Free Easy Home Cooking Recipes

Amy's Secret of the Day:

Pie for breakfast? Sure! Top with vanilla yogurt and toasted pecans for a real stunner

"That girl can cook!"

Having fun in the kitchen one recipe at a time

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Mozzarella, Tomato, and Basil Tart

Mozzarella, Tomato, and Basil tart

What could be better on Mother’s Day than showing your mom some love from the kitchen? Mozzarella, tomato and basil are pretty spectacular on their own, but bake them in a tart and they’re transformed into a rich, layered dish of gooey mozzarella, tender tomatoes and a puffy basil custard finish. You’ll instantly be elevated to favorite child status no matter your age.

Cooking with tomatoes: Tomatoes contain lots of water, one of the reasons why they’re so healthy. But, unless you’re making tomato sauce, all that liquid can create a soggy dish. So, take the extra step of laying the tomato slices in a single layer between paper towels. It’’ do the trick while you prepare the rest of the dish.

Mozzarella 101: So many choices and so confusing! There’s shredded Mozzarella in a plastic package on one side of the store and the big hefty ball of cheese on the other. When cooking with mozzarella, it really is better to use the processed stuff in the package because it melts evenly with less moisture. Save the big softball, fresh mozzarella, for your caprese salad.

The mother of all breakfasts: Make the breakfast in bed version by chopping the tomatoes and mixing with 4 large eggs and ½ cup mozzarella. Into the piecrust, layer the egg mixture, then the basil mixture and carry on!

Mozzarella, Tomato, and Basil Tart

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves 6-8

1 Store-bought rolled-dough piecrust

2 medium tomatoes, sliced

Salt and pepper

1 cup packed fresh basil

2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

½ cup mayonnaise

¼ cup grated Parmesan

2 cups shredded mozzarella, divided

Preheat oven to 350 F. Roll out pie crust into an ovenproof pie dish and refrigerate while you prepare the other ingredients. Place sliced tomatoes on several layers of paper towels, sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside. In a food processor, combine basil, garlic, and 1-½ cups of mozzarella cheese, mayonnaise, and Parmesan. Set aside.

Remove chilled piecrust and layer ½ cup mozzarella on the bottom, followed by the tomatoes, then the basil mixture.  Bake 30 minutes until the top is golden and bubbly. Rest 10 minutes, then slice and serve.






Cherry Blueberry Slab Pie (picnic perfect)

What do you get when you cross a pie with a bar? A slab pie of course. It’s everything great about a fruit pie but made in a baking dish so it’s thinner and manageable enough to pick up with your hands just like a lemon square or a brownie. It’s logical and genius because one slab pie feeds a crowd, can be made in advance and totally portable. With the clock is ticking on summer fruit, now’s the time to savor every last bite before it’s all a distant memory.

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Jersey Shore Crabmeat Canapes

New Jersey is so much more than diners, Bruce Springsteen and The Sopranos. The real secret is the beaches – all 130 miles – stretching the entire length of the state. You could walk (or run) for miles on sugar white sandy beaches with waves big enough for surfing all year long (just ask my brothers). So, what’s better than an après beach day of cocktails and canapés? A simple mixture of local crabmeat with horseradish and grainy mustard is elegant on garlic butter toast or as a casual dip with crackers. New Jersey at its finest.

Fresh Apricot Tarte Tatin

Like the song goes, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year….” That would be when summer fruit hits the supermarkets and just about every other place that sells produce. All this vibrant seasonal fruit is just right for a summer tarte tatin. It’s an upside-down tart where the fruit is caramelized in butter and sugar. Typically it involves apples, but you can save those for the cold weather. Apricots are at their peak right now and they fill in quit nicely for the most beautiful summer dessert you’ve ever seen (and tasted).

Farmstand Panzanella Salad with Burrata

Panzanella salad and farmstands are a natural fit. The salad, a Tuscan classic is a simple compilation of seasonal vegetables and stale bread, which soaks up the veggie juices along with good quality olive oil and vinegar. SHC prefers using toasted fresh bread since the bread is such a prominent ingredient. It just doesn’t seem logical to eat it in a fresh salad after its prime (save your stale bread for breadcrumbs). The addition of burrata, a richer version of mozzarella thanks to the addition of fresh cream makes it a showstopper

All Day Ribs (three ingredients, three easy steps)

Recently I was driving when I heard a recipe on the radio. It went something like, “These are the best ribs ever, it’s an old family recipe and the ribs are cooked in sauerkraut for 4 hours”. I was doubtful but intrigued. So, I made the recipe and I made it again and again until I got it just right. The ribs don’t need 4 hours for the meat to fall off the bone, but all that cooking time allows the sauerkraut to caramelize and intensify in flavor.

Vanilla Bean Strawberry Shortcake

It’s been a perfect storm in the Secrets of a Home Cook kitchen. First, baker extraordinaire, Dorie Greenspan’s been talking up her strawberry shortcake recipes and with strawberry season in full swing, it’s all I want to eat right now. Second, my mom (mom extraordinaire) brought me gorgeous vanilla beans from her recent trip to India. The result is my own version of vanilla bean strawberry shortcake. It really is a very easy recipe with vanilla beans throughout.

Linguine with Spicy Clams and Chorizo

Memorial Day and the launch to summer are only a week away, and what’s a better kickoff than a big bowl of linguine and fresh clams? Add sausage to the mix and you might find with just one more ingredient you’ll have a completely different dish and a quite popular one. Any smoked or cured sausage will do such as kielbasa, Andouille or chorizo because they’re cooked and ready to go right out of the package.

Scallion Pesto Crusted Chicken

If you happen to be reading this and you’re a mom, then this recipe’s for you. In fact, it’s so easy anyone can make it. Hint: anyone except mom on Mother’s Day. Pesto, on more than a few occasions has literally saved dinner in this kitchen mainly because it’s made in a food processor in all of 30 seconds flat. Slather it on chicken and bake for dinner in no time. Hear that kids?

Farmstand Risotto with Crispy Prosciutto

Secrets of a Home Cook may be jumping the gun on local farmstands here in the northeast, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get recipe ready for summer! Supermarkets are brimming with the first signs of local produce even if local is California asparagus and Georgia onions. The point is, as the weather warms up it gets easier to find all kinds of vibrant produce. So, toss a bunch of veggies into freshly made risotto with a bit of crispy prosciutto for a pop of flavor and you’ll be all set for warm weather cooking.


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