The best way to learn about a new place is tasting its food: through the flavors we can know more about the traditions and history of the people who live in these places.
Experimenting with new ingredients makes life interesting and if the foods are especially nutrient-dense — even better. They are so high in vitamins, minerals, and other healing compounds that health experts call them superfoods. In their countries of origin, these berries, nuts, plants, and seeds have been used for thousands of years to holistically medicate the body or just add yumminess to everyday, wholesome meals.

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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How to Quickly Soften Cream Cheese for Cheesecake

cream cheese

No matter how many times I make cheesecake, I always forget about setting out the cream cheese to soften before hand — an important detail if you like smooth, lump-free cheesecake. Which I think we can all agree, we very much do.

I’ve tried microwaving on half-power to warm it up and also tried dunking the sealed package in a bowl of warm water. But I often end up with a melted cheese puddle with the former method and worry about package leaks with the latter.

Here’s what I do instead.

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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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Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

I know some of you aren’t big fans of coconut, but I love the flavor — especially when paired with chocolate.

The cookies are a great combination of soft and chewy, like a mix between macaroons and chocolate chip cookies. The recipe calls for shredded unsweetened coconut so that the coconut flavor shines through and isn’t masked by too much sweetness. (I used the product from Bob’s Red Mill.)

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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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Crispy Hasselback Potatoes

Crispy Hasselback Potatoes

When is a baked potato not a baked potato? When it’s a hasselback potato!

These crispy, crunchy, buttery potatoes with their accordion-like appearance take only a little more effort than a baked potato and are a knockout when served alongside a special dinner. Think holiday roast, date night steak, or Easter ham.

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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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10 Tools You Need for a Stress-Free Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Checklist

The time is nigh. Thanksgiving just around the corner. Do you have everything you need?!

Thanksgiving is a food lover’s paradise — a time to gather and do nothing but eat. The key to a stress-free holiday is planning: A few weeks before Turkey Day, it’s wise to get your game together and figure out the state of affairs in your kitchen.

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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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Meal Plan for October Week 4

October Week 4 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.

I’m a sucker for comfort food. I think it’s because I’m from the Midwest (the Great Plains, actually, but people outside the Midwest rarely know what that means!). We are biologically required to eat food that puts meat on our bones.

When it’s cold in the middle states, like it usually is starting this time of year, we cook meals that warm our houses and our insides.

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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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Easy Stromboli

Easy Meat and Cheese-Stuffed Stromboli

You have to love a recipe that looks like you worked hard when actually you didn’t do much at all.

Stromboli, a cousin of calzone, fits into that category, and when you’re finished, you can feed the neighborhood.

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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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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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Caramel Apple Monkey Bread

Caramel Apple Monkey Bread

In the category of “Not Terribly Beautiful Baked Goods That Taste Amazing,” this Caramel Apple Monkey Bread is a clear winner!

No, this may not the prettiest dessert in the galaxy, but what it lacks in presentation, it more than makes up for in sticky, gooey, pull-apart deliciousness.

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5 Small Ways to Add Big Flavor to Any Recipe

If you cook frequently, you may find yourself hitting a proverbial wall—you want to improve your dishes, but sometimes, after adding more salt and pepper, it’s not always clear what to try next.

Improving our cooking skills is always admirable task, but will that effort pay off in a better tasting dish? Here’s five tiny tips that can make a huge flavor difference.

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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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Parker House Rolls

Parker House Rolls

One day in Home Ec class when I was younger, we learned to make Parker House rolls. As they came out of the oven, we grabbed the hot rolls off the baking sheets even though the teacher protested that we’d burn ourselves.

Of course they were too hot to eat, but that didn’t stop us. Tender, buttery rolls with a hint of sweetness shaped like puffy half-moons – who can wait? They looked like Pac-Man, and they were delicious!

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Pressure Cooker Butternut Squash Soup

Winter squashes are my favorite vegetables to cook with during the cold weather months. They’re so hearty and sweet, and especially well-suited to making delicious, comforting soups!

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How to Cook a Whole Butternut Squash in the Pressure Cooker

Pressure Cooker Butternut Squash Soup

Do you hate peeling and chopping raw, hard butternut squash? Here’s another way: cut it into quarters and steam it in the pressure cooker!

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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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