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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 artichoke hearts
  • 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, remove any clinging ice. 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

If you enjoy this recipe, please give it a green star rating on the recipe card below. That will help others find it too, and helps me pay the bills! If you make the recipe, please let me celebrate with you by tagging 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 are welcome and appreciated.

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!
Print Recipe

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: 20 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.
Print Recipe

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

  • Slice thick broccoli stems into thin coins. Cut thin 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 are beginning to brown in places but are still bright green. Add the remaining broccoli pieces and stir-fry until they are bright green and just beginning to soften but remain crisp. 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.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, broth, sugar, and cornstarch until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the soy mixture to the meat and broccoli, stirring until the sauce slightly thickens.
  • Serve 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.
Print Recipe

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.
Print Recipe

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.
bowl of green goddess mac and cheese on a green plate.

Adulting has been especially challenging this week, and comfort food has been as important as ever. Green Goddess Macaroni and Cheese has that magical combination of being carb-y, cheesy-gooey, and packed full of good-for-you stuff that ensures that if this is all you eat for a week, you'll at least be getting your vegetables.

This recipe amps up the adult factor with the addition of Dijon mustard and a few anchovies to the cheesy base. These additions offer an exciting depth of flavor snuggled up with the same cozy familiarity you expect from good ol' macaroni and cheese.

How Can I Help?

When the going gets tough for friends and family we ask, "How can I help?" Often the response is something like, "Well, there's nothing anyone can really do except send your love/ good energy/ healing thoughts/ prayers." I'm a big fan of asking the universe to surround my beloveds in need, but when I hear that there's nothing I can physically do to help it is frustrating to not DO something.

This week the shoe is on the other foot. I have been on the other side of those words how can I help? and have learned their hidden power.

Even when there is nothing practical others can do to help, the willingness of a friend to accept a small chunk of my burden has a remarkable effect. Every person who asks this forms a network of support and love that lessens my emotional weight. Every one of the beautiful souls who steps forward to ask how can I help? becomes an invisible army around us-- my family and me.

So never be discouraged if there's "nothing you can do". Your presence, your calls, your prayers and good juju are so important. So impactful. So encouraging. Such a display of kindness. Love personified, even.

And, if you can, show up with a dish like this one so your loved one is sure to eat their vegetables all wrapped up in the comfort of good ol' macaroni and cheese.

What Wine Should I Pair with Green Goddess Macaroni and Cheese?

Anchovies and Dijon mustard make this recipe incredibly wine-friendly, not that plain mac and cheese needs a lot of help with that! And this week there definitely has been wine! We found the 2020 Conde Valdemar Blanco Rioja from Valdemar Estates Winery in Walla Walla, Washington to be a better than perfect pairing. It is light, clean, and refreshing-- in other words, a wonderful foil to the rich cheese dish. This is truly a joyful wine.

Making Green Goddess Macaroni and Cheese

I used to always make mac and cheese with this ratio:
One pound pasta/ 4 tablespoons flour/ 4 tablespoons butter/ 4 cups milk/ 4 cups (one pound) shredded cheese. This ratio feeds a tribe.

Since most of us here are feeding one, two, three or four people on a daily basis I've revised my formula:
One-half pound pasta/ 2 tablespoons butter/ 2 tablespoons flour/ 2 cups milk/ 2 cups (1/2 pound) shredded cheese. In our household, that makes enough for a very handy two meals apiece. If you are feeding a bigger household, guests, or a gathering, just double the recipe as it is written.

Yes, there are little anchovy fishies tucked into this dish. Umami, friend! Do give them a try. Adding the raw broccoli florets to the mixture right before baking keeps them a wee bit crunchy and not lost in the creamy pasta. The crispy topping adds a wonderful textural note, too. You may be tempted to forgo that part, but it is a low-effort-high-reward addition.

You'll also note that I used our local favorite Tillamook Creamery Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses in this dish. If you don't have a local cheesemaker near you, these are worth seeking out.

platter of ingredients necessary for green goddess macaroni and cheese

Other Comfort Foods for When the Going Gets Rough. . .

