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Moved in with fiance...what do I cook??

mels88 Mar 30, 2009 08:17 PM

Hi guys! :) I'm new to the boards. I was wondering if anyone could give me a few tips?

My fiance and I just moved in together, and when it comes to cooking I'm pretty panicked! He and I have cooked for each other before, but only every once in a while. Not every day! And worse, my fiance eats...a lot. Leftovers don't last more than a day. I'm content with fish and rice for dinner but he needs potatoes, red meat, etc. etc. I run out of ideas for quick, not so challenging meals to cook for him pretty easily.

I'm a beginner cook. I can make some pretty good meals, but the dishes I've mastered are a handful. People like my Italian dishes. And as for him, he owns at making steak and spaghetti. That's about it.

Does anyone know of any really good meals I can prepare? Or does anyone have any tips on how to approach this new situation? I'm a Nursing student and I work 32 hours a week, so I don't have a whole bunch of time to cook, but I do enjoy a hearty meal. I just get overwhelmed when I check out some recipes...they list ingredients that I don't always have. Any advice would be really appreciated. As you can tell, I'm very very new to this.

Thanks!

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  1. Ruth Lafler RE: mels88 Mar 30, 2009 08:41 PM

    There are lots of threads already on this subject -- there was one just a few days ago, IIRC.

    My basic comment is that you should start with what you want to cook or eat, and then work on finding recipes you can manage. There's no point in us giving you simple recipes for dishes that don't appeal to you, or you eating stuff you don't like because that's all you think you can make.

    And if I may give you some unsolicited advice, you realize if you start doing most of the cooking now, you'll be setting yourself for doing most of the cooking for the rest of your lives together. You cook what you want to cook/eat some days. He cooks what he wants cook/eat other days. If you want to cook something special for him, make sure it is *special* and not something he expects every day. Or pretty soon you'll be working, going to school and doing all housework. It's 2009 -- the cooking shouldn't default to you just because you're a woman!

    3 Replies
    1. re: Ruth Lafler
      e
      Erinmck RE: Ruth Lafler Mar 30, 2009 08:45 PM

      Precisely what I was trying to say :o)

      1. re: Ruth Lafler
        mels88 RE: Ruth Lafler Mar 30, 2009 08:47 PM

        I was afraid there was a topic like this, but I actually looked and I must've missed it. =/

        Anyway thanks for the unsolicited advice. I do most of the cooking because he works the night shift at his job, so it just worked out that way. But you're right about making it "special" only sometimes. Thanks.

        1. re: Ruth Lafler
          b
          browniebaker RE: Ruth Lafler Apr 5, 2009 11:20 AM

          My thoughts exactly, that no one should take it for granted that the woman will do all the cooking.

        2. e
          Erinmck RE: mels88 Mar 30, 2009 08:41 PM

          You could do salads! Tuna salad, potato salad, chicken salad, leafy green salads with baked chicken in it, bean salads... etc. They don't take a lot of time, and they can last a while depending on how much you make, and you can use tuna salad to make sandwiches and tuna melts. Breakfast for dinner is another easy option. Egg sandwiches, omelets, I would even turn to pancakes! Another quick dinner is tacos, burritos, and fahitas. You don't always have to make something fancy each night. Some nights he might just have to cook something by himself :o) Don't make yourself feel like just because you're the lady in the relationship that this becomes your second job. Don't let his pasta skills throw you off, either! Pasta is very, very versatile. Saute some veggies and throw them over cooked pasta, and throw some bread with it if he's really hungry. Baking some chicken breasts only takes about 30 minutes, and you can make some veggies to put on the side quickly!

          These are just a few suggestions that I make for myself and fiance when I see him, and end up working out well. You guys can have fun making more time consuming meals on the weekend. You can freeze them, too! Lasagna is a good example, as are soups.

          I hope this helps some as I'm also in college, working and engaged, so I know what boat you're in.

          10 Replies
          1. re: Erinmck
            mels88 RE: Erinmck Mar 30, 2009 08:48 PM

            Thank you!! =)

            1. re: mels88
              e
              Erinmck RE: mels88 Mar 30, 2009 08:56 PM

              No problem. I also have a crock pot recipe that has potatoes, Italian sausage, chicken broth, spinach and cream that is amazing and really easy for when you're both really busy and don't have much time to cook. I will try to remember to post it if you're interested!

              1. re: mels88
                vvvindaloo RE: mels88 Mar 31, 2009 05:24 PM

                My advice, by way of confession, is to make extra and only put some of the leftovers in the fridge. I do this sometimes, without letting the bf see, in order to make food last longer! It won't work for simple meals that you want to eat fresh, such as pasta dishes or grilled meat, but it will absolutely work for casseroles, baked pasta dishes and even fully prepared dishes such as braised meats in sauce. When you spend extra time on one of these more labor-intensive meals, make enough for two/three meals and put one meal's worth in an airtight container in the freezer before you even sit down to eat. This way, you'll have leftovers the next day plus a 'surprise' reserve to enjoy in the near future. I really love the Italian 'tupperware' brand, Frigoverre. The bottoms are tempered glass dishes with high sides that go from the oven to the table to the freezer. The tops (firm plastic) have vents you can compress to push and lock out air. When you are ready to remove from the freezer, just release the air lock, peel off the lid, cover with foil, and pop it in the oven. Then it all goes in the dishwasher. Congrats and good luck on moving in!

                1. re: vvvindaloo
                  w
                  walker RE: vvvindaloo Mar 31, 2009 06:50 PM

                  Where do you buy those "Frigoverre"? I have some that are glass with plastic lid --maybe same brand -- but no vents.

                  1. re: walker
                    vvvindaloo RE: walker Apr 1, 2009 05:35 AM

                    I got mine at the Container Store about two years ago. The lid is like a translucent clear thick plastic with a blue trim.

                2. re: mels88
                  b
                  batchoy RE: mels88 Apr 1, 2009 11:41 AM

                  I would love this recipe, it sounds absolutely de-lish!

                  I love my crockpot, which was given to me when I went away to grad school. Best present I ever got, and that includes wedding presents :-)

                  1. re: batchoy
                    e
                    Erinmck RE: batchoy Apr 1, 2009 07:10 PM

                    Terry's Soup (That's what we call it because it was from a family friend!)

                    2 lbs sweet Italian sausage
                    1/2 lb gold potatoes
                    1 pkg frozen spinach
                    chicken stock
                    1 cup cream

                    You want to cook the sausage, and put everything except the cream and frozen spinach in your crock pot. If you want it in there all day, keep it on low. Add the cream and spinach the last 30 minutes or so. I always mean to write down how much chicken stock I use, I think it's usually about 2 boxes of it, but keep extra on hand otherwise you will have lots of sausage and potatoes!

                    I hope this all makes sense.. I always get mad at myself for never writing more down as far as how much I use! It makes a lot, it's supposed to serve about 6, but I think it's more than that.

                    1. re: Erinmck
                      c oliver RE: Erinmck Apr 1, 2009 07:17 PM

                      This sounds great! Any reason that I couldn't do it on top of the stove?

                      1. re: c oliver
                        e
                        Erinmck RE: c oliver Apr 2, 2009 11:12 AM

                        None that I can think of! I just like letting it sit all day for flavor, which is why I use it in a crock pot.

                        1. re: Erinmck
                          c oliver RE: Erinmck Apr 2, 2009 11:16 AM

                          I've been making my own sausage for a while now and always love new ways to use it. Two lbs. sounds like it would make ALOT of soup; I may reduce to one lb. or increase the potatoes and spinach. Thanks, Erin.

              2. kchurchill5 RE: mels88 Mar 30, 2009 08:52 PM

                Crock Pot is great for roasted pork roast with vegetables, potatoes, carrots, etc ... anything your favorite.

                Fish is great, rather than rice makes a quick spinach and potato on the stove with cheese. Easy quick and good.

                Steaks, skirt steak is great. 1 hr marinade, quick cook 10 minutes if that inside grill pan or even stove top or oven and served over grrilled bread with melted cheese and some grilled vegetables and salad. Good hearty meal.

                Pork filled quesadillas with cheese, sweet potato fries and simple topping for the quesadilla.

                Easy grilled chicken breasts grilled with a seasoned butter, baked stuffed potato and roasted veggies in foil pouches.

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

                Give me more of an idea what type, steak, crock pot, pork, chops, roast ????

                Too many ideas

                1. kchurchill5 RE: mels88 Mar 30, 2009 08:58 PM

                  Also, set down together and come up with a plan or idea or something that states what you both like. Salads 3 days, meat 3 days and find out what each other like and make a simple list. Ask him and you as well tell him what you like. and make a list so you guys now what you like. Nothing formal just a good "need to know" list. They play off that

                  It is important to get to know one another and make favorites but also make favorites with a twist so they get to know you. You are now together so you need to communicate and talk to one another. Learn what you both like and how you like it.

                  1. q
                    Querencia RE: mels88 Mar 30, 2009 09:07 PM

                    Forget trying to do gourmet stuff; your fiance will like comfort food best. 1) Buy yourself a big roll of aluminum foil to ease cleanup. Line a pan with it and put a whole chicken in it. Bake it at 350*, time depends on size of chicken. A fryer (younger, smaller) will be done in an hour but a roaster (bigger) will take longer, 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours. While it's in the oven you can at the same time bake whole white potatoes or whole sweet potatoes (break them open and put in some butter and brown sugar) or halves of acorn squash or baked apples. A frozen vegetable or canned green beans or fresh broccoli steamed in the microwave or a salad will complete a simple meal that will give you leftover chicken for sandwiches. You can vary this next time by smearing bottled barbecue sauce on the chicken for the last 15-20 minutes in the oven. Or instead of potatoes, cook boil-in-the-bag rice or Near East couscous, which takes no cooking at all---you bring water to a boil, add the dry couscous, remove it from the burner, and let it sit 5 minutes. 2) If you can come up with about $30 buy yourself a big crock pot (slow cooker). With this you can set up a stew, beef Burgundy, a curry, chili, a beef potroast etc before you go off to school or work and when you come home 8 hours later, dinner will be ready. 3) If it's something you like, you won't mind eating it a couple of times: make a large quantity of chili or a hearty soup, a big dish of spaghetti or lasagna, beef or chicken curry, Sloppy Joe, macaroni & cheese, etc. 4) Eggs can be a quick dinner: a cheese omelet plus frozen French fries and salad, or scrambled with sauteed mushrooms, or good old bacon & eggs. 5) If your fiance is a hearty eater you may want to pad the meal with hot rolls, hot biscuits (bought baked or refrigerated in a can then you bake), salad, coleslaw, pickled beets, sliced tomatoes, applesauce, StoveTop Stuffing, gravy that comes in a jar, a pan of gingerbread or chocolate cake or brownies made quickly from a mix, or some baked apples baked along with dinner. 6) A package of shredded cabbage meant for coleslaw makes the base of a quick stir-fry dinner. Saute it with whatever else you've got and add some soy sauce or other Asian condiments. 7) You can easily bake pork chops. Put each one on a scoop of made-up stuffing mix and put some slices of onion on top of the pork chops; bake about an hour. 8) Put a beef roast in the middle of a big square of foil, cover it with dried onion soup and don't add anything else. Wrap it air-tight and set it in a pan in case it leaks. Bake at 300* for 2-3 hours depending on size. If you cook it long enough it will be very tender and will produce its own gravy. 9) Emergency dinner: sliced roast beef from the deli counter in a jar of beef gravy makes hot open-faced beef sandwiches. 10) Stay an hour ahead of your work by setting up for tomorrow. Cut up vegetables for the next stir-fry while cleaning up from dinner tonight, etc. HINT: Find out what your fiance really likes and cook it for him and if he will cook too, encourage that. As a nurse you may work odd hours and it will be to his advantage if he can get a meal on the table. Food is a strong boost to relationships and helps make a home. PS For sure get a copy of The Joy of Cooking---you will consult it a million times.

