Simply Recipes

Pasta and Bean Picnic Salad

Pasta Bean Picnic Salad

A picnic table without pasta salad feels like something is missing. You can put out all kinds of beautiful dishes, but pasta salad has to be one of them. It’s dependable, kids love it — and so does Nana.

This recipe combines pasta with beans and fresh vegetables for a more substantial picnic salad. The dressing is a simple vinaigrette – no mayo – so the flavors stay fresh and bright.

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Old-Fashioned Peach Pie

Peach Pie

I could wax on and on about my love for pie. The flake of the crust, the sweet filling, that sparkle of sugar on the crust — but I’ll spare you.

Peach pie is right up there on my list of favorite things to make and eat. One of my very first memories is of riding my grandfather’s shoulders, picking peaches right off the trees in a California orchard, taking that first bite, and letting the juices flow down my arm.

This is the memory of summer for me, and peach pie is a recipe I think every baker should have in their recipe box.

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Angel Hair Pasta with Quick Cherry Tomato Sauce

Angel Hair Pasta with Quick Cherry Tomato Sauce

Every once in a while, I improvise a pasta dinner that I like so much, I end up making it twice in one week. That’s what happened with this recipe.

It’s so quick and simple: Just sauté colorful cherry tomatoes with garlic and toss them with angel hair pasta. Top it with Parmesan and you’re done

To say the sauce is quick doesn’t quite get the point across. It’s practically instant. This is one of those surprising meals that is more than the sum of its parts.

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Pressure Cooker Mexican Pulled Pork (Carnitas)

Pressure Cooker Pulled Pork Carnitas

Want pulled pork in a hurry? With the pressure cooker, you can have tender, fall-apart pulled pork in just a little over an hour!

Elise’s low-and-slow slow cooker Mexican pulled pork is fantastic, but when I forget to plan ahead or want it to be ready a little more quickly, I make this speedy version in my Instant Pot.

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Vietnamese-Style Noodle Bowls with Chicken

Vietnamese Noodle Bowls with Chicken

An entire meal in one bowl is a brilliant system. That’s one reason the bowl trend has taken off and shows no signs of declining.

Another is the ease. You can put a bowl together without any heavy lifting, and at the end of your assembly line you have happy eaters.

Here is a riff that I like to do on Vietnamese “bún” – one of the original meals in a bowl! This is a cold salad of vermicelli rice noodles, chicken, fresh herbs and vegetables, and a tangy rice vinegar dressing.

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Iced Chai Latte

Iced Chai Tea Latte

Last summer, I was all about cold brew coffee. This summer, my obsession is iced chai lattes. And my friends, I am deeply obsessed.

The size (and frequency) of my batches seems to have become larger and larger as the summer has progressed. At first, I was just drinking one or two glasses in the morning. And then another glass in the afternoon started to seem perfectly reasonable.

When I switched from water glasses to pint glasses, I knew I was in trouble.

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Sautéed Zucchini with Dill

Sautéed Zucchini with Dill

When the zucchini in your garden is still slender and about 7-inches long – before they get big as baseball bats — the seeds will be small and the flesh will be sweet.

Zucchini at this stage hardly needs any adornment. I like to cut my zucchini into thin coins and toss them in a hot skillet with some oil until they start to turn golden brown. That’s it!

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Lentil Salad with Arugula and Feta

Lentil Salad with Arugula and Feta

I could eat this salad every day! It has all the elements I love in a salad: something crunchy (pine nuts and red onions), something salty and tangy (sherry vinaigrette and feta cheese), something sweet (dried currants), and some tasty greens (peppery arugula).

It makes a great lunch all by itself when you’re in the mood for a salad. It also pairs well with anything coming off the grill or with simple roast chicken if you want to serve it for dinner.

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BBQ Bacon Jalapeño Poppers

BBQ Bacon Jalapeño Poppers

This post is brought to you in partnership with Stubb’s Bar-B-Que 

As we all know, bacon makes everything better. You know what, though? So does barbecue sauce!

These spicy grilled jalapeño poppers are stuffed with an addictive mix of Stubb’s Sticky Sweet Bar-B-Q Sauce, cheddar and cream cheese, and glazed bacon before being grilled until hot and bubbly.

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Italian Sausage Stuffed Zucchini

Italian Sausage Stuffed Zucchini

Fellow gardeners, you know this tale well. You step away from your garden bed for 1 minute (or a weekend) and come back to find a monster zucchini hiding in the greenery.

Sometimes the plant warns you. Regular zucchini production starts slowing down, odd for early summer. The reason? All of the plant’s attention is going to feeding that one humungous baseball bat of a zuke.

