Simply Recipes

Crispy, Golden Turkey Skin: 4 Methods Put to the Test (and One Winner!)

I’ve been wrist deep in the business end of chickens all week. I’m on a quest to determine the best way to achieve perfect deep, golden, crispy skin, both for our everyday roast chickens and also for that bird of all birds — the Thanksgiving turkey.

Why? A well-roasted bird makes an undeniably beautiful presentation on your holiday table. Also, of course, the snap of salty, crisp skin with each tender morsel of meat is a little bite of heaven. In the end, we want a bird with tender, flavorful meat, and deeply golden, crispy skin. The goal is to inject the meat with moisture while eliminating it from the skin.

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Pfeffernüsse Spice Cookies

Pfeffernüsse Spice Cookies

Years ago, I used to host an annual holiday cookie swap at a local nonprofit community center in San Francisco. Friends and members of the community would gather together, bearing large batches of homemade cookies. Everyone would walk around, sampling cookies and taking a few of the ones we loved.

Each person left with a tin of assorted cookies, along with a slight sugar buzz.

It was a marvelous way to meet new people in the neighborhood, as well as learn about new cookies that I wasn’t familiar with. And that’s exactly how I was introduced to the magical Pfeffernusse.

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11 Urgent Questions about Roasting a Turkey

Roast Turkey

Most of us only roast a turkey once a year, so we don’t get a lot of practice doing it. Invariably, every year some urgent questions come up about the process — whether it’s your first or fiftieth time doing it.

You’ve got this. Never fear! Here are some answers to questions you may have:

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How to Make Classic Tiramisu

Tiramisu

I’ve always thought of tiramisu as a “restaurant dessert.” You know – one of those fancy desserts that you would never think to make at home.

This is mostly because tiramisu is one of two desserts that my mom always orders at restaurants (the other being crème brulee; she likes a classic). I’d honestly never encountered tiramisu outside of a restaurant setting!

But a few years ago this changed when we hosted our first Christmas dinner and my mom requested tiramisu for dessert. I was definitely a little fearful, but went into “what’s the worst that could happen?” mode.

It turns out that making a good tiramisu at home isn’t really all that difficult. It really just requires a little patience, some solid whisking, and a few tips to help you along!

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Mint-Chocolate Grasshopper Cocktail

Grasshopper Cocktail

The first time I had a Grasshopper was shortly after I turned twenty-one. I was at a Christmas party that was about as classy as you might expect when hosted in a house on Sorority Row and attended by a bunch of recently-legal drinkers.

There was a keg dressed as Santa, guys and girls in fake antlers, and pirated Christmas music blaring over the din of the crowd. And if you could push your way through the tipsy mass of people, one noble student was playing bartender in the corner.

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Pressure Cooker Turkey with Dijon Gravy

Pressure Cooker Turkey with Dijon Gravy

Raise your hand if you prefer dark meat turkey. It’s not just me, right?

There’s so much more flavor in the legs, thighs, and wings, and I’m happy to eat them at Thanksgiving — or anytime I can find them in the market.

(And don’t worry if white meat is your thing — you can use bone-in half breasts for this recipe, too.)

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Coconut Banana Cream Pie

Coconut Banana Cream Pie

When it comes to big holiday meals like Thanksgiving and Christmas, I am a big believer in multiple desserts. Specifically pies. It just doesn’t feel festive to me without some variety.

This Coconut Banana Cream Pie, a hybrid of coconut cream pie and banana cream pie, is

Since this Coconut Banana Cream Pie is actually two-for-one deal — coconut cream pie and banana cream pie — it’s perfect for those of us (ahem, me) who want a little bite of every holiday dessert offering.

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Potato Latkes

Potato Latkes

Latkes, which are wonderfully crisp potato pancakes, are the specialty of the Jewish holiday Hanukkah. Every year, my dad would fry latkes (pronounced LOT-kuz) in a skillet of hot oil, but it bothered him that his batter of grated potatoes would turn gray so quickly from exposure to the air.

My father was an engineer with chemist envy, and there wasn’t anything he couldn’t figure out with a little trial and error, so he decided to solve this latke problem once and for all.

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Pressure Cooker Cheesecake + Instant Pot GIVEAWAY!

Cheesecake in the Pressure Cooker

For those of us who have been cooking for a long time, it can be a very good thing to sometimes step outside our comfort zones and be a complete beginner again. Humbling, to be sure, but good for our characters.

