Recipes for a cooking-phobe? :)

Old 01-21-2011, 03:00 AM
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Originally Posted by mchedester View Post
Ok, I have to ask. Did you really need help or is this just an excuse to tell a bunch of people about your boy friend?
LOL!

taubele
I think it's great! Does he do the food shopping too??? I need one of those!
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Old 01-21-2011, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by vabeachgirlNYC View Post
LOL!

taubele
I think it's great! Does he do the food shopping too??? I need one of those!
haha!

He cooks, he cleans, he makes julienne fries

No, really, he's absolutely lovely...and he really does cook and clean (except the bathroom)! And yes, he goes grocery shopping too. They should clone him.

canary -- Thank you, that makes perfect sense! I'll learn. What usually ends up happening when I make a "serves four" recipe is that I'll eat a quarter of it, the boyfriend will eat 1/2, and I'll eat the other 1/4 for lunch or dinner the following day. I appreciate you laying it out for me. I'm trying to get in the habit of logging every part of the recipes I make, because I want to get really good at estimating calories.

As for soups -- I tried a soup last weekend (turkey meatballs, rice and spinach) and it turned out alright - I definitely cooked the meat correctly (yay!) but the broth was bland-ish. Next time I will try to put more things into it (it had garlic, salt, and pepper. I've had a few friends suggest thyme so I may add that next time). Also, it kept wonderfully and I had it three days in a row (getting better each day, I think the flavors in the meat went out into the broth). I live in northern Florida right now but I'm a northeastern-er at heart, and I used to love soups and stews in the winter. Even though it's not cold here, I still get a hankering for them.

RunBikeSki -- Yum!!! Roasted chicken! You know I never had it growing up, my parents' idea of chicken was to throw it in the oven (unmarinated and unseasoned) and wait until it was too-dry and call it dinner. I bet I could actually do that. And feel so chef-ly with the big bird coming out of the oven! Knowing me, I'd probably try all four methods of "done-ness" just to try to get a hang of which one seems easiest for me. And the leftovers would be great for quick-dinners calling for cooked chicken. Thanks very much! All of these are going in my little notebook.
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Old 01-21-2011, 04:01 PM
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Default Roast chicken

You know, trying all 4 methods is a really good idea. I am sure you will, indeed, find 1 will work better for you than the others. That is certainly the case for me.

One addition that a lot of recipes call for is to add root veggies to the roasting pan. It isn't all that low cal because they soak up the fat from the cooking chicken, but it is delish!!!

Peel 3 or 4 average sized carrots and cut into chunks about 2 to 3inches long
Scrub, (but you don't need to peel) 3 or 4 red potatoes and cut into quarters
Peel 1 or 2 regular onions and quarter.

The exact quanties are not all that important - whatever suits your taste or mood.

Toss them in the roasting pan when you start.
When the chicken is done, they will be too. Scoop them out with spoon and put them in a serving bowl and off you go. Add a salad and you have a complete meal.
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Old 01-21-2011, 04:31 PM
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OK your problem with your soup might have been that you didn't have enough meat flavoring it. A quick solution is to start your soup with stock or broth. And yes herbs, thyme, dill, parsley, rosemary help. As does adding more veggies.

Runbikeski, your roast chicken recipe sounds great.

Here's mine: I use a raw kosher chicken; kosher chicken is very yummy IMHO. I boil water and pour it over and inside the chicken to clean it out. Then I take vegetable oil, one chopped up onion, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper (dried parsely optional) and coat the outside of the bird. What is yummy (and more caloric) as RBS said, is to use root vegetables. I use white potatoes and sweet potatoes (DH's idea) and coat them in the same spice/oil mixture I coat the chicken with. Put the chicken in first; let it cook for a good half hour-40 minutes before adding potatoes or veg or they will shrivel up.
The vegetables or potatoes caramelize and it's wonderful. Just measure out a portion of potatoes or, I warn, you might go hog wild!

Happy cooking!
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Old 01-21-2011, 05:16 PM
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Canary, yummy! I agree that kosher chickens are wonderful and I really like your idea of using boiling water instead of cold. It is just that one needs to be pretty careful not to scald yourself which can be tricky for a neophyte (or an oldiphyte like DH who is a great cook, but seem to have trouble identifying hot water ). We have an organic/free range chicken vendor at our local farmers market. His chickens are the best I've had in many years.

