, pepper and oil the skin and you’re good to go. Anything else is unnecessary and gets overshadowed by the gravy and all the side dishes anyway.
- Don’t worry about basting the bird (you actually can’t in this recipe); it’s not necessary and let’s heat out of the oven, which increases the cooking time.
- Don’t stuff your turkey – it will cook faster and you won’t have to worry about giving your guests salmonella (yikes…that would not be happy turkey day). Plus, your stuffing will be mushy if you cook it inside the bird. Why have soggy stuffing when you can bake it separately in the oven and have it crisp and toasty on top?
This is my favorite gravy and I serve it every year with my Thanksgiving turkey — in fact, it is what makes my Thanksgiving turkey! The recipe is modestly adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Family Style. My only changes were to significantly reduce the salt, increase the broth so it’s not quite so thick and add a sprinkling of fresh herbs which compliments my very simple roast turkey. I usually make it while my turkey rests but if you want to get a head start, you can make it without the turkey drippings (reducing the broth by about a 1/2 cup) and just stir the drippings in when your turkey is done.
Begin by melting the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the onions…
And cook until very soft, about 15 minutes.
Whisk in the flour and cook for a few minutes to get rid of the raw flour taste.
Then whisk in your turkey drippings/chicken broth and Cognac.
Cook for about 5 minutes until thickened…
Then stir in the heavy cream and fresh herbs.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remember, the gravy should be generously seasoned because turkey is very bland. Always taste it with a piece of meat to be sure the seasoning is right. That’s all there is to it…Enjoy!
1-1/2 cupsfinely chopped yellow onions (from 2 small onions)
1/4 cupall purpose flour
Defatted turkey drippings plus chicken broth to make 2-1/2 cups
1 tablespoonCognac or Brandy
1 tablespoonheavy cream
1 tablespoonchopped fresh herbs (such as thyme, sage, rosemary or parsley)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook until very soft and translucent, about 15 minutes.
Whisk in the flour and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Whisk in the turkey drippings/chicken broth and Cognac and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes until thickened. Stir in the cream and fresh herbs and season to taste with salt and pepper (I usually add about 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, but it depends how salty your broth is.) Transfer gravy to bowl or gravy boat and serve.
If you make the gravy ahead of time, it may thicken up; you can thin it to the desired consistency with water or chicken broth.
1(12 oz) bag fresh or frozen cranberries (do not use dried)
Zest of one orange, about 2 teaspoons
Bring orange juice, water and sugar to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Add cranberries, orange zest and salt and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and boil gently for about 10 minutes, until most of cranberries have burst open.
Transfer sauce to a serving bowl. Cover and chill until ready to serve.
Rich and buttery in flavor with a fluffy interior and toasty golden crust, these are the best biscuits to ever come out of my oven. I tested countless biscuit recipes in my quest to perfect them — much to my family’s delight! The recipe is based on Pastry Chef Amanda Clarke’s version, which incorporates a few secret ingredients and a special technique that creates layers in the dough, making the biscuits tender and perfect every time. The best part is that they’re easy to make: you can throw the dough together in ten minutes and enjoy them with your meal less than fifteen minutes later.
Four years ago, I started Once Upon a Chef as a way to return to the culinary world after leaving the restaurant business to start a family. I still remember the excitement of seeing my first few subscriptions roll in, even if they were my own relatives! Today, thanks to you all sharing my site with your friends and families, my subscriber list has grown to almost 25,000 readers. I am so grateful for your continued support!
I’m also grateful for your steady feedback over the years. Your emails always brighten my day, and your suggestions on how I can improve the site are greatly appreciated. To that end, I’d like to take this opportunity to fill you in on a few changes I’m making to Once Upon a Chef that I hope you’ll enjoy.
First, I’m getting ready to launch a new newsletter. Each week, I’ll continue to provide a new featured recipe but will also add complete menus to make weekly meal planning easier for you. In addition, I’ll include seasonal recipe round-ups, cooking tips, awesome giveaways and more. The first edition should arrive in your inbox later this week!