This is how I’ve felt over the past few months with my Instant Pot. Everything about it was new, from figuring out how to put the lid on and which buttons to push to getting used to the fact that I couldn’t just lift the lid to check on my food whenever I wanted to.

There was a lot of anxiety and a few oopsies, as well as a surprising number of successes, even in the early days.

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Italian Wedding Soup

Italian Meatball Soup

Italian wedding soup is a quick and hearty dinner that only looks like you worked long and hard to make it.

Just shape ground pork and beef meatballs and simmer them in chicken stock, then add leafy greens and cooked pasta. Versions of the soup have been made all over the Mediterranean for centuries. It’s a nourishing meal that’s easy enough for any weeknight.

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Meal Plan for November Week 2

Another week has snuck up on us! Can you believe we’re so close to the New Year? I, for one, have had one of the most eventful years in recent memory. With my husband coming off the heels of yet another military deployment (the second in three years), I can honestly say I’m ready for a bit of zen.

Single-parenting and being responsible for keeping us all fed and happy is no joke. One needs a reprieve from the daily demands life puts on us.

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10 Easy Appetizers for Your Holiday Party

Holiday Appetizers

The holidays are upon us! Drinks, parties, ugly sweaters, and best of all, FOOD! So much glorious food!

It’s time to don your gay apparel and show up to that party in style. And don’t forget your appetizer!

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Chocolate Florentine Cookies

Chocolate Florentine Cookies

There are a number of cookies that I try not to make too often. This is not because they are difficult or time-consuming, but because they get consumed way too fast in our household!

Florentines fall into this category. These nutty, toffee-like cookies sandwiched with a layer of dark chocolate are basically everything my partner and I look for in a cookie. Thus, they disappear like magic once made. A total danger for our waistline.

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Roasted Winter Squash with Cilantro Chimichurri

Roasted Winter Squash with Cilantro Chimichurri

We’ve all had those shocking epiphanies where suddenly you realize that somehow, someway, you’ve become an adult.

Maybe it was when you found yourself agreeing with Ariel’s dad in The Little Mermaid. (“Young lady, you don’t love that boy. You don’t even know him!”) Or perhaps it was when you realized you actually wanted socks for your birthday because that meant you wouldn’t have to spend your own money on them.

For me, it was when I first used the thermostat after getting my first real job after college. Before, I was simply wearing a lot of sweaters and ensuring that whatever I made for dinner required turning on the oven so it would also warm the tiny hovel my landlord passed off as an apartment.

Suddenly, I was adult with a heating bill.

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Four-Cheese Lasagna with Fresh Pasta

Four Cheese Lasagna

This is not your Aunt Mary’s lasagna—or one you’ve likely encountered from any family member! There’s no tomato sauce and no meat. Just fresh pasta sheets layered with four different kinds of delicious cheese.

This lasagna is golden with crispy-chewy edges on top and creamy insides in the middle. This makes a heavenly and decadent addition to a holiday table or midwinter feast.

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8 Things To Do Right Now So You’re Ready for the Holidays

Holiday Prep List

We’re swiftly approaching that “most wonderful time of the year,” right? Ah yes, but it can be stressful, too – especially if some aspect of your kitchen prep has gone awry.

Here’s a list of eight things you can start crossing off your list right now so that when the holidays descend — and it always happens quickly — you’ll be armed and ready to tackle whatever casserole or cookie comes your way!

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How To Cook Potatoes in the Pressure Cooker

How To Cook Potatoes in the Pressure Cooker

I don’t always prep or cook in advance, but boy am I glad when I do. It’s so nice to go into the fridge and find things that are easy assemble into a quick meal.

Like potatoes! A pressure cooker makes fast work of steaming a bunch of cubed potatoes, and I use them for all sorts of things all week long.

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Speculoos Brownie Cake + First Look at Baker’s Royale Cookbook

Speculoos Brownie Cake

I have been a long-time follower of Naomi Robinson’s blog, Baker’s Royale. It was her lush and textured photography style that initially drew me in, but it’s been her delicious, homemade desserts that keep me coming back.

Her new book, also titled Baker’s Royale, is full of beautifully shot, approachable recipes – 75 of them!

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Harvest Salad with Miso-Maple Roasted Butternut Squash

Harvest Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash

This vibrant harvest salad is filled with fall’s best ingredients. Butternut squash gets roasted with maple and miso, then tossed with crisp apples, dried cranberries, earthy pumpkin seeds, fresh pomegranate seeds, and a maple-Dijon vinaigrette.

