I have 500+ cookbooks (don’t judge! I hear you calling Hoarders, the reality TV show…), but these days, I turn most often to food blogs for quick inspiration and new recipes.
Here are my latest recipe crushes.
You really, REALLY need to try these. I’ve made each of them more than once, sometimes more than five times since discovering them. (Click on the recipe title to be taken straight to that recipe.)
1. Apple Pie French Toast for One  (Breakfast)
Can we say “genius?” Let’s just give Carrie from The Frugal Foodie Mama that label, because this recipe for Apple Pie French Toast for One will give you a reason to get out of bed. It’s fast (1 minute prep, 2 minutes of microwave cooking, and let’s say 10 minutes of cool down), and I suggest you get it going in the microwave first thing, then take your shower, and when you get out, it will be ready, waiting, and cooled sufficiently to eat. (If you try to eat it right out of the microwave, you’ll get pizza-burn-roof-of-your-mouth. Don’t ask me how I know this.) Anyway, I love this easy recipe, which can use up a little-too-old apple, the heel of a loaf of bread, and suddenly you have a breakfast that is special. I altered it only slightly, to use 1 bread slice/1 cup (instead of 1 1/2 cups), and 1 apple/1 cup (instead of 1/2 cup). It’s all good, either way you do it!
2. 2-Ingredient Flourless Nutella Mug Cake  (Dessert)
OK, yes, I see a trend here. Things in mugs. You won’t criticize me once you taste this rich, decadent, individual cake of the Gods (and by the Gods, I mean the Gods who invented Nutella). The recipe was devised by Jennifer Lee, author of the blog Kirbie’s Cravings, and the book, “5-Minute Mug Cakes: Nearly 100 Yummy Microwave Cakes” (Race Point Publishing). My oversize mug has a bit of a square bottom, so that’s why my little cake looks square. Yours will probably be more round. Make it!
3. Southwestern Breakfast Scramble  (Any meal!)
First of all, this can be breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. We ate it for dinner the other night, and it made the three of us very happy. It’s like migas married chilaquiles — an informal Mexican breakfast dish of a scrambled egg/fried tortilla mixture that uses leftover corn tortillas and salsa. WE LOVED IT! All caps and bold on purpose. Please stop reading now and make this for your next meal. Here’s what I will do differently next time I make it (maybe again tomorrow): a few shakes of Tajin in the eggs, 4 cups of chips instead of 3, 2 greens onions instead of 4, garnish with chopped avocado and fresh cilantro. BOOM! Thanks to Andrea from Adventures in All Things Food for the inspiration; she credits Things I Make for Dinner  for it, and she got it from Budget Bytes , so you can see this is a well-loved recipe. I predict I will be making this once a week or one meal or another.
4. Maple Vinaigrette  (Salad Dressing)
Cheryl Bennett of the blog Pook’s Pantry said this salad and dressing was one of her favorite things. EVER. That’s all I needed to hear. She’s a private chef in Florida, and her clients went wild over it. I could drink this dressing with a straw, but that would be wrong, wouldn’t it? So I put it on a salad like hers, or any mixture of salad ingredients I have that need perking up. Her favorite is now a new favorite of mine, too. Put down the jarred dressing, and shake these four ingredients together in a jar. It will take 2 minutes, tops. It works particularly well with a salad that has a bitter green, like arugula, or a hearty salad with chunks of vegetables and fruits in it, or a grain-based salad, or…oh, what the heck. It goes on everything!
5. Kale and Bacon Baked Risotto  (Dinner)
Cheryl Lee of the blog Black Girl Chef’s Whites is a master with the bacon and the kale. She uses both to great effect here, and saves you a bunch of time and hassle by making the risotto in the oven. Usually you stand over the stove and stir risotto for about 45 minutes until it is done. Cheryl does some initial prep stovetop, and then lets the oven do the rest of the work. She’s not lazy; she’s smart. And this is a full-flavored dish that can be your main, or a side, however you want to deploy it. I am deploying it with a fork, straight to my mouth.
6. Spiced Buttermilk Roasted Apple Muffins  (Breakfast or snack)
“Imagine, if you will, something between luscious apple pie and warm apple cake,” intones blogger Valentina Wein as she writes about these on her blog Cooking on the Weekends. “That’s exactly what this recipe tastes like.” Friends, these are autumn in a muffin wrapper. These are sweet, amazing and comforting, just like a piece of apple pie, but Valentina has declared them a muffin, so we can feel good about eating them for breakfast. When I saw her post a picture of these on Facebook, I immediately drove over to her house to get some. She gave me four. This morning, I have a sheet pan of apples in the oven (her trick is to roast the apples first), because I need another dozen of these, stat. You will, too.
7. Slow Cooker Green Enchilada Soup  (Dinner or lunch)
I had some chicken thighs in the fridge that needed using, and I always have a can of green chiles and green enchilada sauce in the pantry (hey, it’s a requirement of living in Southern California!), so when I stumbled across this slow cooker recipe from Rachel Gurk of the blog Rachel Cooks, I was ready to go. Her gorgeous photo drew me in, and I speed-walked into the kitchen and threw the 5 ingredients into the crock. Rachel confides that her favorite part of the soup is “it is desperate for toppings.” I like a desperate soup. She chose tortilla strips and cilantro, but also lists cheese, chopped avocado, diced tomato, jalapeno, etc. as options. In light of the desperation emanating from the soup, I put them all on top, including some chopped radishes (try it!). And I’m not apologizing! Make this soup, friends. Today.
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