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Your best "no muss, no fuss" recipe

I am going to give my college student brother a collection of easy recipes for Christmas- things he can make to impress his girl and to feed himself and his roommates.

This is the first recipe- and I am looking for more ideas. Keep in mind, I just taught him how to chop an onion over Thanksgiving (which he was pretty terrible at), so everything has to be as simple and easy to understand as possible. Here's my first one:

Burro y Pomodoro sauce

One can of chopped tomatoes
One onion
One stick of butter
A half box of linguine or spaghetti

Peel and cut the onion in half. Take the wrapper off the butter. Put all the ingredients in a sauce pan or a deep skillet. Cover and cook 30-45 minutes on medium low heat. Go watch a 30 minute sitcom. Fill another saucepan 3/4 of the way full with water. Put it on high heat. When it is boiling with large bubbles, put in the pasta. Set a timer for three minutes. Stir the pasta. Set the timer for six more minutes. Fish out a noodle with a fork. Taste it to see if it is done. When it is as soft as you like it, drain the pasta. Remove the onion from the sauce. Pour sauce over a plate of pasta and serve.

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  1. Julie, I have a recipe for 5 Ingredient Chicken but it really should be basted every 10 or 15 minutes...does the basting qualify as too much fuss n' muss?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Val

      Can it be covered in foil instead? Not sure he'll get the concept.

      1. re: julietg

        It really would not be the same....that's okay...I know others will have great suggestions and you may want to search this board for "simple" or "easy" in the search...I know we've had this topic before a few times but there are always new posters who also have ideas to offer.

    2. Get the youngfella a slow cooker, and with it give him this recipe, which I got out of a magazine some years ago. You can't get much more "no muss, no fuss" than a slow cooker.

      Beef Boogie Woogie (so named because the original contributor's child couldn't pronounce "borguignon")

      1 can cream of mushroom soup
      1/2 c. dry red wine
      1 packet (from a 2.0-oz. box of 2) beefy onion soup mix
      1/2 t. dried thyme (less to taste; a little thyme goes a long way)
      2 lb. beef stew meat
      8 oz. (2 c.) baby carrots
      8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
      Chopped fresh parsley for garnish (optional)
      Cooked noodles

      Whisk mushroom soup, wine, soup mix and thyme in a 3-qt. or larger slow cooker until well blended. Add remaining ingredients and stir until coated. Cover and cook on high 4 hours, or on low 8-10 hours, or until meat is very tender.

      Serve over noodles; sprinkle with parsley if desired. Makes 4 servings.

      1 Reply
      1. re: revsharkie

        I hope these aren't too simple, but here's what I ate in college (and we still eat when we're too tired to think of what to make). Some are more ideas than actual recipes.

        Another slow cooker "recipe":
        1 lb. chicken thighs
        1 jar salsa
        Cook on low 6 hours. Roll up in a tortilla and eat.

        I second the quiche, or leftover pie: eggs, cheese, other stuff, bake. That's our go-to "use up the veggies" dinner.

        Meatloaf: one pound ground meat (I use ground turkey, he could use beef or meatloaf mix), one egg, some breadcrumbs, dried parsley, some grated parmesan if he wants. Mix together and shape into a loaf. Glaze with a mixture of ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes.

        Roasted veggies (asparagus, green beans, potato or sweet potato oven fries) -- Wash and trim veggies (snap ends off asparagus, slice ends off green beans, slice potatoes into strips). Toss with some olive oil and salt. Roast at 400 for about 15 minutes.

        Pizza: Buy refrigerated pizza dough. Top with jarred tomato sauce and shredded cheese. Bake. Add toppings if desired, like sliced mushrooms, jarred artichokes, sliced tomato or bell pepper, cooked sausage.

        Chicken parmesan: Slice chicken breasts. Dip pieces in flour, then beaten egg, then breadcrumbs. Fry. Put the fried cutlets into a baking pan, top with sauce and cheese, and bake at 350 until cheese is melted.

        Pan-fried fish fillets: Dip fish in egg (mixed with a little hot sauce if he wants), then breadcrumbs (panko would be even better) mixed with a little salt. Fry in mixture of olive oil and butter.

        Roast chicken: Requires a little more prep than the rest of these. Soak chicken in water with lots of salt the night before. Take out, pat dry with paper towels, rub skin with olive oil, and roast at 400 for about 45 minutes for a 4-lb chicken. Slightly more advanced version: chop potatoes and maybe onions, put them underneath the chicken; stuff lemon and/or fresh rosemary into the cavity.

        Also, gussied-up grilled cheese sandwiches: in the middle, add salsa, cold cuts, leftover meatloaf, sliced tomato, fried peppers, hummus, tomato sauce, or whatever else strikes your fancy from the fridge (Not all at once!)

        And here's my mom's onion dip: plain yogurt + Lipton's onion soup mix. It actually tastes just as good as the full-fat kinds you buy at the store.

      2. julietq
        Isn't one stick of buttter a bit much for 1/2 lb of pasta? And why would you have him discard the onion? Without any garlic or other spices, aside from the tomato it's the only other ingredient. Unless he's the kind of kid that likes Spaghetti with ketchup, I don't think he's going to be satisfied with this much 'simplicity'.You may need to give him a spice rack for Christmas. :-}
        If you want some easy, ingredient friendly recipes, get him the Brand Name cookbook.
        The recipies are really, really easy to follow and the ingredients are familiar using brand name ingredients that most college kids love.

