Sunday, January 20, 2008

What's cooking?

I've never had much of a desire to learn to cook. I wish that it was something that I loved but, I've tried too many recipes that I've put a lot of effort into only to end in disaster and frustration so I mostly gave up. Unfortunately, Larry doesn't love to cook either. He says that if a recipe has more than three ingredients, it too complicated for him. So as you can imagine we eat out or we eat simple meals A LOT! We were both busy with other things so we were both fine with that, but now that I'm staying at home and Creed is eager to nibble anything that goes on our plates I really need to step things up around here. Our doctor says this is the perfect time to evaluate our eating habits to make sure that we are having balanced meals for Creed's sake and I have really taken that to heart.

I have most of the basics of cooking down (or at least I can call Cat with all of my stupid questions and she's always happy to explain them), but I'm really in need of EASY delicious recipes. And since I hope that you will share some recipes with me, I'm going to share a few with you!

Meal planning has never been our strength, but I'm greatly improving and this week I bought my first cook book!!!!! We have a few that were wedding gifts (and are mostly way over my head so every time I attempt a recipe I have to buy a million ingredients) and a few ward cookbooks put together at church (but how many recipes do I really need for tuna casserole? Gross!). Friday I was browsing Michaels and I had a JoAnn's ad sticking out of my bag, and an employee told me that I can use the JoAnn's coupons at Michaels. I never knew that! And you can use them on the Martha Stewart line there, including her books and magazines! So the new Everyday Food cookbook, Great Food Fast, caught my eye, and I decided to buy it because it sounds like just what I need (granted, I could probably get most of the recipes for free from their website or check this book out from the library, but hello? It was 50% off with my coupon!)

I haven't tested any of the recipes yet, but I was feeling encouraged because I tried an Everyday Food recipe for Soy-Glazed Salmon on Thursday and it was simple and so good. You can get the full recipe here, but all you do is mix together 1 Tbsp of soy sauce, 1 Tbsp of honey, and 1/4 tsp of ground ginger (or 1 tsp fresh ginger). Brush it over your salmon (I used fillets instead of salmon steaks) and cook it under your broiler for 5 or 6 minutes. Even Creed liked it! Next time I may make a little extra sauce to brush on just before it's done cooking too. I made these Sesame Green Beans to go along with it and the whole meal was done in less than ten minutes.

Another really simple meal that we had this week was from an idea I got from my friend Amy Hall. She makes awesome black bean tacos. I don't usually have a lot of meat on hand, but we almost always have canned black beans. For these tacos you just rinse a can of black beans and heat them in a pot on the stove with about half a packet of taco seasoning (or whatever amount you prefer) and a teeny bit of water to help it dissolve and mix in. The we just heat flour tortillas in a skillet on the stove and add whatever taco toppings that we have on hand like cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, sour cream, avocado, corn, etc.

And as long as I'm sharing, I tried another new recipe this week, that actually turned out well. This one takes a little more effort, but it made enough for a few meals and I was able to freeze some so it was well worth the effort. As I mentioned, Cat gave me some of her recipes for Christmas, including this one for meatballs, which she said I could share with all of you. I'm not a big meatball recipe, but these are not made with red meat and they are so good!

Meatballs (You can also use this recipe to make meatloaf)

1 lb. spicy pork sausage
1 lb. ground turkey
1/2 large onion chopped
olive oil
1 - 2 cloves of garlic minced (optional)
3/4 cup (more or less) oatmeal uncooked
2 eggs (they make everything stick together)
1 - 2 Tbsp basil
Generous teaspoon seasoned salt

Dump the ground turkey & sausage in a large bowl. Splash some olive oil in a small skillet and cook the onion over medium heat, stirring while it cooks (sweating the onions). They're done when they're clear. Add the garlic when they are about halfway done. This pre-cooking softens the onion taste in your meatballs.

Now you mix everything up. Form meatballs.

You can bake them @ 350 degrees for about 20 minutes until done. Cut one in half - they're done when they're no longer pink in the center.

Simmer them in spaghetti sauce for a nice long time to make them really tender. All day in the crockpot is excellent - and you come home to a wonderful warm smell.

