Celery Salad with Golden Raisins, Lemon, and Za’atar

Celery Salad with Golden Raisins, Lemon, and Za’atar is officially my segue into spring flavors. I love cold months so much, but one of the reasons I live where I do is for the distinct four seasons. If winter hadn’t already outstayed its welcome, it really made its place known with another unexpected, and pretty large, snow dump earlier this week. My car got stuck and I ended up staying late at work because I was literally trapped. Needless to say, I’ve had enough of winter.

Enter this celery salad and I was met with a little bit of joy in the otherwise cold and dreary days. It’s crisp, easy to pull together, and really adds an unexpected element to those heartier winter meals. I really love the balance in this salad!

This recipe was inspired by a favorite chef of mine, Joshua McFadden. His book, Six Seasons, is truly one of the most beautiful cookbooks I’ve ever read. Trust me- my collection is overflowing. In that cookbook, he has a recipe for a similar celery salad with dates, parmesan cheese, and various other delightful ingredients. This is basically a riff on that famous recipe. I took out the nuts that are present in his recipe and made the addition of za’atar in my recipe. I love nuts, but I found that we’ve been consuming a lot of them since adopting a gluten-free lifestyle. Whether its almond milk, almond flour, other nut flour blends, etc., it was just a lot of nuts. The za’atar is punchy and bright enough to stand up to the lemon in this dish, plus I just love the taste of it.

Nuts or not, this salad excels in every aspect. Read on for the how-to.

Ingredients needed to make Celery Salad with Golden Raisins, Lemon, and Za’atar

To make this celery salad, you really need to get yourself some celery. I implore you to skip the pre-cut celery hearts at your store and instead grab a full-blown head of celery, with the leaves attached. Those little celery leaves are so delicious chopped up and added into this salad, plus it’s just one other way you can reduce your food waste in the kitchen. Save the leaves!

Here’s everything you’ll need:

  • Celery
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Golden raisins
  • Lemon
  • Olive oil
  • Za’atar spice blend
  • Sharp cheese, such as parmesan, aged provolone, pecorino romano
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

Tools used to make Celery Salad with Golden Raisins, Lemon, and Za’atar

This salad requires super minimal equipment. You’ll need a large cutting board, sharp knife, large mixing bowl, small mixing bowl, a whisk or fork, and measuring cups and spoons. Pretty simple!

How to make Celery Salad with Golden Raisins, Lemon, and Za’atar

To begin, combine the thinly sliced celery and leaves, torn romaine, and golden raisins in your large mixing bowl. I like to cut the celery on the bias to make it look pretty for serving, but you can cut it any way your heart pleases. I also like the rustic look of the torn romaine leaves, but you could roughly chop them if you must.

In the smaller mixing bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, za’atar, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Whisking constantly, stream the olive oil into the lemon juice mixture and keep whisking until a vinaigrette forms. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad, toss, and season once more with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving plate.

At the end, I’ll sometimes garnish with more golden raisins. Sometimes they sink to the bottom of the salad, and I like a few to be resting on top so folks know whats in the salad they’re about to eat. Finally, you’ll top it all with your shaved sharp cheese of choice. SO delicious!

Looking for other quick and fresh salads?

Try these recipes from The Ardent Cook

Harissa Chicken Chopped Salad

Harvest Kale Salad with Butternut Squash, Blue Cheese, and Golden Raisins

Broccoli Salad with Quick Homemade Ranch

Charred Corn Salad with Cumin Lime Vinaigrette

Recipe Ingredients

8-10 stalks celery, stalks thinly sliced, leaves roughly chopped

6 romaine leaves, torn

¼ cup golden raisins

Juice of 1 lemon

Scant ¼ cup olive oil

1 tsp za’atar 

2 oz sharp cheese, such as parmesan or aged provolone, shaved 

Salt and black pepper, to taste

Recipe Instructions

  1. Combine celery and leaves, torn romaine, and golden raisins in a large mixing bowl.
  2. In a smaller mixing bowl, combine lemon juice, za’atar, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Whisking constantly, stream the olive oil into the lemon mixture and continue whisking until a vinaigrette forms.
  3. Toss the salad with the vinaigrette, season once more with salt and pepper, then transfer to a serving bowl or plate.
  4. Top with the shaved cheese and additional golden raisins if desired. Enjoy!

There may be affiliate links in this post! By purchasing a product I recommend, I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love and use myself. Thank you for your continued support of The Ardent Cook, it does not go unnoticed.

A Year of The Ardent Cook: Favorite Recipe Roundup

I woke up this morning to a complete shock: an annual charge had been pulled from my bank account for my domain name, which means that I’ve officially had this blog for an entire year! While the unexpected withdrawal hurt a little, I’m floored at how quickly a year has passed and how far this project of mine has come. Since The Ardent Cook’s inception, I’ve developed and shared over 100 recipes, gained hundreds of followers, failed while testing numerous recipes, and succeeded in creating a community for myself that I’m proud of. I wouldn’t be anywhere without the support of you as readers and followers, and I’m incredibly humbled by it all. Thank you for being here for the past year! I’m looking forward to many more together here at The Ardent Cook.

