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.

Buffalo Chicken Tacos with Celery Salsa

Buffalo Chicken Tacos with Celery Salsa are your new favorite way to eat buffalo chicken. Perfect for a quick dinner, party appetizer, or game-day treat, these tacos are simple to pull together and crisp up in the oven in no time. Plus, the celery salsa is unexpected in the best way. Yes, you read that right, I said celery salsa. Never heard of it? I hadn’t either until I dreamed up this recipe and honestly, I was unsure of myself when I got in the kitchen to test it out. But trust me, you do NOT want to skip out on making this delicious condiment. Let’s get to making some tacos!

Ingredients needed to make Buffalo Chicken Tacos with Celery Salsa

This recipe calls for cooked and shredded chicken, which is simple to do on the stove, in the Instant Pot, or pulled from a store-bought rotisserie chicken ahead of time. I love to make mine in the Instant Pot with a little splash of water and hot sauce then cooked on high pressure for 12 minutes. It shreds in seconds between two forks every time. Once you’ve got your cooked chicken, the recipe comes together in a snap. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • Hot sauce
  • Butter
  • Coconut or brown sugar
  • Soft corn tortillas
  • Avocado oil
  • Grated/shredded cheddar cheese
  • Celery
  • Jalapeno
  • Red onion
  • Cilantro
  • Fresh lime juice
  • Avocado
  • Salt

Tools used to make Buffalo Chicken Tacos with Celery Salsa

When it comes to recipes, this one requires minimal tools to execute it. All you really need is a medium saucepan, two sheet trays, a knife, a cutting board, and a mixing bowl. That’s it!

How to make Buffalo Chicken Tacos with Celery Salsa

As mentioned above, you’ll need to cook and shred 1-1.5lbs of boneless, skinless chicken breast ahead of time. You could do this in the Instant Pot as described above, or simply grab yourself a rotisserie chicken from the store and shred it. Either way, once you have your shredded chicken, this recipe takes less than 30 minutes to pull together.

You’ll make a simple wing sauce by combining hot sauce, butter, and either coconut or brown sugar and simmering it for a few minutes on the stove until the sugar has dissolved. Add the shredded chicken and stir to thoroughly combine.

Next, you’ll microwave some corn tortillas for about 30 seconds until they’re very pliable. Lay them flat on a sheet tray and brush each side with avocado oil, then layer on some shredded cheddar on the top half of each tortilla. Add buffalo chicken on top followed by a bit more cheese, then fold the tortillas over to create a taco. It’s helpful to flip each taco over (onto the side that you first put the cheese on) to help them stay closed, and you can also place another sheet tray on top to help them stay closed for the first few minutes of cooking. Let them bake for 10-12 minutes total, removing the top sheet tray after 3 minutes or so, then flipping over halfway through to allow the other side to crisp.

While the tacos bake, make the celery salsa. Combine the celery, red onion, jalapeno, cilantro, fresh lime juice, and a pinch of salt and mix. Set aside.

Finally, you’ll top the tacos with the celery salsa and some fresh avocado and enjoy!

Looking for more easy dishes like these tacos?

Try these other recipes from The Ardent Cook!

Creamy Sausage and Kale Rigatoni

Mom’s Checkerboard Chicken Chili

Broccoli Salad with Quick Homemade Ranch

Recipe Ingredients

1- 1 ½ lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 2 breasts), cooked and shredded

