Easter Menu Plan v2

Happy Easter! Feeling stressed about planning your holiday meal? Let us help! We’ve got ideas for your entire menu, from appetizers to desserts.

Choose one of our curated menus below — TraditionalBrunch Buffet, or Vegetarian — or skim through the entire list and create your own customized menu. All your selections will be collected at the bottom of the page for you to review and make any adjustments.

When you’re done, you email the recipes to yourself or your family for later. You can also click “Add to Cart” to shop for your ingredients online and have your groceries delivered to your door!

From our table to yours, Happy Easter!

Choose a prepared menu:
or Make My Own!
How to Make Deviled Eggs -- Close up of deviled eggs with dill and paprika

Choose an Appetizer

Deviled Eggs
Quick and Easy Artichoke Dip
Mini Salmon Quiches
Asparagus and Ricotta Bruschetta
Brown Sugar Ham with Pineapple - partially sliced ham covered in pineapple on platter.

Choose a Main Dish

Brown Sugar Baked Ham with Pineapple
Poached Salmon
Roast Leg of Lamb
Easy baked mac and cheese recipe

Choose a Casserole

Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese
Asparagus Quiche with Fontina Cheese
Creamy Scalloped Potatoes
Asparagus Artichoke Breakfast Casserole
Spinach and Artichoke Quiche
Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus

Choose a Side

Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus
Classic Potato Salad
Classic Glazed Carrots
Simple Peas and Onions
Parker House Rolls

Choose a Bread

Parker House Rolls
Hot Cross Buns
Potato Dinner Rolls
Cheese Biscuits
How to Roast Radishes

Choose a Salad

Roasted Radish and Feta Salad
Radicchio Salad with Green Olives, Chickpeas, and Parmesan
Broccoli Salad
Shaved Fennel Salad
Lemon Meringue Pie

Choose a Dessert

Lemon Meringue Pie
Carrot Cake
Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting
Hummingbird Cake
Sour Cream Chocolate Cake
Easter Menu Plan v2

We’ve been talking a lot about the different kinds of salts that we use in our cooking, and wanted to touch on one rather thorny topping: swapping Morton Kosher Salt for Diamond Crystal and vice versa.

Both of these brands of kosher salt are commonly found and used in our kitchens. They taste and function the same in recipes, but they have one big difference — the size of their salt crystals. Morton kosher salt has a much finer grind than Diamond Crystal and this can sometimes cause problems with recipes.

By weight, the brands are the same and can be used interchangeably. This is why you should ideally always measure large amounts of kosher salt by weight to be precise.

But if you’re measuring by volume — or if a recipe only lists the kosher salt by volume — you can run into issues. Since Morton kosher salt is has a finer grind, you’ll pack more into a cup than if you’re using Diamond Crystal. This can really throw off a recipe!

First off, look for (or ask!) which brand of kosher salt is recommended in the recipe, especially if the recipe calls for larger amounts of salt. (If you only need a teaspoon or so, you’re usually ok using either brand without throwing off the recipe that much.)

Then either use the brand specified, or follow this conversion chart:

  • 1 cup of Morton’s Kosher Salt = 241 grams = 1 3/4 cup minus 1 teaspoon of Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt
  • 1 cup of Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt = 137 grams = 1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons of Morton’s Kosher Salt

Note: These are conversions that Simply Recipes has verified through our own testing. You may see slightly different amounts suggested on other websites.

Choose a prepared menu:
or Make My Own!
How to Make Deviled Eggs -- Close up of deviled eggs with dill and paprika

Choose an Appetizer

Deviled Eggs
Quick and Easy Artichoke Dip
Mini Salmon Quiches
Asparagus and Ricotta Bruschetta
Brown Sugar Ham with Pineapple - partially sliced ham covered in pineapple on platter.

Choose a Main Dish

Brown Sugar Baked Ham with Pineapple
Poached Salmon
Roast Leg of Lamb
Easy baked mac and cheese recipe

Choose a Casserole

Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese
Asparagus Quiche with Fontina Cheese
Creamy Scalloped Potatoes
Asparagus Artichoke Breakfast Casserole
Spinach and Artichoke Quiche
Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus

Choose a Side

Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus
Classic Potato Salad
Classic Glazed Carrots
Simple Peas and Onions
Parker House Rolls

Choose a Bread

Parker House Rolls
Hot Cross Buns
Potato Dinner Rolls
Cheese Biscuits
How to Roast Radishes

Choose a Salad

Roasted Radish and Feta Salad
Radicchio Salad with Green Olives, Chickpeas, and Parmesan
Broccoli Salad
Shaved Fennel Salad
Lemon Meringue Pie

Choose a Dessert

Lemon Meringue Pie
Carrot Cake
Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting
Hummingbird Cake
Sour Cream Chocolate Cake
Easter Menu Plan v2

As we all know, bacon makes everything better.

