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Learning to Cook..What are your favorite recipes?

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SOOO...I am 20 years old, have taken some great cooking classes and experimented in the kitchen a little bit, but I really need some inspiration! I want to start cooking for my boyfriend and I a few times a week.

He just moved into a new apartment and I would like to be able to make him really nice meals for when he comes home from work after a long day or on weekends when we have more time to cook together. He likes simple, but good food (we usually order in pasta, pizza, salads, sandwiches, things like that) but is a little bit picky (doesn't like brussel sprouts, cauliflower, blue cheese, sprouts in general). He is a great cook-he makes amazing chicken and we will throw together salads to go with it. I experiment with baking cookies, cakes, brownies, etc. at home and bring them to him, but I haven't really cooked anything substantial for him.

I love gourmet food BUT want to start with the basics because I pretty much have no idea what I am doing in the kitchen yet and he seems to like simple, un-fussy food. Since neither of us have a ton of time (he works late and I am still in school) any recipes with simple ingredients and good flavors would be wonderful. Breakfast, lunch or dinner...I would be very grateful for any recipes or cooking suggestions you could share with me! As a beginner, any details or tips would be very helpful! Thank you soo much!

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  1. I suggest a good all-purpose cookbook that covers many cuisines, a good start would be Mark Bittman's, "How to Cook Almost Anything". A very good cooking magazine which goes into good detail as far as ingredients and preparation would be Cooks Illustrated (Fine Cooking magazine also does a good job) available at most major Book Stores. If you like Italian, look at Marcella Hazan's, Classic Italian Cooking. Good Luck.

    1 Reply
    1. re: paulgardner

      I agree - Get a subscription to Fine Cooking and vow to make at least two things a month. When I started cooking, I found it exciting when my magazine(s) arrived to immediately plan which few recipes I was going to make, and I always followed through. I love love love cookbooks, but in the beginning they were too easy to put aside. The magazine(s) arriving every month was sort of in-your-face

    2. hm...favorites that I make often: veggie or ground chicken chili of which i turn leftovers into enchilladas...stir fry, tuscan chickpea soup, pasta sauce with chicken sausage (leftovers turned into a pasta bake), spinach lasagne. I can pass along my "recipes" for them (really it's just trial and error). I also cook via recipes, but since i cook just for myself I usually use my standbys since they are easy and the leftovers are good the next day for lunch at work or dinner. If you want any of the recipes, I'll post.

      And as much as I dislike her, Rachel Ray has good recipes for beginners. you should check those out on foodtv or check one of her books out of the library. She's WAY more tolerable in print.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Jeserf

        I would love your recipe for spinach lasagne! Thank you for the great ideas!

        1. re: gourmetgal1

          This is how I make it, and I measure nothing and really just made it up and realized it was good.
          Ingredients:
          - lasagne noodles
          - pasta sauce, homemade or jarred if you dont want to make your own. I sometimes just use a can of miur glen roasted chopped tomatoes that i simmer with a bay leaf and pepper flakes
          - fresh parsley, chopped (probably 2-3 tbsp)
          - fresh basil, chopped (probably 5-6 leaves)
          - 1 box/bag frozen spinached thawed and drained
          - 1 tub of light ricotta (i always use light ricotta)
          - Zest of 1 lemon
          - salt and pepper
          - grated mozzerella and parmasean (divide parm)
          -----
          -preheat oven to 375
          -boil lasagne noodles (some dont bother, but I do)
          -In a large bowl, mix ricotta, spinach (you may have to break it up with your hands), lemon zest, parsley and basil a little grated parmesean cheese, and salt and pepper to taste
          - in either a baking dish or loaf pan (i use a loaf pan because it's for 1 person), put a little tomato sauce in the bottom, cover with a layer of noodles, then spoon cheese and spinach mixture over noodles. Sauce on top of that. Another layer of noodles. Repeat process so you have 2-3 (i do 3) layers of cheese and there is a layer of noodles on top. Pour rest of tomato sauce on top and top that with shredded mozerella and a little parm to cover.
          -bake for 15-20 minutes, or until center is warm and the cheese is bubbling. if you like crispier cheese, pop under the broiler for a couple of minutes.

