Go-To Recipes

Midland, TX(Zone 8a)

We all have them--go-to recipes. They are the ones we go to so often we don't even need the recipe any more. They all have three things in common---they are family pleasers, they are crowd pleasers, and they are easy to prepare. I'd love to hear some that all of you go to, and I'll start the thread with one of my own in the following post. ~pen.

Midland, TX(Zone 8a)

Adapted from a Gold Medal recipe

Throw everything in a medium bowl. Can be mixed by hand. I always bake this in silicon cupcake liners. Living alone, I leave a couple out for near-term consumption by the cook and wrap the remaining ones individually in plastic wrap and put in the freezer. They are very rich and do not need to be frosted or garnished, IMO.

1 ½ C sugar
¾ C Wondra flour
½ C cocoa
¼ tsp salt (omit if using salted butter)
¾ C butter, melted and cooled (1 ½ sticks)
3 eggs (at room temp)
1 ½ tsp vanilla

Whipped cream, shaved chocolate for serving (optional).

Preheat oven to 350°
Grease and flour round pan, 8 x 1 ½”

Mix all cake ingredients. Spread in pan. Bake about 35 min or until top is dry, edges are crispy and toothpick test is clean.

Cool 10 min; remove from pan. Cool cake completely. Can serve with whipped cream and chocolate for a nice presentation. Refrigerate or freeze any remaining cake.

Fill 10 cupcake liners 2/3 full. Bake 20-30 min. at 350.

Sub 1/2 C coconut for the cocoa, add some chopped pecans, use coconut oil for some of the butter and you have a coconutty version of blondies.

St. Simon's Island, GA(Zone 9a)

Chinese Salad

1/4 C sunflower seeds
1/4 C slivered almonds
2 packages ramen noodles (throw away the seasoning package), crushed

One head of napa cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 C carrots (pulsed in the food processor)

5 T rice wine vinegar
2 T soy sauce
2 T sesame oil
2 T honey
1/4 C sugar

Heat dressing, stirring until sugar dissolves. Do not boil. Mix nuts and noodles in a large bowl. Pour dressing over and toss well. Mix in cabbage and carrots. Serve immediately.

Midland, TX(Zone 8a)

happytail, I've had that salad--or a variation of it--before, and it is most excellent. Thanks for posting! ~ pen

St. Simon's Island, GA(Zone 9a)

It is a great quickie, and very filling. We love it!

Columbus, OH

Everyone loves this, I've never met anyone who doesn't like it. I use BS chicken breasts and cook for less time, and I often double the sauce, because my family likes it. Good with rice pilaf and broccoli.

Honey-Mustard Chicken

3 lb. chicken -- cut up
1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. honey
1/4 c. prepared mustard
1 t. salt
1 t. curry powder

Instructions: Melt butter in baking dish. Mix honey, mustard, and seasonings. Roll chicken in mixture. Bake at 375 degrees for one hour.

Midland, TX(Zone 8a)

Celene, sounds good. Glad to have the ratios for the honey-mustard sauce. I bet it would be good with pork chops, too. Thanks for posting. ~pen

Midland, TX(Zone 8a)

Have ya'll tried Knorr's Homestyle Stock? Excellent product!


8 chicken thighs, skin on
4 med yellow squash or 6-7 small, sliced (about 2.75 lb.)
1 can whole kernel corn - do not drain
2 cans cream style corn
1 10-oz can Rotel (Original) - do not drain
1 15-oz can tomato sauce (I use Hunt's)
1 tub Knorr Homestyle Stock
s & p, garlic granules, sugar
cayenne or sriracha sauce to taste (if more heat wanted)

Put chicken pieces in bottom of large soup pot and add water to ~ half way up chicken layer; cover and simmer until chicken is nearly done.

Add squash (if slices are large, cut in half) and cook a few minutes on top of chicken--do not stir.

Add corn, Rotel, tomato sauce, Knorr stock and enough water to make soup consistency; stir, cover and simmer until squash is tender.

Remove chicken pieces; slide skin off. Debone if desired, or return whole pieces to pot. If too soupy, simmer uncovered until reduced.

Season (after reduced): add salt, pepper, garlic granules and sugar to taste (and cayenne or sriracha if desired).

