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You'll find over 385 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!

Homemade Twix Bars

July 17, 2016

By Kath Dedon

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Laura made these Homemade Twix Bars for Father’s Day dinner. I had not seen the family swoon so much over dessert in a while! These bars are incredible!

There are recipes for people with allergies that are acceptable and appreciated by the one who has the allergies, but they leave the rest of the group wishing they could have the real deal. This is NOT one of those recipes. Everyone absolutely loved them and eagerly devoured them.

Laura had found the recipe on Rachel Conners’ blog, bakerita.com. The only change she made was she substituted peanut butter for almond butter to accommodate an almond allergy. It worked beautifully!

The family gathered again last week for Bob’s birthday and I decided to make the Homemade Twix Bars for dessert. I couldn’t believe how easy it is to make them! The actual hands-on time is very minimal, but you do need to allow time for the shortbread crust to cool. After adding the caramel layer to the cooled shortbread, it needs to chill in the refrigerator. Then the chocolate is poured on the top and it is refrigerated again before serving. So it’s made in stages, but very easy stages.

If you want a special treat, do try these amazing Homemade Twix Bars!

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I turned one bar on its side to try to show you the layers.

Homemade Twix Bars

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Homemade Twix Bars

(Adapted from Rachel Conners recipe on bakerita.com. Rachel adapted the caramel filling from a recipe on Blissful Basil.)

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Special note about coconut flour

Coconut flour is very different from regular flour. It absorbs a lot of moisture. It is not easy to substitute other flours for coconut flour. If you want to make the bars with some other kind of flour, I suggest you find a recipe for shortbread using the flour you prefer and make that for the shortbread layer.

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(print the recipe)

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Makes 16 bars

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Shortbread crust ingredients

Ingredients for shortbread.JPG

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For the shortbread crust:

2/3 cup coconut flour

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

3 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1/3 cup coconut oil, solid

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Caramel filling ingredients

Ingredients for caramel filling.JPG

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For the caramel filling:

½ cup creamy peanut butter (I used Jif. I think a natural peanut butter would be too oily.)

1/3 cup pure maple syrup

1/3 cup coconut oil, melted in a microwave oven

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Chocolate topping ingredients

Ingredients for chocolate topping

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For the chocolate topping:

¼ cup coconut oil, melted in a microwave oven

¼ cup cocoa powder

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

½ teaspoon flaky sea salt (optional, I didn’t use)

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350° and grease an 8 x 8 square pan with coconut oil.

2. Line the greased pan with parchment paper and then grease the paper.

pan ready.JPG

 

3. Either in a small food processor (what I used) or in a bowl, combine the ingredients for the shortbread crust. Process or mix in the bowl until the dough comes together in a cohesive ball. You’ll probably need to use your hands to make that happen in a bowl.

in the food processor

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4. Spread the dough out with your fingers in the prepared pan. Bake for 9 – 11 minutes until the edge is starting to brown. (9 minutes was perfect in my oven.)

Baked shortbread crust

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5. Allow time for the crust to fully cool.

6. Combine all of the caramel filling ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over low heat, stirring constantly, until everything is melted and combined. Pour over the cooled shortbread. Refrigerate the bars to allow the caramel layer to cool and set.

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A small whisk made it easy to combine the ingredients in the saucepan

Caramel filling

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Caramel topping poured over the cooled shortbread crust

Caramel filling poured over shortbread

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7. For the chocolate topping, stir the ingredients together until smooth. Pour over the set caramel layer. Sprinkle with the flaky sea salt if using. (Recommended, but I didn’t have any.)

Chocolate topping poured.JPG

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8. Refrigerate before serving so the chocolate will set.

9. Use a sharp knife to cut into 16 bars and serve. Refrigerate any leftovers.

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Homemade Twix Bars - Copy

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Slow Cooker Mexican Black Beans

July 8, 2016

By Kath Dedon

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Wow! These beans! Slow Cooker Mexican Black Beans are a fabulous side dish with anything grilled. I found, though, that they are so delicious, they could take center stage as Rick Bayless suggests in Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen. He says that one of his favorite suppers is a bowl of Frijoles de la Olla (“Pot Beans”) served with tortillas, salsa, and a salad.

