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Cooking for the Culinarily Challenged

It has come to my attention that pb&j, eggs, and cereal are not real meals. No, I don't eat them all together, you weirdo. I don't do a lot of cooking but I'm interested in beefing up my skills (lolpunz). Up until a year or so ago I'd never even cooked chicken by myself. Now I can make a pretty tasty chicken in red wine, and my go-to eggplant parm which is the only thing I've been making for years. What are meals/dishes that you think everyone should know how to make? What else should I learn?

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Chipmnk

Any kind of pasta. It's pretty simple to cook and fast and you can mix it up with any number of homemade sauces.

jet approves

I am interested in learning how to make my own pasta sauce. It would be especially cool if I could make it with tomatoes from my own garden but they're not really growing at a reliable pace.

mike bautista
mike bautista profile pic Alumni

yeah pasta. also knowing how to grill things or use an oven opens up a bunch of possibilities. I don't eat fish, but my sis does this thing where she just sticks fish, veggies, herb things and oil and wrap it in foil and bake it and she has a meal right there.

jet approves

That sounds like an easy but good meal. I like some fish. The less fishy the better.

EZFL
EZFL profile pic Alumni

red pasta sauce is super easy. alfredo sauce

fried chicken using boneless/skinless breasts this can be used for so many different dishes.

potato salad meatloaf meatballs mac n cheese roasting a whole chicken/turkey

jet approves

Ohh I made some really delicious garlic cheddar mac & cheese a while back. Nom. Definitely want to try roasting a whole chicken. Good suggestions, thanks!

I'm making this right now.

canceromega

If you want to make the easiest meals ever, just get yourself a crockpot and maybe a crockpot cookbook. The hardest thing about making crockpot meals is that you have to let them sit for hours and they make your house smell so delicious that you wanna take that stuff out and eat it right away.

Following recipes is not very difficult at all, and once you find out what ingredients an flavors you like, you can start making your own foods.

I learned how to cook mostly from following blogs. I like Tastespotting because it's just a huge conglomerate of nice looking foods. I also like Joy the Baker. Her foods are sometimes complicated, but not always. The great thing about her is that she tends to make things you don't need those fancy kitchen appliances for.

EZFL
EZFL profile pic Alumni

quiche / omelet

jet approves

Thanks, Anna! I'll check out those blogs. Was definitely considering getting a crockpot. Would be so easy to just have it going while I'm at work. I really want to make things that freeze well so I can easily take lunch into work.

jet approves

Tonight's meal: Coconut Curry Tofu

Results:

Pretty good. Could be a little more flavorful. Added extra curry powder and sriracha.

d3d
d3d profile pic Alumni

chicken in red wine? the rules say chicken belongs to white wine.

extra salt fixes everything.

jet approves

Let's try that again.

Steve The Great

cooking is easy.

Saute pan, heat Olive oil, add onions, wait, add garlic, add whatever else you're cooking.

jet approves

Damn the rules! We had a bottle of red wine that had been sitting out for over a week and needed to be used up.

jet approves

Come to Portland and I'll let you cook for me, Steve.

Goldendust

I need this blog. My signature dish is nachos :P

jet approves

I'm sure you could make fancy nachos and then people would think you're a cooking genius.

Steve The Great

I'll cook up something special for you, baby

PogoLightning

i can make a good lean cuisine meal.

d3d
d3d profile pic Alumni

no you can't. nobody can.

celandinestern
celandinestern profile pic Alumni

One thing I love making and is dead easy is mussels. It's not something you'd eat every day, but it's great as a fancy dish to impress people, and it's sooooo simple. Take big pot, pour some olive or grapeseed oil in (just a bit), toss some finely chopped garlic over it, a bit of parsley, and half a glass of white wine. then toss the mussels over that. Put a lid on them for just a few minutes and they start to open up, when they're all open they're done (it literally takes about 5 minutes). You need a lot to feed grown people though, so when making multiple batches make each one up from scratch, otherwise each batch of mussels releases their own seawater and it becomes too salty. So toss the excess liquid after a batch is done.

