Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Kitchen Nightmares, Jen Edition

I can't cook.

It's one of those unavoidable annoyances of life, like death and overly chatty hairdressers.

A close friend of mine, who literally grinds her own wheat to make bread and can whip up a homemade Thai feast on a day's notice, has done her best to help me over the years. She started by giving me a Five Ingredients or Less cookbook. Next came Four Ingredients or Less. Then Open A Can And Add This, Stupid*. Then an "easy" crockpot introductory cookbook, so I could "leave it and go!" All to no avail. I undercook the chicken, burn the casseroles, and lose interest within five minutes of starting.

*Ok, I made that one up - but it should exist.

Like I said: I can't cook.

It's especially embarrassing when you consider how many times I've been invited to speak at food blogger conferences. Cake Wrecks is always lumped in with the serious food blogs, so being invited as a guest of honor to their events makes me feel like I'd be an impostor on two levels. (Although, admittedly, I can sort of bake a little. You know, if you count box mixes.)

John can cook, and makes the best omelets and crepes you'll ever taste - but he'd rather watch Gordon Ramsey yell at people cooking than actually cook anything himself.

So, we get by on take-out and going out and leftovers from both. Also protein bars. And sandwiches and cereal.

It's not quite as bad as it sounds; we supplement with lots of fruit and some not-so-horrible snacks here at home. I call these my two-ingredient-treats:

- Apple slices and peanut butter

Specifically Gala apples with Jiff low-fat creamy peanut butter (not because it's healthier, but because it tastes better - a little more salty.) Makes a great breakfast. And if you have one of those handy-dandy apple slicers, no chopping required!

- Celery sticks and cream cheese

This was my favorite last summer, when it was over a hundred degrees almost every day here in Florida. I think celery is one of the more under-appreciated vegetables, don't you? It's so...green. In a good way.

- Baby carrots and guacamole

It probably won't shock any of you to learn that I really love carbs, but if I find an equally tasty low-carb substitute -  like mashed cauliflower for potatoes or carrots for tortilla chips - I take it. Besides, unlike John (who claims they taste like dirt), I like baby carrots.

Chipotle's guacamole is great, but if you want to splurge, Cheesecake Factory's is surprisingly stellar.

- And, since a girl's gotta have her chocolate, here's one that actually requires a little effort, but is totally worth it:

Start with these:
 That's Hershey's dark chocolate, and the Blue Diamond brand salted almonds are extra salty - very important.

Nuke the chocolate and dump in the nuts:

Scoop onto parchment paper:

Let cool in the fridge, and, BAM!

Enough chocolate almond clusters to last me about two weeks! One or two of these babies with some milk, and I'm in chocolate heaven. (The extra salt makes all the difference. Sooooo good.)

Hey, look, I just shared my first recipe, you guys!



Getting back to healthier options: I once tried spinach smoothies for a week or so, and I remember liking the pear-cucumber-apple juice combo really well. I stopped from laziness and boredom, though - and ditto with juicing, which is a HUGE amount of work with very little payoff. If I could just have someone do all the work for me, and then clean up afterward, that'd be PERFECT. (Any volunteers? I'll pay you with, uh, smashed penny bracelets. Or resin Portal cubes. Or, ok - I'll lease out John for a weekend project, but that's my FINAL OFFER. [And no kinky stuff, either - 'cuz I know you were thinking it, you people who know who you are.])

Well, since I don't think I'll get a free personal chef anytime soon, help me out, fellow non-cooks: what do you eat at home? Any ridiculously easy tips or recipes or take-out recommendations you'd care to share? And don't just send me to other food blogs, please; believe me when I say I am not exaggerating about my laziness/inabilities here.

In fact, I'm going to show you the only cookbook I've ever used with any regularity. Meaning more than five times. Are you ready? You know, to laugh in pity? Ok. Here it is:

If I ever master this thing I'll have all the skills I could ever need.

(And I just found it on Amazon for less than $6, if you want your own. It's actually pretty helpful, and quite funny in places. Then again, the only thing I've made with it is banana bread, so maybe I'm not the best judge on these matters...)

K, I've laid my soul bare before you, my friends. Now, please, TELL ME HOW TO MAKE DINNER. Or at least a new place to buy dinner; I'm really getting tired of burrito bowls and pad thai.


  1. I love food, and eating, and baking, but usually I'm too busy for spiffy dinners. My go to dinner recipes generally involve pasta plus stuff like:

    1. Italian salad dressing, chopped tomato and parmesean cheese
    2. Smashed 1/2 avocado, lemon juice, parmesean cheese and pepper
    3. Ragu and parmesean cheese (I, uh... eat a lot of cheese)

    I recommend the second one especially -- surprisingly tasty, and pretty darn easy!

  2. We have a pizzaz pizza thingie. You can do so much on it besides pizza - I *love* it! Canned cinnamon rolls, pizza bites, quesadillas, grilled cheese, paninis, the list goes on. No more waiting for the oven to heat up and for most things it is way faster.

  3. www.sortedfood.com or youtube.com/sortedfood has some adorable & cheeky British guys who teach you how to cook. Some of the "expert level" recipes become complicated with the metric vs. U.S. measurements...but still, fun to watch and they make it look easy - without being patronizing to those of us who aren't so handy in the kitchen :)

  4. My husband and I are big gaming nerds, so we tend to do the 'throw stuff in a pot on the stove' thing a lot. It's a big pot, so we tend to have enough to last for lunches and dinners all weekend. Sometimes we'll start with those premade soup mixes (the ones by Bear Creek), other times we'll just start with plain broth. Add chopped veggies of choice, meat of choice, spices of choice, and let simmer on low forever. And I guess stir occasionally. Once it's going (and that only takes about 20 minutes tops to throw everything in there), we usually just leave it alone until we're hungry.

    Myself, being extra lazy, will pop it in a mug so I can just drink it and not have to worry about a spoon.

  5. Become a master of the grilled cheese sandwich. First thing I taught my teenage boys to cook. If you can put it between two slices of bread, you can have a hot meal in minutes. And don't forget dessert: use cinnamon bread, spread p.b., add chocolate chips and marshmallows.

  6. I recommend "Help, My Apartment Has a Kitchen" . It has really detailed instructions, unlike most cookbooks that are more like secret code and leave inexperienced cooks to ask questions like "How large are medium diced potatoes?" (answer - about one-inch cubes).

    For simple meals, I would suggest what my family calls "boiled water" for dinner - boil water and then dump something in, like pasta, lentils, rice, etc. For pasta, you boil the water first, then throw in the uncooked noodles, and the amount of water doesn't have to be too exact, roughly twice as much as the pasta when it's not cooked. Lentils and rice need measured amounts of water, 1 cup of rice or lentils needs 2 cups of water or a little more, and the water and rice/lentils go in the pot at the same time. Red lentils cook quickly and if you add lemon juice they are very delicious. Then if you want your "boiled water" dinner to taste good, you add delicious things, like cheese, olives, little tomatoes, sauces, etc. Then you poke around the fridge and find some kind of protein and vegetable to eat with it, and there's your dinner!