⅓- ½ cup hot sauce, such as Frank’s, divided

2 tbsp butter

1 ½ tbsp coconut or brown sugar

12-15 soft corn tortillas

2 tbsp avocado oil

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

5 stalks celery, finely diced 

1 small jalapeno, seeded and finely diced

½ red onion, finely diced

¼ cup cilantro, chopped 

Juice of ½ lime

Salt

Recipe Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium saucepan, combine hot sauce, butter, and coconut sugar and simmer for 3-4 minutes until sugar has dissolved. Stir in the shredded chicken and fully coat in the buffalo sauce.
  2. Microwave the corn tortillas for 20-30 seconds until very pliable. Place them on one of the sheet trays and brush both sides with avocado oil. Working only in the top semicircle of each tortilla, layer some shredded cheese, buffalo chicken, then more shredded cheese. Fold the tortilla over to form a taco, and repeat until all tacos are filled and folded.
  3. If the tacos aren’t staying closed, place the second sheet tray on top of the tortillas to help them stay shut. Bake for 2 minutes, then remove the sheet tray and continue baking for an additional 8-10 minutes, flipping halfway through, until the tacos are crispy and the cheese is melted.
  4. While the tacos bake, make the celery salsa. Combine the celery, jalapeño, red onion, cilantro, fresh lime juice, and salt to taste. Mix well and set aside.
  5. Let the tacos cool slightly, then serve topped with the celery salsa and fresh avocado. These tacos also taste wonderful with a side of ranch or bleu cheese dressing and extra hot sauce. 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.

Pork Chile Verde

Pork Chile Verde is an easy and delicious way to infuse some flavor into your weekly meals. Made in either the Instant Pot or slow-braised in the oven or slow-cooker, this pork is delicious served in tacos, over nachos, alongside veggies or a crunchy salad, or as is. My own personal favorite way to eat this pork chile verde is to stir in some fresh or frozen corn, canned beans, diced zucchini, and some greens like spinach or kale for a flavorful pork stew topped with radishes and whatever cheese I’ve got on hand. It’s SO good and perfect for a cold winter meal. Read on for the recipe as well as three different methods to cook this chile verde (Instant Pot, slow-cooker, or oven)!

Ingredients needed to make Pork Chile Verde

To start this recipe, you can choose between making your own salsa verde or using a store-bought ones. Both options are great, but I will say that the homemade salsa verde is next-level. Using just a few fresh ingredients, your broiler, and a blender, you can have homemade salsa verde in under 15 minutes. It’s AMAZING. Here’s everything you’ll need:

For the salsa verde:

  • Fresh tomatillos
  • Poblano peppers
  • Jalapeno peppers
  • Yellow or white onion
  • Garlic
  • Cilantro

For the pork:

Tools used to make Pork Chile Verde

Depending on which method you choose to make this chile verde, and whether you choose to make your own salsa, the tools required to execute this dish will vary. Luckily, there isn’t anything out of the ordinary required! I’ll list the tools needed if you make the recipe exactly as written, including the homemade salsa verde. Here’s the list:

For the salsa verde:

  • Rimmed sheet tray
  • High-speed blender

For the pork:

  • Sharp chef’s knife
  • Instant pot, slow cooker, or large Dutch oven with a lid
  • Tongs
  • Two forks, for shredding meat

How to make Pork Chile Verde

This recipe looks and sounds a bit more complicated than it looks. You’ll begin by preparing your vegetables to roast under the broiler. Remove the husks from your tomatillos, halve and seed the peppers, remove the skin and quarter the onion, and peel the garlic cloves and add to a sheet tray. Drizzle all over with avocado oil, then place on the top rack directly under the broiler. Let them roast approximately 10-12 minutes until the skins are charred and the vegetables have begun to release their juices and soften. Add everything to a high-speed blender with a pinch of salt and pureé until smooth.

Once you’ve made your salsa, you’ll want to prepare the pork for searing. Cut it into roughly 2-inch pieces and heat some avocado oil in your cooking vessel of choice. My preferred method is the Instant Pot for time’s sake, but using a slow cooker or Dutch oven works great as well. Be sure to see the full slow cooker instructions in the recipe below, as you’ll need to sear the meat in a different pot before adding to the slow cooker.

Sear the meat in the hot oil, working in batches to avoid crowding the pan. Once all the meat is seared, add it back to the pot and cover with the salsa verde and chicken broth. Stir in the cumin, oregano, and a pinch each of salt and pepper, and let it cook!

You’ll know the meat is finished when it is falling apart and easily shreds using two forks. Serve this pork inside tacos or over nachos, with added veggies for a quick stew, or scooped onto a fork and devoured as is.

Looking for other easy and flavorful protein options?

Try these recipes from The Ardent Cook!

