There’s a special spot in my kitchen where I keep a lot of timely papers—our family calendar…invitations…a printout of my favorite no-equipment, quick exercise routine…bills to be paid…coupons…and recipes. Lots of recipe printouts. This post, I’m going to write about my go-to recipes that I use regularly—and a bit of commentary on how I “Margie-ize” them.

Go-To Breakfasts…

A bowl of chopped fruit (fresh or defrosted) with nuts and high-fiber, low-sugar, gluten-free cereal is my typical breakfast…but these are my real favorites:

Sheet pan pancakes. My blog inspired by this recipe was for blueberry pancakes, but honestly, once I made it savory (with freshly minced onion mixed into the batter and Everything Bagel spice blend sprinkled on top), no one wanted to eat the blueberry! I like to make this on Sunday mornings, and then it is the basis of breakfast (along with some fruit and a handful of nuts) or a side with my lunch for days.

Oat Crepes. From food blogger and cookbook author Audrey Snow, this recipe is already gluten and egg free, and is a family favorite. Maple syrup is optional in the recipe. I usually leave it out, and then I can use filling that is either sweet (fresh or defrosted frozen berries…melted chocolate chips and peanut butter…pie-spiced apples) or savory (lox, mushrooms and onions…warm tuna in a “creamy” fake-mayo and mustard sauce with mushrooms and capers).

Muffins. I won’t repeat myself—read about it in this blog for Apple-Carrot Muffins.

Go-To Sides…

Beyond roasted or grilled vegetables, which are a staple at our dinner table, these are our favorites…

Creamed Vegetable Soup. We are year-round soup people. My core recipe is sautéed onions and/or shallots, boil with four cups of broth and four cups of vegetables, add herbs and salt (beans too if I want to super-charge it, but never any dairy), and puree with an immersion blender. Here’s my recipe for a zucchini soup, but of late we’ve been obsessed with butternut squash soup. Using frozen cooked butternut squash (two boxes) makes this a snap, especially if I remember to defrost it first.

Purple Super Slaw. This recipe from nutritionist Joy Bauer is so refreshing. It’s amazing how a small bit of Dijon mustard can add so much flavor. I make up a huge batch and we eat it for days—as a side at a meal, or with added chick peas or tuna for lunch. I’ve used a wide variety of shredded veggies in this, beyond the cabbage, onions and carrots called for in the original recipe, such as kale, broccoli stems and celeriac. If I don’t have fresh grapes, I’ve used apple or dried fruit, such as cherries, raisins or currants.

Garlic Mashed Cauliflower. My husband is addicted to this, and he makes a double batch every week, plus extra roasted garlic that is delicious spread on anything. Time-saving tip: Use frozen cauliflower instead of fresh.

Go-To Mains…

Drop Meatballs with Tomato Sauce. While I love meatballs, I spent years making meat sauce rather than meatballs because it took too much time to shape the balls. This recipe from one of my favorite cookbook authors, Mark Bittman (included in his wonderful book, How to Cook Everything Fast) changed my life. I now make meatballs regularly, although often change-up the sauce (for example, sometimes sweet-and-sour or Moroccan—more on that below). I remove the meatballs after I brown them, then sauté onions and mushrooms before adding back the meatballs and sauce ingredients. If I’m cooking his original recipe, I usually add fresh basil and dried oregano too, and sometimes a splash of wine. When my kids aren’t home, I add fennel seed (they aren’t fans, but I LOVE it!). I make this either using only ground turkey, or a turkey-beef combo. And I usually double the recipe because I definitely want leftovers. This is always better the next day, and freezes beautifully. And I also use this drop method for matzah balls.

My gluten-free, egg-free twist: Besides serving with gluten-free pasta, I use egg replacer and oatmeal instead of breadcrumbs in the meat mixture. Even if you’re not gluten free, I recommend oatmeal instead of breadcrumbs for a much better texture.

Moroccan Chicken Smothered in Olives. My oldest daughter first sent me this recipe, adapted by food writer Alex Witchel from a recipe in Paula Wolfert’s book Mediterranean Cooking, and I never tire of it. The recipe itself is scrumptious as is, although I like to add a tablespoon of tomato paste. I use the combo of spices in so many ways, such as this kasha recipe or with meatballs (see above!), and have adapted the cooking method for other chicken dishes as well, such as this Pan-Cooked Chicken with Carrots and Mushrooms.

Go-To Desserts…

I generally don’t have time to bake and make dinner, but I can prepare these no-bake desserts in about 10 minutes.

Honey popcorn. Until I created this recipe, we were obsessed with my caramel popcorn. This is easier to make, and we like it better. Even my daughter’s friends are obsessed (I call them my Honeys; not only do I make it when they are over, I send bags of it to school for them). Follow popping instructions in the Caramel Popcorn blog. Sprinkle lightly with salt, a bit more with cinnamon. Then squirt honey over the top (I never measure). Mix with a large spoon to spread evenly. Give it a taste to see if it needs more honey. I estimate that I use two to three tablespoons of honey and ¼ to ½ teaspoon of cinnamon per batch and 1/8 to ¼ teaspoon of salt.

Crunchy Chocolate Bark. This is my go-to when we have guests over. When I first created this recipe, I was using chips sweetened with coconut sugar that I bought from Davis Chocolate (chocolate or peanut butter). I’ve since discovered the Lily’s brand, which is sweetened with stevia (i.e. no added sugar) and I can buy them locally. Recipe details here.

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