    The very fastest and easiest dinner is tacos - cut up vegetables (lettuce, tomato, onion) and put them out in little bowls, along with beans, cheese, and whatever flavor things you're willing to spring for - salsa, sour crea guacamole, and then some flour tortillas, or the pre-cooked hard kind. Then you just assemble them and eat. Very messy and delicious. My mom used to call us in for dinner before she started preparing for this meal, that's how fast it is to put together. And there's nothing you need to heat or cook, so no risk of burning, and good for hot weather.

    1. We eat a lot of tacos, too. Not because we don't cook (we love it), but because we have little time. We also do taco salads and egg & bean (aka breakfast tacos) tacos.

    2. That was my first cookbook! Help, My Apartment Has a Kitchen is a good starting point. I like all his extra tips.

  7. Preheat oven to 400. Put salad dressing over some chicken (I like ceaser or balsamic vinegrette), and then bake for like... 30 min? Maybe 40 if they are thick breasts. I usually do the boil-in-a-bag rice (seriously - put in water, bring to boil, boil for 10. Drain, cut open bag, eat!) or Uncle Bens 90 sec rice packets (but those are too pricey for me). This meal is my standby while my fiance is out of town. I'm a lazy cook.

  8. Well, I was no cook either, but then my husband had a heart attack and I guess you learn what you have to. Here's hoping you never need to! I'm going to skip all those recipes (See Cooking Light and Cooks magazine at your local library for examples. They're a chore. For example, I have a white-bean hummus that is to die for delicious + low fat, low carb, and vegan. But it takes two days) and give you the ones I used to eat:

    I recommend for sheer fun reading Saucepans and the Single Girl. It's a hoot.

    Easy-peasy Just Open This and add stuff recipes:

    Tuna oregano mousse: 2 cans of decent tuna in olive oil. One stick of butter. The zest (if you own a lemon zester :-) + juice of 1 medium sized lemon. 1 tsp. oregano. 2 - 4 plump garlic cloves (depending on how much you like garlic). Whir in the food processor until smooth. (you can get a decent mini one like this: http://tinyurl.com/8g8lnoy more cheaply - just check reviews first)

    Pita Dill chips: Open pita bread thingummys in half. Spray the bready insides thoroughly with that spray olive oil from Trader Joes. Dust with salt, dill (or garlic powder) and grated parmesan cheese (not fresh: the stuff in the green plastic jar). Bake at 350 about 10 min until crispy - but watch the first batch at about the 7 min mark.

    Queso Madness: A block of velveeta, cut into cubes, a can of good salsa, and a can of Nalley's meatless walla walla onion chili. Nuke in the microwave until gooey. Enjoy with chips.

    Easy-peasy crock pot meatballs: 2 bags of Trader Joe's "party" mini meatballs + 1 bottle of Trader Joe's original barbeque sauce in the crockpot. Start it in the morning, by dinner time you have nom-worthy meatballs. Also handy to take to parties. I like them with white wine and fresh Bosque pears.

    My hats off to you as a baker (I've managed to learn to cook, but baking escapes me). I think the Baking Fairies hate me.

  9. Have you ever considered a food delivery service? I've seen them offered for dieters but surely there must be an option for regular Janes as well.

    1. We have Schwans food delivery here. Frozen meals just like those diet things.

  10. You, dear Jen, are in good company. I'm not very handy in the kitchen, either. I have mastered one recipe, but enchiladas can only take one so far in life. That being said, I like to use those Zataran's rice mixes. You can add meat IF YOU WANT, which means they're basically giving you permission to skip a few steps. They're pretty straightforward, such as "Measure some water. Put that water in a pan, preferably one with a bottom" and so forth. It's not too difficult to boil water, add that rice, and then let it cook for 25 minutes (and it doesn't make you guess how long to cook the rice: there's an answer RIGHT THERE ON THE BOX). So, unless you don't know how to boil water, those could be something to try.
    Of course, my sister has a friend who didn't know how to boil water. I'm told she put the pot on the stove, turned on the burner, and then waited. After a little while she asked her mother when she would know that the pan was hot enough to boil the water. (That's right. She heated up an empty pot. She was 16 at the time. XD)
    Another easy treat that I like is yogurt and granola. I don't like yogurt. But The Greek Gods brand has a honey and strawberry flavored yogurt, and let me tell you: I think this yogurt was ACTUALLY made by the Greek Gods. That good. And I add in Bear Naked granola (its the loose kind that is easily sprinkled into yogurt) to give it some more texture. And that one can almost be a dessert, it's so sweet and decadent!
    I do hope you get a few more ideas from us 'botters, because eating the same thing over and over again is not as great as it sounds. And it doesn't really sound all that great to begin with. :)

  11. You should try the "I Hate to Cook Book". It is from about 1960 and has wonderful chapters like "Potlucks or How to Bring the Water for the Lemonade"

  12. Well, I know any number of "easy" recipes....but you have me kinda scared. I mean, most of them assume you can tell when pasta's done or something similar. Fortunately, I have a solution (provided you're not vegetarian, of course).

    George Foreman grill + chicken + Montreal chicken seasoning. (And a meat thermometer - very important.)
    Sprinkle seasoning on chicken. Grill until done. Identify doneness with thermometer. Serve with choice of veggies - I like broccoli, but my mom's allergic (no, really, like ER is needed allergic), so if we're making this at my parent's place, we have salad or carrots or something.

    Also, garlic hummus + baby carrots = quite tasty.

  13. Can you hard-boil an egg? I'm not being facetious, I'm genuinely asking. :) If you don't, there's a very straight-forward step-by-step guide here. Hard-boiled eggs make great snacks on their own, and they're also good additions to salads (especially if you get pre-packaged ones that could use sprucing up).

    Also super easy? Baked potatoes. People will tell you that you have to do them in the oven or else you're being blasphemous, or something, but you really don't. Get a giant potato, wash it well, poke it with a fork a few times to let the steam out as it cooks, and stick it in the microwave for 8-10 minutes. Then, after you take it out (carefully) cut it open, put on whatever toppings you want (I love butter and shredded cheese, personally, or some green onions to feel healthier), and voila, dinner.

    1. I also recommend baked/microwaved potatoes, because you can do anything with them. Throw left over chicken (from a precooked rotisserie one maybe) and then pesto,or salad dressing, pasta sauce. If you have veggies that will go with your sauce, throw that on too. Canned chili with all the fixings is good on a potato and so is every thing you'd put into a reuben sandwich. Of course, you can't forget a loaded baked potato with butter, sour cream, bacon, green onions & cheese... just have it with a steamed veggie on the side for a complete meal. Something I do all the time now too is to cook an extra potato or two when I make one for dinner, and I can heat it up some way for the next meal, perhaps to dice it up and make fried potatoes to go with eggs.

