Everyone-- everyone-- does a year-end lookback these days, and here at the 101-Mile Kitchen I'm reviewing the top ten recipes that you especially loved in 2022. In descending order, here are the dishes that delighted you the most.
Drum roll, please!
Bringing up the rear of the Top Ten Recipes list, summer in a jar! Summer Basil Sauce is a magic in its simplicity. Five everyday ingredients and a one-minute whirl in the food processor, and you've got an extremely vibrant sauce that is lighter and more versatile than classic pesto. The pure essence of basil shines bright. This sauce freezes well, and I'm glad for my bright green stash to get us through the winter. Save this one to your summer recipe files!
I'm so happy that my new favorite comfort food, Vanilla Lemon Rice Pudding, made the top ten list of 2022! Gently sweet, creamy but not cloying, alive with lemon zest, and ethereal with vanilla bean. More exciting than other rice pudding recipes, yet as comforting as your favorite cashmere sweater. Make this one soon!
Number eight in our top ten list is Mediterranean Chicken + Artichokes. This quick-braised dinner is so so good. You'll love it for its silky sauce, fork-tender chicken, and mediterranean artichokes, olives, garlic, and oregano. Everything comes together in one skillet in under an hour. This is everything I want in a simple, elegant dinner.
The idea is simple: 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 its construction, and an easy refresher to drink.
The idea is to put one firm scoop of sorbet and one shot of liquor or splash of champagne in a coupe or rocks glass. Easy peasy. I see why readers like you put this one in the top ten recipes for 2022!
Coming in at number six on our top ten list, garlicky greens and caramelized onion grilled cheese made with creamy brie is a rather fancy sandwich. I'm going so far to say this is the world's best grilled cheese to date.
If you're a fan of the classic tomato soup (keep reading for a top-notch recipe) and grilled cheese combination, this is the sandwich you'll want going forward. The slightly bitter greens, sweet earthy caramelized onion, and bloomy brie are the perfect foil to tomato soup. You'll love it!
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 and deserve a spot on our top ten list.
Selling point number one-- quickie olive oil drop biscuits are made in lightning speed. As in, begin preheating your oven now, and your biscuits will be mixed and formed before the oven is up to heat. 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. Lastly, the recipe makes a small batch, perfect for most households. Yay for these biscuits!
Cowboy Sloppy Joes, made with ground beef, smoky seasonings, and a little beer (non-alcoholic is my choice) are a great way to rustle up some pretty decent grub! Make 'em and pretend you are on the Oregon Trail. Or just because you need a quick, tasty, protein-filled dinner. It makes me smile that these were a popular recipe favorite in 2022.
Delicious grown-up Coffee Rice Krispie Treats make the number three spot in our top-ten recipe list, and this one deserves the honor. This new twist elevates a childhood favorite to an adult delicacy. It's super easy, and wildly addictive. As addictive as coffee.
I was knocked over by a feather with the popularity of my modern take on Egg Foo Young! This recipe is a mash-up of tradition and change. I used Maggie Zhu's traditional recipe as the basis, and traded her brown sauce for a wonderful mushroom sauce, adding even more umami deliciousness. Maggie's instruction on achieving the traditional puffy egg omelette turns out perfectly every time. Chinese New Year is January 22, and you'll want to save this recipe to celebrate.
A recipe developer is sort of setting herself up to fail by naming a recipe "the world's best", but this one I truly believe is thee very best! High-quality canned tomatoes, herbs, and two super special secret ingredients take it the the crowning number one position in our top ten. And you have agreed, this soup is better than "pretty good" by putting it in the clear lead for top ten recipes in 2022. Put it into your repertoire if you haven't already. Oh yes, and the garlicky greens and caramelized onion grilled cheese recipe in the number 6 spot on this list is the perfect pairing.
Here are a few other recipes I'm particularly fond of (and proud of!) that didn't make the top ten. I think you'll like them, too.