I used both Mexican Kitchen and Bayless’s Mexican Everyday for reference. In Mexican Everyday he gives instructions for cooking the beans in a slow cooker.

I learned from both Rick Bayless and J. Kenji Lopez-Alt that there is no need to soak the beans before cooking. Bayless observes that he has never seen cooks in Mexico soak their beans. And Kenji did all of the scientific testing to prove that soaking is not only unnecessary, but it makes inferior, less flavorful beans. In the case of black beans, they lose their rich black color when they are soaked and the soaking water is discarded.

In his epic book, The Food Lab, Kenji proves that it’s best to add salt in the beginning, contrary to popular belief. Most recipes, including the two Rick Bayless recipes for Frijoles de la Olla, give instructions to only add salt after the beans are tender. Kenji’s photos clearly show that the beans that were salted in the beginning were superior. Salt prevented the burst skins and blow-outs that the unsalted beans experienced.

I recently made plain black beans in the slow cooker to use for a dip. It was super easy. If you want to cook beans to use instead of canned beans, I would recommend that simple recipe.

If you want a beautiful bowl of flavorful Slow Cooker Mexican Black Beans, I highly recommend this one. The beans were cooked perfectly and had a wonderful creamy texture. I loved the rich, porky flavor that the bacon grease gave the beans. I served the beans as Bayless does, in a bowl with some of the bean broth. Leftovers were also delicious drained and reheated. We just finished the last few beans last night tossed in an impromptu pasta dish. I’m already thinking of making Slow Cooker Mexican Black Beans again. They are that good!

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Slow cooker Mexican black beans - Copy

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Slow-Cooker Mexican Black Beans

(Adapted from recipes in Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen and Mexican Everyday, and from J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s The Food Lab)

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(print the recipe)

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I don’t really know if the epazote made a difference. I have some growing in a pot outside. Bayless recommends it for black beans. If you can’t find it, I think the beans will still be great if you omit it.

Make it vegetarian by using oil instead of the bacon grease. If you use oil, Bayless recommends cooking the onion in the oil until it is golden brown, about 10 minutes, before adding the onion and oil to the slow cooker. He says cooking the onion will give it a “roasty flavor reminiscent of what you’d find from pork fat”. There’s no need to cook the onions if you’re using bacon grease or lard.

Makes 7 – 8 cups

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1 pound (about 2½ cups) dry black beans

3 tablespoons bacon grease (can substitute lard or oil)

1 medium white onion, diced (about 1 cup of diced onion)

1 large sprig epazote (optional)

2 quarts water

1½ teaspoons salt

 

1. Check the beans for rocks and rinse thoroughly. Add them to the slow cooker.

2. Add the bacon grease, onion, and epazote, if using, to the slow cooker.

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Measuring bacon grease from saved bacon drippings

bacon grease

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Beans, onion, bacon grease and epazote in the slow cooker

black beans, onion, bacon grease, epazote.jpg

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3. Pour in the 2 quarts of water and stir in the salt.

4. Cook on low for 8 – 10 hours.

5. Serve in a bowl with some of the broth.

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Slow cooker Mexican black beans

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Sweet Corn and Jalapeno Hummus

June 24, 2016

By Kath Dedon

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I made Sweet Corn and Jalapeno Hummus for Father’s Day. I didn’t take pictures because I had already posted a recipe for hummus this month, and I really wasn’t sure how this one would turn out.

Well, let me tell you! Sweet Corn and Jalapeno Hummus is my new favorite appetizer for friends and family who like all things spicy! This is spicy, but not too spicy*, smooth and fluffy, and totally addictive. Our little party of 7 quickly devoured it all. At one point, I noticed Bob, Byron, and Rhett all standing over the bowl, chowing down and muttering, “This is addictive!” I wish I had gotten a picture of that scene!

I found the recipe on Jessica Merchant’s entertaining blog, How Sweet Eats. I’ve followed Jessica for quite a while now. She comes up with very creative recipes and her photography is spectacular. I just got her book, Seriously Delish, and I’m looking forward to exploring it.

We loved this hummus so much that I made it again today, even though I had just made it last week. We needed something to take to a potluck party tomorrow. Bob said, “Why not The Hummus?” Why not, indeed! This time I took pictures.