      Just last night I had one of my favorite meals, which I call Tuna Potato which is one large microwaved potato split in half topped with a can of drained tuna, some ranch dressing (I love Hidden Valley Ranch Farmhouse Originals Hickory Bacon and Onion), chopped green onions (use poultry shears or scissors for this) and grated cheddar. I pop it all bake in the microwave for about a minute to heat it all through and then eat. It makes two servings. PS: You can add tomato in the when they are in season and have Tuna Tomato Potato. ;-)

  14. There's this book my mom gave me when I moved out to go to college, and over 10 years later I still sometimes use it. It isn't all about cooking (it has great household tips and tricks, among other things), but has a great tasting, basic recipes. Recipes that I, who basically lived on ramen and canned soup in college, was able to make and enjoy. I found that Amazon still carries it, so here you go!


  15. Giant salads require no cooking and can be surprisingly versatile. You just rinse the greens and throw some stuff on top. A favorite combination of mine is spinach with dried cranberries, feta and raspberry vinaigrette salad dressing. You could have egg, other cheeses, croutons and any vegetable or dried fruit you want.
    Using pre-made things like dough, or even frozen pizzas could help you out, too, if you just need a break from takeout.
    If I wasn't so far from Florida, I might take you up on the offer of those companion cubes, as experimenting with food is my new favorite hobby.

  16. Tortillas, many kinds of cheese, salsas, beets (for the goat cheese), peppers, etc. Makes super easy meals that are really tasty. I'm all about the quick and easy - I coach rowing and am on an adult team which practices after the kids are done which means I often don't get home until 8:30-9 so I want things that take no time. Goat cheese and beets for creamy goodness; shredded cheese with salsa and banana peppers for a spicy kick with refried beans as a dip to temper the spice. Experiment, gooey cheese hides a multitude of sins.

  17. Step One: Steal an Avacado from a neighbor's tree. If you ask for it, they'll give you a bag of them. Supposedly you can freeze them but I don't have a chest freezer or know what to do with frozen ones that I want to eat. So I don't know what you'd do with a bag of them unless you were having a guacamole party. Which you can, I suppose if you want to.
    Step Two: Let stolen avacado ripen.
    Step Three: Put a piece of bread in the toaster. Make the toaster toast the bread.
    Step Four: Cut avacado in half, then scoop avacado innards into a bowl.
    Step Five: Season your avacado innards with some stuff you like the taste off. Guacamole is complicated and involves chopping things, so don't do that, just add some salt and pepper and other spices if you can be bothered to.
    Step Six: Put the avacado innards on your toast.

    That's a thing I do. Except for the theft of the avacado, my mom has a neighbor who told her to pick what she likes whenever she wants them, so she brings me a few at a time and I eat one or two and leave the others in our produce basket until they are weirdly wrinkly and deflated looking and then they go in the compost.

  18. I can cook, and like to - given time and someone to appreciate the effort.Unfortunately both are in short supply these days, so our meals tend to resemble yours. A recent discovery is frozen meatballs (turkey and chicken meatballs are available and lower fat). I usually just microwave them and serve with vegetables and/or bagged salad. I also make a mean ramen soup (tossing in a a few frozen cooked shrimp and frozen peas and/or stirring in a beaten egg). A semi-takeout meal is to have my husband pick up a rotisserie chicken on his way home from work, while I microwave some potatoes and frozen vegetables -iner is ready as soon as he walks in the door.

  19. Easy chicken soup:

    1. Get a pot. Also get a chicken breast, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, lemon juice, 1 (7oz) packet of Udon noodles (asian/world food isle), and a whole mess of baby spinach. Oh, and water.

    2. Put 2 cups of water in the pot. Slice up the chicken REALLY thin and add it to the pot. It'll cook in about two minutes. Remove the chicken.

    3. Add the noodles, which will cook super fast because they are magic. Or something. Also add the spinach and the soy sauce. In about two minutes the noodles will be soft and the spinach will be wilted. Which sounds bad but tastes good.

    4. Add a tablespoon of lemon juice, and taste. If you are like me, make a face, add about another tablespoon before sighing in satisfaction. But I really like lemon juice.

    5. Toss the chicken back in, stand back, cock your head, and realize you have SOUP!

    Credit where it's due: http://www.zenfamilyhabits.net/2010/01/5-ingredients-5-minutes-5-meals-simple-noodles/

  20. It's okay, I can't even do anything close to cooking. I burn toast, hot chocolate, quesadillas, you name it.

  21. I love cooking, and can usually 'healthify' most recipies. Two easy ones:

    Pita bread/wraps as a pizza base, with pasta sauce or tomato paste (from a jar). Add fav toppings (I usually have ham, pineapple, tons of mushrooms, capsicum, whatever veggies are on hand and a bit of camembert cheese), stick in oven at 180(Celsius), leave for about 10 mins or until everything looks cooked. Use kitchen scissors rather than a pizza cutter to cut the slices - much easier.

    Stir fry:
    Get a bag of those stir fry frozen veg straight from the freezer, throw in frying pan on medium or high heat (doesn't matter which). Once veg starts defrosting/heating up add in some soy sauce, kecap manis and oyster sauce (no measurements, just gloop it in and taste to see what it needs more of). If you prefer you can buy one of those ready made stir fry sauces.

    I usually mix the stir fry with rice noodles (they're very easy to make, just add water and wait). If you have some cooked BBQ chicken or similar that can be thrown in with the veggies too - just make sure it's heated through.

  22. Okay, this is THE easiest thing to make ever, plus it's frickin' delicious. Chicken tortilla soup in a crock pot (Before you tune me out--you don't need to cook the chicken before hand)

    Just take out your crock pot, and dump in:

    --one can diced tomatoes with green chilis
    --one can black beans
    --one can corn
    --one can tomato sauce
    --one cup salsa
    --two to three frozen chicken breasts

    Set it on low and let cook for 6-8 hours. You can tell it's done when the chicken starts shredding itself when you stir it up. You can make it first thing in the morning and then don't bother with it til dinner. You're WELCOME.

  23. My favorite place in the Orlando area is Bubba Lou's Bodacious BBQ!!! I love, love, love them. Each time we hit Orlando, it's the first place we go. Your fav cookbook...my mom gave my son that cookbook a few years ago. I've never looked at it, but now I guess I'll have to check it out.

  24. Peanut butter in apple slices has become my stand-by lunch now that I occasionally have no time for lunch at home before I have to get back to my grandma's apartment for the afternoon shift, since it's easy and portable, yet also filling.
    One of my favorite lunches to make when I got to eat at home is a peanut butter/apple/raisin/cinnamon wrap. It's SUPER easy. Spread peanut butter on a tortilla or wrap and heat in it the microwave for 30 seconds or so until it's nice and warm/slightly melty. Then layer the apple slices and raisins (or any dried fruit, I've found that dried cranberries also work well), sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon, wrap it up, and enjoy. It's very filling, and then I also enjoy the leftover apple slices on the side.

