Mary Claire Britton

Has there ever been a time that ordering nachos has really worked out? To be honest, it always feels like a fight to find the best pieces of chip that are loaded equally with toppings, resulting in an archaeological dig to unearth just the right bite before your friend does. It can be...stressful, to say the least. Making a nachos recipe at home leaves you to pile on the goodies evenly over the chips, which you’ll arrange in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. This means every chip is gloriously topped with chicken, cheese, salsa, avocado and, well, more cheese. Make it a bigger meal by adding black beans or get crazy and swap the avocado for guacamole.
By Mary Claire Britton
There are a few reasons why this delicious grilled halloumi cheese salad is going to become your summer dinner fave. First, it’s easy to throw together after work, and still manages to be super filling. Second, it hits all the right flavor notes, from briny olives to spicy garlic and cool, crunchy cucumbers. But, the most important reason to make this salad is to eat grilled halloumi, a firm cheese that can stand the heat of a grill or grill pan. The taste is salty like feta, but you can cut into the planks of crispy, melty cheese with a knife and fork like you would tofu or a portobello mushroom. The result is a decidedly decadent salad that packs in a ton of good-for-you ingredients, too.
By Mary Claire Britton
Lo mein—a Chinese dish that means stirred noodles—is a standard takeout order for many Americans, but making it at home is an opportunity to not only expand your culinary repertoire, but to cut down on expensive delivery. Lo mein noodles are stirred into a sauce—in this case, a mixture of soy, lime, sugar, Sriracha, ginger, garlic, and sesame oil. What’s not to like? You’ll also fold in shrimp and sautéed vegetables like bell peppers, scallions, and mushrooms, plus fresh baby bok choy. You can customize the veggies exactly to your liking—the best part about cooking at home.
By Mary Claire Britton
These open-faced egg toast beauties are much more than your average egg salad sandwich—the flavors, textures, and even look are elegant and original. Folded into the egg salad mixture is a mustardy vinaigrette, briny capers, fresh parsley, and just-bitter-enough radicchio leaves. Heaped on top of toasted sourdough, the result is both fresh and hearty, a win-win! This mixture would also be delicious piled on a whole grain like brown rice or quinoa, or even served as a salad for a lighter meal. Serve with a crisp white wine like Vinho Verde or a dry rose from Provence.
By Mary Claire Britton
A grill is the gift that keeps on giving for easy summer dinners, as in the case of this easy pork chop recipe. The pork chops get a perfect sear thanks to patting dry before you add them to the hot, oiled grill grates, and—bonus!—there’s no smoky kitchen to worry about after. You’ll serve the chops with a peppery arugula and stone-fruit salad; a perfect savory-sweet dinner pairing. Peaches and apricots are called for here, but any in-season stone fruit like plums or nectarines would taste great alongside. Shopping tip: bone-in, center-cut pork chops are the way to go here, anything smaller will cook much more quickly.
By Mary Claire Britton
In the world of kitchen disasters, overcooked rice is a common one. Thankfully, when it comes to this classic Chinese dish, you’re actually encouraged to cook the rice until it falls apart and becomes a soupy porridge, perfect for a comforting dinner or breakfast (as it’s traditionally served). Making this congee recipe in the slow-cooker not only allows for hands-off cooking, it infuses the coconut milk-base with even more flavor. Suggested toppings include cilantro and Sriracha, but almost any savory element tastes great on top—roasted mushrooms, a fried egg, even avocado would all be equally at home here.
By Mary Claire Britton
This light, easy weeknight dinner is worthy of a dinner party, but quick enough to still enjoy the precious few hours after work. If you’re nervous about cooking skin-on salmon, don’t worry. The key to stress-free fish cooking is to follow this recipe’s instructions for pan seared salmon. By properly heating the oil and allowing the salmon skin to crisp up, it’ll not only make a delicious crust, the skin will release easily. Prep tip: If you’ve got extra time before dinner, this salad benefits from an extra hour of marinating.
By Mary Claire Britton
What’s not to like about an easy dinner that comes together in 20 minutes and requires almost no cooking? You’ll start by toasting pitas brushed with oil, which brings out a lot of flavor. Topped with hummus and chickpeas, these pita pizzas are packed with protein. From there it’s just a matter of adding toppings—including melted cheese, of course. In fact, it’s so easy, it’s a perfect dinner to let kids try their hands at. Mint and oregano are the suggested herbs for this recipe, but if you’ve got parsley or cilantro on hand, those will work, too.
By Mary Claire Britton
One side benefit of following a strict, special diet is getting extra creative about cooking. It’s hard to rely on a creamy soup if you can’t use, well, cream, to make it delicious. But this creamy cauliflower soup happens to be vegan and has a secret to make it rich and smooth: Cashews! Whether you are vegan or not, it’s hard not to love this ingenious kitchen trick. First you microwave cashews until soft, blend them until smooth, and voila, you’ve got a flavorful soup-thickener. Cannellini beans add body and protein, too, ensuring that a bowl of this cauliflower soup recipe really feels like dinner.