These spicy grilled jalapeño poppers are stuffed with an addictive mix of barbecue sauce, cheddar and cream cheese, and glazed bacon before being grilled until hot and bubbly.

(more…)

Updated January 28, 2019 : We spiffed up this post to make it sparkle! No changes to the recipe itself.
Choose a prepared menu:
or Make My Own!
How to Make Deviled Eggs -- Close up of deviled eggs with dill and paprika

Choose an Appetizer

Deviled Eggs
Quick and Easy Artichoke Dip
Mini Salmon Quiches
Asparagus and Ricotta Bruschetta
Brown Sugar Ham with Pineapple - partially sliced ham covered in pineapple on platter.

Choose a Main Dish

Brown Sugar Baked Ham with Pineapple
Poached Salmon
Roast Leg of Lamb
Easy baked mac and cheese recipe

Choose a Casserole

Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese
Asparagus Quiche with Fontina Cheese
Creamy Scalloped Potatoes
Asparagus Artichoke Breakfast Casserole
Spinach and Artichoke Quiche
Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus

Choose a Side

Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus
Classic Potato Salad
Classic Glazed Carrots
Simple Peas and Onions
Parker House Rolls

Choose a Bread

Parker House Rolls
Hot Cross Buns
Potato Dinner Rolls
Cheese Biscuits
How to Roast Radishes

Choose a Salad

Roasted Radish and Feta Salad
Radicchio Salad with Green Olives, Chickpeas, and Parmesan
Broccoli Salad
Shaved Fennel Salad
Lemon Meringue Pie

Choose a Dessert

Lemon Meringue Pie
Carrot Cake
Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting
Hummingbird Cake
Sour Cream Chocolate Cake
Easter Menu Plan v2

If football has an official dish, it’s got to be chili. In my opinion, no football party is complete without a pot of this hearty, spicy stew simmering on the back burner.

Whether you’re looking for a classic beef chili, a crockpot or Instant Pot chili, or something a bit more off the beaten path, here are all of our very best, very favorite chili recipes for your game day party!

BEST TOPPINGS FOR CHILI

A bowl of chili just isn’t complete without some toppings, don’t you think? Here are some suggestions for your table:

  • Shredded cheese — a definite MUST!
  • Sour cream
  • Diced avocado
  • Diced red onion
  • Sliced green onions
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Tortilla chips

What to Serve With Chili

Looking for some ideas for what to serve alongside your chili? Wedges of Southern cornbread or garlic knots are an excellent choice. If you’d like to balance your chili with some greens, then mix up a giant bowl of Caesar Salad and let guests help themselves.

HOW TO STORE AND FREEZE CHILI

Chili, just like most stews, is almost always better the day after its made, so feel free to plan ahead with this one! Your chili will keep in the fridge for about five days and can be reheated over low heat on the stovetop.

If you happen to have some chili leftover after your party, it freezes very well. Pack it into freezer containers or bags, and freeze for up to three months. Thaw overnight in the fridge, or just reheat the frozen chili straight from the freezer.

Choose a prepared menu:
or Make My Own!
How to Make Deviled Eggs -- Close up of deviled eggs with dill and paprika

Choose an Appetizer

Deviled Eggs
Quick and Easy Artichoke Dip
Mini Salmon Quiches
Asparagus and Ricotta Bruschetta
Brown Sugar Ham with Pineapple - partially sliced ham covered in pineapple on platter.

Choose a Main Dish

Brown Sugar Baked Ham with Pineapple
Poached Salmon
Roast Leg of Lamb
Easy baked mac and cheese recipe

Choose a Casserole

Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese
Asparagus Quiche with Fontina Cheese
Creamy Scalloped Potatoes
Asparagus Artichoke Breakfast Casserole
Spinach and Artichoke Quiche
Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus

Choose a Side

Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus
Classic Potato Salad
Classic Glazed Carrots
Simple Peas and Onions
Parker House Rolls

Choose a Bread

Parker House Rolls
Hot Cross Buns
Potato Dinner Rolls
Cheese Biscuits
How to Roast Radishes

Choose a Salad

Roasted Radish and Feta Salad
Radicchio Salad with Green Olives, Chickpeas, and Parmesan
Broccoli Salad
Shaved Fennel Salad
Lemon Meringue Pie

Choose a Dessert

Lemon Meringue Pie
Carrot Cake
Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting
Hummingbird Cake
Sour Cream Chocolate Cake
Easter Menu Plan v2

There are two main ways to think about the differences between stock and broth: how they’re used and how they’re made.