        8 Replies
        1. re: Tay

          Actually, I'm making this sauce right now, and it is delicious. Don't knock it till you've tried it!

          I wanted to give him a homemade gift, really, not buy him a cookbook. Frankly, I think he will be intimidated by a book.

          1. re: julietg

            I'm sure it's very tasty :-} . I still think that's a lotta butter.
            I can understand and appreciate your desire to gather a compilation of recipes and I applaud your efforts. You are a very thoughtful sister.

          2. re: Tay

            This is Marcella Hazan's famous tomato sauce with butter and onion (although she calls for 5 T of butter, not 8). It is stupendous in its simplicity, and one of the most lauded recipes ever to be discussed (and discussed over and over) on Chowhound.

            I would suggest that Julie emend her recipe to include seasoning the sauce (with salt, that is).

            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

              I would also suggest she specify the size of the can of tomatoes. Marcella's recipe, using 5T of butter, calls for 2 cups canned tomatoes (or 2 pounds fresh).

              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                Intrigued, I just did a search. Here's one of the most recent threads on this sauce:


                I'm at my mom's, and we're all in a comfort-food-mood tonight and it's 27 degrees out, so rather than try to run to the grocery and do something complex, I am thrilled to whip this up. :) I think Essentials of Italian Cooking is going on my Christmas list.

                1. re: foxy fairy

                  This sauce is DELICIOUS! I made it last night and served it with some basil ravioli I found at my mom's. Wow. This is definitely a keeper. Of course, I love noodles with butter, so the butter IN the tomato sauce is perfect for me! I did add a touch of heavy cream and a few hot pepper flakes to part of the batch and it makes a great pink sauce too, so you might add a little Variations** note for him, suggesting the addition of hot pepper flakes (better specify amount, ha ha) or half and half or cream. I know this will go into *my* no fuss-no muss rotation. My other ideas below -- thanks for this one!

                  1. re: foxy fairy

                    I have got to try this again!!! What am I doing wrong? I love the way this sauce sounds. I'll search for the best canned tomatoes and give it another go. Sounds wonderful.

                    1. re: chef chicklet

                      My personal fav is La Vaille - yellow can. After reading that other thread, I am wondering if the bitter taste comes from the seeds?

            2. "....Put all the ingredients in a sauce pan or a deep skillet...."

              No word of a lie...add the instruction "NOT the pasta" ......been there, done that, and wondered why something so simple couldn't be figured out by the highly intelligent, but new cook...


              9 Replies
              1. re: violabratsche

                You're right. I also forgot to say "turn down the burner when you put in the pasta." I almost wrote, "pour the tomatoes out of the can." Remember Amelia Bedilia?

                Seriously, this is needed. He knows NOTHING.

                1. re: julietg

                  What size can of tomatoes, is diced ok? In its own juice or in puree? Not that many years ago I would have called a friend to ask. Lid on or off is another perpetual question - why don't recipes say?

                  1. re: Sarah

                    Don't think it really matters what the cut is or what they're canned in, does it? Your standard can- 28 oz. That's standard, right? Yes, cover the sauce while cooking.

                    1. re: julietg

                      I put together such a book for my college student son. It was simple, e-z recipes from cookbooks, internet sites, etc. w/my own handwritten notes of explanation. Well, years later, I found out it was too complex, some of it incomprehensible to him! Now I explain every twist and turn (such as I know - not a confident cook here) so that's why I posed my "dumb" questions, Some might think the 15 oz can was standard (eye level on shelf while 28 oz in on bottom)...

                      1. re: Sarah

                        I getcha, and you are on the money. I always thought 28 oz was standard?

                        Did you mean that "cover" did not translate?

                        1. re: julietg

                          Recipes usually specify size of can. No worries, cover is clear (but only if he has one). Ten years later - son is now (self-proclaimed) omelet (only) master!! Still clueless as to all else. Maybe you should run recipes by him!

                          1. re: Sarah

                            AHA! Gotta make sure he has a lid with his Target special.

                            Think he'll know what a saucepan is? Maybe I should do a primer as an intro...

                            1. re: julietg

                              Maybe you could pick up a cookware brochure and paste in the little illustration of the proper pan to use ... or get a screenshot from Revere Ware or someone's website if you're doing this electronically.

                  2. re: julietg

                    If you happen to know the stove he is using, you could get more detailed about the settings. I always turn my burner down to "6" after the pasta goes in :)

                    My grocery store sells pre-chopped onions, btw, and I am their best customer. If they're not on the shelf, I go looking for someone. It's better than crying--I hate chopping onions.

                2. I love your approach. Your brother is a lucky guy.

                  1. "German" dinner: drain half the water from a can of sauerkruat, dump the rest in a pot, toss in sausages or weiners, heat. Serve with boiled potatoes (scrub some small potatoes, boil in water).
                  2. "Mexican" dinner: dump some canned chili or chili beans or both and a can of drained corn in a pot, add some hot sauce, serve in rolled up and heated tortillas
                  3. "Mac and cheese": boil some macaroni, drain, save in ref. When hungry, place mac in bowl, sprinkle on some black pepper and grated cheese, microwave and eat.
                  4. Crock pot: throw in a crock pot cubed stew meat, carrots, onion, cup of wine, salt, pepper, and soup cubes, let slow cook for hours.
                  5. "Japanese" meal: fry up a steak, let cool, slice thinly and drizzle with teriyaki sauce (purchased or recipe upon request); serve with hot rice.
                  6. "Lao" meal: break up some ground beef/pork/combo in boiling water; drain while still pink; add a combo of fish sauce, lime juice, chopped chilis, chopped green onion, chopped cilantro, grated ginger, chopped mint, and ground toasted rice (toast raw white rice in frypan, grind in coffee grinder). Serve with rice and with more sliced chili and torn mint on top.
                  7. "Chinese" plate: soak and then slice some dried mushrooms, toss in hot pan w/ a bit of oil; toss in some washed and cut cross-wise Chinese cabbage/napa, toss in some fermeted black beans.