Apple Olive Oil Cake
Warm Spinach Salad + Pancetta
Gingery Broccoli Beef Stir-Fry
An enormous thank you to members of the 101-Mile Kitchen Community for supporting my small business. You are mostly coming from smaller households of one, two three, or four people. I became aware of this early in 2022, and have responded by designing recipes scaled for you. Occasionally I create a recipe that is aspirational in nature, a bit challenging or extra time consuming, but most recipes you find here are done in less than an hour, or even half that time. I write recipes for people who like lovely restaurant quality food but don't want to spend hours every day to get it. You see this reflected here in our top-ten list.
Here is a small collection of my holiday favorite recipes that will take you from Thanksgiving into New Years. Like most everything I present to you, these highlight seasonal ingredients, and are typically full of love but not labor. As a person predisposed to the holiday scaries brought about by being a solo planner, cook, and hostess for far too many years, I no longer have time or energy for the complicated.
I grew up in a small family who lived far away from any relatives, so Thanksgivings included the complete standards but on a small scale, always prepared beautifully by my mom. I also raised my own family far away from any relatives, so that pattern repeated. If I were hosting Thanksgiving this year, it would the 38th time in the last 41 years. That's a lot of holiday cooking!
Now, my sweetheart and I have a combined seven grown kids, and ten amazing grandkids. This year we are visiting a daughter in Texas and her beautiful family. I get to relax a bit and be the assistant!
Here are some recipes that work for smaller groups, or perhaps step out of tradition a wee bit if your weary of the classic standards.
I love handing guests a cup of soup as they arrive this time of year. A cup or small mug of soup, like this Winter White Vegetable Soup, or its winter squash version (also within this recipe), is portable as guests mingle and makes a nice handwarmer coming in from the cold. This recipe has enough body and flavor to make it delicious and noteworthy, but it light enough to keep from spoiling anyone's appetite. This pureed soup requires using an immersion blender, so if you don't have one, now is the time. (This is the one I have and love.) An immersion blender is also a truly fantastic Christmas or Chanukah gift for budding cooks, or anyone who doesn't have one. Another big plus-- this soup can be made two or three days ahead and rewarmed at the last minute.
Blue Cheese and Pear Tartine (like a crostata or bruschetta) are frankly amazing. The favors sing. Use this throughout the holiday season, whether its a quiet night at home, or if you are hosting or taking food to a party.
Some of my favorite holiday recipes include Citrus Rush Beet Orange Salad. I love this one for it's pop of gently acidity that seems to be very welcome with all of the other buttery dishes. It is so pretty, and the components can be made ahead.
Autumn Grains, Grapes, and Greens is beautiful, and blurs the line between side dish and salad. With it's grain base, it is also wonderful to serve when vegans and vegetarians are at your table. They will truly know you love them!
As for cranberry sauce, I love hearing about everyone's favorite recipe. There are so many ways to enjoy cranberries, and it seems that once we hit on our favorite there's no room for change. This is the recipe I've used since the early '90s, and my daughter makes it every year now, too. Cranberry Sauce with Raspberry Vinegar was originally from Bon Appetit magazine, and you can find it here. I've used several blueberry and blackberry vinegars in it with equal deliciousness (P.S.-- don't be tempted to scrimp on the raspberry vinegar. That's where the magic is. And if you can get your hands on it, this blueberry or blackberry vinegar is glorious.)
So maybe there's just two or three of you, and a big bird doesn't sound like fun. You still want something seasonal and special, but don't want to be at it all day. Another holiday favorite recipe is my Roasted Chicken + Autumn Bread Salad is really all the glory with a fraction of the time and work. Hey, it's still poultry, right? The bread salad takes the place of stuffing, vegetable sides, and refreshing salad all at once. It truly is Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner worthy.
It might be because of my old pastry chef days of making and rolling a dozen pastry crusts every Monday, but making pies feels pretty tedious amidst all of the other pre-holiday meal components. If you have non-pie eaters or gluten free eaters, these two recipes will save the day.
Flourless Walnut Cake (use GF flour to dust your pan) is so lovely, and so simple. Ground walnuts, some eggs, and sugar are all you need. And better yet, you can opt for the coffee flavored version, or the spice cake version. This flexible recipe gives you these flavor choices, or make it plain and serve it with the ice cream of your choice. So good, so pretty, and so simple.