Harissa Chicken Thighs

Gorgonzola-Stuffed Chicken with Delicata Squash

Mediterranean Grilled Strip Steak

Recipe Ingredients

1 pound fresh tomatillos, husks removed, quartered

2 large poblano peppers, halved and seeded

2 jalapeño peppers, halved and seeded

1 yellow onion, skinned and cut into 6 wedges

4 cloves garlic, skinned

1 cup cilantro leaves and stems, packed

2.5-3 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces

2 Tbsp avocado oil

2 cups chicken broth

1 tsp ground cumin

1 Tbsp dried oregano

Juice of 1 lime

Salt and pepper, to taste

Fresh radishes, thinly sliced (optional, for serving)

Additional cilantro, for serving

Recipe Instructions

For the salsa verde

  1. Prepare vegetables as directed and add to a large rimmed sheet tray. Drizzle with avocado oil and broil on high on the top rack of the oven for 10-12 minutes, or until skins are black and blistered and vegetables are beginning to soften and release their juices.
  2. Add to a high-speed blender with a pinch of salt and blend until smooth. Adjust seasonings as needed to taste. Set aside. Alternatively, one 16oz jar of store-bought salsa verde may be substituted.

Instant Pot Method (preferred)

  1. Prepare pork as directed and season all over with salt. Turn the Instant Pot to the sauté function and heat avocado oil. Working in batches, sear the pork on all sides.
  2. Add all of the seared pork back into the IP and top with the salsa verde, chicken broth, cumin, oregano, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Close the lid and place vent to “sealing” position, then cook on manual high pressure for 35 minutes. Allow for 10-15 minutes of natural pressure release, then quick release the remaining steam before opening the lid.
  3. Shred the pork using two forks. Stir in the fresh lime juice and taste the chile verde for salt and pepper, then add to taste. Top with thinly sliced radishes and cilantro, or add to tacos, nachos, a stew, or enjoy with eggs in the morning.

Slow-Cooker Method

  1. Prepare pork as directed and season all over with salt. Heat avocado oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and sear the pork on all sides, working in batches as necessary to avoid crowding the pan.
  2. Transfer the seared pork to the slow-cooker and top with the salsa verde, chicken broth, cumin, oregano, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Cook on low for 5-6 hours, or on high for 2.5-4 hours. The meat is finished when it is falling apart and easily shreds using two forks.
  3. Shred the meat, then stir in the fresh lime juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with thinly sliced radishes and cilantro, or add to tacos, nachos, a stew, or enjoy with eggs in the morning.

Oven Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare pork as directed and season all over with salt. Heat avocado oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and sear the pork on all sides, working in batches as necessary to avoid crowding the pan.
  2. Add all of the seared pork to the Dutch oven and top with the salsa verde, chicken broth, cumin, oregano, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Cover and bake for 1.5-2.5 hours, checking periodically, until the pork is falling apart and easily shreds using two forks.
  3. Shred the meat, then stir in the fresh lime juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with thinly sliced radishes and cilantro, or add to tacos, nachos, a stew, or enjoy with eggs in the morning.

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.

Harissa Chicken Chopped Salad

Harissa Chicken Chopped Salad is a healthy main-course salad that still feels hearty and keeps you full. Loaded with crisp veggies, salty feta, and slightly spicy harissa chicken thighs, this salad is perfect for a weeknight or busy weekend meal. To save even more time, you can buy pre-marinated harissa chicken thighs from everyone’s favorite grocer, Trader Joe’s, or try my delicious copycat recipe, available here. I love topping this salad with a quick homemade lemony herb dressing (details included in recipe), but if you aren’t in the mood to make your own, I would highly recommend a store-bought ranch.

Ingredients needed to make Harissa Chicken Chopped Salad

My recipe for Harissa Chicken Chopped Salad includes some of my favorite veggies to add to a salad, but don’t let me stop you there. In my experience, the more a salad has in it, the better it gets. This would also be delicious with some halved cherry tomatoes, a different kind of cheese, fresh corn, roasted broccoli, etc. The options for customization are endless! Here’s the full list of ingredients for the salad:

  • Romaine lettuce
  • Harissa chicken thighs (recipe here)
  • Cucumber
  • Carrots
  • Radishes (I love watermelon radishes in this salad)
  • Avocado
  • Feta cheese
  • Pomegranate arils
  • Crispy chickpeas
  • Cilantro

If you also want to make my favorite easy dressing that compliments this salad perfectly, here’s what you’ll need:

