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Overhead shot of one-bowl zucchini salad

Zucchini has never inspired me much, until this summer, and it is this great one bowl Lemon Feta Zucchini Salad I have to thank for it. It's such a simple salad, but the flavors come together in a big way. Lemon juice and zest offer a bracing acidity and zip, feta adds a salty creaminess, and pine nuts offer a grounding buttery, component. Big cracks of black pepper add a ton of character. Mix it all together in one serving bowl-- so efficient and tidy! This salad is delightful with a multitude of foods, especially anything grilled, or all on its own.

A bowl of Lemon + Feta Zucchini Salad

Let Lemon Feta Zucchini Salad Transition You to Autumn

The autumnal equinox is only 16 days away, but zucchini will be with us for yet a while. Nearly all applications (except, maybe, a chocolate cake with zucchini hidden in it) are better with smaller young zucchini. However, don't be afraid to use the big boys of early autumn in this dish. The bigger squashes will need lengthwise halving or quartering and seed removal, but will tenderize nicely with a little marination from the dressing.

Bonus Recipe for an Easy Autumn Dinner: Roasted Pork Tenderloin

Many people tend to get really busy as September gets underway, and this speedy one-bowl lemon feta zucchini salad takes about 15 minutes to make. Snuggle it next to a sliced roasted pork tenderloin for a complete meal in 30 minutes flat. The leftovers will make a nice lunch the next day.

Here's how I'll sequence it: Preheat the oven to 425°. Wipe the tenderloin dry with a paper towel and generously salt and pepper it. In a small bowl, mix two tablespoons Dijon or grainy mustard, 2 tablespoons honey, and 1 teaspoon onion powder, if you have it. Spread half the mixture all over the pork tenderloin, place it in a large cast iron skillet or on small baking sheet, and roast it in the hot oven for 16 to 22 minutes. It should feel firm but with some give when you press it with your finger. The internal temperature should be between 140°-145°. (I remove mine from the oven at 140° to ensure it is juicy, as the temp will raise another 5 degrees while it rests.) Allow the tenderloin to rest under a foil cover for ten minutes. Slice and serve with the remaining half of the mustard sauce.

While the tenderloin is roasting, make the zucchini salad except the garnishes. Set it aside. Once the roast is sliced, give the salad a last toss, top it with the garnishes, and voila! Dinner is served.

Making the One-Bowl Zucchini Salad

The batch you see in these photos uses a mix of yellow and green zucchini, but one or the other delivers the same goodness if that's what you have. Slicing it thinly but not too thinly lets the slices hold up to a stir. A thickness of about 1/8" is your aim. The zucchini will absorb your nice dressing without wilting at this thickness. This is the tool I love to use to get even, quick slices.

A heavy dose of cracked black pepper really makes this dish, so don't hold back. Fresh basil and avocado are optional but delicious additions, but not necessary. If you have them use them; if not, don't worry.

Add the rest of the ingredients directly to the bowl without dirtying a single measuring cup or spoon. This is truly a one-bowl wonder of tidiness!

A note on toasting pine nuts: I wish I had a dollar for every time I've burnt a batch of pine nuts. Kitchen multi-tasking can be a detriment when it comes to nuts. I used to put them on a small baking sheet and pop them into the toaster oven for 6-8 minutes. Sometimes they turned out perfect, other times like mini charcoal briquets. Please take my advice and take the very few minutes it takes to toast them in a small skillet over medium heat. Shake the pan often to let them toast evenly. Stay right there! Notice their change in color and aroma. By all means, do not walk away from the pan. Relax and hang out a minute. Toasting nuts is a definite Be Here Now task.

Half a bowl of lemon + feta zucchini salad.

Another Great Idea for an Autumn Zucchini Dinner

Turkey Meatball + Roasted Lemon Zucchini Pasta

This post contains affiliate links. When you use these links to buy something I may earn a commission at no cost to you. Product affiliation helps me to keep this site ad-free while providing you with the content you enjoy. I only promote items that I use, like, and trust, or would invest in myself.

Have you joined the 101-Mile Kitchen community? If not, we'd love to have you. You can take care of that right here, and when you do I'll send you a free Taste of Oregon appetizers recipe downloadable as a thank you!

Bowl of lemon + feta zucchini salad.

One-Bowl Lemon + Feta Zucchini Salad

Course: Main Dish, Salad
Cuisine: American
Season: Bounty (August - October)
Dietary: Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Vegetarian
Preparation: Fast + Easy
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 2 as a main, 4 as a side
Author: Pam Spettel
An exceptionally flavorful way to enjoy zucchini, this one-bowl wonder is a great transition to autumnal eating.
Print Recipe

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 pound yellow and/or green zucchini about 2 medium zucchinis
  • 1 large lemon, zested and juiced
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • cup feta, crumbled or in small cubes
  • lots of freshly cracked pepper
  • flaky salt, to taste
  • 1 avocado, cubed or sliced (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, torn into small pieces (optional)

Instructions

  • Slice the zucchinis to about an ⅛" thickness directly into a 2-quart serving bowl. (A mandolin really helps here.) Sprinkle the lemon zest and juice and olive oil over the zucchinis. Grate the garlic clove over the top. Give it a good heavy grind of fresh black pepper, and a few generous pinches of salt. Mix together gently but thoroughly with your hands.
  • Add half the toasted pine nuts, feta and fresh basil (if using) and mix again.
  • Arrange the slices in the bowl to look pretty-- seperate them and spread them around a bit. Sprinkle the remaining pine nuts and feta on top. Give everything another good grind of black pepper and another pinch of salt. Top with avocado slices or cubes, if you are using them. Serve. Store leftovers in the fridge for 1-2 days.
Raspberry sorbet and Rosé cocktail next to a bottle of Rosé and a houseplant.
Raspberry sorbet and a splash of inexpensive French Rosé is a great party-starter or porch-sipper!

