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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: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/582203

              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. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/al...

                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. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/al...

                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. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/al...

                You need a pasta dish. These are very versatile and easy. Here is a link to recipe with several variations. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/al...

                Get a risotto/ Rice pilaf recipe. These are easy and endlessly versatile. Here is a risotto. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/al...
                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. http://allrecipes.com//HowTo/super-ea...

                Develop a pot roast recipe. http://www.cookingindex.com/recipes/5...

                I also recommend a book called “How to cook without a book” by Pam Anderson It will help you immeasurably. http://www.amazon.com/How-Cook-Withou...

                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. http://video.about.com/southernfood/R...

                                        This is optional but I recommend tying your tenderloin with string to maintain its round shape. Here is a link describing that process. http://allrecipes.com//HowTo/tying-ro...

                                        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 hank.hanover99@gmail.com 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.

                                                    1. re: todao

                                                      Thanks for the links! Havn't seen the site before but it looks like it will be a good resource for smaller portions. I will definately be trying the chicken tortilla soup, sounds delicious!

                                                    2. If your husband likes "ground beef anything" then learn to make a great burger and he'll follow you around for life.

                                                      Here's a recent link with a good summary of the board's collective wisdom from KaimukiMan to get you started. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7578...

                                                      Good luck.

                                                      4 Replies
                                                        1. re: Joebob

                                                          A good burger is the perfect elixir for marital bliss!

                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                            And if they got a KA stand mixer they can buy the grinding attachment, make their own and never look back!

                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                              Might just put divorce lawyers out of business ...

                                                      1. Here is a very different goulash recipe a member of our dining group gave us. It is absolutely delicious.

                                                        JUDY’S HUNGARIAN GOULASH

                                                        I have MANY good goulash recipes. This one is not from my mom, it is just the one we have loved for many years. I just don't bother making any other. It sounds (and is) SO simple, it is hard to believe it can be so delicious. No peppers, etc. So plain. Just the best to our taste, even though we love peppers. Also, great fun to watch cook. I'll explain as I go along. By the way, for those who will not agree, this truly IS an authentic dish! Ya'll will just have to trust me on this one. Judy of DFW Dining Group

                                                        3 pounds boneless beef chuck
                                                        3 pounds large onions, cut in wedge-shape pieces (about 7 cups)
                                                        1 tablespoon salt
                                                        1/2 teaspoon pepper
                                                        2 tablespoons paprika
                                                        Cooked noodles
                                                        Sour Cream

                                                        Cut meat into 1 inch cubes, discarding excess fat. Place meat, onions, salt, pepper, and paprika in a large heavy Dutch oven. (NO WATER IS NEEDED, so please do not add!!) Cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring often. (This is the fun part. All of a sudden there is this wonderful liquid!) Simmer, semi-covered, about 2 hours or so, stirring occasionally. Uncover and simmer until liquid cooks down to gravy consistency. To serve, garnish with the parsley and serve over noodles. Here's the best part - put a GENEROUS dollop of sour cream (I use fat-free) over each serving, and top with a sprinkle of paprika.
                                                        (Mix the sour cream into the juices and you have one heavenly goulash!!)

                                                        MY NOTES : I made only half the recipe and did it in the crockpot. I will tell you right now,we wish I had made the whole recipe! It is drooly good. Did it just like Judy said by mixing the sour cream into the sauce. WOW! What good flavor. Made some great French bread rolls to go with it. This is definitely a keeper. I missed the magic moment when all of the liquid appeared, but appear it did. I went in to check and stir, and there it was just like you promised, Judy. AS

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: Wtg2Retire

                                                          This was my mom's method too, without the sour cream. But you're missing out on extra flavor if you don't sear the cubes of chuck before adding the onions. Preheat Dutch oven on medium for a good ten minutes. Dry the chunks first, add a tsp of oil to the pot, brown meat on all sides (do this in batches), salt & pepper after browning, reduce heat to low, then throw the onions on top (also 2 bay leaves and 8-12 cloves, paprika). Cover, stir after 20 min (no need to more often) then stirring every 30 min. Remove cover and start reducing the sauce when the meat is tender but a piece still clings to the fork when you lift it. By the time the sauce is reduced, the meat should be fork-tender.

                                                          1. re: greygarious

                                                            I am going to try that, greygarious; have already copied and pasted into the recipe. Judy, who gave us the recipe, used to be a caterer so I just never thought of making changes to her recipe. Not just "duh," but double "duh."

                                                          2. re: Wtg2Retire

                                                            That sounds so good, AS, I've copied it to take shopping. I like Grey's searing suggestion, too. I'll probably add peppers when I've got a half an hour left. I really like green peppers in goulash.

                                                            Thanks to you both.

                                                            1. re: Jay F

                                                              Try red peppers and it's even better!

                                                          3. Also, here is a Swiss steak I have been making for years and years. Once I made this recipe, I never used another. The carrots are also very good and different.

                                                            THE BEST EVER SWISS STEAK AND BAKED CARROTS

                                                            1/2 cup flour
                                                            1 teaspoon salt
                                                            1/2 teaspoon pepper
                                                            1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
                                                            2 pounds round steak, tenderized
                                                            3 tablespoons cooking oil
                                                            1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
                                                            2 cups chopped green pepper
                                                            1 cup chopped celery
                                                            1 cup chopped onion
                                                            2 14-1/2 oz cans diced tomatoes, undrained
                                                            1 beef bouillon cube
                                                            1 cup boiling water
                                                            1 tablespoon soy sauce
                                                            1 teaspoon salt
                                                            1/4 teaspoon pepper
                                                            1/4 cup cold water
                                                            2 tablespoons flour

                                                            In large plastic bag, combine 1/2 cup flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt. Cut round steak into serving size pieces. Place in bag with flour and coat very well. Heat oil in Dutch oven; put the flour left from coating the meat into the boil, add meat and brown. Add garlic, green pepper, celery, and onion; cook and stir for 10 minutes. Dilute the beef bouillon cube in 1 cup boiling water. Add undrained canned diced tomatoes, diluted bouillon, soy sauce, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cover and bake at 325 degrees for 2 hours. Remove from the oven and place on a top burner. In a small bowl, combine water and 2 tablespoons flour; stir into juices. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened.

                                                            Yummy!!! Serve with mashed potatoes, salad, Baked Carrots, and biscuits.

                                                            BAKED CARROTS

                                                            1 pound carrots cut into sticks*
                                                            1 bunch green onions with tops, chopped
                                                            1 cup boiling water
                                                            1 chicken bouillon cube

                                                            Dilute chicken bouillon cube in the 1 cup boiling water. Place carrot sticks and chopped green onions in an ungreased 1-quart casserole dish. Pour bouillon over all. Cover and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour.

                                                            *You can also use a 1-pound bag of baby carrots to save time.

                                                            Serve with The Best Swiss Steak Ever, mashed potatoes, salad, and biscuits. If preparing to serve with Swiss steak, put in oven along with the Swiss steak during the last hour of baking.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: Wtg2Retire

                                                              Your steak recipe sounds good--any particular cut--top round, bottom?

                                                              1. re: flfoodie2

                                                                I get what is labeled "round steak." Don't know if it is from the top or bottom.

                                                            2. Here is another easy one I have made for many years.

                                                              Old World Sauerkraut Supper

                                                              3 strips thick-sliced, hickory-smoked bacon -- cut in small pieces
                                                              3 medium small Idaho potatoes* -- cubed
                                                              2 large Granny Smith apples -- cored and cubed
                                                              2 pounds Polish sausage, sliced -- remove casing to slice
                                                              3 teaspoons brown sugar
                                                              1 1/2 teaspoons flour
                                                              1 1/2 tablespoons caraway seeds
                                                              2 27-oz cans sauerkraut**
                                                              1/2 cup water

                                                              Fry bacon and Polish sausage until crisp. Remove from skillet. Add flour to drippings in skillet and blend well. Stir in sauerkraut; mix well. Place sauerkraut mixture, bacon and sausage pieces, and all other ingredients in a very large bowl; stir together thoroughly. Put in crockpot. Cover and cook on Low 7 to 9 hours. (High: 3 to 4 hours).

                                                              *Not real small, but not large, large.
                                                              **I like to buy two 32-oz jars of Bush's Best Shredded Sauerkraut; use one whole jar and all but approximately 10 oz of the other jar.

                                                              1. The Cook's Illustrated slow-roasted eye round technique is widely discussed on this board. It is useful for other lower-cost beef cuts and also for roast lamb and pork. It's economical and the leftovers, thinly sliced, are excellent in sandwiches, fajitas, and over salad. No special equipment and very little hands-on time. Patience and belief in the recipe are all you need!

                                                                As for fish, you might try fooling him "by accident". I make boneless skinless chicken breast and tilapia in the same way. If you have individual single-serve gratin or other baking dishes, you could make chix for him, tilapia for you, and give him the fish. If he takes a bite he may like it. Either way, "Oh, honey, I'm sorry - I gave you the wrong one." I buy or make the butter-and-Ritz crumb "seafood stuffing". Spread in bottom of baking dish. Lay fish or pounded chicken breast atop it. Cover with vegetables that you have shredded or julienned, then marinated in teriyaki sauce (I like Mr. Yoshida's Cooking Sauce & Marinade). For the vegetables I use scallion, red bell pepper, yellow squash and/or zucchini, and carrot but use anything you want.
                                                                Also pour the remaining marinade over the top. Bake 20 min at 375, until the edges are browning a little and the juices are syrupy. Serve with rice or baked potato. This dish is suitable for a toaster oven.

                                                                For roast chicken, or baking skin-on breasts, mix equal parts soy sauce, honey, and toasted sesame oil and baste frequently for a mahogany-brown, yummy skin.

                                                                Pound skin-on chicken breasts. place skin down, put a tbsp of chive/onion cream cheese on top and roll up. Place seam down in baking pan. Lay a half slice of bacon lengthwise over the skin, bake 35-40 min at 375. You want the bacon rendered and crisp, and brown edges where the melted bacon fat mixes with the cream cheese that oozes out of the roll. Serve with potatoes or rice to absorb the delicious drippings. This looks a little fancy but is dead simple to make.

                                                                7 Replies
                                                                1. re: greygarious

                                                                  The first thing I taught my stepdaughter to make was a whole roasted chicken. It is so easy and always comes out great. Leftovers can be made into chicken salad, tacos, or just eaten cold. Put a chicken, breast side up on a rack in a pan, stuff with half lemon, sprinkled with salt and rub with a little olive oil. Place some garlic cloves and herbs under the skin and roast in a 500 degree oven for an hour. Let stand for 15 minutes before carving. Squeeze the lemon over the chicken before serving. Add mashed or roasted potatoes and you're a superstar.

                                                                  1. re: DaisyM

                                                                    except the op's hubby's fussy eating habits-- he won't eat chicken on the bone, just boneless skinless breasts :( maybe if he helped with the roasted chicken recipe, he'd eat it. maybe.

                                                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                                                      I guess he'll never have to know if I slice off the bone for him and put it on his plate ;) I've been wanting to try Ina Gartens roast chicken recipe, it just seems intimidating cooking a WHOLE bird, lol.

                                                                      1. re: sjahns

                                                                        you should try it! once you get the hang of roasting chickens you'll want to do it all the time, it's easy and the best part is all of the leftovers-- you can make your own awesome chicken stock from the carcass and use the leftover meat in recipes. you can roast vegetables under the chicken while it's roasting, and the drippings make them wonderful! try ina's recipe and report back, i'm sure it will be great!

                                                                        1. re: sjahns

                                                                          Exactly, and knowing how to make a roasted chicken makes hosting a dinner party easy. Add mashed or roasted potatoes and a salad, and you've got a lovely dinner.

                                                                          1. re: sjahns

                                                                            I had never fixed a roast chicken that I thought was anything special until the Zuni Cafe roast chicken and bread salad. It is fantastic and gets ALOT of love here on CH.


                                                                            1. re: sjahns

                                                                              Look at the two threads I posted below for roasting chicken. You don't have to use a whole bird -- you can do just thighs, or thighs/breasts. Hacking up a bird or dealing with a whole bird isn't something I'm into yet, either. But the recipes on those threads have proven delightful.

                                                                      2. I was in a similar position (minus pickiness) a few years ago and in all honestly, the Betty Crocker cookbook Cooking Basics helped me a lot. It covers a lot of basic recipes and techniques. It really helped me get more confident with cooking and I feel like I am able to adapt recipes pretty well now. Here's an easy recipe with great flavor:

                                                                        Chicken w/ mushroom sauce
                                                                        Brown boneless chicken breasts in 1 tbsp olive oil. Remove and keep warm. Add some butter to the same pan and sautee a diced onion and a package of sliced mushrooms until soft. Add 1/4 cup of sherry to the pan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Mix 2 tbsp flour with 2/3 cup 2% milk, then add to pan. Bring to a boil and simmer 2-3 minutes more. Return chicken to the pan and heat through.

                                                                        I usually serve this over egg noodles.

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: scarletfan

                                                                          The OP posted this morning that neither of them like mushrooms.

                                                                          1. re: scarletfan

                                                                            Another great book (for good classic techniques and methods that are super easy to build upon) is Martha Stewart's Cooking School. It and "The Joy" are my go-to books when I'm looking for basic recipes to extrapolate upon. I got it as a gift a little over a year ago and I'm thinking of giving it to a friend's wife who comes over and often asks me basics of cooking questions.

                                                                          2. Since he likes pork chops, perhaps he'd like them cooked in a BBQ sauce? I like to simmer boneless center-cut pork chops in this sauce for about 30 minutes or until done.

                                                                            1 cup ketchup
                                                                            1/2 cup water
                                                                            1/4 cup lemon juice
                                                                            2 Tbsp vinegar
                                                                            2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
                                                                            2 Tbsp brown sugar
                                                                            1 tsp dry mustard

                                                                            Mix all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down and simmer for about 5 minutes. After it's been cooled, it may be poured onto meat to marinate or just when meat is to be cooked.

                                                                            For a thicker sauce, either cut back on water, lemon juice and vinegar, OR add some tomato paste.

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                              We both enjoy a similair recipie but I will have to try your homemade bbq sauce, we usually buy it in the bottle at the store.

                                                                              1. re: sjahns

                                                                                Just know that it's a much thinner sauce than what you buy bottled in the store.

