Karen Rankin

Now this dinner is what summer is all about. Bone-in pork chops are just crying out for the grill, where they get a nice char to draw out the meaty flavor. It’s paired with a zucchini-mango salsa that is a delicious take on a summer staple. Rather than using the grill all for all the ingredients—which can feel a little one-note—you’ll just grill the zucchini and onion. Then, you’ll fold in fresh mango, cilantro, and lime in to complement the smoky char and add a sweet-bright twist. It’s the kind of dinner that’s at home in many settings: for a family night, on a promising third date, or to entertain the in-laws. And best of all, it just takes 30 minutes.
By Karen Rankin
A rotisserie chicken is kitchen gold for the daily cook. It’s not cheating—it’s just smart cooking! That’s because rotisserie chickens are extra juicy, thanks to their hours turning on the spit, not to mention it majorly cuts down on prep time. This salad takes a kitchen sink approach to ingredients, resulting in something original and uniquely delicious. There are tortilla chips for crunch, barbecue sauce for flavorful tang, and avocado because, well, it just makes everything better. Unlike many dinner salads, it’s hearty enough to count as dinner, without leaving you hungry before bed.
By Karen Rankin
Pasta often gets relegated to the nights when there’s nothing left but pantry staples, but this recipes proves it deserves to star in the most glorious of summer dinners. Here, it’s paired with a cornucopia of peak-season vegetables, like tomatoes, zucchini, corn, arugula, and basil. You’ll start by blistering the tomatoes until they release their juices, then follow up with simmered zucchini, and corn. The arugula and basil, on the other hand, add a fresh salady twist to the bowl, making every bite perfectly balanced. Serve outside on a warm night with chilled rosé.
By Karen Rankin
This easy salmon dinner proves that fresh, flavorful, and quick are all possible on a weeknight. It’s all in the smart prep—you’ll coat salmon with a sweet-hot scallion glaze and quickly roast it while steaming jasmine rice until it’s perfectly fluffy. Then, alongside is a crunchy cucumber salad with intriguing flavor, thanks to a clever marinade. It combines spicy ginger, rich toasted sesame oil, and fragrant fresh basil. Not only is it delicious, it leaves you with more time to enjoy the evening, since it comes together in under 30 minutes.
By Karen Rankin
Canned refried beans are an essential shortcut staple for delicious, vegetarian meals. They are flavorful, hearty, and as easy as using a can opener. Weeknight win! In this recipe, they are a tasty backdrop to fresh ingredients like a cabbage and radish slaw, plus roasted sweet potatoes and poblanos. Crema ties it all together, and if you want to add even more richness, finish it off with a crumble of cotija cheese, too. Shopping tip: If you can’t find tostadas, you can just use tortilla chips to turn this recipe into nachos. Or, pan-fry soft tortillas in a skillet with hot oil until crispy on both sides.
By Karen Rankin
What more convincing do you need than hearing the words “garlic” and “bread” in a soup recipe? It’s essentially garlic bread heaven, turned into a creamy, velvety soup. Round this out into an entire meal with a pepper green salad and toasted bread for dunking. A crisp white wine alongside wouldn’t hurt, either. Shopping tip: Pre-peeled cloves are standard at grocery stores now, but if you can’t find them, try this old-school tip—separate the cloves from their heads and place in a bowl. Top with another bowl, hold the two together tight and shake as hard as you can for about 20 seconds. Amazingly, it removes almost all the peels from the garlic in record time.
By Karen Rankin
C-U-T-E! These éclair-inspired treats come together in just fifteen minutes, thanks to simple store-bought ingredients like hotdog buns and readymade pudding. The result is a smart take on the bakery classic—hot dog buns are stuffed with vanilla pudding and then topped with a quick chocolately icing. With a little supervision, this is perfect hands-on project for kids. They can even decorate their iced tops with sprinkles for a fun DIY twist. Serve with a glass of milk for washing down the generous portions. Pro tip: For extra decadent éclairs, seek out brioche-style hot dog buns, which are almost dessert-like in their own right.
By Karen Rankin
This simple french toast recipe is an ingenious riff on the breakfast classic, using hot dog buns in place of regular bread. The recipe isn’t just great because it makes use of leftover buns from barbecues or camping, but it actually plays off the original pain perdu better than a white loaf or baguette would. This is because an old-school French toast is made with old brioche, which is an egg-enriched dough, just like hot dog buns. The buns work best when they’re at least a day old, as the tender crumb can sag under the weight of the custard. For an adult twist on this recipe, add some amaretto to the batter.
By Karen Rankin