Fortunately, those ginormous zucchinis are perfect for stuffing!

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15 Recipes for a Summer Cookout with California Ripe Olives

This round-up is brought to you in partnership with the California Olive Committee.

Dreaming up a menu for your next summer cookout? Look no further than one of our favorite pantry staples, olives.

The buttery, mild flavor of both California green and black ripe olives are a fantastic contrast to all of the smoky flavors coming off the grill this summer. You can chop them up into a quick tapenade to serve with chips, make a quick relish to spoon on top of burgers, or toss them with fresh summer vegetables in a pasta salad.

Here are fifteen recipes that put a can of olives to work, guaranteed to make your next cookout a memorable one!

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Pressure Cooker Chipotle Chicken and Rice Bowls

Pressure Cooker Chipotle Chicken and Rice Bowls

My husband is a big fan of chipotle – both the spicy, smoky peppers themselves and the restaurant chain. He declared this dish to be better than Chipotle’s fast-casual burrito bowls, so I’m calling it a win!

This is certainly more budget-friendly than ordering take-out for four people. It also cooks in about the same time that it would take us to drive over and pick up dinner!

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American Flag Pie

American Flag Slab Pie

Looking for something special to bring to a Fourth of July cook-out? Check out this American Flag Pie! It’s a sheet-pan slab pie with a homemade crust and a blueberry and strawberry filling, topped with stars and stripes.

Slab pies are shallower than regular pies, but they make up for it in width. A 13 x18 sheet pan pie will easily feed 12 people, perfect for a party.

While conceivably you could use a prepackaged folded frozen pie crust (just get four of them and cut them to fit the rectangular sheet pan, and cut out the shapes), I strongly encourage you to try the home made crust recipe I’ve included for this pie.

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Shrimp Quesadilla

Shrimp Quesadillas

Quesadillas have to be my favorite go-to food for lunch. They’re just so easy to make! Especially when you have tortillas and cheese in the fridge, which we almost always do.

One way to take a quesadilla from snack to a meal is to add some protein, like chicken, beef, or in this case shrimp.

First marinate raw shrimp in a little lime juice and chili pepper. Then sauté the shrimp and add it to your jack-cheese quesadilla along with red onion and cilantro. Serve with some sliced avocado, sour cream, maybe another squeeze of lime juice, and you’re set!

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Classic Wedge Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing

Classic Wedge Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing

For years, iceberg lettuce got a real thrashing from chefs who thought of it as tasteless and nothing but texture. What’s wrong with great texture?

Cut up a head of iceberg for a classic wedge salad, add blue cheese dressing, smoky bacon, and a few cherry tomatoes, and even the worst kitchen snobs will change their minds!

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Blueberry Slump

Blueberry Slump

When it’s blueberry season, all thoughts (at least at my house) turn to pie or cobbler. Except when it’s so hot outside the asphalt is melting and the last thing you want to do is turn on the oven.

Enter the New England classic—Blueberry Slump! (or Blueberry Grunt if you’re from some parts)

A slump is made entirely on the stovetop, no need to heat the kitchen with your oven. Into a pot go blueberries, lemon, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar, which you heat until the berries are bubbling.

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Make-Ahead Feta and Spinach Breakfast Wraps

Make-Ahead Feta and Spinach Wraps

This post is brought to you in partnership with Frigo® Cheese.

These cheesy spinach and feta breakfast wraps make life easy, whether you are serving them at a big potluck brunch or just for your family during the week.

Frigo’s tangy Feta Cheese and spinach are such a classic and irresistible combo – doubly so when paired with the soft scrambled eggs in this recipe. The wraps are so quick to assemble, though you can also make them up to two days in advance and reheat in the oven or microwave. What’s not to love?!

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Lemon Blueberry Scones

Lemon Blueberry Scones

I’ve made so many variations of these scones over the years that I can’t even remember which ones were first! The basic dough is extremely adaptable, and I love coming up with different fruit, spice, and glaze combinations depending on the season.

For this early summer version, I just folded fresh blueberries right into the dough, then topped the scones with a puckery-sweet lemon glaze.

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies

There were two major influences on this recipe: the Nestle Toll House back-of-the-package recipe (which I think we can all agree is pretty much The Standard as far as chocolate chip cookies go) and a recipe from Christina Tosi’s cookbook Milk Bar Life.

It’s thanks to Christina’s recipe that I discovered the wonders of this one special ingredient that makes all the difference.