  • Tahini
  • Dijon mustard
  • Lemon juice
  • Cilantro
  • Salt and pepper

Tools used to make Harissa Chicken Chopped Salad

This salad comes together using the most minimal of kitchen tools. All you need is a few kitchen staples and you’re ready to eat! I used the following tools to make this salad happen:

  • Large cutting board
  • Chef’s knife
  • Large mixing bowl or serving plate
  • Small mixing bowl, optional if making homemade dressing
  • Measuring cups and spoons, optional if making homemade dressing
  • Whisk, optional if making homemade dressing
  • Air fryer, optional if making homemade crispy chickpeas

How to make Harissa Chicken Chopped Salad

This dish is as simple as chopping and plating. If you plan to make your own harissa chicken thighs using my recipe, you’ll want to do that as the first step. The chicken thighs don’t take very long as they’re absolutely worth the effort, trust me!

You’ll begin by chopping everything you need for the salad, including the lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, radishes, avocado, and cilantro. Add it all to a large mixing bowl or serving plate, crumble the feta and sprinkle the pomegranate arils on top, then add the crispy chickpeas. You can make these using a simple recipe for Air Fryer crispy chickpeas, available here, or just grab a bag of them already made from the store.

To make the lemony herb dressing, combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. Alternatively, you could add all ingredients to a food processor or high-speed blender for an even smoother consistency, but I personally enjoy the texture of the chopped herbs in this dressing. Both methods are excellent and the flavor remains the same!

Slice the chicken and add it to the salad, then drizzle all over with the lemony herb dressing (or dressing of your choice)! It’s so good and the perfect hearty salad for any day of the week.

Looking for other simple, healthy recipes?

Try these ideas from The Ardent Cook

Honey Sesame Chicken with Broccoli

Instant Pot Lemongrass Pork Bowls

Warm Roasted Cauliflower Salad

Recipe Ingredients

2 heads romaine lettuce, chopped

Harissa Chicken Thighs, cooked and chopped (store-bought available at Trader Joe’s, or homemade)

1 large cucumber, seeded and chopped

2 medium carrots, thinly sliced or shredded

Handful of assorted radishes, thinly sliced 

1 avocado, quartered 

1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled 

1/4 cup pomegranate arils

1/2 cup crispy chickpeas (store-bought, or homemade)

1/8 cup cilantro, chopped, for serving

For the Lemony Herb Dressing

⅛ cup tahini

Juice and zest of 1 whole lemon

1 TBSP dijon mustard

⅛ cup finely chopped cilantro

3 TBSP water, or more if thinner consistency is desired

Salt and pepper, to taste

Recipe Instructions

  1. Combine the chopped lettuce, cucumber, carrots, radishes, avocado, and cilantro in a large mixing bowl or arrange on a serving plate. Crumble the feta and scatter the pomegranate arils and crispy chickpeas on top.
  2. Make the dressing, if using. Add the tahini, lemon juice and zest, dijon mustard, cilantro, water, salt, and pepper to a small mixing bowl and whisk until combined.
  3. Slice the chicken and arrange it on top of the salad. Drizzle with the dressing and serve immediately. To store in the fridge, do not dress the salad. Leftovers keep very well undressed in an airtight container, with the dressing added once you are ready to eat. 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.

Honey Sesame Chicken with Broccoli

I absolutely love all things Chinese food, but when we transitioned to a gluten-free way of eating it ruled out a lot of take-out options. Unfortunately, soy sauce and other soy products contain wheat, and they’re hidden in a lot of dishes. I’ve learned a lot about how to balance the intricate flavors of what we consider “Chinese” cooking (and I’ve still got A LOT to learn about the legit, authentic, traditional recipes), and and I’m pretty proud of how this dish turned out. The combination of the punchy garlic and ginger paired with the sweet honey and earthy toasted sesame oil is mind blowing, plus the dish is pretty healthy! Let’s make it!

