Tag Archives: easy recipes

Friday Favorites: Easiest Weeknight Meals

Friday Favorites: Easiest Weeknight Meals

After baking my tail off for the final two months of the calendar year, I make a point of changing things up around here every January, leaning into more everyday foods and savory fare. I began this month with my tried and true formula for Crispy Chickpeas, and will be bringing you plenty of dinners and snacky things until February. There may be a cookie recipe in there too—I make and break the rules around here.

While weeknight meals aren’t my usual content, a person cannot live on cookies alone. Believe me, I have tried. As we settle into whatever fresh hell 2022 has for us, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite meals that can be made with minimal time and energy, but with plenty of delicious pay-off. Some are classics and some are masquerading as classy, but they’re all wonderful. These are my Easiest Weeknight Meals!

Friday Favorites: Easiest Weeknight Meals​

Everyday Cassoulet

When people ask me for quick, easy, crowd-pleasing dinner ideas “Everyday Cassoulet” are always the first two words out of my mouth. A quick take on a slow-cooked French classic, this dish could not be easier—it’s just an assemblage of sausages, cherry tomatoes, white beans and aromatics that are roasted to comforting perfection. You can also make it vegan with meatless sausages or a couple of pounds of fresh mushrooms—love that versatility. Serve this up with a salad, a hunk of crusty bread or all by its lonesome. There’s no wrong way to Everyday Cassoulet.

Friday Favorites: Easiest Weeknight Meals​

Sopa de Pollo

This Mexican recipe is my absolute favorite chicken soup. It’s easy to make, with minimal knife work and no searing steps, and it simmers up in under an hour! Feel free to swap in your favorite vegetables to suit your particular tastes, but whatever you do, don’t skip the mint. It makes the whole thing.

How to Make Eggs 5 Ways

Eggs?! On a list of weeknight dinners?! Hell yes—breakfast for dinner rules. I work evenings, so when I finally get home and make dinner for myself, it’s frequently some form of eggs with whatever I have in my fridge. They’re a cheap, delicious protein and nearly everyone has a preparation that they love. In the linked post, I go into detail about how to scramble, hard-boil, soft-boil, poach and fry eggs, so you can make them however you like. Get crackin’! (Pun absolutely intended.)

Friday Favorites: Easiest Weeknight Meals​

Baked Shrimp with Lemon & Garlic

Baked Shrimp with Lemon & Garlic sounds fancy, but it’s dead easy and so good. I make it extra easy (and cut the cost!) by using raw frozen shrimp. The rest of the ingredients are kitchen staples, making this an absolute snap to make. While I’m recommending you make it for weeknights here, it’s also perfect for company.

Friday Favorites: Easiest Weeknight Meals​

Spicy Turkey Tacos

I have made this recipe approximately 250 times over the last six years and it has never once disappointed. I mean, who doesn’t love tacos? This recipe for easy homemade taco seasoning and saucy, spicy turkey tacos is a staple in my personal chef and home-cooking repertoire. It takes half an hour start to finish and makes amazing leftovers.

Friday Favorites: Easiest Weeknight Meals​

15 Minute Stovetop Mac & Cheese

I started making this mac & cheese while I was acting as craft services on student film sets approximately 147 years ago (2009). I learned how to make it on a sketchy hot plate that I bought at the K-Mart in Penn Station, but it works just as well in my home kitchen ☺️ Made with minimal ingredients, effort and time, this is my go-to recipe for creamy, comforting macaroni & cheese in minutes. Oh, and pro-tip: if you can’t get your hands on cream cheese right now, a scoop of full-fat sour cream works just as well.

Friday Favorites: Easiest Weeknight Meals​

Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup

I used to be shocked at the number of people I know that don’t know how to make a grilled cheese sandwich, but then I realized that maybe nobody ever taught them how to make one. If you are one of those people, this post is for you. Learn how to make classic grilled cheese low-and-slow, step-by-step, and pair it with a simple homemade tomato soup for maximum comfort and nostalgia. Once you’ve perfected the original, get fancy with my Awards Season favorite Pesto Mozzarella Grilled Cheese—yum!

