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Jan 14, 2011 09:34 PM

Easy dinner ideas for beginner?

Hi everyone!

I've been reading here on CH for a while now but this is my first post!
I'm in college and enjoying my first year of marriage, but now I need to learn how to cook real food, you know aside from mac & cheese and frozen pizza. I do have *limited* cooking experience (spaghetti and meatballs, steak on the grill pork chops kind of things) and I am a great baker but I need some good easy dinner ideas. The downside of this is that my husband is a SUPER picky eater. Basically he likes ground beef anything and boneless white meats (chicken breasts and pork chops) and beef in general. He will not eat "anything that swims" ( I know he is sorely missing out!) We both like soups and stews but beef barley & veggie soup gets old fast.

So, to all of you seasoned cooks out there, any simple tasty ideas for a beginner? Any advice and recipes will be greatly appreciated =)

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  1. This would be a good thread for you; ways to cook with few ingredients. Enjoy!

    2 Replies
    1. re: lilgi

      Thanks! I never really thought of the idea of using "few ingredients" but it seems like a great start!

      1. re: sjahns

        One more for you; just learned about these myself and my boys can't get enough of them (they aren't even crazy about potatoes in general). They are mentioned on the thread:

    2. well, i'd master meatloaf fer sure, and chili! :)

      i am sure that the home cooking gurus will soon see your post and give you a bunch of great threads to look at, but here's my two cents: you have a long life ahead of you, so it's a good idea to start working on the spouse wrt picky eating now, so that he and you, and the two of you together, don't continue to miss out on so much! on the not eating fish thing: maybe he just hates fish sticks? or oily fish ("fishy" tasting fish)? he hasn't tried many fishes? maybe he could wrap his head around a mellow cod dish with a tomato sauce, and open his mind a little. make stuff he loves, but he's gotta try the recipes that make you happy to cook them, too (or else he can cook for himself!) also see if he can work up to chicken on the bone. once you can start roasting chickens, whole and in parts, you have so many options. if he's really picky/inflexible about the proteins, i hesitate to ask, but are vegetarian meals an option at all?

      14 Replies
      1. re: soupkitten

        Thanks for your advice =) but YES he is that picky. I've offered him king crab, lobster, fried clams and even some absolutely divine crabcakes (deepfried for crying out loud!) He will NOT touch it if it came from the ocean/lake/pond. We live on the great lakes and I've been eating walleye and perch since I got teeth and my Christmas dinner with my family was always King Crab, I miss it so. Vegetarian options are an option although it would probably take some pushing, neither one of us are mushroom fans. I actually made Alton Browns Gyros a few days ago and he LOVED them but I couldn't tell him there was GASP *lamb* in them! He will normally try the food I make because I am so self conscious about cooking and he wants to be supportive but sometimes I can't tell if he really likes it or not, I'll keep trying =)

        1. re: sjahns

          you need to explain to yourself and him, an acceptable way to critique your food. you ain't gonna get better without criticism, from both you and him. Ya can softtoe it all you want, but find a policy and stick to it!
          [1-10 on the "I liked this" scale? "needs more salt, but it's edible"]

          1. re: sjahns

            It sounds like he doesn't *want* to try new things, not that he doesn't like them. I mean, lamb is a "love it or hate it" meat - and the fact that he LOVED the gyros says to me he's being stubborn and just won't *try* things that are unfamiliar to him.

            Has he said *why* he doesn't like any seafood? And to me, "I don't like it" isn't a reason. WHY doesn't he like it - as soupkitten said above, is it because it's too "fishy"? A simple whitefish is probably the blandest fish out there, and under a fresh tomato sauce or cream sauce of some kind, he should at least be willing to try it.

            Perhaps it could be a monthly thing - pick 5 different recipes that are simple, not too avant garde, but are something he normally won't eat, and ask him to pick one recipe for you to make and he is to at least *try* it. There are always side dishes he can eat if he absolutely detests it. But his pickiness and/or downright refusal to try a food is something that will rub off on your future children if they see him acting this way. "If Dad doesn't eat it, I don't have to eat it either." Just a thought.