      2. Cook's Illustrated also has a cookbook (it's pretty substantial), which I like because I know the recipes have been tested a lot. I don't like that a lot of their baking recipes end up using an extra egg yolk or and odd measurement because "that gave the best result". I prefer more practical measurements. But it is reliable. I'd also recommend Bittman's book, Joy of Cooking, or the Better Homes & Gardens' red checkerboard cookbook to cover all your basics.

        There are many discussions and debates on crockpots, but I work all day (and like to spend weekends doing something other than staying inside) so I love it. Stick a few cups of black beans in there in the morning and you can have black beans with dinner, plus have plenty extra to make meals the rest of the week (bean cakes, beans and Spanich rice, black bean soup, make a taco salad, etc). Same with roasts - a pork shoulder in the crockpot always comes out pull-apart tender and you can use it in so many recipes. Shredded pork also freezes well.

        A good roast chicken with roasted veggies can be perfectly gourmet! I keep chicken breasts in the freezer and my go-to preparation involves pounding them flat and pan frying in some butter or olive oil. Add some orange juice, dijon mustard, broth and cornstarch and you've got a nice sauce. Or, add sage and cream and simmer until thickened. I do the same thing with thin pork chops. Serve on a bed of wild rice with some steamed veggies and you're done.

        I think you'll find the more you cook, the more you'll start naturally experimenting.

        1. first thing is to scope out your local grocery stores/markets to see where you can get good produce and fish from.

          if he likes fish then learn how to pan sear or blacken fish, that is pretty simple. try making your own salad dressings. you can braise chops of any sort, that's a good thing to learn. also you can poach chicken breasts and shred the meat to make good chicken tacos.

          my way is to buy something that is on sale and look up a good way to cook it. or to try and emulate something i recently had at a restaurant. both ways i usually end up learning something.

          just have fun with it. cooking dinner is usually the highlight of my day, but i don't worry about screwing up or throw it out if it doesn't taste great.

          1. I agree with previous posters, get one general cookbook like The Joy of Cooking for research and getting to know your ingredients. Then start from what you decide you want to learn. I know some of the things I wanted to master at first were roasts with gravy, mashed potatoes, cooking fish and risotto. ( I say at first as though I am not still trying to master them... sigh.)

            I also find cooking shows great for that kind of inspiration, Rachel Ray is great for simplicity and quick meals. Plus watching cooking shows can be helpful to see just how easy something that might seem hard is.

            I would try a couple of different techniques, maybe roast a chicken, some sort of stew or braise and a grill method? Also, eggs are a basic, an omelette, scrambled and easy over\sunny side up?

            If your goal is to cook a big meal for your boyfriend you may want to start with a pasta dish and salad. One of the hardest things I find to do when making a meal is timing everything and with pasta and salad you can avoid that problem straight away. The first thing I learned how to cook was a basic spaghetti sauce with ground beef and roma tomatoes, nothing from a can.

            Are you looking for actual recipes or more ideas?

            Katerina
            http://dailyunadventures.com

            5 Replies
            1. re: daily_unadventures

              Thank you so much, those are great tips!! I am looking more for actual recipes, but definetaly need the tips. If you have any recipes that you use for easy chicken, steak, etc, or what you would serve with them that would be amazing!

              1. re: gourmetgal1

                For actual recipes, a very good website is recipezaar.com; every recipe is rated by people who have tried them and you can read their comments; I have used many very good recipes from there: bruschetta, pasta with sausage, cream and tomatoes, garlic bread, etc.

                1. re: gourmetgal1

                  Roast Chicken is great because it is dead easy and you have leftovers which are always fun. You may want to invest in a meat thermometer though. I just tried Ina Garten's recipe this past weekend and it turned out great. I served it with roast veggies (included in the recipe, but don't be shy to add other root vegetables cut in the same size such as sweet potatoes and parsnips) and a simple green salad. If you want to try gravy you can check out my link below, although it is just how I made gravy I liked.. I am learning too.

                  Chicken:
                  http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...

                  Gravy:
                  http://dailyunadventures.blogspot.com...

