You'll find over 335 of my favorite recipes here, including ideas for Quick meals, Cooking for 2, Feasting on Leftovers, and cooking with 5 Ingredients or Less. I'm adding new posts regularly; you can subscribe by email or RSS feed if you'd like to receive the latest recipes. Bon appétit!
By Kath Dedon
Apple Crisp is one of the easiest desserts you can make. It’s perfect for entertaining. It can be made ahead of time and then reheated in the oven later. Leftovers can be eaten the next morning for a tasty breakfast treat. (I speak from experience.)
This particular recipe uses less sugar than many others and I love the way it turned out. It’s moderately sweet and the flavor of the apples is not overwhelmed by sugar.
Most recipes call for half flour and half rolled oats. I did not use flour. I used quick oats to make it wheat-free. Without any flour in the mix, I think the quick oats made the texture better than it would have been had I used regular rolled oats.
I made an Apple Crisp, but you can really use a variety of different fruits to make a Fruit Crisp. Laura recently used this recipe to make an Apple/Pear Crisp. She used four medium Granny Smith apples and four not-quite-ripe pears and it was delicious! Apple/Cranberry Crisp would be great when cranberries are available. In The Food Matters Cookbook, Mark Bittman suggests using peaches, pears, plums, or even mangoes in Fruit Crisp. So just get creative with it and use 6 cups of whatever fruit you’d like.
(Adapted from a recipe from Spud.com, contributed by Jen McColl)
Serves 6 – 8
3 pounds apples (6 large or 8 medium)
¼ cup packed brown sugar (I used maple sugar.)
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup quick oats
½ cup sliced almonds, chopped just a bit into smaller pieces
¼ cup packed brown sugar (I used maple sugar.)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
Almonds chopped just a bit into smaller pieces
1. Heat oven to 375˚
2. Peel and core the apples. Chop them into ½ – ¾-inch chunks.
3. Toss the apples with the ¼ cup of sugar and ½ teaspoon cinnamon.
4. Put the apples in a 6-cup baking dish. (An 11 x 7 x 2 rectangular dish, or an 8 x 8 x 2 square dish, or a 9-inch pie plate would all work.)
5. Cover the apples with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
6. While the apples are baking, make the topping. Combine the topping ingredients in a bowl. Stir with a fork until the butter is well-distributed.
Topping ingredients, ready to blend in the butter
7. After the apples have baked for 20 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and distribute the topping mixture over the apples.
8. Put the pan, uncovered, back in the oven and bake for an additional 30 minutes, or until the topping is browned a bit and the fruit is tender.
9. Best if cooled just a bit so it is still warm when served. (It can also be reheated in a 200˚ oven for about 30 minutes.) It’s delicious served with vanilla ice cream.
By Kath Dedon
When I tasted a friend’s Braised Beef Short Ribs with Caramelized Onions and Baharat, I knew I needed the recipe. The ribs were melt-in-your mouth tender and the sauce was incredible. I was already familiar with Amanda Bevill’s and Julie Kramis Hearne’s new book, World Spice at Home. Tasting these ribs made me positive that I would have to add the book to my library.
Amanda is the owner of a wonderful local spice shop near the Pike Place Market, World Spice Merchants. Julie is a professional chef who has coauthored three other cookbooks. Together, they created a book full of exciting recipes using exotic spices which may be new to you.
Our friend, Jill, who made the short ribs for us, just so happens to be Julie’s mother-in-law! She not only had the book, but also the World Spice at Home Flavor Companion. It’s a collection of 16 different spices and spice blends: Ras el Hanout, Harissa, Tikka Masala, Kashmiri Curry, Kashmiri Garam Masala, Israeli Za’atar, Syrian Za’atar, Poudre de Colombo, Berbere, Dukkah, Baharat, Besar, Chinese Five Spice, Urfa Biber, Aleppo, and Sumac. Each jar contains two tablespoons of spice, enough to try at least a couple of the recipes.