                  I could go on and on...let me know.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    These are great. I have little to no Asian cooking experience myself, other than standard Americanized college stir fry, so guess who will be trying number six first?

                    And yes, please, on the teriyaki.

                    1. re: julietg

                      Chop 3 slices of bacon.
                      Chop 2 cloves of garlic.
                      Whisk 1 egg.
                      Boil one pound of spaghetti for 9 minutes.
                      1/2 cup grated parmasean

                      While spaghett is boiling, fry bacon in pan until nearly done. Add chopped garlic to bacon, and cook for 1 minute, shut off and remove pan from burner.
                      Add cooked spaghetti to bacon and garlic. And while still hot add whisked egg and parm. cheese and toss. Serve. It's simply delish.

                    2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                      I make something similar to number 6 almost every week. I cook some ground turkey almost through, then add some fish sauce, and stir fry type veggies you like that cook up fast- sometimes I do bell pepper and throw in cucumber at the end. Tonight I cooked the turkey 'til nearly done, added the fish sauce, threw in asparagus cut up in thirds along w/ some chicken broth and cooked asparagus until crisp tender, then added shredded carrot and diced cuke at the end. Stirred in fresh lime juice and topped w/ chopped green onion before serving over green leaf lettuce. Also great over jasmine rice.

                    3. http://www.bbonline.com/recipe/rosewo...

                      How about quiche? Crustless is simplest of all and they can add in whatever veggies or meats and cheeses they have around. I've included this link just as a guide because I wing it when I make quiche and can't tell him about quanitites. Possibilities are endless, of course, and could include cheese, onion and broccoli or bacon and potato or gruyere and ham or tomato and cheddar or whatever they feel like using.
                      Easy as pie.
                      Oh, maybe include some simple viniagrette recipes so that with a quiche and bag of salad they can have a delicious and super easy real-food meal.

                      I think he'll love your thoughful gift!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: fern

                        Thank you! I think I will call it a "leftover pie," though, because he is a big strong jock, and they don't eat quiche, do they?

                      2. Even if you think he might be intimidated by a cook book, you might want to check out Peg Bracken's I Hate to Cook Book. Easy recipes (think of pot roast sprinkled with dried onion soup mix, wrap in foil and bake) and laugh out loud funny!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: jackiecat

                          Actually, that reminds me. My mother used to make a this brisket and I loved it. Great leftovers, too. Take one brisket, the fattier the better; put it on a sheet of heavy duty foil; sprinkle on it one packet of Lipton onion soup mix; wrap the foil tightly around the brisket, put it in a roasting pan to catch any drips, and bake at 325 for 3 to 4 hours.

                          1. re: jackiecat

                            Oh, he could make her Stay Abed Stew, too! Easy and good. Love that book.

                          2. Hi Juliet! The Filipino dish, Chicken Adobo is easy to make and very forgiving of user error. You can also make it with pork.

                            Chicken Adobo:

                            Buy one chicken, already cut up, or whatever chicken parts you prefer (best with bone and skin still attached. I like this with drumettes). Stop by Chinese restaurant and pick up two orders of white rice.

                            Put chicken in a large saucepan and add:

                            3/4 cup soy sauce
                            3/4 c vinegar (rice wine, cider, distilled; anything but balsamic)
                            splash water
                            2 bay leaves
                            lots crushed garlic (can buy bottled if you are in a real pinch), at least 3 tablespoons.

                            Bring to boil, then reduce and simmer till the chicken is cooked through. Serve over rice.

                            I made this once for staff meal at the restaurant I worked at and it was an instant hit! I wasn't allowed to make anything else but this whenever it was my turn to cook. The Minimalist at the NY Times also has a variant worth looking at.

                            The amount of soy and vinegar is pretty arbitrary, depending on how much you like sauce. Just keep it on a 1:1 ratio and your brother should be good. He can grab both bottles and pretend he's a bartender.

                            Now, since you have all that soy sauce, vinegar and garlic on hand, you can also combine equal amounts of soy and vinegar (with just a little extra vinegar for zing) in a small bowl, crush some fresh garlic into that and you have a killer sauce to serve with potstickers. You can get frozen potstickers at any Asian restaurant and Trader Joe's. Instructions for cooking are on the back of most of the packages, but I can post them if you want.

                            My Favorite Easy Pasta Sauce (derived from an Epicurious recipe)

                            Dump one jar bottled spaghetti sauce, one pack crushed red pepper leftover from takeout pizza), and one big wedge of Havarti cheese into a pan. Heat and serve over pasta. Even better if you slice some sausage into the sauce.

                            And since you said something about teriyaki:

                            Teriyaki Salmon:

                            Marinate salmon in teriyaki sauce (I like JES brand best, Kikkoman is terrible). If your brother is feeling adventurous he can add some peeled, grated ginger. Cook in lots and lots of butter and serve over rice.