Serve with bottle of sriracha on the side for guests who like extra spicy.

Can prepare ahead and place in containers in freezer until the fat separates. Skim fat off top before reheating.

Columbus, OH

The honey mustard sauce is good on salmon (I add a little soy sauce), grilled tofu, ham, or pork as well. I don't eat meat, so I've never personally tasted it, but even the fussiest kid in my family eats it like it's going out of style if you cut BS chicken breasts into "nuggets". I also like the sauce on roasted sweet potatoes, I add it about 10 min before they're done cooking. It's up there with sweet chili sauce in terms of versatility at my house.

Midland, TX(Zone 8a)

Celene, do you make your own sweet chili sauce?

Columbus, OH

I do, now. For a long time, the Vietnamese store near my house carried a brand I liked, and when they couldn't get it any more, I started making my own.

Midland, TX(Zone 8a)

Celene, I have never made sweet chili sauce. Will you post your recipe? ~pen

Columbus, OH

I wish I could say that I had some top-secret recipe that I personally developed, but this is the one I use. I sub out vegetarian fish sauce for regular fish sauce. http://thaifood.about.com/od/thaicurrypasterecipes/r/Easy-Thai-Sweet-Chili-Sauce-Recipe.htm

Gainesville, FL(Zone 9a)

I was going to make the honey mustard chicken tonight, but spent to long in the yard, and didnt get to it.

St. Simon's Island, GA(Zone 9a)

Hubby out of town this weekend, so I guess it will be cereal for dinner. Maybe I'll pick up something for lunch on my way to work tomorrow, so I don't snack myself to death the next two days.

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7a)

I make this for myself in the summer--if I make it to take somewhere I leave the lettuce out and mix in before serving. If I just make it for the house (a few days worth of meals for me) I'll leave the lettuce out until I want a serving.

BLT Pasta Salad

1 c mayo or Miracle Whip or 1/2 & 1/2 of both
1/4 c bottled lemon juice
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp chicken base--I have the Better Than Boullion type
1 bag of Wacky Mac colored rotini or pasta of choice-cooked al dente
8 slices of thick cut bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1 pt grape tomatoes, halved and seeded
3 scallions, sliced
4 c romaine lettuce, chopped or shredded

Mix 1st four ingredients and salt and pepper to taste for dressing.
Add cooled cooked pasta, bacon, tomato and scallions.
Add lettuce when ready to serve. Lettuce will wilt if mixed in and stored with leftovers.

I'm thinking of mixing the mayo 1/2 & 1/2 with greek yogurt next time I try it. The chicken base is for salt and another flavor base but you could do a sprinkle of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix in the mayo or maybe other herbs you like.

Midland, TX(Zone 8a)

dmac, your BLT salad sounds yummo. I don't think I have ever had such. I'm getting a mental image of serving the salad with the romaine leaves on the side--so you can spread the salad on the leaves and have as a finger food. Would that work?? Thanks for posting. ~ pen

Midland, TX(Zone 8a)

This is my go-to dressing for potato salad and deviled eggs. It's tangy and creamy and complex and easy to throw together. I try to make it the day before I cook the potatoes or eggs or at least a few hours.


Whisk together….
Mayo – 1 ¼ C
Sour cream – 1/3 C
Buttermilk – 3 T
Mustard – 2.5 T (Dijon)
Mustard, 2 tsp (dry)
1 T cider vinegar
Dill, 1 T fresh or ½ T dry or less
Tarragon 1/2 T or less
Celery seed – 1 T
Cayenne – ¼ tsp
Celery salt – 1/8 tsp
Kosher salt to taste
Cracked pepper to taste (I use Seasoned Pepper – McCormick or Lowry)
pickle juice if needed to thin - sweet or dill, depending on which way you're going

Makes enough for 3 1/2 lbs. potatoes

Midland, TX(Zone 8a)


I won a contest at a family reunion for best dish for my deviled eggs. I don't measure stuff--depends on how many eggs I'm doing--but in general it goes like this....

