Elise's Simply Recipes

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A family cooking and food blog with hundreds of healthy, whole-food recipes for the home cook. Photographs, easy-to-follow instructions, and reader comments.
Updated: 3 hours 16 min ago

Fudgy Chocolate Brownies

Wed, 05/24/2017 - 16:30

My mother often made these brownies on the spur of the moment. She’d see a bunch of kids in the house, and an hour later, she’d offer all of us a treat. “Let’s have a bite of brownie!” she would announce, and proceed to hand out small, warm squares.

I have no doubt that this recipe came from the back of a box at some point, but I only have the small index card she wrote in her beautiful penmanship. It’s a simple formula: chocolate, butter, sugar, eggs, and flour, all stirred together in one pot.

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Spicy Grilled Chicken Tacos

Mon, 05/22/2017 - 16:30

We have a family motto and it is this: Everything goes better in a tortilla.

Any and every kind of leftover can go inside a warm tortilla, usually with a healthy dose of pickled jalapenos. I can always sniff out a late-night snacker when the aroma of tortillas heating in a hot pan on the stove comes wafting through the house.

Today’s tacos are more purposeful – a deliberate meal instead of a secretive midnight snack!

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Baked Vegetable and Cream Cheese Wontons

Sat, 05/20/2017 - 16:30

Making dumplings is a big tradition in my family. When I was young, my mother would wake me up early on Sunday mornings to make dumplings with her and my grandmother. We would spend an hour or two filling and shaping dumplings, and then cook them for brunch for the rest of the family.

It was a lot of work, but I always got first dibs on the freshly made dumplings!

Now that I live away from my family, I still try to keep that weekend dumpling-making tradition alive.

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Chicken Breasts with Mustard Cream Sauce

Wed, 05/17/2017 - 16:30

This elegant dish is so easy to make, it’s almost criminal. But luckily, I don’t think anyone will get in trouble just for making really special chicken fit for anything from a weeknight meal to a dinner party — even if it does only take a half an hour.

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Chia Pudding with Blueberries and Almonds

Tue, 05/16/2017 - 23:12

Have you ever tried chia seeds? They’re nutrient dense, fiber rich tiny seeds of the chia plant that expand when you soak them in liquid to something like tapioca, but with really small pearls.

You can add them to smoothies for extra protein and fiber, or let them soak for a while and plump up to make an easy dairy-free pudding.

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Greek Lamb Burgers with Tzatziki Sauce

Mon, 05/15/2017 - 16:30

Up your burger game and be the hero of your next barbecue with Greek lamb burgers and homemade tzatziki!

I season these lamb burgers with some of Greece’s most-loved flavors – like garlic, dried lemon peel, and oregano – before grilling them up and serving them on toasted buns.

I like to set out a little buffet of Greek-inspired toppings near the grill for everyone to help themselves. Some of my favorites are fresh tomatoes, lettuce, feta, red onion, and of course, that tzatziki.

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Cooking Advice From Mom

Sun, 05/14/2017 - 17:09

Updated from the archives with new photos, first posted in 2008 when Elise’s mom was 73, she’s now 82. Happy Mother’s Day!

Years ago I was asked to write about what I’ve learned from my mother about cooking. Since at the time I was living with my parents and cooking with my mom almost every day, this wasn’t a difficult exercise. I’m still learning from her, though now occasionally she learns something from me too. ;-)

My mother is one of those intuitive cooks in the kitchen. Having raised six kids, she doesn’t follow recipes anymore. If you watch her while she cooks, the timing just appears to happen seamlessly.

Whereas I’m best at making one dish at a time, mom can coordinate a whole meal for 8—a main course protein, one or two veggie sides, a starch, and a salad—without getting remotely flustered.

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Potato and Broccoli Curry

Sat, 05/13/2017 - 16:30

Years ago, when I asked my friend Arthi for her favorite curry recipe, she gave me this sauce, which she adjusted to make what I call her “supermarket” version. That meant I could grab the ingredients at my local market without a special trip to her Indian grocery.

I love this sauce! It’s rich, but there’s no cream. It’s spicy, but not too hot. When it’s done cooking, you want to eat it with a spoon.

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How to Make Rice Without a Recipe

Sat, 05/13/2017 - 16:29

If all you need is a plain bowl of rice to serve with dinner, this is the easiest, most foolproof method that I know.

You don’t need measuring cups, a recipe, or even a specific water-to-rice ratio — just cover the rice with a few inches of water, bring it to a boil, then simmer until the rice is tender. Drain the rice, return it to the pot, and let it steam in its own residual heat until you’re ready to serve.

Super easy, right? It’s nothing fancy, but I promise that it gets the job done.

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Watercress Salad with Strawberries and Feta

Wed, 05/10/2017 - 16:30

Spring has finally arrived, and with it the appearance of longed-for exhilarating spring flavors. Like strawberries!

Once you have savored these fresh, ripe berries for breakfast, in a pie, and in a bowl covered with cream, you’ll start looking around for other ways to use them.

Might I suggest this simple, yet beautiful, spring salad?

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Pork Tenderloin with Figs and Olives

Tue, 05/09/2017 - 21:14

This recipe is brought to you in partnership with The California Olive Committee.