Let’s take a look at both and then talk about what this means for our cooking!

Crockpot Chicken Stock transfer stock to storage containers

HOW STOCKS AND BROTHS ARE USED

In classic French cuisine, stocks are considered to be an ingredient that’s used to make other things. They’re typically left unseasoned or only minimally seasoned (i.e. little or no salt or other seasonings) so that they can be used in as wide a variety of ways as possible.

Stocks can be used to make soup, reduced into a sauce or a glaze, or used to make a risotto—all these things can be made from the same batch of stock.

Broths, on the other hand, are less of an ingredient and more of a food that can be consumed on its own. They are usually salted and seasoned, and can be sipped just like that or used to make a simple soup.

You could argue that just by adding salt to stock, you have turned it into a broth. In fact, this is how the difference was explained to me when I was in culinary school!

Because broths have been salted, this restricts the ways they can be used. You can use it to make soup, but you can’t reduce it down to a sauce or use it in a risotto without risking an overly salty dish. A broth might also have been spiced or seasoned in such a way that its flavorings aren’t appropriate for all dishes.

This definition of stocks as an ingredient and broths as a food product is the way classically trained chefs tend to think about such things in their restaurant kitchens. You can read more about this in Larousse Gastronomique or in The Professional Chef from the Culinary Institute of America.

How to Make Chicken Stock in the Slow Cooker

HOW STOCKS AND BROTHS ARE MADE

Another way to think about stocks and broths is in terms of how they’re made.

Stocks are typically made from meaty raw bones, leftover carcasses (like a chicken carcass), and meat and vegetable scraps. In the case of vegetable stock, only vegetables are used.

These stocks are usually simmered for several hours to extract as much of the flavor and nutritional value from the ingredients as possible. If you’re making a chicken or beef stock, you also extract collagen from the bones and cartilage, which adds body and silkiness to the finished stock.

Broths are usually much lighter and have less body than stocks. They’re most often made from poaching meat, vegetables, and seasonings in water for a relatively short length of time–often the length of time it takes for the meat to cook or the broth to pick up some flavor! For instance, the liquid left behind after poaching chicken is a broth.

This is how many modern chefs and food professionals think about stocks and broths. You can read more about this perspective in The Food Lab by Kenji López-Alt.

Slow Cooker Chicken Broth

STOCK VS. BROTH: WHICH SHOULD YOU USE?

Think of this like a spectrum with homemade stocks at one end and broths at the other, and within this spectrum, there is a range. You can have stocks that have been seasoned with salt and are ready for drinking (this is what’s marketed as “bone broth”). You can also have light broths that have little or no salt, and can therefore be used in similar ways to unseasoned stock.

So which should you use? By and large, you can honestly use either stock or broth in almost any preparation in your kitchen. We’re home cooks who are using what we have, not restaurant chefs trying to get a 5-star review.

Just know that a rich stock will result in a richly flavored dish while a light broth will result in a lightly flavored dish. Neither is necessarily better or worse; they’re just different.

The big caveat is the salt. If your stock or broth has been salted, be very careful of how you use it. If it reduces down at all, this will likely result in an overly salty dish. If you’ve made homemade stock, it’s best to wait to salt it until you’re actually using it in your recipe.

Homemade Chicken Stock

WHAT ABOUT STORE-BOUGHT STOCKS AND BROTHS?

In my experience, commercial brands tend to use the terms “stock” and “broth” pretty much interchangeably. The products have seemed virtually identical to me when I’ve tried them.

These store-bought stocks and broths are also usually closer to the “broth” end of the spectrum. They tend to be lightly flavored and lack the silky body of a long-simmered homemade stock. As such, they’ll result in a more lightly flavored dish than if you used homemade stock, but still something that’s plenty worthy of serving for dinner.

So, yes, you can buy either stock or broth for your recipe. But having said this, I highly recommend buying sodium-free or low-sodium versions. This will give you the most flexibility and allow you to salt your dish to your personal taste.