                    1. alwayscooking RE: mels88 Mar 30, 2009 09:11 PM

                      Plan the week out - with your boyfriend:

                      - Who makes meals and when
                      - Are lunches, snacks, and breakfasts included/on your own/planned leftovers (eg last night's dinner is today's lunch
                      - Think about each meal during the week. Plan a tentative menu - eg a roast gets cooked and reused throughout the week in different ways.
                      - Find recipes that match your menu plan (eg how to cook a roast)
                      - Shop to the menu (but have extra pasta and sauce etc in the cupboard)

                      Find menu ideas by searching in the easy meal sections of online food sites (epicurious has some great resources for new cooks, menu planning, and making automatic shopping lists)

                      Invest in a pantry - basics such as flour, sugar, herbs, spices, oils, vinegars, etc (most sites or cookbooks can help you build one. Or you can build it as you go by buying the ingredients your recipe calls for.

                      None of this will be comfortable or natural at first (it will seem contrived) but it will get easier. And as Ruth as so strongly and correctly stated - start as you want it to finish - don't assume all of this yourself. (My SIL has two items she knows how to cook - my brother does the rest.)

                      1. s
                        smtucker RE: mels88 Mar 30, 2009 09:17 PM

                        I'm not even going to bother with the other responses before I say "why are you the only one responsible for cooking?" Living together, being married, whatever is a partnership. Both of you should be creating a shopping list based on your budget, and then creating meals should also be a mutual decision. So much of how a relationship works is determined by those first few months. Unless he is doing all the laundry and cleaning, don't allow yourself to be saddled with all the cooking. Well unless that is what you want.

                        That said, now is a great time to build a pantry. Over time, of course. See an ingredient in a recipe, add it to the pantry. There are many threads on chowhound where we have listed what we all consider essentials. If you can't find them, I am sure we would be happy to make suggestions for you. [Sometimes the search engine on chowhound is less than stellar.]

                        Enjoy your time together. Finding the right person is a reason for celebration; and shouldn't be a time of stress.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: smtucker
                          Ruth Lafler RE: smtucker Mar 30, 2009 09:31 PM

                          :-) That's what the other responses said.

                          1. re: Ruth Lafler
                            s
                            smtucker RE: Ruth Lafler Mar 30, 2009 09:40 PM

                            Gosh, I hate to be so darn predictable.

                            I didn't even go into how many years my spouse had to cook while I made a living. A wasted opportunity, and yet, 26 years into it, I am the one doing all the cooking unless I have prepared something for the grill. He is still King of the Outdoors. But he does do all the cleaning and vacuuming, so I am sure that I have come out ahead.

                            But building a pantry.... that is good stuff right?

                            1. re: smtucker
                              Ruth Lafler RE: smtucker Mar 30, 2009 09:46 PM

                              I'll take the "cooking in return for vacuuming/cleaning" deal, too. Building a pantry can be fun, I guess. A mini-version of the long debates here on chowhound about what you can't live without in your pantry.

                          2. re: smtucker
                            Calipoutine RE: smtucker Apr 12, 2009 03:09 PM

                            ya know what? I'm married and I do ALL the cooking/grocery shopping. My spouse does ALL the cleaning, takes out the garbage, picks up dog crap, unloads the dishwasher( I load), folds and puts away all the laundry( I start it and transfer to dryer). This works for us. Maybe the OP has a similar arrangement. We shoudlnt be judging when we dont know everyones full story!!

                          3. t
                            thursday RE: mels88 Mar 30, 2009 09:46 PM

                            Maybe I just had it easy, but both my (now) husband and I like cooking, so we didn't worry about planning anything out--whoever's home first starts dinner, and whoever's home second eats it gratefully. =)

                            As far as cooking, I find that the easiest way to put together a quick dinner and also to experiment and learn new favorites is to do what we like to call "International Stir Fry". Basically, pick a country whose food you like. Put those kinds of ingredients in a large skillet, add those kinds of spices, and cook until done. French? chicken, potatoes, haricots verts, goat cheese and herbs de provence. Italian? chicken or sausage, fresh tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, oregano and basil. Toss with pasta. Asian? Bok choy, chinese greens, snow peas, soy sauce, ginger. Serve over rice. You get the idea. We play around with ingredients a lot and just toss them in a pan until it smells good and has a good mix of meat, veg, and starch.

                            Shortcut hint: microwave potatoes for a couple or so minutes before tossing in the skillet to cut down on cooking time.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: thursday
                              Ruth Lafler RE: thursday Mar 30, 2009 11:46 PM

                              I love that. Being able to throw stuff in a pan "until it smells good and has a good mix of meat, veg, and starch" is really what's going to serve someone well over the years -- who has time to mess with a recipe on a work night? I guess what I'd have to add to that is, don't be afraid to just throw together stuff you like and have on hand. It will be edible -- you won't starve. And if you like all the things you start with, the result will at least be palatable. After a while, you'll get a feel for how to put things together and tweak them. I guess what I've learned over the years is that almost every dish needs (1) salt, (2) acid, (3) umami. Those can come from various forms (acid can be vinegar, wine, lemon juice, tomato, etc.; umami can be mushrooms or parmesan cheese, etc.), but when your dish is missing ... something ... it's usually one or more of those three.

                              1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                c oliver RE: Ruth Lafler Mar 31, 2009 01:23 PM

                                Using what's on hand is a must. The other night I had some leftover, cooked farfalle, some cooked chicken, a couple of handfuls of arugula, some apple-onion compote I'd made a month ago probably. We were leaving town the following morning so I put it all together, put in a baking pan, grated cheese on top and in a 350 oven til hot. It was a really good dinner and cost nothing in the way of time or money. I'm kinda of the opinion that if I like the components individually, I might like them all mixed up together :) Not everything but lots of things.

                                1. re: c oliver
                                  Ruth Lafler RE: c oliver Mar 31, 2009 01:59 PM

                                  Exactly.

                                  1. re: c oliver
                                    kchurchill5 RE: c oliver Mar 31, 2009 02:03 PM

                                    Sounds good to me ... I would of done the same and do it quite often.

                                    1. re: c oliver
                                      alixium RE: c oliver Apr 6, 2009 01:22 PM

                                      everything tastes great if you grate cheese on top!

                                2. mcsheridan RE: mels88 Mar 31, 2009 03:55 AM

                                  Check out the stories on Chow titled "Take Your Lunch to Work" and "The Basics"; they're full of good ideas.

                                  Also, as others have indicated, make plans/lists ahead of time. Find one day a week when you (or the two of you) do most of the cooking for things that be thrown together quickly during the rest of the week, or can be frozen in portions to be reheated in oven or microwave as needed.

                                  Take Your Lunch to Work: http://search.chow.com/search?query=t...

                                  The Basics: http://search.chow.com/search?query=b...

                                  1. Karl S RE: mels88 Mar 31, 2009 06:00 AM

                                    So, my first question is, what's the fiance cooking for you?

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Karl S
                                      mels88 RE: Karl S Mar 31, 2009 09:09 PM

                                      Spaghetti and steak =) and he made corned beef for the first time last week. He likes to cook , but he hardly gets around to it.

                                    2. g
                                      grant.cook RE: mels88 Mar 31, 2009 06:55 AM

                                      Per the other posters, work out what works for both of you. My gf and I both like to cook, but not every day.. there is a reason for takeout/leftovers/doing your own thing.

                                      There are lots of options for quick mid-week cooking - get a cookbook focused on it like The Best 30-Minute Recipe. If a recipe works, keep it on file. My GF's sister ended up binding her recipes - the best ones, the ones that worked, up and giving them as a gift to her family.

                                      Not having an ingredient makes sense if a recipe calls for "preserved lemons" - but you and your fiance should build a pantry as another poster said. Buy spices (in SMALL containers) - find a Penzey's if one is nearby. Grind your own pepper. There is no reason not to have Cayenne, Coriander, Cumin, etc. in your panty. There is no reason not to have a case of diced or crushed tomatoes handy, or 2-3 boxes of chicken stock, or some pine nuts, or some dried porcinis from BJ's, or a can of anchovies if you are adventurous. There are probably threads here that list a basic pantry - oils, vinegars, condiments, etc.

                                      But cooking can be fun.. and if one cooks, the other better pony up and clean, or make it up in other ways.. a balance has to be struck.

                                      I do hope when you say he 'owns' spaghetti, he is at least making his own sauce. better yet more than just a quick marinana? Has he ever made a pesto, or a bolognese, or an oil-based sauce? And steak, well, that's more about the cut and a bit of technique. He's not exactly wowing you with a French omelette, is he?

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: grant.cook
                                        Emmmily RE: grant.cook Apr 1, 2009 08:17 PM

                                        I second the cookbook idea. Something like Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything" has good basic instructions for a beginner cook, covers a wide range of types of dishes, and includes enough ideas for variations to keep things interesting. Often I'll just flip through that or one of my other cookbooks until I find something that catches my eye, and make that for dinner. You can do the same thing, but on a more planning-ahead scale - flip through the cookbook on, say, friday night, pick out a few things for the next week, and shop for those ingredients over the weekend so you're set over the week. In any case, a good, basic, wide-ranging cookbook is key.

                                      2. Den RE: mels88 Mar 31, 2009 07:09 AM

                                        One of the simplest meals that's a real crowd pleaser is to roast a whole chicken. Here's my simple recipe.

                                        For a 3 to 3 ½ pound chicken.
                                        • 3 to 3 ½ # chicken;
                                        • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped;
                                        • 1 # fingerling or other small potatoes;
                                        • 1 # carrots, coarsely chopped;
                                        • 4 oz butter, softened;
                                        • 1 tsp sage, dried;
                                        • 1 tsp rosemary, dried;
                                        • ½ tsp thyme, dried;
                                        • Salt and pepper, to taste.
                                        Preheat the oven to 410°. Rinse the chicken in cold water and dry thoroughly. Season the cavity with salt and pepper. Truss the wings and legs together. Remove the fat from the opening to the cavity and put it into the bottom of the roaster pan. Put the chicken breast side up in the roaster pan and rub with the softened butter. Sprinkle with herbs. Spread out the vegetables in the roaster pan and roast for 25 minutes, baste with juices, and turn the roast over. Bake for another 25 minutes, baste with juices and turn the roast over. Bake for another 15 minutes, baste with juices and turn the roast over. Bake for another 5 minutes. Remove to a cutting board and prop the roast up at an angle so the juices run downward toward the breast. Tent with foil and allow to rest for 15 or so minutes. Carve and serve with vegetables.

                                        1. happybellynh RE: mels88 Mar 31, 2009 07:47 AM

                                          When my guy and I moved in together, he was a huge eater, and strictly meat and potatoes, while I'm nearly meatless. My two saving graces:

                                          1. Turns out he would eat however much was on the table, no matter how much or how little. If I planned on a meal being a two-nighter, I had to put half away from the start. He would eat less, or fill up on extra bread (I always have bread or rolls on the table) and not even notice... but it took me months to realize this trick.