                            1. Lemon Feta Chicken

                              boneless skinless chicken
                              1/4 tsp. pepper
                              1/2 cup lemon juice (divided)
                              1 TBSP. oregano (divided)
                              2 green onions cut up (scallions)
                              feta cheese (whatever amount you like)

                              1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
                              2. Place boneless skinless chicken in a dish (flattened works best, if too complicated for him can buy thin sliced at most supermarkets).
                              3. Pour 1/4 cup lemon juice over the chicken.
                              4. Sprinkle pepper and 1/2 Tablespoon oregano on top of chicken.
                              5. Cut up scallions and place on top.
                              6. Place crumbled feta cheese on top of chicken.
                              7. Put remaining oregano on top of chicken and pour the rest of the lemon juice on top too.
                              8. COVER and place in the oven for 30-45 minutes or until juices run clear.

                              1. Tubesteak meal deal:

                                Put frozen green veggies (e.g. spinach, broccoli, beans, chard) into a pot.
                                On top of this, lay weenies or bratwurst or polish or hot links or whatever.
                                Add a little water, put on the lid, and cook on low until the veggies are done and the doggies are hot.

                                Tater tots cooked in the toaster oven would go well with this. And/or, a french roll, sliced in half, buttered, and toasted in a frying pan.

                                BTW fresh vegetables would be better, but I've noticed that non-cook guys like the frozen alternative because they are good to go without any prepping.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Sharuf

                                  These are so simple, and perfect, thanks!!

                                2. When I was in high school, one of my friends made this for us when her parents were at work and I make it from time to time when I just don't want to be bothered with cooking. It's certainly not going to impress anyone, but it's good enough I'm still eating it 15 years later.

                                  1 lb macaroni
                                  1 can cream of mushroom soup
                                  1 or 2 cans of tuna, depending how much you want.

                                  Cook macaroni, drain. Add soup and drained tuna to warm pasta. Season with salt and pepper. Stir.

                                  10 Replies
                                  1. re: GenieinTX

                                    Hot dish! They crumble potato chips on top of this dish in the midwest, right?

                                    1. re: GenieinTX

                                      one variation of this dish was: heat a can of cream of mushroom soup, dilute with 1 can of milk, add 1 can of tuna and some black pepper, serve over hot toast and top with some cooked frozen peas. Actually quite tasty, filling and fast.

                                      1. re: GenieinTX

                                        A variation my college kids would actually MAKE...

                                        EZ Mac 'n Cheese Thing

                                        1 box Kraft Macaroni & Cheese (original recipe, prepare per pkg directions)
                                        1 can Cream of Chicken soup, undiluted (or C of Mushroom, or...)
                                        1 can green beans, drained (or a cup or so of frozen, or peas, or mixed, or...)
                                        1 can ( we liked albacore) Tuna, well drained

                                        Lots of room to 'customize' this...use fav creamed soup flavor & whatever veg you like (or leave 'em out), use canned or leftover chicken or ham chunks instead of tuna...whatever...just make the mac 'n cheese per package directions, add the rest and heat through.

                                        Double, triple, quadruple at will...

                                        1. re: OldDog

                                          My mom always used cream of mushroom. Even back when I was a kid and hated mushrooms on principle, I loved those little mushroom squares mixed into the macaroni and tuna.

                                          When I make this nowadays I add frozen peas (I absolutely cannot stomach canned peas) and top with those canned french-fried onions.

                                          1. re: revsharkie

                                            NO on canned peas here, too...just icky. Onions on top sound good.

                                            Another variation when I use ham is to toss a couple of big handsful of chopped baby spinach in the colander before pouring in the mac to drain. The heat of the pasta water and then heating it all through is enough to cook the spinach. Cheesy breadcrumbs as a topper go great with that combo.

                                        2. re: GenieinTX

                                          this was tuna noodle casserole via my dad, funny thing is the man knew how to cook!

                                          my friends and i would make this and watch hockey as a perfect quick and reasonably tasty treat. also throw in frozen (but thawed and heated) peas, corn, chopped up carrots, celery, etc. to really ramp it up to be healthier and more varied. i love it and will still eat it and make it.

                                          as a suggestion, you may want to include a section on how to cook rice, pasta, potatoes, other starch. they're the founding blocks of every meal and if can at least do these right then he'll be full no matter what. sometimes we take these for granted.

                                          1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                            That's an excellent idea, thank you. Here are some more primer topics:

                                            -- mince, dice, chop
                                            -- chicken palliard
                                            -- how to shop for the recipes included
                                            -- what pan is which
                                            -- how to measure

                                            Got any more?

                                            1. re: julietg

                                              So many!
                                              - basic basics: herbs, spices, condiments, garlic, etc
                                              - eggs - how to _____ them
                                              - what to have on hand: butter, oil, vinegar
                                              - how to reheat
                                              Much more I'm sure!

                                              1. re: Sarah

                                                Something that would probably be helpful for a beginner is what each spice is good for.

                                                Another idea--a list of "secret ingredients"--the things you use to deepen flavor, fix problems, etc. I listed some of mine in the "I want to become a better cook" (or something like that) thread.

                                                A list of what not to do--crack eggs over the pot or bowl, measure salt over the pot or bowl, how to avoid cutting your fingers, don't go off & leave the broiler, how not to start a kitchen fire, don't try to salvage burnt toast or eggs, how to avoid leaving out ingredients when baking, what to let someone else do for you & what's really important to do yourself from scratch, etc.

                                                Don't know if you want to tell him that supposedly simple things like a perfect boiled egg are actually quite difficult, so not to be discouraged?

