5 Easy Recipes that You'll Use Again and Again

'Keepers' offers recipes and cooking advice that you'll want to keep for life. 'Keepers' offers recipes and cooking advice that you'll want to keep for life. People share their coveted recipes all of the time. Your colleague might have a great casserole recipe that they found in Cooking Light magazine years ago, and your next door neighbor will tell you that she swears by her mother-in-law's tomato sauce. One of the greatest things about cooking is how it not only brings you pleasure because of the food you eat and the people you feed, but it can also be satisfying when you share some of your best cooking secrets, too.

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Two food writers and home cooks know of this satisfaction, but also felt like something was missing in that community of cooks exchanging advice and recipes. After parting ways as colleagues at Saveur magazine in New York City and moving to the suburbs, Kathy Brennan and Caroline Campion found that there was a huge disconnect between the buzzy culinary culture that was a part of their daily lives and deskside conversations and the real world.

"It became more apparent how few people are cooking," said Brennan after they moved from an urban area to their current hometowns, and they wondered why there wasn't more of a connection between the cooking cultures they came from and the one they moved to.

Keepers, released late last month, is their solution to the problem, where they give "deceptively simple [pieces of advice]," says Campion, to encourage more people to get into the kitchen and start cooking home-cooked meals. The recipes and tips that they share aren't just their best secrets, but they're ones that put the end user's life in context, too. Kids' busy schedules, husbands coming home late from work, or a practically never stocked pantry stand in the way of getting people to turn on the stove, and Campion and Brennan hope that this book changes all of that.

Along with pantry-stocking tips, weekly meal-planning guides, and essential tool checklists, they share recipes, which are, with no surprise because of the title of the book, keepers. These recipes are trusted family and personal recipes, infused with years of experience working in the culinary industry - and later the motherhood industry, too. They're not just delicious, but they're also tested and proved to be easy and indispensable dishes for you to add to your recipe box, making them perfect for a weeknight meal. From "a-ha recipes," which Campion uses to describe the fish fingers because it got her kids to finally eat seafood, to ones that demonstrate how easy international cuisine can be, like Brennan's mother's Japanese Meat and Potatoes, these recipes give you confidence when stepping into the kitchen.

The best part of their collection of recipes became apparent when talking to Campion and Brennan about how they went about creating the book. They're not just telling you that they're mothers and cooks so you can trust their practical advice - they actually did the leg work. They crowd-sourced close friends and family about what kinds of recipes they'd like to see, and exchanged each other's recipes to test, ensuring that this book comes without all of the fluff that many cookbooks can have. "You don't put pepper in your pesto?" was something Brennan asked Campion during testing, which only demonstrates that just because your neighbor is willing to give you her mother-in-law's tomato sauce recipe, doesn't mean it's a keeper, because simple steps like seasoning pesto with pepper come as second nature to that cook, and they might not think to include it in the recipe (Campion's pesto recipe does have pepper in it, and it can be found in the book).

This collection of recipes and fruitful cooking advice is a keeper, and you'll be happy that Brennan and Campion shared some of their coveted secrets with you.

Expat Fried Rice Recipe

"When Kathy told her friend Ginny about this cookbook and the kind of dishes we planned to include, she immediately offered up her fried rice recipe. A single mom and news editor who worked and traveled in Asia for more than 20 years, she knows a thing or two about getting a fast, fuss-free meal on the table.

She uses leftover meat or fish (salmon is a favorite) - but you can also start with raw and cook it in the pan before you add the rice. The thyme is an unusual addition that Ginny calls a delicious accidental discovery. What's more, she felt compelled to clarify two things: It's oyster sauce, not soy sauce, that belongs in fried rice (otherwise, it's like a "salt lick"), and don't just serve it for dinner; it makes a great weekend breakfast."

Click here to see the Expat Fried Rice Recipe

Japanese-Style 'Meat and Potatoes' Recipe

"This recipe is based on a popular Japanese stewed dish called nikujaga (niku means "meat"; jaga means "potato"), which Kathy's mom often made when she was growing up. It's home cooking at its best, the kind of food you want to eat when you're tired or in a funk or under the weather.

Unlike in America, stewed dishes in Japan tend to be very light and contain only a small amount of liquid, which is more of a flavorful broth than a "sauce." Like most stews, though, it reheats wells and tastes even better when the flavors have had time to meld, so don't hesitate to make it in advance or to double the recipe to ensure leftovers. This is also a good dish for nights when people will be eating dinner at different times; just leave it on the back of the stove and spoon it out when needed. Serve with steamed rice, if you like."

Click here to see the Japanese-Style 'Meat and Potatoes' Recipe

Quinoa Salad with Shaved Raw Vegetables and Carrot-Ginger Dressing Recipe

"To us, the best salads include warm grains, raw vegetables, creamy cheese, crunchy seeds, and a tangy, slightly sweet dressing. This one has all that and is also so substantial and satisfying that it's an ideal one-bowl meal for those (possibly rare) nights when it's just you and the remote. If you've only eaten Brussels sprouts and asparagus cooked, you'll be surprised at how good they are when raw and very thinly sliced. If you have one, use a mandoline or Benriner slicer to cut them, and the radishes, too; a peeler also works well with the asparagus."

Click here to see the Quinoa Salad with Shaved Raw Vegetables and Carrot-Ginger Dressing Recipe

Shrimp with Green Curry Recipe

"This dish always seems to get a "wow" when we serve it. It also takes less than 15 minutes to make, thanks to jarred Thai green curry paste, which is one of our pantry staples. Yes, fresh curry paste is superior, but we can't always find lemongrass, Thai ginger, Kaffir lime, and bird's eye chiles, and grinding them is a whole 'nother story. Recommended brands include Mae Ploy and Maesri. Feel free to substitute different vegetables, such as thinly sliced carrots, sugar snaps, or frozen peas, in place of the green beans."

Click here to see the Shrimp with Green Curry Recipe

Italian Tomato-Bread Salad Recipe
(pictured above)

"If we had to name the top 10 dishes requested by our families, this salad would be high on the list. It's our version of the classic Tuscan salad known as panzanella, with some celery thrown in for a bit of crunch and lemon zest and mint for a refreshing kick.

It's common to moisten the bread with water before adding it to the salad, but depending on how stale the bread is and how juicy the tomatoes are, sometimes it's not necessary. So we hold off, mixing the bread with the rest of the ingredients first. Whether or not you add water, be generous with the salt - the tomatoes and bread soak it right up."


1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, chopped and juices reserved
3 celery stalks, halved lengthwise and sliced
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup good olive oil
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups 3/4-inch cubed stale, crusty French or Italian*
Handful of basil, torn, for garnish
Small handful of mint leaves, torn, for garnish


In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes and their juices, celery, onions, garlic, lemon zest, oil, and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper, then toss together. Add the bread, basil, and mint and gently toss together.

If the bread is moistened through and there's a small amount of liquid pooling at the bottom of the bowl, no water is needed (see note above). If the salad looks dry, sprinkle some water over the top, gently toss, and repeat if needed. Check the seasonings. The salad is best served within a few hours, before the bread gets too soggy.

Recipe Details
Servings: 6
Total time: 10 minutes
Cuisine: Italian
Special Designations: Vegetarian, Healthy
Notes and Substitutions:

If you don't have any stale bread, you can "cheat" and bake the cubes in a 250-degree oven, stirring once or twice, until dry but not browned, about 25 minutes.

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-Anne Dolce, The Daily Meal