Thursday, September 11, 2008

Learning how to cook, need help

Okay, seriously... I don't know how to cook. I grew up spoiled by my mother who would make breakfast & dinner every day, and lunch when applicable. We just had to make our own lunches to take to school with us, and that was it. She never really required us to help her much in the kitchen, so I learned how to eat well (and healthy foods I often did not like) while living there. Ever since I moved out, I haven't eaten well. One reason could be because I haven't felt like I had the time to invest into those types of meals (or the desire to spend what time I did have into preparing meals). And another reason could be because I didn't feel like I had the ability to.

So, maybe one of these days I'll actually learn how to "really" cook. In the meantime, I have a few things that I make that aren't too difficult. Some are healthier than others (I really like making whole-grain or otherwise healthy pasta with chicken or turkey meatballs and marinara sauce), but they all are delicious.

Trying to add even more whole grains to my diet, I recently bought a cookbook through So far I have only tried out one recipe. I should've read through it and really prepared right before I got started, because between the time I read the recipe originally, went grocery shopping for the ingredients I didn't have, and actually made the meal, I forgot a lot of what I read. So there was some scrambling, but it turned out pretty yummy. It was a Spanish Rice Bake recipe, and it could be served as a main course or a side dish. Joe wanted to eat out, so we went to Taco Bell, where I got some choices I think (but don't really know) would be healthier and got them "fresco style." We ate the rice as a side dish. I think I may add chicken the next time I try it to make it more suitable for a main dish. It was pretty yummy, and we still have leftovers in the fridge.

I also grabbed a simple recipe I'd cut out of one of my old magazines for a dessert. It was for an "Autumn Dessert" (apple slices with some nutmeg, cinnamon, almond slices, and granola on top of them, basically). It was supposed to be topped with frozen yogurt, but I didn't have any, so I served it without that. It was yummy anyway.

Last night for our enrichment, we had taco salads. I have never made this and frankly don't like salads, so I've rarely eaten this (the last time was while living with my mother, I think). But since I was in charge of getting the food ready, I looked up what sorts of things I should buy and tried to prepare enough for roughly 35 people. The kitchen looked like a mess by the time Joe & I were through (he helped me by shredding lettuce in our food processor and then going to the grocery store and buying more when I realized I didn't buy enough), but things turned out fairly well. We ran out of tomatoes, and the sour cream was barely enough (some women probably would've eaten more if we had it).

I am finally starting to feel a little bit excited about cooking. I don't know where this enthusiasm has come from or how long it might last, but I'm going to take advantage of it while I have it. I want to cook healthier meals and save money from going out to eat (although Joe really likes to do that- so we do it about once every week or so).

And since I'm new at this, I could use some help. What sort of cooking tips do you have that you could share with me?


Karri said...

I love my Betty Crocker cook book. There are a lot of basic recipes that don't require a lot of ingredients or time. With so many recipes, it is fun to experiment and decide which new recipes to make again. ( I think we have at least 20 new recipes that we love that came from this book).

McKnights said...

For a cooking time saver, you can cook more then one pound of beef or chicken at a time. I will then place one pound of beef in a freezer bag and freeze it. With the chicken I will use my food processer and grin it up a little and then freeze it. This usually cuts out one of my steps and it tends to be the longest one.

Anonymous said...

The trick is only to make other people think you're a good cook. The only way to do that is to try new recepies. Watch the food network or visit the website. Buy a "Gourmet" cookbook. Don't be intimidated by the directions. Read through them a couple of times so you have a general idea of what to do first. You'll be surprised at how good the food is and how simple it was to make. And don't be afraid to tweak the recepie the second time you make it so it suits your tastes better. Plus, trying new things keeps you excited and motivated to keep trying new things and perfecting your skills. Hope this inspires you some!

Debra said...

Karri, I definitely want that big checkered Betty Crocker cookbook! I like simple recipes.

Emily, thanks for the tip! I try not to eat too much beef but that is a good idea because I already know some recipes that have beef or chicken in them that we really like. :)

Erin, I am always searching for new recipes or saving recipes I come across. I just have to try more of them out instead of sticking with the basics. I do have a gourmet ice cream cookbook, and one glance through that overwhelmed me. I guess I should give it another look.

Thanks for the tips!

Crystalbell said...

If you are ever in the mood for some good, authentic Italian recipes, let me know. I have quite a few easy ones that are delicious.

If you were closer I'd just cook them all for you.

I wonder if because my mom was a terrible cook, if that had anything to do with me being an excellent cook? Plus, I have a real passion for feeding people. Anytime you're out my way let me know, I'll cook a meal for you you'll never forget!

One tip I'll give you, you probably already do this, but cook everything with olive oil (even when baking).