So do you have any recipes that you would like to share? I don't have the best of luck with recipes I come across on my own. I'd rather have recommends from friends that are tried and true (and that way I can call you for help if I become lost!)


lisa (lost pezhead) said...

here are some I like that I think are pretty easy mostly done on the stovetop, but some you have to boil noodles in one pan, cook chicken in another so they're not all one pot recipes....

this looks long & hard, but it's not...just a lot of slicing veggies

Simplest Ever

lisa (lost pezhead) said...

sorry i don't know how to make them links in the comments...these got cut off

lisa (lost pezhead) said...

that is supposeed to be ratatouille i can't get it right- last comment i swear! you can just search it on my recipe blog if you want!

ellen said...

Festive Black Bean Chili

2 cups chopped onions
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/2 cup water
1 T ground cumin
1 T ground coriander
1 cup prepared Mexican-style red salsa
2 red and/or green bell peppers, chopped
3 cups black beans (two 15-ounce cans, drained and rinsed)
3 cups canned whole tomatoes, with juice (28-ounce can)
2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (11-ounce package)
salt to taste
Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce to taste
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, or to taste (optional)

In a covered soup pot, cook the onions and garlic in the water on high heat, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. Add the cumin and coriander and stir on high heat for a minute. Stir in the salsa and bell peppers, lower the heat, cover, and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the black beans and tomatoes; simmer for 10 minutes. Add the corn and continue to cook for 10 minutes. Add salt and Tabasco to taste. Stir in the cilantro, if desired.

Serves 4 to 6
Total time: 35 minutes

Charity said...


I don't know you...and don't know exactly how I stumbled upon your blog, I think you are a link on someone I know...maybe someone from BYU....however, I absolutely LOVE all your ideas...especially your chenille blanket, which I bookmarked...I have SEVERAL quick cooking magazines that I would like to send you to help with your cooking situation....please e-mail me and I will be happy to send them to you...


Charity said...

Ok...after I posted I got a little concerned that you would think I was some kind of psycho wanting your address and such so I could send you some great cooking I searched and finally figured out where I stumbled across your blog's Britian, that's the link we have in anyway....good luck with your cooking situation.


Britain said...

I don't know, Steph, this Charity person sounds like some kind of stalker to me ;)

Beazer said...

We get the Everyday Food Magazine monthly and were excited to find the new cookbook at the library. Haven't tried any recipes yet but I've got a ton bookmarked. Let me know which ones you have success with.

I love getting cooking magazines because they focus on what's in season and give you new ideas for the month.

I'm also starting a cooking journal for this year. We are always trying new recipes but then forget where we found them or what we liked/disliked. This way I can makes notes about what we try and when I'm in need of an idea I can look back through the year to see what worked well.

Good luck!

Scott said...

Larry you have to try the weenies lolita. What a classic

Jen said...

Steph - I'm not much of a cook myself, though I am improving. I have the Rachel Ray 365 cookbook. The recipes are things that I will actually WANT to eat and they are her signature 30-minute meals, so they are pretty simple!

Good luck!

jaY said...

well i hope you take up seriously take up cooking soon! Once you get rolling with it, you just cant stop!!! And if worse comes to worse, you can always go back to the default recepie of SPAM MUSUBI's:

1. cut spam into 10 even slices.
2. Marinate in 1/3 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup soy sauce and dash of water if desired(add soy or brown sugar to taste)
3. get spam maker (i have a couple extra ones if you need one)
4. Put rice and compact then sprinkle marinate sauce and furukake
5. Put spam, and wrap inside Nori. said...

Stephanie, I've been a fan of your blog for a few months, but I don't think I've ever commented yet... so here goes! I love to read your blog, because it's so much fun! I have three little people running around my house, and I feel like you've totally got a great handle on things at your house. Whatever you're not a great photographer! I think you do awesome -- and it probably helps a ton that you have such a cute subject! I wish I was that photogenic... I'm always blinking, which makes me look like I've been drinking (which I DON'T), which was really bad on my wedding day... oops.

Anyway, I have an awesome easy recipe that I sort of made my own, so here goes. It's the easiest lasagna you can make!

