Tag Archives: America’s Test Kitchen

Easy Cheesy Hot Pockets with Spinach

1 Oct

I made these hot pockets tonight and they were so delicious and turned out so pretty I had to post the recipe right away. This recipe came from my America’s Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook in the “Kid Friendly” section. I am happy to report that not only did I love them, but Sylvie did too! I will definitely be making these again soon!

hot pockets

Serves 4

Total Time: 35 minutes

“Avoid using buttermilk or other flavored biscuits here.”

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (1 cup)
  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (1/2 cup)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 (16-ounce) tube refrigerator biscuits (8 biscuits)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Brush rimmed baking sheet with 1 tablespoon oil. Combine remaining 2 tablespoons oil, ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, garlic, spinach, oregano, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in bowl.

Press each biscuit flat into 6-inch round. Spread filling evenly over bottom half of each dough round, leaving 1/2-inch border at edge. Brush dough edges lightly with egg, then fold top of dough over filling, leaving 1/4-inch lip of bottom edge exposed. Fold bottom lip over seam and press firmly to seal. Lay pockets, seam side down, on prepared baking sheet. Brush with egg and, using sharp knife, cut 2 (1-inch) steam vents along top.

Bake until golden, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer pockets to wire rack and let cool slightly before serving.


Easy Cheesy Hot Pockets with Broccoli

Add 4 ounces frozen broccoli florets, thawed, patted dry, and chopped to filling in place of spinach.

Easy Cheesy Hot Pockets

Increase amount of ricotta to 1 cup and eliminate spinach.

From: The America’s Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook

All-Purpose Corn Bread

28 Sep

I’ve always loved corn bread, but Seth isn’t the biggest fan so I rarely make it. This is another recipe from my America’s Test Kitchen cookbook and was recommended by my sister, Annie. It’s a perfect middle-of-the-road corn bread as it’s not really sweet or savory which makes it just right for everything! I grew up eating corn bread for breakfast topped with dark corn syrup and it’s still one of my favorite ways to eat it. And of course it goes perfectly with my favorite chili!

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“Before preparing the baking dish or any of the other ingredients, measure out the frozen corn kernels and let them stand at room temperature until thawed. When corn is in season, fresh cooked kernels can be substituted for the frozen corn. This recipe was developed with Quaker yellow cornmeal; a stone-ground whole grain cornmeal will work but will yield a drier and less tender corn bread. We prefer a Pyrex glass baking dish because it yields a nice golden brown crust, but a metal baking dish (nonstick or traditional) will also work. The corn bread is best served warm; leftovers can be wrapped in foil and reheated in a 350-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes.”

  • 1½ cups (7½ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (about 5 ounces) yellow cornmeal (see note)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed (see note)
  • 1/4 cup packed (1¾ ounces) light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray an 8-inch square baking dish with vegetable oil spray. Whisk the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and baking soda together in a medium bowl until combined; set aside.

Process the buttermilk, thawed corn kernels, and brown sugar in a food processor or blender until combined, about 5 seconds. Add the eggs and process until well combined (corn lumps will remain), about 5 seconds longer.

Using a rubber spatula, make a well in the center of the dry ingredients; pour the wet ingredients into the well. Begin folding the dry ingredients into the wet, giving the mixture only a few turns to barely combine; add the melted butter and continue folding until the dry ingredients are just moistened. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish; smooth the surface with a rubber spatula. Bake until deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes; invert the corn bread onto the wire rack, then turn right side up and continue to cool until warm, about 10 minutes longer. Cut into pieces and serve.

From: The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2013

Easiest-Ever Chicken Pot Pie

25 Sep

chicky pot pie

While I have posted the fast version my chicken pot pie before, I have to say this America’s Test Kitchen one is even better. It’s very unfussy and the resulting pie is darn near perfect. I’d say this took about 45 minutes to make from start to finish and that included the time to shred my rotisserie chicken. Not bad. Not bad at all!