We love to have people in, and we typically bid them welcome with a glass of local Oregon wine. But this summer we're welcoming our guests with simple sorbet-based cocktails. These relaxed ice-cold aperitifs have jazzed up our customary summery chilled white or rosé offerings.

I first discovered this cocktail shortcut with my limey-herbal Douglas Fir Tip Sorbet added to a splash of The Botanist gin. It was a big hit as a way to kick off a fun dinner party. I've included below a recipe for blueberry or blackberry sorbet, and here's last year's strawberry sorbet recipe. When added to your favorite liquor, each of these sorbets make a fancy, pretty cocktail easier than summer itself.

There's nothing quite like capturing fresh, local, perfectly ripe fruits and berries into a sorbet. Of course, if you're not in the mood to make your own sorbet, it's perfectly AOK to grab a tub from the grocery to make a quick cocktail. I don't think anyone will turn it down.

Top-down photo of a balckberry sorbet on a striped cloth.
Blackberry sorbet (recipe below) and gin cocktail.

The Summer Sorbet Cocktail Notion

Many cocktails begin with muddled or syruped fruit, and/or a sugar-water simple syrup. What is sorbet if not fruit, sugar, and water? Save a bunch of steps and go straight for the sorbet in your freezer and whatever complimentary hooch you have in your home bar. Think of it as a light, boozy float in construction, and an easy refresher to drink.

The idea is to put one firm scoop of sorbet and one shot of liquor in a coupe or rocks glass. Easy peasy.

By making your own sorbet, you can use up the summer fruit bounty of your own local area. Here are some sorbet/liquor combinations that make a smashing summer cocktail. But I don't see a thing wrong with using your favorite liquor with your favorite sorbet, whatever they may be. Champagne, prosecco, and cava would be winners in every case, too, for a lower alcohol refresher.

  • Blackberry or blueberry and gin, tequila, or vodka
  • Strawberry or raspberry and vodka or tequila (try chilled dry rosé with raspberry!)
  • Stone fruits (cherry, peach, apricot, nectarine) and bourbon
  • Apple, banana, or peach and bourbon
  • Tropical fruit (pineapple, mango, coconut, guava, etc.) and rum or tequila
  • Citrus (lemon, lime, orange, etc.) with vodka or gin
  • Cucumber or other melon and vodka or gin

But by all means, experiment and enjoy making your own combinations.

Raspberry and Rosé cocktail with mountains in the background.
Raspberry sorbet and a splash of rosé-- highly complimentary and wonderfully refreshing.

Entertainer's Tips with Sorbet Cocktails

The sorbet cocktail is easy to make a mocktail-- sub in sparkling waters, tonic, or soda water for the liquor.

How do you make your sorbet cocktail really pop? Be sure to use a colorful garnish! Citrus twists, wedges, or wheels; herb leaves or sprigs; an edible flower; or a piece or two of fruit on a skewer all take your presentation up a notch.

Bedazzle your friends by matching your sorbet to your tablecloth, napkins, dishes, and/or flowers. Making your space pretty seems to put people in a festive mood!

Blackberry or Blueberry Sorbet Recipe

We Oregonians are super lucky to have a huge array of summertime berries, both cultivated and wild. In my freezer there are currently four berry varieties of sorbet to mix and match. Such fun.

Berry recipes tend to taste boring and flabby without a little acid balance, which is usually taken care of by adding lemon juice. I've been using berry-flavored vinegar in place of the lemon. If you have berry vinegar on hand, do try it. With berry vinegar, the need for a touch of acidity is met with an amped-up berry flavor to the finished product, be it pie filling, compote, or sorbet.

Some blackberry and blueberry sorbet recipes suggest using the fruit raw. I make strawberry and raspberry sorbets that way, but find that black and blue berry flavors are better with a gently cooking in sugar. The flavors become deeper, smoother, and richer-- just a more lush experience.

However tempting it is to cut back on the sugar in a sorbet, resist the urge. Less sugar makes for a hard block of fruit -flavored ice rather than a creamy-textured scoopable sorbet. This recipe has been tested multiple times with various levels of sugar, with the best results never going below the stated 1/2 cup. If you want less sugar, just consume less sorbet. It's really the only way around the sugar conundrum.

Be Prepared with the Right Tools

You will need an ice cream maker for this sorbet recipe. I make so much sorbet and ice cream with summer fruits, and consider it one of the best ways to preserve this gift of nature. I've had this Cuisinart model from Sur La Table for many years. It never fails, and is easy to use. I highly recommend it. One of my favorite dinner party desserts is to serve a duo or trio of compatible sorbet flavors with a little cookie, and I have an extra freezer bowl for my ice cream maker to make this really efficient.

Have fun with your sorbets and summery sorbet cocktails, and see what a rainbow you can create!

This post contains affiliate links, including but not limited to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. When you use these links to buy something I may earn a commission at no cost to you. Product affiliation allows me to keep this site ad-free while providing you with the content you enjoy. I only promote items that I use, like, and trust, or would invest in myself.

My Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker has been around a while! A tried and true tool.

Share Your Success!

I hope you'll try summer sorbet cocktails or making your own blackberry or blueberry sorbets. When you do, please share with our 101-Mile Kitchen community! Tell us in the comments, or on Facebook or Instagram, @101milekitchen. Have you joined the community? If not, we'd love to have you. You can take care of that right here, and when you do I'll send you a free Taste of Oregon appetizers recipe downloadable as a thank you!

A blackberry summer cocktail on an outdoor table.

