Whole Story

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Recipes to Know by Heart

By Elizabeth Beal, September 24, 2013  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Elizabeth Beal

We’re obsessed with cookbooks and recipes, but knowing a few versatile dishes by heart makes cooking a lot more fun and can be priceless on busy nights. Here are some of our favorite go-to’s to get you started:

Broth, the kitchen workhorse that’s basically free:

Learn the basic formula for homemade chicken broth or veggie broth and say goodbye to food waste and hello to flavor. Homemade broth adds rich flavor to tons of sides like pilafs and steamed veggies, and of course, makes a great starter for soups.

 Golden Chicken Broth  Homemade Vegetable Broth

Greens are gold:

By now, you’ve probably heard “eat your leafy greens” as many times as you’ve tied your shoes, and that’s fine for the salad lover in all of us. But the biggest nutritional boost comes from dark greens like collards, kale and spinach. Master cooking these without the mush and you’ll find them on your dinner table far more often than before. Here’s a basic greens recipe, and one with bacon and a little spice or fancied up with shallots. Make extra to mix into casseroles or omelets the next day. And once you’ve got the basics, move on to a customer favorite: Greens with Carrots, Feta Cheese and Brown Rice.

 Sautéed Greens with Garlic Spicy Collard Greens

A few good salad dressings:

Homemade salad dressings are simple to make and often healthier (and tastier!) than the bottled stuff. Mastering good vinaigrette is priceless! Try classics like Buttermilk Ranch, Honey Mustard and Creamy Roquefort, or add something new to your arsenal with Sesame Garlic Dressing. Bonus: with just a few tweaks, these become great dips or marinades.

 Buttermilk Ranch Dressing Honey Mustard Salad Dressing

Basic roast chicken and a few fun variations:

For versatility and leftover yumminess, it’s tough to beat basic roast chicken. Have fun with marinades, seasonings and rubs, and be sure to use the oven time for a pan of roasted veggies or skillet of cheddar biscuits. For faster cooking times, try these variations that cut the whole chicken into pieces: Lemon-Herb Chicken and Peruvian-Style Roasted Chicken.

 Roasted Organic Chicken with Herbs Roasted Lemon-Herb Chicken

Something delicious for pasta (or toast):

Turn plain pasta into a special meal with easy homemade sauces like basic pesto (and not-so-basic pesto), homemade marinara and roasted red pepper sauce. Bonus: these are just as good on toast or white beans the next day for a simple lunch.

 Learn to Cook: Simple Pesto Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Sauce

Casserole, naturally:

Having a couple casseroles in your mental recipe box makes weeknight meals a snap. Plus, they’re pretty forgiving in terms of measurements and ingredient combos. Once you’ve got the basics down, experiment with what’s in your pantry, fridge and spice cabinet. Start with favorites like Broccoli, Rice and Cheese Casserole, try an autumn twist using butternut squash and macaroni and impress breakfast guests with this savory sausage breakfast casserole. For a hearty dinner with a wholesome twist, try New King Ranch Casserole.

 New King Ranch Casserole Savory Sausage and Cheddar Breakfast Casserole

A couple party-ready dips and spreads:

Knowing how to whip up a homemade dip or spread can save you lots of money and needless ingredients typically associated with packaged dips. Leftovers make instant snacks and are great on sandwiches and in wraps, too. Go elegant with smoked salmon or garlicky goat cheese dip, get a little healthier with hummus or white bean spread, or embrace the ease of pimiento cheese and this dill-ightfully simple variation.

 Simple White Bean Spread  Party-Time Pimento Cheese

What recipes do you know by heart? Which are the handiest, and why? Tell me in the comments below.