                                                                            2. 1 package of frozen spinach
                                                                              1 can diced tomatoes
                                                                              Feta cheese to taste
                                                                              new potatoes a couple per person
                                                                              boneless skinless chicken breast per person
                                                                              casserole dish
                                                                              Cavender's all purpose greek seasoning

                                                                              Thaw the spinach, place in a couple of paper towels and squeeze out water. Place in a mixing bowel. To the bowel add 1 can drained diced tomatoes, and crumbled feta cheese season with cavenders seasoning. Mix by hand. Pocket the chicken breast. Spray the casserole dish with pam.
                                                                              Dice potatoes and place in casserole dish. Stuff the chicken breast with the spinach tomato
                                                                              feta cheese seasoning mix. Place breasts on potatoes sprinkle leftover stuffing over potatoes
                                                                              season with Cavenders. Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes. AHA dinner in one dish
                                                                              John and Patti

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: vein1

                                                                                This sounds really good, except i'm not really a feta person. Do you think it would be okay without the feta? Or is it a defining taste in the dish?

                                                                                1. re: sjahns

                                                                                  have not tried without the feta it is somewhat defining

                                                                                  1. re: sjahns

                                                                                    try making spanikopita. I like the salt in hte feta flavoring the spinach, which craves salt.

                                                                                2. ***How about chicken thighs? Dark meat (but chicken, which is on his approved list) could be a baby step forward.

                                                                                  Look below for some simple and delicious ideas preparing chicken thighs. They are also affordable, and end up much tastier and juicier than the white meat.

                                                                                  Here is one of my favorites (from lynnlato)

                                                                                  "Another favorite of mine is I take marinate chicken pieces in some fresh lemon juice (for 15 mins. - not too long or it'll get mushy). I take the zest of a couple of lemons and mash it w/ Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper in a mortar & pestle. I then spread this on the chicken pieces in the marinade. Pop it in the oven and roast for about 45 mins. at 425-450. Home made lemon pepper chicken - is SO goood. :)"

                                                                                  For a side try Israeli couscous cooked in broth, a snazzy salad (start with butter lettuce and add dried cranberries, toasted walnuts, maybe chunks of avocado).



                                                                                  1. Another one of my personal recipes.

                                                                                    Rice Casserole

                                                                                    1.5 lbs ground chuck
                                                                                    1 medium onion, chopped
                                                                                    2 ribs celery, chopped
                                                                                    2 carrots, chopped
                                                                                    2 tbls tomato paste
                                                                                    8 oz sliced mushrooms
                                                                                    1 tsp dried thyme
                                                                                    2 tbls flour
                                                                                    1 tbl vegetable oil
                                                                                    1.5 cups long grain white rice, cooked
                                                                                    1 can tomato soup
                                                                                    1 tsp paprika
                                                                                    1 tbl minced garlic
                                                                                    1 tsp brown sugar (optional if it is getting to acidic for you)
                                                                                    ½ cup beef broth

                                                                                    Brown the ground beef in a med high skillet. Lower the temperature a little, add some salt and pepper and sweat the onions, celery, carrots and mushrooms (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic, thyme, paprika and tomato paste and stir it to thoroughly incorporate the tomato paste. Taste it now and see if it is too acidic. If it is add the sugar.

                                                                                    Sprinkle the flour over the meat mixture and mix it in for about 2 minutes. Add the beef broth. Stir until it thickens.

                                                                                    Spread the meat mixture over the bottom of a 9 x 13 pyrex baking pan. Spread the rice over the meat. Completely cover the meat. Poke several holes through the rice with the handle of a spoon.

                                                                                    Mix the tomato soup and a half a can of water. Spread this mixture over the rice with a spatula. You may not need all of it. No need to make it soupy. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes. Serve.


                                                                                    Italian – use 1 lb ground chuck and ½ lb Italian sausage. Use pasta sauce instead of the tomato soup. Use Italian spices instead of or in addition to the thyme.

                                                                                    Mexican – Use 1 lb ground chuck and 1/2 lb chorizo. Use chopped bell pepper instead of the celery and carrots. Add a can of rotelle spiced tomatoes instead of the broth. Add a tbl of chile powder instead of the paprika and more to the tomato soup. You can even add cheese on top.

                                                                                    Cajun – Use 1 lb ground chuck and ½ lb andouille sausage. Use chopped bell pepper instead of the celery and carrots. Add a can of rotelle spiced tomatoes instead of the broth. Add a tbl of chile powder instead of the paprika and more to the tomato soup. Like it spicy? Add a little cayenne.

                                                                                    As always with a casserole, don’t be afraid to change things. That’s what casseroles are for. You could add frozen peas. You could use mashed potatoes instead of rice. You could use noodles and mix it all together. You could use chicken or sliced beef. There are no limits.

                                                                                    I've given you 9 dishes and you could come up with several variations on each one but just so you have 10 dishes, find a good chicken cacciatore recipe. You can't go wrong with a braise like Swiss steak or cacciatore.

                                                                                    1. Learn how to make salad dressing. The basic French dressing recipe is 3 tablespoons good olive oil to 1 tablespoon vinegar beaten with a pinch each of salt and fresh ground pepper. Experiment from time to time with a little garlic, herbs, dried or prepared mustard. Takes about two minutes to measure and whip up, and you'll save hundreds of $s not buying bottled dressings. A bag of lettuce, some chopped cherry tomatoes, whatever other veggies you like, and you're in business.

                                                                                      Here's a good white meat chicken recipe I make a lot - identical to the one I found in the NY Times many years ago, Allrecipes is also a good site to subscribe to for ideas.


                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: pasuga

                                                                                        Agree completely on a vinegrette. Different types of vinegars also make for different results. I like to mix my ingredients in a jam jar with a tight fitting lid. You can then shake the dressing to emulsify. Adding the mustard is a great tip to make the consistency smooth.
                                                                                        I know your man doesn't eat seafood, does that include canned tuna? I am a big fan of salad niscoise, the traditional French composition, which you can make as fancy or rustic as you like. Here is one recipe: http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/nico...

                                                                                        1. re: KatoK

                                                                                          I got turned onto Italian tuna packed in olive oil and love it SO much better than 'regular.' Some cilantro, capers, red onion, a little more oo, s&p, maybe a few drops of sherry vinegar. It's a pretty common hors d'oeuvre around here but makes a meal also.

                                                                                          And, yes, to making one's own salad dressing(s). We do house exchanges and it's so common that someone leaves commercial salad dressing in the fridge. It always sits there for at least a couple of months, getting pushed farther and farther back in the fridge until finally (actually yesterday) I throw the stuff away. I'm not a food snob but it just doesn't have a place in my life :)

                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                            I agree, the way you describe is a great, easy meal. With some crackers, yum yum. That reminds me I'm out of cilantro! I've used shallots in a pinch.

                                                                                            1. re: Chris VR

                                                                                              And you've now reminded ME that I want to take a can with us when we go away for the week. We have an 86 y.o. friend that we're visiting and she'll love this. The combo was actually recommended to me by one of the guys at Molinari's Italian Deli in SF. And now Costco's carrying it.

                                                                                          2. re: KatoK

                                                                                            I actually didn't know until DH grandmother told me that there was a such thing as tuna packing in WATER instead of oil! I hate the yucky 80 cent cans of chunk tuna in oil so I really just avoided tuna. THe tuna in water is like...a while different world! Light, refreshing and delicious! He eats canned tuna in other dishes (tuna salad) and never complains, I think he really believes it's the chicken of the sea lol

                                                                                        2. This is one of my favorites. The sauce freezes beautifully so it would only require making it once for ever 2-6 times you wanted to eat it. The polenta is easy to make, and the chicken sausage patties could be subbed in for storebought sausage, or any type of protein, preferably sliced prior to serving if it won't come apart easily with a fork.


                                                                                          1. Thanks for coming back and giving more info; not everyone does that but it really helps. Turns out you're not really a newly wed and that he's not really that pick an eater :)

                                                                                            One of my favorite super quick, easy and sooo delicious dishes is Marcella Hazan's spaghetti with carbonara sauce. Here's version of it:


                                                                                            Another recipe of hers is tomato sauce with onion and butter. You take a 28 oz. can of tomatoes, chopped or break up whole ones, an onion which you cut in half from top to bottom and 5 T butter. Everything does into a pot and it simmers for 45 minutes. This along with the above and the Zuni chicken are perennial CH favorites and for good reason. Karl S uses this 'sauce' as tomato soup with a cheese souffle for dinners parties if that gives you any idea of how good it is. There's really no or little reason to resort to those condensed soups. There's usually an easy alternative that has real flavor and not all that 'other' stuff. BTW, Hazan's Essentials of Italian Cooking is a great resource and doable by a beginner.

                                                                                            ETA: One of my fave lamb dishes is from the Frugal Gourmet - lamb with orzo pasta. I use large cubes of lamb rather than a whole piece.


                                                                                            14 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                              Yeah, I figured the more info the better! I really am motivated to become a better cook and CH seems like the most reputable place to ask for advice from seasoned cooks, even if it can be intimidating at times ;)

                                                                                              Growing up, my family ate A LOT of processed pre-frozen foods as my mom wasn't really into cooking and we had quite a few people to feed. We never ate dinner together at a table and since being introduced to my husbands family who eats mostly scratch-made meals at the table together nearly everynight, it is a tradition I have come to love. After growing up on "campbells" type condensed soups, I have come to appreciate the beauty of a simple scratch made soup and tomato sauce that is used as a soup? It must be delicious! I will have to try the dish. And the lamb recipe looks good too, I really like lamb as a good alternative to beef since we eat SO much beef the lamb flavor brings something different to the table. The orzo dish is getting planted on one of my weekly dinner menus in the very near future!

                                                                                              Thanks for all of your help!

                                                                                              1. re: sjahns

                                                                                                Oops, for got to mention that at the end of cooking the tomato sauce, you throw the onion out!

                                                                                                I recently had a tomato fennel soup with a little cream in it. I love fennel so tried this the other day. I halved the fennel bulb and removed any brown parts, sliced pretty thin. Sauteed in oo til translucent, then added a small amount of chicken broth to cover. Simmered maybe 20 minutes. Then added a large can of tomatoes and simmered maybe another 20 minutes. Pureed with immersion blender. Added 'some' 1/2 and 1/2 and some more broth to get it the consistency I was looking for. Added s&p to taste. It was dang good. Next time I'll use onion and garlic perhaps as I always have those on hand and cheaper than a fennel bulb usually. And if you wanted it heartier and maybe a one dish meal, you could add some cooked and sliced sausage and maybe some kind of green. Kale?

                                                                                                You're going to have so much fun on CH. I learn something every single day it seems.

                                                                                                1. re: sjahns

                                                                                                  if you're ever intimidated... pull out what confuses you and start a new topic: "What is braising?" is bound to get ten responses...

                                                                                                  1. re: sjahns

                                                                                                    Aw, don't be intimidated! Everybody started somewhere. I grew up with a mom who was a good cook and did lots of homemade stuff, but I was such a picky jerk growing up that I didn't know how good I had it and didn't really bother to pay attention, so once my future husband and I moved in together, I really had ZERO cooking experience. I'd been living on Campbell's soup when I lived on my own! Learning to cook expanded my palate tremendously.

                                                                                                    I'd say if you're already making soups and sauces, you're doing fabulously. A friend and I were just reminiscing about how often we resorted to CHICKEN TONIGHT! and junk like that when we were newlyweds. D'OH!

                                                                                                    A big gateway recipe for me in realizing that there are easy ways to become a really good home cook was homemade tomato sauce. I got mine from, of all things, a rock-n-roll/comix fanzine from back in the 90's called "ROCKTOBER!!" There was a comic that included a recipe for simple half-hour tomato sauce and it basically changed my life. If it was that easy and delicious to make your own pasta sauce rather than buy jarred, what else could I take up quickly and look like a kitchen goddess? Then I realized how flexible the recipe was, and how you could add things to it or subtract, depending on your mood and what you have on hand....suddenly cooking was as much fun as playing in my art room. Now I'm one of those psychos who can spend hours gazing at kitchen gadgets and reads cookbooks for fun. ROCKTOBER, WHAT HATH YOU WROUGHT?!

                                                                                                    Also: even if some things are flops, just keep trying. Everyone has off nights. You'll be amazed at how your repertoire, skills, and timing grow, almost without you even noticing. A few years from now you'll pause in the middle of some amazing dish that's totally old-hat to you now and realize how long it would have taken you to make it when you first started, and how it's a half hour job for you now, and you'll feel like a damned champ.

                                                                                                    Also, get yourself a good, sharp chef's knife, if you don't have one already. As my boss at the record store where i picked up ROCKTOBER once told me "A good set of knives will CHANGE YOUR LIFE."

                                                                                                    1. re: dingey

                                                                                                      Re: dingey--Nicely put!

                                                                                                      this rings true for me as well. 40-some years of cooking which started with things like simple roast chicken (I'd watched my mother make so many times because it was my favorite dinner) and creamed tuna on toast, then to mastering a cookie recipe, learning about garlic, and the wonders of mushrooms sauteed in butter, etc. It comes slowly and surely as you both discover your tastes in food.

                                                                                                      May I add that if you both enjoy food, find some other young couples and spend some evenings sharing meals. You will open yourself up to new flavors and ingredients, family recipes, all garnished with the joy of sharing a meal with people you care about.
                                                                                                      Good times you will remember your entire life. I know I do!

                                                                                                  2. re: c oliver

                                                                                                    That tomato sauce with onion and butter is amazing! Add meatballs to it, and it is over the top! I made it for the first time when we were renting a condo on vacation, and our kitchen equipment was pretty limited, and was it ever delicious!

                                                                                                    1. re: sunflwrsdh

                                                                                                      Ooh, now that's a good idea. It's hard to believe that THREE ingredients can taste so good.

                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                        Got the recipe somewhere online...I think it was called "The Ultimate Spaghetti and Meatballs" or something like that, and it included Hazan's butter and tomato sauce. It was really great!

                                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                          I used the butter/onion/tomato sauce (no meatballs) on a stuffed pasta (spinach/parm/ricotta/prosciutto) I made over the weekend, and the onion was completely overwhelming. I'm going to save it for plain pasta from now on.

                                                                                                          1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                            I had that experience once with stuffed large shells. I think sometimes it's the equivalent of a can of tomato sauce which I wouldn't pour over something.

                                                                                                      2. re: c oliver


                                                                                                        Thanks for sharing the butter, onion, and tomato sauce recipe. I'll be making it soon!

