Bacon and Eggs
Crockpot pork butt (shoulder roast)
Use a basic recipe, make it over and over until you get it right, and then you can start to play with it. Add different ingredients to your omelets, add ham or bacon to your grilled cheese, different kinds of flour for the pancakes.
Expand your recipes slowly, by adding one new dish at a time. Simple, stick-to-your-ribs stuff.
Tater-tot casserole (which I learned from SI)
Beans and Ham
Stir-Fry beef, chicken, pork
Meat loaf (I use 1 pound each of ground beef and ground pork)
Next to cats, the most common thing on the internet is recipes Google is your cooking friend and partner.
There are a lot of good beginner cookbooks now, if the recipes you find are too intimidating. A lot of them are aimed at college students and young singles, but the goal is the same: Educate the beginner.
Here's my favorite title:
"Help, My Apartment Has A Kitchen!"
Don't know if the book is any good, but I love the title...
I married a French-trained chef. You'd think that would mean I was eating 'fancy' food all of the time, but he was so tired after work that he never cooked at home. I started out as "The Casserole Queen" and slowly branched out. Today, my H considers himself the second best cook in the house. And we're actually putting together a business plan based on my recipes and his knowledge of costing.
Like TrustedHer said, start simple and just keep working at it. This site has lots of easy recipes: http://www.campbellskitchen.com/
Most of all, have fun!
You'll be a chef in no time!
Jarred pesto can be found in the pasta aisle and is awesome if mixed with spaghetti, ravioli or penne and topped with parmesan cheese and chopped fresh tomatoes or even cooked chicken slices. Super easy!
Another great thing is to mix a Near East brand couscous (any flavor) with a frozen seafood filet that come with its own sauce (there are quite a few new on the market these days). Prepare it according to the recipe on the box and top with the fish.
How about a fresh salad (lettuce, tomatoes, cheese cubes) with steak or grilled chicken on top and your favorite dressing?
Hope these inspire you. Good luck and congrats on your efforts!
* Buy Perdue Individually wrapped boneless skinless Chicken breasts (This works well for 2 people; you can also just buy chicken cutlets in the meat section, but you usually have to trim the fat and cartilage yourself; if you buy chicken breasts then you will want to slice them in half to make flat cutlets)
* Get a ziplock bag and put the chicken in the bag with the marinade (recipes to follow) Make sure most of the air is out of the bag when you zip it; I like to also pound the chicken flat at this point (in the bag) (get your heaveiest spacula or spoon and whack it a few times per side); Put in the fridge for 20 minutes or longer, up to overnight
* If cooking on the stove, Heat a skillet on high for a couple of minutes; Turn down to medium high, add oil (or use cooking spray); If cooking on the grill, heat the grill
* Place the chicken in the skillet or grill and cook for about 3 minutes on each side; You can cut the chicken while in the pan to verify that it is not pink; Yout don;t want to overcook because then it is dry, but worse is serving pink chicken!
* Serve with any sides and/or veg of your choice
Mexican: lemon or lime juice (about 2-3 T per chicken breast) olive or vegetable oil (about 1-2 T per chicken breast), salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, paprika, red pepper (if you want it hot)
Lemon Garlic: lemon juice (about 2-3 T per chicken breast) olive or vegetable oil (about 1-2 T per chicken breast), salt, black pepper, garlic powder, lemon pepper (optional)
Moroccan: lemon or white wine vinegar (about 2-3 T per chicken breast) olive or vegetable oil (about 1-2 T per chicken breast), salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cumin, ground coriander, turmeric red pepper (if you want it hot)
Oriental: rice wine vinegar (about 2-3 T per chicken breast) olive or vegetable oil (about 1-2 T per chicken breast), soy sauce (about 2-3 T per chicken breast), garlic powder, onion powder, ginger, sesame oil (optional)
For the spices, start with a few shakes. It is better to under spice than over spice and you can always add salt at the dinner table. Adjust to your tastes (I use garlic in everything but I realize some people are not fans)
And the recipe is adaptable. The basic premise is acid (lemon, lime, vinegar) and oil plus some spices.
Then add a side of veg (frozen, canned, fresh), salad, rice or noodle dish, potato of some kind, pasta with olive oil, fruit, etc. Pick one or two and you are golden.
[This message edited by justasinger at 7:08 AM, April 15th (Tuesday)]
Shopping and knowing how long things take to cook and how long they can stand around after cooking -- these are the harder things to learn.