The result is a salad that feels like fall on a plate!

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Pressure Cooker Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Pressure Cooker Mashed Potatoes

After making mashed potatoes every kind of way, these days, it’s all about the electric pressure cooker. The potatoes come out perfectly every time, and it’s so, so fast!

Whether you’re making mashed potatoes for a weeknight dinner or a big holiday spread, this is my favorite method for a perfect bowl of spuds.

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One-Pot Chicken and Rice Soup

One-Pot Chicken and Rice Soup

This easy one-pot chicken and rice soup is one that definitely deserves to be in your collection. It’s just the thing for warming you up on a cold night, or providing comfort when you’re feeling under the weather.

The best part? You literally throw all the ingredients in the pot and let them simmer in the stock until the soup is done. No sautéing or browning. So easy.

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12 Essential Tools That We Can’t Live Without

Essential Tools

Did you know that every single recipe on Simply Recipes goes through a rigorous process of development, testing, and editing before it gets shared on the site? It’s true! We want to make sure you’re only getting the very best when it comes to your meals and desserts.

Given the fact that our team of contributors and testers spend so much time in the kitchen day in and day out, it’s no wonder that we’ve developed some preferences when it comes to our essential, most time-saving kitchen tools.

Want to hear what they are?!

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German Chocolate Sheet Cake With Coconut-Pecan Frosting

German Chocolate Cake

Let’s be honest. The thing that unites those of us who love German Chocolate Cake is our deep appreciation for the coconut pecan frosting.

Essentially, this frosting is a thick, butterscotch custard with tons of shredded coconut and pecans folded in. It’s what that makes this cake so delicious and unique.

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Pork Stir Fry with Green Onion

Pork Stir Fry with Green Onion

Don’t you love a good stir-fry?

The following stir-fried pork recipe couldn’t be easier. All you need is lean pork, some green onions, and garlic. You marinate thin strips of pork first in a mixture of soy sauce, a little sugar, and cornstarch.

The cornstarch marinade is a useful trick to help keep the pork from drying out when it gets cooked on that high heat. The sugar is just enough to create some caramelization for added flavor.

It helps but isn’t necessary to have a well seasoned wok. Years ago I had this big wok with wooden handles, well seasoned, in spite of a housemate’s attempt one day to scour off all of the pan’s beautiful black seasoning I had worked so hard to create.

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The Best (And Worst) Store-Bought Pie Crusts

Pie Crust Reviews

Do you love pie?

I do. I love to make pie. I love to eat pie. I especially love a good homemade pie crust. In fact, I’ve spent years encouraging people to make their own pie crust from scratch (and even have the world’s most fool-proof pie crust recipe with video right here on the site).

That said, I’ve learned over the years that most home cooks will use a store-bought frozen or refrigerated crust to make their pies. I get it. We are busy people. We want pie. We would rather make a pie in one hour than in two.

With that in mind, I set out to review several packaged pie crusts I could find locally, to see if there were any I would personally use and recommend, and if there were any that people should simply avoid.

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Turkey Meatloaf

Turkey Meatloaf

Ah, meatloaf…the American classic supper!

Despite her desperate five o’clock scramble, my mom – an artist and mother of four — always managed to pull off a mean meatloaf.

I remember her frantically pulling apart a slice or two of bread to make crumbs, and then throwing them into a bowl with an egg, some ketchup, grated onion, and ground beef. And then there was the grated carrot, which qualified as a vegetable (along with the ketchup).

She shaped it into a mound, threw it in the pan, drizzled the top with more ketchup and tossed it into the oven. Phew! Let’s just say her motto was “I’d rather be painting.”

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Meal Plan for October Week 3

Meal Plan for October Wk 3

Welcome to our new series of weekly meal plans! This month, Summer Miller will be sharing with us what meal planning looks like in her house. Summer is a mom, a full-time food writer, and also helps test the fabulous recipes we bring you every week at Simply Recipes.

Life is busy. Leftovers are nice.

Eating leftovers wasn’t at the top of my “to do” list when I was a single 20-something. Now that I’m feeding a family of four, and doing so three times a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, I welcome the opportunity to double up a dish so I can freeze some for later or pack it up for lunches the next day.