Looking for ideas for a special dinner? Consider pork tenderloin! It’s terrific for entertaining. The challenge is that because tenderloin is such a lean, tender cut of meat, it can easily be over-cooked and dry.

You can address this in a couple of ways. The most important thing is to not overcook the pork. Pork tenderloin can quickly go from perfect to overdone, so use a meat thermometer, pay attention and pull the meat from the heat when it gets to the right internal temperature.

Another thing you can do to help keep the moisture in the meat is to marinate the tenderloin in a lightly briny solution. Ideally, a sweet and salty marinade will not only infuse the meat with flavor, but will also act as a gentle brine to help the tenderloin retain moisture as it cooks.

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Fish Stew with Ginger and Tomatoes

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 16:30

One spring at friend’s house on Cape Cod, I found a lot of fresh ginger in the fridge. My friend’s husband had just stopped by the local fish market, so I combined the fish and ginger with a can of tomatoes to make a quick and easy spring stew. We absolutely loved the results.

The fresh ginger won’t knock you over the head with its intensity in this stew. It adds warmth and its distinctive gingery flavor to the pot, but it’s a fairly subtle flavor.

The fish is still the main star – which it should be, considering how expensive seafood is!

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Chicken Florentine Pesto Pasta

Sat, 05/06/2017 - 14:58

Dear chicken Florentine. I like you. I like your spinach and your cream sauce.

But honestly? I don’t love you. You’re missing a little pizzaz.

So, I would like to introduce you to my friend pesto pasta.

You kinda need that punch from the pesto’s garlic, basil, and Parmesan.

Now we have the makings of love. Go forth and multiply.

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Green Mojito Smoothie

Thu, 05/04/2017 - 16:30

There are two things I know for sure about my friend Tess Masters. One is that she knows smoothies. The other is that she has an extraordinary palate. Which means when she comes up with a smoothie idea, it’s going to be a winner!

The Green Mojito Smoothie from The Blender Girl Smoothies is a perfect example. Like the mojito flavors of lime and mint? Blend in some pineapple, coconut water, and kale, and you have not only the zesty refreshing taste of a mojito, but it’s good for you too.

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Shrimp Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce

Wed, 05/03/2017 - 16:30

Whenever I have friends over for dinner, I love making a batch of Vietnamese-style spring rolls to serve as appetizer.

Unlike Chinese-style deep fried spring rolls, these Vietnamese spring rolls are very light and fresh. You wrap thinly sliced vegetables, cooked shrimp, and fresh herbs in a neat rice paper package. They’re the perfect pre-dinner snack!

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Sheet Pan Chicken with Asparagus and Potatoes

Mon, 05/01/2017 - 16:30

If you’re feeling grateful for spring and eager to put fresh spring vegetables on your table, pull out your favorite sheet pan and make this simple supper.

Start with new potatoes, super-sweet onions, sliced lemons, and aromatic sprigs of lemon thyme. Roast them all together on your sheet pan until they’re tender, then add the chicken pieces. Continue roasting, and wait until everything is close to done before scattering the asparagus all around the pan.

It’s a clever way of making an entire meal at once, and you don’t even need a sauce because you’ll have chicken juices in the pan to spoon over the meat. Your trusty sheet pan does it again!

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Slow Cooker Mexican Pulled Pork

Sun, 04/30/2017 - 10:39

Do you know what a cook lives for? The look in friends’ eyes when they’ve bitten into something you’ve made, and they’re deliriously happy about what they’re eating. Their wide-eyed smiley faces would say, “OMG, WOW,” if they weren’t so busy eating, and wanting to be polite and not talk with their mouths full.

That’s the response I got from my friends when I served them tacos with this slow cooked pulled pork.

Of course how could you not love tacos filled with spicy shredded pork?

Best thing is that it’s crazy easy to make, especially in a slow cooker. You just rub a pork shoulder roast with a blend of ground chiles and spices, let the roast sit in that rub for a while, brown the roast and then slow cook it until it’s fall apart tender.

Use a couple forks to pull it apart into tasty shreds and use the meat as a filling for tacos, tamales, or burritos.

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Lemony Spaghetti with Peas and Ricotta

Sat, 04/29/2017 - 16:30

When you’re bored of your standby quick-and-easy dinners and are looking for something new to shake up your pasta routine, try this lemony spaghetti dish.

Creamy ricotta, lemon zest, toasted breadcrumbs and fresh peas will raise the bar on dinner!

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Shaved Asparagus and Potato Pizza

Wed, 04/26/2017 - 16:30

This time of year, asparagus begs to be used in all sorts of ways. Shaving the spears with a vegetable peeler produces a lovely green tangle that I like to put on top of a pizza.

Add some roasted potato slices and gouda cheese, and you have a winning combination and a winning start to spring.

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Easy No-Knead Pizza Dough

Wed, 04/26/2017 - 16:29

It seems that every time I decide to make pizza at home (usually on a Friday night) my well-laid plans are disrupted by a last-minute impulse to go to the movies or to meet with friends.

That’s why I love this dough recipe.

You can make it and let it rise, then use it — or change your mind and leave it in the fridge for the next day. Or even the day after that. Or even freeze it for a few weeks. It’s a very forgiving dough!

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