            1. re: c oliver

              Lamb doesn't taste like pork. It doesn't taste like beef. It most certainly doesn't taste like chicken! So if nothing else, at least the OP knows she can add lamb in various forms to her dinner repertoire. :-)

              Ground lamb - lamb burgers, meatballs in a sour cream sauce, add it to ground beef for a meatloaf, lamb bolognese sauce
              Lamb chunks - Lamb Stew, Shepherd's Pie
              Lamb arm steaks - marinate and grill
              Leg of lamb? - this might be the kicker - when it's THAT much lamb smell, he might rebel. :-) So start off small, sjahns!

              Some other CH ground lamb ideas:

              1. re: LindaWhit

                And lamb sheperds pie? Yumm. I do have a KA mixer and the grinder attatchment, I actually used it to grind the lamb (lamb stew meat is what the label said) Ground lamb here is outrageously expensive. Do you have a recipe personally for sheperds pie or was it just an idea? Do you think it would work okay to sub lamb in a traditional beef version?

                1. re: sjahns

                  It's traditionally called Shepard's Pie when lamb is used, and Cottage Pie when ground beef is used. So either or - just a different name!

                  1. re: LindaWhit

                    Thanks for the tip, I've never had it called "cottage pie" so I didn't really know it wasn't supposed to be made with beef. However, from a historical standpoint I guess the tradition of lamb=shepards pie makes a lot of sense! I love it, nonetheless.

                    1. re: sjahns

                      shepherd's pie (with lamb) is really good w full flavored roots like parsnips, turnips, celery root etc for the veggies, rather than some of the blander roots that go in some cottage pie or chicken pot pie recipes.

                      1. re: soupkitten

                        Now I really want to make shepherd's pie with roasted root vegetables!

              2. re: LindaWhit

                I told him after the fact that there was lamb in the Gyro meat and he was okay with it, he really liked it (even though it was 50/50 beef lamb) so he's willing to try more lamb options. It's not a refusal, other than the seafood. He is good at compromising with me on non food related issues (and sometimes food, finally got him to eat lebanese) so in the future he may learn to love it, when he is ready to try it. Forcing it on him won't help me much in trying to get him to eat it, I don't think. His main reasons for the dislike is more of a textural thing he says but there are so many textures to sea food I'm bound to find one he can enjoy eventually.

                1. re: sjahns

                  Perhaps a seafood "steak" fish - swordfish, etc. might work. But I do understand the texture thing. :-)

                  1. re: sjahns

                    What's funny, is my dh does not care for fish, but ahi cooked med rare he loves, and he loves sashimi and sushi.????? I don't get it.

                    1. re: chef chicklet

                      We have an 86 y.o. friend who doesn't like fish (she thinks). But, yeah, we introduced her to seared ahi and she adored it. Thought it tasted like steak. She recently bragged to me that she bought a piece of mild white fish, coated with panko and fried in a little oo. And she's going to fix it for us when we visit next week. An open mind is important. We have some lox left from yesterday and I'm considering taking that with us. With cream cheese, capers, red onion and a drop of lemon juice, she might find she likes that also.

                    2. re: sjahns

                      show you care: get him to elaborate on the textural issue (I've got one with mushrooms, myself, glibbery things), and then deliberately quest to find things without whatever the issue is. ;-)

              3. You need to, fairly quickly, develop 20 “go to” dinner recipes.

                Start with a meatloaf. I recommend Alton Brown’s.

                Pulled pork is easy and inexpensive and the left overs freeze well. A slow cooker works great for this and I highly recommend you get one.

                Swiss steak is great. It would be nice to have a 5-6 quart enameled cast iron dutch oven but it isn’t absolutely necessary for this dish.

                You need a pasta dish. These are very versatile and easy. Here is a link to recipe with several variations.

                Get a risotto/ Rice pilaf recipe. These are easy and endlessly versatile. Here is a risotto.
                Here is a Rice pilaf. They are very similar dishes and techniques.

                Develop a stir fry recipe. Here is one with a lot of variations.

                Develop a pot roast recipe.

                I also recommend a book called “How to cook without a book” by Pam Anderson It will help you immeasurably.

                The ol “Ball and Chain” is saying it is time for bed. (God, Please don’t let her read this.) 

                I will post a few actual recipes tomorrow. Always remember to look at a recipe and envision variations. If it has rice, you may be able to use anotherr starch like mashed potatoes or noodles. Just because it uses beef doesn't mean you can't use chicken. If it uses a sauce, maybe you can use a different sauce.

                This way every recipe you see will give you 5 recipes.