Blackberry or Blueberry Sorbet

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Season: Bounty (August - October)
Dietary: Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Vegan
Servings: 1 quart
Author: Pam Spettel
Capture the freshest ripe taste of summer berries with this simple summer treat.
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 cups fresh blackberries or blueberries lightly rinsed and stems removed
  • 3/4 cup water
  • ½ to ⅔ cup sugar, depending on ripeness of fruit (don't use less than ⅔ cup!)
  • 2 teaspoons berry-flavored vinegar, or lemon juice

Instructions

  • In a small saucepan, place the berries, water, and sugar. Cook over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and the berries are beginning to burst open and become very juicy.
  • Remove from heat and allow the berry mixture to cool slightly. Stir in the berry vinegar or lemon juice, and chill in the refrigerator until thoroughly cold. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Sit out for 10 minutes to slightly soften the sorbet before scooping.

To Make a Sorbet Cocktail

  • In a small tumbler or rocks glass, add one generous scoop sorbet, followed by 1.5 oz. of your favorite liquor. Garnish with a wedge, wheel or twist of citrus, a fresh herb leaf or branch, fresh edible flower, or a piece or two of fruit on a skewer. Serve with dispatch.
A platter of grilled peach + ricotta salad and grilled trout.

I'm beginning to think that dishes like Grilled Peach + Ricotta Salad are proof that a key purpose of summer is to oust cooking burnout. All we have to do is stand back and let the extravagant array of juicy, colorful ingredients do what they do with nominal human interference. Since the garden and farm stand bounty pretty much does all the work for us, all we have to do is relax, and maybe chop a thing or two.

The flavors in this salad are wonderfully harmonious. First, grill-kissed peaches, lightly caramelized and warmed through, lean savory rather than peach-pie sweet. Then there are tart cherries, tangy tomatoes, and creamy ricotta. Add in savory herbs, and a sweet and unctuous dressing. All this combines to light up all five flavor receptors in your mouth. Dollops of our Summer Basil Sauce add yet one more way to use this essential sauce. And then, there's the color explosion that delights your eyes and soul as each bite is lifted on your fork. Our grilled peach + ricotta salad as dinner simply matches the exuberance and joy of the season.

A platter of grilled peach + ricotta Salad and grilled trout.
Vibrant, luscious grilled peach + ricotta salad served here with grilled trout filets.

What Wine to Serve with Grilled Peach + Ricotta Salad?

Anne Amie Vineyards, in Oregon's Yamhill-Carlton wine area, offers a 2021 Rosé of Pinot Noir you shouldn't miss. (This wine is no longer available directly through Anne Amie's website.) It is a dry (not sweet) medium bodied wine with soft fruit and herb flavors, a slight minerality, and balanced acidity that nicely supports the grilled peach salad. And the sweet label will make you smile in the same way the pretty salad does. Be sure to save it and use it as a vase for summer blooms once you've finish the delicious wine!

Other Salads You'll Enjoy

Click here to explore more 101-Mile Kitchen salads.

Share Your Success!

I hope you'll try this easy-going summer recipe. When you do, please share with our 101-Mile Kitchen community! Tell us in the comments, or on Facebook or Instagram, @101milekitchen. Have you joined the community? If not, we'd love to have you. You can take care of that right here, and when you do I'll send you a free Taste of Oregon appetizers recipe downloadable as a thank you!

Platter of Grilled Peach and Ricotta Salad.

Grilled Peach and Ricotta Salad

Course: Main Dish, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Pacific Northwest
Season: Bounty (August - October), Evergreen (April - July)
Dietary: Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Vegetarian
Preparation: Fast + Easy, Grill
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 2
Author: Pam Spettel
Warm, juicy, grilled peaches, cherries, tomatoes, creamy whole milk ricotta, and lots of herbs. Elegant summer eating with so little effort because the ingredients do all the work for you!
Print Recipe

Ingredients

For the Salad

  • 2 ripe peaches, quartered and/or halved
  • 1 cup fresh cherries, some left whole, some sliced in half
  • 1 cup cherry and or sungold tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 8 oz. ricotta, whole milk preferred
  • 2 oz. toasted hazelnuts, crushed with the flat side of a knife blade, or chopped
  • 4-5 lettuce leaves, washed and patted dry
  • Dressing, below
  • Summer Basil Sauce
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh thyme, oregano, and/or mint leaves use one or a mix, depending on what you have on hand

For the Dressing

  • tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 small shallot, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon apricot, peach, or cherry jam
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely minced
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • fresh ground pepper to taste

Instructions

For the Dressing

  • Place all ingredients in a small lidded recycled jam jar. Screw the lid on tightly and shake until the salt is dissolved. Set aside.

For the Salad

  • Light a small section of your grill to high heat. When the grates are very hot, spray them with cooking spray. Place the peaches on the hot grate, cut side down. Leave for 2-3 minutes or until grill marks appear, then turn. Allow the peaches to grill another 3 minutes until they are very warm throughout and are nicely marked by the grill. (If you don't have a grill, use a stovetop grill pan of cast iron skillet for this step.)
  • Mound the washed and dried lettuce leaves onto a platter or individual serving plates and lightly toss with about one tablespoon of the dressing. Arrange the leaves as a base onto the platter. Arrange the grilled peaches on the lettuce. Use an ice cream scoop to make two mounds of ricotta on the platter. Arrange the cherries and tomatoes over the top. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the peaches, ricotta, and the whole salad. Sprinkle with the crushed hazelnuts and herb leaves. Place small dollops of the Summer Basil Sauce around all the elements of the salad. Serve!

Notes

This salad is great on its own, or as a side to simply grilled proteins. 
Cowboy sloppy joes on a platter with beans.

Howdy, cowboys and cowgirls! Chuckwagon Cookie here to share some pretty decent grub for summer fun. Cowboy Sloppy Joes, made with ground beef, smoky seasonings, and a little beer (non-alcoholic is my choice) are a great way to make some summer fun.

Make Cowboy Sloppy Joes when you gather around a crackly campfire, searching for Cassiopeia or the Summer Triangle. Try imagining what it might have been like to have worked the herd that day, or pretend to be making your way west on the Oregon Trail. Or simply take a pot of Cowboy Sloppy Joes with you to campouts, or make them for backyard gatherings. Ravenous kids will love these after jumping out of the pool or lake, when they get home from day camps, or when they come in off of the slip-and-slide.