Friday Favorites: Easiest Weeknight Meals

What’s your favorite easy weeknight meal? Let me know in the comments or on social media!

Crispy Chickpeas

Crispy Chickpeas​

I first tried making Crispy Chickpeas when I moved to NYC back in 2007. They were weirdly trendy at the time, so I decided to brave the tiny kitchen I shared with five people and give them a shot. Following a recipe written by a former Food Network personality who I won’t name, I drained a can of chickpeas, patted off as much of the moisture as I could, and then roasted them at a high temperature for a short period of time. I was very excited to see what all the fuss was about, but my efforts were for nothing. The resulting chickpeas weren’t crispy at all, just vaguely dry and mushy on the outside and steamy on the inside. It may have been the recipe or user error—I don’t know. I ate them because I don’t like to waste food, but needless to say, I never attempted them again after that.

Crispy Chickpeas​

Or at least I didn’t until the last day of our trip to Maine in the fall of 2020, when I needed to do something with the large amount of chickpeas I had on my hands after using their aquafaba (cooking/canning liquid) in a multitude of vegan bakes. With limited time and groceries, I decided to try Crispy Chickpeas again. If they didn’t work, I’d just blame it on the faulty oven and call it a day.

But they did work. They worked *well.* By roasting them at a lower heat for a longer time and tossing them frequently, I ended up with a perfect crispy, crunchy snack. After that, there was no turning back. I’m a Crispy Chickpea machine, y’all.

The big secret to homemade Crispy Chickpeas is no secret at all: you just need heat and time. In 35 minutes and a few shakes of a pan, the chickpeas go from damp and soft to crispy and light-textured, perfect for a snack or garnish for soup or salad.

You can make Crispy Chickpeas in any flavor you like. Get fancy by combining miso & maple or sriracha & lime zest, or use pre-mixed blends from your spice cabinet; garam masala, taco seasoning, za’atar, and everything bagel seasoning would all be great. Oh, and Spicy Chili Crisp is perfect on them, too. Of course, you can also just mix and match whatever is in your spice cabinet or your condiment collection—you’ll need 2-4 teaspoons of flavorings total per can of beans. The chickpeas pictured are flavored with chipotle and maple. Whatever you choose, taste as you go!

Crispy Chickpeas​

Crispy Chickpeas are incredibly cheap to make, clocking in at just a couple of dollars per batch. Though they shrink a bit as they roast, one can’s-worth still makes enough for at least a couple of people to nibble on. That said, if you’re quarantining or maybe just don’t like to share, I don’t think you’ll have any trouble putting these away on your own.

Crispy Chickpeas
makes 1 1/2 cups

1 15-ounce can chickpeas
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2-3/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt (to taste)
2-4 teaspoons spices or flavorings of choice

Preheat oven to 400F.

Drain and rinse chickpeas. Scatter them onto a paper towel or clean kitchen towel and blot well to remove excess moisture. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and toss with olive oil and salt. Roast for 25-30 minutes, shaking the pan every 10 minutes. Add spices of choice (taste and adjust as you go).

If using only ground spices/flavorings, you may eat the crispy chickpeas immediately. If using hot sauces or syrups, I recommend returning them to the oven for up to 5-10 minutes to set, if you prefer (I do!). Do not burn. Let chickpeas cool for at least a few minutes before serving.

Crispy Chickpeas will keep covered at room temperature for up to 2 days. They may soften very slightly over time.

Friday Favorites: Holiday Sugar Cookies

Friday Favorites: Holiday Sugar Cookies​

Making sugar cookies is a classic Christmastime activity, but you can do so much more with them than just roll, cut, and blanket them with royal icing! From thumbprints to pinwheels to custom panes of candy stained glass, the versatility of this dough is endless. Make yourself a few batches and get your sugar cookie on this holiday season! Here’s some inspiration from my archives.