To celebrate, I’ve rounded up a list of my top 10 most favorite recipes from the past year. I hope this serves you well in your cooking endeavors, whether they be sharpening your skills in the kitchen, feeding a crowd, or serving a comforting dinner to your loved ones. Enjoy!

#10 Whipped Feta Dip

#9 Crispy Baked Buffalo Wings

#8 Blistered Green Beans with Garlic and Ginger

#7 Quick(er) Chicken Shawarma with White Sauce

#6 Warm Roasted Cauliflower Salad

#5 Favorite Roast Chicken

#4 Instant Pot French Onion Quinoa and Beef Stew

#3 Curried Pumpkin Chickpeas with Cucumber Raita

#2 Salted Raspberry-Swirled Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

#1 Brie-Stuffed Soft Pretzels with Rosemary Butter and Fig Mustard

Once again, thank you! Stay tuned for another year filled with delicious recipes for the home cook. Yum!

Miso Ginger Meatballs

Miso Ginger Meatballs are little bombs of umami flavor perfect for adding protein to any meal or serving as a delicious appetizer. Made using just 8 ingredients and baked in the air-fryer or oven, these meatballs are quick to whip up and great for meal prep, if that’s your thing. You may consider doubling the recipe if you’re feeding a larger family or adding them to lunches for the week, as this recipe makes approximately 15 meatballs.

Ingredients needed to make Miso Ginger Meatballs

As mentioned, you only need 8 ingredients to make these meatballs, and many of them are pantry staples. Here’s the list:

  • 85/15 grass-fed ground beef
  • Fresh garlic
  • Fresh ginger
  • Soy sauce or tamari
  • Rice vinegar
  • White miso
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Scallions (optional, for serving)

Tools used to make Miso Ginger Meatballs

To make these meatballs, you’ll really only need a few kitchen tools. The mandatory items you’ll need are as follows: cutting board, sharp knife, measuring spoons, mixing bowl, and an air fryer OR rimmed baking sheet (if using oven method). If you’d like to make your life slightly easier, I’d also recommend a #40 cookie scoop (this fits about 1 1/2 tbsp) to make sure each meatball is the same size, as well as a microplane or citrus zester for grating the garlic and ginger. Both of those items are completely optional, however. That’s all you need to make delicious meatballs in no time!

How to make Miso Ginger Meatballs

This recipe is as simple as combining all the ingredients, shaping the meatballs, and baking. It’s really that easy. No eggs, no breadcrumbs, no fuss. There is one caveat, which is that you really should use 85/15 ground beef. The fat ratio is very important to achieving juicy meatballs without adding extra ingredients, so don’t go any leaner than that ratio. I beg!

If using an air-fryer, I like to line the basket with parchment and bake the meatballs in two batches so they get nice and crispy outside while staying juicy inside. Adding all the meatballs at once would make for a crowded air-fryer and soggy, not crispy meatballs. If using the oven method, it’s helpful to line the baking sheet with parchment to minimize sticking, but you could also just spray your pan very well to avoid this issue.

Once baked, I let them cool slightly before topping with scallions (and sometimes cilantro) and devouring. They’re so delicious!

Looking for other make-ahead recipes for meal prep and beyond?

Try these ideas from The Ardent Cook!

Buffalo Chicken Tacos with Celery Salsa

Instant Pot Lemongrass Pork Bowls

Harvest Kale Salad with Butternut Squash, Blue Cheese, and Golden Raisins

Recipe Ingredients

1lb 85/15 ground beef

2 cloves garlic, minced or grated

½ inch piece ginger, minced or grated

1 tbsp soy sauce 

1 tsp rice vinegar

3 tbsp white miso

½ tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper

Scallions, optional, for serving

Recipe Instructions

  1. Preheat the air-fryer or oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line the air-fryer basket or sheet tray with parchment paper.
  2. Combine all ingredients except scallions in a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly. Using a #40 cookie scoop, or a large spoon, scoop approximately 1 1/2 tbsp of the meat mixture into your hands and roll to form a meatball. Repeat until all the meatballs are formed.
  3. If air-frying, bake the meatballs in two batches. Lower the temperature on the air-fryer to 390 and cook for 9 minutes, then repeat with the second batch.
  4. If baking, add the meatballs to the prepared sheet tray and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches at least 155 degrees and the meatballs are beginning to brown on the outside.
  5. Garnish with sliced scallions, if desired, and serve hot. Enjoy!

There may be affiliate links in this post! By purchasing a product I recommend, I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love and use myself. Thank you for your continued support of The Ardent Cook, it does not go unnoticed.

Baked Feta Pasta with Broccoli, Lemon, and Minty Kale Pesto

When I saw that TikTok pasta trend with the baked feta and tomatoes, I knew I had to try it (and try to do it better). I think I succeeded with this delicious take on the viral dish, but I’ll let you be the judge of that. I swapped tomatoes for broccoli for a little green veggie overhaul (and because tomatoes aren’t in season for me right now), then added fresh lemon to brighten the dish. The pasta is finished off with a quick pesto made with fresh mint, kale, olive oil, lemon juice, and spices and it really takes this pasta over the edge in terms of fresh flavor.