  25. Banana + (JIF) peanut butter + chocolate chips -- aka
    "Ants on a Log" (but not the celery + cream cheese + raisin version) (I survive on cereal and milk. Bagels and cream cheeses. Yogurt. And fruit :))

  26. We like Hawaiian haystacks:

    cream of chicken soup (warm on stove or microwave with 1/4 to 1/2 can of water- this will be your sauce)
    cooked chicken (small pieces) (OPTIONAL)
    cooked rice

    Toppings (do what you like)
    shredded cheese (cheddar, colby jack, etc)
    shredded coconut
    canned pineapple (tidbits or crushed)
    small pieces of celery (your fav!)
    canned sliced olives
    chow mein noodles (if you want crunch- they'll be by the soy sauce in the store)
    small pieces of green onion
    small pieces of tomato
    small pieces of any color bell pepper
    chopped small nuts

    We love this meal because it's a meal in one. It's got lots of veggies, too.

    You might also try different salads with your favorite veggies, fruit (dried cranberries, mandarin oranges, cut up apples), nuts, cheese (small chunks or shredded), dressing, and meat. No cooking required! I ate one for lunch a lot this summer and they were great.

    As for the crockpot, I recently got one with a probe and IT IS AWESOME. No more overcooking or undercooking anything. You do have to write down the cooked temperatures for meats, but I just stab that thing in, set what temperature I want, and wah-la! It turns itself to warm when the food is done, so I don't have to try and guess when things are done. I LOVE IT!

  27. I can kinda cook. I can follow recipes and my lovely partner, he can make recipes. he just looks in the fridge, throws it into a pan and presto delicious appears (I'm so jealous) I then remember what he did and replicates that wowing everyone who eats my cooking.

    I try to make curries but they always fail. I make good (very good)cannelloni but I fear it's a bit past your capabilities if they are as bad as you have made out.

    here is a no-muss pizza recipe (i've been trying to make my own base but it always tastes wrong)
    1. put pre-bought pizza base onto baking paper lined tray
    2. pre-heat oven to 180 Celsius (I'm Australian)
    3. chop mushrooms, bacon, capsicum, sundried tomatoes, cooked bbq chicken (bought from a supermarket)into little 1cm slices. (the mushrooms turn out better if they are a little thinner, but I like chunky mushies.)
    2. smear some BBQ sauce and some tinned tomato PASTE onto a pre-bought pizza base.
    3. add meats. sprinkling like.
    4. add vegies. even coat.
    5. add a handful of mozzarella and parmesan. (sold as pizza cheese in bags) (feta can also be added crumbled over)
    6. stick in hot (180 celcius) Oven for 25 minutes. (or follow pizza base intructions)
    7. remove from oven when cheese is bubbling and just starting to brown in spots.
    8. chop hot pizza into slices and brag while serving.

    That's the easiest thing I know that is impressive tasteing. microwaving rice then adding soy sauce and chopped ham is not something I would serve to other people.

    my 1. food tip is learn how to make a bechemel from scratch. or a veloute, which is made from stock not milk. but once you have the ability to make a bechemel, most white sauces are a snap.

    I buy chicken breasts, freeze them flat, thaw them slightly in the microwave, slice while still fairly solid, then pop them into a pot with just enough chicken stock(packet/cube stuff) to not quite cover it. I then put my hot plate to half as hot as it can go and simmer the chicken for 10 minutes. use a big-ish pot so it really cant bubble over. tip chicken through a strainer that is sitting over a large measuring jug to keep the stock.

    put some (80g) butter into the pot. melt over a LOW heat. add 2 AMERICAN tablespoons of flour for every cup of stock in that jug.
    when combined: pour in stock that must be warm still. stir a lot until smooth.
    add chicken. a pinch of basil and oregano, maybe some thyme would be nice here.
    let it sit on a low heat stirring at least once a minute.
    then you have "chicken sauce" a good base for making something more exciting with.

    3 years ago i could really only microwave things. now I am confident in a kitchen. It's never to late to learn to feed yourself.

  28. Jen, I know you said no websites, but I use Campbell's Kitchen (google it, it's awesome) A LOT. We're talking canned soup with other ingredients. Quick and simple. I don't cook either, but I found the One Dish Chicken and rice bake, years ago, and have made it dozens of times, with no fuss. It's 5 mins prep and 45 mins in the oven. That's it. Easy-peasy.

    May I also suggest the Ronzoni Pasta Portions. Boil in bag, single/double serving pasta, which you can microwave in 5 mins. You use whatever sauce you like, or no sauce at all. Really quick pasta, and good.

    -Wendy M
    Raleigh, NC

  29. I can cook well enough, but sometimes you just want a super-simple fall back when you don't really want to cook.

    Out here in SoCal we have Trader Joe's with some pre-cooked components-their pot roast is really good, and only has to be heated up. Their chicken breast strips are also really easy to dress up with a sauce--I second the suggestion of Montreal seasoning--add some mayo & cheese with Montreal seasoning to chicken breasts-yum! Take their pre-cooked meatballs, add some canned/bottled pasta sauce, parmesan or sliced mozzarella and a roll for meatball subs.

    If you can cook gravy from a package, try Knorr's hollandaise sauce poured over slice lunch meat roast-beef wrapped asparagus or cream cheese, heated about 20 minutes in a 350 oven. A tasty low-carb snack is that same roast beef wrapped around avocado slices.

    A super simple, tasty snack is to take a good-quality hot dog (I like Applegate Farms' beef franks), sliced down the length with a stick of cheddar cheese in the slice, heated till melty.

    ~Peg C

  30. I don't really cook, so much as I prepare food well enough so I don't need to eat out. Being a lifelong picky eater + food allergies (nothing major, just tree nuts) + intolerance/sensitivites makes many restaurants enemy territory. My stand-by dinner is seasoned rice and petite green peas. Right now I use stovetop but a rice cooker is great too. I boil 2.5 cups of water, add 1 cup Jasmine rice and 1 cup Minute brown rice and bring again to boil (happens almost immediately), turn down heat to Low and simmer for 15 minutes. The peas are frozen, so add how much you want to about a cup of boiling water, and then simmer on Low for 5 minutes. For seasoning, I like chicken bullion and Mrs. Dash since I haven't figured out the what even basic spices are yet. My aunt once served us rice where she used bullion and lemon juice and it was amazing.

  31. You can't get much easier than baked potatoes. Stab with a fork a few times & toss in the microwave for about 10 minutes (will depend on size of potatoes, you'll learn) ;)... You can eat them plain or add canned chili, steamed broccoli, deli ham, whatever. Super duper easy & super duper adaptable.

    Spaghetti & canned meat sauce - so easy. Add frozen meatballs or brown ground beef if you want meat. Still easy. Frito pie is easy peasy. Bean burritos are so easy, too - buy canned refried beans, heat up & throw in a tortilla. Add whatever other toppings you want.