Cowboy sloppy joes on a platter with beans, next to spurs.

Make no mistake in thinking these are just for kids, however. My dear friends Holly and Chris celebrate the end of the week by having themed Friday night mini-parties. They prove to me all the time that it's not that hard to have some simple grown-up fun.

Take a page from Holly and Chris's playbook and plan a fun summer evening! For a menu of Cowboy Sloppy Joes, Cowboy Beans (click for the video recipe), and coleslaw, your attire might include a red bandana and a cowboy hat. Play a little Hank Williams or John Prine. Follow dinner up with an episode or two of 1883. You are not too old to create this kid of fun for yourself!

cowboy sloppy joes, cowboy beans on a platter.

Making Cowboy Sloppy Joes

You'll notice that this recipe is scaled to feed six. This diverts from my new focus of developing recipes for smaller households, and here is why. I've packaged these up for the freezer in two-serving containers, which is handy in the summer when you've been out playing or just don't want to turn on the range. The sloppy joe mixture warms easily in the microwave or in a small saucepan. Besides, when the grandkids are coming over or you have that backyard cowboy party, you are all set for a slightly larger crowd.

Another Hearty, Quick Ground Beef Recipe

Cheap, Quick + Easy 20-minute Beefy Spinach Burritos

If you enjoy this recipe, please give it a green star rating on the recipe card below. That will help others find it too. If you make the recipe, please show us and tag 101-Mile Kitchen on Facebook and Instagram! (It's a total thrill when I hear you've made my recipes!) And as always, your questions and feedback in the comments is welcome and appreciated.

Cowboy Sloppy Joes on a platter with cowboy beans

Cowboy Sloppy Joes

Course: Main Dish, Quick + Easy
Cuisine: American
Season: All Season
Dietary: Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free
Preparation: Fast + Easy, One Pot/One Pan
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6
Author: Pam Spettel
Tell stories around the campfire while enjoying chuckwagon-style Cowboy Sloppy Joes. This is how summer memories are made.
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • lbs. ground beef
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 small red or green bell pepper, finely diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tespoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, canned
  • 1 12 oz. can beer, any kind, regular or non-alcoholic or 12 oz. water plus 1 additional tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Instructions

  • In a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef until the pink is gone. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic and continue to cook until the onion is translucent and soft. Stir, scraping the bottom of the pan, regularly.
  • Add the cumin, smoked paprika, and brown sugar and stir in. Cook about 1 minute to activate the spices. Add the chipotle in adobo, beer, diced tomatoes and their juices, and apple cider to the mix, scraping the spices from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil, and then drop the heat to a gently simmer to reduce and thicken the sauce and allow the flavors to bloom together, about 10 minutes.
  • Serve the sloppy Joe mixture on toasted buns with any condiments you prefer. (We like ours with some thinly sliced onion nothing else.)
Mediterranean Artichoke Chicken in a silky garlic herb sauce bubbles away.

Mediterranean Artichoke Chicken is one of those recipes you'll go to again and again. Make it once and you'll love it for its silky sauce, fork-tender chicken, and utter simplicity. Everything comes together in one skillet, yet it is light and so so delicious.

Making the Mediterranean Chicken + Artichokes

First, this may look or sound like a challenging recipe, but it is not. The steps are easy to work through:

  • Brown the chicken in a pan.
  • In the same pan, brown the artichoke halves or pieces, garlic, and shallot or onion.
  • Add the wine or vermouth and chicken stock.
  • Add back the browned chicken and braise at a simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Add the olives and part of the oregano and simmer another 5 minutes.
  • Serve over rice, pasta, mashed potatoes, farro, or polenta.
  • Viola!

Next, let's address the elephant in the room. Yes, you are reading this right-- 40 to 60 cloves of garlic. When garlic gets a nice warm braise, it turns soft and savory-sweet. The tender garlic breaks down and adds to the sauce for this dish, so please don't be afraid of it. When I made it this time I counted 64 cloves from my fun-sized bag of pre-peeled Costco garlic, and it was perfectly divine.

Decades ago I took a cooking class in New Orleans, and I'll never forget this encouragement from the instructor. "Treat garlic like a vegetable-- it's just another vegetable. Use it generously." That has forever changed my cooking. Give it a try.

Mediterranean Artichoke Chicken skillet.

Preparing Artichokes for Mediterranean Chicken

Frozen or well-drained jarred artichokes work just fine in this recipe, but during spring fresh artichokes are a great way to go. This time I had some palm-sized baby artichokes from the farmers market. Preparation for them is the same as for large artichokes. First, gently peel the darker, thicker leaves away until you reach the pale and tender leaves towards the center. Next, trim about 1/3 of the crown away from the tip, slicing horizontally. Use a vegetable peeler or pairing knife to peel the stem, then slice them in half vertically, top to bottom.

If you are working with large artichokes, you'll likely need to scoop out the prickly part of the inner choke with the tip of a spoon, but the babies don't need this. Finally, you'll plop the trimmed artichoke hearts into a bowl you've filled with cool water and healthy splash of white vinegar. The acidified water will keep the artichokes from darkening while you work through them. When you're ready to use them, remove them from the water and pat them dry.

Yes, this takes some time. I use this time as an exercise in presence, noticing all the different colors an textures of my artistic medium, the amazing artichoke! Notice the rosette that emerges when you cut off the top? And the topographical map that appears when you slice down the center? I settle in to the task, allowing my mind to calm as my hands work. This special time is one of the things I love most about cooking, and working with produce especially.