(FACEBOOK FANS: you can subscribe to receive the newsletter here)
I will also be introducing cooking videos. This is a big step for me personally because up until recently, the thought of “lights, camera, action” was about as appealing as jumping out of airplanes! But I did it, and it was actually fun. If you’d like a sneak peek, check out the link below to see a video of my Black Bean Salad with Corn, Red Peppers, Avocado with Lime Cilantro Vinaigrette. This is my most popular recipe by a mile — it has been pinned over 700,000 times on Pinterest!
Rustic desserts that pair soft, tart fruit with buttery-crisp toppings are one of my favorite things to bake: they’re easy to throw together, completely foolproof, and always warm and comforting. Recipes abound but this one, modestly adapted from an old Bon Appétit magazine, is a stand-out thanks to the combination of sweet D’Anjou pears and tart dried cherries, which are plumped up in an orange-scented caramel syrup before baking. Served warm out of the oven with a crunchy walnut streusel topping, it’s the perfect dessert for a chilly night.
The dinner recipes that I get the most excited to share are the ones that appeal to my kids as much as they appeal to me. (And let’s face it: that’s not frequently the case!) This gourmet twist on chicken tenders is one of them. The chicken is breaded in a mixture of pecans and panko, then pan-fried until crispy and golden and served with a creamy whole grain honey mustard sauce. Since the pecans are finely chopped, even kids who think they don’t like nuts will try them, ask for seconds, and even sneak thirds when you’re not looking (you know who you are!).
The glaze is the star of this easy and elegant salmon dish. It’s tangy and sweet like any good Asian-style glaze, but the addition of whole grain mustard takes it over the top. The little mustard seeds “pop” in your mouth, releasing bits of intense, sharp mustard flavor when you bite into them. GET THE RECIPE
Even kids who are not adventurous eaters love this dish of sautéed chicken breasts simmered in an aromatic and slightly sweet curry sauce. The best part is that you can have it on the table in 30 minutes, and the cooking method ensures that the chicken comes out reliably tender every time. GET THE RECIPE
Time for another great giveaway, thanks to Anolon Gourmet Cookware! Enter for a chance to win this 12-piece Anolon Tri-Ply Stainless Steel professional quality set, valued at $400, which includes:
1.5 Qt. Covered Saucepan
2 Qt. Covered Saucepan
3.5 Qt. Covered Saucepot
8 Qt. Covered Stockpot
8.5″ French Skillet
10.25″ French Skillet
4 Qt. Covered Sauté Pan
For a chance to win, simply review any recipe on the site between now and midnight on November 15th. You may review up to five recipes for five separate entries. Please leave constructive reviews that will help other cooks. For example: Was the dish perfect as is or would you alter the recipe next time? Did you make any substitutions? What other dishes did you serve it with?
The winner will be chosen randomly and notified via email. You must be a resident of the contiguous U.S. and Once Upon a Chef email subscriber to participate. Click here to subscribe.
Please review recipes on the individual recipe pages!
The glaze is the star of this easy and elegant salmon dish. It’s tangy and sweet like any good Asian-style glaze, but the addition of whole grain mustard takes it over the top. The little mustard seeds glisten in the sauce and “pop” in your mouth, releasing bits of intense, sharp mustard flavor when you bite into them.
This has got to be the easiest butternut squash soup recipe ever. You start with pre-cut squash from the supermarket, then you basically throw everything in a pot, simmer it, purée it and you’re done. But just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s not delicious. I promise you that it’s everything you expect a classic butternut squash soup to be: silky, slightly sweet and full of flavor. Just don’t be tempted to omit the heavy cream — it’s the only fat in the whole soup and, without it, the recipe won’t work.
I’ve been searching for the perfect apple muffin recipe to share with you ever since I started this blog. Honestly, there’s no telling how many dozens of apple muffins I’ve baked. Finally, I found a fantastic recipe on the King Arthur Flour website and, with a few tiny tweaks, I had the perfect recipe I’d been looking for. So, what makes these apple muffins so good? For starters, they’re made partially with whole wheat flour, which gives them a wonderfully wholesome flavor and texture. They’re also chockfull of apples, scented with warm autumn spices and finished with an irresistible crunchy brown sugar topping.