. . . for you, or for those you love:
Carrot Risotto with Green Garlic Sauce: Recipe Here.
Easy Winter White Vegetable Soup and Infinite Variations: Recipe Here.

a serving bowl of green goddess macaroni and cheese on a green plate.

Green Goddess Macaroni + Cheese

Course: Main Dish, Quick + Easy, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Season: All Season
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 4
Familiar comfort food, with a green goddess veggie twist.
Print Recipe

Ingredients

Green Goddess Macaroni and Cheese

  • 8 oz. macaroni other small pasta regular or gluten free
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • ½ onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 oil-packed anchovies, drained and mined (optional)
  • 1 large stems broccoli, stem peeled and diced, florets broken apart
  • 2 Tbsp. all-purpose or rice flour use rice four of GF 1- to- 1 flour for GF
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. finely ground black pepper
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 6 oz. fresh spinach
  • 8 oz. grated cheddar, Monterey jack, or pepper jack cheese (2 cups) or a mix of any of these to equal 2 cups

Crispy Garlic Lemon Topping

  • ½ cup panko regular or gluten free
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, grated into bowl

Instructions

Make the Topping

  • Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, and stir thoroughly. Set aside.

Make the Mac and Cheese

  • Preheat the oven to 350°. Put a pot of salted water on to boil for the macaroni. Cook the macaroni according to package directions.
  • In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, melt the butter. Add the diced onion, garlic, anchovies, and diced broccoli stems. (Reserve the broccoli florets for later.) Sauté over medium-high heat until the vegetables are tender, about five minutes.
  • Stir in the flour and salt and pepper. Add the milk and Dijon mustard, and continue stirring as the mixture thickens and begins to bubble, about 5-6 minutes.
  • Stir the spinach into the milk mixture until it is wilted. Use a blender (working in batches) or a immersion blender right in the pot to blend the vegetables into the milk mixture, turning it green. Stir in the cheese until it it completely melted. Stir in the broccoli florets. Pour the ingredients into a 9" x 13" baking dish.
  • Spread the crispy topping over the macaroni mixture. Bake until hot and bubbly, and the edges begin to brown. Allow to set 5 minutes before serving.

Notes

Don't let the anchovies scare you. They add a depth of flavor (nothing fishy) and elevate this dish to a wonderful adult comfort food!
olive oil drop biscuits on a plate next to a bottle of wine.

For every aspirational, time-consuming, detail-laden recipe in a cook's repertoire, she needs ten like this one in her bag of tricks. These 20-minute, one bowl Quickie Olive Oil Drop Biscuits have elevated so many meals in my lifetime. They are a perfect last-minute additional to all the soups and stews of the season. The biscuits also compliment any main-dish salad, and are a great way to stretch a meal when guests pop in (like back in the BC days.) Really, they are perfect wherever a dinner roll or biscuit would fit.

A fun trick is to make the biscuits small, dropped from a dinner spoon instead of a soup spoon, and serve them as an appetizer or snack with a glass of wine, an American version of gougères.

A plateful of quickie olive oil drop biscuits.

What is to love about these golden mounds of goodness?

A plateful of three olive oil biscuits, one with a bite taken out.
Olive Oil Drop Biscuits are a bit crispy on the outside, tender + fluffy on the inside.

Selling point number one-- quickie olive oil drop biscuits are made in lightening speed. As in, begin preheating your oven now, and your biscuits will be mixed and formed before the oven is up to heat. There are only four primary ingredients to gather and measure here. Using olive oil eliminates the step of cutting in butter. Without the need to roll out and cut the dough like a typical biscuit you save that time, and a lot of cleanup by keeping everything contained in one bowl and not spread all over the counter.

Next, you'll fall head-over-heels for them because they are highly customizable. Olive oil drop biscuits without any of the optional add-ins are deliciously simple, and they become even more remarkable with the addition of some cheese, fresh or dried herbs, or better yet, both cheese and herbs. Any cheese that can be crumbled with your fingers or grated works here, and I often use a combination of cheeses just to use up the left-over nubbins.