                5 Replies
                1. re: Hank Hanover

                  Like! These are very meat-eater friendly dishes and are favorites with my husband, as well. I make meatloaf in a muffin pan and freeze the remaining "meatloaf muffins" - they make portioning very easy.

                  My husband actually learned to make my mom's swiss steak in our crockpot. It's easy enough for him to put together and get started. I make the mashed potatoes and thicken the sauce when I get home. Pulled pork is also super easy in the crockpot. Serve with coleslaw that you can either make yourself, or buy pre-made to cut down on work and/or until you get the main course recipe down.

                  1. re: Jen76

                    Love the mini meatloaf in a muffin tin idea! Thanks for the tip.

                    1. re: Jen76

                      Thank you. Thank you. It is much appreciated.

                      1. re: Jen76

                        Jen - When you make the meatloaf in the muffin tin, does it get soggy or greasy? I love the Cook's Illustrated meatloaf recipe and it is cooked free-form on a rimmed baking sheet.

                      2. re: Hank Hanover

                        Great basics, Hank! And developing 20 is a wonderful idea. If you start with 20 different things, it can work into an endless rotation of variations.

                      3. Kwit bemoaning that he won't eat fish (ya I know, big tragedy), and get him started on vegetarian chow!

                        Basic Dishes:
                        Beans and cornbread/rice -- quick and easy.
                        Nothin' to be ashamed of, with a good mac&cheese (use mustard! or horseradish!)
                        Chili's a good one
                        Try a decent beef stew...

                        And, if you've a tolerance for leftovers, get used to cooking once a week! You'll find everything is SO MUCH EASIER if you do it on the weekend. Plus, you shouldn't be the onliest person cooking... get him involved (everybody needs a cooking asst., and the food tastes better if you help)

                        13 Replies
                        1. re: Chowrin

                          Thanks for your tips. What kind of cheese do you think works for mac&cheese? We don't have a "sophisticated" cheese palate but I have to think there is something better than American cheese. Colby, pepper jack, sharp cheddar? Or will those be too greasy? The mustard sounds good, I had a mac&cheese somewhere that used dry mustard powder (I had to ask, couldn't figure out what the tang was) and it was delicious. For horseradish do you use the paste, condiment stuff that comes in a jar? When our family eats ham we buy hot horseradish from a polish deli and it comes in a jar and that's what I have. Is there other forms that would work better?

                          1. re: sjahns

                            I use the mozarella/provolone blend from costco. the 2.10 a pound (or so) stuff. you want the mustard/horseradish to shine. I've only used the jarred paste, myself.

                            1. re: sjahns

                              My cue for mac&cheese is when I have cheeses that are getting dry or moldy. Trim them, grate them, and mix them with ends from the deli dept, which are usually American, with a little cheddar/provolone/ &/or swiss. Use evaporated milk instead of regular and you won't need any flour, nor will the cheese get grainy. I've been making it for decades and probably haven't done it exactly the same a single time.

                              1. re: sjahns

                                I always go with a sharp cheddar cheese, and the recipe I use has dry mustard in it as well (was on the back of the Mueller elbow noodle box when I was growing up). It's basic, but good. AND I cube up a thick slice of ham (precooked) and mix them into the noodles before pouring the cheese sauce over and topping with dry breadcrumbs and baking, so it's practically a meal in and of itself. Just add salad. :-)

                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                  it is a meal unto itself. just not a cheap one, so I don't eat it often.

                                2. re: sjahns

                                  I love a blend of lots of cheeses in my mac&cheese, but in particular, I'd start with a medium-sharp cheddar, pepperjack if you like a little kick, and a white Italian cheese blend. That's just my preference. I use buttermilk because it's lowfat, but thick and creamy. I like to toss thawed peas in for a little color sometimes. I don't do this if I bake it though, only for stovetop versions.

                                  1. re: Jen76

                                    Could you please tell me what a "white Italian cheese blend" is?

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      One of those shredded cheese blends. I guess I forgot the word "shredded" in my description of it. I know, not particularly chowish, but it is convenient. I just pick up the small bags when they're on sale and keep them in the freezer to have on hand for quick and easy dinners. It has Mozzarella, Provolone, Parmesan, Fontina, Romano and Asiago.