                                                                                                        1. re: mdfifi

                                                                                                          And I loved the after remark - Throw the onion out! Ha Ha! That sounds like my sis cooking! I'll have to try that recipe - Thanks C!

                                                                                                          1. re: JerryMe

                                                                                                            I remember asking on CH 'but can't I do something with that onion afterwards?' Expert opinions said it had given its all and let it go to its great reward :)

                                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                              The great decimated onion patch in the sky. Go on now. It's earned it's reward.

                                                                                                      3. This is super easy, but delicious, and every time I make it, I wonder why I don't make it more often--Potato-Leek Soup.

                                                                                                        Saute 2-3 sliced leeks (make sure they're clean and trimmed of all but an inch or so of the really dark) in 2-3 T. butter in a heavy-bottomed pot, until they're very soft (8-10 minutes). Add 7-8 cups vegetable or chicken stock (use canned broth if you wish). Bring to boil. Slice 3-4 medium potatoes (I use Yukon golds, peeled, but use whatever you have, peeled or not) into the pot. Lower heat and simmer until potatoes are tender. Mash them lightly in the pot (to desired chunkiness) and cook a bit longer . (Or you can puree them w/a hand blender.) Add about 1 cup of heavy cream. salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle generously with chopped fresh parsley if you like.

                                                                                                        No meat, but this is hearty, and with bread and salad makes a satisfying dinner.

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                          This sounds delicious! I've been wanting to try my hand at leeks, as they seems milder than regular spanish onions which are too pungent for some dishes. Thanks for this recipe, it sounds relatively straightforward.

                                                                                                        2. easy dinner suggestion: tomato potato onion soup.
                                                                                                          cook potatoes and onions in as little water as you can get away with.
                                                                                                          add tomatoes, and maybe a bit of pasta if you've got it. Also add spices (bouquet garni's a good standard, or some basil)
                                                                                                          Hearty, filling, and yummy!

                                                                                                          17 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                            I know this may seem like a silly question, but I really, really like kale and it's preferred go-to hearty green like in regular potato soup. Can tomato soups use kale too? I've never had it in a traditional tomato based recipe. Would the texture of a creamy soup make the greens seems off-putting texture wise? Most of the time "tomato soup" doesn't have additionals so maybe other textures (beside meat) arn't good with the soup?

                                                                                                            1. re: sjahns

                                                                                                              Now that is where you need to change your attitude. It's fine to ask someone here but if you think Kale would be good with tomato soup, try it. What's the worse thing that could happen? You get $3 worth of really terrible soup and your husband gets a chance to show how supportive he is by saying it is good and asking for seconds. Now, you might not want to experiment as casually with $15 per pound rack of lamb or $25 per pound prime beef tenderloin.

                                                                                                              I was a lot younger and even more stupid but I decided to cook the Thanksgiving turkey on the Weber BBQ one year, for the first time. My wife's parents were coming to dinner. Yeah my wife thought it was a good idea too. I don't know what we were thinking.

                                                                                                              It was really stupid but it was the best turkey we ever had. Been cooking them that way ever since. That had to be at least 20 years ago.

                                                                                                              1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                LOL! Thanks for the story =) Did her parents like the turkey, too? Sounds pretty good to me! I know I should probably be more adventurous I just hate the fact that I might fail. Realistically, I know I will fail numerous times but the feeling off cooking a meal and being excited and then taking a bite and it being awful and then you get that sinking feeling like "What did I do?" lol I'm sure everyone has had their moments like that. The first time I made chilli myself a few years ago I mixed up the cayenne pepper and the chili powder, and we cann all imagine how that ended up!

                                                                                                                1. re: sjahns

                                                                                                                  I'm 63 with a lot of cooking experience under (and over) my belt. And still have failures. I'm a recipe user and I think when I use a dependable cookbook and follow directions scrupulously, it's unlikely that I'll have a failure. BTW, I've been doing turkey on the Weber for about 25 years, never had a failure and never expected one. It's one of the absolute easiest, most straightforward things ever.

                                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                    Weber gas? Or coals? If gas, what's your technique?
                                                                                                                    Probably the best tasting turkey, or one of the two best, I've ever had was done on a Weber, but our friend uses a coal-fueled one. and he seemed to be tending to it a lot. Ours is gas; if I thought I could replicate that turkey using our gas grill, I know I'd have a much higher opinion of turkey.

                                                                                                                    1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                                      Here's the recipe.


                                                                                                                      It's for charcoal but if your gas grill is big enough to do indirect you'd be good to go. Have one side turned off. So moist and tasty.

                                                                                                                        1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                                          My pleasure. As you can see, no brining, no turning. It's butterflied. And that lime juice every half hour just makes it. Mmm.

                                                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                            And relatively quick cooking,too. I will try it as our grill has three "zones," so we can probably manage something with indirect heat.

                                                                                                                            1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                                              Here's a link for the whole Southwestern menu from Sunset. Those stuffed peppers are one of my favorite things EVER.


                                                                                                                              Sweet potatoes with butter and tequila are great also. This is making me quite hungry :)

                                                                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                c oliver - any input for the stuffed peppers? - saving this for a future time - sounds great!

                                                                                                                                    1. re: smilingal

                                                                                                                                      Understood. But I don't know what kind of tips your looking for.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                        i guess it's just follow the recipe as written! Thanks! I look forward to trying them.

                                                                                                                  2. re: sjahns

                                                                                                                    My wife's parents loved it and insisted on taking a picture of it because it looked like something out of Currier & Ives.

                                                                                                                    It is my belief that little is learned from successes, they are only affirmations of what you thought was true. The big learning experience is from failures. Edison tried 3000 compounds before he found the correct compound for the filament in the light bulb. Babe Ruth hit 714 home runs and struck out 1330 times.

                                                                                                                    So experiment, ask questions, question others conclusions. You might not be the most popular person but you will learn something.

                                                                                                                    Someone asked about the recipe or technique in cooking a turkey on the Weber. I use charcoal by the way.

                                                                                                                    Use the indirect method, meaning split the briquets into 2 piles, one on each side of the bbq (25 briquets per side) with a drip pan in the middle. Every hour you add 6-8 briquets to each side. I start mine in a separate container so they don't have to waste time getting started.

                                                                                                                    I brine my turkey then I pat it dry and let it sit in the refrigerator with no cover for an hour or even two to dry out. I put oil all over the bird then I add salt and pepper. I usually throw a couple of orange halves in the cavity. Start with the turkey breast side down. Half way through, flip it. That's it and I didn't start brining until a couple of years ago. Takes about 2.5 hours for a 12 pound bird. 12 pounds seems about as big as a standard Weber kettle can take.

                                                                                                                2. re: sjahns

                                                                                                                  hank's right. and my soup isn't "creamy" it tends to come out rather chunky. I don't see any reason NOT to put kale in -- though I like kale southern style better (don't forget the splash of sherry!).

                                                                                                              2. I have a bunch of easy recipes but I love soups, especially in winter, and I'll send you the link to a bean and bacon soup I made this past weekend. I made a few changes such as using 3 vs. 4 cans of beans, a bit more celery, carrots and bacon. I used chicken stock instead of broth and lots of parsley.


                                                                                                                1. I have never heard of a meat eater who didn't like pasta with Bolognese sauce and fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Never. Not once. You can make a decent sized pot, and eat it for a couple of nights.

                                                                                                                  You'll find it in Marcella Hazan's ESSENTIALS OF ITALIAN COOKING: http://www.amazon.com/Essentials-Clas.... You can use box pasta for now (check to make sure of the weight: they're selling it in 12 oz. packaging now), and maybe someday you'll feel like rolling your own.

                                                                                                                  My favorite box pasta shape is Cavatappi, a hollowed-out squiggle. Or else angel hair.

                                                                                                                  Serve with a salad and either wine or sparkling water.

                                                                                                                  12 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                      I make HUGE recipes of that and freeze. I LOVE it.

                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                        It's probably what I've made most of in my life. I started making big batches, too, early on. It drove me crazy buying a pound of celery and carrots and only using such a little bit.

                                                                                                                        And it's such an easy thing to make, esp. for a new cook.

                                                                                                                        Now I have to make some tomorrow. Just talking about it...

                                                                                                                        1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                          After my first BIG batch I started chopping the carrots and celery in the FP And to make her green lasagna with it is just heaven. What a revelation THAT is.

                                                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                            I've gone back and forth with knife v. food processor. I never use the FP for onions, as I hate the stink of raw onion (cooked it's fine, but raw, ewww...), so the knife is out anyway. I started getting my knives sharpened a few years back, so I really like using them now, and sometimes I just feel like lining up the little sticks of carrot and choppingthemintopieces. And I've always enjoyed dicing celery.

                                                                                                                            And then there are times when I'm just in a hurry, so I cuise them (but not the onions--I don't think I've ever cuised an onion.

                                                                                                                      2. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                        There has been a unanimous reccomendation on this post for Hazan's Essentials book, I think I might mozey on over to amazon to order it now, free shipping too! Any excuse to buy books of any kind is always good for me ;) Does the Bolognese sauce freeze okay? Obviously seperate from the pasta. And that huge hunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano from Costco makes a lovely topping to so many dishes, I'm very glad I found the beauty of fresh rather than the mystery powder in the cans, world of difference!

                                                                                                                        1. re: sjahns

                                                                                                                          I freeze it in zipping bags, jfood "cans" it. So yes. Definitely. You will love that book.

                                                                                                                          1. re: sjahns

                                                                                                                            You're on your way, sjahns. You're gonna be a good cook.

                                                                                                                            You can definitely freeze Bolognese, though I never do. I just eat it three days in a row. Is that a "guy" thing? Maybe more a "guy-living-alone" thing?

                                                                                                                            1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                              *snort* it's a practical thing. four generations of my family have done the same. I eat stew for a week straight, pizza the same (fresh dough each time, the sauce keeps)

                                                                                                                              1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                When it's one of my faves I have no trouble eating every day til it's gone. BTW, my first Bolognese was all pork and I think I actually preferred to all beef. Next time I'll do a combo.

                                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                  I started out with ground beef in the '80s; did nothing but ground turkey for much of the 1990s. Now I use a beef and/or turkey and *definitely* pork. There's no easier way to add flavor.

                                                                                                                                  I usually make either 2, 3, or 4 pounds of meat worth:
                                                                                                                                  2# = beef/pork
                                                                                                                                  3# = 2# beef/1# pork or 1# each, beef/turkey/pork
                                                                                                                                  4# = 2 beef/1 turkey/1 pork

                                                                                                                          2. How would the hubby feel about a quiche? (Real men do eat them, you know.) If you start with a frozen pie crust from the supermarket the rest is pretty darn easy.

                                                                                                                            3 eggs
                                                                                                                            1 to 1-1/2 C milk or cream
                                                                                                                            A little bit of nutmeg if you like it (I do)
                                                                                                                            Whatever you want to flavor it with

                                                                                                                            Some ideas include: caramelized onions, crumbled bacon, grated swiss cheese (or any other kind, for that matter), cooked broccoli, cooked spinach (or just defrosted and well-drained frozen spinach). The list goes on and on.

                                                                                                                            I usually make two at a time just so we have lunch for the kids and some leftovers.

                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: Euonymous

                                                                                                                              We both love quiche! And, I like nutmeg too. (my favorite is grinding it on the microplane, it's fun lol) Swiss, broccoli and spinach with some crumbled bacon mmm sooooo good! And, pie crust perfection has eluded me so far, I keep trying but to save my nerves I have to admit I've boughten the pre-made pilsburry on a few occasions, sepcifically for quiche. I think I should not come on CH after midnight it makes me sooooo hungry!

                                                                                                                              1. re: sjahns

                                                                                                                                I make a "crustless" quiche. But ter the pie plate and sprinkle bread crumbs. Works great. Store bought works fine for me also.

                                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                  I actually prefer crustless quiche.

                                                                                                                                  I used to make something that's kind of a quiche-fritatta cross in a cast iron skillet. Saute onions, peppers and mushrooms; add bulk sweet or hot sausage (or cooked bacon if you want it to be more of a quiche); combo of Swiss, Gruyere, and Parmigiano-Reggiano; then an egg/cream/S&P mixture. I haven't done it in a long time. I think I used to do 12 eggs in a 12" pan, and eyeball the rest.

                                                                                                                            2. I apologize if someone else has already made this suggestion (thread is getting long): A braised beef brisket is very easy to make and should be something any "meat & potato" lover would enjoy. There are literally dozens of threads on this board with recipes. Some recipes use as few as 5 ingredients and are quite tasty; others are far more involved.

                                                                                                                              1. one of my earliest newbie cooking recipes goes like this - no real recipe -
                                                                                                                                boneless,skinless chicken breasts in lasagna type dish, salt and pepper over top side, garlic powder heavy sprinkle over tops, seasoned bread crumbs coated over top (lightly poured - not patted or dipped), then Wishbone Italian bottled dressing poured over to wet crumbs, and the same after with drinking white wine so that all the crumbs are wet and there should be some liquid in pan (but not a lot) - bake in pre-heated 350 oven for 15 minutes - take out - turn over chicken and repeat process with seasoning, crumbs and both liquids, then bake again for 15 minutes. It is my version of Chicken Scampi. Serve with white rice to mop up the delicious juices. Enjoy! And try not to be intimidated by cooking - what is the worst that can happen?

                                                                                                                                1. Okay. So lets get started take cooked lasagna noodles and lay them flat place two table spoons. Of ricotta cheese mixed with parmesan and cilantro and salt and pepper and garlic powder and one egg on the end of one side of the noodle then roll it up so the cheese and pasta makes a cheese filled roll place on some pasta sauce in a caserole pan making sure they are seem down you don't want it to unroll then make mor and fill the pan then cover with sauce and cheeses of your melted liking add some nice salad and garlic texas toast and you got a meal serve with chilled arbor mist blackberry wine and enjoy to you from a world wide cook and foodcritic

                                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: coupleundergod

                                                                                                                                    couple, when you make the following statement, place two table spoons of ricotta cheese mixed with parmesan and cilantro and salt and pepper and garlic powder and one egg on the end of one side of the noodle, do you mean each piece of noddle is to have one egg in the mixture or do you mean that the mixture is to be made ahaed of time with 1 egg? I want to make this, but don't want to use eggs if unnecessary. Thanks for educating me.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Wtg2Retire

                                                                                                                                      I'm not coupleundergod, but that's similar to how I make my filling for lasagna, and yes, it's all mixed together (although I use parsley, not cilantro.) The egg isn't necessary, just helps to bind it together. The dish will be more runny without the egg, but won't be any less delicious.

