Walnut-Pecan Maple Bars

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The two best pies I’ve ever had are my sister’s infamous pecan pie and San Francisco’s now-shuttered Mission Pie’s walnut pie. Sadly, I’m a little baking-challenged and my attempts to make pie always leave something to be desired, but these easy bars deliver all the satisfaction of pie without the fuss. A little bit walnut, a little bit pecan, these maple bars are the best of both worlds.

If you don’t have a square baking pan, you can substitute a 9-inch cake pan instead. Also, good luck getting these to last more than a day.

Walnut-pecan maple bars

Ingredients:

Crust:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted room temperature butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon salt

Filling:
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup whipping cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

1. Make the crust: Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Butter 9x9x2-inch metal cake pan. Using a hand-held electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, and egg yolk in bowl to blend. Add flour and salt; beat until moist clumps form. Gather dough together. Press dough over bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of pan. Bake crust until golden, about 20 minutes. Cool.

2. Make the filling: Combine maple syrup, brown sugar, whipping cream, and butter in medium saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring until butter melts and mixture is smooth, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat; mix in vanilla and nuts.

3. Pour filling into crust. Bake bars until filling is bubbling in center, about 15 minutes. Cool bars completely in pan on rack (filling will become firm). Chill 1-2 hours. Cut into 16 bars.

Gazpacho Salad

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If gazpacho were a salad, this would be it. Adapted from a Food and Wine recipe, this salad is peak summer: juicy tomatoes and crisp cucumbers bound by a tangy, garlicy, and yes — tomatoey dressing.

Gazpacho salad

Ingredients:

2 English cucumbers or 5 Persian cucumbers
2 pounds heirloom tomatoes
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons basil leaves, plus more for garnish
1 garlic clove, smashed
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, divided
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion, rinsed under cold water
1 teaspoon sea salt, divided
1 orange or yellow bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil

1. Peel cucumbers, cut in half lengthwise, and if using English cucumbers, remove seeds. Cut cucumbers into 1/2-inch slices; set aside. Cut tomatoes in half lengthwise. Cut tomatoes into 3/4-inch pieces (about 5 cups).

2. Combine 1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes, lime juice, basil, garlic, and 2 tablespoons vinegar in a blender. Process until smooth, about 30 seconds. Season dressing with salt to taste.

3. Combine onion, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar in a large bowl; toss to coat. Add bell peppers, cucumber slices, remaining chopped tomatoes, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt; toss to combine. Stir in tomato dressing. Let stand for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drizzle with oil, and season with salt to taste. Garnish with basil and serve.

Smash Burgers with Secret Sauce

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I never really loved burgers (outside of the ones my maman makes) until Gott’s Roadside came along. A Napa institution, Gott’s has made its way around the Bay Area. The produce is fresh, the meat is local, and there are no iffy secret ingredients. We occasionally have Gott’s as a treat, and this is how I’ve come to love burgers. And now I make a homestyle version myself, and truth be told, it’s the sauce that really carries these burgers. Don’t skip the chipotle peppers here — they’re what take these burgers over the top.

Smash burgers with secret sauce

Ingredients:

1 cup finely chopped dill pickles
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 chipotles in adobo and sauce from a can
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more
1 1/2 pounds ground beef (20% percent fat)
4 hamburger rolls
1/2 head of romaine or iceberg lettuce, leaves separated, torn into pieces about the size of the buns
1 onion, very thinly sliced into rings
4 thin tomato slices
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 thin slices cheddar cheese

1. Heat a cast-iron griddle over high until heated.

2. Make the sauce: mix together pickles, mayonnaise, ketchup, adobo sauce, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl; set special sauce aside.

3. Divide beef into 4 6-ounce portions (don’t form into patties). Place portions between 2 sheets of parchment paper, spacing 6 inches apart, and, using a meat mallet, firmly smash to create patties, about 5″ across. Transfer to a baking sheet.

4. Quickly warm the hamburger buns in the hot skillet, turning once, until buns are warmed through, about 1 minute. Spread sauce over cut sides of buns. Place 3–4 pieces of lettuce on bottom buns and top each with some onion and a tomato slice.