Want to Make Some Stock?!

Here are a few great recipes!

Choose a prepared menu:
or Make My Own!
How to Make Deviled Eggs -- Close up of deviled eggs with dill and paprika

Choose an Appetizer

Deviled Eggs
Quick and Easy Artichoke Dip
Mini Salmon Quiches
Asparagus and Ricotta Bruschetta
Brown Sugar Ham with Pineapple - partially sliced ham covered in pineapple on platter.

Choose a Main Dish

Brown Sugar Baked Ham with Pineapple
Poached Salmon
Roast Leg of Lamb
Easy baked mac and cheese recipe

Choose a Casserole

Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese
Asparagus Quiche with Fontina Cheese
Creamy Scalloped Potatoes
Asparagus Artichoke Breakfast Casserole
Spinach and Artichoke Quiche
Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus

Choose a Side

Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus
Classic Potato Salad
Classic Glazed Carrots
Simple Peas and Onions
Parker House Rolls

Choose a Bread

Parker House Rolls
Hot Cross Buns
Potato Dinner Rolls
Cheese Biscuits
How to Roast Radishes

Choose a Salad

Roasted Radish and Feta Salad
Radicchio Salad with Green Olives, Chickpeas, and Parmesan
Broccoli Salad
Shaved Fennel Salad
Lemon Meringue Pie

Choose a Dessert

Lemon Meringue Pie
Carrot Cake
Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting
Hummingbird Cake
Sour Cream Chocolate Cake
Easter Menu Plan v2

Happy (almost!) New Year, everybody! As always when we find ourselves the end of December, it feels a little hard to believe that we’re actually here. Where, oh, where did 2018 go?

Well, I’ll tell you: It went to Tater Tot Casseroles and Instant Pot recipes. It went to our popular Weekly Meal Plans, which we started just over a year ago. It went to skillet chicken dinners and make-ahead tips for easier weeknight meals. It went to a new feature that lets you shop online for ingredients to any recipe on Simply Recipes and have them delivered to your door — have you tried this out yet?

Yes, 2018 went so very many wonderful and tasty places!

So, before we leap into 2019, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at 2018. Here are all the recipes that you — our readers — loved the most from each month, January through December. Enjoy the look-back — maybe you’ll discover a few new recipes you missed the first time!

And cheers to the new year! We have lots of fun things planned for 2019, and we can’t wait to share them all with you!

Choose a prepared menu:
or Make My Own!
How to Make Deviled Eggs -- Close up of deviled eggs with dill and paprika

Choose an Appetizer

Deviled Eggs
Quick and Easy Artichoke Dip
Mini Salmon Quiches
Asparagus and Ricotta Bruschetta
Brown Sugar Ham with Pineapple - partially sliced ham covered in pineapple on platter.

Choose a Main Dish

Brown Sugar Baked Ham with Pineapple
Poached Salmon
Roast Leg of Lamb
Easy baked mac and cheese recipe

Choose a Casserole

Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese
Asparagus Quiche with Fontina Cheese
Creamy Scalloped Potatoes
Asparagus Artichoke Breakfast Casserole
Spinach and Artichoke Quiche
Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus

Choose a Side

Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus
Classic Potato Salad
Classic Glazed Carrots
Simple Peas and Onions
Parker House Rolls

Choose a Bread

Parker House Rolls
Hot Cross Buns
Potato Dinner Rolls
Cheese Biscuits
How to Roast Radishes

Choose a Salad

Roasted Radish and Feta Salad
Radicchio Salad with Green Olives, Chickpeas, and Parmesan
Broccoli Salad
Shaved Fennel Salad
Lemon Meringue Pie

Choose a Dessert

Lemon Meringue Pie
Carrot Cake
Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting
Hummingbird Cake
Sour Cream Chocolate Cake
Easter Menu Plan v2

Peppermint bark is such a traditional and quintessential Christmas treat. It’s also ridiculously easy to prepare in just a few minutes!

How to Make Peppermint Bark

Ready for the grand instructions? Ok, here you go:

Melt chocolate. Pour onto cookie sheet. Sprinkle with crushed candy canes. Chill until firm.

That’s it! Told you it was easy.

If you want to get fancy and temper your chocolate, check out this tutorial from David Lebovitz. Tempering will make your chocolate look glossy and have a nice snap! when you break it apart or bite into it.

White Chocolate Peppermint Bark

White or Dark Chocolate?