                                          2. What he really liked was hearty, filling comfort food- this is not always meat and potatoes. But that's what he recognized at first. After a while, I was able to find dozens of hearty, filling comfort foods that were more in line with my preferences, without him even noticing the meat was gone. Bonus: most hearty foods can be made in the crock pot!! Some of my standbys: : tamale pie with beans instead of meat; chx pot pie without the chx (lots of root veggies); spicy veg chili; hearty stews, like white bean cassoullet; frittatas with tons of fillings; mac and cheese with broccoli baked in; thick minestrone or lentil soup with bread and salad; spinach lasagne; huge baked stuffed potatoes; eggplant parm.... the list is endless!

                                          1. c
                                            cheesecake17 RE: mels88 Mar 31, 2009 08:04 AM

                                            When I first got married, I was so overwhelmed by the idea of cooking and cleaning and shopping for food.. all while going to school and worked. So I know what it's like.

                                            What works for me is writing lists and keeping them on the fridge. One for groceries, one of 'favorite' dishes and one of items in the fridge/pantry that I want to use up. We try to sit down every Saturday evening and plan a tentative menu for the upcoming week. That way I can shop accordingly and not have fresh food go to waste.

                                            The 'favorites' list is great, because it serves as a memory jogger when planning what to cook. Instead of staring at the package of chicken and wondering what to do, I look at the list and see 'sauteed chicken with olives.' I'll change it up and add in some capers and zucchini to make something new.

                                            Shopping for food- discuss what you both like and don't like. If he hates asparagus so much he can't look at it, know that you should only buy a bit for yourself. If you're not potato eaters, no need to buy a 5lb bag. Go together and go alone and see what works better for you. Personally, I can't shop with my husband, so we have a deal that I leave the non perishables in the car and he brings them inside when he gets home from work.

                                            Recipes- you don't need to follow every recipe exactly. If you're making a stir fry dish and don't have chicken, substitue beef or tofu or whatever you have available. If you're going to make baked ziti, but you know it's too much for the two of you, portion it out into smaller casseroles and freeze the extras. Some people keep a running list on the freezer door of what's in the freezer. That's helpful for when you know you won't have time to cook that day, but want something delicious and home cooked.

                                            Good luck, and don't get nervous! It takes practice but soon you'll be whipping up awesome meals in no time!

                                            6 Replies
                                            1. re: cheesecake17
                                              kchurchill5 RE: cheesecake17 Mar 31, 2009 11:28 AM

                                              Well put cheesecake17.

                                              I loved cooking and cleaning and I worked 8 hrs plus was going to school. But cooking was obsessive so not a chore. But do realize and remember the overwhelming tasks of getting everything done. Mind boggling, plus raising a kid, making the right food, etc. I was lucky he ate most anything but still. I ate more veggies than him and more unique foods than him. Not easy. I shopped alone, he worked days, me nights, so leftovers were a must for him. A friend who lived with us the first 6 months before heading overseas was a vegetarian. Talk about a nightmare. But if you can shop together or at least set down at give them ideas. Great. I try to make a menu for the week and then shop for that week. Doesn't always work ... trust me but I try. Sometimes work goes way late and then I'm stuck so I grab my frozen pasta, spaghetti sauce or a frozen dinner. Lots of options. I try to keep some bags of frozen soups and some stews too. Not always, but try to.

                                              Recipes ... yes cheesecake, don't worry about following. No beans, don't worry, beef, use chicken. Not a bad thing. Most of my favorite recipes come out of trail and error or what I call mistakes. Didn't have this and that so used 3 different things and the recipe turned out better. Nothing wrong with that.

                                              Soups and chilis and casseroles I love to make. Beef stew or a beef casserole, chicken casserole, beef chili, lentil soup and chicken soup or tomato soup. Anything. You can make it is a crock pot or stove top. Doesn't take long and then freeze in baggies. 1-2 servings per baggie. freeze flat and dinner in a hurry with a sandwich. Stew 1 serving per baggie. Great for quick nights. Sat ... I was home all day so I ended up making 1 large pot of soup and a chicken stew. Bagged it all up and never ate a drop. 14 bags of soup and 8 bags of stew. Lunch and dinners. You can heat that make a favorite sandwich or a nice side salad and dinner in minutes.

                                              Practice and patience is the key!! But don't over think or try too hard. Just have fun. Get them involved too. Try to have them help out. Even just chopping a few things for salad or setting the table. Anything to be part of dinner.

                                              Have fun most of all.

                                              Yes recipes ..

                                              1. re: kchurchill5
                                                c
                                                cheesecake17 RE: kchurchill5 Mar 31, 2009 01:27 PM

                                                I love making soup or chili for dinner, but my husband always says it's not "enough." So I cook him a piece of chicken or make another dish.. but it usually goes uneaten b/c it turns out the soup really was filling enough for him. Now he doesn't really ask for other items. I know relatively how much he eats of each dish, and I can gauge accordingly. Practice and trial and error..

                                                1. re: cheesecake17
                                                  c oliver RE: cheesecake17 Mar 31, 2009 01:34 PM

                                                  I have a panini grill. When I make a soup or stew dinner (and plenty of other times also), I'll brush some slices of bread with garlic-infused olive oil and toast up on the grill. When done, cut in slices and it "fleshes" out the meal.

                                                  1. re: cheesecake17
                                                    kchurchill5 RE: cheesecake17 Mar 31, 2009 02:12 PM

                                                    As c oliver mentioned. A panini is always good with soup. I make them a lot. A great way to use a little of this and that. A little turkey from the deli, some cheese, some descent bread or rolls, a condiment and tons of varieties can be made. Great simple grilled sandwiches. When I serve soup I always make a salad or sandwich, doesn't have to e much or a nice roll.

                                                    Try my stuffed bread. I take a loaf of Italian bread or chibatta or a baguette. Cut in half lengthwise, scoop out some of the bread to make room for the filling. Now fill. Sliced cheese and tomatoes and a vinaigrette, sauteed mushrooms and onions, even olives, tomatoes and feta and a vinaigrette. Any combo you can think of. Put the top piece back on and wrap in foil and bake 20-30 minutes in the oven. Even great flavor and filling. You don't have to use the whole loaf. Cut in 3 pieces for 3 different meals. Stuff with anything you have. It can be a lot of fun and great with soup.

                                                    I don't have a panini grill for the sandwiches, just a plain grill works fine. Put a heavy pot or pan on the top. Not heavy enough put a something heavy in it. Just as good. Any grilled sammy is good with soup or stew.

                                                    And yes trial and error ... but leftover chicken breast. Make a chicken salad or use it in a stirfry or omlette or fritatta or quesadilla or taco. You can always use it.

                                                    1. re: kchurchill5
                                                      c
                                                      cheesecake17 RE: kchurchill5 Mar 31, 2009 03:58 PM

                                                      Kim,
                                                      I'm definitely going to try the stuffed bread (after passover!!) with the bits in the cheese drawer and leftover roasted or sauteed veggies. Great idea to use up leftovers. Only problem is it's getting too warm for soup!

                                                      1. re: cheesecake17
                                                        kchurchill5 RE: cheesecake17 Mar 31, 2009 05:30 PM

                                                        You'll love it. Easy and just wrap and cook. Grill works great too. And any combo. You can also just brush the inside of the bread with olive oil, salt and pepper first if you want. Extra flavor. But fill with anything you want. I even filled with baby shrimp sauteed with spinach, lemon, butter and garlic. A shrimp scampi filling. Topped with shredded cheese and bake. There are hundreds of ways to use up whatever you have.

                                                        Fresh Mozz, tomato and basil is a favorite but simple. Gooey and great. I use a simple vinaigrette to coat the inside of the bread. Wrap and bake. People think it is so pretty red white and green when sliced.

                                                        Well enjoy.

                                              2. s
                                                Stuffed Monkey RE: mels88 Mar 31, 2009 08:53 AM

                                                Some people are cookbook cooks and some aren't. Try looking for a book that speaks to you. I took a look at Alice Waters The Art of Simple food and thought it would be a good resource for a begining cook. Not too many ingredients and the type of food you might actually want to cook. I thought Martha Stewarts, Cook School book, while great on the detail of instructions had way to many receipes a beginer who needed the instructions would never try to make. Other ones to look at might be a Rachel Ray or Bittman's How to Cookeverything the basics. See if you get them from the libaray.

                                                Also plan meals that you can recycle. Men often don't like leftovers, but if you make a meal (let's say broiled chicken) one night and use part of it for another meal (a curry of some sort) it is less work. Serve macaroni and cheese one night as dinner and later in the week as a side dish.

                                                If you are trying to keep a man happpy, meals should be hot.

                                                If you want fish and rice, throw a potato into the microwave (If the oven in hot, I will put it in for a few minutes just to crisp it up a bit) for him.

                                                Learn a few easy sauces (or buy some good jarred ones), and you can make the simplest meals look and taste great. Pesto and tomato keep very well frozen in ice cube trays and then bagged.

                                                12 Replies
                                                1. re: Stuffed Monkey
                                                  e
                                                  ElissaInPlaya RE: Stuffed Monkey Mar 31, 2009 11:56 AM

                                                  Some men don't like leftovers. My guy LOVES leftovers; and as a tall, athletic guy needs 6 meals a day. He might starve without them. He also learned to cook yummy meals, and is a CHAMP cleaner-uper.

                                                  In addition to all of the great suggestions here, I recommend Trader Joe's pre-done entrees (especially the frozen cioppino, and the stuffed fish in the refridgerator section.)

                                                  1. re: ElissaInPlaya
                                                    mels88 RE: ElissaInPlaya Mar 31, 2009 09:14 PM

                                                    I work at Trader Joe's!

                                                    1. re: mels88
                                                      Ruth Lafler RE: mels88 Mar 31, 2009 10:07 PM

                                                      Cool. You might want to check out some of the threads about cooking with stuff from TJ's. Here's an easy, delicious recipe of mine: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5947...

                                                  2. re: Stuffed Monkey
                                                    Sam Fujisaka RE: Stuffed Monkey Mar 31, 2009 02:11 PM

                                                    "Men often don't like leftovers"!!!!?????

                                                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                                      c oliver RE: Sam Fujisaka Mar 31, 2009 02:17 PM

                                                      Oh my! I missed that one. Since when? Which men? Please keep them far, far, FAR away from me :(

                                                      1. re: c oliver
                                                        kchurchill5 RE: c oliver Mar 31, 2009 02:19 PM

                                                        Men and no leftovers ... keep them away too!! I love leftovers!!!
                                                        Thx CO

                                                        1. re: c oliver
                                                          kattyeyes RE: c oliver Apr 1, 2009 07:50 PM

                                                          I'm here to tell you, men who don't like leftovers really do exist. My mom has dated one for more years than you want to know. I don't know what that's all about, but when they go out to dinner, he will never eat his leftovers. My mom is like the rest of us--she takes his leftovers home and eats them. There is some sort of rule about general leftover homemade food, also. And the man is not exceptionally wealthy or anything--just ornery! I offer no explanation--just proof of their existence.