Lastly, I love this recipe for olive oil droppers because it makes a relatively small batch. Did you know that in 2020, 53% of American households has one or two members? Most of us can't use a dozen biscuits. This fact is something I'm taking note of more and more when developing recipes, and you should see a change in the recipe sizes on these pages.

Serve your quickie olive oil biscuits alongside these recipes:

Any of the variations of Winter White Vegetable Soup: Get recipe here.
Healing Chickpea Orzo Bowl in Ginger Broth: Get recipe here.
Roasted Mushroom, Grain, + Spinach Salad. Get recipe here.
Roasted Peppers, White Beans, Feta + Simple Herb Sauce, made sheet-pan-style instead of grilled. Get recipe here.

all the ingredients needed to make quickie olive oil drop biscuits.
So few ingredients for so much quick and easy goodness!
A plateful of quickie olive oil drop biscuits

Quickie Olive Oil Biscuits

Course: Appetizer, Bread + Rolls, Quick + Easy
Season: All Season
Dietary: Egg-Free, Nut-Free, Vegan
Preparation: Baking, Fast + Easy
Prep Time: 8 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 8 biscuits
These lightning fast, crispy on the outside, tender on the inside drop biscuits are the perfect "little something" to round out a meal. Delicious plain, or with the cheese and herb add-ins. You'll have them mixed up before your oven preheats!
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup milk or non-dairy milk
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (equal to ⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon)

Optional Add-Ins

  • cup crumbly or grated cheese Parmesan, cheddar, gruyere, blue, fontina, gouda, etc.
  • fresh or dried herbs of your choice thyme, chives, rosemary, Italian seasoning, oregano, basil, cumin, etc.

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425°. Line a baking sheet with parchment of a silicone baking mat. In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the dry ingredients. If you are using any cheese or herbs, stir them into the dry ingredients.
  • Pour the milk and olive oil over the dry ingredients at the same time, and quickly and gently stir until the dry ingredients are incorporated. This will leave a somewhat shaggy dough. Don't overmix.
  • Drop the biscuits by spoonful onto the parchment or mat. Sprinkle the tops with a little more cheese, if you'd like. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the biscuits are golden brown and the tops bounce back up when lightly pressed. Cool on a rack, and serve.

Notes

These speedy drop biscuits are best eaten right out of the oven. If you have any leftover, rewarm them for a few minutes on an oven or toaster for best texture. Leftovers are also good for breakfast, toasted with butter and jam.
A plate of valentines cookies, a book of poetry, and a photo of young lovers

Making food for people, especially these Valentine Shortbread Heart Cookies with Blood Orange filling, is an act of love. Mr. Fred Rogers, my truest childhood hero, said, "Love isn't a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.”

Love is showing up, on repeat, day after day. It's the things you never knew you'd do. Like spending nights in the NICU next to your newborn's incubator. Or forgiving the hurt of a friend over and over again until you don't remember it anymore, which you hope is soon. Sometimes you are the target of your own love when you allow yourself to let go of guilt, grief, or fear.

"I know the secret of life: If you want to have loving feelings, do loving things."

Anne Lamott
Valentine Shortbread Heart Cookies on a plate with poetry book.

Messing Up is OK

The wonderous thing about love, is that you will mess it up. That's just part of it.

Just like the verb cooking, loving calls for a lot doing. Trial, practice, mistake-making, and what can feel like wasted time and resources. But your flops are exactly how you learn to love better. The trick is to not give up. Keep practicing. Your acts refine as you practice them. Your acts become who you are. With a little tenacity your love eventually looks more like the soufflé you'd hoped for and less like the dog's breakfast.

Remember all this when you make these pretty little Valentine heart shortbread cookies for your beloveds. Each time you press your pinky into the dough, you imprint the part of yourself that is set on loving. The soft, unchilled dough gives way to make adorable little heart shaped vessels that hold a tad of sweet blood orange goodness you also have made.

Unfilled Valentine Shortbread Heart Cookies on baking tray, before baking.