Mash cooked egg yolks together with grated cheddar cheese until the cheese is no longer discernible (my secret ingredient.) Add finely chopped baby dill pickles to taste and moisten with POTATO SALAD DRESSING (posted above). Taste and add more cider vinegar if you want it a little more tangy. Pipe into halved egg whites and sprinkle with paprika. These get inhaled wherever I take them. ~ pen

Columbus, OH

I think that looks like a very tasty dressing, I may try it with yogurt instead of mayo. I am not the world's biggest fan of mayo, I won't eat the kind from a jar, only homemade and only on certain things. Certainly seems to be well-seasoned and unlikely to be bland!

Midland, TX(Zone 8a)

Celene, have you tried Blue Plate mayo? I rate it above Hellmans and just below homemade. It's made in New Orleans--dunno if you can get it is Columbus. Sometimes we have it here but usually not. I order it from Amazon. Anyway, if you keep it on hand for other eaters in your household, suggest you try Blue Plate. ~pen

Columbus, OH

I will give it a try, but mayo has a weird mouth feel for me. I don't know whether it's the egg or the oil, but generally I don't want too much of it. If it's in salad dressing and not too prominent, it's okay. Cilantro and chipotle aioli, that sort of thing is fine. Mayo on a sandwich? Not fine. Good thing I'm not weird, eh? Some people have food issues. I have lifetime subscriptions, lol.

Midland, TX(Zone 8a)

Celene, when my son (who is a much better cook than I) makes my potato salad dressing, he goes heavier on the mustard and lighter on the mayo. There is a whole class of folks out there who prefer mustard potato salad.

I hear you about the weird mouth feel thing. I feel somewhat that way about peas and beans. There's something about that burst of dryness inside them that doesn't play well on my palate, but it was much more pronounced when I was younger.

Columbus, OH

I never met a bean I didn't like :) My husband feels the way you do about beans, though--he hates the grainy middle.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Ok. What's a BS chicken breast?

P.S. EXCELLENT thread idea...thanks, Pennzer!

This message was edited Mar 20, 2013 2:10 PM

Gainesville, FL(Zone 9a)

I took it as boneless skinless.

I too love beans. Im not thrilled about kidney beans, but every other bean I love, them, I just like . Love love any southern pea as well.

This message was edited Mar 20, 2013 3:31 PM

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Then, I'll have to post my Red Beans and Rice Recipe for you, and change your mind...

Boneless, skinless. Ya'll don't even want to know what I came up with, LOL!

Gainesville, FL(Zone 9a)

I love red beans and rice, but with the smaller red beans, not kidney beans. I would love the recipe you use tho.

Ancaster/Hamilton, ON(Zone 5b)

Hi I'm new from Ontario,Canada. I agree about beans, they are so try. I especially hate chick (garbonzo) beans. I like the look of your chicken recipe except my family doesn't like curry. I do but it has to be sweet, not hot. I would have to cut it down to 1/4 tsp. Zone 6a

Columbus, OH

I like super spicy food, so I'm not the best person to judge, but you REALLY can't taste the curry, it just adds complexity. This sauce isn't hot at all, but starting off with less rather than more curry makes sense. You can add it, but you can't take it out. You may also want to try a sweet curry powder, they're spicy and complex, but not hot.

Gainesville, FL(Zone 9a)

I dont eat potato chips that much anymore, but tried the the Lays Shiracha chips ,they the hottest things ive ever put in my mouth. I dont know if whether to call them spicy, or just hot. If you like a kick in the mouth, give them a try.

This message was edited Mar 23, 2013 1:13 PM

Columbus, OH

I don't love potato chips, but now I'm intrigued! Thank you! Purple, I'd send you some Singapore curry powder, it is very sweet and mild, but I'm skeptical about shipping a powder like that internationally. They'll think I'm a terrorist or something.

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7a)

I've been making these for about 15 yrs or so. Got the recipe off an old Food Network show (Calling All Cooks) that featured home cooks at home with the show host making their "famous" dish in their own kitchen.
I've added a couple minor things for color but I get request for this all the time.

Oatmeal Lemon Bars

1 tsp vanilla
1 c soft butter
1 c sugar
2 c all purpose flour
1 c raw oats (I use old fashioned)
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 orange, zest of finely chopped or microplaned
1 lime, zest of finely chopped or microplaned
3 lemons-zest of one finely chopped or microplaned AND
juice of all three.
*lemons are tricky so if you should taste your final filling to see if it's lemony enough for you and add more juice accordingly. Some lemons just may not be as juicy as others.