Ingredients needed to make Baked Feta Pasta with Broccoli, Lemon, and Minty Kale Pesto

If you’ve seen the viral video of this pasta, you probably know the majority of the ingredients you need. This recipe will not work with store-bought crumbled feta, so be sure to get an 8oz block. Here’s the full list:

  • Pasta
  • Broccoli
  • Feta cheese block
  • Olive oil
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Lemon juice and zest
  • Fresh kale
  • Fresh mint
  • Fresh garlic
  • Honey
  • Salt

Tools used to make Baked Feta Pasta with Broccoli, Lemon, and Minty Kale Pesto

To make this recipe, you’ll need a few kitchen tools. First, a large pot to boil the pasta, as well as a 9x13in baking dish. Additionally, you’ll want to have a large cutting board, sharp knife, food processor or high speed blender, a microplane or cheese grater (for zesting), and measuring cups. That’s it!

How to make Baked Feta Pasta with Broccoli, Lemon, and Minty Kale Pesto

You’ll begin by preheating your oven and bring a pot of water to a boil. Chop the broccoli into small florets and arrange in a baking dish around a block of feta cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, you’ll cook the pasta according to package directions, making sure to reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water just before draining.

To make the pesto, combine all the ingredients into a food processor or high speed blender, then blitz until a pesto forms. You may need to add more olive oil to achieve desired consistency, as well as additional honey and/or salt to taste.

Once the feta and broccoli have baked, toss the feta with the broccoli and pasta water in the baking dish to create a creamy mixture. Add the pasta and a couple tablespoons of the pesto and gently toss again, coating the pasta in the sauce. Top with lemon zest, additional pesto if desired, and serve immediately!

Looking for other delicious pasta dishes?

Try these recipes from The Ardent Cook!

Wild Mushroom Farro with Parmesan and Microgreens

Creamy Green Goddess Pasta

Vegetarian Bolognese

Recipe Ingredients

For the pasta

1lb pasta

1 medium head broccoli, cut into small florets

1 8oz block feta 

½ cup olive oil, divided

¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Zest of 1 lemon

½ cup pasta cooking water, reserved 

For the pesto

Juice of ½ lemon

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup fresh kale, packed

⅛ cup fresh mint, packed 

1 small garlic clove

1 tsp honey

½ tsp salt

Recipe Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Arrange broccoli florets around feta block in a large glass baking dish. Drizzle all over with ½ cup olive oil, then season with crushed red pepper flakes. Bake for 25 minutes, or until broccoli is tender and beginning to crisp up. 
  2. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package instructions, reserving ½ cup of the cooking liquid before draining. Set pasta and reserved water aside. 
  3. Combine lemon juice, olive oil, kale, mint, garlic, honey, and salt in a food processor or high speed blender. Pulse until a pesto forms. Additional olive oil may be needed to achieve desired texture. 
  4. Remove the baking dish from the oven and add pasta cooking water. Stir to combine immediately, mixing the feta with the water to create a cheesy sauce. Gently fold in the cooked pasta and approximately 2 tbsp of the minty kale pesto. Serve immediately, topped with fresh lemon zest and additional pesto, if desired. Leftover pasta can be reheated on the stovetop or in the microwave, and leftover pesto should be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

There may be affiliate links in this post! By purchasing a product I recommend, I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love and use myself. Thank you for your continued support of The Ardent Cook, it does not go unnoticed.

Cold Brew Pancakes with Coffee Maple Syrup

Cold Brew Pancakes with Coffee Syrup are a delicious treat to cook up on a weekend morning. This recipe makes a large quantity of pancakes, making it perfect for a big family or to save as breakfasts for the week ahead. Each pancake is made using about 1/4 cup of batter, leaving you with dinner-plate-sized pancakes that feel like they came from a diner. This recipe was tested using both all-purpose and gluten-free flours, and it is important to note that the gluten-free flour behaved slightly differently in this recipe (see recipe notes below regarding flour amounts*).

Ingredients needed to make Cold Brew Pancakes with Coffee Maple Syrup

You’ll need a variety of ingredients to make these pancakes. Here’s everything:

Tools used to make Cold Brew Pancakes with Coffee Maple Syrup

There’s no fancy equipment required to make these pancakes, which makes them a great recipe for a lazy morning. No fuss, just delicious. These pancakes can be made using one skillet, but for efficiency you may consider using two. Here’s the full list:

  • Large mixing bowl
  • Medium mixing bowl
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Whisk
  • Small saucepan
  • Medium skillet, or two
  • Spatula

How to make Cold Brew Pancakes with Coffee Maple Syrup

To start, you’ll need to measure out the dry and wet ingredients in separate mixing bowls. *If using gluten free flour, start with 2 1/2 cups, then adjust if needed after adding the wet ingredients. If using all-purpose flour, 2 1/2 cups should be exactly what’s needed to achieve the correct batter consistency. If you’re looking for a reference point, think back to childhood when your parents made pancake batter from a box. It’s thin enough to flow steadily out of the bowl and into the pan, but not so thin that the pancakes can’t hold their shape once they hit the hot skillet.