                                                          1. re: kattyeyes
                                                            c oliver RE: kattyeyes Apr 1, 2009 08:31 PM

                                                            But it's not a gender specifc thing. I have a dear (woman) friend who doesn't take home leftovers. But,that said, she'll keep the homemade stuff. BTW,she's the best non-professional cook I've ever known.

                                                            1. re: kattyeyes
                                                              kchurchill5 RE: kattyeyes Apr 2, 2009 11:23 AM

                                                              LOL, hard to believe, but I do understand. Now that I think about it, I did date a guy after my divorce that a couple of nights after a movie or something I offered to heat up leftovers or make something with it just quick and he never ate it. Hence the relationship was short lived :)

                                                              I make a potato pie with left over scalloped or cheese potatoes, some fresh asparagus and leftover chicken or ham. Some bread crumbs and milk or broth and cook. But still LEFTOVERS are great.

                                                              1. re: kchurchill5
                                                                w
                                                                walker RE: kchurchill5 Apr 2, 2009 12:18 PM

                                                                For some reason, I think leftovers, esp. from a restaurant, taste even better the next day. I like cold steak, cold bbq ribs. I unintentionally waste enough food at home; don't want to waste what I order in a restaurant.

                                                          2. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                                            alixium RE: Sam Fujisaka Apr 6, 2009 01:25 PM

                                                            I think I roast a chicken just for the chicken leftovers!

                                                            1. re: alixium
                                                              foxy fairy RE: alixium Apr 7, 2009 03:27 PM

                                                              Ha. Me too. I like Giada's balsamic roasted chicken (from the Everyday Italian cookbook) mainly because I make these divine chicken sandwiches from the leftovers!

                                                        2. c
                                                          chevrelove RE: mels88 Mar 31, 2009 09:45 AM

                                                          I've had a similar situation for the past three years and have a couple of tips based on what has worked for us! First, even though I do nearly all the cooking, he does the clean up. That's the deal, and because we don't have a dishwasher, the work is more comparable than it would otherwise be.

                                                          Second, like you, I learn towards fish and lighter foods and he grew up eating mostly chicken and some red meat and other hearty items. Echoing a few other CHers' responses below - he will learn to compromise. We've agreed that I can make fish once a week for the two of us, and often I will make a meal with just one piece of meat for him (something easy like breaded chicken breast) and I will eat a meal of the vegetables. Also I do a lot of the cooking and prep on Sundays, since I work 40+ hour weeks and don't have much time at night. Can't stress enough the importance of soups! :-)

                                                          1. e
                                                            edwinasam RE: mels88 Mar 31, 2009 12:53 PM

                                                            I would suggest two magazines to take a look at: Everyday Food and Cooking LIght. The recipes are generally pretty easy and in a wide variety of cuisines. I often use the recipes as an inspiration and adapt to our tastes and ingredients on hand. As others have said, don't be afraid to throw things together.

                                                            A "favorites'" list is a good idea. I have a couple of go-to pantry recipes (mostly from Cooking Light) that always work when I run out of ideas.

                                                            And DEFINITELY teach him to cook :)

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: edwinasam
                                                              j
                                                              Jeserf RE: edwinasam Mar 31, 2009 12:56 PM

                                                              These are good ideas. However, as a former subscriber to cooking light, I'd say that a lot of their recipes have many ingredients which can be annoying when you don't have one or two things.

                                                              Since you're not vegetarians, I think trying Everyday Food is better than both, or just Cooking Light.

                                                            2. w
                                                              walker RE: mels88 Mar 31, 2009 01:18 PM

                                                              Once a man told me that the way he and his wife worked things out: he cooks 2 nights, she 2 nights and they eat out 3 nights (includes Chinese take out and pizza). This seemed like a good system to me.

                                                              1. Den RE: mels88 Mar 31, 2009 01:37 PM

                                                                I think it was Cheescake's post which made me remember, supermarket rotisserie chicken. You can really be a star with this simple idea. We buy a rotisserie chicken, strip the meat off and use the carcus to make chicken soup. Serve the chicken with some veggies along with the soup. IMO, making stock is an ethereal and homing experience. There's nothing like the aroma of stock on the stove gently bubbling.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: Den
                                                                  c
                                                                  cheesecake17 RE: Den Mar 31, 2009 03:56 PM

                                                                  I love buying a rotisserie chicken. It makes me so happy knowing that part of the dinner is done and all I have to do is cook up a vegetable. Plus, my husband usually likes the leftovers with bbq sauce for lunch the next day. Men do like leftovers!!

                                                                2. c
                                                                  CocoaNut RE: mels88 Mar 31, 2009 02:00 PM

                                                                  Working, cooking, maintaining a relationship AND keeping up with the house duties can be daunting. Try to make your cooking activities relaxing and enjoyable rather than MORE work.

                                                                  Do either of you grill (outdoors)? In the warmer months, I will get on spurts where on Sunday afternoon, I'll spend time cooking multiple (simple) meats on the grill so that all I have to do thru the week is reheat and deal with a salad/vegetable. Here are meats to consider: Steak (for Sunday evening!), hamburger patties, ham steaks, chicken cuts, pork chops, oh dear, even the tube steak on the grill makes for a pretty tasty dog. You can mix up flavors using lemon pepper, garlic, bbq sauce, soy, molasses or maple syrup - but keep it simple at first. You can get into fancier marinades later.

                                                                  Also, when you come home from grocery shopping, pre-prep as much as possible, cleaing up the fruits and vegetables, portioning out, wrapping and freezing the meats, ie: Clean and de-fat the chicken, buy 2 lbs of ground meat, make and individually wrap your patties, etc. Make it a "together" thing - one portions, the other wraps, or whatever. The night before you want to eat it, move from freezer to fridge. Then when you come in from work/school, there's virtually no more effort involved that heating up a frozen dinner.

                                                                  For the days I just don't want to deal with it, I always have a selection of soups in the pantry and a couple of the proverbial frozen dinners in the freezer. And there's certainly nothing wrong with an occasional PB&J or other sandwich.

                                                                  Edit: I love the smoke which is imparted from grilling, but with the exception of the chicken, I undercook the meats a little to keep the natural moisture in place for reheating - and then I just reheat lightly so as not to overcook.

                                                                  1. waver RE: mels88 Mar 31, 2009 02:32 PM

                                                                    Both my husband and I love to cook, but only one of us tolerates cleaning-up (him), so I got lucky: I do most of the cooking, he does the dishes.
                                                                    When we first moved in together this chicken dish with roasted tomatoes, potatoes and olives is something I made a lot as it's portioned for two and has something of a balance between light and hearty, and its not pasta. I think I usually add extra tomatoes for me and leave the potatoes for him.
                                                                    http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                                                    1. e
                                                                      E Woks RE: mels88 Mar 31, 2009 04:00 PM

                                                                      Hmm, when my girlfriend moved in I made her Italian / Indian / British food, but her favourite by far was baked beans on toast with cheese on top (she's Chinese, never tried it before).

                                                                      I give up.......

                                                                      1. Boccone Dolce RE: mels88 Mar 31, 2009 04:18 PM

                                                                        When you have time, poke around one of my favorite "idea" sites- allrecipes.com - lots of the recipes have easy to find ingredients, and they are rated by the community so there's lots of advice (good and bad advice, just like anywhere else, including here!)

                                                                        I enjoy cooking and taking care of my family, don't let anyone make you feel odd for wanting to do the cooking. Hell, I even plate meals for us. I also do this at friends homes, it's just what I do- I don't find it a chore or feel I need to just because I'm a woman- HA!!

                                                                        You can find inspiration in the strangest places, the newspaper here posts the weekly menus for grade schools and senior meals- I've been reminded of chicken-fried things this way! Seriously- also check out this site called 'Tastespotting' - it will give you more ideas.

                                                                        1. jeniyo RE: mels88 Mar 31, 2009 04:23 PM

                                                                          shepherd's pie! i made one last weekend and it would last us for a while. Lamb and eggplant shepherd pie- who doesn't like meat and potatoes?

                                                                          http://www.bonappetit.com/magazine/20...

                                                                          Aside from that, we frequent curries for odd pieces of meat or tofu in either thai, indian or japanese. If your guy love potatoes, this is the dish to put them in.

                                                                          Fajitas is a great also- and you get to pick what you want to eat. in another note, enchiladas is a great make ahead dish.

                                                                          pizzas on lavaovoch bread is fairly fast and easy as well.

                                                                          make pesto sauces in bulk and freeze them for quick sauces.

                                                                          Moving in with my Fiance made me fat. I highly recommend eating most of your "manly" dishes as a side dish and eat veggies as you main... =) congrats to you!

                                                                          1. Amuse Bouches RE: mels88 Mar 31, 2009 04:45 PM

                                                                            Variations on pan fried meat (chicken breasts or thighs, pork chops or tenderloin, steaks or ground beef), a starch (mashed potatoes, boiled potatoes, corn, baked beans, cornbread, bread) and a vegetable (usually salad in our house, also green beans, asparagus, cauliflower) are pretty endless. I'd pick one new dish every two weeks and give it a whirl until you have a nice repertoire. Lasagna and enchiladas are staples in our house.

                                                                            The crock pot can be your friend --try the 365 crockpot blog for recipe ideas.

                                                                            If you don't have an ingredient, you might want to 1) Try to come up with a list of common ingredients that are requested in recipes that interest you and stock them in your pantry, 2) refer to www.foodsubs.com for ideas for substitutions.

                                                                            http://www.savour-fare.com

                                                                            1. s
                                                                              Sherri RE: mels88 Mar 31, 2009 05:04 PM

                                                                              I imagine that feeding a fiance is much like feeding anyone else so I'll tell you what I told my sons when they moved out for their college years.
                                                                              Background: neither had ever cooked at home and were complete neophytes in the kitchen. I gave them a copy of Lora Brody's "The Kitchen Survival Guide", "The Joy of Cooking" and Pam Anderson's "How to Cook Without a Book" (no, not THAT Pam Anderson, the cooking Pam Anderson -- yeah, that's what they thought too and were very let down to learn the truth). The rest of the Care Package included my new 1.800.Call.Mom phone number, a fifty pound sack of rice and fifty pounds of beans, the aforementioned crockpot, some knives and a couple of pots & pans. Today, each is the main cook in their household - their wives bake and choose cleanup duties.

                                                                              Mom's Advice:
                                                                              Never use the oven for a single item. I cannot stress this enough, NEVER use the oven solely for the task at hand. Fill it with things to eat for other meals.
                                                                              EX: if you're roasting a chicken, put in a meatloaf or pork roast as well. Add 4 or 6 potatoes, a pan of chopped vegetables, some rice and bake a couple of apples while you're at it. In addition to the dinner you're actually cooking, you now have the makings for several additional meals all ready to go, in the fridge. The chicken and pork roast can be used dozens of different way - from sandwiches to pasta to salads. Double stuff a couple of potatoes, the others can be ready for breakfast or made into casseroles. Rice can be eaten "as is" or fried later with vegetables or used for stuffing, etc. You get the idea. Nothing is "single use".

                                                                              The crockpot is your friend. Each week cook one pound of beans; vary the kind from pinto to black to white beans, etc. There are endless varieties. This is like having money in the bank. Beans are cheap , versatile and a great source of protein. Use the white beans for a vegetarian pasta dish with artichoke hearts, garlic , cheese, basil and zucchini; the pinto beans make delicious burritos (especially if you have some pork roast or leftover chicken); black beans marinated in vinaigrette with corn, cucumbers & red bell peppers make a colorful and delicious salad. Any of the beans can be pureed with some broth for bean soup - with or without some ham.

