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Feb 23, 2009 06:40 AM

frustrated non-chef needs help

Hi fellow 'hounds! I'm a 31-year-old woman who loves food, but I don't know how to cook. I'm not being humble here, making oatmeal in anything but a microwave is tough for me. Yet every once in a while, I get a crazy urge to try to make something. What I'm looking for are recipes that are heathy (low fat, mid range calories, balanced with carbs/meat/veggies, full of fairly natural ingredients that I can pronounce) and easy.

That easy is the hard part. Because every time I think I find a recipe that someone like me can try, I'm foiled! You have to brown the meat before putting it in a crockpot, you have to broil the eggplant before baking the casserole, you have to cook the rice/noodles according to package instructions while doing something else, etc, etc. I know you real chefs out there are snickering, but this is daunting for me!

That being said, are there recipes out there following my version of healthy outlined above that are truly easy? I'm really looking for a recipe where you dump several raw ingredients into a cooking aparatus, apply heat, and end of with a great meal. I don't care if it's a stove, oven or crockpot as long as it's the least amount of work possible. I would even avoid stirring if I could. Help!

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  1. How about a hearty soup or a stew. You can use beef or chicken for your protein, or go all vegetable.

    I tend to be a bit of a lazy cook and don't always follow the cooking method in the recipes. I don't brown meat before throwing it the crockpot. When making chicken soup, I short cut it by getting a rotisserie chicken, pull off all the meat (except legs and wings) and use the carcass to make a quick stock by adding a chunk of celery, a whole onion and garlic gloves. After about 1 1/2 hours, I pull the solids out, strain the stock and throw the meat back in. Then you can add vegetables and a starch. To make it even easier, use a bag of mixed frozen vegetables (I choose to use fresh, though) Quick, easy, healthy and delicious.

    1 Reply
    1. re: janetms383

      I agree. just chop everything up and chuck it in a pot. In fact:

      chop a big carrot into bite sized chunks, big ones. Everything needs to be around this size, except maybe the potatoes because it disolves a bit. Make them bigger.
      Chop up about 3 carrots, 2-3 potatoes, an onion, a leek or two, and a bunch of lamb. Greens are good too. Put all this stuff in a pot, cover with water and add a stock cube (veg or chicken but not beef). Bring it to the boil, then simmer it for about an hour I guess.

    2. Crockpot seems like your best bet to start off with. Not all crockpot recipes involve pre-pot steps, and you can often skip the browning (although it will taste better if you do it). A few ideas:
      Raw chicken or pork + cut-up veggies if you want + salsa or enchilada sauce = something resembling stew that you can serve wrapped in a tortilla
      Chicken broth or stock + veggies + chicken thighs or breasts = chicken soup
      Beans + veggies + beef broth + a can of tomatoes = bean chili

      This potato leek soup recipe was just posted on another thread:

      I also really like this recipe which is like ratatouille:
      1 can of stewed tomatoes + 1 package of mushrooms, halved + 1 small diced zucchini
      You can also add diced bell peppers, onion, and garlic, and can mix some cheese into the veggie mixture.
      Put in a casserole dish, sprinkle cheese on top, bake at 375 for about half an hour.

      1. Debbie,

        I'll probably get slammed by the die-hard Chowhounds here, but if you want relatively healthy and easy recipes, I would check out some of the recipes from Ellie Krieger (from the Food Network).

        1 Reply
        1. re: ipsedixit

          I love her! Her book is awesome and I've made a lot of recipes from it. I never tell my husband that the recipes are 'healthier' and he's loved everything... except the pasta with red peppers and feta. And that's because he never told me he doesn't like those ingredients!

        2. Watch Jacques Pepin on the PBS Create channel. On his "(More)Fast Food My Way" shows he makes a complete meal, pretty much in real time (albeit with some pre-prepping of ingredients), in 30 minutes. Tasty, balanced meals.

          1. I just did this one last night.

            In a dutch oven (or large deep pasta pan), put 1 package of dried split peas. Add 8 cups of water to cover, bring to a simmer. Let cook for about 1/2 hr. Add 2 peeled, sliced carrots, 2 sliced celery stalks. Add 1 cup of cubed Ham Steak, (I used cooked bacon).
            Cook on medium low for an hour to an hour and a half. Taste, and add 1 teaspoon salt and black pepper. It's simple and delicious. Can't ruin this soup.