Ingredients needed to make Honey Sesame Chicken with Broccoli

All the ingredients used in this dish are ones I pull out constantly when I’m making anything Asian-inspired. If you love Asian flavors and cook them at home frequently, I would highly recommend stocking up on some of these ingredients to ensure your meals are tasting as true-to-flavor and balanced as possible! Here’s everything you’ll need:

Tools used to make Honey Sesame Chicken with Broccoli

This take-out-inspired dish is wonderful because it requires very basic kitchen equipment. You’ll need the following items: a cutting board, a sharp chef’s knife, a medium pot with lid, a medium-large skillet, a pair of tongs, and a jar with lid OR a medium mixing bowl with a whisk. There are also a few optional kitchen tools that helped make this meal happen quickly, which are a microplane and a force juicer, although the dish can still be successfully made without those items.

How to make Honey Sesame Chicken with Broccoli

This dish happens rather quickly, so I find it’s helpful to have most of your ingredients measured out ahead of time. You’ll begin by cutting your chicken breast into thin 1/4-1/2 inch strips and coating them in a mixture of tapioca starch (this helps our chicken get a nice crispy sear), ground ginger, ground turmeric, and garlic powder. Once your skillet is heated, sear the chicken on both sides. You may need to work in batches to do this in order to avoid crowding the pan. While the chicken sears, steam the broccoli and make the sauce.

I love to make this sauce in a mason jar with a lid so I can just dump everything and shake to mix. However, if you don’t have a mason jar, it works perfectly well to mix everything in a bowl with a whisk. Either option is perfect!

Once all the chicken has been seared, return it all to the skillet and pour in the sauce. The honey will help create a delicious, thick sauce that coats all of the pieces of chicken. You’ll let the sauce simmer with the chicken for a few minutes, toss in the steamed broccoli, and garnish with fresh lime juice, cilantro, and more sesame seeds! Serve it over rice, rice noodles, or eat it as-is. It’s so delicious!

Looking for other Asian-inspired dishes?

Try these recipes from The Ardent Cook

Instant Pot Lemongrass Pork Bowls

Ponzu Greens and Grains Bowl

Aromatic Chicken Meatball Curry

Recipe Ingredients

1.5lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast, thinly sliced

2 ½ tbsp tapioca starch

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground turmeric

½ tsp garlic powder

2 cups fresh broccoli, cut into florets

3 tbsp avocado oil, divided (1 for searing chicken, 2 for sauce)

2 tbsp toasted sesame oil

¼ cup coconut aminos or low-sodium soy sauce

3 tbsp rice vinegar

¼ cup honey

1 tbsp sriracha, more or less to taste

1 tbsp raw sesame seeds

1-inch knob fresh ginger, grated or finely minced

2 cloves fresh garlic, grated or finely minced

Juice of 1 lime

Cilantro, for serving

Sesame seeds, for serving

Recipe Instructions

  1. Cut the chicken into thin strips, each about 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Combine the tapioca, ground ginger, ground turmeric, and garlic powder and coat the chicken in the mixture.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp of the avocado oil in a skillet over medium heat and sear the chicken, working in batches if necessary. While the chicken sears, steam the broccoli until fork-tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. While the chicken and broccoli are cooking, make the sauce. In a mason-jar with a tight fitting lid OR a mixing bowl, combine the remaining 2 tbsp avocado oil, sesame oil, coconut aminos, rice vinegar, honey, sriracha, sesame seeds, fresh ginger, and fresh garlic. Shake or whisk to thoroughly combine.
  4. When the chicken is seared, return all of it to the skillet and pour in the sauce. Lower the heat and simmer the sauce with the chicken until the chicken is cooked-through and the sauce has thickened slightly, another 5 minutes. Stir in the lime juice.
  5. Add the steamed broccoli, then stir once more to coat everything in the sauce. Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro and more sesame seeds. Serve hot over rice or rice noodles! 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 Goat Cheese with Herbed Orange Olives

Baked Goat Cheese with Herbed Orange Olives is a recipe that is sure to impress, plus it looks way more fancy and complicated than it actually is. Tangy goat cheese gets baked in a bath of good-quality olive oil alongside salty olives and lots of fresh herbs and citrus zest. It’s delicious scooped onto crackers to slathered onto bread.

Ingredients needed to make Baked Goat Cheese with Herbed Orange Olives

This recipe requires just a few good-quality ingredients, most of which you likely have in your pantry and fridge already. Here’s the full list:

Tools used to make Baked Goat Cheese with Herbed Orange Olives

The tools required to make this dish are next to none. You’ll need an oven-safe baking dish, measuring cups and spoons, a sharp chef’s knife, a cutting board, and a microplane or citrus zester. That’s it!