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How to Make Fluffy Gluten-Free Biscuits

Gluten-Free Biscuits

Flaky, buttery, sky-high biscuits are one of life’s simple joys. When I learned that I would need to be gluten-free for rest of my life, biscuits were one of those simple joys that I was not willing to give up. So, I set to working on gluten-free biscuit recipes!

Over the years, I’ve made some truly awesome gluten-free biscuits, but of all those biscuits, these may be my favorite.

In developing this recipe, I used every trick in the book to make my gluten-free biscuits just as good as the gluten-y ones I remember. All those tricks came with a big payoff!

Gluten-Free Biscuits

3 Tips for Mile-High Gluten-Free Biscuits

  • Replace the buttermilk with sour cream and a touch of heavy cream. This results in a light texture, a very tender crumb, and a lovely flavor.
  • Treat the biscuit dough like a pie crust. Work with very cold butter and cold hands. Also, turn and fold the dough to create distinct flaky layers.
  • Bake the gluten-free biscuits in a cast iron skillet with very little room in between each biscuit. The biscuits have almost no room to expand sideways and must puff up high instead. I like using a 9-inch cast iron skillet.

Since this recipe is made entirely by hand, if your hands tend to run warm, soak them in cold water for a minute, then dry them thoroughly before mixing.

Speaking of mixing, I find the best way is to rub the butter and flour between your fingers making a motion that mimics snapping.

Also, don’t skimp on the resting time when making these biscuits. Gluten-free flours benefit greatly from resting since they can take longer to hydrate than wheat flour. Also, working with very cold, well-chilled dough makes those biscuits even flakier.

Gluten-Free BiscuitsThis combination of techniques and ingredients produces a biscuit that is flaky, buttery, and slightly tangy. They are a complete pleasure to eat on their own, drizzled with honey, or topped with strawberries and whipped cream, shortcake-style.

If you’d like to use this biscuit for a savory recipe, like biscuits and gravy or a pot pie, just reduce the sugar to 2 teaspoons.

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Grilled Marinated Flank Steak

Grilled Marinated Flank Steak

Flank steak is a lean, somewhat tough but flavorful cut of beef that benefits from the tenderizing effects of a marinade. It is best cooked medium rare and thinly sliced at an angle across the grain of the meat.

Prepared this way, marinated, cooked quickly at high heat, thinly sliced, flank steak practically melts in your mouth. This recipe calls for grilling the steak, but if you don’t have a grill, you can prepare the steak on a large cast iron frying pan as well.

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Shrimp with Olives, Tomatoes, and Orzo

Shrimp with Olives, Tomatoes, Orzo

Shrimp lovers! Have you ever tried shrimp with black olives?

It’s one of those master flavor combos which I’m sure chefs have known about for years, but I discovered by accident the other day when I happened to have some cooked shrimp and canned olives in the fridge and I took a bite of each. Wow, so good!

Here’s the recipe that evolved from that serendipitous moment—a quick and easy dinner with shrimp cooked in a fresh tomato, garlic, caper, and olive sauce, tossed with orzo pasta and chopped arugula.

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Pressure Cooker Potato Salad

Pressure Cooker Potato Salad

Elise’s Dad makes an awesome potato salad. The salad is studded with lots of crunchy chopped vegetables, and the simple dressing (just mayo, mustard, and pepper) is perfect. As far as the ingredients go, there isn’t a whole lot to improve upon!

The classic stove-top method works just fine, of course, but I couldn’t wait to convert this classic recipe to be made in the pressure cooker!

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Mediterranean Chickpea Bowls with Tahini Sauce

Mediterranean Chickpea Buddha Bowls

While I love all the various flavors and spices found in Mediterranean food, one of the things I find that like most about this cuisine is the way textures, colors, and even temperatures are often combined a single dish.

I’ve made these vegan and gluten-free bowls in this same spirit. They showcase some of my favorite Mediterranean ingredients all in one bowl, like spiced chickpeas, cucumbers, tomatoes, and tahini, as well as an awesome mix of hot and cold, crisp and creamy!

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Make-ahead Frittata Squares with Spinach, Tomatoes, and Feta

Frittata Squares with Spinach, Tomatoes, and Feta

Think of frittata as an Italian cousin to the French omelet, with a few notable differences.

Instead of folding the omelet around the filling as the French do, Italian frittatas mix the eggs and filling together from the start and then bake them together in one dish. It’s a little like an open-faced omelet that can feed the whole family!

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Sous Vide French Dip Sandwiches

This recipe is brought to you in partnership with ChefSteps. ChefSteps is having a sale for $30 off both the new edition of the ChefStep’s Joule sous vide immersion circulator and their flagship Joule through Wednesday, May 31, 2017 — go check it out!