Category: Food & Recipes

 

10 Comments

Comments

Tina says ...
Marinated Sausage Kabobs 1/4 c olive oil 1 tbs. white vinegar 1/2 tsp.minced garlic 1/2 tsp. dried oregano 12 oz. cheddar cheese cubbed 1 can 6 oz. pitted ripe olives , drained 4 oz. hard salami, cut 3/4 " pieces 1 med. sweet pepper, cut 3/4 " pieces 1 med. green pepper,cut 3/4" pieces In a zip loc bag combine the 1st. 5 ingredients, refrigerate for 4 hrs. Drain Each Kabob thread 1 pc. of cheese, olive, salami and pepper on a long toothpick. Makes 3 doz. and is a great hit at my house!
10/02/2013 5:28:54 PM CDT
Arlene green says ...
Chicken burgers Ground chicken breast and a lot of ground vegetables and then baked in the oven
10/02/2013 5:42:04 PM CDT
Chicken Marbella says ...
This recipe is a family fall favorite. Although there are many ingedients the recipe is easy. A one pot, delicious Mediterranean dish. It smells so good while cooking and, after cooking, the juice is slurped up with a fresh organic bakery baguette. Instead of a whole chicken, we like organic chicken leg quarters 8-10. The dark meat adds flavor and simply makes the entire meal an event-a simple meal even for a week day.
10/02/2013 6:30:50 PM CDT
Mary arzt says ...
Chicken soup, bean soup, veggie soup and variations of all of them, roast chicken, tomato sauce, meatballs, braised beef with variations, chili, chicken salad, tuna stuffed baquette, salad dressing, country captain, chicken gumbo. Soups and sauce are better for being made ahead. I generally cook several meals on Sunday or Monday. Something that's good right away like a grilled steak or chops or roast chicken or hamburgers. Leftover chicken good for sandwiches for dinner one night, usually make a soup for another night, and something braised or tomato sauce for another. Once you're cutting up veggies and browning its easy to plan more than one meal. I get home from work and know we have something good to eat with the addition of a salad.
10/02/2013 8:03:30 PM CDT
Eka says ...
Peppered fig relish and caramel chai rice pudding are my 2 know by heart recipes, although I think I'll have a few new ones from this article, especially the roasted pepper sauce!
10/03/2013 2:37:18 AM CDT
Sara Colegate says ...
I volunteer as a program leader for Lifelong Learning classes. Took my group to your Dublin, OH, Whole Foods for a field trip/store tour hosted by the awesome Jan Bonner. We also appreciated the arrival and departure help/greeting by Sandra. My group lives in the farming community of Wilmington, OH, and one-third travels abroad, the rest stay close to home. The group was so impressed and inspired to expand their food pallettes and cooking routines. Might I add that the oldest gals purchased the most wine! In my cooking class I also suggest that participants keep abbreviated recipe cards on the interior sides of their kitchen cabinets. I supply them with an 8.5 x 11 page of homemade dressings, some of which have come from your web site, roast chicken, and those recipes that I know by heart are basil pesto, basic greens, tomato sauce, and custard. Moving to Greenville, SC in the next year. Perhaps I should include proximity to a Whole Foods store as part of my search critieria! Love your philosophy, website, selections, and bakeries. We were taking photos of the pastries and bread.
10/03/2013 6:50:56 AM CDT
L. White says ...
So excited about MY WholeFoods Store coming to the Woodlands! It's about time! WOOHOO!
10/03/2013 7:55:05 AM CDT
Elaine says ...
I have heard that broth made from broccoli is not healthy and should be discarded. Is that true?
10/03/2013 9:06:41 AM CDT
Deborah says ...
Green beans, served cold with dressing of garlic, oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add chopped almonds and cherry tomatoes. Start with a bowl of ice water in the fridge. When the beans are cooked to perfection, put them immediately in the ice water so they will not be overcooked.
10/09/2013 7:11:43 PM CDT
Hayley Relph says ...
I usually start off frying an onion, 2 peppers, some garlic and chilli, then 2 cans of chopped tomatoes and some herbs and spices. This can be used as a base for sooooo many dishes: - add chicken and penne - add some olives, capers, anchovies and some of your favourite fish with some spaghetti - add some chicken and spinach and pop it in the oven with some cheese - add chorizo, fennel, cayenne and crack a few eggs on top for a moroccan-style dish - forget the chopped tomatoes, add some chicken strips and have it in fajitas - add some mince, mushrooms and carrots for a basic chilli con carne etc etc Have fun!
02/28/2014 11:04:31 AM CST