This change in lifestyle was dictated by more than just having a family. I moved to the country several years ago, and no one delivers pizza to a rural address. If I want to eat, I have to make it.

Learning to think ahead took some time, but now I wouldn’t have it any other way. I generally have something at the ready when work deadlines collide with getting dinner on the table, or when the kitchen is in shambles after a day of recipe testing, or when I’m not feeling so great myself and still have mouths to feed. (It turns out you still have to feed your children even when you’re sick and your husband is out town. Who knew?)

Once you establish the habit of cooking with leftovers in mind, I think it is actually more convenient than picking up take-out. It’s certainly healthier than what shows up at your door in a cardboard box!

Each recipe in this week’s meal plan is either large enough to feed an army or is easily doubled, and the leftovers will either last all week or can be frozen for later. A few of the recipes require a little heavy lifting on the weekend, but the payoff comes when you’re eating home-cooked comfort food on Wednesday and you didn’t even need to bring out your cutting board.

Meal Plan for October Week 3

Beef Barley Stew

1 Beef and Barley Stew with Mushrooms: This rich and filling stew makes enough for Sunday dinner, then pack the leftovers in lunchboxes for the rest of the week. If you have time, make these potato dinner rolls – they are simple to make and you can freeze them, too!

 

Baked Vegetable and Cream Cheese Wontons

2 Baked Vegetable and Cream Cheese Wontons: Spend a little time on Saturday or Sunday assembling these wontons, then freeze them. Bake them straight from the freezer for a quick weeknight dinner, or save them to serve as an appetizer at an impromptu party. The recipe makes about fifty wontons, and makes a fun family meal with some miso soup or stir-fried greens on the side.

 

Black Bean Burrito Bowl

3 Black Bean Burrito Bowls: Burrito bowls are one of my favorite meals, but rice and dry beans can both take a while to cook. I usually make double batches of both things on Sunday. They freeze beautifully, and thaw quickly, which makes them ready when I am!

 

Mini Salmon Quiches

4 Mini Salmon Quiches: These little quiche bites are a universal food. They are perfect for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner. Serve them with a salad, like this Quinoa, Feta, and Arugula Salad, and you have a quick and light weeknight meal. This recipe makes twelve mini-quiches, but they’re so fast to make that you can easily double it. Freeze the leftovers and save them for a rainy day.

 

Skillet Pasta with Chicken Sausage, Cheese & Spinach

5 Pasta Skillet with Chicken Sausage, Cheese, and Spinach: You’ve made it to Friday! Yay! You should have enough leftovers in the fridge or the freezer to make this weekend kitchen-free. Cook up this nearly effortless skillet pasta, then pour yourself a hot toddy, watch Netflix and chill. (If you like, lighten the load of this carb-loving dish by serving it with this lemon and garlic-kissed broccolini recipe.)

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Pumpkin Gingerbread

Pumpkin Gingerbread

This pumpkin gingerbread is one of our favorite treats for fall!

We almost always have extra pumpkin sitting around this time of year, either puréed and in cans, or fresh. Two of my favorite sweet quick breads are pumpkin bread and gingerbread.

This recipe started as an experiment to combine the two. The result? A tender, richly flavored loaf—spicy, molasses-y, and pumpkin-y. 

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Pot Sticker Stir-Fry

Pot Sticker Stir Fry

I’m always on the hunt for new ways to get a healthy dinner on the table and fresh flavor combinations to keep things interesting. When a cookbook checks both of these boxes, it earns a special place in my heart.

Enter my friend Michelle Tam’s latest release, Ready or Not!: 150+ Make-Ahead, Make-Over, and Make-Now Recipes by Nom Nom Paleo. It’s geared toward all different kinds of meal prep situations — from meals that require some more advanced planning to emergency weeknight dinners.

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Pressure Cooker Saag Tofu (Indian Spinach and Tofu)

Pressure Cooker Saag Tofu

A few weeks ago, I was digging into a meal of saag paneer at one of my favorite Indian restaurants (Zareen’s in Palo Alto!), when it occurred to me that the texture of the soft fresh paneer cheese in the dish was very similar to the texture of extra-firm tofu.

I decided there and then to come up with a vegan riff on this dish so that everyone can enjoy it, even if you’re eating dairy-free.

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Meal Plan for October Week 2

October Wk 2 Meal Plan

Welcome to our new series of weekly meal plans! This month, Summer Miller will be sharing with us what meal planning looks like in her house. Summer is a mom, a full-time food writer, and also helps test the fabulous recipes we bring you every week at Simply Recipes.