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  • * Update 6/26/16:  So…I made this for a different group of people yesterday. Bob thought it was not as spicy as the first time I made it, but I think it was too spicy for just about everyone else at the party. If you don’t want it very spicy (I’d compare this to Thai food that is 2 – 3 stars.), just use 1 jalapeno pepper.😉

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.Sweet Corn and Jalapeno Hummus.JPG

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Sweet Corn and Jalapeno Hummus

(Adapted, barely, from Jessica Merchant’s recipe on howsweeteats.com)

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(print the recipe)

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Makes about 1¾ cups

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The first time I made this I charred the jalapeno peppers with my broiler. It worked, but it got pretty smoky in my kitchen because of my poor ventilation system. If you have good ventilation, you could use the broiler. This time I used my grill to char them and that worked well.

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 Simple ingredients for an incredibly delicious hummus!

Ingredients.JPG

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2 medium jalapeno peppers (or just 1 jalapeno pepper if you don’t want it too spicy)

1 can of chick peas, drained and rinsed

½ cup sweet yellow corn, defrosted if frozen

4 tablespoons olive oil

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon ground pepper

 

  1. Char the jalapeno peppers until they are blackened all over. Whether under the broiler or on the grill, this takes about 15 – 20 minutes. Set the peppers aside to cool.

Peppers on the grill.jpg

Charred jalapenos.JPG

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2. Peel the charred skin off of the peppers. Slice the top off, slice them open, and scrape off the seeds. Dice the peppers.

Peeled jalapenos.JPG

Seeded jalapeno.JPG

Diced jalapenos.JPG

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3. Put the chick peas, corn and peppers in the food processor. Process until it’s all blended, stopping to push the mixture down with a spatula if necessary.

Ingredients in the food processor.JPG

Processed.JPG

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4. With the food processor running, slowly add the olive oil into the mixture. (Slowly streaming the oil makes the hummus especially light and smooth.)

Slowly streaming olive oil.JPG

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5. Add the salt and pepper and process briefly once more. Serve with your favorite dippers.

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Especially good with Fritos!

Delicious on a Frito.JPG

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Sweet Corn and Jalapeno Hummus - Copy.JPG

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Green Beans with Vinaigrette

June 21, 2016

By Kath Dedon

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Green Beans with Vinaigrette from Martha Stewart is a great side dish for summer entertaining. The beans can be cooked and the vinaigrette made up to a day early and stored separately in the refrigerator. Take them both out of the refrigerator about an hour before serving time and then gently toss the beans in the dressing when it’s time to eat. The beans make a lovely light side dish with grilled meats.

Martha’s recipe is for 2 pounds of beans, serving 8. I made 2 pounds for our family’s Father’s Day dinner and everyone enjoyed them. They were great with Rosemary Mustard Grilled Chicken Breasts.

I liked the beans so much that I had to make them again and take photos to share with you! I cut the recipe in half for 4 servings. Bob and I enjoyed them two nights in a row. The leftover beans were just as flavorful as the first night, although the beans lost a bit of their vibrant color overnight.

Give these Green Beans with Vinaigrette a try, especially if you have great homegrown beans this summer.

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These beans may look plain, but the simple, light vinaigrette makes them a delicious side dish.

Green Beans with Vinaigrette

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Green Beans with Vinaigrette

(Adapted, barely, from Martha Stewart’s recipe)

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(print the recipe)

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Serves 4 (double to serve 8)

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1 pound green beans

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Vinaigrette

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1½ teaspoons white balsamic vinegar

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon ground pepper

 

  1. Wash the beans and then trim the ends.

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I take several beans at a time and line them up against my knife and then cut off the ends.

Cutting beans.jpg

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2. Put the beans in a steamer basket and bring about an inch of water to boil in a pan.

3. When the water’s boiling, put the steamer basket in the pot, cover, and steam for 4 – 5 minutes. (Check a bean at 4 minutes to see if they’re done. You want them to be “crisp-tender” as Martha says.)

4. While the beans are steaming, get a bowl of ice water ready to cool them.

5. When the beans are done, put them in the ice water.

Cooling beans.jpg

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6. When the beans are cold, drain them and spread them on a clean kitchen towel or paper towels to dry. You’ll probably want to use paper towels to dry them further.