Chicken Pot Pie

Serves 4-6

Total Time: 45 minutes

  • 8 ounces white mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
  • 3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 5 ounces cream cheese, cut into small cubes*
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 ½ cups frozen peas and carrots, thawed
  • 1 refrigerated Pillsbury pie crust

Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Microwave mushrooms on plate lined with 2 layers of coffee filters until softened, about 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine shredded chicken, cream cheese (or Boursin), broth, cream, cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in large saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until cheese is melted and mixture is thickened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in microwaved mushrooms and peas and carrots. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a 9-inch deep dish pie plate.

Carefully lay pie crust over top. Tuck overhanging dough underneath itself to be flush with rim of pie plate. Cut three 1-inch steam vents into top of dough. Bake until filling is bubbling and crust is browned, about 25 minutes, rotating pie plate halfway through baking. Let cool slightly and serve.

*Original recipe calls for a 5.2 ounce package of Boursin cheese, crumbled. I’d never heard of Boursin and wasn’t surprised when my local grocery store didn’t carry it. The Internets told me cream cheese was an acceptable substitute and I whole-heartedly agree.

Recipe adapted from the America’s Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook

Skillet Baked Ziti

15 Sep

skillet penne

For the last year or so I’ve had to stay away from tomatoes and tomato-based dishes because of Sylvie’s intolerance to them. Let me tell you how much more difficult this made meal planning. But, the heavens have opened and it seems the issues have faded and I can now enjoy all things tomato. I’ve been wanting to try this recipe for a while now because it was recommended so highly from my sister, Annie. Plus it’s an America’s Test Kitchen recipe so you can’t go wrong there.

I was very pleased with the results of the this recipe. I was very skeptical as I was making it that it would be horribly bland, but that was not the case. It was super easy to throw together and was on the table in 30 minutes. Did I mention Sylvie scarfed it up? Yeah. This is a keeper.


Serves 4

“To complete this recipe in 30 minutes, preheat your oven before assembling the ingredients. If your skillet is not ovensafe, transfer the pasta mixture to a shallow 2-quart casserole dish before sprinkling with the cheese and baking. Packaged preshredded mozzarella is a real time-saver here. Penne can be used in place of the ziti.”

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Table salt
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cups water
  • 12 ounces ziti (3 3/4 cups; see note)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh basil leaves
  • Ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces whole milk mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 1 cup; see note)
  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 475 degrees.
  2. Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick ovensafe skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the crushed tomatoes, water, ziti, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook, stirring often and adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a vigorous simmer, until the ziti is almost tender, about 15-18 minutes.
  3. Stir in the cream, Parmesan, and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the mozzarella evenly over the ziti. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the cheese has melted and browned, about 10 minutes. Using potholders (the skillet handle will be hot), remove the skillet from the oven. Serve.

From: America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 

Easy Salmon Cakes

1 May

I’m addicted to America’s Test Kitchen. It’s by far my favorite cooking show. Every single thing they make on the show looks so delicious and I immediately mark each recipe in my America’s Test Kitchen cookbook so I can make it later.

These salmon cakes are one of the recipes I knew I needed to try. They really did look simple and quick so I gave them a go. I was technically missing a couple ingredients, but they still turned out great. I subbed lime juice for lemon and used regular onion in place of the shallot. Alas I was fresh out of scallions. BUT, these still had a ton of flavor and I figure making these the “right” way will only make them more awesome!

Salmon Cakes

Serves 4

“If buying a skin-on salmon fillet, purchase 1 1/3 pounds of fish. This will yield 1 1/4 pounds of fish after skinning. When processing the salmon it is OK to have some pieces that are larger than 1/4 inch. It is important to avoid overprocessing the fish. Serve the salmon cakes with lemon wedges and/or tartar sauce.”


  • 3 tablespoons plus ¾ cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 scallion, sliced thin
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  •  ¾ teaspoon salt
  •  ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 (1¼ pound) skinless salmon fillet, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil


1. Combine 3 tablespoons panko, parsley, mayonnaise, lemon juice, scallion, shallot, mustard, salt, pepper, and cayenne in bowl. Working in 3 batches, pulse salmon in food processor until coarsely chopped into 1/4-inch pieces, about 2 pulses, transferring each batch to bowl with panko mixture. Gently mix until uniformly combined.