                  As for sides things you can do ahead are always nice like this with asparagus:
                  http://dailyunadventures.blogspot.com...
                  or a greek salad, any salad really can be made ahead if you don't dress it.

                  I will try and keep thinking about it... It's love learning new things and that feeling you get when it turns out how wanted it to.

                  Katerina
                  http://dailyunadventures.com

                  1. re: gourmetgal1

                    Other good websites for recipes are epicurious.com and foodtv.com. And I agree about Rachel Ray, she is annoying but makes nice meals for a beginner with limited time. I think you will enjoy browsing for recipes on these two sites. I think it's nice that you are so into doing this.

                    1. re: gourmetgal1

                      I recently subscribed to the Cook's Illustrated online edition. It's only $25 or so a year, and a big plus is getting access to their archives.

                      Here's a very easy recipe for pan-roasted (bone-in) chicken breast. Fry it skin side down in a greased skillet for 5 mins., invert and fry for 3 mins., invert again and put in a 450 degreee oven for 15 to 18 nins, depending on size. Then make a reduction sauce with white wine, butter and herbs of your choice. Also good for sandwiches the next day.

                      And here's a recipe for a quick bouillabaise I recently concocted. Heat up a mixture of chicken broth, tomato paste, onion powder, garlic powder and fennel or anise (I use Chinese five-spice). Then just simmer your seafood till done. Some conoisseurs would be aghast, scoff but I found it very tasty.

                      Grilled fish is also a great idea. You probably know the rule -- fry 10 mins. per inch thickness, so filet of sole, for instance, takes only 5 mins. Have fun!

                  2. Here are a few of my very favorite quick recipes that I taught my daugher when she was learning:

                    Sticky Garlic Chicken on Noodles
                    Although it is only two of you, go ahead and make the full recipe. It reheats well and is also good cold. Don’t be afraid of the amount of garlic, it is sweet and mellow in the end. This was a winner in one of the very first Gilroy Garlic Competitions.

                    3-1/2 pounds of cut up chicken parts
                    3 Tbsp vegetable oil
                    1 head of garlic, about 20 cloves
                    2 small hot dried red peppers, optional
                    ¾ cup white vinegar
                    ¼ cup soy sauce
                    3 Tbsp honey
                    12 ounces of fresh Chinese noodles (or use dried or thin spaghetti)

                    Peel the garlic and coarsely chop. In a 12-inch skillet, heat the oil on high and brown the chicken well on all sides. Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic and hot pepper and toss for one minute. Add the vinegar, soy sauce and honey. Bring to a boil, then simmer about 10 minutes, watching to be sure the sauce does not scorch. Meanwhile cook noodles according to package directions and place on a platter. When the sauce is reduced to a thick glaze, pour the chicken over the noodles. The will be just enough sauce to moisten the noodles.

                    Here's a good salad that keeps well in the refrigerator for almost a week. Crunchy and appetizing, it makes a lot but I can eat big bowlfuls. Good for a potluck.
                    Tuna Pasta Salad with Cilantro

                    4 cups cooked macaroni
                    1 1/2 cups cabbage -- finely shredded
                    1 cup chopped celery
                    1 cup chopped cucumber or zucchini
                    1/2 cup sliced radishes
                    1/2 cup chopped green onions
                    1/2 cup chopped walnuts -- toasted lightly
                    1 or 2 cans tuna -- drained

                    Dressing
                    1/3 cup vegetable oil
                    3 Tablespoons mayonnaise
                    3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
                    2 cloves garlic -- pressed
                    1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
                    1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
                    1/4 teaspoon salt
                    1/2 cup cilantro -- chopped

                    In a large bowl, whisk salad ingredients. Add remaining ingredients for salad and toss. Chill well, 3 hours or overnight. Keeps well for several days. Makes 9 cups.

                    Fine Cooking Magazine has some great simple recipes on the website. Here's a pasta that will be a nice change up from the usual red sauce: http://www.taunton.com/finecooking/re...

                    Easy Kung Pao chicken: http://www.taunton.com/finecooking/re...

                    Killer Chicken and Rice, you don't need sides with this: http://www.taunton.com/finecooking/re...

                    These are things I make all the time. Now I challenge you to try one and report back. (People so often don't.)