How to make Baked Goat Cheese with Herbed Orange Olives

Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Before slicing your goat cheese, make sure it is very cold. It helps to stick the log into the freezer for 10-15 minutes before slicing it if you want precise rounds, however this step isn’t necessary if you don’t mind a more “broken” presentation (it still tastes delicious).

Slice the goat cheese into 7 or 8 even rounds and place them in the baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with the chopped fresh herbs, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, citrus zest, and a pinch of salt. Arrange the olives around the goat cheese, then cover the entire dish in the olive oil.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the oil begins to bubble just slightly around the edges and the entire dish is hot.

I love to serve this dish with crackers or fresh crusty bread for a delicious alternative to a cheese board!

Looking for other delicious appetizers?

Try these easy recipes from The Ardent Cook!

Pomegranate Goat Cheese Guacamole

Whipped Feta Dip

Turmeric Cauliflower Hummus

Recipe Ingredients

½ cup good quality olive oil

4oz log goat cheese, chilled, sliced into rounds

5-7oz mixed olives

1tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped

1tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped

1tsp dried oregano

¼-½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

½ tsp orange zest

½ tsp lemon zest

Pinch sea salt

Recipe Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Slice goat cheese into 7 or 8 rounds and add to the baking dish in an even layer.
  3. Sprinkle the fresh chopped herbs, dried oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, citrus zest, and a pinch of sea salt over top of the goat cheese rounds. Arrange the olives evenly around the goat cheese.
  4. Cover the entire dish with the olive oil. It’s okay if the oil doesn’t cover the olives entirely.
  5. Bake the dish for 10-15 minutes until small bubbles begin to appear on the sides of the dish and the goat cheese is hot. Serve immediately alongside crackers or fresh bread. 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.

Pomegranate Goat Cheese Guacamole

With the holidays looking different this year, I figured it would be an okay time to create a non-traditional Christmas Eve appetizer. Speaking from experience, not many holiday gatherings include a big vat of guac, so why not break the mold this year? When Erika of Esteem Wellness kindly offered to feature one of my recipes on her account, I knew I wanted it to be simple, made from clean, whole ingredients, festive, and delicious. This guacamole fits the bill. Did I mention that it’s made using only 5 ingredients? Jump on this, folks!

Ingredients needed to make Pomegranate Goat Cheese Guacamole

As I said above, this guac requires just FIVE ingredients. It’s absolutely delicious and so simple to pull together. All you need are a few ripe avocados, fresh lime juice, pomegranate arils, goat cheese, and salt. If you’d like to take this guac up a notch, it would also be delicious dusted with some fresh chopped cilantro, roasted pistachios, or crushed red pepper flakes for a touch of heat. Serve it with your favorite tortilla chips and you’re ready to go!

Tools used to make Pomegranate Goat Cheese Guacamole

Everyone has their preferred method of mashing guac, but the easiest way, in my opinion, is to use an old-fashioned potato masher. This one is very similar to what I have at home and it leaves me with perfect, lump-free guac every time. If you don’t have a masher, you could use a fork, a pastry cutter, or even your hands. You’ll also need the following tools to complete this recipe:

How to make Pomegranate Goat Cheese Guacamole

This guacamole couldn’t be simpler to make. You’ll start by halving your avocados and carefully removing the pits. Scoop the flesh of the avocado into your mixing bowl, then squeeze the juice of half a lime into the bowl. Add the salt and mash until thoroughly combined. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with the goat cheese and pomegranates. Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy!

Looking for other easy appetizer recipes?

Try these options from The Ardent Cook

Savory Holiday Snack Mix

Whipped Feta Dip

Cheesy Black Bean Skillet Dip

Pst!! Looking for a cocktail to pair with this guac? Try my Holiday Heart Beet Cocktail!

