Warm Spring Veggie and Wild Rice Salad

This salad is so good!!!!!! I can’t use enough exclamation marks to convey how delish it is. Picture your favorite spring veggies (which can totally be subbed out based on what you have at home), loads of fresh herbs, warm and fluffy wild rice, and an easy homemade lemon vinaigrette drizzled over top. It doesn’t get much better than that, in my opinion.

This dish is hearty enough to be a vegetarian main for lunch or dinner, or serve it with a protein of your choice, such as grilled chicken or broiled salmon. It’s great for meal prep, too! If meal prepping, I like to pack it with an extra wedge of lemon to give it a bright pop just before eating. Let’s make it!

Ingredients needed to make Warm Spring Veggie and Wild Rice Salad

You’ll need a few cups of cooked wild rice and a boat load of veggies to make this salad. I’ve listed the ones I used for this recipe (also the ones I believe taste the best), but don’t be afraid to substitute, omit, or embellish as desired. No veggie is a bad veggie in this salad. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Wild rice blend
  • Radishes
  • Carrots
  • Cucumber
  • Shelled english peas
  • Scallions
  • Fresh dill
  • Fresh parsley
  • Fresh mint
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Olive oil
  • Honey
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

That’s really it! It sounds like a lot of ingredients, but the nice part is that most of them are found in the same area of the grocery store. So, you won’t have to do a lot of searching while shopping.

Tools used to make Warm Spring Veggie and Wild Rice Salad

I love this dish because it uses so few tools to pull together. I love batch cooking a grain on Sunday to use throughout the week ahead, so you could easily do that here! My favorite method for cooking wild rice* is as follows: combine 1 cup wild rice blend with 2 cups water or broth in the bowl of your Instant Pot, then cook at high pressure for 30 minutes. Let the Instant Pot naturally release the pressure and you’ll have perfectly fluffy (and hands-off) wild rice! Then, to make this a “warm” salad, I simply heat the rice over the stove or in the microwave before adding the other ingredients. You could do that, or just make your rice right before preparing the dish. Either option works.

If you cook your wild rice ahead of time, then your equipment list is literally this short:

If you cook your wild rice just before making this dish, you’ll need to add either an Instant Pot or a pot with a lid to your equipment list, as well as a dry measuring cup. Pretty simple stuff!

How to make Warm Spring Veggie and Wild Rice Salad

You’ll begin by cooking your rice, either in the Instant Pot or over the stove according to package directions. If using the Instant Pot, see above for my favorite method for cooking it*.

While the rice cooks, prepare the vegetables. Slice, dice, chop, mince, etc. and add it all to a bowl. To make the lemon vinaigrette, combine the juice of one lemon, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 tbsp honey, salt, and black pepper and whisk until emulsified.

When the rice is done, add ~2 cups cooked rice to the bowl with the prepared veggies and herbs. Add the dressing and toss thoroughly, seasoning with additional salt and pepper as needed. Serve warm or chilled!

Looking for other salad ideas?

Try these recipes from The Ardent Cook!

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

Harissa Chicken Chopped Salad

Warm Roasted Cauliflower Salad

Recipe Ingredients

1 cup dry wild rice blend

2 cups water or broth

3-5 small radishes, very thinly sliced or cut on mandoline

1 medium carrot, very thinly sliced or cut on mandoline

1 medium English cucumber, quartered then sliced

4 scallions, thinly sliced

1 cup shelled English peas, blanched

1 cup mixed herbs, minced (I used parsley, dill, and mint- but anything works!)

1 lemon, juiced

1/2 cup olive oil

1 tbsp honey

Salt and black pepper, to taste

Recipe Instructions

  1. Make the wild rice. Combine wild rice and water or broth in a pot and cook according to package instructions. If using Instant Pot, cook on high pressure for 30 minutes, allow natural pressure release, then fluff with a fork.
  2. Prepare the vegetables. Slice radishes, carrot, cucumber, and scallions. Mince the herbs. Blanch the peas by boiling them in water until they just start to float (about 2 minutes), then drain and immediately rinse with very cold water. Add all the veggies to a large mixing bowl.
  3. Make the lemon vinaigrette. Combine juice of 1 lemon, olive oil, honey, salt, and pepper. Whisk until emulsified.
  4. Once the rice is done, add ~2 cups cooked wild rice to the mixing bowl with the prepared veggies and herbs. Pour the lemon vinaigrette all over and mix very thoroughly.
  5. Season again with salt and pepper, and enjoy warm or serve chilled later.

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.