As you form the little Valentine hearts, they will remind you of your beloveds. Some, like a crotchety uncle, hide their tenderness in crooked wrinkles. Some, like an emotional 8th grader, absolutely cannot contain their contents. Others are the picture of every-hair-in-place perfection. The likeness of each heart says they belong together on the plate. Their uniquenesses make the plateful interesting. Just like you and your beloveds.

Other Sweet Treats Your Valentines May Enjoy

Strawberry Sorbet and Strawberry Dairy-Free Ice Cream: Get the recipe here.
Chewy Hazelnut Meringue Cookies: Get the recipe here.
Flourless Walnut Cake, with plain, spice, and coffee-flavored versions. Get the recipe here.

Finished Valentine Shortbread Heart Cookies grouped together on a platter.

Pinkyprint Valentine Shortbread Heart Cookies with Blood Orange Curd

Course: Dessert
Season: Mist (November - March)
Dietary: Nut-Free
Preparation: Baking
Prep Time: 50 minutes
Cook Time: 14 minutes
Chilling Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 4 minutes
Servings: 40 cookies
Author: Pam Spettel
A simple shortbread base, filled with love and pink blood orange curd. No need for perfection here-- just celebrate each cookie's unique heart, just as you do your beloveds.
Print Recipe

Ingredients

Blood Orange Curd

  • 3 egg yolks, whites saved for another purpose
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup blood orange juice freshly squeezed
  • ¼ cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 Tbsp blood orange zest finely grated
  • 1 stick unsalted butter cut into small cubes

Vanilla Shortbread Dough

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • cups AP flour

Instructions

For the Blood Orange Curd

  • Make a double boiler by simmering 3" deep of water in a large saucepan. In a medium/large stainless steel bowl, whisk together eggs, yolks, and sugar until sugar just starts to dissolve.
  • Whisk in both juices and zest.
  • Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water. Cook curd, stirring with a rubber spatula almost constantly, until it begins to thicken. It should have the consistency of loosely whipped cream. Remove from heat.
  • Stir in butter cubes all at once, stirring until butter is completely melted and fully incorporated. Strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove bits of zest and any solid egg proteins.
  • Chill at 2 hours before using in the cookies. This makes about 1 ¾ cups-- you will only use about ½ cup for the cookies. Store the rest for another purpose.

For the Vanilla Pinkprint Cookie Dough

  • Line two baking sheets with parchment or non-stick mats.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, and salt on medium-high until light and fluffy, 2 - 3 minutes.
  • Beat in the egg and vanilla until fully incorporated and fluffy. On low speed, blend in the flour until just incorporated.
  • Using small scoop, scoop up a bit of dough and roll into a 1" ball with your palms. Place on the baking sheet. Using your pinky, press down near the top of the ball, making an indentation. Make another indentation right next to it. Make a third indentation centered in the hollow just below the first and second indentations to begin making a heart shape in the dough. Use your fingers to elongate the edge at bottom of the ball, and to make a dent in the edge of the top of the ball. Repeat, making fun little heart shapes, each with their own personality, using up the dough. You should have close to 20 hearts on each baking sheet.
  • Chill dough hearts until they are very firm, at least an hour. This part is critical, or you'll end up with a puddle in the end.

Putting the cookies all together:

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Bake one sheet for 7 minutes. Working quickly, once again use your pinky to depress the heart shape that has puffed up. It will be hot, so use caution. Using a very small spoon, like a baby or demitasse spoon, fill the depressions with cold blood orange curd. Don't over flow!
    Place the cookies back in the oven for another 5 - 7 minutes, keeping a close eye. You want them fully cooked and just barely beginning to go golden on the bottom, but not browning on the cookie itself.
    Allow to cook for two or three minutes on the baking sheet, to set up, them remove to a cooling rack to complete cooling. Store in an airtight container for up to a week, if they last that long.

Notes

Make It Your Own:
Use store- bought lemon, lime, or raspberry curd instead of making your own. Easier yet, fill them with any red or pink jam.
Save time by simply using your thumb to make an indent. No need to make a heart to make these cookies pretty and delish all year long.
two plates of egg foo young with chopsticks.