Peppermint bark is fantastic with either white or dark chocolate. Choose your favorite, or make batches of both!

Either way you go, use a chocolate that you enjoy eating. It’s the main ingredient, after all!

Want to get really crazy? Try layering the white chocolate and dark chocolate!

If you decide to layer, double check that your white chocolate is made with cocoa butter. If it’s made with palm oil or another kind of fat, it has a tendency to separate from the dark chocolate layer once the chocolate has set.

It also helps if you add the top layer while the bottom layer isn’t totally cold and set when you pour on the top layer.

The Secret Ingredient

Simple melted chocolate topped with crushed candy canes is wonderful, of course, but I also like to add a splash of peppermint extract to the melted chocolate before pouring it out. The extra kick of peppermint flavor really makes this treat feel special for the holidays.

Soft and Easy Peppermint Bark

How to Break Your Bark Into Pieces

Once hardened, just lift the bark off the baking sheet and crack it into pieces with your hands.

If you’d like a more uniform look, do this: Wait for the chocolate to just barely start to harden (it will hold your fingerprint if you press down, but won’t make your finger wet). Use a paring knife or a chef’s knife to gently score the top of the bark into uniform squares or rectangles. Let the chocolate finish cooling completely, then break it apart along the score lines.

How to Store Peppermint Bark

Peppermint bark will keep for weeks if stored in an airtight container at room temperature. This makes it a great gift idea around the holidays — make a big batch at the beginning of December and grab what you need for easy gifts for teachers, neighbors, and friends.

On the odd chance that you actually get tired of eating peppermint bark straight from the cookie tin, try chopping it up into pieces and make these Peppermint Bark Cookies or sprinkle them over a batch of brownies!

Looking for More Holiday Treats?

Updated December 23, 2018 : Peppermint bark is simple, but a surprising number of questions can come up. We added a lot more detail on how to crush the candy canes, melt the chocolate, and make your best batch of peppermint bark ever. Enjoy!
Choose a prepared menu:
or Make My Own!
How to Make Deviled Eggs -- Close up of deviled eggs with dill and paprika

Choose an Appetizer

Deviled Eggs
Quick and Easy Artichoke Dip
Mini Salmon Quiches
Asparagus and Ricotta Bruschetta
Brown Sugar Ham with Pineapple - partially sliced ham covered in pineapple on platter.

Choose a Main Dish

Brown Sugar Baked Ham with Pineapple
Poached Salmon
Roast Leg of Lamb
Easy baked mac and cheese recipe

Choose a Casserole

Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese
Asparagus Quiche with Fontina Cheese
Creamy Scalloped Potatoes
Asparagus Artichoke Breakfast Casserole
Spinach and Artichoke Quiche
Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus

Choose a Side

Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus
Classic Potato Salad
Classic Glazed Carrots
Simple Peas and Onions
Parker House Rolls

Choose a Bread

Parker House Rolls
Hot Cross Buns
Potato Dinner Rolls
Cheese Biscuits
How to Roast Radishes

Choose a Salad

Roasted Radish and Feta Salad
Radicchio Salad with Green Olives, Chickpeas, and Parmesan
Broccoli Salad
Shaved Fennel Salad
Lemon Meringue Pie

Choose a Dessert

Lemon Meringue Pie
Carrot Cake
Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting
Hummingbird Cake
Sour Cream Chocolate Cake
Easter Menu Plan v2

Shepherd’s Pie is one meal that both my husband and I can have for days on end and never grow tired of eating. I mean, creamy mashed potatoes on top of ground beef and tender veggies in a lip-smacking sauce — what’s not to love?!

The only reason that we don’t make it more often is because (let’s be honest here) it’s kind of a production to make. As in, an afternoon-consuming production that leaves my kitchen looking rather storm tossed by the end. Some weekends, I enjoy this production. Others, not so much.

Enter my new favorite recipe: this Pressure Cooker Shepherd’s Pie from my pal and Simply Recipes contributor Coco Morante’s new book The Ultimate Instant Pot Cookbook.

You guys, this recipe is fast, easy, and most importantly, delicious. It also leaves a minimum number of pots and pans to clean, and that gets a thumbs up in my book. Please allow me to tell you all about it, as well as about Coco’s awesome new book!