This wonderful recipe was passed on to me by my dear friend, Kelly Santoro. She found it in the Costco magazine, of all places, but the recipe originally comes from food writer Alice Currah of the blog and book, Savory Sweet Life. The dish is a crowd pleaser for all ages. It’s the sauce. My 10-year-old son, upon taking a second helping of the broccoli I served alongside, answered my surprised look with, “Mom, this sauce would make anything taste good.” I have to agree: I was tempted to forget the chicken entirely and just have the sauce as soup!
As much as I love fall produce — thoughts of Honeycrisp apples, winter squash and sweet potatoes are already dancing around my mind — I’m not quite ready yet. So here’s one last hurrah for summer veggies: a side dish of crisp zucchini, burst cherry tomatoes and meltingly sweet red onions sautéed in olive oil. If it sounds basic, it is, but it’s one of those dishes where the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts. Pair it with grilled salmon and some orzo doused with lemon and olive oil for a light and easy weeknight meal.
1/2English cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and finely diced
1 cupplain low-fat or whole milk Greek yogurt (do not use non-fat)
2 tablespoonsfresh lemon juice, from one lemon
1 tablespoonchopped fresh dill
1/4 teaspoonKosher salt
1/4 teaspoonfreshly ground black pepper
For the Meatballs
Preheat the grill to medium-high heat (about 500 degrees).
Mix together the egg, garlic, cumin, allspice, cilantro, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add the ground beef and panko and mix with your hands until well combined.
Using a 1/3 cup measure, form 8 disc-shaped meatballs. (They will dome slightly on the grill, forming nicely rounded meatballs.)
Lightly dip a wad of paper towels in vegetable oil and, using tongs, carefully rub over the grates several times until glossy and coated. Grill the meatballs, covered, for about 4 minutes per side, or until they are nicely browned on the exterior and no longer pink in the center. Transfer the meatballs to a serving plate and let rest for 3 minutes. Serve with the yogurt sauce and couscous, if desired.
For the Yogurt Sauce
Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
I have a quirky habit of perusing the Internet in search of gently used cookbooks to add to my collection. I always find great buys — beautifully photographed books that have barely been opened — and it’s such a treat when they arrive on my doorstep, full of inspiration. It’s the little things, right? ;) One of my recent finds is Curtis Stone’s What’s for Dinner? I’m slowly cooking my way through the book and this recipe is one of my favorites. Ground beef is laced with warm spices, fresh herbs and garlic, and then grilled in meatball form until smoky and charred. Served over couscous with a cooling yogurt-cucumber sauce, it’s a quick and easy meal that’s big on flavor.
Delicious to eat and fun to make, rugelach (pronounced rug-a-lah) are miniature crescent-rolled pastries posing as cookies. They’re made by rolling a triangle of dough around a sweet filling of fruit, nuts, chocolate or pretty much anything your heart desires. If you’ve never had them or made them from scratch, definitely roll up your sleeves and give this classic walnut-raisin version a try. They’re easier than they look and vastly better than store bought. I’ll be honest: they do take some time to make as the dough needs to be refrigerated for a few hours and rolled out, but I promise you it’s worth it. Fresh out of the oven, they’re buttery, crisp and flaky, with a sweet cinnamon scent that will tempt you to eat the entire batch.
I just got back from a family adventure in Costa Rica, where we rafted through the jungle, came face-to-face with monkeys, sloths and toucans, zip-lined over the rainforest (okay, I didn’t do that but my kids and husband did!) and — best of all — ate lots of delicious Costa Rican food. From homemade corn tortillas to rice and beans to empanadas, we tried so many native dishes that I can’t wait to recreate at home and share with you. First up, this creamy black bean dip. Admittedly, it’s not going to win a beauty contest, but it’s so flavorful, healthy and easy to make, you won’t care.
These comforting breakfast treats are like a cross between scones and oatmeal cookies: buttery and tender on the inside, crisp and craggy on the outside, and chockfull of oats, pecans and currants. The recipe is the first I tried from Joanne Chang’s wonderful cookbook, Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Bakery & Cafe, and it was love at first bite.