After Jill’s fabulous dinner, I not-so-subtly let it be known that I wanted World Spice at Home and the Flavor Companion. My sister gave me both for my birthday last month. (Thank you, Joan!)
The Flavor Companion makes it very easy for people unfamiliar with some of the spices to give them a try. However, with a well stocked spice pantry, you can make the spice blends yourself. Amanda and Julie give the recipes for all of the blends in the book.
I recently made the Braised Beef Short Ribs with Caramelized Onions and Baharat for Carrie’s birthday dinner. Because it’s a slow braise, it takes some time to make it but it is very easy. It’s a great dish for entertaining! Since it may be the BEST short ribs recipe I have ever tasted, I’m sure I’ll be making it again. Probably soon! I would definitely make this just for Bob and me and I’d be thrilled to have leftovers to enjoy!
I am really looking forward to exploring some of the other recipes in World Spice at Home!
I served the ribs and carrots over mashed potatoes.
Braised Beef Short Ribs with Caramelized Onions and Baharat
(Adapted from a recipe in Amanda Bevill’s and Julie Kramis Hearne’s World Spice at Home)
Because I had already used a lot of the Baharat in my Flavor Companion to season steaks, I blended up some more for this recipe. It was very easy to do. I use a Krups coffee grinder. To clean the grinder, grind raw white rice or bread crumbs.
Baharat (makes 1/3 cup)
½ teaspoon whole cloves
1 tablespoon allspice berries
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 teaspoons coriander seed
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
½ teaspoon cardamom seed
Put all of the ingredients in a spice or coffee grinder and grind together. Store in an airtight container.
½ cup flour (I used brown rice flour to make it wheat free)
2 tablespoons baharat
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 – 5 pounds beef short ribs
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 sweet onions, cut into 1/2–inch slices
1 cup beef broth
½ cup ketchup
½ cup beer
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon dry mustard
6 medium carrots, peeled and cut at an angle into 2-inch pieces
1 dried bay leaf
1. Preheat the oven to 350˚ and position a rack in the middle of the oven.
2. Mix the flour, baharat, salt and pepper together. Dredge the short ribs in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess.
3. Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butter and olive oil.
4. Brown the ribs in batches (you don’t want to crowd the pan) for 3–4 minutes on each side.
5. Remove the ribs from the pan.
6. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the sliced onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until they are softened.
7. Put the onions and the ribs in a large Dutch oven. Stir in the broth, ketchup, beer, brown sugar, vinegar, and mustard.
8. Cover the pot and braise in the preheated oven for 1½ hours.
9. Add the carrots and bay leaf to the pot. Cover, and put the pot back in the oven to braise for another hour, or until the meat is fork-tender.
10. Serve over mashed potatoes or polenta.
World Spice Flavor Companion
World Spice Baharat
By Kath Dedon
A few months ago when I noticed Kristan’s recipe for Mint Chocolate Chip Cake on her Confessions of a Cookbook Queen blog, I knew it would probably be the perfect birthday cake for Carrie. She has always been a huge chocolate/mint combo fan and confirmed that she would love to try the cake.
I made my favorite Hershey’s cocoa chocolate cake and frosted it with Chocolate Chip Mint Frosting. It was so easy to make and it tasted fantastic! It’s very “minty” which I loved. It was a huge hit at Carrie’s birthday dinner with all but one. Laura doesn’t like mint so she didn’t really care for it.
If you do like mint flavor that is as intense as Peppermint Patties, you will love this Chocolate Chip Mint Frosting!
Kristan used green food coloring, which I chose not to use. Do hop on over to her blog to see her gorgeous photos. Add the green food coloring, if you want.
Chocolate Chip Mint Frosting
(Adapted from the recipe for Mint Chocolate Chip Cake on confessionsofacookbookqueen.com)
Makes enough to frost a two-layer cake or 24 cupcakes
Kristan advises against using chocolate chips because they make the frosting difficult to spread. I used half of a 4-oz Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Baking Bar.