You will need:
- an 8x8 pan
- 6 lasagna noodles (just regular, cheap old lasagna noodles -- you don't need anything special or oven-ready)
- 1/2 of a 26-oz. can of spaghetti sauce (I really like Hunt's, and they have a ton of different kinds, and you can freeze the other half of the can for spaghetti or lasagna for another night -- plus, we usually add 1/2 pound of browned hamburger to make it a little more homemade-tasting)
- whatever cheese you like (we like mostly mozzarella with a littel bit of colby jack), shredded
- 3/4 c. water

Take the lasagna noodles and break them at the 2/3 point (so you have two sections for each noodle - one long one, and one short one). Place 3 long sections into an 8x8 pan. Spoon enough spaghetti sauce to cover the noodles. Sprinkle on as much cheese as you like. Next, put the 6 short sections on top of the cheese. Spoon the spaghetti sauce & sprinkle the cheese. Put the last layer of 3 long noodles on top, and then slowly pour the water over the top (this helps you make the last layer nice & even, but gets the water in there, too). Spoon the last bit of spaghetti sauce & top it off with the prettiest assortment of cheese (this is where our colby jack comes in). Cover tightly with foil and bake for one hour at 350 degrees.

That's it! If you go to the store that day, you can pick up some garlic bread, and we usually like to have a salad (we try to imitate Olive Garden and have a green salad with Caesar dressing and olives) or some corn on the cob, if it's in season. It takes about 5 minutes to assemble, it's fast, and delicious. Plus, if you're getting a sitter, it's really great for them, too, because they're sick of macaroni & cheese.

Okay, sorry for the forever-long post. I hope it helps, though. Have a great day!

Larry said...

I'm getting hungry just thinking about those meatballs...

Megan C said...

Stephanie - You should check out the Kraft Magazine. It is a monthly magazine full of easy recipes with normal everyday items that you may already have in your cupboard. The best part is that it is free. You just need to sign up on their website.

Dehner Family said...

I have a few crockpot recipes... I love using the crockpot - I just put the ingredients in while Myles is napping and dinner is done. There isn't a lot of ingredients either...
Stop by sometime and I'll give them to you!
Also - I love your new glasses - keep them! The amused/confused look is classic Steph. Love it!

Chelsea said...

Ok I have a few favorites, and since I am constantly blamed on this blog for lemon pepper chicken, I guess I had better give you something new to try:

Spicy Burritos:
1 lb. 96/4 hamburger
Large Flour tortillas
2 pinches fresh chopped cilantro
2 jalapenos - diced
1 medium yellow onion - chopped
2 roma tomatoes - diced
1pkg taco seasoning
1 cup water.

Brown the hamburger in a deep skillet. Add the chopped onion and the diced jalapeno. Cook until the onion is tender. Add the cilantro, tomatoes, water and taco seasoning. Cook for about 7 minutes covered. Serve in the tortillas. They can be a tad spicy so I serve with fat free ranch...or you could use sour cream :)

Chicken Pepper Pasta
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 yellow pepper
1 red pepper
1 can black olives
2 tsp. Italian Seasoning
2-3 tbls Chicken Bouillon
1pkg. thin spaghetti

Dice the chicken, peppers and olives into small peices and put into deep skillet. Add water, bouillon and italian seasoning. Cook until chicken is done and peppers are tender. When done, take out most of the sauce and put into blender with one tablespoon of flour to thicken. Add sauce back to chicken mixture. Serve over thin Spaghetti. (This is always a crowd favorite)

Chicken Salsa & Black Beans
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 cans black beans
1 24 oz. jar chunky salsa
1 tbls. chili powder

Put all ingredients into your crockpot on low for 5 hours. Serve over white rice.

Chicken, Spinach Sundried tomato Pasta

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
6 cups fresh spinach
1 small jar sundried tomatoes
1 pkg sliced mushrooms
1 tbls. flour
1 can chicken broth
1 pkg. Mini Penne

Cut the chicken into small peices and cook in a deep skillet (preheated with a little olive oil). While the chicken is cooking place the sundried tomatoes into a bowl and pour in chicken broth, place this in microwave for 3 minutes. When chicken is cooked add the mushrooms and half the flour. Cook for a few minutes until liqiud is released from mushrooms. Add the tomatoes and chicken broth - and remainder of flour. Cook for about 5 minutes and add spinach. Cook until spinach is wilted. Pour cooked penne into skillet and stir together. Serve....

There is a taste of what I can do beyond the realm of lemon pepper chicken. Let me know if you need more ideas. You know me and my love for cooking healthy :)