Friday Favorites: Holiday Sugar Cookies​

Iced Sugar Cookies {Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies with Quick-Dry Royal Icing}

A Christmas staple! These buttery roll-out sugar cookies come with a time commitment, but they sure are fun to make (and eat!). All my sugar cookie knowledge is in that post, so click over and check it out!

Friday Favorites: Holiday Sugar Cookies​

Hand-Painted Sugar Cookies {Kid-Friendly Cookie Decorating}

Not up for giving bags of sugar-based concrete to the kids in your life? Paint your sugar cookies instead! Using a simple mixture of sweetened condensed milk and food coloring, you can make your sugar cookies as festive as you want with much less fuss. Finishing them with some basic icing is totally optional, but I think it makes them really cute.

Stained Glass Cookies

Want to skip decorating altogether? Make Stained Glass Cookies! Cut out the center of the cookies before they go in the oven, then fill them with crushed hard candy. In just minutes, it’ll melt into a little candy stained glass window.

Friday Favorites: Holiday Sugar Cookies​

Holiday Icing Thumbprints

Here’s where things get interesting. The very same dough that makes for the best sugar cookies gets rolled into balls instead of sheets, then filled with little wells of festive icing! So cute, right?! Good luck eating just one.

Friday Favorites: Holiday Sugar Cookies​

Candy Cane Cookies

Candy Cane Cookies use the same sugar cookie dough base with three adjustments: less baking powder, the addition of peppermint extract, and half the dough is dyed Christmas red! Oh, and they’re rolled and baked into *the* cutest candy canes you ever did see.

Friday Favorites: Holiday Sugar Cookies​

Pinwheel Cookies

I spent years being intimidated by pinwheel cookies, but it turns out they’re kind of a snap to make! You need patience for the stacking and rolling, but after that they’re just an extra-festive slice and bake recipe.

What’s your favorite sugar cookie recipe? Let me know in the comments or on social media!

Vegan Chocolate Cream Pie

Hey there! I put all my Thanksgiving recipes on their own page for maximum convenience. Just click the menu at the top of the page and then go to “Thanksgiving Recipes.”

Vegan Chocolate Cream Pie​

It’s funny how recipes sometimes just hit me out of nowhere. Like this past September I was in Maine making Vegan Chocolate Pudding for dessert, and I accidentally made it just a little too stiff. While it worked for a no-frills vacation treat, I knew that I needed to make adjustments for a better pudding consistency, but I also knew I had just made a perfect Vegan Chocolate Cream Pie filling.

Vegan Chocolate Cream Pie​

And I do mean perfect. Sliceable, but not bouncy. Rich and chocolaty, but completely devoid of dairy and eggs. I had a vision of it sitting in a chocolate cookie crust with a whisper of vegan whipped cream on top, and two months later, here we are.

As with my traditional Chocolate Cream Pie, this vegan version is nearly no-bake and very simple to make. The crust is just crushed Oreos (I used gluten-free) and vegan butter that are mixed together and baked just to set. The filling is made by whisking things together in a certain order, as all pudding is. No need to sieve this one though—no eggs means no worrying about solids! To assemble, just pour the filling into the crust and refrigerate until very, very cold.

Oh yes, this cold, creamy crowd pleaser of a pie is an all-out winner. I mean, who doesn’t love delicious Chocolate Cream Pie and food everyone can eat and enjoy? Dessert and inclusivity are two of my favorite things!

Vegan Chocolate Cream Pie​

Before serving, top the pie with some vegan whipped cream! I went with an easy coconut cream-based recipe by Minimalist Baker, and it’s outrageously good. If you’re not up to making your own vegan whipped cream, Reddi Wip makes a good coconut whipped cream in a can that you can find in most grocery stores. Just put a little on each slice immediately before serving (and then spray the rest in your mouth because you’re a grown-up and you can).

Vegan Chocolate Cream Pie​

Speaking of slices, can we discuss how beautiful this is? Defined layers! Gorgeous chocolaty filling! And it’s gluten-free and vegan? I think it’s safe to say we have a Thanksgiving showstopper on our hands.

