Brown Sugar Cookies

One more recipe from Sarah Kieffer’s new cookie book!

These wonderful cookies may have tasted even more spectacular because they looked so simple and unassuming. Wow. The extra teaspoon of molasses may have been the secret ingredient. Like her snickerdoodles, they had a crispy edge and soft center.

The recipe was adapted from 100 Cookies: The Baking Book for Every Kitchen with Classic Cookies, Novel Treats, Brownies, Bars and More by Sarah Kieffer. I chilled the dough prior to baking and modified the cookie size. I also reduced the amount of granulated sugar needed for rolling. Great!

Yield: 30 to 32 cookies

  • 364 g (2 1/2 cups plus 1 T) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt (I used fine sea salt)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks or 227 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 350 g (1 3/4 cups) dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp molasses
  • 1 large egg plus 1 large yolk
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 50 g (1/4 cup) granulated sugar, for rolling
  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 C). (I did not use the convection setting.)
  2. Line rimmed sheet pans with parchment paper.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute.
  5. Add the brown sugar and the molasses and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Add the egg, yolk, and vanilla, and beat on medium speed until combined.
  7. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined.
  8. Place the granulated sugar in a small bowl.
  9. Using a medium-sized cookie scoop, ration the dough into 30g (1 oz or 1 1/2 T) portions. (At this point, I wrapped the scoops with plastic wrap and chilled them. I baked half after 1 hour and the other half after 24 hours.)
  10. Roll each ball in the granulated sugar and place 8 cookies on each sheet pan.
  11. Bake one pan at a time, rotating halfway through baking. Bake until the sides are set and the bottoms are light golden brown, 12 to 13 minutes (for the chilled dough).
  12. Transfer the sheet pan to a wire rack and let the cookies cool for 5 to 10 minutes on the pan, then remove them and let them cool completely on the wire rack. Repeat with remaining dough.

Note: Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Crusty Parmesan Roast Chicken with Lemon & Rosemary

I have made this wonderful roasted chicken twice recently. The grated Parmesan forms a crispy and delicious topping on the skin and the meat is very nicely seasoned with fresh rosemary and lemon zest. I served it with roasted potatoes and vegetables on both occasions.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. If roasting vegetables with a short cooking time, such as asparagus, it would be amazing to roast them in some of the pan juices while the chicken is resting. I drizzled my roasted potatoes and other vegetables with the lemony pan juices after they were cooked. Great.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • zest and juice from 1 lemon, divided
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary, plus 3 to 4 sprigs
  • large pinch of red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving, optional
  • 1 (3 1/2- to 4-pound) whole chicken, patted dry
  • extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • parsley, for garnish, optional
  1. Finely grate the zest from the lemon and place it in a small bowl. (Save the zested lemon for the drippings.)
  2. Stir in 2 teaspoons salt, pepper, chopped rosemary and red-pepper flakes, if using.
  3. Season the chicken inside and out with salt mixture. Let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes or refrigerate uncovered for up to overnight.
  4. Heat oven to 425 degrees. I set my oven to convection roast.
  5. Place chicken, breast-side up, in a large skillet, sheet pan or roasting pan. (I used a 12-inch cast iron skillet.)
  6. Stuff cavity of chicken with rosemary sprigs. Drizzle breast with a little olive oil.
  7. Roast chicken for 30 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven and sprinkle chicken all over with Parmesan.
  9. Return pan to the oven and continue roasting until bird’s juices run clear when skin is pierced with a knife and the skin is golden, 25 to 30 minutes longer. (I used an oven probe and cooked the chicken until the breast reached 165 degrees.)
  10. Let chicken rest for 10 minutes. (I tented it with aluminum foil.)
  11. Squeeze juice from the zested lemon, to taste, into the pan drippings and season with more salt and red-pepper flakes if you like.
  12. Carve and serve with drippings spooned over the meat. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired. (I also had extra drippings available at the table.)

Sesame Stir-Fried Pork Tenderloin with Shiitakes

This quick weeknight dish was packed with flavor. The seasonings had a great balance too. The original recipe notes that tofu can be substituted for the pork to make a vegetarian version.

This recipe was adapted from 177milkstreet.com, contributed by Dawn Yanagihara. I reduced the amount of kimchi and increased the amount of garlic. This dish could definitely gobble up more kimchi- I may incorporate the full amount next time. I served it over brown Basmati rice to make a complete meal. Wonderful!