                    1. A quick meal: Cut up a bunch of potatoes into bite-size pieces. Put on a cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper (also could add herbs, rosemary is great). Mix around until coated, put into a 400 degree oven until they are as brown as you like them (scrape them up every 15 minutes or so, I usually go for about 45 minutes, but I like mine very dark).

                      Put some green beans or broccoli or peas, whatever (can use frozen), in a steamer basket (looks like a little flying saucer, about $4 at the grocery store) in a pot with a little water, cover, and steam for about 5 minutes, while you...

                      Get some sort of protein (chicken, fish, thin cut pork chops work well), which you salt and pepper, then saute in a pan until it is cooked through. That will depend on how thick it is, it's ok to cut into it with a knife and see if it's not pink any more. Take the meat out of the pan. Add either lemon juice or wine (white or red), depending on the taste you're going for, and scrape up the bottom of the pan.. Let it cook down a little, experiment with seasonings, maybe add some cream or butter. Pour it over the meat. I also like sauteeing mushrooms for the sauce.

                      The vegetables are also good roasted, at the same time as the potatoes, but usually not for so long. He might even like cauliflower like this! It totally changes the flavor.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: JGrey

                        I just made a delicious simple meal that I took from one of Giada's shows on the foodnetwork and added my own side.
                        I made salmon over a pea pesto with a side of sauteed cabbage.
                        I started out cutting up the cabbage and throwing it in a pan with some olive oil...added salt, pepper and garlic powder and few other spices to taste.
                        Next i cut up the salmon into separate portions and salt and peppered them on each side with a drizzle of olive oil. I heated a pan and cooked it a nice medium (a little pink inside) and then took it off. Lastly i took a box of frozen peas, some garlic cloves, salt, pepper and parmesan cheese...mixed it all up in the food processor and streamed in some olive oil. It was a delicious meal and took all of 10 mins to prepare and have ready. Try it. I find it easier to cook once you've experimented a while. I don't follow recipes..i get ideas and make it my own. Good luck!

                        1. re: Liskypisky

                          I second the recommendation for Giada's recipes...generally very simple to prepare and tasty. Never overwhelming. You can find her recipes on foodtv.com.

                      2. Try Marion Cunningham's book Cooking with Children. Really! It spells out the basics of simple but good food. Recipes for pizza, hamburgers, meatloaf, cooking eggs, roast chicken, vegetable soup, cooking vegetables, biscuits, bread, pancakes, brownies, birthday cake. Nothing cutesy. She explains cooking techniques in enough detail that (kids or) new cooks can understand the whys. I recommend it to adults all the time.

                        1. I second the suggestion of a cookbook that covers many cuisines, because the best way to learn how to cook is to prepare things you really want to eat - and, as much as I love, say, Marcella Hazan's cookbooks, I don't want to eat Italian all the time. When I learned to cook, many moons ago, I was a poor grad student sharing a place with two friends. We each cooked for the group a couple of nights a week, and although we only had one cookbook - Craig Claiborne's New York Times Cookbook - because it covered so many cuisines, we always had something interesting and tasty for dinner. Any good, comprehensive cookbook can do the trick. As a beginner, stay away from celebrity chef cookbooks - their recipes often are incredibly involved. And, as others have already mentioned, good ingedients are the most important part of any recipe.

                          1. You will get plenty of uber good advice and recipes here, and encouragement, which is what I wanted to offer.
                            Have fun, be adventurous, and don't be afraid to mess up. I'm not what I would consider a great cook, but I've been cooking for a long time. It sometimes takes me 2 or 3 or 4 times to get something down pat the way I want it, and yes, sometimes my stuff has to go in the trash and I have to start over. It's all a big fun learning experience!
                            Spencer

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Spencer

                              When my mom and dad were either first together or married (i forget which), my mom wasn't as awesome as a cook as she is now. She made him beef stew, and it turned green. He ate it anyway.

                              how's THAT for love?