By Mary Claire Britton
“Oh my god, where has this been all my life” is a possible, no, likely, thought when biting into this panzanella salad recipe. Mixing the classic flavors of a BLT sandwich with a panzanella—an Italian bread salad—is a recipe for family-friendly deliciousness. There’s a lot to love here: Basil adds a sophisticated note and tart capers play off the salty intensity of the bacon. Plus, day-old bread is a winner here—in fact, heartier bread will stand up better to the juicy tomatoes and honey mustard dressing. Serve with iced tea or white wine.
By Mary Claire Britton
Great healthy recipes manage to be delicious without relying on over-the-top methods or expensive ingredients. This sesame-crusted snapper is a great example: the seeded crust has both cumin and coriander to add rich flavor, and the sesame seeds add a nice crunch. Leftovers would be delicious flaked on toasted flatbread and dolloped with tzatziki (a cucumber-and-dill yogurt sauce), or even turned into a fish dip with sour cream and olive oil. If you can’t find snapper at your grocery store, halibut and bass substitute equally well.
By Mary Claire Britton
A combination of granulated sugar and brown sugar is the key to the chewy center of these beautiful, sesame-flecked cookies. One simple way to add intense flavor to any dough is through a citrus zest and a spice. Here, orange zest and cardamom result in fragrant floral notes. If you love the recipe and want to give it your own spin on a second batch, grapefruit zest and ground ginger would marry well, as would lime with ground turmeric. Shopping tip: some grocery stores sell sesame seeds in the bulk section. Buying them here—rather than in jars—can be more affordable.
By Mary Claire Britton
Eggplant is the best kind of vegetable, which is to say, a multi tasker that can take on many different forms. It’s as equally at home breaded and fried or, as it is here: roasted until it has a deliciously melted center. Topped with a rich miso dressing, this recipe works equally well as an appetizer course or as a side dish for salmon or chicken. Cooking tip: Watch the sesame seeds while you toast them in the skillet. They can quickly turn from perfectly toasted to burned.
By Mary Claire Britton
If there were a competition for favorite party food, snack mix would probably be number one. It’s like a choose your own adventure book, where every ending leads to deliciousness. This one combines the usual suspects (peanuts, wheat cereal squares, and pretzels) with exciting new ones like Bugles and wasabi peas. The real question is: why haven’t these been staples in every snack mix before? If you’ve made the mix in advance and want to re-crisp it, toast in the oven at 300ºF until hot.
By Mary Claire Britton
Easy to find at the grocery store? Apple sauce. Not easy? Apple and pear, together. Enter your slow cooker, a simple list of ingredients, and a hands-off method for an easy and delicious recipe. When you combine all the ingredients in the slow cooker, it might not seem like enough water, but due to the way a slow cooker works, the steam from the cooked apples and pears will mix in to make sure it’s all good and saucy. Two cooking tips: make sure to remove the seeds before cooking the apples and pears, and cool the apple sauce completely before refrigerating.
By Mary Claire Britton
Cucumbers get all the fame in the pickle world, but come winter when cucumbers aren’t in season, radishes, fennel, beets, and butternut squash are all game to get brined. If you don’t want the beets to stain the other vegetables, you can either substitute yellow beets or don’t include them at all. The best part about pickles is that as long as you stick to the ratios, the recipe will work. Another perk: Pickled veggies pair well with just about anything, including homemade hummus and our favorite meats, like Hillshire Farm® Rope Smoked Sausage. Once you feel comfortable with the method, you can switch up the spices or vegetables to your liking.
By Mary Claire Britton
Once you get the hang of homemade chicken stock, you might never go back to the store-bought kind. When you make your own stock, you can control the flavors and it often ends up to be more affordable. This recipe uses chicken wings, which work well since they’re mostly just skin and bones, but if you have a leftover roast chicken, an equal quantity of bones would work just as well. Smart storage tip: Many recipes call for 4 cups of stock, so it can be convenient to invest in quart containers for efficient cooking.
By Mary Claire Britton
When you’re a kid it’s all about hot cocoa, but then as an adult? It’s all cappuccinos and matcha and Earl Grey. It’s time to bring cocoa back, and this homemade mix is up for the task. The key to a great mix is ingredients that dissolve easily: instant nonfat dry milk and confectioners’ sugar will mix effortlessly into hot milk. Plus, confectioners’ sugar contains cornstarch, which makes the cocoa thicker. Add a hint of nutmeg for subtle spice and salt to balance the sweetness, and you’ve got a cocoa that’s adult and sure to make hot chocolate a regular treat.
By Mary Claire Britton
Beans from a can are one of the great inventions of the modern world, but beans slow-simmered with bacon, Parmesan, rosemary, and garlic? That has almost no competition. The recipe works for any type of bean, but it’s best with something mild-flavored like navy or pinto. Almost any meat, braised pork, roasted chicken, or seared steak would all be at home alongside these deliciously-flavored beans. A salad with bitter greens would balance all the rich flavors well—try a mix of arugula, endive, or radicchio.
By Mary Claire Britton