Orange Glazed Pork Tenderloin

I absolutely love pork, but it’s gotten a bad rap over the last few years as regenerative and sustainable meat production has grown in popularity and large-scale pork producers continue utilizing worst-practice methods of raising animals. Luckily, I’ve been able to source some delicious cuts of pork from local farms, natural markets in my area, and meat delivery services such as Butcher Box.

If you feel lost, I’d encourage you to do a quick web search of local meat purveyors in your area! Many local farmers have begun selling their products to stores in their area, so you may not have to travel far to get your hands on delicious, local, regeneratively-raised pork, perfect for making these Orange-Glazed Pork Tenderloins!

A quick glaze of fresh orange juice, honey, mustard, and loads of herbs is the perfect accompaniment to oven roasted pork. I hope you enjoy this recipe just as much as I do!

Ingredients needed to make Orange Glazed Pork Tenderloin

To make this delicious pork, you’ll need the following ingredients:

For the Pork

  • Pork tenderloins
  • Avocado oil
  • Salt
  • Fresh thyme
  • Ground ginger
  • Fresh garlic
  • Black pepper

For the Orange Glaze

  • Navel oranges
  • Honey
  • Dijon mustard
  • Water
  • Tapioca or cornstarch
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Fresh thyme
  • Fresh rosemary
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

Tools used to make Orange Glazed Pork Tenderloin

This pork recipe is easy to make and requires just a few kitchen basics. You’ll need the following items:

That’s it! In case you’re missing one of these items, I’ve linked to a few of the products I have in my own kitchen that never fail me.

How to make Orange Glazed Pork Tenderloin

I love this pork dish because you can sort of “set it and forget it,” as with most things you cook in the oven. It’s no-fuss and the glaze is delicious. You’ll start by combining a few ingredients to make a basic rub for the pork. Slather that on, add to your baking dish, and bake the pork until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit.

While the pork roasts, you’ll make the glaze. Combine all the ingredients except the orange zest into a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the glaze bubbles. Turn the heat down and allow the glaze to bubble for 1-2 minutes, then remove from the heat. Remove the herb bundle and stir in the orange zest.

When the pork reaches temperature, pull it out and brush (or spoon) a layer of glaze over the pork. Place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes, but watch it carefully- it can burn easily!

Let the pork rest at room temperature for 5-10 minutes before slicing, and enjoy!

Looking for other easy main courses?

Try these recipes from The Ardent Cook!

Pork Chile Verde

Harissa Chicken Thighs

Mediterranean Grilled Strip Steak

Recipe Ingredients

For the Pork

2 pork tenderloins, each about 1.25lbs (usually two come in a pack)

1 tbsp avocado oil

1 tsp salt

6 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only 

½ tsp ground ginger

2 cloves garlic, minced

Black pepper 

For the Glaze

Juice of 4 navel oranges, approximately 1 cup

Zest of 1 navel orange

¼ cup honey

2 tbsp dijon mustard

¼ cup water

1 tsp tapioca starch (or cornstarch) 

Pinch crushed red pepper flakes 

3 thyme sprigs 

2 rosemary sprigs 

Salt, to taste

Recipe Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a 9×13 inch baking dish or rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Combine the salt, fresh thyme leaves, ground ginger, minced garlic, and black pepper. Rub the pork tenderloins with the avocado oil, then evenly coat in the spice blend. Roast for approximately 20 minutes, pausing after about 15 minutes to add a layer of glaze (see below*)
  3. Meanwhile, make the glaze. Combine all glaze ingredients except for the orange zest in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, then lower the heat and let simmer for 1-2 minutes until thickened.
  4. At about 15 minutes* into the pork cooking time, remove from the oven and brush with the glaze. Return to the oven and cook for an additional 5 minutes or so, until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit. To finish, brush with one more coat of glaze and place pork under the broiler for 1-2 minutes until slightly caramelized.
  5. Let the pork rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing. Serve with additional glaze and 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.

Hidden Veggie Sloppy Joe’s

Man is this recipe good. I almost cringed writing the title because I really hate the idea of “hidden veggie” anything, but I felt like the world needed to know just how versatile and nutrient-packed these SJ’s are. Whether you’re cooking for picky kiddos or just trying to add a bit more vegetables into your dinner, I’ve got you covered with this one-pan wonder of a meal.