celandinestern
celandinestern profile pic Alumni

for daily meals pastas are awesome, you can take a random bunch of ingredients and add either cream or tomato sauce to them and presto pasta sauce.

also I often do vegetable stir fries, just take a random bunch of veggies, throw some oil in the wok, some onion on top of that, add the veggies toughest-ones-first. Season with whatever you have - a bit of curry, garam masala, a bit of basil... anything really. They're ok with just salt too. For extra yumminess add bacon bits.

d3d
d3d profile pic Alumni

lately i've been doing a lot of chunky lightly panfried vegetables with a bit of salt and olive oil. it's really good.

celandinestern
celandinestern profile pic Alumni

what leon said. The great thing is it's easy to make and it's a hundred dishes in one, depending on what veg you have. I've been adding baked sweet potato chunks in those mixes, works great.

taz-pie

i eat chocolate :/

Chipmnk

As long as you have a good pan and some olive oil, you should be able to saute pretty much anything.

You can invest in a nice rice cooker if you're so inclined. Rice is easy to make, easy to store, and pretty much goes with anything. My go-to dish for a while was fried rice with some veggies and chicken.

Omair

Do you like stew? Making stew is like the easiest/tastiest thing. You can pretty much use any cut of beef, and if you cook it long enough it becomes super soft and juicy and omg so good. I usually get some mccormick beef stew starter stuff, but you don't really need that unless you're trying to short cut it.

All you need is a slow cooker, some meat (cut it up into cubes), carrots, celery, onions, garlic, and some beef broth. just throw that shit in the slow cooker and let it cook for a few hours, the longer you cook it the better it tastes. There's some variations I use, just add whatever seasonings you like (I like rosemary a lot, so I'm so down for using that), but really all you need is some pepper and salt.

Also, also, MASHED POTATOES is my other go to dish. They're super easy to make, and they fill you right up. All you need is to clean, and then boil some potatos until they're at the point where you can break them easily with the back of your fork. Strain that ish, and then throw a stick or two of butter in the pot that you just emptied, let it melt down a bit and throw the potats back in. (Note: you should probably have a potato smasher.) smash that shit up with some salt to taste, and milk or sour cream. add cheddar if you nastay (thanks Annacoffee!) and just mash until you feel too good. Umnumnum.

Omair

Also, grilled cheese! Everyone should know how to make a killer grilled cheese. There's the traditional way, with just cheese on the inside, but I like to actually sear cheddar on the outside of my sangwich, oh my shit, it's so good. It's like eating bread coated with that slightly burnt cheese you get on the edges of pizza sometimes or whatever. Sogodamngood.

tragos

whoa whoa whoa

cheese OUTSIDE of the grilled cheese?

that's thinking outside of the sammich.

celandinestern
celandinestern profile pic Alumni

this blawg make me so hungry. I want stew now. with cheese.

tracerbullet
tracerbullet profile pic Alumni

just experiment, man. for instance, the other week deeann and i didn't know what to do for dinner. i had some tuna steaks in the freezer, but wasn't sure what to do with them. i looked in the pantry, saw i had some rice krispies and some honey, and thought, "hmm...that might be a good coating." so i gave it a shot, and bam!

Honey-Krisp Tuna

tracerbullet
tracerbullet profile pic Alumni

Do you know how to caramelize an onion? Because caramelized onions go great with pretty much everything. It's very simple to do, but it requires a bit of time and patience. Trying to rush the process will only lead to burnt onions, and burnt onions are no one's friend. This is my preferred method of caramelizing onions.

It can lead to this:

Which in turn can lead to this:

Ste7en
Ste7en profile pic Alumni
1 design submitted -

I can cook a lot of dishes, my mom is an amazing cook, and my grandmother is a published author of several cookbooks, but I am way too lazy and always so hungry I cant wait...so i just run to the store and get stuff already made for me

Chicken Picatta is a favorite go-to dish when im feeling semi ambitious

mullmuggins

Prawn linguine with chilli and cherry tomatoes (sort of via Jamie Oliver, but minus 90% of the olive oil) is A+ easy and tasty.