                                                                              You'll learn as you go. Keep track of what works and what doesn't. There isn't an honest person who hasn't had a complete kitchen bomb -- mine involved some expensive fish that was to be poached in dry vermouth, which I didn't have nor could afford to buy solely for this dish, so I substituted Scotch figuring that it was close to the right color. Bleeeech! A horrible waste of good fish and good Scotch. Lesson learned - drink the Scotch and choose another way to cook the fish.

                                                                              Instead of relying on "recipes", learn and master cooking techniques. Once you can saute a chicken breast, & deglaze the pan, you can saute other foods and your repetoire expands. Add different vegetables & seasonings and the whole world is available in your kitchen. After saute, become proficient at roasting, braising, etc.

                                                                              Keep your mind open. Just because you've never heard of it nor ate it at home doesn't mean it isn't a good possibility. Make friends with the butcher at your local market. If he's willing to be helpful, he'll be a great source of delicious food if he feels that you're really interested in learning. There are popular cuts of meat and there are orphan cuts of meat. Both come from the same animal but one has a better PR agent and pricetag to go with it. Many years ago, flank steak and skirt steak were orphans, available for next to nothing. Today, they're popular glamourpusses and are priced accordingly.

                                                                              Check back with us to let everyone know how you're doing. We'd love to hear your successes and lessons learned. We've all been in your Beginner Cook's shoes - not one single soul was born knowing how to cook. Good Luck!

                                                                              1. mels88 RE: mels88 Mar 31, 2009 09:19 PM

                                                                                Thank you everybody! You guys are awesome and very helpful. :)

                                                                                1. s
                                                                                  Stuffed Monkey RE: mels88 Apr 1, 2009 05:42 AM

                                                                                  Yes you do want to learn techniques and not "rely" on receipes, but they are prethought out and can often give the confidence, a place to start and the new ideas that are needed. Do balance it out.

                                                                                  Mels - It's so nice to have an OP (original poster) continue to be part of the coversation. It's amazing how often someone asks a question, lots of answers and discussion happen and yet we never seem to hear back from the OP. Keep us posted. We'd be happy to give more input.

                                                                                  10 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Stuffed Monkey
                                                                                    c oliver RE: Stuffed Monkey Apr 1, 2009 07:10 AM

                                                                                    It IS great to have that feedback. And welcome,mels. I'm more a recipe person that a lot of the 'hounds. My attitude is the cookbook authors are getting paid to do this and I'm a so-rank amateur. But then later on, I do my own thing---a little :)

                                                                                    1. re: c oliver
                                                                                      Amuse Bouches RE: c oliver Apr 1, 2009 04:28 PM

                                                                                      I'm a very good cook (if I do say so myself) and I often use recipes, or at least start with them and tweak as I go. I think the movement away from recipes makes cooking seem so much more intimidating. Cooking from recipes for a long time gives you a good idea of what flavors work together, what techniques are appropriate for which applications, etc., and as you gain in experience you'll develop the capacity to improvise more. Some recipes really are techniques too -- like the oft-discussed Zuni Roast chicken. Do I ever look at the book anymore when I'm making it? No. Did I the first time I made it? Absolutely. What's so wonderful about cooking to me is the idea that you don't have to reinvent the wheel. We are always learning from and building from our collective cooking wisdom.

                                                                                      http://www.savour-fare.com

                                                                                    2. re: Stuffed Monkey
                                                                                      mels88 RE: Stuffed Monkey Apr 3, 2009 08:17 PM

                                                                                      I definitely took a tip from you guys and stopped stressing so much over what to cook. =) I needed a quick meal the other night and boiled some spaghetti, cooked it with olive oil, garlic, capers, tomatoes, olives and bits of chicken (that premade stuff meant for salads) and it was really good! I even brought some to my mom's and my parents loved it, but my fiance was so shy about eating it. He said he'd never eaten pasta without sauce before. Had I not posted this thread, I would've freaked out about how to cater to his (sometimes difficult) tastes, but I told him, "You eat it or you cook yourself dinner." He ate it and said he's still not used to pasta without sauce...but there were no leftovers. ;)

                                                                                      1. re: mels88
                                                                                        kattyeyes RE: mels88 Apr 3, 2009 08:20 PM

                                                                                        Go, girl! ;)

                                                                                        1. re: mels88
                                                                                          c oliver RE: mels88 Apr 3, 2009 08:34 PM

                                                                                          Eat it or cook it yourself? Guess you got THAT point across :) You'll hopefully never have to be that strong again. Just keep expanding his horizons. I constantly expand my own. It's a journey...a process. Y'all will hopefully enjoy going on the trip together. Just like a gazillion books to read, there are that many things to cook. Mmmm mmmm. Good girl

                                                                                          1. re: c oliver
                                                                                            LaLa RE: c oliver Apr 14, 2009 07:30 PM

                                                                                            that was always my rule ...three bites until you decide if you like it then if not cook something yourself!

                                                                                          2. re: mels88
                                                                                            Sam Fujisaka RE: mels88 Apr 3, 2009 08:35 PM

                                                                                            Whooopppie! You rock!!!!!

                                                                                            1. re: mels88
                                                                                              Karl S RE: mels88 Apr 4, 2009 03:11 AM

                                                                                              I am very proud of you. Mission accomplished.

                                                                                              1. re: mels88
                                                                                                s
                                                                                                Stuffed Monkey RE: mels88 Apr 4, 2009 08:12 AM

                                                                                                I do lots of variatons of pasta with no sauce or pasta with sauce. Take a frying pan, saute some protein and or veggies, add some sauce (from the freezer frozen in ice cube trays, or from a jar (all jarred sauces are not the same, keeping trying till you find one you like, my market has there own brand which I especially like because it's way lower in salt than most, I'd rather add my own if needed and I don't). or toss some pesto (also frozen in ice cube trays) or olive oil with the pasts.

                                                                                                Favorite combo's are: Chicken breast strips (sometimes stored in the freezer), articoke hearts (the frozen kind) rehyrdrated sundried tomatoes.

                                                                                                Eggplant cut in pieces and tomato sauce.

                                                                                                Saute minced onion in olive oil and fry an egg in it. Put on top of pasta (spagetti) with parmesean cheese.

                                                                                                Saute shirmp add tomato sauce.

                                                                                                The classic garlic, olive and anchovies.

                                                                                                Saute sushrooms, garlic and olive oil, and spinach just wilted in at the end.

                                                                                                1. re: Stuffed Monkey
                                                                                                  c oliver RE: Stuffed Monkey Apr 4, 2009 08:16 AM

                                                                                                  In the summer when I can get good tomatoes, I love to do an uncooked sauce. I put some olive oil in the pasta bowl, add chopped tomatoes, some capers, some grated cheese, anything else that looks/sounds good. Let it set a while, make the pasta, toss with the sauce and it's dinner. And if the tomatoes aren't all that great, sitting there with some evoo etc. will improve their flavor and texture.

                                                                                            2. e
                                                                                              edbk RE: mels88 Apr 1, 2009 07:48 AM

                                                                                              As someone who does most of the cooking I wanted to jump in. I do it by choice. If dinner is not made my boyfriend would be just as happy to order take out. Since I like to eat healthy meals and control what I put in my body, I prefer to have fish, veggies, etc... so I cook. He does the dishes and we share cleaning responsiblities.

                                                                                              I always have convenience foods ready so I can make something quick. Ex. pita or english muffin pizzas with salad (whole wheat pitas/english muffins, sauce, fresh mozz or goat cheese). No clean up and much better for you than delivery. BTW my sister's husband does 100% of the cooking.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: edbk
                                                                                                c oliver RE: edbk Apr 1, 2009 07:54 AM

                                                                                                And a fraction of the cost of that take out,huh?

                                                                                              2. r
                                                                                                Rick RE: mels88 Apr 1, 2009 09:37 AM

                                                                                                Some quick things that always seem to go over well:

                                                                                                Breaded pork chops, just coat in some olive oil, cover in italian bread crumbs and bake at 350 for maybe 15 min.

                                                                                                Quesadillas and mexican rice. Just flout tortillas, some cheese, some chicken or steak, some onions or peppers, and I've always baked them, 350 for 12-15 min.

                                                                                                Fish is always quick and easy if you do a simple pan fry or bake/broil it.

                                                                                                Shrimp in various marinades or on the grill or with some lemon and garlic is another quick one.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: Rick
                                                                                                  mels88 RE: Rick Apr 3, 2009 08:13 PM

                                                                                                  The pork chops is a great idea! =D That sounds really good. Thanks! I'm gonna have to try that one.

                                                                                                2. n
                                                                                                  newfoodie RE: mels88 Apr 1, 2009 10:23 AM

                                                                                                  Something that I find very helpful for me planning-wise is a Google Calendar. I love cooking and planning ahead for meals, so I often browse sites like this one. When I find something that sounds delicious, I can put it on the calendar- even weeks in advance if need be. At the start of each week, I take a look at what's on the schedule and then re-adjust as needed and make my grocery list from there.

                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: newfoodie
                                                                                                    The Dairy Queen RE: newfoodie Apr 1, 2009 11:28 AM

                                                                                                    newfoodie--Wow, that is a level of organization I can only aspire to. Dumb question, but, when you schedule it on your google calendar...do you put a link in there or the whole recipe? How do you keep ahold of the recipe until the time rolls around?

                                                                                                    And, to the OP, welcome! Now that I've entered this thread, I suppose I should have something smart to say, but, alas, I don't have much smart to say that hasn't already been said.

                                                                                                    One thing I would recommend is to develop a repertoire of recipes that work for you. So, especially during this "learning" period, try to keep good notes on your "keepers." Even if all you do is print them out and throw them in a folder to organize later.

                                                                                                    If you can pick one day to use as your "prep" day for the week, that would be awesome. I try to do that on Sundays and bake a couple of chickens for the week. Or, you can make a meatloaf or two for the week. I have one I make with lean ground bison that is healthy and delicious. Prep your vegetables for the week if you can, so you can throw together instant salads or vegetables to snack on. You can make pizza dough for the week (I make mine in the bread machine) and pop it in the freezer in small balls. Put in it the fridge in the morning before you leave for work and you can turn it into a quick meal that night.

                                                                                                    Another thing I try to do on that day is make a batch of wild rice, quinoa, barley or some other whole grain and/or beans for the week. Polenta is another one you can make ahead and turn it into something Italian'ish, Mexican'ish or even breakfast'ish with eggs during the week. Stovetop (if you have time to babysit it) or rice cooker is best for the various grains; crockpot or pressure cooker is great for the beans.

                                                                                                    (You'll notice, I don't mind relying on a few time-saving appliances. For me, these things don't require a lot of attention, which means I can be running around doing other things--laying out clothes for the week, going through the mail, emptying the dishwasher, etc.--while the appliance is doing its thing).

                                                                                                    I have also developed a couple tried and true crockpot recipes that I can just fling together in the morning and know will be waiting for me when I get home from work. flank steak+jar salsa+pound of frozen corn+can of black beans (rinsed) is the easiest and seems to be everyone's favorite--except for the flank steak, the ingredients are all things you can keep in your pantry/freezer. Makes easy beef tacos, if nothing else. You can do something similar with chicken.