Beans drying.jpg

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7. Put all of the vinaigrette ingredients in a small jar and shake well. At this point the beans and the vinaigrette can be refrigerated separately until ready to serve.

8. Just before serving, put the beans in a serving bowl. Pour all of the vinaigrette over them and toss gently so the dressing is distributed well.

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Green Beans with Vinaigrette - Copy.jpg

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Vegan Ranch Dressing

June 18, 2016

By Kath Dedon

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Vegan Ranch Dressing is easy to make and it’s a real treat for anyone who has an allergy or sensitivity to dairy or eggs.

I searched the Internet for different recipes and decided to use the recipe on allergyfreetestkitchen.com as my template. I liked the fact that she used dried herbs because they’re easy to have on hand. And, what I’m guessing is the world’s favorite ranch dressing, Hidden Valley, uses dried herbs in their mix.

Hidden Valley also uses MSG, an ingredient many people want to avoid. MSG, however, is the ingredient that contributes umami to the dressing. That umami is what makes it so tasty and irresistible. So how could I add umami without using MSG?

Well, while searching the Internet, I also found Karrie’s recipe for Homemade Hidden Valley Ranch Mix on her happymoneysaver.com blog. She had not been able to replicate the flavor that she loved in Hidden Valley’s ranch mix until she figured out a way to add umami without using MSG. The secret turned out to be dried mushrooms. Dried mushrooms have lots of umami. Karrie used dried portabella mushrooms. I used a dried morel mushroom because that’s what I had.

I found that 1 dried morel mushroom produced about 1 teaspoon after I ground it up in my Krups coffee/spice grinder.

I made the dressing without the mushroom powder and tasted it. It was quite good. Then I added in the mushroom powder, and it really did make a difference in the taste! (For those who don’t like mushrooms, the dressing does not taste like mushrooms. The mushroom powder is just a magical secret ingredient that enhances the flavor.)

I will definitely be making Vegan Ranch Dressing again. And I’m sure I’ll also find other ways to use dried mushroom powder when a dish needs a flavor boost!

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Vegan Ranch Dressing

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Vegan Ranch Dressing

(Adapted from recipes on two blogs: allergyfreetestkitchen.com and happymoneysaver.com)

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If you don’t need the recipe to be vegan, dairy-free, or egg-free, just substitute your favorite mayonnaise for the vegan one and ¼ cup buttermilk for the coconut creamer and vinegar.

(print the recipe)

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Makes about 1¼ cups

1 cup vegan mayonnaise (I used Just Mayo brand)

¼ cup coconut milk “buttermilk” (Pour 1 ½ teaspoons of distilled vinegar in a measuring cup, and then add coconut milk or creamer to equal ¼ cup. I used So Delicious Coconut Coffee Creamer.)

½ teaspoon dried parsley

½ teaspoon dried chives

¼ teaspoon dried dill weed

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon onion powder

¼ teaspoon garlic salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon ground dried mushroom powder (Try portabella or morel. The mushroom powder is optional, but so good!)

 

  1. Make the coconut milk “buttermilk” as described in the ingredients.
  2. Grind the dried mushroom(s) in a spice grinder until it’s a fine powder. (I found one good size morel was enough.)
  3. Put all of the ingredients in a small food processor or blender and blend until it is all mixed together.
  4. Keeps for several days in the refrigerator.

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Dairy and Egg Free Ranch Dressing

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Wedge salad with Vegan Ranch Dressing

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Vegan Ranch Dressing - Copy

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Silky Smooth Hummus with No Tahini

June 10, 2016

By Kath Dedon

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Don’t want to use tahini? You can still make fabulous Silky Smooth Hummus with No Tahini. Maybe you’re out of tahini. Maybe you’re serving the hummus to someone who has a sesame seed allergy. Maybe you just don’t like tahini. You can still make great hummus.

On Martha Stewart’s site I learned that you don’t need to use any substitutions; you can just make your favorite hummus recipe and omit the tahini. That’s pretty much what I did. I omitted the 6 tablespoons of tahini that were in the original Classic Hummus recipe in America’s Test Kitchen’s The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook. I added a tablespoon of creamy peanut butter to give it a hint of flavor.