    There ya go, just a few super easy ideas. You're welcome in advance. Ha! ;)

  32. I will cook (tonight I did a chicken and bok choi stir fry), but I am also single, the president of a nonprofit board, employed full time, don't own a car, and spend every weekend at professional sporting events spectating. So my three go-to dinners are:
    1) diced apples mixed in "just add water" pancake mix,
    2) hummus and whatever vegetables came in the CSA box* this week (hummus and raw kale is fun to eat in my world) (I'm actually allergic to carrots, how weird is that?)
    3) Butter noodles: Cook any pasta, a minute or two before it's done add frozen peas or chopped frozen spinach or fresh kale, drain, toss with a bit of butter and parmesan cheese (garlic salt if you're fancy).

    I live in Oregon so this may not apply everywhere, but my local CSA delivers a half share biweekly to my house, and I love it because otherwise I wouldn't be buying as many vegetables, and I wouldn't learn that I like parsnips and kale and turnips. Although I am very much over the beets, there's only so much borscht a girl can eat.

    1. My absolute favourite meal at the moment is a big bowl of grated raw salad:
      Grate coarsely.
      Add some nuts n stuff, (I like sunflower seeds and cashews)
      Mix a bit of a lemon-y dressing through
      mash up an avocado and splat it on top
      Salt and Pepper.
      DEVOUR. Or, you know, just eat it.

      Of course, here in Australia we're clinging to the last of Summer, so salads are a bit more appropriate. But I promise, it's amazing.

    2. If your beets come with the leaves still on them, eat those in your salads and soups! Very good for you.

  33. Okay ... step 1. buy a crock pot. (already have one languishing on a shelf somewhere? SUPER!) step 2... PINTEREST search Crock pot recipes. I swear you will find plenty of things you like. A crock pot really is the kitchen wonder. put stuff in, turn it on - PLUG IT IN first!!! i forgot that once... dinner never cooked, imagine. then just set it and forget it, really. But... in interest of giving you something useful...

    "chile colorado" ... 1 pound or 2 (depending on crockpot size) stew meat. 1 15 oz can pumpkin, 1 15 oz can mild red enchilada sauce. 1 packet chili seasoning (1/2 packet really) 2 tsp worchestershire sauce, 1 package of beef stock - knorr... the reduced really flavorful stuff. stir pumpkin and enchilada sauce together in the crock pot, add the seasonings and put the stew meat in. plug in and turn on crock pot for 6 to 8 hours. serve over rice - microwave bowl in your rice/pasta aisle - with shredded cheese, chopped onion and sour cream. totally freezes well and yummy for leftovers. I have been known to skip the rice and put it over chips for really yummy nachos or in a tortilla.

  34. I don't know if you have an Albertson's grocery store over there in Florida but my Albertson's sells 1-person serving salad kits that come in a bowl with fork included. My current favorite is Apple Bleu cheese Pecan, but the Spinach, Mediterranean, and (one other I forgot) are good, too. Greens, dressing, some crouton type crunchy, cheese, nuts or cranberries, etc. Tend to be 300 calories or less. Pair it with fruit or a sandwich.

    Also try GoPicnic kits. Just found them last week. They're surprisingly tasty.

    I don't suppose you have a Trader Joe's or Sprouts market nearby? They tend to have complete (nonfrozen) meals that are ready to heat in the microwave. Things like mac & cheese, salmon & mixed veggies, turkey & stuffing, meatloaf & mashed potatoes.

    Hope that helps.

  35. I hate baking and cooking. I cannot understand the appeal of taking 2 hours making something I can heat up from a can in 10 minutes. However I just (as in tonight for my book club that ended up being 3 people total...) made Chili, that turned out all right. All it is: ground beef browned in the pan (I used about a pound and a half), a chopped onion (put it in the pan at the same time as the ground beef) two cans of beans (I used a can of black and a can of kidney), and a can of crushed tomatoes. Once the beef is browned, add the canned ingredients and stir occasionally until it's hot. Add salt and spice if you want. (I used garlic salt)

  36. I LOVE celery and cream cheese! My absolute favorite snack. But another very close second is raw cauliflower sliced thin, with slices of cheddar on top. So good.

    And those nutty chocolate clusters definately count as cooking. But I can't look at them now without thinking of what another blogger affectionately called them on her blog just last week: cow patties. Seriously wrong. Her, um, patties were much larger than yours, and really. did. look like what they were called.

    Do I need to apologize for ruining your clusters in the minds of your readers? Well, take that, Ms. Never Can Have Too Much Poo Frosting on Cake Wrecks. ; )

    OK, as a peace offering, I give you two of my favorite EASY recipes. THREE ingredients? CHECK. (garnishes extra. ; )

    A. Simply Summer Salad

    B. Super Easy and Super Yummy Black Bean Soup

  37. Okay, this isn't a meal, but it makes an excellent side, or something to put your chicken on top of, if you have chicken. (When all else fails, those pre-cooked chicken bits meant for salads will work. Just warm them.)

    Take a can of creamy soup -- tomato, cream of mushroom, cream of cheddar and broccoli, whatever you like. Put it in a medium sized saucepan. Fill the can with water, and add that to the pan, too.

    Turn the heat to high. Stir the soup and water together.

    While it heats, take the soup can again, and fill it with rice, twice.

    RIGHT when the soup/water mix starts to bubble, put the rice in. Stir quickly. Take it off the burner (**turn the burner off!**) and cover it with a lid.

    Leave it the heck alone for five minutes.

    Remove the lid, stir it up. Yum!

  38. We've been experimenting with varieties of nachos for dinner, such as:

    -BBQ Shredded chicken, sharp cheddar, minced onion & peppers, crumbled bacon (serve w/extra BBQ sauce)
    -Pizza: white/cannelini beans, minced pepperoni, peppers & onions, mozzarella (serve with warm tomato sauce)
    -Buffalo Wing: shredded buffalo chicken, peppers & onions, cheddar or crumbled blue cheese (eh, if you like it--I don't), top w/diced celery after cooking, (use cool ranch doritoes for extra deliciousness) serve w/buffalo sauce
    -Loaded Tex-Mex: meat cooked with taco seasoning (chicken, steak, ground beef or black/pinto beans<-yeah, not meat, protein, whatever :-P ), diced peppers & onions, cheddar, serve with guacamole/sour cream, salsa, shredded lettuce, diced tomato

    All of these (after you precook the meat and perhaps give the peppers and onions a quick whirl in the pan so they aren't so raw/crunchy) just need to be layered and baked or broiled until the cheese melts. They are a really quick last minute dinner option.

  39. Seriously, Jen, get thee to Costco -- and do it quickly, as they're about to stop carrying those big bags of pomegranate dark chocolate crack drops (OK, maybe not crack, but I'm not sure. They really are that addictive.) Don't worry. They keep for a year and I bought you a spare bag, for your next chocolate cry for help...