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed of silver skin (can substitute 14 oz extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into 1-inch cubes)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups Napa cabbage kimchi, drained, large pieces chopped, with 2 T reserved juice (I used 10.6oz jar of Trader Joe’s kimchi)
  • 2 1/2 T soy sauce, divided (I used reduced sodium soy sauce)
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 to 3 T grapeseed oil, or other neutral oil
  • 8 oz fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, caps sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3 T mirin
  • 1 T toasted sesame oil
  • 2 T sesame seeds, toasted
  • 5 scallions, thinly sliced
  • brown Basmati rice, for serving, optional (I used 1 cup rice cooked in 2 cups stock)
  1. Cut the tenderloin in half lengthwise, then slice each half crosswise about 1/4-inch thick.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the pork, 1 tablespoon of the reserved kimchi juice, 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.
  3. In a 12 or 14-inch skillet over high, heat 1 tablespoon of the grapeseed oil until beginning to smoke. Swirl to coat the pan, then add the pork and cook, stirring, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a clean bowl.
  4. In the same pan over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil until beginning to smoke.
  5. Add the mushrooms and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid released by the mushrooms has mostly evaporated, about 5 minutes.
  6. Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, if necessary (I omitted it), and the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  7. Return the pork to the pan with any accumulated juices and cook until the juices evaporate, 30 to 60 seconds.
  8. Add the kimchi, mirin, the remaining 1 tablespoon kimchi juice and the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce. Reduce to medium and cook, stirring and scraping up any browned bits, until the kimchi is heated through, about 3 minutes.
  9. Stir in the sesame oil, half of the sesame seeds and half of the scallions.
  10. Transfer to a bowl or platter, over rice, if desired. Sprinkle with the remaining scallions and sesame seeds. Serve.

Pasta With Brown Butter, Whole Lemon, & Parmesan

This is another wonderful weeknight pasta that uses simple ingredients. I was excited to make it while Meyer lemons are still readily available. The lemon added brightness which had a nice contrast to the richness of the browned butter and cheese.

This recipe is from Bon Appétit, contributed by Andy Baraghani. I used a mandoline to slice the lemon into 1/8-inch thick (thin) rounds. I loved that the original recipe called for “an almost ridiculous amount of pepper.” I’m a huge fan. 🙂

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 lb. short tube pasta, such as paccheri or rigatoni (I used mezzi rigatoni)
  • coarse salt
  • 8 T (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, divided
  • 1 small regular lemon or Meyer lemon, very thinly sliced into rounds, seeds removed (I used a mandoline)
  • 1 oz Parmesan, finely grated, plus more for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling generously salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente, about 2 minutes less than package directions (pasta will finish cooking in the sauce).
  2. Meanwhile, heat half of the butter in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium until melted.
  3. Add lemon slices and cook, stirring often, until softened and bottom of pot is browned in spots, 5–7 minutes.
  4. Using tongs, transfer one-third of lemon slices to a plate; set aside.
  5. Just before pasta is al dente, scoop out 2 cups pasta cooking liquid.
  6. Add 1 1/2 cups pasta cooking liquid to butter sauce. (This may seem like a lot of liquid, but it will thicken once the remaining ingredients are added.)
  7. Add remaining butter a piece at a time, whisking until each piece is incorporated before adding more, until the sauce is emulsified and creamy.
  8. Drain pasta and add to sauce.
  9. Cook, stirring often and adding the grated Parmesan a little at a time.
  10. Once all of the cheese is added, continue to cook, still stirring, until cheese is melted and sauce is creamy and clings to pasta, about 3 minutes. If sauce looks very thick, add more pasta cooking liquid 1–2 Tbsp. at a time to thin (saucier is ideal as it will thicken as it cools).
  11. Remove from heat and sprinkle with an almost ridiculous amount of pepper (about 2 tsp.); toss once more.
  12. Serve pasta topped with reserved lemon rounds and more Parmesan.

Baked Feta & Tomato Pasta with Basil

I first heard about this spectacularly easy viral pasta dish from Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen. I think I was the last to know… My daughter has seen countless people make it on TikTok, of course. 😉 She was absolutely thrilled to make it with me!

The original recipe is called “Uunifetapasta,” created by the Finnish blogger Jenni Häyrinen. The foundation of the dish is a block of feta placed in the center of a baking dish surrounded by seasoned tomatoes. After being baked, the cheese and burst tomatoes are combined to create a creamy and delicious sauce to serve over pasta. Deb Perelman incorporated chickpeas in her version- nice.

This version from the Washington Post, contributed by Aaron Hutcherson, recommended using Greek sheep’s milk feta to maximize the creaminess. I used an enameled cast iron baking pan, modified the proportions and incorporated za’atar to the seasoning on the tomatoes prior to baking. It was super creamy and tasty- and as simple and easy to prepare as expected.

Yield: Serves 6

  • 3 pints (750 to 800 g) grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 5 large garlic cloves, halved lengthwise
  • 8 T (1/2 cup) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 block (10.5 oz) Greek feta cheese
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • za’atar, to taste, optional
  • 17 to 18 oz medium-length dried pasta, such as campanile, rigatoni, or rotini (I used Gigli)
  • fresh basil leaves, for serving
  1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees, preferably on convection roast.
  2. In a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, combine the tomatoes, garlic and 6 tablespoons of the olive oil. (I used an enameled cast iron baking pan.)
  3. Sprinkle the tomatoes with some salt and toss to coat. Sprinkle with za’atar, if using.
  4. Place the feta cheese in the center of the tomatoes and garlic, top with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and sprinkle the entire dish with red pepper flakes and a little black pepper.
  5. Bake for about 40 minutes, until the garlic has softened and the tomatoes have burst their skins.
  6. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and then drain the pasta.
  7. Remove the baking dish from the oven and stir the feta and tomatoes with a wooden spoon until evenly combined. Taste and adjust seasoning, as necessary.
  8. Mix the sauce with pasta, adding the reserved pasta water as needed if it looks a little dry. (I incorporated quite a bit of pasta water.)
  9. To serve, top with plenty of basil leaves.