                                                                                                                                      So, what you want to mix together in advance is about 1 cup of ricotta, 1/2 cup of parmesan, one egg, salt, pepper, garlic and parsley. If I'm making a large dish, I double it. (I haven't made it couple's way, so I don't know how much you need for that recipe.)

                                                                                                                                      If you want to tackle that recipe, lasagna is pretty easy too, and always impresses your guests (plus you can freeze in large chunks, wrap tightly and keep in the freezer for whenever you want great quick weekday dinner!) Just double the recipe above (so, 2 cups ricotta, 1 cup parmesan), and add about 2 cups of shredded mozzerella to the mixture. (Leave a couple handfuls of mozzarella aside for the very top.)

                                                                                                                                      Take your lasagna pan and spoon enough sauce to cover the bottom.

                                                                                                                                      Take dry noodles (I use regular noodles, not the no-boil ones and it comes out just fine), and lay them flat so they just aout cover the bottom of the pan (you might have to break some). Dot tablespoons of the cheese mixture on top of the dry noodles, and try to spread it out a bit with your fingers.

                                                                                                                                      Ladle over enough sauce to cover it, and repeat with another layer (or two) of noodles until you're about at the top of your pan.

                                                                                                                                      You should have a lot of sauce in this dish, all the way up to the top layer. If you don't have that much sauce, pour about a quarter cup or water down each corner of the lasagna to make sure it has enough moisture for the noodles.

                                                                                                                                      Sprinkle some mozzarella cheese on top and bake at 350 for 45 minutes or so. It's done when you stick a knife in and the noodles feel soft.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Chris VR

                                                                                                                                        Thanks for the recipe guys-my husband just asked me to make "more pasta dishes." He loves lasagna, but it gets "old" I never thought of a (don't shoot me if it isn't the right dish lol) "manicotti" type dish, eventhough it's pretty close to lasagna, it's a different presentation, good to shake things up a bit :)

                                                                                                                                      2. re: Wtg2Retire

                                                                                                                                        No the entire mixture only requires one egg you don't have to use eggs you can use a tbs of flour or cornstarch instead so the mixture holds together well

                                                                                                                                    2. how about a simple noodle soup.
                                                                                                                                      canned chicken broth, egg noodles, cubed veggies (celery, onion, carrot), cooked protein and maybe a green like spinach and any seasonings you'd like.
                                                                                                                                      examples - asian - add a touch of sesame oil and soy sauce, maybe chili paste.
                                                                                                                                      italian - parsley, chili flakes, grated parm, - cassic chicken noodle soup style
                                                                                                                                      mexican/southwestern - taco seasoning, corn, peppers, cut up tortillas

                                                                                                                                      this may be a great way to intro tofu as a protein? nothing beats baked tofu....buy the firm variety at the store, drain it and then pat with paper towels (it will take a while as it is very damp).
                                                                                                                                      then just cube it up, roll it in a little seasoned flour if you want or just throw salt/pepper on direct and put it in the oven at 425 degrees for about 15 mins till its golden....dip it in a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar and chili paste - delish!

                                                                                                                                      and you can always add the tofu into a soup.

                                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: pie22

                                                                                                                                        For God's sake don't have her feeding him tofu---he will leave her.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                                          LOL! I can try and push his barriers with chicken on the bone..but tofu? I'm not brave enough to try.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: sjahns

                                                                                                                                            haha, just offering a new protein - bet if you didn't tell him and offer the baked version which tastes fried, he wouldn't even know it!

                                                                                                                                            1. re: sjahns

                                                                                                                                              Our local asian supermarket sells cubes of deep fried tofu in styrofoam trays wrapped in plastic wrap like meats are sold. I bought a pack one day on a whim, figuring I'd eat it with a stir fry one day when my husband wasn't home.

                                                                                                                                              Instead, I seared some chicken, and then popped my tofu bites onto a sheet pan in the oven at 400º and crisped them up, and served them over sautéed veggies and rice with stir fry sauce.

                                                                                                                                              Hubby ended up eating 2/3 of the tofu bits. If I don't get them every time I go to that market, he gets upset.

                                                                                                                                              I recently made something similar by pan frying firm tofu that had been patted dry and then rolled in flour to crisp better. It was good, and had a better protein to fat ratio than the deep fried variety.

                                                                                                                                        2. This is one of my very quick go to stand bys... Skillet Lasagne. It's very good but very few people at chowhound will endorse such a bastardized lasagne. There is no becamel, no ricotta and no cottage cheese. You don't even have to make your own pasta sauce.

                                                                                                                                          But trust me this is very good. It's quick too!

                                                                                                                                          Skillet Lasagna

                                                                                                                                          ½ lb. ground beef
                                                                                                                                          ½ lb. mild Italian sausage
                                                                                                                                          1 small onion chopped
                                                                                                                                          1 ½ cups uncooked mafalda (mini-lasagna noodle) pasta (3 ounces)
                                                                                                                                          1 ¼ cups water
                                                                                                                                          1 jar(28 oz) marinara sauce
                                                                                                                                          1 jar (4.5 oz) sliced mushrooms drained or 8oz fresh sliced
                                                                                                                                          1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
                                                                                                                                          2 hard boiled eggs (sliced)

                                                                                                                                          Cook beef, onion, mushrooms and sausage in dutch oven over medium heat about 6 minutes stirring occasionally, until beef browns; drain excess moisture and fat.

                                                                                                                                          Stir in remaining ingredients except cheese and eggs. Heat to boiling then reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered for 10 – 12 minutes until pasta is tender.

                                                                                                                                          Mix in cheese and stir. Put egg slices on top and sprinkle more cheese. Serve.

                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                          1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                            "few people at chowhound will endorse such a bastardized lasagne" lmfao! Thanks for the laugh this morning, Hank. And, thanks for what looks like another delicious (albeit bastard) recipe! I've made your tenderloin twice since the first time, everyone here loves it :)

                                                                                                                                          2. If your hubby is the grill master, have him make a beer can chicken. You'll get your whole roasted chicken and he helped. Whole chicken is so much better than BSCB I like this recipe


                                                                                                                                            If you think you can get him to try dark meat with bones, try this recipe. It's just a touch involved, but not hard and a great meal on a winter day. I don't like tarragon, so I just leave it out. I usually use a different veggie than artichoke hearts, because they seem to get lost in this dish, or just leave them out. I like green beans, but have used just about everything. I make this every week during the winter.


                                                                                                                                            1. I'm sorry your husband is so closed to some foods. My children were raised to "fear no food" and even now they'll try everything and like almost everything. If they don't like it, so be it -- there are millions more foods to eat. But I don't have a lot of patience with picky eaters. I do, however, really love what Hank said -- some day you'll want him to hear your "no" to something that he thinks is fine. Hank is right.
                                                                                                                                              And back to food. When you do find things that both of you like eating, make extras and freeze it in dinner-sized portions so that y'all don't have to cook every night, just most nights. It's wonderful to be able to pull something out of the freezer, add salad and bread, and have dinner on the table in just a few minutes. Good luck, keep giving him bites of this and that, and happy marriage!

                                                                                                                                              1. 1) Picadillo=Brown ground beef with onion, add an 8-oz can of tomato sauce plus 2 cans of water, add a handful of raisins and some stuffed green olives, season with salt and cumin (essential), simmer together 5-10 minutes, and serve with rice. A Hispanic staple.
                                                                                                                                                2) Brown pork chops, add a can of sauerkraut, cover, bake 1 hour.
                                                                                                                                                3) Wrap boneless skinless chicken breasts with bacon strips and lay on top of cornbread stuffing (use mix). Bake 1 hour.
                                                                                                                                                4) Make fancy steak sandwiches using cube steaks, big rolls, lettuce & tomato, sauce, etc.
                                                                                                                                                5) Sliced deli roast beef + a can of beef gravy + mashed potato = Diner Food.
                                                                                                                                                6) Lay chicken breasts in baking dish and cover with Cream of Chicken Soup. Do not add anything else, especially not salt or water. Bake uncovered 1 hour. Forms own gravy. Not bad.
                                                                                                                                                7) Chili: Brown ground beef with onion, add a can each of kidney beans and tomatoes plus an 8oz can tomato sauce and 2 cans water. Season with salt, garlic, chili powder. Eat in bowls with crackers or eat on cooked macaroni (Chili Mac).
                                                                                                                                                8) Lasagna using the no-cook lasagna noodles: Brown ground beef with onion and green pepper, add a jar of any spaghetti sauce, correct seasoning if you want. Beat up a container of ricotta cheese with two eggs. In baking dish layer the noodles, meat, and ricotta then pour over a second jar of spaghetti sauce (you need a lot of liquid with the no-cook noodles). Put more cheese (any kind) on top if you want.Cover snugly with foil to keep steam in. Bake 1 hour. Take foil off last 15 minutes to brown. Use a pan big enough that the sauce won't run over.
                                                                                                                                                9) Chicken Teriyaki---Put pieces of chicken in baking dish, sprinkle very generously with soy sauce and garlic powder, bake. Can also add crushed pineapple to this. Good with rice.
                                                                                                                                                10) Will he eat hot dogs? Bake them on a dish of canned pork & beans with ketchup and brown sugar added. How about eggs? Bacon and eggs make a good dinner.
                                                                                                                                                PS: With meat cooking in oven, bake a couple of Idaho potatoes or sweet potatoes at the same time. Augment a skimpy meal with a can of refrigerated biscuits baked in last ten minutes of cooking time. Did you get an electric rice cooker as a wedding present? Use parboiled (converted) rice, cook a big potful, freeze individual portions in plastic sandwich bags and just zap when you need them.

                                                                                                                                                Oh my dear, to be as young as you. Enjoy it. Time goes fast.

                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                                                  Not to sound corny but I LOVE the way you put that! You must have done this before, either as a teacher or a mother? Short, consice and easy for the nights I may not feel like cooking a big meal. I seriously think my husband will eat everything on the list minus the sauerkraut. This is impressive lol

                                                                                                                                                  Thank you =)

                                                                                                                                                2. You've got about a million hits here. If you haven't already done so, get a pack of 3 x 5 library cards and start your recipe card file---a card is more convenient to work from in the kitchen than a computer file.

                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                                                    My mini sits right on the counter and is the easiest..

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                                                      I print them all onto 3x5's from ms word, it's an old habit my grandmother drove into me with a sledge hammer lol

                                                                                                                                                      I never thought this many people would care to share and I am very thankful for everyone! I have already tried 4 recipes I definately wouldn't have even thought to try have CH's not given them to me & I am actually having fun doing it! My husband is also playing along quite well, it has been an eventful month of cooking and eating.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sjahns

                                                                                                                                                        so long as you have enough stuff to try, you'll never chafe at what you guys don't like. ;-)

                                                                                                                                                    2. Here is one that is pretty easy. This Sweet and Sour pork is not super sweet and doesn't have the sugary red or orange sauce.

                                                                                                                                                      It is reminiscent of the Sweet and Sour Pork a lady from Taiwan fixed for me once.

                                                                                                                                                      If you don't have a wok, and most don't, you can use a large non stick pan.

                                                                                                                                                      For the pork. I use the trimmings from tenderloins. When I make tenderloins, I cut the tapered end off and cut it in strips for stirfry. This way I use both tenderloins that come in the bag and they are uniform size.


                                                                                                                                                      1 pound pork, cut into strips
                                                                                                                                                      2 egg yolks
                                                                                                                                                      15 Tbls cornstarch
                                                                                                                                                      1 Tbl chopped garlic
                                                                                                                                                      1 1/2 cups sweet onion, cut into pieces
                                                                                                                                                      1 1/2 cups green bell pepper, cut into pieces
                                                                                                                                                      1 1/2 cups pineapple, cut into pieces
                                                                                                                                                      6 Tbls sugar
                                                                                                                                                      6 Tbls water
                                                                                                                                                      4 Tbls vinegar
                                                                                                                                                      8 Tbls ketchup
                                                                                                                                                      3 Tbls soy sauce


                                                                                                                                                      1. Mix sugar, water, vinegar, ketchup, 2 tbls of soy sauce and 3 Tbls of cornstarch for stir fry sauce. Set aside.

                                                                                                                                                      2. Beat 2 egg yolks with 1 tbl of soy sauce. Cut meat into strips. Marinate meat in egg yolk & soy sauce mixture.

                                                                                                                                                      3. Heat deep fry oil. Dredge meat in cornstarch and deep fry. Set meat aside.

                                                                                                                                                      4. Put a couple of tbls of oil in wok. Add garlic for 1 minute. Add onion, pineapple and peppers.

                                                                                                                                                      5. Add stir fry sauce and bring to boil.

                                                                                                                                                      6. Add meat and toss. Serve when everything is hot.


                                                                                                                                                      Substitute 1 1/2 cups green bell peppers for ½ cup each of green bell peppers, red bell peppers and carrots sliced thin.

                                                                                                                                                      1. Here is a good dish for the beginner. It sounds fancy but it is easy, quick and wonderful.

                                                                                                                                                        Chicken marsala http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ty...

                                                                                                                                                        You might have to cut the chicken breasts in half horizontally then pound to get thin cutlets.

                                                                                                                                                        Marsala and Madeira are both fortified cooking wines. They make a very good tasting sauce. This is coming form someone that isn't a big wine drinker.

                                                                                                                                                        This recipe has some prosciutto in it. If you don't get a chance to get some, it will be almost as good without. This recipe calls for shallots. If you can't get them, a little finely chopped red onion will be almost as good. If you don't want to slice the mushrooms with a knife, you can use an egg slicer.

                                                                                                                                                        If I don't have any really good home made stock, I use boxed stock but I throw in a slurry of 2 tablespoons of flour and 2 tablespoons of water into the sauce to thicken it a little. I usually throw in a teaspoon of 'Better than Bouillon" chicken base, too.

                                                                                                                                                        I made some this evening and when I went to the pantry found that I had no marsala but did have Madeira so I used it. I liked it almost as well.

                                                                                                                                                        Look on the web. You can find alternative recipes. Some use chicken stock and Marsala; some just use marsala. Some add a little cream at the end; some don't.