    I used to cook ALL the time, including lasagnas for friends with new babies, and I made the sauce from scratch. Then, motherhood and a serious bout of depression killed that. Enter Costco. They have the best rotisserie chickens EVER, and a huge one costs $5. They also have salmon filets with pesto butter that's good enough for company. That, plus a caprese salad -- sliced fresh mozzarella (they sell it pre-sliced, fer gosh sakes) sliced tomatoes, cut up basil, olive oil, salt and pepper; and maybe roast asparagus (toss it in olive oil, salt it, stick it in the oven, add pepper when you take it out -- it can burn and get bitter) is the meal that made my father-in-law exclaim, "Now, that's what I call a dinner!" And all it requires is opening a couple of packages and reading heating instructions. Costco has a lot of other pre-prepped stuff but I'm somewhat carb averse. If you have a contact grill and you're a carnivore, buy packages of pork chops and a bottle of marinade, soak the meat in a ziplock bag for a while, and you can grill inside the house in 7 minutes. Any relatively flat meat will work, just adjust the time according to the grill's instructions. Those pre-frozen burgers cook beautifully, from frozen, in less than 5 minutes.

    Finally, whoever mentioned grilled cheese sandwiches is right. Butter the outsides of the bread to get a nice crust, and since you're a salt fiend a little sprinkle on the outsides (I use kosher) adds a lovely salty taste to the crunch. Just use a low enough heat to melt the cheese before the crust gets too brown.

    I'm finally starting to cook again, but these meals have kept us from starvation and bankruptcy.

    1. This. Right here. It has saved me as a college student.

  40. Alright,
    Teeter here. I can't say I exactly relate. Cooking is one my favorite things. Dishes however...not so much. Here's some easy favorites that require no more cooking than the microwave:

    Banana "ice cream": Okay, this requires that you like bananas. Peel bananas. Freeze bananas. Blend bananas. Four. I mean: done. The result is INSANELY creamy (it's weird) and is a good substitute for a night with Ben and Jerry. Drizzle some nuked dark chocolate or throw on some crushed toffee, and it's a pretty decadent (but healthy) dessert.

    Quesadillas: Are they as good nuked as they are grilled? No. But they do the job. Two 6" tortillas, a handful of grated cheddar cheese, and maybe a few chunks of store bought chicken. Microwave for 60 seconds, and you're done. If you want to get fancy, use jarred pesto, feta, and a handful of fresh spinach.

    Guacamole: Okay, listen. You can do this. The hardest part is buying ripe avocados and not letting them sit in your kitchen until they reach sentience. Take your avocado and remove skin and seed. There's a lot of cool tricks on the best way to do this all over the internet. Combine your avocado with 1-2 spoonfuls of your favorite salsa, a shake of garlic powder, a splash of lime juice (fresh if you like, but store bought is fine), and a sprinkle of salt and cayenne pepper. I like to add a little olive juice, a secret passed down from my mom. If you like chunky guacamole, mush all of that up with a fork. If you like creamy guacamole, throw it in a blender. If you aren't eating it right away, throw in some extra lime to make sure it doesn't go all brown.

    Now if you ever wanted to show off and look fancy, frozen puff pastry is your friend. This one does involve use of the oven, but if you can make a box cake, you can make this. Let puff pastry thaw, then cut some squares and put them in a muffin tin. Throw whatever you want on top. Stick with classic pairings - feta and tomato, ham and cheese, chocolate, apples and cinnamon. Make sure you leave some room in the muffin tin as the puff pastry will...puff. Okay, stick the tin in the oven for whatever it says on the box. After it's done, you'll have the fanciest schmanciest of appetizers.

    And of course, you could always try my video game soup: http://redrocketfarm.com/2012/11/happy-thanksgiving-and-zeldas-8-heart-soup/

  41. I like to cook, and I'm pretty good at it, but I'm a full time student and I have a side business, and I do a lot of volunteer work, and so meal planning is just not something I care a whole lot about.

    I found this company which has locations in Florida: http://www.dinnerafare.com/

    It looks similar to my lifesaver, which a Canadian chain called 'Dashing Dishes'. We go once a month and make 12 meals in about half an hour, and toss them in the freezer. Then we just have to thaw and cook them. Each meal is set up at an individual station with all of the ingredients and the measuring cups and everything right there. No shopping, no clean up, no fuss. It's brilliant, and I can't say enough good stuff about a meal prep service!

  42. Cook's Illustrated has geeky commentary to go along with the recipes and everything I've made from their recipes has been excellent. You learn why things work and why others don't. I recently saw a "Quick" recipe book of theirs at a warehouse store, so that might be a good place to start, as many of their recipes are very involved.

  43. Guys, canned chicken is your best friend. It's the chicken of the land (sorry). Cooking raw poultry can be scary if you don't know how, but put canned chicken in your top ramen with some frozen or canned peas and you have yourself a meal.

    Intermediate cooks can sub the ramen with rice or quinoa and add whatever produce is rotting in the fridge. Done and done.

  44. Do you have a crockpot? I've got a super easy (really!!) recipe for the best Hawaiian style pulled pork you ever had.

    Get a 3.5# pork shoulder roast at your friendly neighborhood butcher. They'll cut one for you at Publix if you smile pretty.

    Bust out your crock pot. Add to it:
    1 can crushed pineapple, including the juice
    I small can tomato paste (one of the little guys, like 6-8 oz)
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1/4 cup soy sauce
    1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
    1 small chopped onion (and if you don't like onion, don't worry. It's fine without it)

    Stir it up really well. Now add:
    1 tsp black pepper
    1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
    1 teaspoon ginger (better if it's fresh and grated, but not necessary)

    Stir again. Now, add the pork shoulder. You don't have to chop it, just dump it in. Roll it over so it's coated in the sauce mix. Turn the crock pot on to High, put the lid on, and walk away for the next six to seven hours. Doesn't it smell wonderful? Carefully pull the strings (if the pork shoulder came tied) out of the mixture. With two forks, start pulling the pork apart in the crock pot. Let cook another half hour or so. Enjoy with some toasted buns. And it's even better the second day!

  45. My husband introduced me to two of the easiest recipes I've made.

    Zaetl Taco:
    1 package ground meat (beef, turkey, chicken, whatever)
    1 medium jar of salsa

    Step 1: Cook meet & drain off any fat
    Step 2: add jar of Salsa, simmer for 2 minutes. DONE.

    We serve this like a sloppy joe, on a bun with whatever condiments you want. I'm partial to yellow mustard with a nice cheese.

    Zaetl Ribs:
    1 pack pork ribs
    1/2 cup Soy sauce
    Water to cover

    Preheat oven to 350F
    1. Cut up ribs & layout in baking dish (9 x 13 pan, corning dish)
    2. Drizzle ribs with soy sauce, add enough water so ribs are covered about half way
    3. Bake/cook for 45 minutes, every once in awhile flip those suckers over.
    Serve with rice if you feel like it.

    One of my favorite treats is similar to your chocolate almonds.
    Melt chocolate chips with some peanut butter. If you're feeling like you want it a bit thinner, add some cream or milk. Once that's all nice & liquidy add in your mixings - I like graham cracker crumbs, shredded coconut, craisins, raisins, fresh or frozen banana, apple or nuts. Very tasty.