2. Place remaining 3/4 cup panko in pie plate. Using 1/3-cup measure, scoop level amount of salmon mixture and transfer to baking sheet; repeat to make 8 cakes. Carefully coat each cake in bread crumbs, gently patting into disk measuring 2 ¾  inches in diameter and 1 inch high. Return coated cakes to baking sheet.

3. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Place salmon cakes in skillet and cook without moving until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Carefully flip cakes and cook until second side is golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer cakes to paper towel–lined plate to drain 1 minute. Serve.

From: America’s Test Kitchen Season 13: Two Ways with Fish

The Ultimate Lemon Meringue Pie

15 Feb

 2013-02-13 12.58.25-1

 When I asked Seth what he wanted for his birthday “cake” he requested a lemon meringue pie. While I don’t think lemon meringue is his favorite pie, it was tradition for him to have one for his birthday growing up. I’d only ever made a lemon meringue pie a few years ago for his birthday and couldn’t remember what recipe I’d used, but I wanted to make sure I didn’t screw up his birthday dessert so I went straight to my America’s Test Kitchen cookbook.

While lemon meringue pie is a little bit more fussy than a tradional pie, so long as you get all your supplies together and have everything ready to go, the actual execution isn’t too bad. And the final result sure is beautiful. I really liked the addition of graham cracker crumbs to the basic pie crust… sort of a best of both worlds result. Ultimately Seth loved his pie and that’s good enough for me!

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Graham Cracker-Coated Pie Shell

  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, chilled
  • 3–4 tablespoons cold water
  • 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs

Lemon Filling

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice from 2 to 3 lemons
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Meringue Topping

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the pie shell:

1.  Mix flour, salt and sugar in food processor fitted with steel blade. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture, tossing to coat butter with a little of the flour. Cut butter into flour with five 1 second pulses. Add shortening; continue cutting in until flour is pale yellow and resembles coarse cornmeal with butter bits no larger than a small pea, about four more 1-second pulses. Turn mixture into medium bowl.

2. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons cold water over mixture. Using rubber spatula, fold water into mixture; press down on dough mixture with broad side of spatula until dough sticks together. If dough will not come together, add up to 1 tablespoon more cold water. Shape dough into ball, then flatten into 4-inch-wide disk. Dust lightly with flour, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes before rolling.

3. Generously sprinkle work area with 2 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs. Place dough on work area. Scatter a few more crumbs over dough. Roll dough from center to edges, turning it into a 9-inch disk, rotating a quarter turn after each stroke and sprinkling additional crumbs underneath and on top as necessary to coat heavily. Flip dough over and continue to roll, but not rotate, to form a 13-inch disk slightly less than 1/8-inch thick.

4. Fold dough into quarters; place dough point in center of 9-inch Pyrex pie pan. Unfold to cover pan completely, letting excess dough drape over pan lip. To fit dough to pan, lift edge of dough with one hand and press dough in pan bottom with other hand; repeat process around circumferences of pan to ensure dough fits properly and is not stretched. Trim all around, 1/2-inch past lip of pan. Tuck 1/2 inch of overhanging dough under so folded edge is flush with lip of pan; press to seal. Press thumb and index finger about 1/2-inch apart against outside edge of dough, then use index finger or knuckle of other hand to poke a dent on inside edge of dough through opening created by the other fingers. Repeat to flute around perimeter of pie shell.

5. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Use fork to prick shell at 1/2-inch intervals; press a doubled 12-inch square of aluminum foil into pie shell; prick again and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

6. Adjust oven rack to lowest position, heat oven to 400 degrees. Bake, checking occasionally for ballooning, until crust is firmly set, about 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees, remove foil, and continue to bake until crust is crisp and rich brown in color, about 10 minutes longer.

For the filling:

7. Mix sugar, cornstarch, salt, and water in a large, nonreactive saucepan. Bring mixture to simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally at beginning of the process and more frequently as mixture begins to thicken. When mixture starts to simmer and turn translucent, whisk in egg yolks, two at a time. Whisk in zest, then lemon juice, and finally butter. Bring mixture to a brisk simmer, whisking constantly. Remove from heat, place plastic wrap directly on surface of filling to keep hot and prevent skin from forming.

For the meringue:

8. Mix cornstarch with 1/3 cup water in small saucepan; bring to simmer, whisking occasionally at beginning and more frequently as mixture thickens. When mixture starts to simmer and turn translucent, remove from heat. Let cool while beating egg whites.

9. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Mix cream of tartar and sugar together. Beat egg whites and vanilla until frothy. Beat in sugar mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time; until sugar is incorporated and mixture forms soft peaks. Add cornstarch mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time; continue to beat meringue to stiff peaks. Remove plastic from filling and return to very low heat during last minute or so of beating meringue (to ensure filling is hot).

10. Pour filling into pie shell. Using a rubber spatula, immediately distribute meringue evenly around edge then center of pie to keep it from sinking into filling. Make sure meringue attaches to pie crust to prevent shrinking. Use spoon to create peaks all over meringue. Bake pie until meringue is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature. Serve.

From: America’s Test Kitchen

Pad Thai

2 Feb

I’ve made this pad thai twice in the last week. The first time around I didn’t really stir my noodles while they were cooking so they got all stuck together and didn’t cook very evenly. And I also used some peanuts that weren’t exactly fresh. But, it still tasted really good and I wanted to see how it would turn out if I didn’t screw it up. So I made it a second time. I made sure to stir the noodles intermittently while they cooked and I used fresh peanuts. And it turned out awesome!

This recipe was super easy to make and pretty fast. I couldn’t find tamarind so I just used the suggested lime juice, water, and brown sugar, which actually cut the prep time in half. The cayenne pepper gave it a nice kick (probably want to cut it down for kids) and the shrimp added a nice mild flavor. I noticed the noodles didn’t cook much after their initial soak, so I’d suggest soaking them until they are just a hair underdone before tossing them in with the sauce. This one was definitely a winner and I’m sure I’ll be making it again soon.

pad thai


“Although pad thai cooks very quickly, the ingredient list is long, and everything must be prepared and within easy reach at the stovetop when you begin cooking. For maximum efficiency, use the time during which the tamarind and noodles soak to prepare the other ingredients. If tamarind paste is unavailable, substitute 1/3 cup lime juice and 1/3 cup water and use light brown sugar instead of granulated sugar.”


  • ¾ cup boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind paste (see note)
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons sugar (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • ¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper


  • 8 ounces dried rice stick noodles, 1/8 to 1/4 inch wide
  • 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
  • 12 ounces medium shrimp (41 to 50 per pound), peeled and deveined
  • Table salt
  • 1 medium shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Thai salted preserved radish (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon dried shrimp, chopped fine (optional)
  • 3 cups bean sprouts
  • ½ cup unsalted roasted peanuts, chopped coarse
  • 5 scallions, green parts only, sliced thin on the bias
  • ¼ cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves (optional)
  • Lime wedges, for serving


Combine the water and tamarind paste in a small bowl and let sit until the tamarind is softened and mushy, 10 to 30 minutes. Mash the tamarind to break it up, then push it through a fine-mesh strainer into a medium bowl to remove the seeds and fibers and extract as much pulp as possible. Stir in the remaining sauce ingredients and set aside.


Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot. Remove the boiling water from the heat, add the rice noodles, and let sit, stirring occasionally, until almost tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the noodles and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add the shrimp, sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt, and cook without stirring until bright pink, about 1 minute. Stir the shrimp and continue to cook until cooked through, 15 to 30 seconds longer. Transfer the shrimp to a clean bowl and cover with foil to keep warm.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet and return to medium heat until shimmering. Add the shallot and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until light golden brown, about 1½ minutes. Stir in the eggs and cook, stirring constantly, until scrambled and barely moist, about 20 seconds.

Add the noodles and the salted radish and dried shrimp (if using) to the eggs and toss to combine. Add the sauce, increase the heat to high, and cook, tossing constantly until the noodles are evenly coated, about 1 minute.

Add the cooked shrimp, bean sprouts, ¼ cup of the peanuts, and all but ¼ cup of the scallions and continue to cook, tossing constantly, until the noodles are tender, about 2½ minutes. (If not yet tender add 2 tablespoons water to the skillet and continue to cook until tender.) Transfer the noodles to a serving platter, sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup peanuts, remaining ¼ cup scallions, and cilantro (if using) and serve with the lime wedges.

From: The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2013


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