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, slightly softened
1/3 cup heavy cream (I used cream, but I’m sure you could use milk instead.)
2 teaspoons mint extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
4 cups powdered sugar
2 ounces of a semi-sweet chocolate bar, finely chopped
1. Beat the butter, cream, the mint and vanilla extracts, and the salt together at medium speed until they are well-blended.
2. Turn the mixer speed down to low and gradually add the powdered sugar. When it is all mixed in, increase the speed to medium and beat for about a minute. If it seems a bit too thick, add in another tablespoon or two of the cream. (I did find I needed to add a bit more cream.)
3. Reduce the speed to low to mix in the chopped chocolate.
4. Frost your favorite chocolate cake which has been completely cooled after baking.
By Kath Dedon
I can’t believe I haven’t shared this Tortilla Soup recipe before today. It used to appear fairly regularly in my dinner rotation because it was something the whole family enjoyed.
The original recipe is from the 2001 edition of Cook’s Illustrated’s The Best Recipe: Soups and Stews. The folks at Cook’s Illustrated concluded that canned broth works just fine in this recipe which makes it especially quick and easy for a weeknight dinner.
Tortilla Soup is also perfect for easy entertaining. I multiplied it by 1.5 to have enough to serve 9 people on Christmas Eve. It was simple to serve and I think everyone enjoyed it.
When serving the soup, make sure the broth is boiling hot so it doesn’t cool down too much when added to the chicken, avocado, and tortilla strips in the bowls.
(Adapted from a recipe in Cook’s Illustrated’s The Best Recipe: Soups and Stews)
6 corn tortillas
1 tablespoon oil for the soup, plus more to brush on the corn tortillas
1 medium chopped onion (about 1 cup)
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 quarts chicken broth
2 tablespoons lime juice, plus 1 lime cut into wedges
16 – 20 ounces boneless and skinless chicken breasts, cut in half if large
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
2 medium ripe avocadoes, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1½ cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
2 medium jalapeno chiles, thinly sliced
½ cup packed fresh cilantro leaves (very good, but optional)
If I don’t have homemade broth I use Swanson’s Natural Goodness Broth.
1. Preheat the oven to 350˚.
2. Place the tortillas on a large baking sheet and brush with oil.
3. Stack the tortillas and cut in half. Then cut the halves into thin strips.
4. Spread the strips out on the baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, until crisp and lightly browned.
5. Heat the 1 tablespoon oil in a large pot. Add the chopped onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is soft and starting to brown. This will take about 5 minutes.
6. Add the garlic and chili powder and cook, stirring, for about 15 seconds.
7. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.
8. Add the lime juice and chicken breasts. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes, with the pot partially covered, until the chicken breasts are cooked through. (Cut the largest breast piece in half to see if it’s done.)
9. Remove the chicken from the pot and shred it into bite-sized pieces.
Cooked chicken breasts
10. Add the tomatoes to the broth. Bring it to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes.
11. To serve, put some tortilla strips, chicken, and avocado pieces in each bowl.
12. Top with hot broth and serve.
13. Pass the cheese, jalapeno peppers, and lime wedges at the table for everyone to add to their soup. (And the cilantro, if you’re using it.)
By Kath Dedon
Pork Ragu for a Crowd is a perfect choice for a winter dinner party. It easily serves up to 12 people and it can be made ahead of time. In fact, it is one of those dishes that tastes even better the next day.
I found the recipe for Pork Ragu for a Crowd in Domenica Marchetti’s Big Night In – More Than 100 Wonderful Recipes for Feeding Family and Friends Italian-Style. Domenica says it makes enough to sauce at least 3 pounds of pasta and she recommends using a short pasta shape, like rigatoni. I decided to serve it with polenta instead and I loved the rich, meaty sauce paired with the creamy polenta. (Bob totally disagreed but that’s because he just doesn’t like polenta.)