Can you take a couple hours somewhere in the week to cook ahead? If you can make a big batch of whatever, then freeze portions, that is a big help. So, lentils (they cook in under 30 minutes; you can make soup, or you can drain them and toss them with italian dressing/feta/tomatoes, or mix them with rice for pilaf as a side...), any kind of beans (soup, mix with corn/green onion/bell pepper, veggie burritos...), hummus, big batch of pasta sauce.
[ETA: you may need to add water along the way. If it's too thick, not soupy, especially after you add the pasta or rice, add some liquid]
Easy minestrone -- Can of diced or petite diced tomatoes, can of cannellini or garbanzo beans (rinsed), baby carrots right from the bag, green beans (fresh or frozen, don't need to thaw), smash some garlic cloves, chop an onion, can or two of broth (veggie, chicken, beef -- doesn't matter). You can saute the onion and garlic first, but don't have to. Throw it in a large pot. Crank the heat. Simmer, throw in italian seasoning, salt, pepper. Throw in a handful of tiny pasta or barley or rice or just break up some spaghetti. Simmer some more, then throw in a bag of frozen spinach. You can throw in some cut up chicken, or cooked sausage, or premade meatballs. Or make it meatless. Serve with salad, bread. Freezes great. (lol -- "throw" is my fave cooking action!)
Veggies: I steam or stir fry most of the veggies we eat, unless they are in salad. I buy whatever is in season and is a reasonable price.
Shopping -- I always have two cans of each kind of beans (garbanzo, black, cannellini or navy, pinto, refries), dried beans and lentils, rice, different pasta shapes, canned tomatoes (two of each: whole, diced, petite diced) and tom sauce and tom paste. Couscous is great because it is even easier and faster than pasta. Grits (my H is a southerner). Always have some hillshire farm polish sausage in the freezer, frozen spinach, frozen sweet pepper strips. CAnned soup, of course. Several cans each of chicken, beef, and veggie broth.
Whole wheat tortillas. These are awesome for quick quesadillas, which was my son's favorite breakfast for a long time. Hot skillet, throw in a tortilla, sprinkle on shredded cheese, add some hot sauce if you like, put another tortilla on top of it. When the bottom tortilla starts to puff and the cheese starts melting, flip it over, brown, done. Five minutes. If you add something like cooked chicken (warm it in the micro first) or even crabmeat, that's lunch or dinner.
I love the Zatarain's mixes. (Buy the low sodium versions) Great when you are waaaaaay too tired to cook.
Eggs, yogurt, cheese (buy pre-shredded, you're busy and there is no shame in it!).
I'm a very good cook NOW, and I do canning, pickles, all that sort of stuff now -- but a lot of my cooking is the easy stuff.
Oh yeah, and Jamie Oliver is the bomb!
[This message edited by StrongerOne at 7:42 AM, April 15th (Tuesday)]
What I'd really love to see is a website where I could input what ingredients I have on hand, and it will spit out options for easy meals
Try different cooking websites--I think Cooking Light magazine's site has a function like this. Southern Living has great recipes; Cooking Channel, etc. Get googling!
I make sure that I always have certain staples in the pantry: pasta, spaghetti sauce, tomatoes, salsa, canned fruit, etc. I stock up on those when there is a sale.
Since your kids love ranch, you can serve raw veggies (carrot sticks, broccoli trees, cucumber slices,...) with ranch for most dinners. Add on a quick fruit like apple sauce, pineapple tidbits, or mandarin oranges. Make sure you always have those. Then you just have to plan for a protein and a starch.
Start your list with things the kids like to eat and are easy to cook:
Spaghetti and meatballs/meat sauce
Soup and sandwich
Then expand the list as your cooking skill improve and your DDs taste mature and change.
Some of the most awesome meals are the easiest to make too. Turkey Breast, Salt and Pepper that sucker, throw it in the oven for the amount of time it says voila Dinner and left overs. Stove top stuffing, super easy. Steam some veggies and done.
I was never a fan of the premix meals, like hamburger helper, or tuna helper etc. I think you get more bang for your buck by making some noodles, and pouring a jar of sauce over it, and cooking your meat.
Don't be afraid to try new things, and keep a few frozen pizzas in the freezer just in case it's inedible.
200 or so recipes for the taking, but they usually don't stay on the freebie list for more than a day or so.
WH#2 (SorryinSac)- Killed himself in our home 6 days after being served divorce docs.
XWH #1 - legally married 18yrs. 12+ OW (that I know of).
I edit often for clarity/typos.