Vegan Chocolate Cream Pie​
Vegan Chocolate Cream Pie
makes 1 pie

Crust:
24 regular or gluten-free Oreos (original or Double Stuf)
5 tablespoons vegan butter, melted

Filling:
5 tablespoons cornstarch
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
3 cups unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used almond milk)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon vegan butter

Topping:
Vegan Whipped Cream (I made it with Thai Kitchen Coconut Cream)
finely chopped dark chocolate

Make the crust. Place Oreos in the bowl of a food processor and blitz until they are crumbs. Add melted butter and pulse until the mixture can be pinched together. Press it into the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate (I find that a 1/4 cup measuring cup works for this). Bake the crust for 10 minutes and then let it cool for 20 (or until you can handle the pie plate).

Make the filling. In a medium pot, whisk together cornstarch, sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Whisk in half the non-dairy milk, followed by the remainder.

Place pot over medium heat. Whisking continuously throughout cooking, cook pudding until it has boiled for 1 minute. This process should take 8-10 minutes from start to finish.

Pour filling into the crust. Tap the full pan on the counter a few times to release large bubbles. Press plastic wrap to the surface. Refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight, until cold.

When ready to serve pudding, peel off and discard plastic wrap. Top with vegan whipped cream of choice and finish with chopped dark chocolate. Refrigerate until ready to slice and serve.

Leftover pie will keep covered in the fridge for 3-4 days.

White Chocolate Candy Corn Cookies

Look away, candy corn haters! This recipe isn’t for you!

White Chocolate Candy Corn Cookies

Nope, these White Chocolate Candy Corn Cookies are for me, a person with questionable taste in television and Halloween candy. Are you also a person with these interests? Hi, hello, let’s be friends. Would you like a cookie?

White Chocolate Candy Corn Cookies

These are so simple to make. The base is a drop sugar cookie dough that I’ve used on here several times that bakes up chewy and perfect every time. But let’s be real, these cookies are all about the mix-ins. The white chocolate chips stay intact, but the candy corn melts into festive little puddles that retain their chew but are devoid of chalkiness. They’re so good!

Before you start mixing up dough, you should know a couple of things:

  • You need to roll your dough into balls before you chill it. Is this the opposite of literally every cookie recipe I’ve ever posted? Yep. But it’s necessary if you want to keep your candy corn intact, which I very much do, not only for the bigger pockets of melted candy but also because…
  • Any candy corn that’s on the bottom of the dough balls will burn after several minutes of contact with the pan. This means you want to make sure that the bottoms of all your dough balls are just dough (and maybe some white chocolate). The cookies will spread as they bake, causing some candy corn to inevitably meet the pan, but it won’t burn and become a big lacy mess. If any of the candy corn on the edges starts to spread, you can gently reshape the cookies with a glass or spoon after baking. Resist the urge to do this with your fingers though, as few things hurt like a molten sugar burn.
White Chocolate Candy Corn Cookies

Other than those very doable adjustments to a traditional drop cookie routine, these cookies are business as usual (but make it spooky season). Make them for yourself or your fellow candy corn devotees, and have a wonderful Halloween weekend!

White Chocolate Candy Corn Cookies
White Chocolate Candy Corn Cookies
makes about 2.5 dozen cookies

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup white chocolate chips + more for topping
1 cup candy corn + more for topping

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to cream butter until fluffy and lighter in color. Beat in granulated and light brown sugars. Mix in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla. Add dry ingredients in two installments, beating until combined. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in white chocolate chips, followed by candy corn.

Line a pan (or a couple of plates that will fit in your refrigerator) with parchment. Scoop dough into 2 tablespoons and roll into balls. Make sure there are no bits of exposed candy corn on the bottoms of any dough balls. Cover dough balls with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours, or up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.

Place dough balls at least two inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake cookies 10-12 minutes, until puffy. Decorate with more white chocolate chips and candy corn, if desired. Let cookies cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat process with any remaining dough, letting the baking sheets come back to room temperature between batches.

Cookies will keep extremely well in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.