                                                                                                                                                        Anyway, it is good and fairly quick.

                                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                          I love the options of "if you don't have" HH! As a newbie it has determined whether or not I'll make a recipe!

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: JerryMe


                                                                                                                                                            Unless you are making a baked good, recipes should be thought of as guidelines. Breads, cakes, pies and cookies are more like formulas. They have to be followed exactly until you know what you are doing.

                                                                                                                                                            Whenever you see a savory dish, you should look at the ingredients and think what else could I do with this recipe? If it has a meat, you should ask yourself, could I use another meat. If it has a group of spices that you associate with a certain cuisine, ask yourself if you could use a different set of spices and give it another flair. If it has a starch, you can probably use any other starch.

                                                                                                                                                            If you think like that, every time you make a new recipe and decide you like it, you have 3-4 other possibilities to check out.

                                                                                                                                                            I keep my recipes on my hard drive in Word format. Whenever I cut and paste a new recipe, I add a "Possible Variations" line at the bottom and I write in things like:
                                                                                                                                                            Substitute mashed potatoes or noodles for the rice
                                                                                                                                                            Substitute cumin, chili powder and a little cayenne for the Thyme and Italian herbs

                                                                                                                                                            Do those things, you will have a lot more fun and will learn a lot faster.

                                                                                                                                                        2. For a variation on pork chops, you could try braising them. I developed a recipe for this and I never make pork chops any other way now. It's so delicious and incredibly easy. I use a Dutch oven for this recipe but if you don't have one, just use the heaviest pot with a tight-fitting lid that you have. (Although I Dutch oven is a wonderful, versatile thing to have and a good investment.)

                                                                                                                                                          Mix a little salt and pepper (and if you want, a touch of cinnamon) into some flour and dredge two large pork chops, preferably bone-in, but boneless is fine too. Heat your Dutch oven to medium-high, add a little oil and sear the pork chops on both sides until they're nice and browned. Then add one bottle of hard cider (magner's is my favorite) and scrape up the brown bits on the bottom of the pot. In a separate pan, sautee one diced onion with a few cloves of minced garlic in a little butter. Add the onions and garlic to the pot with a couple bay leaves, a couple whole cloves, and a few sprigs of fresh herbs of your choice--I use thyme and marjoram usually. Rosemary would be tasty as well. Now just put the lid on your pot and stick it in a 300 degree oven until the porkchops are nice and fall-apart tender--about an hour and a half to two hours, depending on the size of your chops. Be sure to turn them over once in a while. Also, sometimes I add a little milk to the sauce half-way through cooking. It adds a little depth of flavor but it curdles it if you add it at the beginning.

                                                                                                                                                          Serve the chops and the sauce over a bed of egg noodles or mashed potatoes. Add a veggie or salad and you've got one of my favorite comfort-food meals--and it's even better the next day.

                                                                                                                                                          1. If you have a netflix account, I highly recommend putting the "America's Test Kitchen" DVD's on your wish list. You can learn quite a bit watching those. I also highly recommend "Good Eats" show on Food Network. Well there are a lot of shows you can learn from on food network including the following:

                                                                                                                                                            Barefoot Contessa

                                                                                                                                                            30 minute meals with Rachael Ray (You'll just have to tolerate her incessant giggling and saying yum-o!)

                                                                                                                                                            Semi-homemade isn't bad for the newbie

                                                                                                                                                            Paula Deans show is pretty good.

                                                                                                                                                            Tyler Florences shows and recipes are always good.

                                                                                                                                                            9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                              I have an unhealthy obsession with Good Eats, Hank. Seriously I DVR all of the repeats, even if I have seen them before. For christmas, I got both the Early Years and the Middle Years cookbooks lol I am a science (nursing) major in college and I learn more by watching "applications" and understanding why and how to cook certain foods. I also Love Ina. I have Barefoot Contessa At Home, How Easy is that and Back to Basics. I must have similair tastes as she does because her recipes never really need "anything" when I am eating them or making them.

                                                                                                                                                              I can not, absolutely can not, watch Rachel Ray or Sandra Lee (esp. Sandra Lee) The drunken lady cooking everything out of bisquik and those awful tablescapes (puke) drive me insane lol RR's voice gives me chills (not the good kind either) But I have made some of RR's recipes and I like the few I have made. As for Sandra Lee, well...I don't think I could make anything from that woman, no offense if you or anyone else enjoy those shows but I will stick with Alton, Ina, Tyler, a tiny dose of Giada, a side of Paula once in a while and another equally small dose of the Neeleys.
                                                                                                                                                              & Tyler Florences recipes have always been good, at least the ones I have tried so far.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sjahns

                                                                                                                                                                I love Ina's recipes. I like her. She can get a bit pretentious. I mean...give me a break... beef tenderloin sandwiches for the beach? I am terribly jealous of her lifestyle.. a home on the beach in the Hamptons, an apartment in Paris (heavy sigh).

                                                                                                                                                                I like some of Rachael Ray's and Sandra Lee's recipes. I can only abide watching a show every once in a while. If I just read one of Rachael's recipes, I don't have to hear her giggle. Unfortunately, I still occasionally have to see the word yum-o! in her recipes.

                                                                                                                                                                But if you watch all that then you aren't a beginner. You have been sandbagging us. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                Oh! There is another cook I like to watch and listen to but it really doesn't have anything to do with her cooking. In fact I watched several episodes of Nigella before I figured out she was cooking. With looks like that and that British accent that I could listen to for decades and she cooks! What a bonus!

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                                  LOL. Sometimes Ina can be a little pretentious, I have to give you that. At first it annoyed me when, everytime she would say ingredients she would say 1/4 cup GOOD chocolate, GOOD olive oil. I know I need to be using the best ingredients, but now that doesn't bother me much anymore. I'm jealous too, her home is beautiful and I feel like it gives her slightly more street cred that she actually films in her own home.

                                                                                                                                                                  I'm still a beginner ;) I can watch all I want but until I learn to do the stuff I'm watching, I'm screwed lol

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sjahns

                                                                                                                                                                    I use the term "good olive oil" to designate the special ones that I save for finishing rather than cooking with.

                                                                                                                                                                    The way to learn those things is to just jump in and do it. Find a recipe that you think is beyond your reach a tad but is well written and just do it :)

                                                                                                                                                                    As for Sandra Lee, once I saw her Kwanzaa cake, I wrote her off as the ultimate non-Chow experience. See below:


                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                      did you have to remind me of the Kwanzaa cake?!!!!!!!!!!!! Great, it's burned into my mind for another year.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sjahns

                                                                                                                                                                        I've never watched her show and had never even heard of her or her "cake" but after seeing that I knew that I didn't need to watch it. Sorry, kiddo :)

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: sjahns

                                                                                                                                                                      Since it seems that the thread has turned to technique rather than recipes, I'd like to give a shout out to my vote for best celeb chef instructor, Jacques Pepin. He did a series of videos devoted to cooking techniques and basic recipes. The subject matter covers kitchen cookware choices, knife techniques, step by step cooking instructions, and even garnishes. The version I have is on VHS format and is called Cooking Techniques, but I checked Netflix and they have a similar DVD called The Complete Pepin: Techniques and Recipes. This would be worth a look to see how a chef's chef creates simple, classic food.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: KatoK

                                                                                                                                                                        I'm familiar with "The Complete Pepin: Techniques and Recipes". It is very good. I really like him. He is unpretentious and very likable as well as being extremely knowledgeable.

                                                                                                                                                                        I haven't given up on recipes, yet. My plan is to present a recipe every few days so people have a chance to talk about it. I am hoping other people will contribute some recipes as I don't wish to dominate the thread.

                                                                                                                                                                        I do have a recipe but it is rather long. It isn't difficult but a bit of a hassle... not a 30 minute meal.

                                                                                                                                                                        Cabbage Rolls

                                                                                                                                                                        1 Lg head Cabbage
                                                                                                                                                                        2 ribs sliced celery
                                                                                                                                                                        2 carrots sliced

                                                                                                                                                                        1 yellow onion, chopped
                                                                                                                                                                        2 garlic cloves, minced
                                                                                                                                                                        2 tablespoons tomato paste
                                                                                                                                                                        1 tablespoons chopped parsley
                                                                                                                                                                        1 pound ground beef
                                                                                                                                                                        1 pound ground pork
                                                                                                                                                                        1 large egg
                                                                                                                                                                        1 cup steamed white rice*
                                                                                                                                                                        Kosher salt and black pepper
                                                                                                                                                                        1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
                                                                                                                                                                        1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
                                                                                                                                                                        1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

                                                                                                                                                                        2 tablespoons olive oil
                                                                                                                                                                        1 tablespoon canola oil
                                                                                                                                                                        1 large onion, coarsely chopped
                                                                                                                                                                        3 garlic cloves minced
                                                                                                                                                                        2 cups strong beef stock
                                                                                                                                                                        1 cup tomato sauce
                                                                                                                                                                        1 teaspoon sweet paprika

                                                                                                                                                                        * Cook rice with 40% beef stock, 20% tomato juice and 40% water

                                                                                                                                                                        Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

                                                                                                                                                                        To prepare cabbage, cut larger outer leaves from cabbage. Trim thick center vein, if necessary. Immerse leaves in boiling water. Steam for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove carefully.

                                                                                                                                                                        Lay the cabbage leaves, rib side down, on a flat work surface. Remove rib or shave down leaf to make leaf easy to roll.

                                                                                                                                                                        To make the stuffing, in a medium skillet melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until very wilted and starting to caramelize, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook, stirring, until for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
                                                                                                                                                                        Combine filling ingredients. Mix the stuffing ingredients together and form a 1/4 cup of it into an oval. Place it in the center of a leaf. From the stem end, roll it up once. Tuck in the sides and roll up the rest of the way.
                                                                                                                                                                        Line a large baking dish with carrots and celery. Arrange the stuffed cabbages seam side down, on top of celery and carrots to prevent cabbage from burning. Cover with the sauce. Bake in 350 degree oven covered for 1 hour, adding more liquid as necessary to keep cabbage moist. Uncover and bake for another hour.
                                                                                                                                                                        Baste frequently.

                                                                                                                                                                        To make the sauce, heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomato sauce and beef stock. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the paprika and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and adjust the seasoning, to taste.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: KatoK

                                                                                                                                                                          Just FYI - apparently they butchered it when the put this on DVD, pulling only tiny snippets of his tips on disc and forcing the viewer back to the main menu after each one plays. The Netflix reviews are scathing and it is not actually available to rent at this time.

                                                                                                                                                                2. Here is a helpful trick.

                                                                                                                                                                  I, often don't have any good beef stock as it takes all day and about $15 worth of materials to make a gallon.

                                                                                                                                                                  I take carton or canned stock and augment it with "Better Than Bouillon" beef base. It is a paste that comes in a jar from the grocery store. It is made from beef and it is very concentrated. Watch out it is pretty salty because it is concentrated. Go easy on the salt until you have tasted whatever you are making. If I want the beef stock to have that mouth feel that comes from collagen, I add some good chicken stock. I usually have that.

                                                                                                                                                                  You can make a nice pan sauce or even a gravy with it. That's right... no more of those spice packages to make beef gravy. Just make a roux with 1/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup flour and add this beef stock and you have a pretty good gravy.

                                                                                                                                                                  You can make it better by adding some thyme, maybe a little red wine, maybe a teaspoon of dijon mustard. Be easy with the mustard, I put too much in once and the wife and son were merciless.

                                                                                                                                                                  Btw, "Better Than Bouillon" makes a chicken base to so you can make chicken gravy too.

                                                                                                                                                                  15 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                                    Oddly enough, I was just discussing my inability to make beef stock with my MIL. She told me to make in a pressure cooker but I don't know if that would defeat the purpose since the collagen needs lots of time to turn into gelatin. I've tried twice and thus far came out with something more like canned beef broth, definately dissapointed. I've heard of the "Better than bouillon" chicken base but never the beef, I will have to give it a try.

                                                                                                                                                                    On another note, I am super excited that I was victorious in my attempt to finally brave roasting a WHOLE chicken tonight for "Sunday Dinner" that grandma usually makes but I subbed in for her today with carrots and onions in the roasting pan and the crash hot potatoes. I didn't know it was possible to be this giddy and excited over making a dinner, I feel rediculous lol I even took a picture of it when I took it out of the oven, I've never done that before!

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sjahns

                                                                                                                                                                      I'm very happy for you. :-D There is a recipe out there where someone freshens the canned stock by simmering some veggies and adding a tiny bit of clear gelatin to it to duplicate the collagen effect. I haven't tried it yet but it sounds right.

                                                                                                                                                                      You know you can make stock in the slow cooker, right? It is the easiest way.

                                                                                                                                                                      That crash potatoes sounds like Tom Collichio's "boulangerie potatoes". In his book he explains that the original boulangerie potatoes came from france when the bread bakers were through baking but still had hot ovens so they put in a roast on a spit and then put a tray of potatoes in below. The potatoes were sliced about 1/8 inch thick and the slices didn't quite go all the way through.

                                                                                                                                                                      Here is a link to what they look like. http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_-klK4jAiEfw...

                                                                                                                                                                      You should post your photo.

                                                                                                                                                                      Do you want anymore recipes and if so, what kind of thing are you looking for?

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sjahns

                                                                                                                                                                        So what dishes have you made so far that you were happy with? I know you tried the pork tenderloins and you roasted a whole chicken. Anything else?

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                                          I've made the tenderloin twice and the chicken last night but other than that Ive also tried the bolognese sauce which probably changed my life lol the potato and leek soup, a corn chowder recipe from my neighbor and a pot roast-which I seared first on the stove for the first time, amazing- and whiskey glazed carrots my local newspaper.
                                                                                                                                                                          I've been spending a lot of time cooking and actually enjoying it and I have not baked anything in a week, which I usually do at least twice a week. I also discovered fresh thyme over dried thyme in my roast chicken recipe.

                                                                                                                                                                          I even tried roasting whole garlic heads in the oven which I failed miserably at lol It's getting easier not to walk on eggshells each time I am in the kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                                          Of course more recipes are always welcome- I have to keep trying new things :) so far all of the recipes I've followed specifically off of CH came out great. I havn't mastered the recipe searches at simplyrecipes or epicurious yet, it sort of overwhelimg with so many choices I don't know what to pick and which one I would like more so i'm working on it lol

                                                                                                                                                                          Now that I've been shopping according to the recipes that are new, I have a ton of the little boneless thin porkchops and lots of BLSL chicken breasts on my hands that I need to use up. It's like a reverse recipe search ;)

                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: sjahns

                                                                                                                                                                          Here's the link for the Zuni Cafe (SF) roast chicken which gets lots of love here on CH. So amazingly easy and incredibly good.