I also love the idea of using sweet potatoes. I have snuck in turnips, rutabegas, and parsnips from time to time too. DH thinks he doesn't like them, but since he can't tell the difference from a potato after roasting in chicken juices he just gobbles them up .
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Old 01-21-2011, 07:28 PM
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Originally Posted by mchedester View Post
Ok, I have to ask. Did you really need help or is this just an excuse to tell a bunch of people about your boy friend?
Never mind this guy, maybe there isn't a lady in his life that brags about him?

I found a couple of really good cookbooks the other day at the grocery store and thought of you. Ever hear of the "Hungry Girl"? Well she's put out a series of cookbooks, I even bought one for myself which is unusual. The recipes look simple, healthy, low-cal and TASTY!!!

Last edited by almeeker; 01-21-2011 at 07:36 PM.
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Old 01-21-2011, 09:38 PM
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Default Check out some of the cooking web sites

Check out web sites with recipes:

CookingLight.com - Making healthy taste great
Epicurious.com: Recipes, Menus, Cooking Articles & Food Guides
Food Network - Easy Recipes, Healthy Eating Ideas and Chef Recipe Videos
Whole Foods Market: Natural and Organic Grocery

Find recipes that interest you and then check out the reviews and comments. The reviews often give good substitution ideas that you can try and get a feel for.

I'd say start with a recipe you like and experiment with things. You'll hit or miss, but you will figure out what goes together.

The cookbook "How to cook anything" by Mark Bittman has basic recipes followed by all sorts of variations.
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Old 01-22-2011, 04:56 AM
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My kids are about your age, give or take a couple of years on either side. I rarely let them in the kitchen for different reasons, but mostly just because I didn't really wat to clean up the mess.

My oldest daughter needs step by step recipes and ingredients, in triplicate so she can compare.
My second daughter burns everything, just because she forgets it was cooking. But, if someone times things for her, she can make gluten free, dairy free, egg free, soy free, tomato free dishes that are delicious. Now that is creative cooking, but her daughter has allergies.
My oldest son amazingly made lasagna for the family when I was away and he was out of work.
My youngest son is a great cook, but he gets a little too creative for the digestive system of his parents.
My youngest daughter needs good recipes to cook.

What I am trying to say is, even if you are kept out of the kitchen, it is still possible to learn.

Now some tricks. I do this because I am busy some nights and need to have meals cooked quickly. I will buy a large roast and on the first night I will work out the time it takes to roast it in the oven. One hour before it is done, I will put quartered potatoes, whole carrots and a quartered onion in.
So now you have an easy meal for the first night. Put the leftover meat in a container, with the juices from the meat. Refrigerate.
Next night, or wait two nights, slice off enough meat to serve both of you. This time you could have rice and vegetables. I got this wonderful microwave rice cooker from tupperware. Rice was always my worst dish before, but now it is cooked perfectly every time.
If you think you can handle making a gravy, great, if not just heat up a little of the juice. BTW, the fat will all be on top and solid, so you can remove it.

With what is left, you can slice it for sandwiches, or again if you are feeling bold, make a simple soup. What you do is cook the vegetables all in the same pot, adding the vegetables in the order of how long they take to cook. No need to drain the juices, then add cubed leftover meat and any juices.
My rule of thumb with vegetables is that the root veggies go first and the last in are the one that can be eaten raw, like celery. For spices, my grandma taught me to use pickle juice, salt and pepper. I don't like salt, so quite often I just use pepper. I don't always have pickles around either, but I always have veggie bullion cubes.

Another thing I will do is make meatballs ahead and put them in the freezer. Then I have precooked meat and only have to concentrate on what they go in. Savory gravy, sweet and sour, tomato sauce.

I don't usually do chicken ahead, but turkey, yes. I always get a bigger one than we need and roast it without stuffing. Then I sort it into containers, light meat, dark meat, soup stuff. All the bones go back in the pot for the soup stock. Now we have meals that only need the veggies and starch prepared for a week.