If you want to keep it really simple, how about a rich and very adult wintry Nutty Chocolate Port Ice Cream Sundae? This takes 10 minutes, and yet is as elegant and rich as any other dessert ever. And with this choice, you won't spend one minute baking. (The candied orange slices that make this so wonderful are available at most Trader Joe's stores.)
However you do your holiday, do it in a way that's authentic to you! Pure traditionalist or thoroughly modern; formal or casual; fancy or simple are all valid. It's easy to get caught up in the perfect Instagramable holiday, but it is only as wonderful as you feel!
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 my free Top Five Cool-Weather Cooking Guide downloadable as a thank you!
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If we're going to talk Blue Cheese and Pear Tartine, we might start with this. What the heck is a tartine, anyway?
Tartine (the direct translation is "a slice of bread and butter") is how the French refer to an open-faced sandwich, or really anything served on a toasty slice of amazing bread. (Italians have their own version called crostini, or "little toasts.") It's fair to say that in France all kinds of delicious things can become tartine toppings. I've read about whole-in-the-wall tartineries in Paris that turn out glorious little morning, noon, and nighttime snacks using just a toaster oven and a few delicious toppings. It seems that the only limiting factor to what might go on a tartine is a person's imagination.
With this in mind, I decided to make a little collection of tartine that reflects special places right where I live. This Blue Cheese and Pear Tartine recipe samples the micro-cuisine of Oregon's Rogue River valley. Rogue Creamery makes the most fabulous Rogue River Blue cheese. Before aging, the wheels are wrapped in Syrah leaves that have been soaked in pear spirits which is, well, wow! Rogue River Blue is a cool-weather seasonal cheese that sells out every year, and when that happens, their Oregon Blue is my next choice. It is also cave aged, and mild and creamy.
The Rogue River Valley is also famous for its pears, with a long history that goes back to seeds pioneers in covered wagons brought west in the mid-1800s. If you've ever been the happy recipient of Harry & David pears, also a Rogue Valley institution, you know how special our Oregon pears are.
My gift to you!
If you'd like the larger collection of tartine recipes I've dreamed up that reflect Oregon's Columbia River, Hood River, and Willamette Valley, click here to request one.
With the weather drawing more of us outdoors and the days growing longer, springtime feasts and little improptu gatherings are starting to happen. Do think of making blue cheese and pear tartines, either for a special breakfast, a light lunch, or as an appetizer for your get-togethers. Use whatever blue cheese and pears you find at your market.
Oregon's tourism board, Travel Oregon, has a remarkably organized the state into regional "food trails" and provides visitors with lovely guides to each. If you find yourself in my neck of the woods, Travel Oregon will send you a guide prior to your visit. I also offer cooking classes in my home where you can have a wraparound experience-- local food and wine in the Oregon countryside with an expansive view.
If you don't have a trip to Oregon planned you can also replicate our special cuisine at home by sharing one of my online cooking class experiences. Here is more information about my online and in-person cooking classes.
Garlicky Greens and Grilled Cheese Sandwich: Recipe here.
Every now and then I cook for just myself, something like this warm spinach salad with pancetta vinaigrette, warm barley, toasted hazelnuts, an egg, with beautiful golden crowns of Delicata squash. It takes me back to my single days when I first learned to eat alone. For 47 years of my life there was family at my dinner table, and suddenly eating alone was such a hard thing. I had finally learned to enjoy it by the time this one particularly extraordinary guy came along.
What can I tell you about my this man, who became my husband? First, Scott is a never-ending source of puns that always make me laugh. He is really sweet with his mother, daughters, sons, grandchildren, my whole family, friends, grocery checkers, wait staff, dogs and cats, well, everyone. He always takes the generous view of (nearly) all people.
Going places with him is always a fun adventure.
We once hiked what seemed like 400-foot high sand dunes to visit the Oregon coastline. The wind was howling, it was raining, and my hikers were filled with sand. It had not been my favorite afternoon, and we still had to climb back over the dunes to get to our car. I was over it. He pulled out his phone, pretended to dial, and held the phone to his ear.