                                                                                                                                                                          Those "crash hot potatoes" are great, aren't they? But not slices. Can't imagine THAT working out.

                                                                                                                                                                          BTW, posting pix of dishes you've cooked is highly encouraged here :)

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                            I thought you were a big fan of Tom Colichio's.

                                                                                                                                                                            Here is a link to his recipe including the story of the french bakers making boulangerie potatoes. The story sounds quite similar to the crash potatoes at the bottom of the broiler pan catching the drippings from the chicken.



                                                                                                                                                                            And if you follow the link above, you will clearly see then sliced very thin.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sjahns

                                                                                                                                                                                The chicken turned out beautifully.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sjahns

                                                                                                                                                                                  Oh, it's beautiful! I've been reading this thread with great interest.
                                                                                                                                                                                  Now that you can roast chickens you'll find it's one of the easiest and most delicious meals that pleases almost everyone.

                                                                                                                                                                                  I made the crash potatoes for the first time recently after reading about them here. We loved them!

                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm so glad you started this post, it's great fun to read the many ideas and recipes posted by the very generous Chowhounds. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                  Bravo to you and continued good luck!

                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                  C Oliver & Sjahns;

                                                                                                                                                                                  I do apologize. What I thought was crash potatoes is completely different than what you were describing.

                                                                                                                                                                                  I was thinking of a dish FreeWally described in this thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/691778

                                                                                                                                                                                  "I spray the bottom part of a broiler pan with oil than lay down a single layer of red potatoes sliced about 1/4" thick. Season with salt & pepper. Then put the top part of
                                                                                                                                                                                  the pan over the potato slices. Spray the pan with oil and place chicken thighs skin side up directly over the slots so the drippings will flavor the potatoes. Put this in a preheated
                                                                                                                                                                                  350 oven and cook between 1 1/2 - 2 hours .
                                                                                                                                                                                  I usually season the thighs with Adobo and Goya Sazon. But any seasonings you like will work. It is best the season the meat in advance (overnight) . The fat in the thighs renders down and crisps the potatoes. I find that 2 hours works best. They will not dry out.
                                                                                                                                                                                  Transfer the thighs to a platter to rest. Remove the flat pan top and scoop up the potatoes ( a spatula works best) The chicken is crispy and so so tender. Also the potatoes are some of the best you ever had.
                                                                                                                                                                                  This is a very simple dish that requires little effort, except cleanup. But it is worth it."
                                                                                                                                                                                  By FreeWally on Mar 19, 2010 02:59PM

                                                                                                                                                                                  I think something like this would be great using chicken thighs or even the leg quarters that are always on sale for a $1 per pound at my store.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                                                    Hank that sounds awesome. I usually buy boneless/skinless thighs as I feel the thighs have enough solid/chunky yellow fat, and bake for about 2 hours until the drippings mix in with a well seasoned marinade. In this case I think I would smear some bacon fat on the thighs, maybe broil (and brown) a few minutes before serving. I would get them skin-on if I crisp under the broiler, but I always go boneless on these. Another great recipe for potatoes :)

                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                                                Hank - I have heard about those "better than Boullion" bases- do they keep in the fridge for a while?

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: smilingal

                                                                                                                                                                                  I have had mine in the fridge for a few weeks, at least. I am not sure whether there is an use by date on them but I assume so.

                                                                                                                                                                                  I really like them. I use them whenever i want to boost the chicken or beef flavor of a sauce, gravy, braising liquid.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. Get Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything". It's great with tons of great recipes that he makes really simple.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. This one isn't difficult but it does have quite a few ingredients. Read the recipe completely a few times and then get everything all set up in bowls and it will be easy. Crawfish is a lot cheaper than crabmeat but you can choose which one you want to use.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Mardi Gras Pasta

                                                                                                                                                                                    SERVES 6
                                                                                                                                                                                    3 cups cooked fettuccine or linguini
                                                                                                                                                                                    1/4 lb butter
                                                                                                                                                                                    2 tablespoons chopped garlic
                                                                                                                                                                                    3 tablespoons chopped green onions
                                                                                                                                                                                    1/4 cup sliced mushrooms (optional)
                                                                                                                                                                                    1/2 cup diced tomato
                                                                                                                                                                                    1/2 cup diced andouille sausage
                                                                                                                                                                                    1/2 cup diced shrimp, peeled and deveined
                                                                                                                                                                                    1/2 cup sauted crabmeat or crawfish
                                                                                                                                                                                    1/2 ounce dry white wine
                                                                                                                                                                                    1 tablespoon lemon juice
                                                                                                                                                                                    1 cup heavy whipping cream
                                                                                                                                                                                    1/4 cup mixed bell pepper (red, green, yellow) Kinda optional but this is where you get the Mardi Gras label… the colors
                                                                                                                                                                                    1/4 lb chipped cold butter
                                                                                                                                                                                    1 tablespoon chopped parsley
                                                                                                                                                                                    salt and pepper

                                                                                                                                                                                    In a cast iron pot (3 qt), melt butter over med-high heat.
                                                                                                                                                                                    Add green onions, mushrooms and andouille.
                                                                                                                                                                                    Sweat 3-5 minutes, add garlic and tomatoes and continue to sweat for 3 minutes.
                                                                                                                                                                                    Add shrimp and crab meat or crawfish cooking for 2 additional minutes.
                                                                                                                                                                                    Deglaze pan with white wine and lemon juice and cook until volume of liquid is reduced to half.
                                                                                                                                                                                    Add heavy whipping cream and, stirring constantly, reduce until cream is thick and of a sauce like consistency, approximately 5 minutes.
                                                                                                                                                                                    Add diced bell pepper and chipped butter, 2- 3 pats at a time, swirling pan constantly over burner.
                                                                                                                                                                                    Do not stir with a spoon. We are trying not to break up the crabmeat.
                                                                                                                                                                                    Continue adding butter until it is all incorporated.
                                                                                                                                                                                    Remove from heat, add parsley and season to taste using salt and pepper.
                                                                                                                                                                                    Gently fold in cooked fettuccine and serve.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. This is one of those "dinner is already late and you just can't stand the thought of another hamburger" Dishes.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Rice Pilaf


                                                                                                                                                                                      1 tablespoon butter
                                                                                                                                                                                      1 tablespoon olive oil
                                                                                                                                                                                      1/2 small onion or one medium Shallot, minced
                                                                                                                                                                                      1 cup long grain rice
                                                                                                                                                                                      2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (I like to add some "Better than Bouillion" chicken base.)
                                                                                                                                                                                      salt and pepper, to taste


                                                                                                                                                                                      heat the butter and oil in a medium ( 2 - 3 quart) saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and optional flavorings that need to be sautéed as soon as they are chopped; sauté until softened, 3 to 4 min.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Add the rice; stir to coat. Add broth or a mix of broth (or other liquid), bring to a simmer; reduce the heat to low and simmer until the broth is absorbed and rice is tender, about 20 min. Stir in the optional flavorings. Adjust seasonings, adding salt and pepper to taste. Serve.


                                                                                                                                                                                      Grated Parmesan cheese into the rice.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Substitute 1/4 cup lemon juice for 1/4 cup of the chicken broth. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons lemon zest.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Substitute 1 cup coconut milk for 1 cup of the chicken broth and add one thinly sliced scallion.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Sauté one minced garlic clove and one half medium red bell pepper cut into ¼ inch dice along with the onion.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Sweat 8 ounces of sliced mushrooms along with the onion.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Add saffron.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Add andouille, rotel and Cajun spices for jambalaya… it’s a pilaf.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Add any sausage like Italian, chorizo, Kielbasa and you have a main course instead of a side dish. Or add chicken. Add shrimp but not until the last 5 minutes.

                                                                                                                                                                                      The point is go to the refrigerator and throw stuff in. It will probably be fine…. Unless you take my 5 year old granddaughters suggestions. Chocolate syrup doesn’t work all that well.

                                                                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                                                        My 2 cents: I know you did not mention dark meat chicken, but where I live in upstate NY, a 10lb bag of chicken quarters at Wegmans often sells for $5. If you have an excellent, heavy duty large size stainless steel roasting pan (with sturdy side handles), that can double up for hundreds of uses if covered [even a good black speckleware covered roaster is fine], take 5 or 10 lb of the quarters depending on your psychological capacity to handle large quantities of food at one time & freezer space.

                                                                                                                                                                                        If you like garlic or onion, cut a few and throw them into the bottom of the roaster, any which way. Spread quarters skin side up in one layer. You may wish to season with salt & pepper if you will eat some later, or any flavored salt [ Old Bay, Lowry, Goya Adobo etc.]. Place in preheated 400-425F oven for 1hour-1.5 hour depending on circumstances. The skin will puff up, turn golden and crisp, rendering out almost all fat. You know it is done then. You might have baked some Idaho russets in foil if your oven has space, at the same time.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Pull the roaster out when not too hot to burn you. It is heavy & dangerous with HOT fat. Place on fiber mat on secure work surface. You can eat a tiny bit of crisp skin now & invite spouse to do same, w/potatoes & gravy. The chicken will be tender & perfectly roasted. A great dinner with salad & microwaved green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, or asparagus.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Carefully drain all fat and gravy/onions etc into a large bowl and place in fridge. The fat will solidify and come away in a neat cap. Do not use it. Not good in our present lifestyle. This is high quality schmaltz, though!!. Sadly, discard skin & visible fat. The skin would have added great flavor to broth! The doctors urge us not to, with good reason.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Now pick off the chicken meat in chunks with paring knife. Place in freezer bags. You can make chicken salad, fried rice, oriental noodles with stir fried vegetables & MANY interesting sauces, Mexican dishes with pinto bean side dish (very good for health, just put DRY bean & water in crock pot & cook], Indian style, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Your $5 chicken + oven costs in energy + your time will yield a bountiful harvest of meat, rich brown "fond", the juice to enrich dishes, and bones to make stock if you are so inclined.

                                                                                                                                                                                        If you take things calmly and organize your equipment & space, you will find that you are turning out 2-3 meal & simultaneously making ready a big amount of meat for future meals. This sort of arrangement is not for everyone but economics can be an issue.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Beans and hulled & unhulled red lentils are a healthy addition to the diet. The latter cook quickly. Searching the NY Times & Washington Post recipe databases might offer excellent insights.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: GTM

                                                                                                                                                                                          wow... $0.50 a pound... I may have to reconsider that warehouse store.

                                                                                                                                                                                          I hate paying $50 a year for a Sam's membership and then having some fossil check my bags and receipt at the door.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                                                            There are many cash & carry stores in Syracuse, Ithaca, Buffalo, that sell to the trade & to the public without any fees: Maines in Ithaca-- 40lb box chicken breast, fresh, $55; exceptional sharp cheddar Cuba, NY, 2.59/lb in 11 lb bricks, $3/lb small chunks, sirloin 2.79lb/11lb, liverwurst high quality 1.89, Fiorucci salamis [hard, genoa] $3/lb, chub. You get the picture.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Advantage of NEVER FROZEN fresh breast is that it is simple to portion into freezer bags & freeze. With frozen box, you need to defrost, & refreeze. Same with roasts whch they will slice into steaks. I buy 8lb lamb shoulders at $3/lb, have them sliced into 2 inch slices, ideal for my needs. Lamb livers, kidneys too, 10 lb boxes.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Try this. 1.5-2.0 lbs of stew beef, a medium onion chopped, 1 can cream of mushroom soup, some sliced mushrooms, and a pack of onion soup mix. Put in crockpot on low or simmer in a dutch oven with the lid on for a few hours. Serve over rice or creamed potatoes. Couldn't be simpler.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. I'm a big fan of bring pork and chicken. I often use soy sauce in place of salt because I like the additional flavor.

                                                                                                                                                                                          The other day, I was going to make sweet and sour pork. I was getting out my brine materials and I noticed some pineapple syrup in the fridge. It was left over from a can of crushed pineapples.

                                                                                                                                                                                          I decided to use it instead of the sugar that usually goes into a brine. I figured it would still provide the sugar plus the flavor from the pineapple. As a bonus, pineapple juice has the enzyme papain in it which is a known tenderizer, not that pork tenderloin trimmings need tenderizing.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Anyway, it turned out really nice. I plan on doing it with a whole pork tenderloin at the next opportunity.

                                                                                                                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                                                            I made the almond joy truffles! I should take a picture of them, I think there may be a couple left. They were a huge hit with all the neighbors! I had a little trouble with the white chocolate ganache, it wouldn't set so I had to seed it with more chocolate and voila perfect. Dipped in callabaut semi sweet and rolled a few in toasted coconut. I couldn't get the amaretto flavoring so I didn't use it, I added a tiny drop of almond extract along with the coconut extract so good :) Thanks again for all the great recipes!

                                                                                                                                                                                            I also tried a new recipe tonight for dinner, chicken enchilladas with a "white" sauce instead of red sauce. It might not be "foodie" approved but it sooooooo good! I added 2/3 can yellow corn to the recipe and it was excellent. I also added 2 cloves fresh garlic minced, ground chipotle peppers ( 2 tablespoons) and some cayenne. Could have used a tad more heat though, next time I'll add two diced jalepenos instead of 1.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sjahns

                                                                                                                                                                                              Your enchiladas sound good. Next time maybe try frozen corn. IMO, it's far superior to canned. And once summer comes you can get fresh corn, cut off the kernels, freeze and have it all winter. That's what I did last year. Yippee :)

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sjahns

                                                                                                                                                                                                I'm glad you liked the truffles. The flavoring is not that big a deal on those. My "Black Forest" truffles really do need the extra cherry flavoring or my just plain white chocolate truffles need the ameretto flavoring.

                                                                                                                                                                                                I'm, also, impressed with you adding things to a brand new recipe on the fly and then reviewing what you liked and didn't like and mentally committing to further changes the next time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Congratulations, you are a cook! From now on, you won't be able to help it, when you see a new recipe, you will automatically start thinking about what you could do to it to make it fit your style and your family.