                                                1. re: foiegras

                                                  Substitutions are also really useful--like the applesauce to cut down on fat trick. My friend also taught me the making buttermilk from milk trick. Then there are substitutes for baking powder or soda, I think.

                                                  Maybe conversions, too? Or is that included in "how to measure"? E.g. number of tablespoons in a 1/2 cup, how many tsp in a tablespoon, etc.

                                        3. Chinese Spaghetti

                                          1 lb of ground beef cooked with one small white onion diced, and three coins ginger root
                                          then drain the grease off - put back into the pan with 2 small cans of tomato sauce 1/3 cup soy sauce. 1 tsp sugar, and 2 T sesame oil, thats right sesame oil and then just before serving, add a handful of chopped scallions.
                                          Serve over - 1 box of cooked vermecelli and toss the sauce with the pasta then top with more onions. We love this dish.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: chef chicklet

                                            Chef Chicklet, I'll make this for my Chinese parents and see if they'll like it! :)

                                          2. COZY ORZO -- perfect for a chilly night. YUM.

                                            Orzo is a small rice-shaped pasta :)

                                            1/2 lb orzo (that's about half the package, not the whole thing)
                                            1 lb cottage cheese (you can find 1lb tubs on the dairy aisle in the market, near the yogurt) -- take this out of the fridge about 30 mins before you put the water on for the orzo
                                            2 or 3 scallions cut very small (these are the long green onions -- trim off and discard the very edges, then cut into little pieces)
                                            1 lemon
                                            1 cup frozen peas -- take these out and put in a bowl when you take out the cottage cheese

                                            Put the frozen peas in a colander (strainer). Bring a big pot of water to a boil. When it comes to a boil, ladle out about a cup and pour it over the frozen peas -- this will soften them. Leave them in the colander.

                                            Put the orzo in the boiling water and cook, following cooking time on package. Taste it and as soon as it is tender, you want to drain it. Don't burn your tongue tasting it! :)

                                            While you cook the orzo, mix together the cottage cheese, salt, scallions, and grind in some black pepper. Grate in some lemon zest. For this, you're only using the outside skin of the lemon - use a veg peeler to get the yellow part off the outside of the lemon (just yellow, not the white) in strips and cut that into itsy-bitsy pieces, as small as you can. This is a good job for a helper, if you have one. Or, get a citrus zester (Bed Bath Beyond etc) and just use that. I like to use the zest of about 1/2 a lemon, more if you like a lemony flavor. Save the rest of the lemon to use in drinks, salad dressings, etc -- don't just throw it out. Put it in a baggie in the fridge and don't forget about it.

                                            Grate up some Parmesan and put it aside for later -- about half a cup or more if you love cheese.

                                            Drain the orzo into the colander with the peas. Shake off extra water, and put the orzo/peas in with the cottage cheese. Mix carefully - be gentle so you don't smoosh the peas :)

                                            Sprinkle with grated Parmesan (freshly grated, not from one of those cans) and serve.

                                            RICOTTA TOMATO TOAST

                                            Buy a tub of Dragone or Sorrento ricotta - they go on sale at the market all the time, so wait for the big tub at $2.99 and grab one, or two if you like ricotta.

                                            Grill up some really good crunchy bread. Spread with a thick layer of ricotta cheese and several juicy slices tomato. Top with a few fresh basil leaves if you have them, or a couple of sprinkles of dried basil or oregano. Drizzle on some GOOD olive oil and grind on lots of black pepper. Great crunch factor, excellent snack while watching movies or mindless reality television, also a great midnight distraction/study break.

                                            RITZY CHICKEN

                                            Crush up some Ritz crackers - put them in a big Ziploc bag and go to town smashing them up. You need about 2 cups.

                                            Take boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 lbs) and cut in strips (about the size of chicken fingers in a Chinese restaurant). Put these in a bowl and cover with one cup buttermilk. Let them chill together for a while, an hour at least.

                                            Preheat your oven to 425. Take marinating chicken out of fridge, and roll each piece in the Ritz crumbs. Make sure the chicken is totally covered in crackers. Prepare a baking sheet (you probably need two) by covering it with aluminum foil (makes cleanup very, very fast and easy). Set your Ritzy chicken on the sheets and bake for 15 to 20 mins.

                                            YUMMY SAUCE -- Easy creamy tangy dipping sauce and/or salad dressing and/or sandwich spread

                                            one clove garlic, smashed and cut up a bit
                                            1/4 cup olive oil
                                            1/3 cup feta cheese
                                            one teaspoon fresh dill, chopped, if you have it - otherwise you can skip it
                                            1/3 cup buttermilk
                                            one Tablespoon white vinegar or apple cider vinegar

                                            BLEND all of the above in your blender. DONE. You can dip your Ritzy chicken in this, use it on sandwiches, salads, wraps, or dunk chips in it. Cover tightly in the fridge and this will keep for a week. It is tangy and delicious. Mix it up well before you use it as it can settle in the fridge. This is at least a million times better than bottled salad dressing. Crumble the extra feta on salads, in sandwiches, wraps, etc.

                                            If there's even more buttermilk leftover, it's great in pancakes!

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: foxy fairy

                                              Ritz Chicken!! I haven't had that since college. Yum, I will have to make some now. Of course, the way I learned was to dredge the chicken in melted butter then roll in the crackers instead of buttermilk. Not hip friendly, but tasty!