                            2. 1) Put pieces of raw chicken in a baking dish and sprinkle them generously with soy sauce and garlic powder, treating all surfaces of the chicken. Bake at 350* for an hour, and after half an hour add a small can of crushed pineapple. Either serve this with rice or put some washed whole sweet potatoes in the oven to bake with the chicken. Puncture the sweet potatoes with a fork and put them on a piece of aluminum foil. You just need salad with this. 2) Picadillo (Latin American comfort food): fry up a pound of ground beef with a chopped onion and a cut-up green pepper. Add an 8-oz can of tomato sauce, salt to taste, a teaspoon of cumin (comino in Spanish), a handful of raisins, and some stuffed green olives, and cook for a few minutes. Have this with rice and a salad. Any leftover picadillo freezes nicely for another occasion. 3) To save time and effort, make chocolate chip cookies using the recipe on any package of chocolate chips only don't put the chocolate chips in the dough. Spread the dough in a greased 8 x 8 square pan, put the chocolate chips on top, and put in a 350* oven for 4-5 minutes just to melt the chocolate. Take the pan out of the oven and use a table knife to marbleize the melted chocolate throughout the dough. Return to oven and finish baking (25-30 minutes total), cool, and cut into squares (easier than making separate cookies).

                              Hints: 1) If you are in a hurry to bake potatoes or sweet potatoes, turn the oven to 425* and while it is heating put the potatoes in the microwave for 3-4 minutes to get them started then finish them in the oven so they will "seem" baked. 2) If you beat egg whites stiff they will collapse when you walk away from them even for a minute unless you add a little bit of the sugar in the recipe. Beating in the sugar will stabilize the beaten egg whites. 3) If brown sugar turns hard put it in a covered jar with a slice of raw apple and it will get soft again. 4) If a meal seems sparse add a can of bought biscuits or some hot rolls and butter. 5) If a recipe calls for sour milk and you don't have any add a teaspoon of vinegar per cup of regular milk. 6) Keep a few grains of raw rice in the salt shaker so the salt won't clog up in humid weather. 7) You can improvise a quick stir-fry using a package of pre-shredded cabbage intended for coleslaw. Add any leftover bits of meat or shrimp or whatever plus a little soy sauce, garlic, minced fresh ginger, minced garlic, and sherry. 8) An easy dessert is any ice cream with any liqueur poured over it (invent your own combinations). 9) Canned beef gravy with a hit of Madeira plus some sliced deli roast beef makes a quick dinner with rice or potatoes. 10) I have an 1880's housekeeping book that gives this good advice: "Always keep an hour ahead of your work". Empty the dishwasher before you go to bed at night. Set the table ahead of time. This evening, cut up vegetables for tomorrow night's stir-fry. See if the salt and pepper shakers and sugar bowl need filling. Set up the morning coffee pot the night before. If you take your lunch to work, fix it the night before. Meanwhile, put a radio or tape player in the kitchen to keep you company. Or type something you want to learn or memorize and tape it up over the sink.

                              1. I second/third/fourth the concept of getting a good basic cookbook, but there are also so many excellent recipe websites out there that if you can figure out flavors/food items you like (for instance, chicken breasts and bacon) you can do searches on various websites using those two ingredients (or however many you think sound good together) and find lots of recipes you can make as-is or slightly alter if something just doesn't sound right.

                                Here are some recipe search sites that allow ingredient searches:

                                http://theory.stanford.edu/~amitp/rec...

                                http://www.epicurious.com

                                http://www.allrecipes.com

                                The key to cooking is to not be afraid to try new things, even in small stages. If you read a food magazine, and they have an article about something that sounds good to you, find it, find some recipes, and see how it turns out. Experiment - if it's only two of you, it's not so much of an ouchy if something doesn't turn out right.

                                And as for the recommendations for a crockpot - GET ONE. :-) Here's a recipe that is easy, basic, doesn't require "odd" ingredients, and is OH-so-tasty!