                                                                                                                                                                                                I will add a new recipe in a few days to keep things moving.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Unfortuantely for me, I have a terribly obsessive personality and un-stopable desire to try and perfect everything! It makes my husband so mad lol. As soon as I bite into whatever food I cook my mind races-what did I like? dislike? need more salt, pepper, spice ect. Carrot cake a little dry? Maybe yogurt will fix it. And then I will make the dish over and over and over until I am satisified, and even then I'll probably still try to do something to it. One time I made 4 carrot cakes in a week! Goodthing I have hungry neighbors. Sheesh. Sometimes it gets rediculous but I always have fun doing it, I get like an adrenaline rush from knowing that I tweaked it and conquered it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  I guess can be a good thing because I don't get discouraged, only motivated and I know that I learn something new every time I cook a dish. Good learning experience? I don't know, I just have to convince my husband that I'm not a lunatic, I just have issues with "losing" I always need to "win" and beat the bad out of a dish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Type A? Middle child syndrome? Cook?
                                                                                                                                                                                                  I think I'll go with cook :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sjahns

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Allow me to encourage you to check some books from the library. Good chefs. Get over innovating. Follow their directions. For at least a year or two. Maybe forever. We amateur, at home cooks shouldn't expect to compete with the big people :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I should clarify re tweaking. Unless there's an ingredient you don't care for, I recommend cooking a new recipe as written. Otherwise, if you don't care for it, you won't know if it's the dish itself or the changes you made to it. Does that make sense?

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. This is one of my wife's favorites and it is easy.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Chicken and Bow Tie Pasta


                                                                                                                                                                                              2 whole boneless skinless chicken breasts
                                                                                                                                                                                              3 tsps Chef Prudhommes meat magic
                                                                                                                                                                                              1 cup chopped onion
                                                                                                                                                                                              ½ cup chopped celery
                                                                                                                                                                                              2 cups chicken stock, divided
                                                                                                                                                                                              1 tbls flour
                                                                                                                                                                                              3 cups sliced mushrooms
                                                                                                                                                                                              1 tsp minced garlic
                                                                                                                                                                                              ½ cup chopped green onions
                                                                                                                                                                                              6 oz Bow Tie pasta, cooked


                                                                                                                                                                                              Cut chicken into thin strips. Place in bowl and combine with meat magic.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Sweat onions and celery in medium hot pan for 5 minutes. Turn up heat and deglaze pan with ½ cup chicken stock. Cook another 4 minutes.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Stir in the chicken mixture and cook for about 4 minutes.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Add flour and stir well, cooking another 2 minutes.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Add mushrooms and garlic. Add ½ cup chicken stock. Cook about 4 minutes.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Add another ½ cup stock. Cook for 5 more minutes.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Add green onions and remaining ½ cup stock. Cook for another 5 minutes and serve over pasta.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                                                                Are the 'shrooms super important to this dish? We aren't mushroom people so any recs on what to replace them with? Maybe broccoli? Other than the mushrooms, this sounds like it's right up my husbands alley. He is always asking for more pasta

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sjahns

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I wouldn't think you would have to use mushrooms. Broccoli would work. You could throw in some peas, maybe even some prosciutto or bacon. Your favorite color bell pepper strips. Ooh add andouille, now it's cajun!

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Adjust it any way you want. I promise, the food police will not break your door down.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  As far as your comments from above, I don't see a problem with your constant tweaking of a recipe. That's how you learn. I don't even see a problem with tweaking a recipe the first time you cook it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  There are several chowhounders that always cook a new recipe just as it is written and I understand why they do that but if the recipe has something you don't like, get rid of it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I have chosen my profession and so have you and isn't to become a chef or even a line cook. We are trying to put dinner on the table and make it so our families like it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I bet I could come up with 20 variations on that recipe above. That's why I don't need 200 dishes in my repertoire. If I have 40-50 dishes, I have more than 200 with all the variations.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Ok, I have stepped off my soapbox. I'll try not to lose sleep over you getting rid of the mushrooms.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Here's a tactic I used on my granddaughters that was very successful that you may want to tweak and give a go. I took my granddaughters to a fine dining Italian establishment and they were wowed by the flair, drama and attention of the wait staff as well as the quality of the food.. Noting that I called them in and said I would allow them to dress up, put on make up, (at the time they were 8 and 9), and we would have a 5 course candlelight dinner with the proviso that they had to taste everything placed in front of them. It has been wildly successful. Why don't you try that with your husband. Say once a month, plan an event, with benefits of course, and have a candlelight dinner with similar ground rules.

                                                                                                                                                                                                As far as recipes, try chopping fresh tuna and make meatballs. Fried in garlic butter he'll never know it was fish. Try crab soup made she crab style with heavy cream. It will so tone down the fishiness. I think if you establish a "don't question what you're about to eat to earn an award" you might be surprised.

                                                                                                                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: richburgfoodie

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Could you elaborate on those tuna 'meat'balls please? What holds them together? In addition I find neither fresh tuna nor crab to be fishy tasting. OP's husband simple has a thing about it. Doesn't have to be rational so I'm doubting he'd fall for it :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I make tuna meat balls without the bread crumb. Mix in finely diced onion that you sweat first. and an egg white. I chop the tuna by hand so it's somewhat chunky. Season the meat sparingly with salt and pepper. I usually make the balls about 3/4 inch in diameter. I keep compound butter in the fridge made with parsley, lemon juice, salt/pepper and garlic. Just cook the balls in the butter mixed with some olive oil to lower the smoke point. Cook on medium heat. I always cook one by itself to check the flavors before proceeding with the others.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: richburgfoodie

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Sounds good. For an Asian slant, I wonder if you could add a teensy bit of ginger and a hot pepper, maybe a little wasabi powder (all of these in minutes amount), roll in cornstarch and fry in peanut oil. A riff on sashimi :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                        That sounds good. I've used Creole mustard as a base for a dipping sauce. Mustard goes well with tuna. Also, you can use mayonnaise with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Maybe a little more garlic and lemon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. I thought some general guidelines on creating a casserole might be a useful tool for the relatively new cook and anybody trying to work and cook (how's that song go?... bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan...).

                                                                                                                                                                                                  This certainly isn't the only way to go and hopefully other chowhounders will add some improvements.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Let's make a casserole Casserole

                                                                                                                                                                                                  General Directions:
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Select food(s) from each category or use your own favorites. Combine in a buttered casserole dish. Cover and bake at 350 F for about 1 hour.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Starch - select ONE:
                                                                                                                                                                                                  2 cups uncooked pasta, COOKED
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 cup uncooked long-grain white, COOKED
                                                                                                                                                                                                  4 cups uncooked noodles, COOKED

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Protein - select ONE:
                                                                                                                                                                                                  2 cups cooked ground beef
                                                                                                                                                                                                  2 cups cooked and diced chicken, turkey, ham, beef, or pork
                                                                                                                                                                                                  2 cups chopped hard boiled egg
                                                                                                                                                                                                  2 cans fish or seafood, flaked
                                                                                                                                                                                                  2 cups cooked or canned beans

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Vegetable - select ONE:
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 pkg. thawed and drained frozen spinach, broccoli, green beans, green peas
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 can green beans, peas, carrots, corn, drained
                                                                                                                                                                                                  2 cups sliced fresh zucchini

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sauce - select ONE:
                                                                                                                                                                                                  2 cups white sauce or 1 can sauce-type soup (mushroom, celery, cheese, tomato) mixed with milk to make 2 cups
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 can diced tomatoes with juice

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Flavor - select ONE or MORE:
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1/2 cup chopped celery, 1/4 cup chopped onion, 1/4 cup sliced black olives
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 - 2 teaspoons mixed leaf herbs
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Salt and pepper to taste

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Topping- select ONE or MORE:
                                                                                                                                                                                                  If desired after heating, place on top:
                                                                                                                                                                                                  2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1/4 cup shredded cheese
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1/4 cup buttered bread crumbs
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1/4 to 1/2 cup canned fried onion rings

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Return casserole with topping(s), uncovered, to oven for about 10 minutes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Wow, that is a perfect way to pick ingredients for a casserole. If all cooking was made of "flow charts" like this I would be in good shape :) Here, casseroles are usually reserved for "trash night." Whatever left overs and end-of-life produce that would go reasonably well together get tossed in together, but this means I can make them when it's not trash day and I don't feel like cooking a big meal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I don't know if you will see this today but I'm fixing a pork tenderloin again (got them on sale @ costco over the weekend for about 2.99/lb) And the last 3 times I've had them I've made your bbq version that my husband adores but I'm looking for something new. Ever since I was a kid I've LOVED pork with apple sauce but I was looking for a way to fix the loin with apples in the pan. Maybe apple/onion combo? Or something....I'm not great yet at making up my own recipes, especially new ones, I've never cooked apples with the meat before. Any ideas? I have a boat load of on-the-tart-side pink lady apples and a few granny smiths in the fridge...

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sjahns


                                                                                                                                                                                                      That recipe is very similar to something I've done in the past with apples and onions. You can omit the fennel seed, if you prefer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Another option - caramelizing the onions (makes them sweet) : http://frenchfood.about.com/od/maindi...

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm not at home til tomorrow so I can't look it up but I do something very similar to this. Great combination.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        @OP: if you google, for instance, "chicken casserole," you'll get load of recipes. Substitute any word for "chicken." You'll get better ideas than a "flow chart" can give you :) Here's just one link for Food Network.


                                                                                                                                                                                                        Don't underestimate your ability. No reason to dumb down. A well-written recipe with obtainable ingredients is pretty hard to screw up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        ETA: A very renowned CH, who can outcook any 100 of us probably, taught herself to cook using Julia Child's The Way to Cookl

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: NanH

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Thanks guys =)
                                                                                                                                                                                                          I looked at all the recipes, but I just ran through them and seen the gist and just kind of "winged it" with the stuff I already had in the fridge, it was a little scary but I managed and it actually turned out really well. I cut 4 pieces of bacon into 1 inch pieces, fried it added 1 1/2 large white onions and 2 granny smiths and a few tablespoons of spicy brown mustard and deglazed and what not with apple juice, because that's all I had. Seared the pork tenderloins, threw them in the sauce for a few minutes and it was done and really good. Thanks for the recipes!

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sjahns

                                                                                                                                                                                                            That sounds very good, sjahns - you did very well with your "winging it" - congrats!

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sjahns

                                                                                                                                                                                                              There you go.... look at a few recipes with pork and apples in them. Get a general idea about what you want to cook and wing it. May not be as good as a chef's version but it will be yours and you will have learned a lot more.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              After having winged it, review those recipes some more and with a more qualified eye, figure out what ingredient or technique you want to steal for the next time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              You are already a better cook than 80% of the cook's in your neighborhood because you can wing it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. I am amazed at all the recipes posted here. You certainly came to the right place,sjahns. I take pork chops, brown them,then cover them with onions and potatoes, let them brown a little,dump chicken broth and whatever seasonings you want,then cover the skillet and let it go until everything is done. I brown pork chops or steaks, put them in a baking pan with sweet potatoes, sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon on top,cover and bake, then add apple chunks near the last.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        I understand about picky eaters. I didn't know what to fix for my husband when we first married. He didn't eat salad,only vegetable he ate was corn, etc.he was a pain.He has improved greatly over the years so there's always hope. Our kids were picky but my niece's kids who I try to cook for are the worst . The boy doesn't want meat on a bone either.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        I've made the meat loaf in a muffin tin ,then frosted them with mashed potatoes,sprinkled crumbled bacon and cheese on top to try to tempt them to eat.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        I saw where others here buy the big bag of chicken quarters. There's so much you can do with them. Although I have to admit that with my family's love of fried chicken, I do a lot of that with it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        It sounds like you're doing great.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. I learned to cook a plethora of simple pasta dishes from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. The recipes are instructive on many basic cooking techniques without being overtly pedagogical. If it weren't for that book, I might have given up on cooking. But I kept at it because I was able to cook dishes that were better than restaurant quality even though I was struggling to remove the skins from garlic and turning butter into instant wafts of smoke.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sushigirlie

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Just fixed her carbonara tonight minus the parsley which I didn't have and was too lazy to go to the store. It's such a winner. Except for that parsley :) it's stuff I always have on hand. And it's so delicious/

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. I'm tired of talking about main dishes. Let's talk about side dishes. I assume you know how to oven roast vegetables but let's review in case somebody out there doesn't know about it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            You can take almost any vegetable like potatoes, carrots, parsnips, beets, brussels sprouts, or asparagus. sprinkle olive oil, salt and pepper and put them in a shallow roasting pan or even a tin foil tray. put them in the oven at 350 - 400 degrees F. The timing will depend on how big the veggies are and you don't want to mix pencil thin asparagus with wedged potatoes or something is going to be over cooked or undercooked... probably both.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            You can certainly add other spices.. chili powder on potatoes comes to mind.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Your picky husband will love roasted veggies. He probably already does.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                                                                              :) I agree with moving on to side dishes, I need some more ideas! I'm getting better with protiens, thanks in large part to CH for the ideas!

                                                                                                                                                                                                              And yes, he does love the few that I have roasted-carrots, potatoes and corn (kind of roasted, more grilled I suppose) and sweet onions taste surprisingly good roasted in the oven.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              I've really been wanting to try roasting cauliflower. On it's own, it's kind of bland raw but it seems like a good veggie to roast, it might take on more of a "nutty" flavor, not sure yet. For some reason cauliflower is super expensive at the moment-$3.99 per little shriveled head. I'm getting antsy for the Farmer's Markets but apparently it's supposed to be 32 and snow tomorrow here :( I get so depressed waiting for good produce to come around, I'm so impatient! I did have some delicious early asparagus with the pork loin last night, lightly steamed with some fresh cracked pepper I ate almost an enitre pound myself (he doesn't *do* asparagus, more for me! It's my favorite!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                              oh! Speaking of chili powder, I always add some to my sweet roasted carrots it really balances them out. The chili powder on potatoes sounds like it would be good with steak on the grill. Something new instead of baked, sounds good!

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sjahns

                                                                                                                                                                                                                this roasted cauliflower recipe from chow is awesome. it is so simple. people who hate cauliflower love it! when you can get cauliflower at a good price you must try it!