"Hello?" he said with a serous façade. "My wife is ready to have the helicopter pick her up and return her to the chateau. Twenty minutes? Great, thank you." Scott always knows how to make me laugh, and how to gently move my legs-- and my attitude-- in the right direction.
I could go on about how smart and good looking he is, too. But here's what you really need to know. At this moment one of Scott's most dearly beloveds is in long-term hospital care. She lives far away, and when he couldn't be at her side in the first days of her medical situation he was nearly beside himself. He has now spent a few weeks at her bedside helping her heal, with more time away from home to come. He has full-heartedly embraced the task of caregiving in the most beautiful way, with strength, humor, devotion, and hope.
So, this won't be the last time I make spinach salad with pancetta vinaigrette for one. I'll be doing more dining alone off and on for a time, while this amazing person I call my husband is away doing God's work of loving so well.
This pretty shoulder-season main-dish salad uses hearty curly spinach, the last of the winter Delicata squash in my vegetable basket, and some warm cooked barley, naturally gluten-free buckwheat groats, or farro. Warm salads are so satisfying during the spring and autumn season changes. This one is every bit as yummy to eat as it is lovely to look at.
Portland's James Beard award winning Joshua McFadden's book, Six Seasons; A New Way with Vegetables provides the inspiration for the pancetta vinaigrette. I divert from his recipe in a few places-- I use the olive oil and rendered pancetta to lightly wilt hearty spinach right in the pan. Sherry vinegar is my choice for this dish instead of red wine vinegar that Chef McFadden uses, and I add it just as the spinach is finished wilting in the pan. And, since I'm cooking for one, I reduce the overall ingredient quantities.
If you like this recipe, please give it a rating by clicking on the green stars on the recipe card below. That will help others find it in their searches, too. If you like this post, please subscribe to receive my newsletter for more recipes, cooking tips, and cooking class information. When you sign up, you'll receive a free downloadable Taste of Oregon tartines recipe booklet.
I've been experimenting with the design Rule of Threes in my cooking. Used in graphic design, interior design, and fashion-- really anywhere design concepts are applied-- the principle is that things arranged in groups of three are more appealing, evocative, and satisfying.
Long ago, it is said, Nordstrom sales associates were required to dress this way-- skirt, blouse, sweater; slacks, shirt, vest; dress, boots, scarf, etc. Accessories were the grace notes added to the rule of threes formula. I've begun to think this is true for the food on a plate as well.
Not only does this method of cooking work from a taste and visual point of view, but it is actually pretty easy to pull together a dynamic dish using this concept.
In this 30-minute dish the triad of warm earthy lentils, smoky-sweet nectarines, and cool creamy burrata is more than the sum of its parts. Each of the parts requires very little or no preparation. The simple vinaigrette acts like the jewelry that ties the whole ensemble together.
The rule of threes concept worked perfectly in this recent red pepper, white bean, and feta recipe, too. The smoky bright red peppers, the earthy light white beans, and sharp tangy feta create a synergy that is tied together with a crown of herb sauce. Magnificent, yet simple.
It only looks challenging! Make Beluga Lentil, Grilled Nectarine + Burrata Salad soon for an ever so delicious, beautiful, fancy-fast-easy brunch, lunch, or dinner. Make it vegan by omitting the burrata, and it is still delicious. Serve it alongside meat, or enjoy it as a vegetarian main course.
How can you use this Rule of Threes concept in your cooking and meal planning? I'd love to hear about your ideas and experiments!
Have you ever had a restaurant salad that just took your breath away? One where everything is in balance, it's not gasping for life under a soggy dressing, and the lettuce is crackly-crisp and tender as angel wings? You can do that at home, too.
Here are three easy steps to rescue your salads from being sad and pathetic, including a fast and easy no-measure Classic French Vinaigrette. You'll see how fun and easy it is to take that basic ratio and create an infinite variety of vinaigrette options.
Whether you wash your lettuce leaves or use pre-washed, thoroughly drying them will help make your salad restaurant-quality. I pile my washed greens into the center of a thin dish towel, fold the long edges over the leaves, gather the corners into my fist and walk outside.