Cook the prawns in a little oil with a chopped chilli or two (depending how spicy you like things), some chopped basil stalks and some garlic. Cook the pasta as per packet instructions. Add chopped tomatoes (~500g) to prawns and smoosh them a bit. Stir in pasta once it is done, sprinkle with some chopped basil leaves. Eat.

jet approves

Man, all of you are giving me some awesome ideas.

Definitely going to try stews and soups in the fall/winter. Cheese outside the grilled cheese sounds awesome as the cheese does taste extra good when in direct contact with the pan IMO. Also a huge fan of rosemary, possibly my favorite herb/spice. Possibly.

Brian, I think experimental cooking is best when you've got some skill and knowledge of what goes well together, not sure I have that yet. I think I tried to caramelize onions before but they didn't quite turn out like yours (which look delicious). Will have to try again because I love caramelized onions.

Steven, I know what you mean. My mom is a great cook and even used to own a catering company and cooked in a restaurant. She was always there to make great stuff and I figured why try when she can make something way better. Wish I had learned while I was home instead.

Abi, When you say chopped chilli do you mean like a chili pepper or a bell pepper?

tracerbullet
tracerbullet profile pic Alumni

You should just watch Chopped on Food Network. They make good stuff out of weird stuff.

Omair

tragos on Sep 04 '12 at 1:03pm whoa whoa whoa

cheese OUTSIDE of the grilled cheese?

that's thinking outside of the sammich.

it's the best goddang thing I've ever learned how to do. It's pretty simple ya'll begin preparing a grilled cheese sandwich as you normally would.

For me it's like throw some butter in the pan, then put two pieces of bread in there, let them toast, flip one over and put the desired cheese on that. Flip the other one over and put the toasted side on the inside. Then flip the entire sandwich over, and throw soem cheese on top. After a couple seconds, flip it over and let that cheese sear. then sear some cheese on the other side.

It takes a few tries to get it right, but once you get that crispy crispy, it's so good. I've only tried this with Cheddar.

mullmuggins

Hot chillies - chilli peppers.

The Flavo(u)r Thesaurus is a great book for understanding how to combine ingredients rather than following a recipe.

mullmuggins

Also, easiest meal of all time that I love for a quick supper: slices of halloumi cooked on a griddle pan with salad and roasted vegetables.

d3d
d3d profile pic Alumni

i just made a creamy chicken, sundried tomato, basil, and zucchini risotto that isn't awful.

tracerbullet
tracerbullet profile pic Alumni

I've never attempted risotto. It's on my list of things to try.

tragos

yeaaah halloumi is great

Tonteau
Tonteau profile pic Alumni

My current favourite thing is Ox Tongue. Really lovely. Great cold with some good veg and a nice chutney. Excellent on sandwiches.

Tonteau
Tonteau profile pic Alumni

I also make an excellent baked mutton curry.

Morkki
Morkki profile pic Alumni

I made risotto once, it was delicious. Turns out it isn't actually hard to do, just time consuming.

SJ27

I always make my own pasta sauce because I hate onions and storebought pasta sauce always has big chunks of onions in it. It's really easy. You just cook off some canned tomatoes with tomato paste and season it as you wish. You could use your own tomatoes but you need to peel them and that's fiddly.

Also schnitzel is really easy to make.

Omair

I made risotto once. It looked like mealworms. But damn, it was tastay.

tracerbullet
tracerbullet profile pic Alumni

you probably accidentally made mealworms

marblecargirl

I love making flautas, and it can be super simple! This is my method:

  1. Slow cook chicken breasts in salsa and enchilada sauce
  2. Shred chicken and cook down in some of the liquid it was slow-cooked in, add whatever seasonings you deem appropriate. I usually throw in a bit of cumin, coriander, paprika, and salt. Add cayenne if you like spicehhhh.
  3. I like to wilt some spinach or kale in the cooking liquid as well, but you can skip the greens if you're not into it
  4. Roll up shredded chicken, greens and a little bit of shredded cheese in flour tortillas.
  5. Bake or fry. Or freeze for a later date, which is what I usually do because I make a bajillion at a time for later meals.

Also Whit's Amuse Bouche is one of my favorite cooking blogs.

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