                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  With the comments and reviews on that recipe link, I think I might be able to justify buying a couple heads for 3.99. When you see good recipes, you don't want to wait! Thanks for the link =)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: sjahns

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I like to saute spinach in a small amount of olive oil with thinly sliced garlic. After cooking (it reduces hugely so use at least double what you think you need) I sprinkle with s&p and a squeeze of lemon juice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I don't know if I'm unique in this, but everytime I have had cooked spinach it kind of tastes...sulfury? I've never tried myself because of that, although I do really like raw spinach in salads. It's also been really really mushy and unpleasant. Is this just bad cooking techniques or is that just part of eating cooked spinach?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Also, one of my Husbands cousins is vegan and I think quinoa is her favorite food ever, she eats it at almost every meal. I've never tried it but it sounds like a good staple. Any favored cooking techniqes for it?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sjahns

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I favor a quick sauté of spinach leaves for maximum spinachyness. But it *can* have a "metallic" flavor at times. Add garlic and bacon, and you won't notice the metallic taste. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Try frying chopped bacon, adding minced garlic towards the end, and then toss in the washed spinach leaves (fill the frying pan, as it'll reduce in size very quickly), tossing *just* until wilted and serve. Literally, it shouldn't cook more than 30-60 seconds.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        What you said :) I think the squeeze of lemon helps also.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        @OP: as I wrote below, just search (here on CH or elsewhere) and you'll find tons of things that will suit you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: sjahns

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If you search "quinoa" you find a bunch of info about it. It's my new favorite "starch" that's also high in protein.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I picked up some cauliflower and quinoa at the store today, excited to try them both out!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I tried the quinoa in a couple different recipes (one a salad, and the onter a pilaf) It was good, but didn't really "wow" me. It also required a bit more prep time than I usually have on the weekdays and the price here in my grocery stores is outrageous(maybe because it hasn't caught on around here yet?). I'm really glad I tried it though, I would be willing to give it another go with a breakfast type recipe if I can find it on sale.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I also fixed the cauliflower saturday night with dinner-it was everything I was hoping it would be, delicious. It's definately going on the "regular" rotation!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. Here is a vegetable dish you can experiment with.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Vegetable Saute

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1 Ounce Butter
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1 1/2 Cups Carrots -- julienned
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1 1/2 Cups Celery -- julienned
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1 Cup Onion -- julienned
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1/2 Cup Green Pepper – julienned
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ¼ cup Chicken Stock

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Melt butter over medium heat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Add vegetables; saute 2 - 3 min.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Add stock.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Saute until tender.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Salt and pepper to taste.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    You could add a little more stock and some flour for a roux and have a sauce. Maybe add a little cream. You could certainly vary the vegetables.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Oh man, I might lose a few spots on my knuckles trying this one out lol. I literally just started using actual an *sharp* chef's knife a little while after I first posted this thread, needless to say I definately need a LOT of practice, this recipe fits the bill :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sjahns

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This video helped me a lot with chopping. I knew the claw technique but not the pinch. It's made me feel much safer when chopping. BTW, julienned sounds too thin for me but we all enjoy different things.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yeah... no need to julienne. 1/4 inch strips would do fine. Might have to saute a tiny bit longer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Speaking of vegetables, I highly recommend the “steam/saute” method. Jacques Pepin has been given a lot of credit for this technique with potatoes but it works with all veggies.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Basically, you put butter or some kind of fat in a saute pan and a liquid of some form (water, ginger ale or stock). You add the vegetables and cover and steam for a time then take the lid off and let the liquid cook off leaving the fat to finish sautéing the vegetables. If you had used ginger ale like Alton brown does with carrots, the carrots get a sugary glaze.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I have 3 links to various recipes using this technique.




                                                                                                                                                                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This sounds delicious! Carrots and potatoes both sound really good, not that I need a new excuse to eat glazed carrots...I'm slightly addicted to them.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Green beans are seriously my FAVORITE veggie. This recipe sounds delicious, green beans with garlic never loses, in my opinion. Hands down. I love them, alot. Husband hates them but that doesn't stop me from making them (also this way: asparagus & lima beans) Is it bad that I actually like the fact he hates them...just because I get to eat more? lol. I just don't get how he can LOVE peas but hate green beans, but alas, I get more.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Now, if this weather doesn't warm up soon so I can get down to the farmers market I'm probably going to have a nervous breakdown.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sjahns

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Finally got "Essentials of Classic Itallian Cooking" in the mail today! Excited! Bolgonese is the first on the list to try.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            In other news, got a pound of Gruyere and Spanish Chorizo (first time using either ingredients!Wasn't planning on using them together or anything lol) in the mail today from igourment.com as part of a Groupon (10$ for 40$ worth of merch.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This should make for an interesting weekend of cooking!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Also, made my first trip to Trader Joe's this week (Ann Arbor is about an hour away, my grandmother-in-law decided to go with) Picked up the frozen haricot verts, frozen mandarin orange chicken (ate it for lunch yesterday with the frozen brown rice, tasted just like take-out) "fresh" garlic herb pizza dough and some wine to cook with.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            CH is taking over my life LOL. All I think about is food and cooking now, which is strange because I'm just a "college kid" who cooked, but it wasn't important before(my husband is getting less "picky" by each meal I fix! Bonus!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I now get rediculously excited to go to stores like TJMaxx to find all sorts of kitchen stuff, I completely disregard all other sections besides the "home and kitchen" section *sigh* at least I'm not buying clothes that somehow find their ways to the back of the cloest or drawers because "it looked so cute at the store" to my husbands pleasure, he hated it when I did that LOL.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Thank you all so much for great ideas and advice, I'm enjoying it very much! It's helped me so much feel more confident in my cooking and learning new skills, it really has made such a difference, thank you all sooooo much! :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sjahns

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm betting that your husband is less picky because a) your cooking is better and b) it's more interesting. Congratulations! It's addictive but pretty harmless :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ETA: Start with Hazan's carbonara. So fantastic and about the easiest thing you could ever cook. I sub bacon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sjahns

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I'm excited by how quickly you've gone from "help!" to being confident and capable in your kitchen! You are a woman of action, to be sure. Bravo, sjahns!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Re CH taking over your life, yes it is like that for many of us! A wonderful addiction/habit. Tons to learn here, everyone is so generous.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Have fun. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sjahns

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Your entire post today made me grin. This obsession is exactly what happens to many of us as confidence in the kitchen becomes second nature. And the better you've gotten at turning out interesting foods, the less picky your DH has become - you're right, that's a bonus!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It's a very, very pleasant bonus :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: sjahns

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Yep, he's getting less picky because he is looking forward to what new thing you are going to come up with this time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I think you are ready to enjoy this book: Cooking Know-How: by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It presents a master recipe and then 8 variations on each recipe. It talks about the origins of the dish, critical moments in preparing the dish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Here is a table of contents for the book and, remember, there are usually 8 -9 variations of each one of these.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Table of contents

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Bean Soup.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Beef Stew.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Boneless Center-Cut Pork Chops with a Pan Sauce.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts with a Pan Sauce.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Braised Bone-in Chicken Breasts or Thighs.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Braised Bone-in Pork Chops.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Brunswick Stew.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Chicken and Rice.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Chicken Soup.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Chilled Fruit Soup.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Creamy Vegetable Soup.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Duck Breasts with a Fruit Sauce.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    East Indian Curry.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Filets Mignons and Other Red Meat Medallions with a Simple Sauce.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Fish Fillets with a Simple Pan Sauce.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Fried Rice.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Jerk Casserole.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Lo Mein.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Macaroni and Cheese.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Mediterranean Fish Stew.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    New England Chowder.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Pad Thai.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Pasta in a Cream Sauce.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Poached Fish Fillets.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Pot Pie.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Pot Roast.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Rack of Lamb.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Roasted Birds 1: Under 4 Pounds Each.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Roasted Birds 2: Large Birds.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Roasted Fish.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Roasted Meat.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Roasted Shrimp.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Scallops or Shrimp with a Pan Sauce.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Shanks and Bones.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Steaks 1: Strips and Sirloins with Herb Butter.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Steaks 2: Rib-Eyes, T-Bones, Veal Chops, and Other Bone-In Steaks.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Steamed Whole Fish.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Steam-Roasted Duck and Goose.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Thai Curry.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Veggie Burgers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    There's lots of pictures too. As a bonus, the book isn't very expensive.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Here is a dish I found on Food Network. I plan to try it. It looks good and is certainly easy.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Chorizo and potatoes They would be great in tortillas with cheese.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Hank-This looks great! I have spanish cured chorizo (dry) that I ordered on a whim with a groupon from igourmet.com. This calls for mexican though, think I could switch it out? Or, since it's already "cured" would this not work? I've never even used chorizo...lol. I have had it in dips and what not in Mexican resturants, but I have no clue what to use it for, it's just sitting in the cupboard. Have you ever used it?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I have a weird habit of buying strange ingredients to try them, my philosophy is you have to try it to see if you like it!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sjahns

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The recipe is for Mexican chorizo and in this case, those taters may well need that extra flavored grease to saute in. The flavor is similar but Mexican chorizo is a lot lot greasier.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    You could try it though. What the worse that could happen?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I actually have a very tough time finding the Spanish or Portuguese version.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: sjahns

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I don't think you can substitute that at all. The Mexican chorizo that is called for is a raw product. The Spanish is a cured (not raw) product. To me, it would be like substituting beef jerky for ground beef. That's an extreme example but I'm drawing a blank on a better comparison. I just eat the Spanish kind but you could google for other things to do with it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Lol I figured as much, thanks for clearing it up everyone! I think I'm just going to eat the spanish chorizo like beef jerky! Take it out of the cupboard and chomp away, try it and see if I like it, I'm sure I will..I have an affinity for cured meats lol. I had no clue-I just bought it-I had to use that groupon, man 10$ for 40$ of food! I'm also sitting on some grueyere cheese-I need to use it! ( tried gougeres and failed lol they didn't have much flavor-kind of just like..well biscuits) I have a cast Iron cookbook with cauliflower gratin that's just begging me to make it (and hey! Cauliflower is cheaper now, only about a dollar per head yay!) Oh & C Oliver-I am not absolutely addicted to the pepper roasted cauliflower recipe you posted on here with the soy sauce! So easy and sooooo good, when my husband is at work, I just make that and eat it for dinner! I love it! I just look for excuses to make it, and hey it's sort of healthy, right? ahahah Thanks again everyone! I'm going to hunt down some mexican chorizo because how can you go wrong with potatoes and anything?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        P.S-Thank all you guys so much for all of these recipes, you've all been very kind and helpful! I seriously LOVE to cook now, and anytime I need a new recipe-I just come on back to this thread and try a new one at least once a week!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sjahns

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I don't remember anything about a pepper roasted cauliflower recipe so maybe it should be attributed to some one else.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: sjahns

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I made this dish for dinner tonight. Well... more or less. I used 8 ounces of chorizo and 8 ounces of ground chuck. I used about 20 ounces of red potatoes. I added some cumin and chili powder. I also added some frozen fajita veggies (onions, green and red bell peppers). Then I made a burrito or taco bar. I had white flour and yellow corn tortillas, quacamole, sour cream, cheese and picante sauce.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It turned out real well. I recommend it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I make something similar to that original recipe you linked above, though with chouriço.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I cut the chouriço into slices and then quarter them, brown them in olive oil, remove the sausage to a plate and then take some onions, red bell peppers and finely diced potatoes and cook them in the rendered spicy fat from the chouriço until everything is tender and nicely browned. I often toss in some kernel corn near the end when I add the chouriço back in. And y'know? A touch a cream at the end doesn't go badly either. :D

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm relieved I can get Gaspar's chouriço here in central NY.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. My simplest and most favorite meal is a chicken tarragon. We like dark meat, but I'm sure you could use breasts. My only recommendation is that you not use skinless - the skin gives it a lot of flavor, and cooks up crisp anyway. In either case, I'd buy just the pieces you use. I see no reason to cook wings and backs that we're not going to use!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Chicken pieces (which and how many are up to you)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      a good white wine (I like Riesling)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      (you can also add some chervil to this, optionally)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      preheat your oven to 350
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      put the chicken pieces skin side up in a baking dish
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      pour the wine over to about 1/3 the depth of the chicken pieces
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      crush the herb(s) in your palm and sprinkle liberally over all the pieces
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      put a pat or curl of butter on each piece, enough so it will "baste" the piece while it cooks
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      (this will end up being more than you expect!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Cover the pan with foil
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Cook the pieces for about 45 minutes
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      take off the foil
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      continue cooking until the skin looks brown and bubbly

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I like to serve this with a wild rice mix (Uncle Ben's!) and green/English peas.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The aroma this gives off while it's cooking is awesome.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: exotec

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thanks, this sounds good-although I've never used tarragon..I think I might have to try it out and see if I like it. I'm growing some, but they aren't ready yet, just sprouted little seedlings-I'll keep this in mind :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sjahns

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Tarragon is a very strong herb and some people don't like it - the French version can have a strong anise-like scent and flavor. So use it very judiciously at first.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. My suggestion is two fold. First, it is an easy dinner to prepare and secondly may get your husband a bit more interested in exploring food. Have some friends over and do a taco bar. Taco bars are fun, interactive and super simple. Place all the ingredients to build your own tacos out and have your friends and husband piece together what they like. Have soft and hard shell options with trimmings like lettuce, tomato, cheese, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, cilantro etc. But, here's the kicker, have three different meat options for the taco. One being ground beef, the second being chicken and the third being fish. I assume from your post that you have chicken and ground beef handled, so for the fish slice the fillet in two inch strips then set up a dredge of flour mixed with salt and pepper and do a light pan fry. set everything out on the table and haven them go at it. Hopefully, with all the familiar ingredients applied to ground beef and chicken tacos, with the added excitement of friends at the table your husband may try a fish taco and may even like it. Also, if you get him involved in the preparation, like helping chop all the toppings he may take more pride and ownership in the meal being cooked for friends, which will create a interest in food. If he helps, he will be more likely to try.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Baked Feta w/ French Bread

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This dish couldn't be any easier. French bread from the grocery and no rules as to what vegetables you choose make this one of my favorites.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1/4 pound fresh feta
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 onion, quartered
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 red pepper, cut into strips
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          a few tomatoes, cored and quartered
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          olive oil
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          fresh herbs
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          salt and pepper

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Preheat the oven to 400. In a shallow baking dish, arrange the vegetables around the feta.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Drizzle with olive oil (sometimes I only use a couple of tablespoons and other times I'll use as much as a quarter of a cup if I'm serving as an appetizer for a crowd.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. Bake for 20 minutes.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          4. Remove and broil until until the top of the feta is nicely browned. Serve with bread and a salad.