Summer is definitively over, and now we find ourselves squarely in the throes of fall. It’s time to trade in our swimsuits for sweatshirts and swap out our grills for slow cookers.

To help you warm up to the cooler temps, I’ve put together some of fall favorites. Most are easy meals you can get on the table in about an hour, and the one that isn’t is a slow cooker recipe where the crockpot does the heavy lifting for you.

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Chicken Enchiladas Verdes

Chicken Enchiladas Verdes

Do you ever cook with tomatillos? They look like little lanterns, with their green papery husks.

Sometimes people mistake them for green tomatoes (doesn’t help that their Spanish name is “tomate verde”); they are nightshades, like eggplants and peppers, and therefore distant cousins of tomatoes, but the taste is quite different.

The tomatillos I grow in my garden here in Northern California ripen in September and October, but most of the tomatillos we get from the market come all year round from Mexico. When my tomatillos are ripe, I make a large batch of Mexican salsa verde, perfect for tortilla chips, great with eggs, and awesome in these enchiladas!

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Creamy Potatoes with Cheese and Tomatoes

New Potatoes with Cheese and Tomatoes

This recipe for creamy potatoes with cheese and tomatoes is adapted from one we found in Sunset Magazine years ago, and is inspired by a classic dish in Colombian cooking—papas chorreadas.

Potatoes are boiled in salted water, then smothered in a sauce made with fresh tomatoes, onions, cream, and cheese. So good!

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Chicken Scampi with Angel Hair Pasta

Chicken Scampi with Angel Hair Pasta

Most people associate scampi with shrimp and other shellfish, but guess what? This classic pasta dish works just as well with chicken.

The richness from the butter and olive oil are balanced by the acidity of the lemon juice and white wine. You also get a punch of garlic, a hint of heat from the red pepper flakes, and some freshness from the parsley.

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Meal Plan for October Week 1

October Week 1 Meal Plan

Welcome to our new series of weekly meal plans! This month, Summer Miller will be sharing with us what meal planning looks like in her house. Summer is a mom, a full-time food writer, and also helps test the fabulous recipes we bring you every week at Simply Recipes.

Getting dinner on the table with kids underfoot and work deadlines piling up can seem like an insurmountable challenge at times. I try to keep the weekday dinner insanity to a minimum by committing a little time on the weekend to prep.

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Turkey Meatballs with Tomatoes and Basil

Turkey Meatballs with Tomatoes and Basil

We used to have a cat named Jack. Jack was a sly, slow-moving, long-haired Persian that would rarely come when called, but if you put out a small bowl of vanilla ice cream, out of nowhere he would magically appear.

This is sort of how my dad is with meatballs.

All I have to do is say, “Dad, I’m making meatballs,” and he’s half-way out the door on the way over. He loves these turkey meatballs.

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Maple-Glazed Chicken with Caramelized Onions and Pears

Maple-Glazed Chicken with Caramelized Onions and Pears

In New England, where I live, there are so many grand maple trees that the syrup goes into everything.

You often find it in pots of baked beans instead of molasses, as well as in all kinds of cakes, pies, and other sweet desserts.

Maple syrup also makes its way into simple weeknight dishes like this skillet chicken recipe, where it turns into a glaze.

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Cauliflower Pasta Bake

Cauliflower Pasta Bake

This is a mac and cheese for grown-ups. It is not the ooey-gooey comfort food of your childhood, but something a little more refined that just so happens to be cheesy and crispy.

For this baked pasta recipe, sweet, roasted cauliflower and onions are paired with salty Parmesan and buttery Gouda and topped with a crispy Ritz cracker crust. It can be served as a simple vegetarian dinner or as a side dish for roast chicken or grilled steak.

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Plum Walnut Skillet Cake

Plum Walnut Skillet Cake

When was the last time you threw a cake together in 15 minutes? Well, this one delivers and it will make you so happy!

Juicy plums are excellent for eating out of hand, but baking with them is one of the finest pleasures of summer. Their flesh is sweet and their skins are tart, so they inspire use in tarts, crumbles, muffins, coffee cakes — or in this case, an easy walnut cake.

The walnuts also give moistness and earthy flavor to the cake, which is heavily scented with the zest of an entire lemon. The whole dough can be made in a few minutes in the food processor.

Bonus points: You don’t even have to peel the plums!

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