You will have a rather enormous pile of artichoke leaves when you're done. That's just part of artichokes, just like the pile that's left behind when you husk and de-silk fresh corn. Add this to your compost pile just like you do other vegetable trimmings. When we talk about edible flowers, remember that the artichoke is the flower of this amazing plant.

All that to say, if you opt to go the frozen or jarred artichoke route, no one will blame you, and you'll still have an utterly delicious Mediterranean Artichoke Chicken braise.

Other One-Skillet Meals You'll Love

Weeknight Gingery Broccoli Beef Stir-Fry

Green Goddess Mac + Cheese

Turkey Meatball + Roasted Lemon Zucchini Pasta

If you enjoy this recipe, please give it a green star rating on the recipe card below. That will help others find it too! If you make the recipe, please show us and tag 101-Mile Kitchen on Facebook and Instagram! (It's a total thrill when I hear you've made my recipes!) And as always, your questions and feedback in the comments is welcome and appreciated.

Mediterranean Artichoke Chicken

Mediterranean Artichoke Chicken

Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Season: All Season
Dietary: Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free
Preparation: One Pot/One Pan
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 2 to 3
Author: Pam Spettel
A quick braise of artichokes, chicken thighs, lots of garlic, and olives makes a lovely weeknight or guest-worthy dinner.
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin on
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 10 baby artichokes, OR 12 oz. frozen thawed artichoke hearts, or 1 14 oz. can halved artichoke hearts, drained
  • 40-60 cloves fresh garlic, peeled (Yes, that many! They turn soft and sweet in the braise.)
  • 1 large shallot, minced or 1/2 onion, minced
  • cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • ½ cup pitted green olives, canned or from the olive bar
  • 1 large handful fresh oregano leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Pat the chicken thighs dry and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Place the chicken in the skillet skin side down and allow to brown, without moving or turning, for about 4 minutes. When the chicken is well-browned and will lift easily from the skillet, flip and repeat on the other side. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.
  • Prepare the artichokes: follow the directions in the above post for trimming the fresh baby artichokes, or if using frozen or canned, gently pat them dry with a paper towel. Place the artichokes in the pan, cut side down, and allow them to take on a bit of color without moving or flipping. When they begin to brown, Add the garlic and shallot, and stir. Allow the garlic to brown in spots and begin to soften, stirring every two minutes for about 6 minutes.
  • Add the vermouth to the pan and scrape up any browned bits clinging to the pan. Add the chicken stock and stir. Bring to a simmer, and tuck the browned chicken thighs into the sauce. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.
  • Put a lid on the pan and allow it to simmer for about 15 minutes to finish cooking the chicken and marry the flavors together. Remove the lid and add the green olives and about half of the oregano and stir. Allow it to cook another 5 minutes. Check to ensure that the chicken is cooked through, giving it a few more minutes if necessary. When done, the chicken will be fork-tender.
  • This chicken dish is wonderful served on a bed of pasta, rice, farro, or polenta. Garnish with the remaining oregano and serve.
Coffee-infused rice krispie treats

A few weeks ago I came upon this clever new idea for Coffee Rice Krispie Treats, an old family favorite. When I visit my dear mom, she still makes her famous peanut-butter rice crispie treats for me, my favorite comfort food, all these years later. The whole pan disappears before you can say snap, crackle, pop.

This recipe comes from the website Emotional Baking, with permission to share it with you. Each Emotional Baking recipe explores a specific emotion or mood and creates a recipe cure. As a result, it is a keen way to process feelings and address everyday mental health.

Why Make Coffee Rice Krispie Treats Now?

Ever since the horrific yet predictable incident that happened in Uvalde, Texas, comfort is definitely needed. Since gun violence is an adult issue requiring an adult response, this very adult rice krispie treat version is just right.

The Coffee-Infused Rice Krispie Treats recipe was designed to clear feelings of fogginess. Since this repeated mass tragedy in our children's schools creates a hazy, gas-lit feeling, yes. Foggy is indeed what I'm feeling.

In Canada, home base to Emotional Baking, package sizes for Rice Krispies and marshmallows are different than in the U.S. For those of us in the U. S. I made some revisions to utilize our product sizes. Also, I tinkered with their ratios by reducing the butter, and increased the amount of coffee powder for more pronounced flavor.

Making Coffee Rice Krispie Treats

This no-bake treat couldn't be easier. Equally important, the addition of coffee flavor is purely genius. Why not make them today? Visit Emotional Baking for other delicious recipes that will match your mood. Whether it be happy, lonely, optimistic, or even foggy, you'll find the just-right kitchen therapy.

Other Comfort Foods for Now

Vanilla-Lemon Rice Pudding

World's Best Tomato Soup

Green Goddess Mac and Cheese

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Coffee-infused Rice Krispie Treats

Coffee-Infused Rice Krispie Treats

Course: Dessert
Preparation: Fast + Easy
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 12
As addictive as the coffee that flavors this very adult Rice Krispie Treat version, you won't want to put them down. Chocolate sprinkles make them even better!
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Ingredients

  • 1 10 ounce bag miniature marshmallows
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon milk or plant milk
  • 1 tablespoon instant expresso or coffee powder
  • 6 cups Kellogg's Rice Krispies
  • 2 tablespoons chocolate sprinkles (optional)

Instructions

  • Spray the inside of a 9" x 13" or 7" x 11" baking dish with non-stick spray. Mix together the milk and coffee powder in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Melt together the miniature marshmallows and butter over medium heat, stirring constantly, being careful to keep the bottom from scorching. Lower heat if necessary. When the marshmallows are completely melted, stir in the milk/coffee mixture. Remove from heat, and stir in the Rice Krispies until they are thoroughly coated. (the marshmallow mixture may start to become stiffer-- that's OK, just keep stirring.
  • Scrape the Rice Krispie/marshmallow mixture into the prepared pan, and flatten, making sure that the mixture is evenly distributed to the edges and corners. With a piece of parchment between your hand and the mixture, or your hand inside a sandwich bag, press down to firmly compact the mixture.
  • Sprinkle the top with the chocolate sprinkles (optional) and set aside until thoroughly cool. Cut into bars. Cover tightly and store at room temperature.
plate of broccoli beef