                                              1. re: GenieinTX

                                                Another good variation - instead of dredging in Ritz crackers, try crushed Capn Crunch cereal. It tastes alot like a dish they serve at Planet Hollywood. College students always have cereal around, so really any cereal might work.

                                            2. Best Pan Steak Ever:
                                              Ribeye Steak
                                              Olive Oil
                                              Garlic Salt
                                              Lemon Pepper

                                              Preheat Broiler on High. Coat both sides of steak with olive oil. Sprinkle garlic salt and lemon pepper to taste on both sides as well. Add a couple pats of butter to an oven-safe saute pan and about 2 T of olive oil. Heat on high until oil/butter starts to smoke (make sure to ventilate kitchen! i've set off many a smoke detector when making this). Sear the steak on both sides for about 2 - 4 minutes to make a nice crust - turning only once. Place pan in the oven and broil for approx 5-10 more minutes to finish cooking.

                                              Serve w/ frozen veggies heated in the microwave and seasoned with garlic salt and lemon pepper.

                                              1. Ok, I'm about to be a newly-wed and my future mother in law gave me this amazing recipe that is sooo simple. Everyone always LOVES it...easy and cheap! perfect for a college student.

                                                Rueben casserole.

                                                one pound deli corned beef, pastrami or even turkey pastrami (for those of us trying to get into a wedding dress!).
                                                one package of sliced swiss cheese.
                                                one loaf of rye bread.
                                                one package of sauerkraut (in the grocery near the hotdogs).
                                                one bottle of thousand island dressing

                                                cut the deli meat into thin slices and put in the bottom of any oven proof dish.
                                                squirt a generous helping of thousand island on top.
                                                cover with sauerkraut
                                                cover with a few slices of cheese.
                                                repeat as many times as you can...as the dish or ingredients allow.
                                                butter one side of a few pieces of the rye bread and cut into cubes and place on top of last layer.
                                                put in ove at 350 until it gets hot all the way through.
                                                for the last few minutes turn the over to broil to toast the bread.

                                                the recipe never fails...good time comfort food.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: kmills9408

                                                  Can't wait to try it! YUM. Hot bubbly goodness is perfect for this weather in New England. thanks!

                                                  1. re: kmills9408

                                                    ....do you use a whole bottle of 1,000 Island?!

                                                    1. re: toodie jane

                                                      no, no. sorry I didn't clarify. you use enough to lightly cover the layer...it's a personal taste thing. some people like more than others. I usually go light on the dressing and then put a small dish with extra dressing on the table for those who like more.

                                                  2. My sister makes this all the time for her family.

                                                    Sorta Thai Peanut Chicken

                                                    1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes in juice with jalapeno
                                                    1 cup (more or less) peanut butter (she uses smooth)
                                                    1-2 lbs assorted chicken parts

                                                    Place everything in a crockpot. Cook on "high" heat for 6-8 hours.

                                                    1. Chicken piccata and marsala are both very easy pan sauces that can be prepared in the time it takes to boil the pasta water.

                                                      Pound the chicken and dredge in flour. Heat a sauté and add olive oil. sauté the chicken(seasoned with S&P) on both sides and set aside. sweat onions and garlic(or shallots) and deglaze with white wine and lemon juice for piccata (or marsala and chick stock for marsala). I add some sliced mushrooms (crimmini are preferred, but button also work) and oregano. Return the meat to the pan and coat the meat with the sauce. Butter can be added to thicken the sauces, but it isn't necessary if you are counting calories.

                                                      Serve over cooked and drained pasta, and garnish with parsley.

                                                      1. Nigella's recipe for chicken with lemons and garlic is incredibly easy. He wouldn't even have to peel the garlic.
                                                        It just requires a bit of forethought as it must be in the oven for a couple of hours.

                                                        1. Does he have a sweet tooth? I taught a few military friends (young, single, male) of mine how to make apple oatmeal crisp -- simplest recipe I could find, just apples, brown sugar, butter, flour, cinnamon, Quaker oats, salt -- a few years ago, and was bemused recently to find out they're all still making it regularly, one of them for breakfast every weekend:)

                                                          7 Replies
                                                            1. re: julietg

                                                              The proportions I pass along are 4 large / 6 small apples, sliced and arranged in a pie plate or brownie pan or whatever comes to hand, topped with a mix of:

                                                              3/4 cup brown sugar
                                                              3/4 cup Quaker oats
                                                              1/2 cup flour
                                                              1/2 cup butter
                                                              1 pinch cinnamon

                                                              But this is a very forgiving dish; you can tweak all of those proportions substantially and still end up with something delicious.

                                                              Bake at 350 F for half-an-hour until the apples seem appetizing when pierced with a fork and the topping is browned (if the former happens before the latter, move the crisp up to the top rack of the oven for five minutes).

                                                              1. re: ItinerantKitchenElf

                                                                Is the butter melted before adding to rest of topping mix?

                                                                1. re: ItinerantKitchenElf

                                                                  You could prob do this with canned half peaches, too. No?

                                                                  1. re: julietg

                                                                    I actually pull the butter out of the freezer (I don't use much butter, so that's where it tends to be kept), cut it into small shards or cubes with a knife, then mix it by hand with the oats, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Keeps it in a loose crumble form, which browns up nicely.

                                                                    You could absolutely do this with canned peaches. Or fresh peaches. Or fresh or frozen berries. I've made excellent crisp with plums and pears, as well. It's a great what-fruit-did-I-forget-to-eat-this-week-that's-now-about-to-go-bad dessert, especially as it works well with a mix...