Once you have your wet and dry ingredients measured out, you’ll combine them and adjust flour accordingly, as described above. It may seem “willy nilly” to approach a recipe by feel or looks, but I can’t stress enough the importance of adjusting as you go. This doesn’t always work, especially for baking recipes, but pancakes are forgiving enough to handle a little extra flour to achieve a thicker batter. Trust your gut, as they say!

Heat one or two skillets over medium-low heat and melt butter to grease the pans. Begin cooking pancakes, flipping once the top begins to bubble and the sides are setting up. I love to make these pancakes as big as possible, so I typically use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to drop the batter in and only cook one pancake per skillet at a time. If you prefer small pancakes, that works just as well.

While watching the pancakes, make the coffee maple syrup in a small saucepan. Combine the maple syrup, instant coffee, and cinnamon stick and heat gently until the instant coffee has dissolved into the syrup.

Stack the pancakes, pour over that syrup, maybe at a pat of butter, and enjoy! It doesn’t get much simpler than pancakes.

Looking for other breakfast ideas?

Try these ideas from The Ardent Cook!

Apple Spice Smoothie

Gluten Free Olive Oil Zucchini Bread

Double Chocolate Scones with Salted Peanut Butterscotch Glaze

Recipe Ingredients

2 ½ – 3 cups all-purpose flour (or 1-1 GF flour blend) (*see recipe note above if using gluten free flour)

2 tbsp baking powder

½ cup coconut sugar

½ cup milk or almond milk

1 cup (8oz) cold brew espresso

3 eggs

4 tbsp melted butter or ghee

1 tsp vanilla extract

Butter, for greasing the pan 

½ cup pure maple syrup

½ tsp instant coffee powder

2-inch piece cinnamon stick

Recipe Instructions

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and coconut sugar. In a large mixing bowl, combine milk, cold brew espresso, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla extract.
  2. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet in the larger of the two bowls. Whisk to combine, and adjust flour amount as needed (described above*)
  3. Heat one or two skillets over medium-low heat with butter. Once the butter has melted, add pancake batter to the skillets about 1/4 cup at a time to create large “diner-size” pancakes. Let cook, then flip when the tops begin to bubble and the sides have started to set.
  4. Meanwhile, heat maple syrup and cinnamon stick in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once hot, whisk in the instant coffee and continue whisking until dissolved. Remove from the heat.
  5. Serve pancakes hot with a pat of butter and a drizzle of the coffee maple syrup. Enjoy!

There may be affiliate links in this post! By purchasing a product I recommend, I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love and use myself. Thank you for your continued support of The Ardent Cook, it does not go unnoticed.

Salted Raspberry-Swirled Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

If there were a treat I could eat every day for a year, it would be these Salted Raspberry-Swirled Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars. They’re basically giant chocolate chip cookies, in bar form, with raspberry jam swirled into them and sprinkled with flaky salt right out of the oven. What more could you ask for?

Ingredients needed to make Salted Raspberry-Swirled Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

These cookie bars used ingredients commonly found in chocolate chip cookies, with a few fun swaps. First, I like to brown my butter and chill it slightly before adding to the dough, rather than using regular softened butter. The nutty flavor it adds in unlike anything else and it’s a simple step that doesn’t require too much extra time. I also use a combination of store-bought raspberry jam and fresh raspberries mashed together to create an easy raspberry swirl, which really takes they cookie bars over the top and makes them perfect for Valentine’s day with the pop of red! Here’s the list of everything you’ll need:

Tools used to make Salted Raspberry-Swirled Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

I love using my KitchenAid stand mixer to create these delicious bars, but this recipe can easily be done by hand or with a hand-mixer. It’s totally personal preference there. Since we’re using browned butter in its liquid state in place of regular softened butter, the need for “creaming” the butter and sugar together is less important, so mixing the dough by hand is completely fine.

You can make these bars in whatever size baking dish you like. For a thicker bar, as pictured, I used an 11x7in pan. Alternatively, you could use a 13x9in pan for thinner cookie bars that cook in less time. You’ll need the following kitchen equipment to make these bars:

  • Electric stand mixer, hand-mixer, or mixing bowl and wooden spoon
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • 11x7inch or 13x9inch baking dish
  • Small saucepan
  • Butter knife
  • Parchment paper

How to make Salted Raspberry-Swirled Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

The process for making these cookie bars starts by browning our butter. This takes anywhere from 5-10 minutes, plus chilling time, and adds so much flavor to these bars, so I’d recommend taking the time to do it rather than using regular old softened butter. While the butter browns, you can gather your remaining ingredients and combine the wet ones in one bowl and the dry ones in another bowl.

Once the browned butter gets a 10-15 minute chill in the freezer, we’ll add it the rest of our wet ingredients and mix thoroughly. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients and chocolate chunks, and press the dough into a parchment-lined baking dish.