It seems like a magic trick: take a cheap, tough cut of beef, like a top round roast or a chuck roast, cook it for twenty-four hours without peeking, and Abracadabra! Now it’s suddenly filet mignon.

But it’s not magic — this is sous vide cooking!

For the past few months, I’ve been playing around with Joule, an immersion circulator from ChefSteps used for sous vide cooking, and I have slowly found myself won over by this new way of cooking. Have you ever heard of sous vide cooking? Or tried it yourself?

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Oven-Roasted Salmon, Asparagus and New Potatoes

Sheet Pan Salmon with Asparagus and New Potatoes

My dad pulled out a favorite recipe from his collection of decades old Food & Wine magazine to make and share with “the people on the website.”

A “discussion” then ensued between the rental units for at least half an hour along the lines of “What do you mean this is a favorite recipe? You always told me you didn’t like salmon.” “What are you talking about? I used to make this all the time.” “You’ve never made it in this house!…” and so on and so on.

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Fudgy Chocolate Brownies

Fudgy Brownies

My mother often made these brownies on the spur of the moment. She’d see a bunch of kids in the house, and an hour later, she’d offer all of us a treat. “Let’s have a bite of brownie!” she would announce, and proceed to hand out small, warm squares.

I have no doubt that this recipe came from the back of a box at some point, but I only have the small index card she wrote in her beautiful penmanship. It’s a simple formula: chocolate, butter, sugar, eggs, and flour, all stirred together in one pot.

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Spicy Grilled Chicken Tacos

Spicy Grilled Chicken Tacos

We have a family motto and it is this: Everything goes better in a tortilla.

Any and every kind of leftover can go inside a warm tortilla, usually with a healthy dose of pickled jalapenos. I can always sniff out a late-night snacker when the aroma of tortillas heating in a hot pan on the stove comes wafting through the house.

Today’s tacos are more purposeful – a deliberate meal instead of a secretive midnight snack!

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Baked Vegetable and Cream Cheese Wontons

Baked Vegetable and Cream Cheese Wontons

Making dumplings is a big tradition in my family. When I was young, my mother would wake me up early on Sunday mornings to make dumplings with her and my grandmother. We would spend an hour or two filling and shaping dumplings, and then cook them for brunch for the rest of the family.

It was a lot of work, but I always got first dibs on the freshly made dumplings!

Now that I live away from my family, I still try to keep that weekend dumpling-making tradition alive.

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Chia Pudding with Blueberries and Almonds

Blueberry Almond Chia Seed Pudding

Have you ever tried chia seeds? They’re nutrient dense, fiber rich tiny seeds of the chia plant that expand when you soak them in liquid to something like tapioca, but with really small pearls.

You can add them to smoothies for extra protein and fiber, or let them soak for a while and plump up to make an easy dairy-free pudding.

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Greek Lamb Burgers with Tzatziki Sauce

Greek Lamb Burgers with Tzatziki Sauce

Up your burger game and be the hero of your next barbecue with Greek lamb burgers and homemade tzatziki!

I season these lamb burgers with some of Greece’s most-loved flavors – like garlic, dried lemon peel, and oregano – before grilling them up and serving them on toasted buns.

I like to set out a little buffet of Greek-inspired toppings near the grill for everyone to help themselves. Some of my favorites are fresh tomatoes, lettuce, feta, red onion, and of course, that tzatziki.

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Cooking Advice From Mom

Alice Bauer in her kitchen

Updated from the archives with new photos, first posted in 2008 when Elise’s mom was 73, she’s now 82. Happy Mother’s Day!

Years ago I was asked to write about what I’ve learned from my mother about cooking. Since at the time I was living with my parents and cooking with my mom almost every day, this wasn’t a difficult exercise. I’m still learning from her, though now occasionally she learns something from me too. 😉

My mother is one of those intuitive cooks in the kitchen. Having raised six kids, she doesn’t follow recipes anymore. If you watch her while she cooks, the timing just appears to happen seamlessly.

Whereas I’m best at making one dish at a time, mom can coordinate a whole meal for 8—a main course protein, one or two veggie sides, a starch, and a salad—without getting remotely flustered.

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Potato and Broccoli Curry

Potato Broccoli Curry

Years ago, when I asked my friend Arthi for her favorite curry recipe, she gave me this sauce, which she adjusted to make what I call her “supermarket” version. That meant I could grab the ingredients at my local market without a special trip to her Indian grocery.

I love this sauce! It’s rich, but there’s no cream. It’s spicy, but not too hot. When it’s done cooking, you want to eat it with a spoon.

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