                                    2. re: Jen76

                                      I do like pepperjack, just wasn't sure if it would work in a mac&cheese. I'm going to try it next time I make mac&cheese =)

                                      1. re: sjahns

                                        or you can always make your own pepperjack -- throw in a few hot peppers of your own...

                                        1. re: sjahns

                                          I make mac n cheese with smoky Gouda and smoky sharp cheddar as well as american..

                                      2. re: sjahns

                                        I was recently reading something in cook's illustrated that discussed various types of cheeses and how nicely they melt. For the most part, younger cheeses melt better without "breaking". Unfortunately, they also don't have much flavor. You could go with something like a swiss, and augment it with super sharp cheddar or some aged gouda for some more cheesy punch. I still haven't achieved mac&cheese nirvana, but each of the 1-3 times a year that I try, I experiment with different recipes and methods.

                                        1. re: sjahns

                                          try horseradish cheddar--it's really good in mac n cheese. Add dried thyme to the sauce, and some parmesan and wheat bread crumbs as a topping. Yowzah.

                                      3. Here is one of my personal recipes.

                                        Oven Barbecued Pork Tenderloin

                                        There is a difference between pork tenderloin and pork loin. Make sure you get a tenderloin. At my store, they usually come two at a time in a cryovac plastic bag. The two tenderloins probably won’t weigh more than 2.5 pounds.

                                        Trim the tenderloin of the silverskin and tie up the thinner tail. Here is a link to a video showing how to do that.

                                        This is optional but I recommend tying your tenderloin with string to maintain its round shape. Here is a link describing that process.

                                        Put your tenderloin(s) in a zip lock bag and pour in 6-7 tablespoons of soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. As you close the zipper, squeeze out as much of the air as possible. Roll the tenderloin around to distribute the soy sauce and to dissolve the sugar. Put the bag in the refrigerator and let soak for 45 minutes to an hour. This process is called brining. It puts water and flavor inside the meat. I highly recommend it for pork or chicken. You can brine with salt too. Here is a link describing the science of brining.

                                        After 1 hour rinse and pat dry the tenderloin. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Sear tenderloin in a med high stainless steel frypan with a little oil for 3 minutes on each side.

                                        Put the tenderloin in a 350 degree oven until it reaches an internal temperature of 135 degrees as monitored by a digital temperature probe. If you don’t have a probe, you can bake it for about 15 minutes.

                                        At this point, put your favorite barbecue sauce on the tenderloin and continue baking to 150 degrees or about 5 more minutes. Take the tenderloin out of the oven and wrap in aluminum foil to rest for 10 minutes.

                                        Slice in ¼ inch slices and serve.

                                        You could serve any kind of rice with this. Even Zatarains yellow rice mix in a box. A nice salad would go nicely. Some bbq beans. We will pretend you made them form scratch rather than buying a can of Bush’s.

                                        17 Replies
                                        1. re: Hank Hanover

                                          Wow, this actually sounds amazing. I just watched Alton Browns "tender is the pork" episode (I know it seems funny but I'm a nursing major, I need things explained with somewhat of a scientific reasoning, why and how ect lol ) which showed how to tie the loin and trim off excess silver skin. I should be able to get them at Costco? I hope because our grocery store meat counter is abysmal. But this is *exactly* what I have been looking for, something different that I won't have to beg him to eat he loves bbq sauce and boneless pork =) And he does like salad and loves bbq beans. I think I'm gonna go check Costco today for some pork loin, bbq pork will remind me of summer instead of the middle of January with 10 degrees and 9 inches of snow.

                                          Oh! One more question, since it is just the two of us here I will probably cook just one of the loins at a time. Does the other freeze okay? I have a vacuum sealer foodsaver thing, should I vacuum the other loin and then put it in the freezer since it comes cryovac?

                                          Thanks for being so thorough, I really wasn't expecting people to be this nice.

                                          1. re: sjahns

                                            They freeze great although you may want to cook two and have the second one later in the week. I never remove the "skin" and mostly cook on the grill in about 15 minutes. Tenderloins (not loins) don't need marinating because they're super tender if not overcooked. I just make up either a rub or a wet "solution" of whatever flavors suits me that night. Let it sit on that, turning occasionally for really not long at all. All you're doing is flavoring the outside.