  46. Dump cake - bad title, good results.

    1 can pie filling - choose your favorite
    1 box cake mix - last time I used yellow
    1 stick butter
    1 baking pan with high sides

    Turn on oven to 300 degrees. While oven is heating, open can and dump pie filling in pan; spread evenly. Sprinkle entire box of cake mix over pie filling, also evenly. Cut up stick of butter and place pieces on top of cake mix, evenly (ok, ok, you get the picture). Cook in 300 degree oven for 30 min, just set your alarm (phone, oven, whatever). Look at it, if butter hasn't melted yet, keep it in there for another 10 minutes.

  47. Here's what really helped me learn to cook chicken: start with the thin-sliced chicken breasts. It's worth it even if they cost more, because they cook quickly at a lower temperature and you don't have to worry nearly as much about the outside getting black while the inside stays deadly pink.

    Also, agree with the other commenters: you'd be amazed at how many food groups you can put into a grilled cheese sandwich by throwing some sliced tomatoes or pears or lunch meat in there. And here in Chicago we have whole restaurants dedicated to grilled cheese so it's totally a legit meal.

  48. Put 2 frozen boneless/skinless chicken breasts in a crock pot. Pour on a jar of your favorite 505 chili sauce (my fav is the green). Cook on high for around 4 hours. (Check to make sure temp of chicken gets above 165 before eating). Shred chicken using 2 forks. Eat on rice, tortilla, in a bowl... Can top with sour cream, cheese, tomatoes... So easy and so yummy!

  49. I despise cooking. I *love* eating, but I HATE cooking, and I have to do all my dishes by hand, too, so forget it. I can make a very easy stir-fry type thing (slice up chicken, put in wok with oil. Nudge around until no longer deadly. Add a pre-cut pack of stir-fry veggies, some soy sauce, ginger powder, garlic powder, pepper flakes, vinegar. Nudge around until the veggies are no longer raw. Serve. We bought a rice cooker so I don't even have to worry about burning rice.) and a meat pie kinda deal (one package of pre-made roll-out pie crust, one can of cream of chicken soup, some veggies, some chicken, bake it for 40 minutes) but that's it, basically.

  50. My favorite "I hate cooking" meal: box of mac'n'cheese (I like Annie's), can of tuna, about 1/3 bag frozen broccoli (or 1/2 head fresh broccoli, chopped).

    Cook pasta. When pasta is half or 2/3 done, put broccoli in with it. When pasta is all done, drain the pasta/broccoli.

    Mix cheese sauce. Stir in pasta/broccoli.

    Drain tuna can (optional, give tuna water to cat), stir in tuna with mac'n'cheese.

    Perfect one pot meal. I eat it out of the pot because I hate dishes.

    Also, there's a tag on Offbeat Home & Life devoted to simple recipes (Megan-simple recipes, because it was originally started to help editor Megan learn to cook) that is pretty good: http://offbeathome.com/tag/megan-simple

  51. Make your own pizzas at home. Buy a loaf of french bread (the good stuff mind you) and slice it in half longways. Spread some pizza sauce (or spaghetti sauce, same diff) on top and add your favorite toppings. Finish with a good handful or two of shredded mozzarella cheese and a shake of garlic salt. Pop em onto a foil lined tray and bake at 350 until hot and bubbly and browned. Slice into your desired portion and nom nom nom.

  52. I am also not a good cook, so it's probably a good thing my kids have a stay-at-home dad instead of the more traditional stay-at-home mom. The most helpful cookbook I own, though, is Alton Brown's "I'm Just Here for the Food." He manages to teach the very basics without making you feel like an idiot. It's kind of like getting a music theory book if you think of all those other recipe books as difficult sheet music. (Does that make sense?) Anyway, my favorite surprisingly easy meal is cottage pie. All of the quantities can just be eyeballed, and I never make it the same way twice.

    Ingredients: Red potatoes (or whatever variety you like, or cauliflower although I
    haven't tried that)
    Ground beef
    Frozen mixed vegetables (the kind that are labeled "Mixed Vegetables" with carrots and little green beans and such)
    Cheese (I like cheddar or Muenster)
    Onion and garlic or the equivalent powdered variety
    Worcestershire sauce (If you want more of a gravy-type pie, use a brown gravy mix)
    Ketchup, tomato paste, or a tomato (I favor tomato paste)
    Some beer if you have it lying around (use less than half a bottle, darker works better)
    Cumin and whatever other spices you usually like (small amounts of oregano and sage do well in this recipe, and a bay leaf isn't bad)

    Cube some red potatoes, and boil until soft. Brown some ground beef in a large skillet (one you can put in the oven, I favor cast iron). Throw in a bag of frozen mixed vegetables. Add a few splashes of Worcestershire sauce, garlic, onion, a little tomato paste (or a chopped tomato), your spices, and maybe a little bit of beer. Mash the potatoes with a little bit of greek yogurt or sour cream and a little garlic. Spread the potatoes over the top of your meat and veggie mixture. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese or whatever cheese you like to melt over stuff. Pop in the oven at 450 for about five minutes or until cheese is melty. Remove and serve. Sounds complicated, I know, but seriously there's almost no way to go wrong with it, and you only use two pans for the whole thing. If you like, you can use a brown gravy mix instead of Worcestershire sauce, beer, etc., to make it easier.

  53. Sloppy Joes!
    easy peasy! grab a can of Manwich at your grocery store. cook ground beef (or chicken/turkey... turkey is fantastic!!)
    once cooked, dump the can of manwich in and stir wait til it's warmed up and serve on buns. (with cheese.. mmmm)

    pasta is pretty easy. boil pasta, add can of sauce.
    i've actually slowly gotten less lazy and have cooked mushrooms and red/yellow/orange peppers and added to the canned sauce to make it chunkier. it just adds a few minutes but so worth it. also if you wanted meat so easy.. brown up some ground stuff and add in!

    or i also nuke veggie burgers in the microwave with cheese and have a veggie burger for dinner. so simple

    in the morning when i have time i love me a pb and banana smoothie! add chunks of banana, a well rounded (ok heaping) tablespoon of peanut butter and enough almond milk to make it the consistancy i like. sometimes i'll add a dollop of honey to sweeten. when i'm feeling really good i'll add half an avocado (omg makes it SO CREAMY!) very delish :) i have a tiny blender that makes one cup so i just make my smoothie, and rinse it in hot water right away. clean up is a cinch :)


  54. Lifesaver meal at our house: Taco Soup

    Brown 1# ground beef, drain. Add 1/2 packet of taco seasoning, 1 can pinto beans (undrained), 1 can corn (undrained), and 1 can tomatoes (undrained). Heat on the stove. Serve over crushed tortilla chips and top with Mexican blend cheese.

  55. This isn't all that healthful, but it's really easy and I make it a lot.

    Dogs-n-Spuds (the title is not my invention)
    1. 1 package Lil' Smokies on the bottom of a casserole dish.
    2. Cover with a thin layer of canned cheese sauce.
    3. Cover all of that with about 4 servings of (unflavored) mashed potatoes.
    4. Sprinkle grated cheese on top.
    5. Stick it in a 350-degree oven for 25-35 minutes.

    There is also tater tot casserole, which I don't know how to make, but I'm told it's very easy.

