In my house, the back-to-school season means a lot of things. It means checking off every item of the endless lists of mandatory supplies. It means going shopping for new jeans, hoping they’ll last at least the first semester. It means cleaning up the house, because we all know that if it doesn’t get cleaned during the summer, there’s no way anyone will have time during the school year.
But, along with all the boring stuff, it means baking. Cookies for back-to-school cookouts, brownies for the first club meetings, and cupcakes for everything else. Plus, everyone needs something nice to pack in their lunch sacks, right? Other than just the regular overly-sweet and super artificial prepackaged snacks.
Cookies, of course, are the standard item. They’re the easiest to package, easiest to make, easiest to store. And if you don’t have a classic oatmeal chocolate chip recipe in your repertoire, you need to add this one to it right now. (more…)
Eggplant Rice Bowls: Unless you often make vegetables your main course, you probably haven’t tried this combination. The bowl has rice on the bottom (seasoned to your liking), a thick layer of eggplant cooked with onions and green beans, and is topped with sweet potato, to even out the flavors.
It’s not exactly what I’d consider a salad, but the recipe is based off one found in Salad Love by David Bez. Maybe what makes this a salad is the fact that it has a dressing — olive oil infused with crushed red pepper. (more…)
Earlier this summer we gained new neighbors, but our street’s pretty quiet and my family and I hadn’t had a chance to meet the new kids on the block until this past week. Luckily for this family, I’m a baker and every time anyone new moves in nearby, they’re greeted with some kind of fresh pastry delivered to their doorstep.
These neighbors really lucked out with these chocolate crinkle cookies. They’re similar to brownie cookies, with their slightly crunchy exterior and soft and fudgy center, but they’ve also got a coating of powdered sugar baked into them. This amazing concoction is adapted from a recipe from the book Cookie Love.
Though the book is based on one of the most basic things you can bake, cookies are also one of the most versatile and adaptable pastries out there. They can be as simple as a three-ingredient shortbread, or as complex as Cookie Love’s cover photo of spiced double-chocolate cookies (and even more complex if you decide to make the marshmallows from scratch). (more…)
During the year, breakfasts at my house are normally pretty rushed with everyone either heading off to work or school, but during the summer we have much more time to relax and the result is some pretty good food.
This Mango Raspberry Cobbler is one such example. It’s not hard at all to make, but it does require 30 minutes in the oven and it needs to cool down a bit afterwards, so it’s not something that can be made in a hurry.
But the mango and raspberries just complement each other perfectly, both tangy and sweet. And the crumble topping is light and almost granola-like, adding a wonderful crunch into the mix. (more…)
Sometimes, it’s hard to find just the right side dish to accompany your main meal. It’s often so easy to just default to garlic bread or flaky biscuits, even when you know you should be cooking up some veggies or tossing a salad.
The problem tends to be that you don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen, but the reality is that you don’t have to. There are tons of healthy side dish recipes out there that make cooking dinner easy (like this one!). These carrots, for instance, need to be chopped, tossed with flavorings, and baked in the oven. Total prep time is maybe 10 minutes. The picture above shows a meal of pasta with peas, some super-easy asparagus, and these fast carrots. You can have dinner ready in 45 minutes or less (depending on how many helpers you have in the kitchen!). (more…)
In my house, whenever we don’t know what to make for dinner, we opt for a pasta dish. We keep a pretty well-stocked pantry, so this is often the simplest thing. Making the same pasta dish all the time though can become pretty boring, so we like to try different varieties.
Here, we have some orecchiette with peas and onions. This is a super light pasta cooked with parmesan and some lightly sautéed peas and onions. If you have trouble finding orecchiette at your local grocery store, this would work equally well with shells or maybe even spaghetti.
Serve this next to a leafy green salad or with some other deliciously prepared vegetables. Perfect dish for a Meatless Monday! (more…)
Summer is probably every chef’s favorite season: fresh produce is in abundance at every supermarket, farmers markets are running again, and it’s easy to keep a garden during the warm months (or else it’s easy for your neighbor to keep the garden but share the produce with you :).
This summer I’m hoping to try out tons of new recipes and experiment more with cooking different types of vegetables.
This recipe isn’t a super adventurous as the main ingredients are tofu and zucchini. It is, however, the first dish I have ever made with tofu (we eat much more meat in my house). And this was a great introduction to tofu. It’s lightly cooked with the zucchini and some bell pepper and it’s slightly sweet and salty and even has a little bit of a zesty lime flavor (due to the addition of lime juice). Also, just as an added plus, this dish is vegan. (more…)
I’m a huge fan of lemon meringue pie, but it seems like it’s very difficult to buy it well-made. I’ve tried freezer-section versions and “fresher” grocery store versions, but nothing out there that I’ve tried seems to come even close to a homemade version.
But this isn’t quite lemon meringue pie. Instead, it’s a lemon curd tart. It’s a lot like a lemon meringue pie, but the filling is much more flavorful and rich. It’s creamy and sweet and smooth and tart and sour all at the same time. It isn’t topped with a mountain of meringue, like most of the pies normally are, but just a light dollop. Instead of a pie crust, you’ve got two options with this tart: shortbread crust or almond crust.
I made this a couple weeks ago when we had some guests over for dinner, and I’m often a bit apprehensive about making something new when we have guests, but this recipe did not disappoint! I was glad I made two tarts because everyone asked for seconds and the dessert was gone in no time. (more…)
Before it gets too hot outside, be sure to try out this super amazing Kale Stew! Normally, I feel like soups and stews are things that should only be eaten during the winter and fall, but I also think that there are always exceptions. Soups are ok in the spring so long as they’re light and not very creamy. They have to somehow taste refreshing.
This soup definitely meets the above requirement. It’s a bit like a lighter minestrone, as it has similar vegetables and beans, but this stew has bits of red potato and instead of pasta. And, of course, the biggest difference is that this recipe contains kale. Lots of it. But don’t let that scare you away! It’s the kale that adds the “refreshing” element to this recipe! Cooked and in the same spoonful with carrots and potatoes, the kale adds a nice, smooth crunch-like texture to the dish. And you can add more or less kale depending on your preferences since it’s the last step for this soup, so tell your picky eaters at home that they’ve no excuse! (more…)
Maybe you’ve had a lemon pudding cake before. If you have, you already know how amazing they are: baked in a cute little ramekin with a water bath like crème brulee, tangy and creamy like lemon curd, and topped with a delicious and light lemon cake. I guess you could call this the original trifle, given its layers and depth (only that the preparation is a whole lot simpler for lemon pudding cakes). And maybe the comparisons that I’ve written makes it sound like this is a super rich, calorie-ridden dessert, but don’t worry, this is definitely not the case!
Some versions of lemon pudding cake are made needlessly rich and loaded with sugar, but this recipe limits unhealthy ingredients to a minimum while taste and flavor are kept to a max!
This recipe is from Lighten Up, Y’all by Virginia Willis, where all the recipes are made with both taste and health in mind. It features classic Southern recipes that most people consider too unhealthy for everyday consumption (like macaroni and cheese, potato gratin, or grits) and spins them around to make them lighter. (more…)