                                                                                                    Other versatile, quick meals:
                                                                                                    ~pasta
                                                                                                    ~stir-fries
                                                                                                    ~entree-type salads
                                                                                                    ~Broiled fish is fast; broiled pork chops are fast; even a small steak is fast. Serve with a big salad or some steamed vegetables and your ready grains.

                                                                                                    As far as divying up the household duties, as long as it feels like a partnership where each does his or her share, it doesn't matter who does what. If you're lucky, you both like and detest different chores so that it sorts out you get to do the things you like (or don't mind doing) and get does the things you don't like (and hopefully either likes or doesn't mind them).

                                                                                                    I hate to "type" people, but a lot of folks who don't like to cook, don't mind grilling. So, if your fiance is that type, he might enjoy cooking a couple of nights a week--grilling the meats, veggies, even potatoes.

                                                                                                    Good luck! Have fun! Let us know how it goes!

                                                                                                    ~TDQ

                                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                      d
                                                                                                      DGresh RE: The Dairy Queen Apr 1, 2009 11:42 AM

                                                                                                      yeah, with regard to "divying"; we tried that with the cooking when we first were married. The problem was he didn't really care if he made the same thing day after day. I mean, he prefers eating different stuff, but it's just not worth the effort to him. It works much better if I do all the cooking, since I *actually enjoy it*

                                                                                                    2. re: newfoodie
                                                                                                      kchurchill5 RE: newfoodie Apr 1, 2009 11:50 AM

                                                                                                      I certainly don't do weeks in advance as I never know my schedule and working 4 jobs (well 3 or 4) I rarely know my schedule. I have a regular day time, a part time evening, and 2 independent jobs so ... I try to plan each week. I try to buy enough for 1 week at a time and then go from there. But as each day passes ... the night changes so I'm never really sure.

                                                                                                      But helping to plan in advance does help. Doesn't have to be exact but ideas are very helpful. Write a list of favorite recipes both of you want to try and then put them on the list.

                                                                                                      Sundays or whatever day you have free I do try to make something 1 or 2 things. Sometimes a simple 30 minute soup and just ziploc and freeze or store for later. Also, maybe a turkey or roast chicken. Cut up and use for later in the week. Meatloaf. Make a large one or 2 small. Slice and put in baggies. Great for lunch or dinner later in a hurry. Beef stew in the crock pot. Turn on and basically forget it for the whole day. Buy a spiral cut ham ... Cut up and bag. Mac and cheese with ham one night. Ham sammys, fritatta, ham with peas and cheese and pasta which is great. Omlettes, just reheat with scalloped potatoes. endless. I try to make 2 things extra every day off for later in the week.

                                                                                                      1. re: kchurchill5
                                                                                                        maplesugar RE: kchurchill5 Apr 3, 2009 10:17 PM

                                                                                                        I'm always making extras too... prep veggies for veggies and dip for lunch, peel more carrots for dinner time. Instead of making one lasagna, make 2 and freeze one for later. Extra chicken breasts are grilled and repurposed for salads, soup etc later in the week. Baking cookies but don't want all 3 dozen? Portion out the dough just like you would if you were going to pop them in the oven and wrap the cookie sheet in plastic, freeze the dough balls, once frozen transfer to a ziploc container. :)

                                                                                                        1. re: maplesugar
                                                                                                          kchurchill5 RE: maplesugar Apr 4, 2009 09:17 AM

                                                                                                          My plan never works honestly at least most of the time, but I at least have leftovers, well sort of leftovers. A bag with a chicken breast or bag of ham. You can do a lot with so ... easy scalloped potatoes or a quick ham quesadilla. Sweet honey, brown sugar, mustard, apple juice and cream cheese with ham, onions, sweet potatoes and roasted red peppers quesadillas. One of my favorites.

                                                                                                          Good for you. Cookies are great that way. Lots of things you can do.

                                                                                                          Extra chicken, sammys, quesadillas, tacos, omlettes, shredded with veggies for a burger or sandwich grilled, salad as you said or chopped in pasta.

                                                                                                          I have a pork tenderloin and 4 containers of soup and 1 1/2 whole turkey breasts from smoking also veggies, pork and shrimp yesterday. It was fun day off unlike today working but a little time free. I'll get like 10 dinners out of 4 hours in the smoker. And low cost too.

                                                                                                    3. a
                                                                                                      adrienne156 RE: mels88 Apr 1, 2009 03:44 PM

                                                                                                      There's a lot of really good advice on this thread and especially what Vvvindaloo said about freezing portions - GOLD.

                                                                                                      Although I'm in between schooling at the moment, my last relationship put me in the same boat as you - similar work hours, school full time, and a SO that ate A LOT (college football player). We never had leftovers and because I have always preferred to be the one cooking even though he did grill something every other week or so, it seemed like I was always at it. The things that I found really helped me save money, time, and made sure we weren't eating the same things all the time all had to do with shopping. First off, having a pantry stocked with things that you both like - spices, oils, dried herbs, canned tomatoes, etc. - is so necessary (and should be super fun for you working at TJ). As far as groceries... I found that stocking the freezer with meats I knew we both liked from Costco - chicken breasts, pork chops, ground turkey, sausages - and splitting them into smaller packets was hugely cost and time effective. What dictated meals were my weekly trips (with the odd one here and there) to the grocery store where I'd pick up whatever veggies looked good/were in season, fish or steak, or any special ingredients I would need if I happened to be inspired by a recipe I'd read on CH or the 2-3 foodie mags I subscribe to. We'd both get home and I'd say pick a, b, or c and we'd go from there. ...I tried to always keep rice, potatoes, onions, garlic, and frozen peas on hand... But you know what, these were all things that I came to learn to keep on hand. There were a lot of cell phone calls from the grocery store in the beginning (if he wasn’t with me) “Do you like asparagus? Have you ever had asparagus? How do you know you don’t like asparagus if you’ve never had asparagus?” and into the basket it would go… Lucky for me he had a good sense of humor. I think I read someone else getting railed for trying to “change” their SO’s eating habits on this thread, but I will be the first one to admit that I sure did get creative with those meals. My ex and I were from different ethnic backgrounds, his food exposure was somewhat limited (getting him to try [Indian] took me a solid 6 months and was almost comedic… of course he came to love it), and sometimes I would just make stuff... Sometimes what I made was a ‘yes’, other times a ‘no,’ but the ‘yeses’ kept me going and while we aren’t together anymore, I can assure you that food was not the nail in the coffin. At the very least, I’m happy to be able to say that I definitely expanded his food horizons.

                                                                                                      I’d say browse some foodie mags and see if they’re your thing, ask mom for some recipes you loved growing up, ask his mom for some recipes he loved, browse CH, go the store together and see what he throws in the basket... Just start building. And above all, congratulations!

                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: adrienne156
                                                                                                        Sam Fujisaka RE: adrienne156 Apr 1, 2009 03:51 PM

                                                                                                        Lovely and insightful story nicely told.

                                                                                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                                                                                          a
                                                                                                          adrienne156 RE: Sam Fujisaka Apr 1, 2009 04:17 PM

                                                                                                          Thanks, Sam. :)

                                                                                                        2. re: adrienne156
                                                                                                          Amuse Bouches RE: adrienne156 Apr 1, 2009 04:30 PM

                                                                                                          This is so true. Also, I rely on a repertoire of probably 5-10 recipes that are regularly featured on weeknights, that I know are quick and easy or can be made ahead. (And the repertoire changes a bit--- I go through phases) Experiment cooking almost always happens on weekends.

                                                                                                        3. viperlush RE: mels88 Apr 2, 2009 07:17 AM

                                                                                                          I do 99% of the cooking because i can't stand how slow my BF is in the kitchen. It helps that cleans, eats anything I put in front of him, and thanks me after every meal. Some suggestions that I have are (that may or may not have been mentioned already):

                                                                                                          - Are there any family recipes that he loves that you can get from his mother? My BF's mom compiled favorite family recipes for both her kids when they moved out.

                                                                                                          - I like to plan my weekly menu on Sunday and (non football season) do my shopping after. To save $$ and lessen waste I try to repeat ingredients

                                                                                                          - The first time you use a recipe ask him to help you critique it (what did you like? Didn't like?) and make notes. I found that it helps me to learn what he likes and to remember the changes to a recipe I want to make in the future.

                                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: viperlush
                                                                                                            n
                                                                                                            newfoodie RE: viperlush Apr 2, 2009 10:20 AM

                                                                                                            Yes, I agree. I print out most of my recipes from the internet and it really helps to write notes right on them.

                                                                                                            1. re: viperlush
                                                                                                              LaLa RE: viperlush Apr 2, 2009 06:30 PM

                                                                                                              I gave my SIL a pretty box of my brother's favorite family recipes on notcards when they got married and she seemed to love it and I still see her use it all these years later.

                                                                                                              1. re: LaLa
                                                                                                                The Dairy Queen RE: LaLa Apr 3, 2009 01:21 AM

                                                                                                                What a lovely idea! I think it's important to pass on family recipes.

                                                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                                  kchurchill5 RE: The Dairy Queen Apr 3, 2009 08:22 AM

                                                                                                                  Very cool idea. I still use many of my grandmas recipes but my ex liked a couple of his moms and she wouldn't share. It's a shame. I love the idea of passing down recipes. Nice thought.

                                                                                                                  1. re: kchurchill5
                                                                                                                    The Dairy Queen RE: kchurchill5 Apr 3, 2009 08:59 AM

                                                                                                                    If you like the idea of passing down recipes and you haven't checked out tastebook.com yet, I encourage you to do so. Makes a great wedding gift, bridal shower gift, any kind of gift...

                                                                                                                    ~TDQ

                                                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                                      kchurchill5 RE: The Dairy Queen Apr 3, 2009 09:10 AM

                                                                                                                      Thx, and upcoming wedding next month. What a cool site!!

                                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                                        Amuse Bouches RE: The Dairy Queen Apr 3, 2009 04:10 PM

                                                                                                                        I second this recommendation. My aunt (an excellent cook) gave everyone a tastebook for Christmas one year and I love it. A couple of my favorite recipes.

                                                                                                                        http://www.savour-fare.com

                                                                                                              2. foxy fairy RE: mels88 Apr 5, 2009 05:38 AM

                                                                                                                Sesame chicken noodles with a LOT of veggies -- healthy delicious meal.

                                                                                                                Last night I made this really delicious meal that was simple and delicious to prepare, and gave me a huge VAT of leftovers. I don't think even your hungry-sounding fiance could eat all of the leftovers in a day. He can help by chopping veggies :) while you make the sauce.

                                                                                                                You can eat this hot or cold, so for busy schedules that's great.

                                                                                                                Basically, cook some boneless skinless chicken breasts. A really easy way to do this is put them in a glass baking dish, cover halfway up with milk or cream, and bake about 25 minutes or until done at 350. Chop them up when done. Meanwhile cook a pound of pasta. Bow ties or another fun shape are great here -- I used campanelle.

                                                                                                                Chop any veggies you would like to add -- I used celery, cucumbers, red peppers, scallions, and carrots.

                                                                                                                Make an easy dressing: 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup rice vinegar, 1/2 cup or a little less low sodium soy sauce or tamari, 2 or 3 Tbsp sesame oil, a few Tablespoons white sugar, a couple of cloves of chopped garlic and a Tbsp or so chopped ginger, lots of black pepper. Add fresh cilantro if you like.

