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Meal Plan for December Week 1

December Meal Plan Week 1

This month, Summer Miller is back and excited to share her family’s meal plans for December. Happy holidays, everyone!

I need a handful of things to keep my sanity in check during the month of December. The first is nourishing food that gives me enough energy to make it through work, family activities, holiday shopping, and decking the halls.

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Roasted Pepper Crostini with Olives, Capers & Caramelized Onions

Roasted Pepper Crostini with Olives

This recipe is brought to you in partnership with The California Olive Committee.

Oh my. You know a recipe hits it out of the park when a certain family octogenarian (my dad) comes over mid-party prep and can’t stop eating it.

That’s the problem with appetizers, right? If they’re good, only half of them make it to your guests! (LOL I’m passing the blame on my father, but let’s be truthful here, I’m just as guilty. Just make more. Problem solved.)

These Roasted Pepper Crostini are made with sweet mini peppers that have been halved, stuffed with salty capers, sweet cherry tomatoes, and buttery California Ripe Olives, and roasted on a bed of balsamic-tossed sliced red onions.

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Pressure Cooker Guinness Beef Stew

Pressure Cooker Guinness Beef Stew

You guys, I get so much joy out of converting slow cooker recipes into brand spanking new versions for the electric pressure cooker.

There are so many advantages to doing this! Everything cooks much faster, so there’s no need to plan ahead—yet you can also leave the food on the “Keep Warm” setting if you don’t get to it right away. Total flexibility.

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Snip Doodles (Snickerdoodle Coffee Cake) + First Look at BraveTart Cookbook

Snicker Doodle Coffee Cake

“So I have a complaint about your snickerdoodle recipe!” I told New York Times bestselling author Stella Parks as I interviewed her recently at Omnivore Books.

Stella and I have been friends for years, but I had to be honest with her. “How come your snickerdoodle recipe uses baking powder? For me, classic snickerdoodles have baking soda and cream of tartar!”

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Basque-Style Chicken with Peppers and Olives

Basque-Style Chicken with Peppers and Olives

I thought it would be easy to duplicate the Basque chicken I had several times on the French side of the Basque region (the area straddles the border between France and Spain). But the versions I tried were all so different!

While they always include hot or mild peppers, tomatoes, and something meaty like ham or sausage, it was hard to pin down the mildly spicy sauce I prefer.

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Our 25 Best Holiday Cookies for Your Dessert Table

Gingerbread Man Cookies

Cookie season is here! Are you ready to roll, drop, shape and cut out to your heart’s—and belly’s—content? Here are some of our favorites for the holiday cookie tray.

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Snowman Chocolate Icebox Cake

Snowman Chocolate Icebox Cake

This chocolate icebox cake was a standby at my grandmother’s house. She made hers in a loaf pan, turned it out, and covered it in icing. Then she served it sliced paper-thin, on the diagonal, which showed off all the delicious layers.

It is no surprise that later in life, with a family of my own, I started making this same cake as a holiday treat.

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Candy Cane Cookies

Candy Cane Cookies

Practically everyone has lived through one of those crazy roommate situations — the kind that provides fodder for endless cocktail stories. These stories that are amusing in retrospect, but never fun when they are actually happening. (One of mine actually involved a missing python snake in our apartment.)

But every now and then, something decent comes from all the insanity. One of my favorite memories from an otherwise mismatched roommate situation is learning how to make candy cane cookies.

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Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix

Hot Cocoa Mix

Do you hate crowds? Do you have gift-giving anxiety? I do.

In fact, I’ll do almost anything to stay out of the stores during the holidays. My friends all know that they will receive a gift, but that gift will come from my kitchen.

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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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Meal Plan for November Week 3

Meal Plan for November Wk 3

My family’s favorite holiday is fast approaching! We’re a bunch of foodies and Thanksgiving is considered a high-holiday around here.

It’s easy to get off track with homemade meals given all the excitement in the air, but I won’t be thwarted! I rely on my menu plans more than ever in the latter part of the year.

This week, I’m all about menus whose ingredients can serve double-duty in next week’s holiday meal as well – like chopped onions and even mashed potatoes. They can be prepped for this week, but also used in recipes for Turkey Day.

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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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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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Pressure Cooker Green Beans with Tomatoes and Bacon

Pressure Cooker Green Beans with Tomatoes and Bacon

Have you ever thought to cook green beans in the pressure cooker? They really undergo a transformation under pressure, becoming silky and soft.

Add bacon, onions, and tomatoes, and you’ve got a fast and flavorful pressure cooker side dish for the holidays — or anytime!

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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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7 Easy Breakfast Recipes for Thanksgiving Morning

Holiday Breakfasts

We spend so much time planning Thanksgiving dinner that breakfast is often neglected. A good breakfast, though, is part of a winning strategy.

Starving yourself for turkey won’t help—especially if you’re charged with all the cooking. No one want to pass out face first in their gravy.

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Chili Mac and Cheese

Beef Chili Mac and Cheese

Who can resist two favorite comfort foods combined into one?

This recipe pairs cheesy goodness of macaroni and cheese with the onions, tomatoes, and spiced ground beef of a pot of beef chili. The result is the ideal meal to keep you warm on a chilly night.

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Cornbread Stuffing with Green Olives and Pecans

Cornbread Stuffing with Olives and Pecans

This recipe is brought to you in partnership with The California Olive Committee.

This cornbread stuffing has a lot to offer: earthy cornbread, crunchy pecans, sweet cranberries and herby California green ripe olives.

Green olives are what make this stuffing truly special and unique. California green ripe olives are particularly mild and buttery, which make them a perfect contrast to the rest of the flavors in this recipe.

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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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Meal Plan for November Week 1

November Meal Plan Week 1

This month, you can look forward to meal plans from Marta Rivera. Marta is a trained chef, mom of twins, and Army wife – and she is also one of our Simply Recipes recipe testers!

November is in full effect! Also in full effect are the numerous commitments that literally drive us away from our kitchens and the comfort of great home-cooked meals.

Setting the stage for creating wholesome dinners for my family is very important to me. The ability to plan out my meals, prep the ingredients, and cook them quickly means I don’t have to feel guilty when outside activities fill up our schedules.

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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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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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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.

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Sesame-Crusted Pork Cutlets with Crispy Shallots

Sesame-Crusted Pork Cutlets with Crispy Shallots

I love these crunchy, sesame-coated pork chops, and placing them the on top of a fresh spinach salad turns them into a complete meal.

I sometimes make an extra chop just to have for lunch the next day. Heaven!

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5 Cookbooks for People Who Always Need More Ideas for Dinner

5 Cookbooks for People Who Need Dinner Ideas

Dinner. It’s an inescapable occurrence, 365 days of the year.

Many of us have our go-to moves when all else fails — template meals that are easy and easily adaptable. Tacos. Egg scrambles. Pasta. Soup. And then there are the nights when it’s more about desperate calls for take-out. (It’s ok. You’re among friends. We understand.)

Yes, dinner. If we don’t plan it properly, it sneaks up on us at 4pm — or, yikes, later! — and we are faced with the perennial question: “What are we eating?”

Because we all get tired of the same-old same-old, I thought I’d share five favorite cookbooks for those of us who could always use more ideas for dinner.

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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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About this site

Preparing food with heat or fire is an activity unique to humans, and scientists believe the advent of cooking played an important role in human evolution. Most anthropologists believe that cooking fires first developed around 250,000 years ago.

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