In this easy recipe, shrimp are quickly marinated in a bright and tangy mixture of olive oil, tomato paste, lemon, garlic, and herbs and then grilled until plump and slightly charred. They’re perfect for entertaining — either as an appetizer or main course — because all of the prep is done ahead of time. All you have to do when your guests arrive is throw the skewers on the grill. But be forewarned: people will eat more than their fair share. Make extra!
Pistou, Provence’s version of pesto, is traditionally made with olive oil, garlic and basil but this ingenious version also incorporates zucchini. The recipe comes from renowned chef, Thomas Keller — whose famed restaurants include The French Laundry, Per Se, Ad Hoc and Bouchon — and was featured in last month’s Food & Wine. The first time I made it, I was blown away by how impressively simple and delicious it was. I’ve since made it many times and can attest that it is fantastic on pasta, simply baked or grilled fish, toasted bread, scrambled eggs, or even on its own (yes, it’s that good that you’ll just want to eat it with a spoon).
This recipe was inspired by a chilled tomato soup I had at a restaurant recently that tasted brighter, sweeter and more intensely of tomatoes than any other tomato soup I’d ever tried. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was in it, so I asked the waiter and he told me the secret ingredient was orange juice. Brilliant! The orange juice highlighted the sweetness of the tomatoes and livened up the taste of the soup without calling any attention to itself. Now that you know, you’ll taste it but ask anyone to guess what’s in it and they’ll have no idea — they’ll just love it.
This Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread makes the perfect afternoon snack whenever you’re in need of a chocolate fix. It has a deep chocolate flavor from unsweetened cocoa powder and bittersweet chocolate chips, yet it’s not so sweet that it tastes like dessert. It’s also loaded with zucchini, so there’s some virtue in it.
This recipe was inspired by the popular Thai Crunch Salad served at California Pizza Kitchen. It’s made with crisp Napa cabbage, crunchy vegetables and edamame but it’s the creamy peanut dressing — flavored with ginger, garlic, lime and honey — that makes it so good. I guarantee you’ll want to put it on everything! You can serve this salad as a light lunch or pair it with grilled chicken for a more substantial meal. It’s excellent with last week’s Honey, Lime & Sriracha Chicken Skewers.
These chicken skewers marinated in honey, lime juice and Sriracha are every bit as good as they look. And, if you’ve never tried Sriracha — the Asian hot sauce named after the coastal city of Si Racha in Thailand — this is the perfect recipe to taste just how delicious it is.
Thanks to my growing readership — and to you all for helping to spread the word — I’ve been lucky enough to get published in several publications. Since it’s a holiday week, I thought it’d be fun to share some links to my articles and summer recipe round-ups.
Banana Pudding is an old-fashioned Southern dessert traditionally made with layers of Nilla wafers, vanilla pudding and sliced bananas. Depending on who’s making it, it’s either topped with baked meringue, sweetened whipped cream or cookies. I’ve tried every variation and many different recipes, and this version beats them all. It’s a little more gourmet than most, and bucks tradition a bit, but still tastes wonderfully nostalgic and delicious.
I love Moroccan food, especially the blending of savory and sweet, which is the idea behind this delicious salad. Made with couscous, scallions, fresh herbs, crunchy almonds and a tangy-sweet apricot vinaigrette, it’s the perfect side dish for summer. By that I mean it’s wonderfully light, takes mere minutes to make, travels well to a picnic or BBQ, and can be served warm or room temperature. I recommend serving it with my Grilled Moroccan Chickenbut it would be good with just about any chicken or lamb dish.
A specialty of Argentina, chimichurri is a tangy, zesty condiment traditionally served with grilled meats. Emerald in color and packed with loads of fresh herbs, olive oil, vinegar and garlic, it’s like a cross between vinaigrette and pesto. This version — made from a fragrant blend of parsley, mint and cilantro — pairs beautifully with spice-rubbed beef tenderloin filets. It’s the perfect dish for Father’s Day or any special occasion. In fact, I made it just last night for a family dinner in honor of my baby cousin, Ian (bottom right), who was in town visiting.