350 degree oven, 13 x 9 pan, sprayed with nonstick spray.

Cream butter, sugar and vanilla.
Add flour, then oats. Mixture will be crumbly.
Press 3/4 of the dough into the bottom of prepared pan evenly. It won't be a super thick layer.
Reserve the remaining 1/4 of dough.

In a bowl mix the sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice and zests.
Pour over the crust, spread evenly to the edges of the dough.
Crumble the reserved 1/4 of the dough over the top of the filling.
Bake 30-40 minutes or until crumbles are golden and browned a bit.
Cool completely (the hardest part) at least 1 hour before cutting.

I wish I could tell you something about how they store but I take them to work and have never had leftovers.
I imagine airtight container for a week or so. I think they may even freeze well.

Midland, TX(Zone 8a)

Love anything with EB milk. Thanks, dmac! ~pen

Columbus, OH

Those sound FABULOUS.

It's not seasonal, but this is one of the recipes that everyone loves and requests. It's versatile--make it into layers like a cake, make it into cupcakes, keep it as a bundt cake. Add chocolate chips. Add chopped candied ginger, or grated orange peel. No nuts? More nuts? Either is fine. It keeps well, in fact it tastes better the day after it's baked. It freezes well, so if you make a couple in September and wrap them tightly, you'll have a quick dessert on hand. Want to fancy it up? Glaze with a cream cheese glaze, and drizzle caramel sauce on top of that. I like it with plain old confectioner's sugar. Oh, and it makes a heck of a trifle, too. I do not use canned pumpkin, I use homegrown puree, about 1-3/4 to 2 cups. Want to use up mashed sweet potatoes? That'll work, too--you may need to add some liquid to get a canned pumpkin-y texture.

Pumpkin Bundt Cake

-------- ------------ --------------------------------
1 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 can pumpkin -- (15 ounce)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups white sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease one 10 inch bundt or tube pan.

Cream oil, beaten eggs, pumpkin and vanilla together.

Sift the flour, sugar, baking soda, ground nutmeg, ground allspice, ground cinnamon, ground cloves and salt together. Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and mix until just combined. If desired, stir in some chopped nuts. Pour batter into the prepared pan.

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cake cool in pan for 5 minutes then turn out onto a plate and sprinkle with confectioners' sugar.

Midland, TX(Zone 8a)

I posted this recipe for Jo-An (jomoncon) on the Strawberry Bread thread and thought I would cross post it here.....


3 C flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 tsp cinnamon
2 C sugar...
Mix all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center.

2 (10-oz) pkg frozen sliced strawberries, thawed
4 eggs, well beaten
1 1/2 C cooking oil
1 1/4 C chopped pecans...
Mix and combine in a separate bowl. Pour into the well of the dry ingredients. Stir all together carefully, just enough to dampen all ingredients.

Pour into two greased and floured loaf pans. Bake in preheated oven for one hour or until done. Test with toothpick or thermometer to be sure the center is cooked through.

Serve warm or wrap cooled loaves in plastic wrap and store in fridge or freeze for later use.

This is especially good sliced thick, buttered on top and toasted under the broiler. Makes a great breakfast addition.

New Orleans, LA(Zone 9a)

Celene, your Pumpkin Bundt Cake sounds fabulous. I think I will try it with sweet potatoes since I still have some delicious ones left over from a case I got last fall. I wonder how it would do with a sweet winter squash? I may give that a try also.

I like the idea of freezing it. It's just DH & I now, and if I have a whole cake, his sweet tooth kicks in. I usually bake cakes in small loaf pans, and then freeze the extras.

Columbus, OH

It's fine with other orangey winter squash. I just use whatever I have cooked. It won't be as orange, but it will still be tasty.

somewhere, PA

Was there a mention of a red beans & rice recipe someone was going to post here? :-)

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Tam, the Anson Mills website has a pretty good recipe for red beans and rice, aka "reezy peezy"... Of course they want you to buy their Charleston rice and Sea Island red peas, but it's still the traditional favorite of the Lowcountry Gullah population.

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