                                                                                                                When the pasta is done, add about 1/2 of the dressing to the hot noodles and they'll soak up the sauce. Then combine everything and add the rest of the dressing. Again, this is excellent hot or cold! I added more dressing this morning because I like lots of sauce.

                                                                                                                If you like Asian food, it is worth buying the ingredients for this sauce (tamari or soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil), and they're available in most grocery stores or an Asian grocery. I often use sesame oil in salad dressings. Fantastic flavor.

                                                                                                                Here's the original recipe, which I modified quite a bit (I made more dressing and decreased the ratio of oil):
                                                                                                                http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Sesame-P...

                                                                                                                1. linengirl RE: mels88 Apr 5, 2009 07:55 AM

                                                                                                                  Mels,

                                                                                                                  I notice that your profile says you don't own any cookbooks. If you feel the urge, get thee to a good cookbook store! If you were in New York, I would send you to Bonnie Slotnick in the village or to Kitchen Arts and Letters uptown. The great virtue of going to one of those is that the folks who run those places can really help you. There are a billion books out there, and a lot of them won't suit you, whereas a few will make you very happy.

                                                                                                                  If SF doesn't have a good cookbook store, here are some books that I have that I like a lot for beginners:

                                                                                                                  Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything. (which I've heard referred to as "the new Joy of Cooking")
                                                                                                                  Nigel Slater's Real Fast Food
                                                                                                                  Delia Smith's How to Cook (books 1-3)
                                                                                                                  Giuliano Hazan's Classic Pasta Cookbook.

                                                                                                                  I'm sorry if I'm repeating what someone else has suggested: haven't made my way to the bottom of a very interesting list of replies!

                                                                                                                  good luck and enjoy!

                                                                                                                  27 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: linengirl
                                                                                                                    foxy fairy RE: linengirl Apr 5, 2009 11:13 AM

                                                                                                                    Moosewood and Silver Palate are excellent cookbooks too.

                                                                                                                    You might want to join us for the Cookbook of the Month here at chowhound! Lots of fun trying new recipes and reporting on how you do. Lots of us check the books out of the library each month. Here's the link to this month's book:

                                                                                                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6087...

                                                                                                                    1. re: foxy fairy
                                                                                                                      j
                                                                                                                      jpc8015 RE: foxy fairy Apr 14, 2009 09:51 PM

                                                                                                                      I am a big fan of the Fannie Farmer for everyday type meals. The recipes in Fannie Farmer typically use pretty standard ingredients. You're not going to find any recipes for a truly remarkable cassoulet but you will find some very user friendly recipes for standard meals.

                                                                                                                    2. re: linengirl
                                                                                                                      mels88 RE: linengirl Apr 6, 2009 11:13 AM

                                                                                                                      Thank you! =D I'm still easing myself into owning cookbooks. It's overwhelming to me for some reason, but I'll definitely try the ones you suggested!

                                                                                                                      1. re: mels88
                                                                                                                        The Dairy Queen RE: mels88 Apr 6, 2009 12:19 PM

                                                                                                                        Mels, another thing you can try is borrowing cookbooks from your local library. That way, you can try the book to see if you like it before adding it to your collection.

                                                                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                                          e
                                                                                                                          Erinmck RE: The Dairy Queen Apr 6, 2009 08:34 PM

                                                                                                                          Agreed. Also, Mels, if your library doesn't carry it, you can do an inter-library loan. You could also suggest they purchase the book :o)

                                                                                                                        2. re: mels88
                                                                                                                          c
                                                                                                                          Coconuts RE: mels88 Apr 6, 2009 12:42 PM

                                                                                                                          I completely understand the feeling. Now I have a cookbook habit, but one thing I've realized is that I use Foodnetwork.com for ideas in general, and google if I'm looking for a particular recipe (it's never a bad idea to compare 5 or 6- if everyone here had a dollar for every recipe with a missing step or typo, we'd be in a bidding war to buy Eric Ripert as a private chef). I'm not giving up my cookbooks, but I also don't use them for cooking very often.

                                                                                                                          You may want to consider a Bon Appetit subscription (or spend some time on their website)- I think it's $8 for the year, and I always find one or two good, easy recipes.

                                                                                                                          Jacques Pepin's More Fast Food My Way on PBS is always, always, always worth the half hour to watch. Most of the ingredients he uses are very common, it's fast and I haven't been led astray so far.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Coconuts
                                                                                                                            kattyeyes RE: Coconuts Apr 6, 2009 12:52 PM

                                                                                                                            Good call on magazine subscriptions--I get Food & Wine and love it--but piggybacking on TDQ's suggestion, you can also get lots of food magazines from the library (Cooking Light, Gourmet) and see what you like before you decide what subscription best suits your tastes/needs.

                                                                                                                            1. re: kattyeyes
                                                                                                                              The Dairy Queen RE: kattyeyes Apr 6, 2009 01:31 PM

                                                                                                                              kattyeyes--I love checking magazines out of the library. And the cool thing about the magazines is that they are seasonally-oriented, so, it gives you ideas for ingredients that are actually in your grocery stores (and farmers markets) right now.

                                                                                                                              I can't always check the current month's edition of say, Gourmet, out of my library. (My library only lets me check out back issues), so, sometimes, if I haven't read it, I check out LAST YEARS edition of whatever magazine. Works pretty well if all you're looking for is seasonal recipes. I particularly like that section in the back of Gourmet where they group the recipes by 20 minutes, 40 minutes, etc. They have them online, usually, too. So, once you find a recipe you like in the magazine, you can usually find it on their website, print it out and add it to your "collection". And, usually, even if you can't find them online just by casually surfing their site, if you know the exact title and date of the recipe, you can often get the search engine on their site to bring it up.

                                                                                                                              The other feature I like about Gourmet is they sometimes have this feature where they give you a recipe that calls for a small amount of a weird ingredient. Then, they will give you another recipe that also uses that weird ingredient so you can get more use out of it. A couple of months ago, for instance, there was one that called for Thai Curry Paste...

                                                                                                                              Anyway, the library is a great source.

                                                                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                                                c
                                                                                                                                cheesecake17 RE: The Dairy Queen Apr 6, 2009 01:53 PM

                                                                                                                                I take out magazines from the library all the time. I can get the current issue and back issues. Sometimes libraries get multiple copies of the same magazine and they'll let you purchase the magazine after a certain amount of time. I bought a few issues of Real Simple that way. I don't remember how much they charged me, but definitely not the newsstand price.

                                                                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                                                  kattyeyes RE: The Dairy Queen Apr 6, 2009 06:07 PM

                                                                                                                                  I like the "weird ingredient" feature you mentioned--I'll have to watch for it. Thanks for the tip!

                                                                                                                                  P.S. You don't know this, but I am a huge Dairy Queen fan and have been, i dunno, since birth probably. ;) I went to "your store" this weekend and enjoyed my first hot fudge and caramel sundae of the season. I also saw a DQ tow hitch cover recently and thought, huh, I wonder if the real TDQ knows such a thing is available.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: kattyeyes
                                                                                                                                    The Dairy Queen RE: kattyeyes Apr 6, 2009 08:01 PM

                                                                                                                                    I like being the "real" TDQ! HA!

                                                                                                                                    But, yes, I have enjoyed my share of dairy queen desserts over the years. But, I have never seen a DQ tow hitch!

                                                                                                                                    Here's an example of that "weird" ingredient thing. I don't know if "weird" is the right word, but they call for 3 cups of packaged cole slaw mix in this carne asada recipe...http://www.gourmet.com/recipes/2000s/... and then, at the end of the recipe, give you this tofu with spicy cabbage recipe to use the leftover coleslaw mix... http://www.gourmet.com/recipes/2000s/...

                                                                                                                                    ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                                                      kattyeyes RE: The Dairy Queen Apr 6, 2009 08:49 PM

                                                                                                                                      Very cool! I clipped that recipe just now. I thought I was such an innovator--I make my taco meat similarly--ancho, cocoa powder (or ground Mexican chocolate, depending on how lazy I'm feeling) and cinnamon. I do chili the same way. I've been doing it so long, I honestly forget where I got the idea in the first place, but it's a very good one. I also sometimes add a little vanilla (from a tip I read somewhere).

                                                                                                                                    2. re: kattyeyes
                                                                                                                                      The Dairy Queen RE: kattyeyes Apr 6, 2009 08:05 PM

                                                                                                                                      Oh, here's a whole section for "using those pesky leftover ingredients"

                                                                                                                                      http://www.gourmet.com/recipes/buy-th...

                                                                                                                                      ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                                                        kattyeyes RE: The Dairy Queen Apr 6, 2009 08:50 PM

                                                                                                                                        This is now a favorite for me. Thanks!

                                                                                                                                  2. re: kattyeyes
                                                                                                                                    j
                                                                                                                                    jpc8015 RE: kattyeyes Apr 14, 2009 09:53 PM

                                                                                                                                    I've had a subscription to Bon Appetite for several years now and I have kept every back issue. While I don't find many recipes in there for a weeknight type meal I often use them for those truly special occasions.

                                                                                                                              2. re: linengirl
                                                                                                                                l
                                                                                                                                lamster RE: linengirl Apr 6, 2009 01:03 PM

                                                                                                                                Mels - if buying cookbooks is too much money right now (especially if you don't want to invest in a book that you don't end up using) be sure to check out websites. ie - food network and martha stewart. I print out recipes all the time and when after I try it out, I always ask the bf if this is something we should put into regular rotation. If no, then I trash the recipe. If yes, then I make comments on the print out and put it into my recipe binder. I keep the binder generally organized with tabs - chicken, beef, pork, desserts, etc. so that its easy to find the recipe later.

                                                                                                                                1. re: lamster
                                                                                                                                  e
                                                                                                                                  ElissaInPlaya RE: lamster Apr 6, 2009 04:39 PM

                                                                                                                                  Yep, I do this too. Over time I have collected and organized 3 binders worth.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: ElissaInPlaya
                                                                                                                                    kchurchill5 RE: ElissaInPlaya Apr 6, 2009 08:08 PM

                                                                                                                                    Same here. I have keys like like ... I rate them ... tried, also another key .... and make any changes and then print or write right on the recipe. Just organize by main ingredient. I also list if for personal or for catering. I have 4 binders 3".

                                                                                                                                    1. re: kchurchill5
                                                                                                                                      linengirl RE: kchurchill5 Apr 6, 2009 08:22 PM

                                                                                                                                      This is a fabulous thread. What a great idea, all!

                                                                                                                                      1. re: kchurchill5
                                                                                                                                        kattyeyes RE: kchurchill5 Apr 6, 2009 08:53 PM

                                                                                                                                        I rate recipes with a comment just as my mom often does. Tonight I made GHG's spicy black bean dip for the first time and wrote EXCELLENT! across the top in all caps with a smiley face. It reminds me of how teachers would write positive comments on your papers in grade school. "Nice job! :)"

                                                                                                                                      2. re: ElissaInPlaya
                                                                                                                                        e
                                                                                                                                        Erinmck RE: ElissaInPlaya Apr 6, 2009 08:37 PM

                                                                                                                                        Agreed! My future sister-in-law did/does this, and decorated her binder with food clippings and such. It's really cool, and wish I had one myself!