This weeknight-friendly Gingery Broccoli Beef stir-fry recipe came to me at the just-right time. Since last November we’ve been abuzz with houseguests. I took a four-month business course, and I started to teach cooking classes. And we’ve made the most of being able to travel again to see family. I can’t get enough of this gingery broccoli beef for four reasons, and think you might, too:

  • It uses pantry and freezer staples I love and almost always have around, like broccoli, fresh ginger, ground beef and soy sauce or coconut aminos.
  • It’s a 30-minute complete meal made in one pan, rice notwithstanding, perfect for busy days, lazy days, or any time fast, delicious nutrition is the aim.
  • It’s a season less dish, as appropriate in May as it is in November.
  • Our little household loves it. That’s all the reason I need to include this in our regular rotation.
plate of gingery broccoli beef stir-fry

How Recipes Evolve

It's not often one sees the straight line in how recipes evolve, but this one is a perfect example. I learned this gingery broccoli and beef recipe from my friend Mandy. Mandy added oven-roasted broccoli to Michelle at Unbound Wellness's Mongolian Ground Beef. In a step toward speed and energy efficiency I stir-fry the broccoli in the same pan as the beef. I cut the broccoli stems into thin coins, and slice the florets to have have flat edges that allow a similar caramelization as roasting. Triple score: this way it takes less time, uses less electricity, and has one less pan to wash. Taking a page from traditional stir-fries, I add the sauce directly to the pan with the browned beef and broccoli. The stir-fry method seems a little more like the Chinese beef and broccoli dishes I have always loved, just using the weeknight classic ground beef.

Mandy and I have each made our adaptations from Michelle's original yet the spirit remains the same.

half plate of broccoli beef stir-fry

Making Gingery Broccoli Beef Stir-Fry

Grass-fed beef is the way to go. Grass fed beef is lower in overall fat than grain fed beef. Not only that, grass-fed beef contains two to six times more Omega-3 fatty acids than feed-lot beef. and is packed with B vitamins, vitamins A, E, and other antioxidants compared to grain fed beef. Thinly-sliced sirloin would easily work.

Don't count this recipe out for vegans. I suspect that plant-based meat crumbles or crumbled and browned tofu would be a swell swap for the ground beef in this recipe. If you give either option a try, please let the rest of us know how it goes.

If low-carb is your jam, swap the rice for cauliflower rice like Mandy does. It serves four, so my sweetheart and I each have dinner and a grab-and-go lunch with very little effort.

Don't be shy with the ginger! I uses pieces that are longer than my thumb and about twice as wide. The three-step recipe is really straightforward: Start your pot of rice first, and in about 20 minutes you'll have tasty, simple weeknight meal.

half plate of broccoli beef stir-fry

Weeknight Gingery Broccoli Beef Stir-Fry

Course: Main Dish, Quick + Easy
Cuisine: Fusion
Season: All Season
Dietary: Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free
Preparation: Fast + Easy, One Pot/One Pan
0 minutes
Total Time: 28 minutes
Servings: 4
Author: Pam Spettel
Using ground beef in a classic broccoli beef stir-fry makes a fast, easy weeknight meal with amped up ginger for extra deliciousness.
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. broccoli
  • 2 tsp. olive or avocado oil
  • 1 lb. lb. lean ground beef, grass fed preferred
  • 1 generous thumb fresh gingerroot, peeled
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 4 large green onions, cut into 1" pieces
  • cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup beef or vegetable broth, or water
  • 2 tsp. corn starch or arrowroot powder
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • salt + pepper to taste

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, broth, sugar, and cornstarch until the sugar is completely dissolved. Set this sauce mixture aside.
  • Slice thick broccoli stems into thin coins. Cut thinner stems and florets into 1" - 2" pieces. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. When it begins to shimmer add the stems and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until they have browned brown in places but are still bright green. Add the remaining broccoli pieces and stir-fry until they are bright green and have softened but remain slightly crisp. A little brown on the crowns is delicious! Remove to a plate.
  • Crumble the ground beef into the skillet and break into pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook over medium high heat until no pink remains. Use a microplane or other grater and grate the ginger and garlic into the meat. Add ¾ of the slices green onions and stir. Cook, stirring often, until the beef is well browned, about 10 minutes total for this step.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and add the cooked broccoli back into the skillet. Add the reserved soy mixture to the meat and broccoli, stirring until the sauce slightly thickens, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Serve the broccoli beef mixture over rice, and garnish with the remaining green onion slices.

Brunch. A nice word made even nicer with baked French toast and berries. It is bursting with exquisite berry flavor, especially when served with its joyful berry compote. And best yet, it can be made hours before and popped into the oven last-minute.

a plate of baked French toast and berries and cup of coffee

With this recipe in hand, go ahead! Invite your favorite moms over on Sunday, or set up a fun friends brunch. This pretty dish is also perfect for upcoming baby or bridal showers, or a just-because celebration breakfast treat. Or, why not make it with kids the night before to let the anticipation of a special breakfast build in their dreams?

Where I live, we'll be flooded in the best berries in the world in a couple of months. While we wait, we home cooks reach to the back of our freezers where last year's ripe bounty is preserved. I feel especially accomplished when use the last bag of icy blueberries or blackberries just in time for the new harvest.

Making Baked Berry French Toast

Make-ahead berry French toast is perfect with any of the berries-- straw, blue, black, Marion, huckle, rasp, or a colorful mix. Use frozen berries, or fresh. A note on berries-- it is worth waiting for peak-of-season varieties for the full flavor experience. Unless it is summer berry season where you live, quality brands of frozen berries will taste better than less-than-ripe store bought.