Morning Glory Muffins are made with a little bit of everything — whole wheat flour, carrots, apples, raisins, walnuts, orange juice, coconut and wheat germ — and, true to their name, they’re a glorious way to start the day. Created decades ago by Chef Pam McKinstry for her Morning Glory Café on Nantucket Island, they’re a throwback to the 1970s “back-to-the-land” movement, when wholesome hippie food was all the rage. (Hint: If you like carrot cake, you’ll love them.)
This vibrant and fresh Thai Quinoa Salad is adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks, Raising the Salad Bar by Catherine Walthers. It’s a healthy eater’s dream: flavorful, chock-full of protein and veggies, satisfying and low in fat. I know you’ll love it because I shared it on my column over at Serious Eats last summer and it got rave reviews. I usually make it as a light lunch, but you can also serve it alongside other Asian dishes for dinner or make it a meal in itself by adding cooked shrimp, crab or lobster.
Try not to laugh — this is me looking pretty ridiculous in a pea pod costume. The photo was taken last week at my kids’ elementary school during Eating the Rainbow, an exciting weeklong wellness program that encourages kids to include more colorful fruits and vegetables in their diets. I wanted to share it with you in hopes of inspiring anyone who might dare to dress up to get kids excited about healthy eating at their own school.
My whole family loves these enchiladas filled with smoky shredded chicken and cheddar cheese in a tangy tomatillo sauce. They’re lighter and fresher than the enchiladas served in most Mexican restaurants, especially when you top them with crisp shredded romaine, sour cream and sliced avocado. I’ll be honest, they take a bit of time to make. But the good news is that you can make the sauce and filling ahead of time, then assemble and bake the enchiladas another time for a quick and easy weeknight meal.
I know one cannot own every conceivable kitchen appliance, but if you can find an excuse to buy an ice cream machine, just go for it. They’re relatively inexpensive and you’ll be forever amazed at how much better your ice cream and frozen yogurt will be. This recipe, modestly adapted from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop, is proof of that. It bears no resemblance to store-bought frozen yogurt or the imitation ice cream served at most froyo shops. Instead, it tastes intensely of fresh strawberries — almost like a cross between strawberry frozen yogurt and strawberry sorbet.
May marks the start of zucchini season but I love this silky puréed soup anytime of year. It’s surprisingly healthy — there’s no heavy cream or dairy in it, just a handful of toasted walnuts to thicken it up. I like to serve it warm in the spring while there’s still a chill in the air, and cool in the summer once the weather heats up.
Leave it to Nigella. I used to love my popcorn topped with just a little butter and salt but now that I’ve had her “Party Popcorn,” I don’t want it any other way. Slightly sweet, salty and spiced with an exotic blend of cinnamon, cumin and paprika, this stuff is downright habit-forming.
In this quick and easy recipe — adapted from The Splendid Table’s How To Eat Supper by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift — jumbo shrimp are bathed in a brine flavored with salt, sugar and chili powder, and then sautéed with loads of fresh ginger and garlic. It’s a delicious and flavorful dish that appeals to kids and adults alike. In fact, the recipe headnote reads: “If there is one recipe in this book that is guaranteed to have your family moaning with gratitude, this is it. After eating these shrimp, a five-year-old has been known to say, ‘Wow, Mom, thanks!’ And they’ve driven a grown woman to shamelessly lick her plate—in front of everyone.” (Thanks to my friend, Kim Cohen, for sharing the recipe with me!)
Granola bars are a staple in my pantry, but between my husband, my kids and their hungry friends, I can’t seem to keep enough of them in the house. So I figured it was time to try and make them from scratch, and maybe even sneak in some health food. After many trials, I finally cracked the code and came up with a version that puts all those store-bought bars to shame. What’s more, they’re no-bake and take only ten minutes to make.
Bread pudding is usually sweet, but it can be made savory too. This version, brimming with sweet pork sausage and sharp cheddar, is deeply flavored with a crisp, golden crust and tender, creamy interior. I love it, not only because it’s delicious, but also because it can be made ahead of time and feeds a crowd.