Ingredients needed to make Hidden Veggie Sloppy Joe’s

This recipe makes a large amount of SJ filling. It calls for two pounds of ground beef, plus a large portion of food-processed veggies that leaves you with enough for 6-8 servings. I created this recipe on the larger side on purpose, firstly because Jeff eats the equivalent of two adult portions in one sitting and secondly because this recipe works wonderfully for meal prep. The leftovers keep for a solid 5 days in the fridge and it’s incredibly versatile. I serve it over buns, cauliflower rice, mashed potatoes, scooped up with chips, or even eaten with a spoon as-is. If you don’t need this much sloppy joe action in your life, just half the recipe! Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Grass-fed ground beef
  • Zucchini
  • Red bell pepper
  • Mushrooms, any variety
  • Yellow onion
  • Garlic
  • Canned crushed tomatoes
  • Canned tomato paste
  • Maple syrup
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Hamburger buns, for serving

You may be wondering, can you:

  1. use ground chicken or turkey, instead? Yes! Since ground poultry is leaner than ground beef, I would add two Tbsp cooking oil per pound of meat
  2. substitute other veggies in your kitchen for the ones listed in this recipe? Yes! I have made these using cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, different varieties of mushrooms, hot peppers instead of bell peppers for extra heat, and fresh tomatoes instead of canned. Use what you have and what you like, just keep the amounts the same.
  3. omit the sweetener? Yes, but I would be aware that traditional sloppy joe’s are on the sweeter side. Omitting the sweetener will leave you with more of a chunky Italian meat sauce rather than a sweet sloppy joe flavor. You can, on the other hand, sub out the maple syrup for whatever you’ve got on hand- honey, agave nectar, or other forms of sweetener.
  4. use beef that isn’t grass-fed? Absolutely! Grass-fed is my preference for a multitude of reasons, but regular beef is just fine.

Tools used to make Hidden-Veggie Sloppy Joes

I love this meal for easy, weeknight-friendly meal prep. It comes together in one large skillet or pot, making for easy clean up. You’ll need just five pieces of equipment for this recipe, which are as follows:

How to make Hidden-Veggie Sloppy Joes

As mentioned above, this recipe can happen rather quickly, making it perfect for weeknights. It’s also very kid friendly, if that’s something you’re looking for in the kitchen. I don’t yet have kids, but I can imagine the joy on their faces while helping food process all the veggies in this recipe. Every kid loves to push the button, ya know?

You’ll start by processing all the vegetables in the food processor. You may need to work in batches, because an over-crowded food processor can lead to some veggies being pureed and some being too large. We’re looking for everything to be a nice, uniform mince that is similar in size to pieces of cooked ground beef. Once everything is processed, set it aside.

Brown the ground beef in your large skillet or pot. While the beef cooks, you can measure out the remaining ingredients.

Once the beef has browned, add the minced veggies and let everything cook together for 10-15 minutes, until all the water from the veggies has cooked out. Then, add the remaining ingredients to create the sauce. At this point, the sauce can be done after just 10 minutes. However, if you want even more developed flavor, you can let it go over very low for a few hours, stirring every 20 minutes or so. If I’m making this on a lazy Sunday, I’ll often opt for the longer route, but both options taste delicious!

Serve the sloppy joe’s over whatever your heart desires. Traditionally, they’re served on hamburger buns. I’ve also been known to eat it over rice or cauliflower rice, mashed potatoes, or even as-is with a spoon. Jeff loves to dip tortilla chips into the filling, like a sweeter version of chili on chips. Go for it!

Looking for other veggie-packed recipes?

Try these ideas from The Ardent Cook!

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Cauliflower Risotto with Chicken Meatballs

Chicken and Dumplings

Instant Pot Lemongrass Pork Bowls

Recipe Ingredients

2lbs grass-fed ground beef

1 large zucchini, minced

2 medium carrots, minced

1 red bell pepper, minced

4oz baby bella mushrooms, minced

½ yellow onion, minced

4 cloves garlic, minced

28oz can crushed tomatoes

6oz can tomato paste

¼ cup maple syrup

3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

3 Tbsp worcestershire sauce 

Salt and pepper, to taste

Hamburger buns, for serving (optional)

Recipe Instructions

  1. Process or very finely mince the zucchini, carrots, bell pepper, mushrooms, onion, and garlic. Set aside. 
  2. In a very large skillet, brown the ground beef. Season with salt and pepper,
  3. Add the minced veggies and stir everything together thoroughly. Season again with salt and pepper. Let the mixture cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, or until most of the water from the vegetables has cooked out.
  4. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce. Let the mixture come to a boil, then simmer an additional 10 minutes to let the flavors meld together. 
  5. Adjust salt and pepper as needed, and serve over hamburger buns for a traditional sloppy joe. Alternatively, serve over rice, cauliflower rice, or mashed potatoes for a fun twist. Leftovers keep in the fridge for up to 5 days. 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.

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.

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.

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.