                                * Exported from MasterCook *

                                Crockpot Beef Burgundy

                                Recipe By :from Mabel Hoffman's "Crockery Cookery"
                                Serving Size : 6 Preparation Time :0:00
                                Categories :

                                Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
                                -------- ------------ --------------------------------
                                2 slices bacon -- chopped
                                2 pounds sirloin steak, trimmed -- cut in 1 inch cubes
                                (can also use round steak
                                ) 1/4 cup flour
                                1 teaspoon salt
                                1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt -- (optional)
                                1/4 teaspoon marjoram
                                1/4 teaspoon thyme
                                1/4 teaspoon pepper
                                1 clove garlic -- minced
                                1 cube beef bouillon -- crushed
                                1 cup Burgundy wine
                                2 tablespoons cornstarch

                                In large skillet cook bacon several minutes. Remove bacon and set aside. Coat beef with flour and brown on all sides in bacon mixture. Combine steak, bacon drippings, cooked bacon, seasonings, bouillon and Burgundy in crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or until meat is tender. Turn control to high. Add cornstarch (dissolved in 2 tablespoons water); cook on high 15 minutes.

                                - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                                Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 381 Calories; 22g Fat (57.2% calories from fat); 29g Protein; 8g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 97mg Cholesterol; 810mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1/2 Grain(Starch); 4 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.

                                NOTES : Can add 1/4 pound fresh mushrooms during last 15 minutes, if desired.

                                LLW Notes: Wonderful served over egg noodles. I also like to add about a 1/4 cup extra of red wine to the pot I browned the bacon and beef in and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, to get the browned beef and flour bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Add this to the beef and wine mixture in the crockpot at the beginning of cooking for added richness to the gravy.

                                1. I make the following basic stir-fry recipe which can be adjusted based on the ingredients you have on hand. Once you have all the sauces you need, you are ready to go with whatever stuff you have in the fridge.

                                  Mix up some hot chilli sauce or some hot curry paste, some soy sauce, brown sugar or honey along with hoisen sauce and some chopped garlic and ginger. Set aside.

                                  Chop up chicken, beef, or tofu.

                                  Slice some red, green or orange peppers, broccoli, onions, mushrooms, or any other veggies.

                                  Stir-fry at a high heat the meat or tofu along with the veggies. Once the meat is cooked through and the veggies cooked but still crisp, add the sauce and cook briefly.

                                  Serve with rice or coucous.

                                  1. I know that the typical CHer will dits the food network shows, but talking from experience, I've learned a ton of things from all of them. No, not every night am I going to prepare a lavish seven course meal, but, for the basics you can't beat them. There are shortcuts and ways to save on things that I would have never known. Once you get the basics down you can improvise and become creative. Cooking is a science and when it's mastered you make it an art. Good luck to you and you always have us to fall back on!

                                    1. In addition to all the great advice you've already gotten here, I really think that the key to good *simple* food is the quality of your ingredients. A basic tomato-basil-mozzarella salad can be okay, or can be extraordinary - what makes the difference is the tomatoes and the cheese and the oil and vinegar that you've got to work with.

                                      I guess what I'm saying is that one of the most important parts of learning how to cook is learning how to shop for food. I would spend some time exploring farmers' markets and interesting grocery stores. Start with really basic familiar ingredients, like tomatoes, but the freshest, sweetest-smelling, locally grown ones you can find. It makes a huge, huge difference.

                                      A great place to start is to create versions of dishes you already know you like and have been ordering in at home. So if you and your BF really like, say, meal-sized salads with sliced grilled steak, then do a search for recipes for that. I always start with epicurious.com, which has really good search functions. (The internet is especially helpful if you don't have lots of money - cookbooks are expensive, and there is a lot of fantastic information for free online.) So you could search for 'main dish', then narrow to 'salad', then narrow to 'beef', and then look at recipes that have gotten good user ratings. You'll immediately have a bunch of really fun options to choose from, and you can select ones that seem tasty and accessible to your skill level.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: chloe103

                                        Chloe103 is telling you straight that is very good advice about chooseing your
                                        different ingredients.and most people will help you and give you good advice at the
                                        produce or if youasked the butcher. just tell him your situation and ask him about
                                        what cut of meat you should or maybe he could suggest a more economical cut of
                                        meat to use. thats what those people are there for. one place I would like to tell
                                        you about is website (www.about.com) they have alot of training people how to
                                        cook and bake different things so you might try that. good luck it just takes
                                        practice. just like driving a car.