You’ll make the raspberry swirl by combining raspberry preserves with a handful of fresh raspberries and mashing it together. Then, you’ll drop spoonfuls right over top of the cookie bar dough in the baking dish and swirl it around using a butter knife. Bake the bars, let cool slightly, then slice and enjoy!

I love packing these cookie bars up into cardboard cookie boxes and adding festive ribbon for a sweet Valentine’s treat. We dropped some off to friends and neighbors the other day, and it made for such a cute little mid-week surprise ahead of this weekend’s holiday. See below for how I packed them up!

Looking for more dessert recipes from The Ardent Cook?

Check out these yummy ideas!

Classic Spice Cookies with Vanilla Whiskey Frosting

Peanut Butter Beach Berry Cobbler

Chocolate Pistachio Rice Crispy Treats

Recipe Ingredients

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter 

¾ cup brown sugar, packed

¼ cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (or GF 1-1)

1 tsp baking soda

¾ tsp salt

1 ½ cups chocolate chunks

½ cup raspberry preserves

¼ cup fresh raspberries

Flaky sea salt, for serving

Recipes Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a 9×13 inch baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  2. In a saucepan, brown the butter over medium-low heat. As the butter bubbles, push the foam out of the way with a spoon to monitor the browning solids. Remove from the heat once the butter turns golden-amber and transfer to a heat-safe bowl. Place in the freezer to chill for 15-20 minutes. 
  3. Once the butter has cooled, add to the bowl of a stand mixer and cream together with the brown sugar and granulated sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix again. 
  4. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a separate mixing bowl. With the mixer running on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet until fully incorporated. 
  5. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and fold in the chocolate chunks. Press dough into the baking dish in an even layer. 
  6. Combine raspberry preserves and fresh raspberries, using the back of a spoon to mash the fresh raspberries into the preserves. Once combined, spoon little dollops of preserves over the cookie dough in the baking dish, then swirl it into the dough as best as possible using a butter knife. 
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes (if using a large baking dish, decrease the bake time to 18-23 minutes) until the cookie bars are golden brown and the middle is beginning to set. Let cool for 3-5 minutes, then run a butter knife along the edge of the baking dish and lift the bars out of the dish onto a cutting board. Cut into bars and sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Enjoy!

There may be affiliate links in this post! By purchasing a product I recommend, I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love and use myself. Thank you for your continued support of The Ardent Cook, it does not go unnoticed.

Chicken and Dumplings

Chicken and Dumplings is a classic comfort food recipe. I grew up eating this on school nights, coming home from winter track practice to smells of chicken soup and biscuit batter. The base of this dish is a slightly thickened-up chicken soup…. not as thick as a chicken pot pie filling, but more stick-to-your-ribs than traditional soup. Then, free-form biscuits get dropped into the bubbling soup and steamed until you have a dozen pillowy dumpling floating and waiting to be devoured. It’s so good!

Ingredients needed to make Chicken and Dumplings

This recipe requires the typical myriad of chicken soup ingredients; celery, carrots, onions, sage, thyme, etc. I love this dish because of the versatility. It’s great for a warming family dinner, to serve to guests (if we can ever have those again), or to prep for a few days of lunches. It also transitions seamlessly between all-purpose flour and a 1-1 gluten free flour blend, so there are no issues if you need to eliminate the gluten. You’ll see options to make this meal dairy-free as well in the recipe section. Here’s the full list:

  • Butter (or olive oil)
  • Shredded chicken
  • Yellow onion
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Garlic
  • All-purpose flour (or 1-1 GF flour blend)
  • Chicken broth
  • Heavy cream (or full-fat unsweetened coconut milk)
  • Fresh sage
  • Fresh thyme
  • Frozen peas (optional)
  • Fresh parsley
  • Eggs
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Milk (or full-fat unsweetened coconut milk)

Tools used to make Chicken and Dumplings

I can’t say it enough- I love soups. They require so few tools to pull off and they’re really hard to mess up. LOVE them. Here are all the tools you’ll need to make these Chicken and Dumplings easily:

  • Sharp knife
  • Cutting board
  • Large Dutch oven with lid (or a soup pot)
  • Medium mixing bowl
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • A wooden spoon
  • A ladle, for serving
  • #40 (~1.5 tbsp) cookie scoop (optional, but very useful)

How to make Chicken and Dumplings

As mentioned above, this recipe is very akin to a traditional chicken soup crossed with a chicken pot pie filling. The process starts the same as any other soup, by chopping your onions, carrots, celery, and garlic and cooking them down in some butter. Once the veggies have started to take on a little color, you’ll sprinkle in some flour and fresh herbs to coat the veggies, then pour in the chicken broth and heavy cream. You’ll let the soup simmer over medium heat, stirring here and there, until it thickens up slightly.

While the soup thickens, you’ll prepare a basic biscuit batter of flour, an egg, butter, milk, and a few other ingredients. The batter will be a touch thicker than, say, a pancake batter, but you won’t believe how the dumplings cook up in the soup. It’s amazing!