                                            You didn't mention if you're doing most of the cooking. If you are --- STOP IT RIGHT NOW :) You already say, except for baking which is a huge except in my book, that you're a beginner. So I'd suggest that you and he alternate nights for cooking. Get him involved. He might also see that his pickiness limits his choices. And, no, his picking up takeout does NOT count as 'cooking.' Good luck.

                                            1. re: c oliver

                                              Agree with getting him involved in the cooking - even if it's grilling! Keep a monthly chart of what you've been having for dinner, as that might show him how limiting the dinners are when he's being picky.

                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                and don't be afraid to have some fun within his "i don't eats"... give him some indian stews and spicy stirfry's for a bit, and see if he won't at least try something "bland"

                                                1. re: Chowrin

                                                  Now I like that idea! It doesn't have to be blazingly hot or spicy, but add a few shakes of Aleppo pepper (Penzey's Spices has it) or another spice or herb to an item he's *used* to eating and see if he says anything. Try different marinades out that have different-to-you ingredients.

                                                  1. re: Chowrin

                                                    I just recently got him to start trying Lebanese and Persian cuisine and we both like spicy food. Unfortunately, I havn't been quite as exposed to Indian food as in our area we don't have a big Indian culture and hardly any Indian resturants, mostly Lebanese, Persian and Greek, which he has agreed to try in small doses.

                                                    1. re: sjahns

                                                      Sounding like a broken record, I'll repeat that mujadarra, which I only learned about, via CH, a few months ago, is now one of my favorites. Lentils cooked with rice and onion, topped with caramelized onion. So much more than the sum of its parts, it is the epitome of simplicity and versatility. Hot or cold. Main, side, or salad. Very amenable to adding ingredients (like sun-dried tomatoes or sausage).

                                                      As for pork tenderloin, roasting/grilling them whole is simple and fast but if you are really in a hurry, cut them into inch-thick medallions (you can then pound them, or not) and brown them in a pan, adding shallot/onion/or scallion and liquids of your choosing to make a quick pan sauce.

                                                      1. re: greygarious

                                                        Planning to do a search for mujadarra tonight, and add it to my list of things to cook next week! Sounds great, and I've been trying to do more with dried beans/lentils.etc recently. So easy, cheap and good!

                                                  2. re: LindaWhit

                                                    He is the grill "master" lol, I am not too fond of the grilling, The flame flare ups scare the beejezus out of me. He helps when can (on weekends) mostly with prep/chopping and shopping. During the week he works until 6p.m. and we usually eat soon after, it just isn't practical for him to cook full blown meals on most work days.

                                                  3. re: c oliver

                                                    I realize it is difficult to tell a bunch of food passionate people that your love is picky. Bravo for your lovely defense and explanations of his distastes.

                                                    I second the involvement aspect. Men are more likely to enjoy the meal when they feel like they are a part of it. Also, don't feel like you can't pull a Sandra Lee and start out with some semi-homemade food. It will help you to develop some flavor profiles and techniques for cooking.

                                                    Here are some suggestions for the two of you:
                                                    Pizza: buy some pizza dough (it's about $1.50) and create a pizza together. With a pizza, he can decide exactly what he wants to put on the pizza, and you can even split it in half, adding more to your side. This is one of my boyfriend's favorite meals to make together because we can put whatever we want on it, and since he is the opposite of picky, he puts the whole fridge on his side. We will then swap a piece and he has to try whatever kind I make, which he usually ends up liking more than his. (Good lesson in restraint and flavor).

                                                    Pasta is also a great meal to make together. You can look up a simple homemade sauce (I love a good white wine sauce), and the two of you can decide what vegetables (or meat) you would like to add. Maybe he can be washing them while you chop or chopping them while you prepare the sauce.

                                                    Another favorite of my beau is nachos. While this does not sound very gourmet, you can make them a little fancier by adding all kinds of vegetables (or meats) like black beans, marinated corn, pickled jalapenos, grilled peppers (since he likes to grill), homemade salsa, olives, onions, etc. It provides a good based with which to expand, and c'mon, what guy doesn't love nachos?!

                                                    I hope this helps!

                                                  4. re: sjahns

                                                    Sounds like I hit one out of the park. If you want to do the tenderloins on the grill - great. Just be careful because they are even easier to over cook on the grill.

                                                    Oh the soy sauce is not a marinade, it is a brine. A marinade is used to add flavor and some people think it tenderizes. A brine uses osmosis to bring water and flavor into the meat. A lot deeper than a marinade. I almost always brine pork or poultry with the possible exception of a pork butt when you are going to make pulled pork.