Recipe Ingredients

3 medium, ripe avocados

Juice of 1/2 lime

1/4 tsp salt, plus more to taste

1/4 cup pomegranate arils

2-3oz fresh goat cheese, crumbled

Optional add-ins: fresh cilantro, chopped pistachios, crushed red pepper flakes

Recipe Instructions

  1. Halve the avocados and carefully remove the pits. Scoop the flesh of each avocado into a mixing bowl.
  2. Add the lime juice and salt, then mash to combine.
  3. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with the pomegranate arils and goat cheese. Serve alongside your favorite tortilla chips and enjoy! Leftovers keep for 1-2 days in an airtight container in the fridge.

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.

Creamy Sausage and Kale Rigatoni

The holidays always bring about strong feelings of comfort food, and this Creamy Sausage and Kale Rigatoni fills the void so incredibly well. If gluten and dairy aren’t for you, I’ve tested this recipe using a grain-free pasta alternative as well as dairy-free milk and cheese. Luckily, there are loads of swaps you can make to create the dish that works for you based upon your dietary needs, or just use the real stuff. I love this as an easy weeknight dinner or as a solution to your Christmas Eve dinner needs for gatherings large and small. I hope you enjoy it!

Ingredients needed to make Creamy Sausage and Kale Rigatoni

This dish uses all the traditional Italian pasta ingredients like rigatoni, ground sausage, herbs, and cheese. Here’s a full list of everything you’ll need, plus links to some swaps I used to make this compliant with my current gluten- and dairy-free eating habits:

  • Rigatoni or other cylindrical pasta shape (I like this brand if GF)
  • Ground Sweet Italian sausage
  • Olive oil
  • Kale
  • Fresh garlic
  • Crushed red pepper flake
  • Heavy cream (substitute non-dairy milk or cream alternative if DF)
  • Pasta cooking water
  • Mozzarella (substitute non-dairy cheese or goat cheese, if tolerated)
  • Lemon zest
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Tools used to make Creamy Sausage and Kale Rigatoni

I love pasta dishes because they take close to no equipment to pull off. This dish comes together with only a few tools, most of which you likely already have. Here’s the complete list:

How to make Creamy Sausage and Kale Rigatoni

This pasta recipe is very straightforward, making it a welcome addition to any weekly meal plan. It’s also the perfect recipe to throw together the night before a big holiday, such as, ahem, Christmas Eve… particularly if you haven’t finished wrapping gifts for the big day.

You’ll start by cooking your pasta in the pasta pot according to package directions. Be sure to reserve approximately 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid before draining, as this helps us achieve a silky creamy sauce that adheres to each noodle.

While the pasta cooks, brown your sausage in a large skillet or deep pot. I prefer to use my Dutch oven for this step. Once browned, push the sausage into a ring at the outside of the pan to make space in the middle for the garlic. Add the olive oil, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes, stirring it around until fragrant, then stir to combine with the sausage. Add the kale and stir again, allowing it to wilt slightly.

Once the pasta is drained, add it directly into the pot with the sausage and kale while still hot. Add the heavy cream, pasta cooking water, and cheese, folding everything together. If needed, you may turn the burner on low to encourage melting of the cheese and thickening of the sauce.

Once the pasta is creamy and all ingredients are incorporated, fold in the freshly grated lemon zest and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately! Leftovers keep well in the fridge or freezer.

Looking for other weeknight comfort food ideas?

Try these recipes from The Ardent Cook!

Favorite Roast Chicken

Curried Pumpkin Chickpeas with Cucumber Raita

Wild Mushroom Farro with Parmesan and Microgreens

Recipe Ingredients

1lb Rigatoni

1lb ground sweet Italian sausage

1tbsp olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced or grated

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, more or less to taste

1 head kale, stems removed and roughly chopped

3/4 cup heavy cream, plus more if needed

1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid

1 cup mozzarella cheese

1 tbsp fresh lemon zest

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Recipe Instructions

  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions Before draining, reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid and set aside.
  2. While the pasta cooks, brown sausage in a large skillet or deep pot. Once browned, push sausage to the sides of the pan and make an open area in the center.
  3. Add olive oil, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes to the center of the pan and cook 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Mix to incorporate with the sausage. Add the kale and stir again, allowing it to wilt.
  4. Add the pasta directly to the pan with the sausage and kale, turn the pan to low heat, then stir in the heavy cream, pasta cooking liquid, and mozzarella. Fold consistently until a creamy sauce forms. You may use additional cream to achieve your desired sauce consistency, if needed.
  5. Stir in the freshly grated lemon zest, salt, and pepper, 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.