I made the ragu a couple of days before the party and refrigerated it. Then all I had to do was heat it up on the day of the party.
Whether you use pasta or polenta, I absolutely recommend that you try the Pork Ragu for a Crowd even if you’re not serving a crowd. The leftover ragu will freeze beautifully for future meals.
Pork Ragu for a Crowd, served with Easy Slow Cooker Polenta
Pork Ragu for a Crowd
(Adapted from a recipe in Domenica Marchetti’s Big Night In)
Technically, the ragu I made was Pork and Chicken Ragu because the grocery store was out of pork sausage and I used chicken sausage. It worked fine, but I would use pork sausage next time.
Serves 10 – 12
Some of the ingredients for the ragu
3 pounds boneless pork shoulder, in one or two pieces
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large yellow onions, diced (about 5 cups)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dry red wine
7 cups chopped canned tomatoes with their juices
4 bay leaves
1 large or 2 small sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 pound mild Italian pork sausage
I cut the large roast into 2 pieces
- Heat the ¼ cup of olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
- Salt and pepper the pork on all sides. (I cut the large roast into 2 smaller pieces.) Brown the pork on all sides in the hot pan. Remove the browned pork from the pan.
Browned pork removed to a stainless steel bowl.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. Add the onions and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until the onions are softened.
- Put the pork back in the pan and add the wine. After it has cooked for about 1 minute, add in the tomatoes with their juices, the bay leaves and the rosemary sprigs.
- Reduce heat to medium-low. Remove the sausage from its casing, break it into small pieces and add it to the sauce.
- Cover the pot and simmer for 2 – 2½ hours, until the pork roast is very tender. Adjust the heat, if necessary, so the ragu is gently simmering, not boiling. (I had to turn my burner to the lowest setting to maintain a gentle simmer.)
- When the pork is fork-tender, remove it from the ragu and shred it using two forks. Add it back to the ragu and heat briefly so the meat and the sauce are both hot.
Shredding the pork
- Serve with pasta or polenta. Leftover sauce can be frozen.
Served with Polenta
By Kath Dedon
Easy Slow Cooker Polenta couldn’t be easier. I used the America’s Test Kitchen’s recipe for Easy Polenta in Slow Cooker Revolution. You simply whisk the polenta and salt into water in a slow cooker and cook it on Low for 4 – 6 hours. When it’s done, you stir in Parmesan cheese and butter and serve.
This is the perfect way to make polenta if you’re entertaining. There’s no last minute-stirring at the stove. In fact, you can have the polenta finished before your guests arrive and it can be held on the warm setting of your slow cooker for 1 – 2 hours. Just stir in a bit of hot water if it gets too thick.
I made this Easy Slow Cooker Polenta to serve with Pork Ragu for a Crowd and it was a perfect pairing.
Easy Slow Cooker Polenta with Pork Ragu for a Crowd
Easy Slow Cooker Polenta
(Adapted from a recipe in ATK’s Slow Cooker Revolution)
Be sure to get polenta, not just any kind of cornmeal. Polenta is finely ground, but it doesn’t have any powdery bits of corn flour. According to the folks at the America’s Test Kitchen, if you use a cornmeal that does have floury bits in it they will make your polenta “taste gluey”.
Serves 8 – 10
Vegetable oil spray
7½ cups water
1½ cups polenta
1½ teaspoons of salt
2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter
Additional salt and pepper, to taste
1. Spray the inside of a slow cooker with the vegetable oil spray.
2. Add the water to the slow cooker. Whisk in the polenta and salt.
3. Cover and cook on Low for 4 – 6 hours.
4. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and butter.
Freshly grated Parmesan
5. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
6. Serve immediately, or hold on Warm for 1 – 2 hours. If held on Warm, stir in a bit of hot water if it thickens up too much.