Pressure Cooker Shepherd's Pie - finish cooking the filling Pressure Cooker Shepherd's Pie - place the potatoes on top

How to Make Shepherd’s Pie in a Pressure Cooker

When I first came across this recipe, I was puzzled. Maybe I hadn’t had my coffee yet, but I imagined tossing ground beef, veggies, and a few whole potatoes into the Instant Pot and then lifting off the lid to reveal a table-ready Shepherd’s Pie topped with mashed potatoes.

In reality, there are a few more steps involved — though not many!

Coco has you start by prepping the filling using the Sauté function on the Instant Pot. Then you place a tall steamer rack in the pot and place the peeled potatoes on top.

Then the lid goes on and everything pressure cooks together. At the end of cooking, the potatoes are perfectly cooked and ready to be mashed with milk.

For a traditional casserole-style shepherd’s pie, you transfer the filling to an 8×8 pan, top with the mashed potatoes, and broil until the top is golden. You can also serve this in bowls by scooping out some filling and topping it with a generous dollop of mashed potatoes. So easy!

Ultimate Instant Pot Cookbook

New Cookbook: The Ultimate Instant Pot Cookbook

This is absolutely my new favorite way to make Shepherd’s Pie, but there are plenty more recipes in this book that I’m excited to try.

I’ve actually already made the Sweet Potatoes Stuffed With Black Beans and Quinoa. Verdict: phenomenal. I love having this easy, meat-free meal in my back pocket.

A few that are next on my list:

  • French Toast Casserole
  • Hot and Sour Soup
  • Thai Green Curry Tofu with Rice
  • Lobster Rolls (!!!!)
  • Hoisin-Glazed Spareribs
  • Caramelized Onion Dip

Coco sprinkles her recipes with useful tips and suggestions for substitutions, which are all very useful for cooks like me who employ a mix of roughly 80% “follow the recipe” and 20% “wing it.”

Reading through the book, I also appreciate how straightforward and approachable all the recipes feel — though of course, this shouldn’t come as a surprise since this is why I love featuring her recipes here on Simply Recipes as well! With its mix of basic recipes (like yogurt and chicken broth) and recipes to make for dinner, I think this book would be a good one for new Instant Pot users and die-hard fans alike.

How to make Shepherd's Pie in the Instant Pot

Say “Hi” to Coco Morante!

One last treat for all you readers out there: I thought it would be fun for you to get to know Coco a little more. Here’s a quick Q&A with the author herself!

1. How many Instant Pots do you own?

Right now, four. I’ve also given some to friends and family as I’ve upgraded or received new units for review. Currently I have two 6-quart models (Ultra and Smart WIFI), as well as 3-quart and 8-quart pots. 

2. What’s one recipe from this book that you really want people to try and fall in love with?

Cincinnati Chili (page 109). I adapted the recipe from a stovetop version shared with me by my friend Diana Pray. It’s full of spices, including a healthy dose of cinnamon — the Midwestern-meets-Greek flavor is so unique and delicious. You have to try it (served over spaghetti, of course)!

3. What three recipes from this book are best if you just got your first Instant Pot?

Risotto (page 52), because it’s so easy you won’t believe it. Split Pea Soup (page 86), because it tastes like my grandma’s did — I’m transported back to her kitchen when I eat a bowl. And Succotash (page 246) — most all the ingredients come from the pantry or freezer, so you can make a hearty, nutritious vegetable side dish any time. Those are all really straightforward recipes that don’t require you to buy additional accessories, so you can make them right when you take your Instant Pot out of the box.

4. Latest food obsession?

Danish-style rye bread, a.k.a. rugbrød. It’s dense and chewy, and so flavorful. I’ve been toasting slices of it for breakfast for weeks now, ever since the weather turned chilly. My favorites are from Tabor Bread and Regular Portland Bread.

5. Three ingredients that are always in your pantry?

Nutritional yeast, almond flour, and San Marzano-style canned tomatoes.

6. Go-to beverage when you’re done testing recipes for the day?

Lately, a big mug of Cranberry Vanilla Wonderland tea. Depends on the season, though!

7. What are you working on now?

I’m wrapping up my third cookbook and developing recipes for the fourth. It’s a whirlwind of Instant Pot recipe testing over here, nonstop. I can’t wait to share them all!

Thanks, Coco!

Pressure Cooker Shepherd's Pie - Mash the potatoes

Looking for more of Coco’s Instant Pot Recipes?