                                                                    1. re: ItinerantKitchenElf

                                                                      *Blueberry rhubarb crisp*

                                                                      Adding rhubarb to a fruit crisp is a delicious tart twist... 3/4 lb rhubarb and 2 cups (11 oz) fruit (blueberries, strawberries, or both). I add a couple of Tbsp flour to the fruit, and with rhubarb some sugar too (1/4 to 1/3 cup) so it's not too tart. Although, I sometimes like a squeeze or two of fresh lemon there too. As Itinerant says, this is forgiving.

                                                                      I like some chopped pistachios in the topping too, with the rest of the goodies mentioned above. Tell him to squeeze the topping in his hands (rather than putting it on with a spoon) as he drops it atop the fruit, so it gets crunchy and sticks together.

                                                                      1. re: foxy fairy

                                                                        Really good call on the rhubarb -- have done the same; delicious. Also, cranberries make a great addition to apple crisp as long as you toss the fruit filling with sugar before baking to compensate for the tartness.

                                                            2. 1 lb ground beef, cooked and drained
                                                              1 16oz. can of stewed tomatoes (various flavors, original, italian, mexican, etc.)
                                                              1 8 oz. box of pasta, cooked (elbows, ziti, penne, etc).
                                                              Mix together, eat.

                                                              1 lb. of steak tips
                                                              3 or 4 bell peppers, sliced in to strips
                                                              1 large onion sliced

                                                              cook steak tips in a frying pan, drain excess fat, add peppers and onions, cook the peppers and onions for a few minutes, until they are done to your liking, serve over hot cooked rice, with hot pepper sauce, soy sauce or whatever you like.

                                                              Place boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a casserole, pour 1 or 2 cans of diced tomatoes over them (flavored with olive oil and basil are good, or add your own seasonings), bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Serve over pasta or rice.

                                                              These recipes are usually good for college kids with no time to cook!

                                                              Forgot my daughter's favorite, blat's- bacon, lettuce,tomatoes and a chopped ripe avocado roll up!

                                                              1. Lazy Shepherd's Pie

                                                                Brown 1lb ground beef. Dump in casserole dish.
                                                                Dump jar of mushroom gravy over beef. Mix.
                                                                Spread ready made mashed potatoes over. (Alexis brand makes some decent ones)
                                                                Bake at 350 for about a half hour or untill hot.

                                                                He could also add in some frozen peas with the beef for a true 'all in one' meal.

                                                                1. Easy Pulled BBQ Sandwich

                                                                  Canned chicken breast or roast beef (I know, I know... but it works, trust me)
                                                                  Favorite bottled BBQ sauce
                                                                  Chopped onion
                                                                  Crusty rolls (kaiser, etc.) or regular burger buns toasted
                                                                  Cole slaw from market deli.

                                                                  Drain the meat (reserve broth to moisten the mixture if needed; save the rest in the fridge for another meal). Combine with onion (sweat 'em in olive oil first, if desired) and BBQ sauce, shredding the meat with a fork as you go. Heat at low temp, stirring periodically, till piping hot and flavors meld -- stovetop, microwave, or slow cooker all work fine. Pile onto rolls/buns with cole slaw. Add mustard if desired.

                                                                  1. Pasta Salads -- if you are invited to a potluck or picnic or barbecue, make this in advance (at least several hours before the party). Always a hit with crowds. These are similar to the ones you can buy at the deli - but homemade tastes MUCH better.

                                                                    Variation #1 - Traditional Creamy Pasta Salad (elbow noodles)

                                                                    Cook 1 (16 ounce) package elbow macaroni (Bring a big pot of water to a boil, and then drop in the noodles, and cook til tender - follow cooking time on package, not more than nine or ten minutes). DO NOT OVERCOOK or you'll have mush.

                                                                    For dressing, in a small bowl mix together 1 cup mayo, 1 tablespoon cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons milk.

                                                                    While the pasta cooks, chop up your veggies -- 2 to 3 stalks celery (chop pretty small, about half the size of an elbow noodle, and chop all veggies more or less the same size), 1/3 cup pitted black or green olives, chopped (Kalamata is great here, or the green ones that come in a bottle), 1/2 cup chopped RED onion (don't use white by mistake!), 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper, salt and ground black pepper. If you have any parsley in the fridge, chop up a few tablespoons, fine, and sprinkle that on. Once the pasta cooks, drain it and LET IT COOL before adding the dressing and the veggies. Do NOT add mayo to hot pasta... go do something else, and when you come back (say 45 mins later, to be sure it's cool) add everything together. Let it hang out in a bowl, covered with Saran Wrap, in the fridge for at least an hour. This tastes good the first day, way better the next day. Great to bring to a picnic or barbecue.

                                                                    Variation #2 -- Tangy Mediterranean Orzo Salad
                                                                    Bring a pot of water to a boil and add 12 oz orzo (2 cups, uncooked). Cook until tender, about nine minutes.
                                                                    Chop up the same veggies as above - but use black olives (Kalamata should be easy to find in supermarket olive bar). Also chop up a couple of tomatoes, in the summer, but in the winter they're often mushy. Sundried tomatoes would be good (a few tablespoons, chopped and drained, from one of the jars of sundried tomatoes in oil) in winter. If you have any basil or parsley in the fridge, add about 4 Tablespoons chopped up fine.

                                                                    For the dressing, in a small bowl combine 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (grainy if you have it) 1/2 teaspoon sugar, and then pour in about 5 or 6 Tablespoons olive oil, whisking.

