Kerri Conan

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Stewed Vegetables with Over-Easys

The beauty of cooking vegetables in tomato sauce is that you control how “stewed” they are. And if you’re like me, that changes every time you make them—though generally I say the softer the better. For this recipe I’m going with escarole. Other choices to cook the exact same way: eggplant, fennel or celery, green beans, cabbage, or other greens like kale or collards.

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The Ultimate Holiday Cookie Recipe Swap

We’ve got some. You’ve got some. Let’s share. Here are six tastes to kick off our first cookie recipe swap, including Crumby Fruitcake Cookies, Holly’s Oatmeal Cherry Pecan Cookies, and Vegan PB&J Bars.

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Crumby Fruitcake Cookies

Between the vats of stuffing and the holiday charcuterie boards, you’re likely to have bits and pieces of leftover good bread these days. Sock them away in the freezer for these cookies. They’re less polarizing and 100 times easier than fruitcake, only with the same vibe. (Still scrunching up your nose? Use chopped chocolate or dried fruit instead of the glazed holiday fruit.)

Holly Haines’s Oatmeal Cherry Pecan Cookies

I’ve made this cookie no less than 10 times in last two weeks, and let me tell you how it’s the oatmeal cookie of my dreams — crispy edges; chewy centers; a nice hint of spice from the cinnamon and a surprise hit of cardamom that makes you say “oh, what’s that?”; lots of dried cherries because why choose raisins when cherries are right there; and candied pecans for crunchy moments.

Vegan PB&J Bars

Like all good peanut butter cookies, these dairy- and egg-free versions are super peanutty, with just the right balance of chew to crunch — all in a fudge-like bar. A jam glaze is festive for the holidays, or any time you want a spin on peanut butter and jelly. Or try scattering the tops with small bits of chopped chocolate or roasted peanuts before baking.

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Sparkly Coconut Snowballs

Easiest. Cookies. Ever. That’s what Mark says about his macaroon recipe—which essentially this is, only they’re shaped in small balls and rolled lightly in demerara sugar for wintertime merrymaking. These cookies are also quite versatile: Use up to five cups coconut for something lighter and chewier, or replace some or all of the coconut with nuts (see the variation.)

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Orange-Ginger Tea, Wet or Dry

Replacing some of the water with freshly squeezed orange juice—or adding chopped fruit—is an easy way to flavor tea. As is the addition of some booze. You also choose the kind of tea, whether to enjoy this hot or cold, and how to garnish. We don’t even care what kind of oranges you use, so long as there are a lot of them.

Cassoulet With Lots of Vegetables

Cassoulet With Lots of Vegetables

One of our favorite recipes from Food Matters gets an update to make it even more flexible so that it’s essentially a pot of beans with just enough animal protein, if you choose, to add body and flavor. You can also cook hearty root vegetables in Step 1 and call it vegan cassoulet. Either way, it’s an excellent vehicle for the odds and ends from the produce drawers in your fridge.

Seaweed Crisp

No matter how you feel about chile crisp, you’ve got to admit the appeal of a crunchy flavor-packed drizzling oil that hangs out in the fridge. Briny dried seaweed is a super-versatile substitution. And the mysterious green color quickly sucked me into its depths.

Don’t You Forget About … Your Microwave

A tribute to a great appliance: Peeling squash, not making popcorn, delicious vegetables — and cooking proteins!

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What-I-Did-On-My-Summer-Vacation Grain or Bean Salad

This recipe is written to be fully adaptable to whatever you’ve got, making it perfect for the last meals of your vacation. For the grains think farro, short-grain brown rice, oat groats, quinoa, or bulgur. In the bean department, I like garbanzos, cannellini, gigantes (like giant limas or butter beans), or frozen limas. Serve on tip thick tomato slices and you can’t go wrong.

Curried Squash and Sweet Potato Soup 

By far the easiest way to dismember a squash is to roast it whole first, especially if you aren’t looking for even-size chunks or slices. This vegan soup freezes well so I encourage you to double the recipe. Pumpkin, kabocha, or any thick-skinned winter squashes with rich creamy flesh all work perfectly here.

Dried (Or Roasted) Mushroom Tapenade

Mushrooms cooked dry will behave a lot like barely rehydrated dried mushrooms, making them perfect for a spin on the familiar olive-like spread. It’s easy to do this with roasted mushrooms, too. Just substitute 2 loosely packed cups of caps or slices and Start with Step 2. And for a creamier, mellower spread, when you puree the mushrooms in Step 4, add 1 cup drained cooked or canned cannellini beans or labneh.

Portobello Bacon

Essential so you never have to buy weird processed substitutes again. And so good you’ll always have some in your fridge. Other vegetables to turn into “bacon”: zucchini, eggplant, celery root, and rutabaga.

Chewy-Crisp Mushroom Caps

A master recipe for roasting mushroom caps, slices, or bits (see the variation that follows). You decide how dry to make them. Know that they crisp as they cool, and that any refrigerated leftovers will soften again. Whole roasted mushroom caps make an impressive base for canapés and are also good for dipping and in salads or soups. And they make terrific snacks dusted with your favorite spice blend or a little Parmesan cheese hot out of the oven.

Hot Toddy and Chill (Booze Optional)

Three easy warm drinks to give you a break from all that cooking, shopping, and…

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Two Cooks, Three Squashes = Seven Recipes for the Season

Holly and Kerri finally meet—let the food magic commence!

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Twice-Cooked Spaghetti Squash with Quick Szechuan Chile Crisp

Twice-Cooked Spaghetti Squash with Quick Szechuan Chile Crisp

Spaghetti squash gets a bad rap for being bland. Well-deserved, but easy to remedy with robust toppings or a twice-baked cooking approach. Or both, as in this recipe. You can use any winter squash here. After scooping out the flesh in Step 2, mash it lightly so you end up with flattened chunks of all sizes and shapes for the browning in Step 5.