I had forgotten how much I adored egg foo young. The recipe, "Eggs, Edamame, Bean Sprouts" in Nigel Slater's 2020 book, Greenfeast: Autumn, Winter opened my aroma memory floodgates. I was taken back to very special meals in Chinese restaurants as a child.

That sent me searching the phenomenal "Omnivore's Cookbook," with its hundreds of classic and modern Chinese dishes by Maggie Zhu. Her traditional egg foo young versions include the brown sauce I remember. Approachable recipes and interesting family history fill her beautiful blog.

This recipe is a mash-up of tradition and change. Omnivore's Kitchen for tradition. Greenfeast for the addition of edamame. My own addition of making the brown sauce mushroomy.

Making Egg Foo Young at Home

Maggie Zhu's trick for getting the omelette, as she calls it, thick and puffy is to use a fair amount of vegetable oil in the pan. Her recipes say to use between 2 and 8 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Less oil will give you a flatter, less puffy, less traditionally Chinese omelette, she says, and she is right. I found that 6 Tablespoons in my 8" skillet is perfect for that tall, puffy egg foo young that I remember having in Chinese restaurants. The extra oil helps the Chinese omelette become well-browned, with the slightest crusty crispness that is more traditional.

two plates of egg foo young with brown sauce on plates, with chopsticks.

If mushrooms aren't your thing like they are mine, omit them. Instead of the water, substitute dark vegetable or chicken stock. Here's my recipe for a rich brown roasted vegetable stock.

The edamame is optional, or peas or finely chopped broccoli can be a substitute. Egg foo Young doesn't require animal protein, so leave that out if you'd like. Once you get the hang of it, you'll see that egg foo young is more of a method than a prescription. It can be filled with any number of things, just like a French-style omelette.

The resulting egg foo young is amazingly easy, restaurant take-out fast, and powerfully delicious. I hope you like it.

a plate of egg foo young with chopsticks

Egg Foo Young

Course: Breakfast + Brunch, Main Dish, Quick + Easy
Cuisine: Chinese
Season: All Season
Dietary: Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Vegetarian
Preparation: Fast + Easy
30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 6" egg patties
A Chinese take-out favorite made in a flash at home. Fill your egg foo young with any number of fillings to suit your mood or what you have on hand.
Print Recipe

Ingredients

Easy Brown Sauce

  • ½ ounce dried shiitake or porcini mushrooms Pistol River Mushroom Farm is a good source.
  • cup hot water
  • 1 teaspoon ketchup
  • Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon rice flour or cornstarch

Eggs

  • 6 large eggs
  • cup bell pepper, any color, finely chopped
  • cup bean sprouts
  • cup edamame, peas, or finely chopped broccoli, optional
  • 3 green onions, two finely chopped and one thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 cup cooked shrimp, chicken, or ham, finely chopped, optional
  • salt and black or white pepper to taste
  • 6 Tablespoons vegetable oil*

Instructions

Cook the Sauce

  • In a small saucepan, use your fingers to break the dried mushrooms into small, irregular pieces and cover them with 1¼ cups hot water. Set aside for 15 minutes. Whisk all the remaining sauce ingredients into the saucepan with the mushrooms and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the sauce simmers and thickens, about 5-6 minutes. Keep warm.

Cook the Egg Pancakes

  • In a medium mixing bowl, beat the eggs with a fork until well combined. Add the bell pepper, bean sprouts, chopped green onions, and shrimp, chicken or ham, if using. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Heat the oil* in a small skillet over medium to medium high heat. Scoop about ½ cup of the egg mixture into the skillet. Fry until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining egg mixture. This should make about four 6" patties.
  • Serve with steamed short-grained rice, spooning the mushroom sauce over the top. Garnish with sliced green onion.

Notes

This recipe is adapted from Maggie Zhu at Omnivore's Kitchen. I thank her for her delicious blog and the step-by-step guidance in learning to cook Chinese dishes. 
*Maggie's recipe for egg foo young says to use between 2 and 8 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Less oil will give you a flatter, less puffy traditional omelette, she says, and she is right. I found that 6 Tablespoons in my 8" kitchen is perfect for that tall, puffy egg that I remember having in Chinese restaurants. 

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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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