                                                                    When the orzo is cool, add all of your chopped veggies and your dressing. Let it chill, covered, in fridge. If you like CHEESE, you can crumble in some (maybe 7 ounces) crumbled goat cheese or feta. YUM.

                                                                    These pasta salads pack up great (in mini-Tupperwares) for lunch to accompany soda, sandwich and chips -- suddenly it tastes much more like a meal :) Everyone will be opening the fridge and grabbing spoonfuls out to munch on -- they're really delicious, and EASY.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: foxy fairy

                                                                      I used to make a pasta salad from time to time thusly:

                                                                      Cook a batch of tortellini (I think I would use two of the packages that you can get in the refrigerator) and drain it. Mix it with a tub of store-bought pesto (this was before I knew how to make my own, when I lived near a grocery store where they made their own), some sliced pepperoni, chopped onion and green pepper, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes if you like them, sliced black olives (if I did this today I'd probably use those garlicky green ones), and chunks of mozzarella cheese. Chill.

                                                                    2. Metaphora's idea of Chicken Adobo is just brilliant. It is not only easy to make, but keeps really, really well. May I suggest, however, that the soy/vinegar ratio depends somewhat on the type of soy sauce used. We've tried all kinds and believe it or not, I prefer China Lily to others. I tend to use a fair bit less vinegar than soy - otherwise, I find it too vinegary. I also add in a few dried lily flowers, which is a trick my Filipino husband showed me. Using chicken (with the skin and bones for best flavour - I use thighs and drumsticks) and pork is really tasty. Delicious with steamed jasmine-scented rice!!!!!!

                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                      1. re: foodiemommy

                                                                        To follow on my last post, I also use sliced onions in my adobo.

                                                                        1. re: foodiemommy

                                                                          Where do you find dried lily flowers? Asian grocery?

                                                                          1. re: foxy fairy

                                                                            Yes, you would find them at a good Asian grocery. I would use 4-6 dried flowers for every 4 pieces of chicken. And I'm just reading my post on the vinegar/soy ration. I mistyped and hope I haven't wrecked anyone's adobo today. What I meant to say is, I use less vinegar than most recipes, not less vinegar than soy. I don't use a 1:1 ratio either, but that's a matter of taste. I do use more vinegar than soy, but I don't go too crazy with it like some people do. Too much vinegar and your chicken tastes "pickled". How I make it is, I put the chicken in the pot, and then add soy sauce, white vinegar (try 1:1 or a bit more vinegar than soy your first time out), crushed peppercorns, salt, crushed and chopped garlic cloves (I would say 3 cloves for every 4 pieces of chicken), a couple of bay leaves and some chopped onion. Throw in a few of the lily flowers. Bring it to a boil, then simmer 40 minutes (until chicken is cooked).
                                                                            For an easy dessert, mix up some drained, canned tropical fruits (from the Asian grocery - try toddy palm's seed, stuffed rambutan, etc.), some drained fruit cocktail, a drained jar of macapuno (shredded young coconut) some drained nata de coco (available at the Asian grocery), a can of sweetened condensed milk, and two cans of Nestle cream (again, at the Asian grocery) that have been whipped stiff. Carnation also makes a brand of this cream, which is often found near the canned fruits, because it's used for fruit salads.

                                                                            1. re: foodiemommy

                                                                              What's the flavor like on the lily flowers? I'm intrigued! Brr it's cold, and this sounds like a great dish for tonight. thanks so much for the detailed description -- can't wait to try. I just bought some jasmine rice, too :)

                                                                              1. re: foxy fairy

                                                                                Only thing I've ever used lily flowers for is adobo. I can't really describe the aroma or flavour except to say that it isn't what you might expect. They do make a real difference in the flavour of the dish - but if you can't find them, it's not like your adobo won't be good. The one thing I can't emphasize enough is - don't use breasts, and don't use boneless or skinless. You really want the flavour that the bones and skin bring to the dish. I am not Filipino, but I am married to a Filipino and this dish has become a winter favourite for me! Enjoy, and let us know how it goes!

                                                                        2. julietg, I love your idea and I love all the recipes everyone is doing! You might want to peek at the book "A Man, A Can, A Plan" (http://www.amazon.com/Man-Can-Plan-Gr...) for ideas. I got this book for my brother-in-law and he loved it. What I find is that people who don't know how to cook ALSO don't know how to shop. The book gives the visuals and makes it easy to find the ingredients. Not gourmet, but not bad either!

                                                                          1. OK, let me add a recipe. No chopping involved. Gadgets needed: a microwave and a microwave rice cooker (I got my plastic marvel at WalMart for six bucks); a freezer; a stove; a large frying pan; a spatula or wooden spoon. Ingredients: a couple filets of cod, tilapia or other white fish; a jar of your favorite salsa; frozen peas; rice. How to do it: Cook the rice in the microwave (for white or jasmine rice, two scoops of rice to 3 scoops of water, 5 minutes on high, 15 minutes on 50% power; let rest for 5 minutes or more). Rinse off the fish; unless the filets are really huge, no need to cut them up. Put the fish in the pan; pour enough salsa over it to lightly cover the fish. Cook at medium-low heat until salsa is bubbling mildly; turn the fish over once to make sure it cooks through. About 10 minutes should do it. Toss in a couple handfuls of frozen peas and cook for a few more minutes; try not to stir or poke the fish too much so it doesn't fall apart completely. Serve over rice. This is one of my favorite too-busy-to-cook recipes.