Now, I should go and sort a few things out of my freezer and use them.
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Old 01-22-2011, 03:59 PM
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These are all such wonderful ideas!

canary -- that soup recipe was one I got offline. It called for six whole cups of broth (I found the lowest-sodium one I could) and then a pound of ground turkey made into meatballs along with the other ingredients. I remembered thinking "geez this is a lot of broth" but -- it was my first soup ever, so I had nothing to go on. I really would love to try making my own stock from bones etc. but have never been shown how.

Do you just take the bones (with some meat?) and juices and simmer them? How is that done? How do you figure out the cals/content of that?

For the roasted chicken -- you guys are making my mouth water. Seriously, you just toss the veggies in the pan? How easy is that! I actually have a roasting pan now too (shoved in a box somewhere) after my attempt at thanksgiving this year. Boyfriend insists he doesn't like sweet potatoes, perhaps I could change his mind -- I think the first time though, I'd go with red potatoes and carrots, as I KNOW he will eat those, and then the next time I make them switch it up and see if he notices (thanks for deviousness, RBS!) Also -- boiling water, eek! Maybe after I try it a couple of times -- I'm such a klutz!

almeeker -- I haven't heard of the Hungry Girl, but I like the name already! I'm like bowled over you thought of me at all at the grocery store, thank you! Simple, low-cal, tasty....my kind of cookbook. I'll see if I can't find them when I go get groceries on Sunday

rmdaly -- whoa websites! Thanks!! The videos are awesome! That's totally what I need. My kitchen skills are something like -- turning around a lot going "crap where did I put that?" and apparently my chopping makes boyfriend fear for the life of my fingers.

rainbow -- Haha, I'm totally not blaming my parents too much for my lack of skills. I was a really clumsy kid, and I understand why they wanted me out of the kitchen -- what bothered me more that was when I tried to start cooking, they weren't very encouraging. Ah well. I think I'm a mix of your oldest and youngest daughter. I tend to be a slave to recipes and it's hard for me to just "let go" and "improvise" and "trust my eyes" etc. Also, see, roasting a chicken one day and leftovers? Sounds like my idea of a plan. Saves money and time and still lets me do different things. I've always wanted to do that - I've a pair of friends that almost always has a little get-together on Sunday with massive amounts of food, and I'm sure they live on leftovers afterwards for a whole week. Lots of cooking one day, but days off afterwards? I can do that.

Also, meatballs! For some reason, I seem to be awesome at meatballs. And eggs. Meatballs and eggs I don't mess up. Why? I don't know. It's the veggies and stuff I tend to do much worse at. Thank you SO MUCH for telling me veggie order. When I've asked my friends, they were like "oh just do them in the order they cook!" and I ask "what order?" and they're like "uhhhh the thick ones first!" My response was: My huge problem is veggies. I figured that potatoes etc. should go first, but I have no idea about things like...peppers, onions, etc. The ones in the middle. There should be a list! "Common vegetables and the time it takes to cook them!" (...There probably is a list and I just have been too lazy to look...) I tend towards overcooking. I know that spinach etc. often goes last as it only takes a minute to wilt. Other than that, I get stuck. I guess I could experiment and time it, but I don't want to waste nice veggies. I've been buying the steam-in-a-bag ones for now and letting the microwave do the work more often than not, but it's not very satisfying in an accomplishment type of way.
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Old 01-22-2011, 06:59 PM
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Originally Posted by taubele View Post
almeeker -- I haven't heard of the Hungry Girl, but I like the name already! I'm like bowled over you thought of me at all at the grocery store, thank you! Simple, low-cal, tasty....my kind of cookbook. I'll see if I can't find them when I go get groceries on Sunday
Hungry Girl has a website, and I bet she's on Amazon too, there were 3 different cook books in the display and the back of the one I bought advertises others. My grocery store is sort of wacky, so I don't know that it's in grocery stores nationwide or anything.

I first heard of Hungry Girl years ago, she had a website that listed snacks that were 200 calories or less with some nutritional content. All my skinny girlfriends were loyal followers. Then I noticed maybe 2 years ago, certain snacky foods were advertised as "Hungry Girl Approved" or some such, she's been around a while. I bought the cookbook, for recipes of course, but more so for help in substituting fattening ingredients for healthier options. Most of the time I can come up with something better, but she had some really creative takes on a couple of recipes I haven't even considered, just because they are soooooo fattening in their original form.
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