                                                    I have another suggestion. One coming from someone that has been married to the same woman for 39 years. Don't try to change your husbands picky eating. His tastes will change and expand at his pace. Make sure your disagreements matter. If he says he doesn't like something, just honor his wishes. There will come a time you will want him to understand when you want nothing to do with something he thinks is fine.

                                                    1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                      I made the tenderloins for dinner and they were really good! And he loved it =) I added some red pepper flakes to the BBQ sauce to make it a little more spicey (we only had regular Sweet Baby Ray's) we also had salad and I made some lemonade for the extra "summer time" feel. He said he liked it more than regular boneless pork chops!

                                                      And for your other suggestion, I agree 100%. We've only been married a little over a year but been together for 4 years and I've known him since we were kids, we're pretty over the "honeymoon" phase but our relationship is as strong as ever. "Pick your battles" is a slogan to live by. Picky eating is not something that defines a relationship, just because we like different foods doesn't bother me all that much, we have many other things in common and if the biggest gripe I have is him not eating seafood, I think we're doing pretty well. I understand his tastes will change over time (he just started eating lebanese and persian foods, one of my favorites, as a compromise and he has found things he likes in those cuisines which makes me very happy!)

                                                      Thanks again for a delicious recipe!

                                                      1. re: sjahns

                                                        I'm doing my superiority dance!! dah de dah de dah hey!

                                                        Glad to hear it. (big grin) Guys know what guys like. Meat and potatoes and plenty of them and the women that provide them!

                                                        All the recipes I provided are easy. Cook them once and you pretty much know them. I had to provide links to as many as possible because I don't seem to be able to abbreviate a recipe. The other two, I couldn't find a recipe for.

                                                        Once you get a core of recipes down, you have the time to look for other fancier dishes.

                                                        If you or anyone else, for that matter, want more recipes, email me at Don't worry--it's not my real name and I just created it. I'll be happy to send you recipes anytime. We could even exchange them if you like.

                                                        1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                          Hank, you're awesome! Pork tenderloin is indeed a good basis for a delicious, easy meal. Another SUPER easy pork tenderloin recipe (I make it all the time - not as sophisticated as brining, and I don't bother to sear, so this this literally takes only 2 mins of prep time (hence a great go-to dish when you're super busy!). Per 1/2 kilo tenderloin: mix approx 2 tbsp olive oil, approx 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard, and approx 1 tbsp dried rosemary (of course you can use fresh and add some fresh or dried thyme if you wish). Coat the tenderloin, sprinkle the top with a bit of kosher salt, fold over the litttle end and tuck underneath so diameter of loin is reasonably uniform and bake at 400F for about 35 mins or until cooked thoroughly. This is ridiculously easy and I find the top gets nice and caramellized while the meat stays moist. I make this with roasted apples or a simple applesauce (sliced apples + water + currants + maybe a pat of butter if I am feeling decadent). It's actually also great for sandwiches the next day too. Fantastic for something that needs zlmost zero prep.

                                                          1. re: urbnmns

                                                            Wow! High praise, indeed. I used to roast my tenderloins, for years in fact, and they were great.

                                                            Once I started watching a lot of America's Test Kitchen and Food Network, it became apparent that they thought searing and brining was very important. I tried searing them and yes it was better that way. The next time I decided to brine them and sure enough, that made them even better. Then I took it 1 step further. I figured if I could use salt to brine then I could use soy sauce and have even more flavor and that worked. Then I decided to add liquid smoke to the brine because I oven bbq mine. That worked pretty well. Then I saw some video suggest injecting bbq sauce into the tenderloin. I didn't like that as much.

                                                            So now I brine with soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and I sear before baking them. I think it makes a huge difference even though just roasting them was very good.

                                                            1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                              And deserved! I do try to sear when I have the time, but roasting (or haha baking!) seems to produce decent results for me with minimal effort (which drew me to the "easy thread!). Sometimes that two minutes makes the difference between a real dinner and a depressing scrounge (and it's good to be a hero to my starving spouse!). I have to try brining some time; as for brown sugar my husband marinates lamb chops with olive oil and molasses. It tenderizes the meat and is very tasty and not conspicuously sweet tasting after grilling.