Choose a prepared menu:
or Make My Own!
How to Make Deviled Eggs -- Close up of deviled eggs with dill and paprika

Choose an Appetizer

Deviled Eggs
Quick and Easy Artichoke Dip
Mini Salmon Quiches
Asparagus and Ricotta Bruschetta
Brown Sugar Ham with Pineapple - partially sliced ham covered in pineapple on platter.

Choose a Main Dish

Brown Sugar Baked Ham with Pineapple
Poached Salmon
Roast Leg of Lamb
Easy baked mac and cheese recipe

Choose a Casserole

Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese
Asparagus Quiche with Fontina Cheese
Creamy Scalloped Potatoes
Asparagus Artichoke Breakfast Casserole
Spinach and Artichoke Quiche
Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus

Choose a Side

Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus
Classic Potato Salad
Classic Glazed Carrots
Simple Peas and Onions
Parker House Rolls

Choose a Bread

Parker House Rolls
Hot Cross Buns
Potato Dinner Rolls
Cheese Biscuits
How to Roast Radishes

Choose a Salad

Roasted Radish and Feta Salad
Radicchio Salad with Green Olives, Chickpeas, and Parmesan
Broccoli Salad
Shaved Fennel Salad
Lemon Meringue Pie

Choose a Dessert

Lemon Meringue Pie
Carrot Cake
Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting
Hummingbird Cake
Sour Cream Chocolate Cake
Easter Menu Plan v2

Have you tried our recipe for Christmas Crack yet?

If not, head on over to our original recipe for this chocolate-covered saltine toffee and check it out! If this holiday treat is already a regular on your cookie tray, then maybe you’re looking for new ways to gussy it up!

Any of these five ideas below would make a decadent twist on the classic: pretzel-topped, coconut-dusted, pecan-topped, rocky road, and slivered almonds with dried cherries.

How to Make Christmas Crack

In brief, this candy is made by pouring melted brown sugar and butter over saltine crackers. Bake this for a few minutes until the brown sugar is bubbly and caramel-like, then top with melted chocolate.

Let this sit until firm, then crack and consume with wanton abandon.

Ways to Top Christmas Crack - Slice your christmas crack

When to Add the Toppings

You can add any of the toppings below after spreading the melted chocolate over the caramelized crackers. Just sprinkle your topping of choice evenly over the top and they will adhere to the surface, just like making chocolate bark.

You can even make a single batch with two or three different toppings! Just keep each topping contained to a section of the baking sheet.

Ready for Ideas? Let’s Go!

I’m not giving exact amounts for any of these toppings ingredients because I trust you to determine for yourself how much is enough topping for you. Generally speaking, two to three cups of any particular topping should be sufficient for a sheet pan of Christmas Crack.

Aim for an even layer of topping over the chocolate. If you use too much, then you’ll end up with loose bits that don’t stick to the chocolate.

Pretzel-Topped Christmas Crack

Pretzel-Topped Christmas Crack

Pretzels take the salty-sweetness of Christmas Crack just one notch further! You could also sprinkle chopped peanuts over the top for a bar snack treat.

Pretzel knots or pretzel sticks will work here. Roughly chop the pretzels before scattering over the warm chocolate.

Coconut-Topped Christmas Crack

Coconut-Topped Christmas Crack

A truly festive candy fit for the season! I like using dry shredded coconut for a snow-topped look, but you could also use flaked coconut if you like larger, crunchier flakes.

Sprinkle the coconut liberally over the surface and use the palms of your hands to press it lightly into the chocolate.

Slivered Almonds and Cranberries Christmas Crack

Slivered Almonds and Dried Cherries

Try using a truly dark chocolate with a higher percentage of cacao for this one. It makes such a nice contrast with the tangy (and chewy!) cherries and slivered almonds.

Swap out the cherries for cranberries if you prefer!

This makes a decidedly more grown-up version of Christmas Crack, suitable for cocktail parties and late-night rounds of eggnog.

Rocky Road Christmas Crack

Rocky Road Christmas Crack

If you’re going to go all out, you might as well go all out, ammiright?! Grab your mini marshmallows and chop up some walnut halves, and scatter with abandon.

To really gild the lily, drizzle some chocolate sauce over top just before setting out your cookie tray.

I also recommend briefly toasting the walnuts in the oven before adding them to your Christmas crack. This gives them a richer, nuttier flavor and a crunchier texture.

Pecan Topped Christmas Crack

Pecan “Turtle” Christmas Crack

My idea behind this one — aside from a straight-up love of pecans — was a “turtle” version of Christmas Crack. Turtle candies are made with chocolate-coated caramel and pecans, and this Christmas Crack delivers all those same elements.