The quick custard is customizable, too. Use cream if you have it for the most silky texture, but any dairy or non-dairy milk will work well. Just follow the modification outlined in the recipe below. Spotlight the berry-burst flavor with a simple vanilla custard, or try adding add grated lemon or orange zest (2-3 teaspoons) for complexity. Or maybe a little cinnamon or cardamom (1/2 - 1 teaspoon.)

Assemble and bake the French toast right away, or assemble it the night before you plan to serve it. The bread soaks up the custard, integrating into one lovely dish with soft cakelike insides and crispy edges and top once baked. It easily cuts into beautiful serving squares. For best make-ahead results, stir the berries into the bread/custard mixture just before popping it into the oven.

Other Delicious Recipes to Round Out Your Brunch Menu

You'll already have the oven on, so Oven-Baked Bacon is the way to go. Try this method.

Sweet and Spicy Shrimp + Melon Salad would be refreshing.

A fresh Spinach, Mint, and Goat Cheese Salad would be a nice touch.

Or this Shaved Asparagus Salad with Parmesan and Raisins would be nice.

Strawberry and Sparkling Rosé Punch would be fun.

a plate of make-ahead berry French toast and a cup of coffee

Make-Ahead Baked French Toast + Berries

Course: Breakfast + Brunch
Season: Bounty (August - October), Evergreen (April - July)
Preparation: Baking, Casserole, Fast + Easy
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 22 minutes
Total Time: 32 minutes
Servings: 4
Author: Pam Spettel
Beautiful and bursting with berries, this make-ahead recipe and its accompanying berry compotes is perfect for brunch or any special occasion breakfast.
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Ingredients

For the French Toast

  • 1 12 oz baguette or french-style bread (one slender baguette)
  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ cup whipping cream OR cup milk or non-dairy milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • cup chopped almonds, pecans, or hazelnuts
  • 2 tablespoons Demerara sugar or coarse baking sugar
  • cups fresh or frozen blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries, or a mix of varieties Cut strawberries into quarters

For the Berry Compote

  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries, or a mix of varieties
  • ⅓ to ½ cups sugar depending on the ripeness of your berries
  • 3 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 tablepsoon corn starch or rice flour

Instructions

For the Berry French Toast

  • Preheat the oven to 375°. Butter or spray a 7" x 11" baking dish.
  • Cut the bread into ¾" pieces. There is no need to trim the crusts unless the bottom crust is quite browned, in which case trim the dark part away before cubing the loaf. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, cream (or lesser amount of milk), vanilla, salt and th optional orange zest and/or cinnamon, if using, until the ingredients ar thoroughly combined and bubbly. Fold in the bread cubes turn over and over until th read is thoroughly soaked in the custard mixture. Set aside 15 minutes, stirring a couple of times, until all of the custard has been absorbed into the bread. If making ahead, cover tightly and place in the bread/custard mixture in the refrigerator until 30 minutes before serving.
  • Just before baking gently stir the frozen or fresh berries into the bread mixture. If using frozen berries, do not thaw in advance. Tip the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the top with nuts and sugar. Place in the oven and bake until golden brown on top, 18-22 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool for five minutes before cutting into squares.

For the Berry Compote

  • While the French toast is in the oven, combine the berries and sugar in a medium saucepan. Cook over meduim heat until the berries start to soften and break down, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Stir the cornstarch or rice flour into the cold water, and slowly drizzle it into the cooked berries, stirring constantly. Allow to cook another 3-4 minutes until thickened. Keep warm while the French toast is ready to serve.
  • When ready to serve, spoon some of the compote onto individual srving plates. Place a square of baked French toast on top, and serve.
A bowlful of vanilla lemon rice pudding.

I wish I had a nickel for every time the words "comfort food" have been used in the United States since March 2020. With the money, I'd launch a campaign to deliver a cup of Vanilla Lemon Rice Pudding to the doorstep of every American, thereby redefining comfort food in our culture.

This recipe is gently sweet, creamy but not cloying. It is alive with lemon zest, and ethereal with a whole vanilla been (or vanilla extract.) Vanilla Lemon Rice Pudding is far more exciting than any other rice pudding I've ever had. Yet as comforting as your favorite cashmere sweater.

A platterful of cups of creamy vanilla lemon rice pudding.

The Paris Connection

I learned of this bit of deliciousness from Katherine Burns of Rue Dauphine Paris. Katherine's Rue Dauphine Paris Instagram feed is full of glorious photos of her visits to historic gardens, churches, shops, and arrondissements in Paris, some lovely French recipes, and a glimpse of how she brings the Parisian lifestyle into her own Seattle home. Another bit of fun-- she and May of Noisettes 1420 (also a fabulous peek into Paris) host a Francophile book club, which I promise myself to participate in some soon day.

Needless to say, discovering Rue Dauphine Paris has brought me a bit of joy in these travel-less days, and has me wishing Katherine would be my guide to Paris one day.

A platter of 5 cups of vanilla lemon rice pudding.

Making Vanilla Lemon Rice Pudding

Katherine graciously allowed me to share her vanilla rice pudding recipe with you. I've renamed it to bring justice to the magic the lemon brings. I've made a slight change to the dairy component, swapping her 4 cups of whole milk + 1 1/4 cups heavy cream for 1 quart of half-and-half and 1 1/4 cups milk), otherwise this is completely hers. This change retains the silky creaminess of her version, but leaves me with no wasted partial carton of whipping cream. She is right in that the sweet aroma of lemon and vanilla this offers when bubbling on the stovetop is most pleasant.

You should definitely use Meyer Lemons when they are in season for this. The floral mandarin/lemon flavor is fantastic. I think orange zest would also be wonderful, like a creamsicle. However, standard Eureka or Lisbon (everyday grocery store0 lemons will still take you over the moon.