Green Curry Chicken Tacos

Curry of any kind is one of my favorite foods and I truly think I could eat a variety of curry every night for dinner. In an effort to change it up from the usual protein, vegetables, curry sauce, and rice, I thought I’d give a curried taco recipe a go and BOY am I glad I did. This easy green curry chicken comes together in under 15 minutes in the Instant Pot, then gets stuffed into a delicious soft tortilla and topped with a few effortless garnishes. So easy and SO flavorful- let’s make ’em!

Ingredients needed to make Green Curry Chicken Tacos

Here’s everything you’ll need to make Green Curry Chicken Tacos:

Tools used to make Green Curry Chicken Tacos

These chicken tacos come together fastest and easiest when you use a pressure cooker, such as the Instant Pot. If you don’t have one, you can also cook the chicken in the oven using a covered Dutch oven, but be prepared that this method takes significantly longer. In addition to the Instant Pot, you’ll need the following tools:

How to make Green Curry Chicken Tacos

The entire process takes about 30 minutes start-to-finish when you factor in the time it takes the Instant Pot to pressurize and depressurize. You’ll start by mincing or grating your garlic and ginger and cutting each chicken breast in half crosswise. Place the chicken, garlic, ginger, curry paste, and coconut milk in the instant pot and stir until roughly combined. Set the Instant Pot to manual high pressure and set the timer to 11 minutes. Let the Instant Pot do its magic while you prepare the toppings.

Finely chop the cilantro and set aside. In a small, dry skillet, toast the cashews over medium-low heat until lightly browned and fragrant. Transfer to a cutting board and roughly chop them.

Once the chicken has finished cooking, allow the Instant Pot 5-7 minutes of natural release, then carefully open the valve to quickly release the rest of the pressure. Using tongs, place the chicken onto the cutting board (you could also do this in a large mixing bowl) and shred using two forks. Turn the Instant Pot to sauté and allow the sauce to simmer for about 10 minutes to reduce and thicken. Return the chicken to the pot to soak in the curry sauce.

Warm your tortillas over the flame of your gas stove, or in the same dry skillet that you toasted the cashews in. Place the chicken into each tortilla, then top with the cilantro, cashews, and a little sriracha if desired. Enjoy!

Looking for other quick and easy recipes?

Instant Pot Lemongrass Pork Bowls

Herbed Chicken Tortellini Soup

Roasted Apricot Chicken

Recipe Ingredients

2-3lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast (3 medium breasts)

1-inch knob ginger, minced or grated

3 cloves garlic, minced or grated

3oz green curry paste, such as Mike’s Organic Curry Love

1 13.5oz can full-fat coconut milk, unsweetened

Small (taco-sized) tortillas, any variety, or jicama wraps

1/2 cup raw cashews

Sriracha, for serving

Cilantro, roughly chopped, for serving

Salt and pepper, to taste

Recipe Instructions

  1. Cut each chicken breast in half crosswise. Place chicken, ginger, garlic, curry paste, and coconut milk into the bowl of the Instant Pot. Turn the Instant Pot to Manual, then High Pressure, and set the timer for 11 minutes. Let the Instant Pot do its work, then allow for 5-7 minutes of natural pressure release before carefully opening the valve to quick-release the remaining steam. **If using oven method, preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and add above ingredients to a large Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid, then bake for 1-1.5 hours until the chicken easily shreds with a fork.**
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the toppings for the tacos. In a small, dry skillet, toast the cashews over medium-low heat until golden in color and fragrant. Transfer to a cutting board and roughly chop, then set aside. Roughly chop the cilantro, then warm the tortillas in the same skillet that you toasted the cashews in. Alternatively, you may char the tortillas over the open flame if you have a gas stove.
  3. Remove the chicken from the Instant Pot and shred using two forks. Turn the pot to the sauté feature and let the curry sauce simmer for 10 minutes or so, until reduced and slightly thicker. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Return the chicken to the sauce.
  4. Assemble the tacos. Place a serving of chicken into each tortilla, then top with the cilantro, cashews, and sriracha, if desired. 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.