Vegetarian Skillet Stuffed Shells

This one-pan, stovetop recipe turns cheesy stuffed pasta into a weeknight dinner. It was a perfect crowd-pleasing dish to serve on a chilly evening. Jarred marinara is used as a shortcut- enhanced with buttery sautéed garlic and red pepper flakes. Great.

This recipe was adapted from epicurious.com, contributed by Anna Stockwell. I modified the proportions and method, and used dried oregano. I recommend eating it with crusty bread or garlic bread to mop up the sauce.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 20 jumbo pasta shells (about 6 to 6.5 oz)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 to 10 oz crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth (I used Pinot Grigio)
  • 5 oz baby spinach
  • 6 to 9 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 24 to 28 oz jarred marinara sauce (I used 28 oz Rao’s Marinara)
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups (15 to 16 oz) whole-milk ricotta
  • 3 oz finely grated Parmesan (about 1 cup), plus more for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • 2 T finely chopped fresh oregano or 2 tsp dried oregano
  • fresh parsley or oregano, chopped, for garnish, optional
  • crusty bread or garlic bread for serving, optional
  1. Cook shells in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente, about 9 minutes; drain. Run under cold water to stop the cooking; drain again. (I cooked 22 shells just to be safe but only used 20.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet (with a lid) over medium-high. (I used a large, wide enameled cast iron pan.)
  3. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they release juices, then are dry again and nicely browned, 5–10 minutes; season with black pepper and 1/2 tsp salt.
  4. Reduce heat to medium, add wine, and cook, stirring, until reduced by half, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  5. Add spinach, stir, cover, and cook until beginning to wilt, 1–2 minutes.
  6. Uncover and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until spinach is completely wilted and most of the liquid is evaporated, 2–4 minutes more. Transfer mushroom mixture to a large bowl; reserve skillet.
  7. Add ricotta, Parmesan, 2 T fresh oregano or 2 tsp dried oregano, and remaining 1/2 tsp salt to mushroom mixture and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning, to taste.
  8. Spoon about 2 T ricotta mixture into each shell. The shell should be filled to capacity but not overstuffed. (I used a cookie scoop to ration the filling.)
  9. Cook garlic and butter in reserved skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic is fragrant and beginning to brown, 2–3 minutes.
  10. Add marinara sauce and red pepper flakes and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until warmed through, 6–8 minutes.
  11. Nestle stuffed shells into hot sauce in skillet.
  12. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until shells are warmed through, 5–6 minutes.
  13. Remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes.
  14. Sprinkle with Parmesan and chopped fresh parsley or oregano. Serve with crusty bread or garlic bread, as desired.

Red Lentil Soup with Warm Spices

I absolutely love red lentil soup. I have made several versions and I have always been pleased with the results. It’s easy, healthy, and delicious. This version was incredibly creamy. I loved the pop of color from the flavorful toppings too.

This recipe was adapted from America’s Test Kitchen. I modified the proportions. We ate it with a green salad and warm naan- a perfect light dinner. Vegetable stock can be substituted for the chicken stock for a vegetarian version.

Yield: Serves 8 to 10

For the Soup:

  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • 2 large onions, chopped fine (I used a food processor)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch cayenne
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 cups chicken stock (I used 4 cups chicken stock & 4 cups homemade turkey stock)
  • 4 cups water
  • 21 ounces (3 cups) red lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 4 T (1/4 cup, about 1 lemon) freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus extra for seasoning

For the Topping:

  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • 3 tsp dried mint, crumbled (I omitted it)
  • tsp paprika
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

To Make the Soup:

  1. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in large saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add onion and 2 teaspoons salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add coriander, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne, and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in tomato paste and garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Stir in broth, water, and lentils and bring to simmer. Simmer vigorously, stirring occasionally, until lentils are soft and about half are broken down, about 15 minutes.
  6. Whisk soup vigorously until it is coarsely pureed, about 30 seconds. Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and extra lemon juice to taste. Cover and keep warm. (Soup can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Thin soup with water, if desired, when reheating.)

To Make the Topping:

  1. Melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter in small skillet or in the microwave. (I only did 1/2 of the topping because I froze 1/2 of the soup!)
  2. Remove from heat and stir in mint and paprika, as desired.
  3. Ladle soup into individual bowls, drizzle each portion with spiced butter (about 1 teaspoon), sprinkle with cilantro, and serve.

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