5. Add oil to skillet. Season patties lightly with salt. Place patties in skillet, seasoned side down, and season top sides lightly with salt. Cook, undisturbed, until outer edges are brown and undersides are crisp, about 3 minutes. Flip and place a slice of cheese on top of each patty. Cook until cheese is melted, about 1 minute. Transfer patties to buns with toppings.

Three-Cheese Sausage Lasagna

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You probably already have a favorite classic lasagna recipe. I do too. But also, now I have two. I mean, there’s no such thing as too much lasagna.

This lasagna is straightforward but does take some time to put together. It’s worth it, because you’ll have leftovers for days. Delicious, cheesy, leftovers.

Three-cheese sausage lasagna

Ingredients:

Sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup finely chopped peeled carrots
2 tablespoons minced garlic
8 ounces ground beef
6 ounces Italian sausages, casings removed
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

Lasagna:
1 package lasagna noodles (about 12 ounces)
2 15-ounce containers ricotta cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, squeezed dry
2 eggs
4 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese (about 1 pound)

1. Make the sauce: Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, carrots and garlic; saute until softened, about 10 minutes. Add beef and sausages to pan; saute until cooked through, breaking up meat with back of spoon, about 7 minutes. Add remaining sauce ingredients. Cover and simmer until sauce measures about 5 cups, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Discard bay leaf and let sauce cool.

2. Make the lasagna: Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Cook noodles in large pot of boiling salted water until almost tender, about 7 minutes. Drain and cover with cold water.

3. Combine ricotta and 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese in medium bowl. Mix in spinach. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in eggs.

4. Drain pasta. Spread 1/2 cup sauce over bottom of 13×9-inch baking dish. Place 5 noodles over sauce, overlapping to fit. Spread half of ricotta-spinach mixture evenly over noodles. Sprinkle 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese evenly over ricotta-spinach mixture. Spoon 1 1/2 cups sauce over cheese, spreading with spatula to cover (sauce will be thick). Repeat layering with 5 noodles, remaining ricotta-spinach mixture, 1 1/2 cups mozzarella and 1 1/2 cups sauce. Arrange remaining 5 noodles over sauce. Spread remaining sauce over noodles. Sprinkle remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese evenly over lasagna. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.) Cover baking dish with aluminum foil. Bake lasagna 40 minutes; uncover and bake until hot and bubbly, about 40 minutes. Let lasagna stand 15 minutes before serving.

Steak and Kimchi Rice Bowls

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I could probably eat rice bowls every single day. Give me a bowl, give me rice (obvs), and top it with all the tasty things. These steak and kimchi rice bowls are protein packed and super healthy: brown rice, avocados, spinach, sunflower seeds, and kimchi make this a energy-packed meal.

Steak and kimchi rice bowls

Ingredients:

8 ounces to 1 pound boneless rib-eye steak, trimmed (you can also use hanger or sirloin steak)
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
2 cups brown rice
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup thinly sliced shallots
2 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms
4 green onions, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 avocado, cubed
3/4 cup kimchi
4 cups baby spinach
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1. Sprinkle steak with 1/4 teaspoon salt; set aside for 30 minutes or refrigerate for up to 1 day.

2. Cook brown rice according to package instructions. Stir in 1 tablespoon oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

3. Meanwhile, separate shallot slices into rings. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring often, until browned and crispy, 6 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shallots to a plate; set aside.

4. Add mushrooms and 1/8 teaspoon salt to the pan; cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add green onions and cook, stirring, until tender, about 1 minute. Transfer to a large bowl.

5. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan. Cook the steak, turning once and adjusting the heat as necessary, until browned 4 to 5 minutes per side depending on how you like your steak. Transfer to a clean cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes. Cut into cubes.

6. Transfer the rice to the bowl with the vegetables and add avocado, kimchi, spinach, and the steak; toss with lemon juice and gently mix to combine. Divide among 4 shallow bowls. Top the rice mixture with the shallots and sunflower seeds.