Of course, you could switch up the pecans for any other kind of nut. Hazelnuts would be amazing, as would walnuts or chopped almonds.

As with the walnut and cranberry Christmas Crack, I recommend toasting your pecans (or whatever nuts you choose) before using them to give them a nuttier flavor and crunchier texture.

Ways to Top Your Christmas Crack - Make several kinds on a tray!

Your turn to share!

Ok, your turn! Do you love Christmas Crack? Have you played around with different toppings? Please share your favorite versions!

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Thinking about shipping some cookies to a faraway friend or family member? Can I give you my address? I kid, I kid!

Shipping cookies to a loved one is one of the best, kindest, and most sincere gifts that I can think of. Nothing is more special than receiving a box with special treats that you not only took the time to bake yourself, but also tenderly packaged in a box and got in the mail. That’s love.

Below are all our favorite cookies from Simply Recipes that would be great shipped in the mail. But first, some advice on making sure your cookies get there intact!

Tips for Picking and Shipping Your Cookies

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Ready to get baking? Click on your favorite cookie below to skip the tips and jump to that section:

Brookies Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownies

The Best Kinds of Cookies for Shipping

This should come as no great surprise to you, but sturdy, solid cookies ship much better than delicate or crumbly cookies.

Specifically, these kinds of cookies ship well:

  • Drop cookies, like chocolate chip cookies, crinkle cookies, and peanut butter cookies
  • Spritz cookies
  • Slice-and-bake cookies, like butter cookies and pinwheel cookies
  • Meringue cookies and macaroons
  • Biscotti
  • Sandwich cookies (unless the filling is very gooey)
  • Bar cookies, like brownies and blondies
  • Candies, like fudge, chocolate bark, and rum balls

Frosted cookies are ok as long as the frosting is set and hardened. Cookies that have been frosted with buttercream tend to soften and smear when stacked together.

Avoid cookies that are very delicate or that snap easily, like lacy Chocolate Florentines or Candy Cane Cookies (which tend to break off at the neck.)

Proceed with caution when it comes to rolled-out cookies like gingerbread people or sugar cookies. If you plan to ship them, I suggest rolling them slightly thicker than you might otherwise. Also, use cookie cutter shapes that are fairly solid, like trees and hearts, as opposed to shapes with delicate parts that can snap off, like snowflakes or candy canes.

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Slice and Bake Pistachio Butter Cookies

How to Pack Up Cookies for Shipping

Even the sturdiest cookies will start to crumble if they’re left to tumble willy-nilly in a shipping box. How you package your cookies will help them survive the journey intact and still be fresh when they arrive at your best friend’s doorstep.

  • Plastic wrap is your friend: Bundle drop cookies, spritz cookies, biscotti, and meringue cookies in pairs with their bottoms kissing, as if you were making a sandwich cookie. Wrap rolled-out cookies, slice-and-bake cookies, in stacks of three or four. Wrap bar cookies individually.
  • Choose packing peanuts over bubble wrap: I know, I know — packing peanuts get everywhere and are kind of a headache. But in this case, it’s worth it because your cookie bundles will be more evenly cushioned on all sides. Peanuts also prevent the cookies from sliding around in the box, which they sometimes do when packed between layers of plastic wrap. (Alternatively, gently wrap the bundles in plastic wrap to create a cushion!)
  • Pack it up, but not too tightly: First, add a layer of packing peanuts. Next, add your bundles of cookies. It’s fine if they’re snug against each other (plastic wrap also clings to itself, after all, so bundles that touch is more insurance against free-wheeling cookies), but don’t pack them too tightly or too close to the edges of the boxes. Finally, cover with another layer of packing peanuts, making sure to fill the edges of the box and in between the bundles.
  • Multiple layers of cookies: If your box is big enough, you can certainly do two or three layers of cookies. I try to position the bundles so that they’re not directly on top of each other, so the bundles in Layer 2 are slightly offset from the bundles in Layer 1.

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How to Make Deviled Eggs -- Close up of deviled eggs with dill and paprika

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Deviled Eggs
Quick and Easy Artichoke Dip
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Asparagus and Ricotta Bruschetta
Brown Sugar Ham with Pineapple - partially sliced ham covered in pineapple on platter.

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Brown Sugar Baked Ham with Pineapple
Poached Salmon
Roast Leg of Lamb
Easy baked mac and cheese recipe

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