ATK’s method produces the creamiest texture! And you don’t need to remove the skins to achieve it. You grind the chickpeas and the dry ingredients in the food processor. Then, with the motor running, you slowly add the lemon juice and water blend and then the olive oil and peanut butter. The result? Silky smooth hummus goodness!

I highly recommend this method to make Silky Smooth Hummus with No Tahini. If you want to use tahini, just substitute 6 tablespoons of tahini for the peanut butter for a delicious Classic Hummus.

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Silky Smooth Hummus with No Tahini served with mini pepper strips and pita chips

Hummus with peppers and pita chips

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Silky Smooth Hummus with No Tahini

Adapted from a recipe in ATK’s The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook using advice from Martha Stewart’s site

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(print the recipe)

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Makes about 1¾ cups

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Ingredients for hummus.JPG

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¼ cup water

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon peanut butter (I used natural peanut butter. The peanut butter is optional. Omit, if you want.)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

1½ cups cooked chickpeas (or one can, rinsed and drained)

1 small clove garlic, minced

½ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

Pinch cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro or parsley (optional), for garnish

 

1. Stir the water and lemon juice together in a measuring cup.

2. Stir the peanut butter and olive oil together so it’s blended well.

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Mixing peanut butter with oil.JPG

I put the peanut butter/oil mixture in a small measuring cup for easy pouring.

Peanut butter and olive oil

3. .Set aside about 1½ – 2 tablespoons of the chickpeas aside to use as a garnish.

4. Put the rest of the chickpeas, garlic, salt, cumin, and cayenne in a food processor and process until it’s ground up well, about 15 – 20 seconds.

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Dry ingredients in the food processor

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ground

 

5. Scrape the mixture down with a spatula. Turn the motor on and slowly stream the water and lemon juice into the chickpeas. Scrape the mixture down again and then process for 1 minute.

6. With the motor running, slowly stream the peanut butter and olive oil mixture into the food processor. Process for about 15 more seconds.

7. Put the hummus in a serving bowl. Garnish with the reserved chickpeas, a drizzle of olive oil, and, if using, the cilantro or parsley.

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Silky Smooth Hummus with no tahini.JPG

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Small Batch Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

May 25, 2016

By Kath Dedon

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Small Batch Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies are just what you need when you want homemade chocolate chip cookies but don’t want to make a huge batch.  The recipe makes just 12 – 14 cookies. It’s quick to make, and it can be mixed in a bowl with a whisk or a fork. There’s no need to use a mixer!

The recipe was developed by America’s Test Kitchen for The Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook (a great cookbook, by the way). They found that you can simply stir in melted butter, eliminating the need to cream the butter and sugar with a mixer. Talk about easy!

The recipe is supposed to yield 12 cookies, but it actually made 14 cookies for me. I baked the extra two in my new convection toaster oven, but I found that the ones baked in my regular oven turned out better.

The next time you just need to have a few chocolate chip cookies, I highly recommend that you try Small Batch Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies. They’re quick, easy, and loaded with chocolate chips! You can be pulling them out of your oven in no time to satisfy your craving!

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One dozen

 

Small Batch Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

(Adapted from the recipe in The Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook by ATK)

 

(print the recipe)

 

Makes 12 – 14 cookies

 

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup packed (3½ ounces) light brown sugar

¼ cup (1¾ ounces) granulated sugar

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

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Ingredients for the cookies (flour is in the bowl)

Ingredients for cookies

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1. Preheat the oven to 350° with the rack in the middle position. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat baking mat.

2. Melt the butter and set it aside to cool a bit while you prepare the other ingredients.

3. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a small bowl.

4. Whisk the light brown sugar and granulated sugar together in a medium bowl.

Sugars

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5. Pour the melted butter into the sugar and stir until it’s well combined.

Butter added

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6. Add the egg and vanilla and stir until combined.

7. Use a spatula to gently blend the flour mixture into the sugar mixture.

Cookie dough

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8. Fold the chocolate chips into the dough.

Chocolate chips added.JPG

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9. Using about 2 tablespoons of dough for each cookie, roll the dough into 12 or so balls and place them about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.

10. Bake for 7 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake for another 7 minutes, until the edges are set but the center is still soft and puffy.

Baked.JPG

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11. Cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet before removing. Enjoy the cookies warm or at room temperature!

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Cooling.JPG

One dozen - Copy.JPG

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