Katherine serves hers in flowery china cups, a touch of French charm, with a drizzle of caramel sauce. I like serving the rice pudding with a wedge of the zested lemon. A squeeze over the top brings a little acidic component as a balance to its sweet creaminess.

When I started dreaming of Vanilla Lemon Rice Pudding in the middle of the night, I knew I had to share it with you. It has become my new favorite sweet treat. Maybe it will become yours, too, as you dream of far away places.

Five everyday ingredients, so much deliciousness.

Another Delicious and Easy Dessert

Nutty Chocolate Port Ice Cream Sundae: Get the recipe here.

A cup of vanilla lemon rice pudding with a spoon

Vanilla Lemon Rice Pudding

Course: Breakfast + Brunch, Dessert
Cuisine: French
Season: All Season
Dietary: Gluten-Free
Preparation: One Pot/One Pan
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 6 - 8
It's hard to believe five ingredients can make a treat as delicious and comforting as this vanilla lemon rice pudding.
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Ingredients

  • 4 cups half-and-half*
  • cups milk
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  • 2 lemons zested, lemons reserved for garnish
  • 1 cup Arborio rice

Instructions

  • Combine milk, heavy cream, sugar, vanilla seeds and bean pod, and lemon zest in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium low heat.
  • Stir in rice, bring back to a strong simmer, cover with a lid. Reduce heat to the lowest possible setting and simmer 60 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until rice is tender and a puddinglike texture. Spoon into serving dishes, garnish with a wedge of zested lemon to squeeze over the top, and serve warm. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate to store up to three days.

Notes

*Katherine Burns' original recipe calls for 4 cups of whole milk and 1¼ cups whipping cream. I changed this in order to use up an entire quart of half-and-half, and I typically have milk on hand. This provides less waste (3/4 cup of cream) in my kitchen since I use cream infrequently. Choose what's best for you, as the results are nearly indistinguishable. 
A top-down photo of a bowl of red tomato soup in a white bowl.

Yesterday I shared with you The World's Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich, made with garlicky greens, caramelized onion, and brie. It's only fitting that you have The World's Best Tomato Soup recipe to go with it. The two are a match made in heaven.

A Word About Canned Tomatoes

I've driven Interstate Five through California's agricultural regions many times. Enough times to see truckloads of produce pulling off the highway into the many canneries there. May I tell you that not all canned tomatoes are of the same quality? I've observed truckload after truckload of hard pink balls in the truck-trailers. It's not hard to know how they will perform in flavor and texture next to their red, ripe cousins. My practical observation is that you truly get what you pay for in canned tomatoes. Unless you use a lot of canned tomatoes, the price differential is relatively small. It might not make that much difference in a stew with lots of other flavors, but here's my rule of thumb: If the word tomato is in the title of the food I'm making, like tomato sauce, for example or the world's best tomato soup, I spend the extra dollar.

Making the World's Best Tomato Soup

tomato soup with garlicky greens and brie grilled cheese sandwich

First, lets talk equipment. This is a time when an immersion blender is more than handy. Yes, you can blend the soup in batches in either a food processor or blender. However, a stick blender will get the job done and reduce the amount of cleanup you'll have. I've not met a cook yet who would argue with that!

Because it's still late winter I used dried herbs and a bay leaf, which also gets blended into the soup, but in the growing season, trade those herbs out for fresh basil, fresh thyme, or any of the tender, leafy herbs that suit you.

Two other touches make the soup extra special. I save parmesan rinds for times like this. Just throw one in during the short simmering period for an extra flavor boost. The rind will soften and become somewhat gooey looking, but holds together just fine and can easily be fished out prior to blending. If you don't have a parm rind on hand that's just fine. The soup is still lovely so don't let that stop you from making it. The second bit of magic comes with a hearty drizzle of balsamic vinegar as a finishing touch.

The olive oil in here gives it a creamy texture and appearance, but if you love a splash of milk or cream in your tomato soup, by all means use it.

If you like this recipe, please leave it a star rating by clicking on the green stars below the title in the recipe card below. If you like the 101-Mile Kitchen project, I'd be honored if you subscribed to the newsletter!

A platter holding all the ingredients for The World's Best Tomato Soup
a top-down photo of a bowl of red tomato soup in a white bowl.

The World's Best Tomato Soup

Course: Appetizer, Main Dish, Quick + Easy, Soup + Stew
Cuisine: American
Season: All Season
Dietary: Gluten-Free
Preparation: Fast + Easy, One Pot/One Pan
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4
A few special touches make this recipe the only one you need for The World's Best Tomato Soup!
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 Tbsp. flour, rice flour, or 1-to-1 GF flour
  • 1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes and their juice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 parmesan rind, optional
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Instructions

  • Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the diced onion and sauté until the onion has softened and is starting to become translucent. Add the garlic, thyme, basil and bay leaf and sauté another 2-3 minutes. Add the flour and sauté, stirring for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes and their juices, the water, optional parmesan rind, salt, and pepper and bring to a simmer. Cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove the parmesan rind and blend the soup using an immersion blender, food processor, or blender. If using a food processor or blender, blend in batches. Blend until the soup is fairly smooth, but still has a slight amount of tomato texture. Remove from the heat and stir in the balsamic vinegar. Serve piping hot.

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Welcome!

Photo of 101-Mile Kitchen blog owner.

You’re in the right place!  I’m Pam Spettel, home cooking expert and guide, and I’m here to show you how to break up with cooking and hospitality anxiety, learn how to use recipes as guides rather than strict rules, and let your cooking intuition and confidence soar.

Superpower: Dreaming up recipes that work, serving them to my friends and family, and writing little stories about how cooking them well is the same as loving well.

Inspiration: Ingredients! The fresh, colorful, fragrant, local, seasonal ingredients found in the Pacific Northwest are my creative medium.

Heroes: Local food and wine producers– the people who keep me, my family, and our community nourished and happy.

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