Once the soup has thickened, add the shredded (and already cooked!) chicken and frozen peas, if using, to the pot. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust accordingly. Lower the heat so the soup is no longer boiling, then use a cookie scoop (or a small measuring cup) to drop roughly 2 tbsp worth of batter into the soup.. The batter will immediately come together to form floating dumplings once it hits the heat, then just keeping adding little scoops until all of the batter is used. Cover the pot completely and walk away for 15 minutes, then return to find the most amazing pot of chicken and dumplings! I love to serve this with fresh parsley over top and an extra crack of black pepper. That’s it!

Looking for other stick-to-your-ribs recipes?

Try these ideas from The Arden Cook!

Pork Chile Verde

Instant Pot French Onion Quinoa Beef Stew

Potato, Leek, and Corn Chowder

Recipe Ingredients

For the Soup

2 tbsp salted butter (or ghee)

1 medium yellow onion, diced

3 medium carrots, finely chopped

5 stalks celery, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp all-purpose flour (or 1-1 GF flour blend)

4 ½ cups chicken broth 

½ cup heavy cream (or full-fat coconut milk)

1 tbsp fresh sage, chopped (or 1 tsp dried)

1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped (or 1 tsp dried)

2 cups cooked, shredded chicken

1 cup frozen peas (optional)

Chopped fresh parsley, for serving (optional)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the Dumplings

1 cup plus 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour (or 1-1 GF flour blend)

1 ½ tsp baking powder

Rounded ¼ tsp baking soda

½ cup milk (or full-fat coconut milk)

5 tbsp butter, melted (or ghee)

1 large egg 

¾ tsp salt

½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Recipe Instructions

  1. Heat butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Once melted, add onions, carrots, celery, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Sauté 4-5 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add garlic and cook 1-2 minutes more.
  2. Sprinkle in 2 Tbsp flour and the fresh herbs, then stir to coat the vegetables. Pour in the chicken broth, stirring constantly to avoid flour clumping. Then, add the heavy cream. Simmer over medium-low for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the soup has thickened slightly.
  3. Meanwhile, make the dumpling batter. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly. Set aside.
  4. Once the soup has thickened, stir in the shredded chicken and frozen peas, if using. Lower the heat and ensure the soup is not bubbling, then use the cookie scoop or a small 1/4 cup measuring cup filled halfway to drop scoops of batter into the hot soup. The dumplings will immediately start to form and rise to the top. Repeat until all the batter has been scooped into the soup, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the lid and garnish the soup with fresh parsley and another crack of black pepper. Ladle into bowls, ensuring every bowl gets plenty of soup and at least 1-2 dumplings each, and serve hot. Enjoy!

There may be affiliate links in this post! By purchasing a product I recommend, I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love and use myself. Thank you for your continued support of The Ardent Cook, it does not go unnoticed.

Brie-Stuffed Soft Pretzels with Rosemary Butter and Fig Mustard

Brie-Stuffed Soft Pretzel Bites with Rosemary Butter and Fig Mustard are the perfect weekend baking project. Fluffy, cheesy, salty, and a hint of sweet from the fig mustard, these soft pretzels are easier to make than you probably imagine. With a little time and some good pretzel-twisting skills, you’ll have amazing homemade soft pretzels in no time.

Ingredients needed to make Brie-Stuffed Soft Pretzels with Rosemary Butter and Fig Mustard

To make these delicious soft pretzels, you’ll need a few basic baking ingredients like flour, instant yeast, salt, etc.. You’ll also need a good quality fig jam and dijon mustard, to make the sweet and tangy dipping sauce for these pretzels. Here’s the full list:

Tools used to make Brie-Stuffed Soft Pretzels with Rosemary Butter and Fig Mustard

The biggest piece of equipment required to make these soft-pretzels is a stand mixer. It is very difficult to knead the dense pretzel dough by hand, however if you choose that route be aware that you’ll need to knead for at least 10 minutes. The kneading happens much more quickly in the stand mixer, taking only about 5 minutes using the dough hook. Other than that, you’ll need a cutting board, a sharp knife, a small saucepan, two rimmed baking sheets, a pastry brush (optional), a small mixing bowl, and measuring cups and spoons.

How to make Brie-Stuffed Soft Pretzels with Rosemary Butter and Fig Mustard

These pretzels start with a fairly basic bread dough. You’ll combine yeast with the wet ingredients, then add in the dry ingredients to a stand mixer. Let the stand mixer do the kneading, then let the dough rise until doubled in size, about an hour.

Once the dough has risen, you’ll divide the pretzel dough into 8 pieces and roll each piece out into a long snake. Flatten the snake, stuff with a piece of brie, form the dough around the brie, then twist into a pretzel. Pretty simple! You’ll repeat this process for all 8 pieces of dough, then boil them in a pot of baking soda and water for 45 seconds each. Boiling in baking soda is what creates that classic pretzel flavor in the final product, so don’t skip that step.

Just before baking, you’ll brush each pretzel with a fragrant rosemary butter, which is made simply by melting butter and simmering it with fresh rosemary sprigs for 2 minutes. Bake the pretzels until golden brown, and that’s it! Serve with the fig mustard, which can be made in 3 minutes while the pretzels cool.

Looking for other weekend baking projects?

Try these recipes from The Ardent Cook!