                                      2. Parmesan Chicken for Two:

                                        Preheat oven to 450. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parhment paper.
                                        Mix together: 2 T. dijon mustard
                                        1 T. softened butter
                                        1/4 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
                                        1/4 cup grated Parmegianno Reggiano
                                        Dredge 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves in crumb mixture and place on baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes (15 minutes for small breasts.)

                                        Note: You must use the parchment paper! You can cook up to 8 of these at once, but more than that won't get crispy.

                                        1. Thank you for all of the great tips and suggestions!! I cannot wait to start experimenting, I will definetaly report back...any other recipes or ideas are always welcome!!

                                          1. Double G

                                            Welcome and you sound like a keeper. I have one of you graduating college in June and she has asked the same question, so here are a couple of tips.

                                            - See if your library has a few cookbooks and look through them. You will find these range from very easy and great to somewhat difficult. Starting out I would recommend 2. Bittman's How to Cook Everything amd the Joy of Cooking. JOC was my first book in 1972 and it has been a staple since then and HTCE is a new edition to the library band so far so good. Other posters have also mention Hazan. She is fantastic and the recipes might be a little harder than the other two. A great threesome to start with.
                                            - Buy some spices. Look at Pennzy's for a good variety
                                            - Buy some pots and pans. Other threads get more detailed.

                                            Now to your question:

                                            1 - Roasted chicken. Many years trying to get my favorite methid and i settled on one 5 years ago and is a hit all the time. In fact ATK came to somewhat the same conclusion. Buy a whole chicken and split the back and break the breast bone or if you are like little jfood (who would say "Dad that's gross") buy a cut up chicken. Place a sheet of foil on a raised cookie sheet. Crank the oven up to 425 (please let it pre-heat to this temperature). Sprinkle whatever spices you and BF desire and cook for 40 minutes. Crispy and juicy
                                            2 - Roasted potato wedges - great with chicken above. For 2 you can use one large or 2 medium potatoes (sweet pots are our favorites). Peel or don't peel the skin depending on how you and BF like them, cut in half and then into wedges. Place in a bowl, a little evoo and plop onto baking sheet number 2 or add to the chicken baking sheet. Salt, pepper and a little paprika and into the oven with the chicken above. After 20 minutes, turn and return to oven. Chicken and potatoes usually done at the same time
                                            3 - I notice no fish recipes so let me add one (and its pretty healthy). Buy a piece of fish for the two of you. Cut up some veggies, whatever you like. We are into red peppers, onions, brussel sprouts, squashes. Take an oven proof pan and get hot on the stove. Add some EVOO and place the fish (that you seasoned a little) in the pan to sear one side, about 3 minutes. Flip over and add all the veggies to the pan. Sprinkle with a little S&P (you can add a little white wine and lemon juice as well)and place in a 400 oven (makes ure your pan can go into an oven). Let if roast in the oven until done (plan on 8-10 minutes an inch). TAKE A OVEN MITT and remove the pan. After you take the fish and veggies out of the pan I leave the mitt on the handle so some unsuspecting soul does not grab it.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: jfood

                                              I agree with the fish concept.. my easy recipe for fish is...,. buy salmon filets.. not the steaks, they have to many bones... check for bones... there will be a small amount... get a glass pan or a plastic one.. doesn't matter.. your going to be marinating the fish... cut up 2 med sized onions into rings, the thiner the better, if you like mushrooms you can do the same with a few... layer those in the dish then place the fish.. skin side down on top... pour in teriyaki sauce until it is SLIGHTLY covering the fish... then add minced garlic and ginger, as much as you like.. and the juice of.. 1 lime or lemon OR 1/2 of an orange or grapefruit. Let this merinate for 24-48 hours, turning the fish every 12 hours or so... when your ready to cook, broil or even grill until it is done to your liking. I take the sauce left in the pan and boill the hell out of it was it's had raw fish in it and saute the mushrooms and onions. I serve this with a green veggie and white rice...

                                              Also a great steak sauce recipe is to carmalize onions, very simple.. remember slow cooking is best so you don't burn the onions, lots of butter and some sea salt to bring out the sweetness... after they are a nice tobacco brown, add in a touch of beef stock or broth , let that reduce a bit then add 2 nice heaping spoonfuls of sour cream...