Here's where it gets weird. I stand in the grass swinging the dishtowel of lettuce around and around in huge arm circles like we did in grade-school calisthenics. The centrifugal force is enough to make and water fly out, but not harsh enough to maul the leaves. My neighbors think I'm a total nut. This is the price I pay for perfect salad.
Dry leaves accept a light coating of vinaigrette, and the salad will go to the table with its crisp crunch that won't fade through the meal.
Dry lettuce makes an amazing difference. And, hey, you get in a little exercise.
Yes, your homemade vinaigrette makes an enormous difference, but the quantity you use is just as critical to a memorable salad.
With a great big bowl of lettuce-based salad and a nice homemade Classic French Vinaigrette, you likely need only one or two Tablespoons of dressing. This is true.
You won't believe it until you start tossing. And tossing, and tossing. Using two large spoons, gently turn your leaves over and over and over. In a minute, you'll see the dressing not dripping and puddling in the bowl-- it will be evenly clinging ever-so-gently on all the surfaces of the lettuce without bogging it down.
Lightly-dressed, your salad becomes a fresh and bouncy salad that is softly flavored with the lovely vinaigrette, as perfect salad was made to be.
A little bit of great vinaigrette, a lot of tossing. Try it!
I love a salad that's loaded with vegetables, fruits, cheeses, nuts, croutons, and the works, but that can put a lot of pressure on your tender lettuce. There are a few ways you can remedy this.
One way is to simply go lighter with your added ingredients, as in the salad below.
Secondly, if you plan to toss the salad before serving, put heavy add-ins in the bottom of your bowl, then top with the lettuces and dressing, tossing the lettuce without spooning down to the other ingredients. In the last toss or two, scoop down to bring the heavier ingredients up to the top, and serve with dispatch.
Thirdly, toss your lettuce with your fantastic homemade vinaigrette and arrange it on a platter. Now place your other vegetables and ingredients into the bowl, add a little dressing, and toss them separately before gently placing them on the lettuce. Once again, serve right away.
Lastly, my favorite way to keep heavy ingredients from collapsing the life out of the lettuce is especially nice if you need to make the salad a little ahead of serving. Toss the lettuce and dressing and place on a serving platter. Mound each separate ingredient on your cutting board and drizzle each one with a few drops of dressing and toss it with your hands before moving on the the next. Take each separate pile of goodies and make a little space between the leaves and place it there. Be an artist and arrange these colorful piles around the lettuce.
This last method is perfect for gatherings and parties. Create some gorgeous salad-as-a-meal platters that present beautifully, and either toss it together tableside, or allow your fellow diners to select and build their own plates from your creation.
This no-measure recipe offers you a few measurements as guidance to get you started, but soon you'll just grab a spoon, a jar and a knife and whip dressings and marinades out like you're the garde-manger of your favorite French restaurant.
The broad category of humans called mothers, like all the other broad categories of humans, are not intractably indivisible and uniform. Nope, the perfect motherhood monolith is just a false notion. Every single person who bears the label "Mother" stands uniquely alone in their personhood. The way each mom fills out their mother-space is theirs alone.
My mom and I live nearly 3,000 coast-to-coast miles apart, or roughly the same distance as it is from my home to Mexico City or Montreal, Quebec. It's been nearly 16 months since I've seen her.
We've missed some big things this year-- we made the most of her 80th birthday celebration with a Zoom party. She's stayed well, the most important thing. But I miss her.
Here are some of the things that make my mom different than all the other moms in the world:
If I were with her this week, I'd make mom these tasty Banana Coconutty Breakfast Cookies. I'd actually make a double-batch, and zippy-bag them up for her freezer so she'd have a month of homemade breakfast cookies after I left.
What makes your mom the unique person she is or was? Please leave a comment to help us all celebrate our mothers this week.
These breakfast cookies are made with hazelnuts, one of our Oregon treasures. They are naturally gluten-free if you chose GF oats. The contain no dairy, and no added sugar-- just naturally sweetened with very ripe bananas. Don't be tempted to use the green-stemmed ones here. The browner the better and you will never know there is no sugar added.