Classic Spice Cookies with Vanilla-Whiskey Frosting

Buttery Dinner Rolls

Gluten-Free Olive Oil Zucchini Bread

Recipe Ingredients

2 ¼ tsp instant yeast (one packet)

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 ½ tsp kosher salt

1 ½ cups warm water, heated to 105-110 degrees Fahrenheit 

4 ¼ -½ cups flour, may use closer to 4 ½ if needed 

4 tbsp butter

3 sprigs fresh rosemary

1 wheel brie, rind removed and cut into 8 equal pieces 

8 cups water

½ cup baking soda

Flaky salt or pretzel salt, to taste

¼ cup mayonnaise 

2 tbsp dijon mustard

2 tbsp fig jam

Salt and pepper, to taste

Recipe Instructions

  1. Combine yeast, brown sugar, salt, and warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Let sit for 3-5 minutes, or until bubbly. 
  2. Add the flour and mix on low with a dough hook until a dough forms, about 5 minutes. Shape dough into a ball and coat in olive oil, then cover and let rise in a warm area for 1 hour, or until dough doubles in size. 
  3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 8 equal parts. Roll each piece into a 12-16 inch worm. Flatten the worm with a rolling pin or your hands, then stuff with a piece of brie and wrap the dough around the cheese. Make sure the brie is completely encased in the dough, then twist into a pretzel. Repeat for the remaining pieces of dough until you have 8 pretzels. 
  4. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and rosemary sprigs. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the rosemary smells fragrant. Set aside.
  5. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and line two sheet trays with parchment paper. Boil the water and, once bubbling, add the baking soda. 
  6. Working in batches, boil the pretzels for 45 seconds, then place on the sheet trays. Brush with the rosemary butter and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the pretzels are golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes so the brie can set up slightly. 
  7. While the pretzels cool, make the fig mustard. Combine the mayo, dijon, fig jam, and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk until thoroughly combined. 
  8. Serve pretzels while still warm alongside the fig mustard. Leftovers keep for 1-2 days covered in the fridge. To reheat, simply place on a piece of foil directly on the oven rack and warm at 350 degrees for 5-7 minutes. Enjoy!

There may be affiliate links in this post! By purchasing a product I recommend, I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love and use myself. Thank you for your continued support of The Ardent Cook, it does not go unnoticed.

French Onion Dip

French Onion Dip is one of my favorite foods on the planet. I’m talking the Lipton soup packet, mixed with an entire tub of sour cream, with heavily salted potato chips, ruining my dinner at family parties, etc. This homemade version completely tops the boxed stuff.

Low-and-slow caramelized onions are added to a mixture of sour cream and Greek yogurt along with some flavorful dried spices to create a dip almost identical in taste to the Lipton mix with the addition of real onions. From there, you can use any dipping vehicle you want to scoop up that goodness. It’s beyond delicious!

Ingredients needed to make French Onion Dip

The best part of this dip is that we use real onions to achieve the majority of that “french onion” flavor. They get caramelized slowly in butter, salt, and pepper, and add so much depth of flavor to this dip. I prefer to use yellow onions in this recipe, as their flavor enhances so much as they cook. Here’s everything you’ll need to make this dip:

Tools used to make French Onion Dip

French Onion Dip comes together quickly and using minimal kitchen equipment. You’ll need a cutting board, a sharp knife, a cast-iron or non-stick skillet, a large mixing bowl, a silicon scraper/spatula, and measuring cups and spoons. That’s it!

How to make French Onion Dip

The hardest part of making this French Onion Dip is slicing and caramelizing the onions. This takes anywhere from 20-40 minutes, depending on how deeply caramelized you’d like your onions to be. I tend to like mine with a slight bite left to them, so I’ll opt for the 20-25 minute range, but you can let yours go as long as you desire as long as they aren’t burning!

You’ll start by melting butter in a cast-iron or non-stick skillet and thinly slicing your onions. Add the onions to the skillet along with a pinch each of salt and pepper and cook them over low-medium heat, stirring frequently, until golden and very fragrant, at least 20 minutes but up to 40 minutes. While the onions caramelize, you’ll mix together the sour cream, Greek yogurt, dried parsley, dried dill, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Once the onions are cooked, fold them into the dip, reserving about 1/8 cup to garnish on top of the dip. Transfer the dip to a serving bowl, then spoon the reserved onions over top of the dish. Serve with chips, pretzels, and freshly cut vegetables.

Looking for other delicious dips?

Try these recipes from The Ardent Cook!