                                                                                                                                        You could also put family recipes into something like this, too. When you get married, you could suggest everyone invited to write down and bring their favorite recipe.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Erinmck
                                                                                                                                          l
                                                                                                                                          lamster RE: Erinmck Apr 7, 2009 10:03 AM

                                                                                                                                          Also, I tend to tear recipes out of magazines and then end up with all these random scraps of paper. For those, I have purchased clear plastic sleeves to put them in. The sleeves are great because I can splash food on them while cooking with no worry. I just wipe it off.

                                                                                                                                      3. re: lamster
                                                                                                                                        mels88 RE: lamster Apr 7, 2009 04:02 PM

                                                                                                                                        That's a great idea! :) I like the idea of rating the recipes. I'll probably rate it according to whether my SO likes it too...his tastes are so difficult sometimes. >=/ I eat just about anything. Thank you!

                                                                                                                                        1. re: mels88
                                                                                                                                          foxy fairy RE: mels88 Apr 8, 2009 07:44 AM

                                                                                                                                          Ha. I know what you mean, mels88, although in my case sometimes SO is just unfairly prejudiced against ingredients but doesn't actually seem to mind them when I slip them in. My SO is anti-onion (of all things!) but I just sneak some in and hope that she won't notice. I can't bear the idea of bland anti-onion dishes.... LOL! I made cacciatore last night for SO, with two giant onions in the mix not to mention the ones I used in the marinara that went into the stew. SO lapped it all up without a single complaint! I did keep the mushrooms out b/c I didn't want to bombard SO with too many objectionable ingredients at once... but I am such a mushroom girl. I will be starting the pro-mushroom campaign soon!

                                                                                                                                          1. re: foxy fairy
                                                                                                                                            c
                                                                                                                                            cheesecake17 RE: foxy fairy Apr 8, 2009 07:49 AM

                                                                                                                                            My husband claims he hates balsamic vinegar. But whenever I cook something with it- he has no problem eating it. It's just key to hide the bottle!

                                                                                                                                            1. re: cheesecake17
                                                                                                                                              foxy fairy RE: cheesecake17 Apr 8, 2009 08:34 AM

                                                                                                                                              HA. I know. As I was prepping for the stew, I was caught red-handed with the onions, because SO wandered into the kitchen and stared at the bowl of chopped veggies with concern, and said "Whoa. Are those all onions on the top layer there?"

                                                                                                                                              I smiled and said... Ummmmm.....

                                                                                                                                              1. re: foxy fairy
                                                                                                                                                c
                                                                                                                                                cheesecake17 RE: foxy fairy Apr 8, 2009 08:37 AM

                                                                                                                                                When in doubt, say it's fennel. It works the other way around- my husband HATES fennel, but whenever I'm cooking it, I just say its a 'different type of onion'

                                                                                                                                    2. c oliver RE: mels88 Apr 7, 2009 10:14 AM

                                                                                                                                      mels, I fixed a side dish last night that might interest you. Costco still had fingerling potatoes so I bought another bag, but you could use reds or gold halved or quartered. I cut the potatoes length-wise and put them in a making pan with big slices of onion and red bell pepper and fennel seed, s&p, and tossed with olive oil. I roasted at about 425 for 30-40 minutes. It's a real non-recipe and you can sub anything you have. Five or so minutes before ready to serve, I tossed in a few leaves of basil that I'd torn up roughly. I've done a more "real" recipe for a version of this and you can mostly prepare ahead of time. You can also drizzle with a little vinegar when serving. Easy and quick - my mantra a lot of thetime.

                                                                                                                                      1. tracylee RE: mels88 Apr 7, 2009 09:10 PM

                                                                                                                                        My SO is a professional musician, so even if he's not working, he's up most of the night and sleeps in - he's 60 so doesn't need much sleep. Like your fiance, he has an appetite that won't quit - he can clean out the fridge overnight. He's mostly vegetarian, but he has been known to eat a pound of bacon while I've been asleep.

                                                                                                                                        He'll eat about everything I cook, but things that "may" last long enough for me to eat -
                                                                                                                                        1. inexpensive frozen pizza - kicked up with extra pepperoni, cheeses, sun-dried tomatoes, black olives, onions, peppers - you get the idea.

                                                                                                                                        2. Calzones - keep flour and yeast on hand, with whatever fillings you and/or he prefer. I tend to make two, one with stuff he prefers, the other with stuff I prefer.

                                                                                                                                        3. Hearty soup or bean dishes - they keep well, and he can fill up any time. My cassoulet was a big hit, and relatively easy to prepare:
                                                                                                                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5903...
                                                                                                                                        (hope that link works, the title of the thread was "Boxed Tomato equivalent"

                                                                                                                                        Hope that helps some!

                                                                                                                                        1. Kaelin RE: mels88 Apr 12, 2009 02:41 PM

                                                                                                                                          This is a great thread -- CHers are so generous with time and advice!

                                                                                                                                          I love this list of "101 Simple Meals Ready in Ten Minutes or Less" published a couple of years ago in the New York Times. Mark Bittman already makes everything easy, but never more so than here:

                                                                                                                                          http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/18/din...

                                                                                                                                          Favorites include #41 (Raita to the rescue: Broil any fish. Serve with a sauce of drained yogurt mixed with chopped cucumber, minced onion and cayenne.), #93 (Cut up Italian sausage into chunks and brown in a little olive oil until just about done. Dump in a lot of seedless grapes and, if you like, a little slivered garlic and chopped rosemary. Cook, stirring, until the grapes are hot. Serve with bread.), and #99 (Cook a couple of pounds of shrimp, shell on or off, in oil, with lots of chopped garlic. When they turn pink, remove; deglaze the pan with a half-cup or so of beer, along with a splash of Worcestershire sauce, cayenne, rosemary and a lump of butter. Serve with bread.). Add a green salad to any of these and you have a complete meal -- with leftovers.

                                                                                                                                          Last year Mr. Bittman also published a similar article with "101 Simple Appetizers in 20 Minutes or Less":

                                                                                                                                          http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/19/din...

                                                                                                                                          The great things about "recipes" this basic is that you can begin to experiment and, as you and your fiance figure out your foodie preferences together, you can adjust recipes accordingly and really make them your own. Good luck, and Bon Appetit!

                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: Kaelin
                                                                                                                                            The Dairy Queen RE: Kaelin Apr 12, 2009 05:46 PM

                                                                                                                                            Such great links! I have to tell you, I find those lists absolutely overwhelming. I can't get past about #35 before I tune out. Maybe I'll try to work my way through this list one of these days...

                                                                                                                                            ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Kaelin
                                                                                                                                              foxy fairy RE: Kaelin Apr 14, 2009 09:23 PM

                                                                                                                                              I am so excited to turn to that list when low on time/energy but still craving delicious. The broiled eggplant strikes me immediately, as does the Cobb-ish salad.

                                                                                                                                            2. j
                                                                                                                                              jpc8015 RE: mels88 Apr 14, 2009 10:13 PM

                                                                                                                                              I think that it is very important to remember that you and your fiance are starting a whole new chapter of your lives together. The days of constantly trying to impress one another are over and you now have to LIVE with one another. Marriage is a commitment that must be constantly worked at by both parties in order to be succesful. My wife and I both love food and we are both very good cooks, but there are nights when dinner is nothing more than a turkey sandwhich and a little green salad. But then there are times when I have been out of town for a while and my wife will make me a lasagna from scratch. There are times when she has worked all day and I have been home and I will make her a favorite meal. Everyday dinners don't need to be spectacular, I would go so far as to say that everday dinners shouldn't be spectacular. Save the special meals for special occasions.

                                                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: jpc8015
                                                                                                                                                m
                                                                                                                                                Milt RE: jpc8015 Apr 19, 2009 03:05 PM

                                                                                                                                                My situation is quite different from that of many posting above - but that won't keep me from chiming in. I retired a few years ago, and my wife is still working. My long held dream of learning to cook, and cook well, has finally begun to be realized. After I retired, I began doing virtually all of our cooking. Several thoughts follow:

                                                                                                                                                I was taught to never write in a book by my mother (who was a teacher). My wife finally convinced me that it was appropriate (and even desirable) in cookbooks. Now, whenever I try a new recipe - I date the recipe and make brief comments along with my thoughts about adjustments to the recipe (if any). Also, I have collected numerous computer print outs of recipes which sound good. If I am pleased, I do as above - if not, it goes into the recycling tub.

                                                                                                                                                Frequently, I have ingredients which I want to use up. I look through recipes for those with these particular ingredients. Tonight's buttermilk pie will come close to using up the gallon of buttermilk I bought recently.

                                                                                                                                                My confidence and experience levels dictate that I use recipes. I am becoming more confident, and more experienced, so I can make substitutions more often.

                                                                                                                                                The best cookbooks, for me, have been the Southern Living Annual Recipes series. They are tested recipes which have clear straightforward instructions with easily found ingredients. An excellent source for cookbooks is a used book store or a yard sale.

                                                                                                                                                Recipes for two have not worked well for me. I prefer to prepare a larger meal and have some leftovers for another day. For Easter Sunday, I baked a 10# pork picnic roast and last Thursday I baked a 5.5# chicken. Four of us left plenty of meal for later meals.

                                                                                                                                                We are fortunate in that we eat just about everything. The discovery we have made since I began doing the cooking is that I am drawn to different recipes and different ingredients. My wife eats just about anything that I prepare, but we eat differently when she cooks - which she still does occasionally. My cooking choices are, just the same, greatly influenced by her preferences.

                                                                                                                                                Tonight's dinner will be all leftovers - except for the buttermilk pie. We finished off the strawberry-rhubarb cobbler last night (with ice cream). She did not eat rhubarb dishes when we met, but was very willing to try what I was willing to cook. Now rhubarb dishes are as acceptable as many other options.

                                                                                                                                                My grocery shopping is primarily done on Wednesdays (5% senior discount) - but when it occurs is not particularly important. Planning - and buying the needed additional ingredients - is what matters. We keep a list on the refrigerator door. Anything which is a staple is added to the list when we use what we have, or when we run low on it. Anything needed for the week's menu is also added to the shopping list. This greatly reduces the amount of impulse buying I do.

                                                                                                                                                There have already been a tremendous number of excellent posts above. Sort out what we have all offered and let us know what works for you.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Milt
                                                                                                                                                  c
                                                                                                                                                  cheesecake17 RE: Milt Apr 19, 2009 06:39 PM

                                                                                                                                                  Milt- what you're doing for yourself and your wife is awesome. It must be so great to be retired and have all day to cook! I also keep a list on the door of the fridge, and it really helps. Sometimes I won't notice that we've run out of salsa or ice cream (two things I don't eat) but if it's on the list, I'll buy it.

                                                                                                                                                  Also, you mentioned that the market you shop at has a senior discount. Many supermarkets offer a senior discount that's not advertised.. so you can ask around if you're ever in the mood for a change in scenery.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Milt
                                                                                                                                                    Sam Fujisaka RE: Milt Apr 20, 2009 06:19 PM

                                                                                                                                                    Love you, Milt!

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Milt
                                                                                                                                                      foxy fairy RE: Milt Apr 21, 2009 12:01 PM

                                                                                                                                                      I agree regarding cooking bigger portions and saving for later. I never cook for two, even when I am just cooking for one! I am self-employed and, like Milt, it is such a joy to plan meals and create wonders in the kitchen. I feel fortunate that I am able to devote so much time and energy to this passion!

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