Many years ago, Michael and I rented a convertible and drove up the California coast. One of our favorite stops was La Jolla, where we strolled around town and stumbled upon a Mexican restaurant with great food and breathtaking views of the Pacific ocean. I don’t know if it was the scenery, the margaritas, or the fact that we were on vacation, but the fish tacos were out of this world. To recreate them at home, I came up with this version made of crispy beer-battered cod tucked into corn tortillas with a cabbage slaw and smoky chipotle sauce. I’m happy to say they come pretty darn close!
Popular in Latin America, “Tres Leches Cake” or “Pastel de Tres Leches” is a light and fluffy cake soaked with a mixture of three milks: sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream (leche means milk in Spanish). It’s a homey cake served right in the baking pan and, as you can imagine, it’s decadently moist, almost like bread pudding or custard. In this version, rum is added to the soaking liquid and — instead of the traditional whipped cream topping — a simple rum-spiked dulce de leche glaze covers the cake (which, I guess, technically makes it a quatro leches cake). My husband calls it “heaven on earth.”
This contest is now closed. Congrats to Amy of Alexandria, VA!
Hi All, Great giveaway this week thanks to Anolon Gourmet Cookware! The 10-piece Nouvelle Copper Stainless Steel set includes:
1.25 Qt. and 2.5 Qt. Covered Saucepans
3 Qt. Covered Sauté Pan
6.5 Qt. Covered Stockpot
8-inch and 10-inch Skillets
Crafted of stainless steel with a layer of copper on the bottom, this cookware provides optimum heat conduction and excellent cooking performance. Stainless steel handles are dual riveted and oven safe to 500°F, and deep seated stainless steel dome lids fit securely into the rims to lock in flavors and nutrients. The collection is also dishwasher safe.
I own several pieces from Anolon, and not only does it perform well, it looks good. I especially love this collection’s high polish finish and graceful flared design — so pretty!
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These sweet and spicy roasted carrots make a fabulous side dish, but they’re also delicious all on their own. In fact, on those rare (and dare I say treasured) nights when I’m on my own for dinner and don’t feel like fussing with a full meal, I’ll make them for myself as a main course. They’re like a treat, and I can easily polish off the entire dish myself.
These cookies are truly crave-worthy: buttery and rich in flavor, with a crisp and sparkly exterior and tender-chewy interior. I discovered the recipe years ago on the King Arthur Flour website, and it’s been my go-to for sugar cookies ever since.
This is one of my favorite main-course salads. Made with bulgur, fresh herbs, chopped vegetables and buttery chick peas, it’s kind of like a bulked-up tabbouleh. I like to make it over the weekend and keep it in the fridge all week long for healthy lunches.
Molten chocolate cakes — also known as chocolate lava cakes — are rich individual chocolate cakes with oozing molten centers. The original recipe was created by master chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten fortuitously, when he pulled a chocolate cake out of the oven before it was done and discovered the center to be wonderfully warm and pudding-like. Surprisingly, they’re easy enough for even the novice baker to make at home. And, what’s more, they can be prepared ahead of time, stored in the fridge and then baked at the last minute.
If you’re a beet lover like I am, you’re going to love (and maybe even obsess over) these simply prepared beets. They’re oven-roasted, which intensifies their natural sweetness, and then tossed in a tart and syrupy balsamic reduction. You can serve them as a side dish, but more often than not I just keep them in the fridge for snacking and tossing over salads. The best part is that they’re good for you! Beets are a nutritional powerhouse — they cleanse the body, are chock-full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and are a great source of energy.
This is my take on Pollo a la Brasa, that delicious spit-roasted chicken made popular by so many Peruvian restaurants. The chicken is first marinated in olive oil, lime juice, garlic and spices, and then oven-roasted until tender, juicy and crisp-skinned. The accompanying green sauce, which gets it’s color from cilantro and jalapeño peppers, is spicy, creamy and downright addictive. You can put it on virtually everything, and it even makes a fabulous dip or salad dressing.