Baked Goat Cheese with Herbed Orange Olives

Pomegranate Goat Cheese Guacamole

Muhammara-Style Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Recipe Ingredients

2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced

2 Tbsp butter

2 cloves garlic

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce 

¾ cup sour cream

1 cup plain greek yogurt

1 tsp salt, plus more to taste

¼ tsp black pepper

1 tsp dried parsley

½ tsp dried dill

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp onion powder

Recipe Instructions

  1. Heat a cast-iron or nonstick skillet over low-medium heat and melt the butter. Add the thinly sliced onions and stir to coat in the melted butter. Season with salt and pepper. Let cook, stirring frequently, for at least 20 minutes or up to 40 minutes, until caramelized. If the onions begin to burn or take on color too quickly, lower the heat.
  2. Once the onions have caramelized to your desired level, remove from the heat and stir in the Worcestershire sauce.
  3. Meanwhile, make the rest of the dip. Combine sour cream, Greek yogurt, dried parsley, dried dill, garlic powder, and onion powder in a mixing bowl. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the caramelized onions, reserving about 1/8 cup as garnish.
  4. Transfer the dip to a serving bowl and spoon the reserved onions over the top. Serve with pretzels, chips, and fresh cut vegetables. Enjoy!

There may be affiliate links in this post! By purchasing a product I recommend, I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love and use myself. Thank you for your continued support of The Ardent Cook, it does not go unnoticed.

Smothered Fries with “Animal Style” Sauce

Whether you’re enjoying a big game, craving some loaded french fries, or just looking for a new way to enjoy potatoes, these Smothered Fries with “Animal Style” Sauce are exactly what you’ve been waiting for. Crispy, oven-baked fries get topped with an easy burger sauce and an unassuming line-up of toppings. What follows is a complete party in your mouth, and it doesn’t stop there. While these fries have a healthy array of goodies piled on top, you can completely customize your own toppings to fit your taste. Love cheese on your french fries? Layer it on! Don’t have ground beef? Use ground chicken, sausage, or even shredded pork. As long as you get crispy fries as your base and lots of that “animal style” sauce, you can’t go wrong with whatever you add on top! Let’s make them!

Ingredients needed to make Smothered Fries with “Animal Style” Sauce

I love the earthy taste of russet potatoes in this recipe. It compliments the grass-fed ground beef extremely well. If you don’t have russets or don’t care for them, this dish would also be excellent using sweet potatoes, another variety of white potato, or even a bag of frozen french fries. As long as you’ve got one form of potato, you can make this recipe. Here’s everything you’ll need to pull these fries off:

Tools used to make Smothered Fries with “Animal Style” Sauce

You’ll need basic equipment to make these delicious fries: a large cutting board, a sharp knife, a rimmed sheet pan, a skillet, a stirring utensil, and a mixing bowl. That’s it!

How to make Smothered Fries with “Animal Style” Sauce

The secret to any great oven-baked fry recipe is simple: preheat your sheet pan! By placing your sheet pan in the oven while the oven heats up, you ensure that the fries immediately start crisping up on contact. It works like a charm.

To begin, set the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit and place your sheet pan inside, as described above. Cut the potatoes into fries and coat in avocado oil, salt, and pepper.

Once the oven has preheated, carefully remove the hot sheet pan and add the fries to the hot pan in an even layer. They will sizzle upon contact. Lower the oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake for 12-15 minutes, flip, then bake for an additional 15-20 until the fries are cooked through.

Meanwhile, you’ll prepare the ground beef, “animal style” sauce, and other toppings. Brown the ground beef in a skillet and break up all the clumps. Combine mayo, ketchup, relish, honey, vinegar, and a pinch each of salt and pepper and stir well. Chop up the red onion, cilantro, and pickled jalapeños and set aside.

Once the fries are done, top with the ground beef, red onions, cilantro, pickled jalapeños, and drizzle all over with the sauce. If desired, other toppings may be added. Serve the fries hot with extra sauce on the side!

Looking for other game day food ideas?

Try these other recipes from The Ardent Cook!

Buffalo Chicken Tacos with Celery Salsa

Baked Goat Cheese with Herbed Orange Olives

Mom’s Checkerboard Chicken Chili

Crispy Baked Buffalo Wings

Recipe Ingredients

1 1/2  pounds russet potatoes, sliced into thin fries (3-4 large)

2 Tbsp avocado oil

1 Tsp salt, plus more to taste

Black pepper, to taste

1lb grass-fed ground beef

½ cup mayonnaise 

3 Tbsp ketchup

2 Tbsp dill relish

1 Tsp honey

1 Tsp white vinegar

½ red onion, finely chopped

Fresh cilantro, finely chopped (optional)

Pickled jalapeños, chopped (optional)

Recipe Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit and arrange an oven rack to the lowest height possible. Place a clean sheet pan in the oven to heat as the oven heats. 
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine cut fries, avocado oil, salt, and pepper. Once the oven and sheet tray are preheated, spread potatoes out into an even layer on the sheet tray. Lower the oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake for 12-15 minutes, toss, then bake again for another 15-20 minutes until browned and cooked through. 
  3. Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the ground beef until browned and cooked-through, breaking up any large clumps, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  4. Make the sauce. Combine the mayonnaise, ketchup, relish, honey, and vinegar. Season with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Set aside.
  5. Spread the cooked ground beef evenly over the finished fries. Spoon the sauce over the fries and ground beef, then top with chopped red onion, cilantro, and pickled jalapeño. Serve immediately.

There may be affiliate links in this post! By purchasing a product I recommend, I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love and use myself. Thank you for your continued support of The Ardent Cook, it does not go unnoticed.