  56. If John likes watching Gordon yell at people, have either of you ever watched Alton Brown's Good Eats? The earlier seasons are where the simple and awesome stuff happens. But if that's too much explaining, or too many puppets (how could there be too many puppets?) try another YouTuber: Hilah Cooking. She keeps it simple, (she keeps it real - there's some cussing!) and very tasty. You won't need to buy anything weird, and you can see what it's going to look like. Keep at it! I promise, even if you never think cooking is fun, you'll find that eating what you've cooked is way more fun than take out.

  57. This is my favorite "working mama" meal: rotisserie chicken (Costco is really good, if you can get it) shredded & mixed together with green salsa. Throw that on a taco shell (hard or soft) with any taco toppings you like. Voila, done. And there's usually leftovers for taco salad. :-)

  58. These easy, quick, and healthy meals have saved me many times when I was tempted to just order in! http://happyherbivore.com/2011/11/quick-meals-healthy-faster-fast-food/

  59. I rarely cook, and I live in a smallish town, so there's not much in the way of take-out other than fast food. We eat a lot of frozen dinners. Some are pretty good, some are nasty; you just have to try them out. We also eat a lot of these Hormel refrigerated entrees and sides. You can heat them according to the label (which is just microwave them for however long) or you can get a little fancier with the recipes on the package or the website. I don't usually bother with that, but it's an option.

  60. If you like potatoes, then canned "new potatoes" are awesome for many things. They are already cooked, and they are whole potatoes (though small -- about 1.5 inches in diameter.)

    When I was living in the dorms, I used to keep them around and top them with canned chili or Ranch beans. Cut them in half, add some shredded cheese and chili, pop in microwave until it's all warmed through and the cheese has melted. Serve with sour cream. :)

    There are lots of other good things available in the canned foods aisle! Canned meats, especially. There are lots of fully-cooked frozen meats that only require defrosting, as well.

    I also second the microwaved quesadillas. We like ours with monterey jack, thinly sliced tomato, deli turkey, and a couple shakes of vinegar-based hot sauce. (We found this one knockoff of Louisiana Hot Sauce that was super-mild, so even I could eat it.)

  61. I like to cook from scratch sometimes, but I work retail so most of the time I'm just not in the mood so I do a lot the dinner equivalent of the "cake from a box" (which I also do).
    here's a couple of good ones:

    one can of chickpeas,
    one can of diced tomatoes
    one bag of spinach

    put some olive oil on a skillet and pour both cans in. Season. you can use garlic, salt, onion powder..whatever you like. The beans are already pre-cooked so you're really just heating them. after you feel it's sufficiently hot, add the spinach, cover until it wilts and you're done. I don't like my spinach too slimy so I take it off the heat as soon as it wilts.

    one bag of asian mixed vegetables ($1 at Target)
    ginger sesame salad dressing
    stir fry vegetables, season with salad dressing, serve over rice or ramen noodles

    one can of chilli
    one box of Jiffy cornbread mix
    open chilli and pour on baking dish (the kind you make brownies in)
    make cornbread mix according to directions
    pour cornbread mix over chilli
    bake until cornbread is done

    The best thing is to do is to find some spices and seasonings you like so you can add your own little twist to the prepackaged stuff and that way you're not technically lying when you say you cooked :)

  62. The babies just went to sleep or I'd read everything above this and make sure someone hasn't posted this recipe. This recipe has minimal prep work (ideal for me, what with two kids under the age of two) and tastes great PLUS you get leftovers (my rule is if I'm going to put in the time and effort, I'd better get lots of meals out of it!).

    Skills required: melting butter, cutting potatoes, setting a timer

    9x13 pan
    non-stick cooking spray
    aluminum foil
    (1) stick of butter
    (1) package of Italian dressing mix
    (8-ish) red potatoes (cubed, a little bigger than dice-sized)
    green beans/asparagus
    boneless, skinless chicken breasts (4 - 6) OR thighs (6 - 8)

    Get out a 9x13 inch pan. Spray with non-stick spray.
    Turn the oven on to 350*
    Melt (1) stick of butter. (Carefully! Make sure you only nuke it about 15 seconds at a time or you'll have a mini-explosion.)

    Wash the potatoes (scrub with a vegetable brush in water). Cube them. Set aside.
    Wash the green beans. If you're particular, cut or clip off the tips.

    Line the green beans down 1/3 of the pan. (The longer side.)
    Place the chicken down the middle 1/3 of the pan.
    Place the cubed potatoes down the last 1/3 of the pan.

    Sprinkle the Italian dressing mix over the entire pan.
    Pour the melted butter over the entire pan.

    Cover the pan with aluminum foil. Let it cook for about an hour.

    Good luck! I'm excited to read the rest of the comments to see what other recipes may have been posted.
    Oh, and since the comment right above the comment box talks about grilled cheese, I'll totally vouch that that is a worthy meal idea. Especially with tomato soup. Add some avocado to the sandwich and it's *delicious*! Or if you're feeling particularly meaty that day, get out a can of chicken breast meat, mix it with a little mayo, salt, pepper, put it on some bread, and eat that with some apple slices/orange slices/carrot sticks, etc. I personally like my chicken sandwiches with homegrown tomatoes and avocado slices. It makes the sandwich nice and moist. :)

  63. "Open A Can And Add This, Stupid" actually does exist - although that's not the title. I can't remember what the title is, but my sister-in-law has that book and it is awesome for people who last about five minutes in the kitchen before they give up. It gives you recipes that involve such complicated things as "Open a can of X. Add a can of Y and some basil. Heat and enjoy!" I cook, but I love reading it for the laughs.

    Having said that, my go-to meal right now is rotisserie chicken and frozen veggies. Ham and cheese roll-ups are pretty good too - spread mustard on a slice of ham, sprinkle some cheese on it, roll and eat! Good for on-the-go lunches. If you want easy soup, get some ready-made broth (spring for the good stuff) add frozen veggies, canned chicken, rice or noodles. Whatever takes your fancy. Heat up and slurp! Yummers!

  64. First off Costco is amazing, seriously it is. They have all sorts of amazing prepared foods in the back near the bakery and meat sections. Exact selection will depend on the store but they have hot food (like amazing rotisserie chicken) and refrigerated stuff that you heat up that is way better than what you can get off the shelf because they make it in house pretty much from scratch. The bakery also puts out some killer stuff if you are looking to be indulgent.

    As for cooking at home there are two things that have always served me well scrambles and paninis. With a panini press you just put whatever you want between bread and you have a nice hot meal, you can butter the outside but you don't have to. With a scramble you throw whatever you want in a pan with eggs and stir until the eggs look good, anything you can put in an omelet you can scramble and it is so much easier, plus it is the best way to use up left overs.

  65. My husband's solution was to marry someone who *can* cook... so I'm afraid I don't have a lot of suggestions for you. One way to add healthiness to easy stuff is to keep a huge bag of frozen mixed veg on hand and just throw in a few handfuls to whatever you cook.

    If you're willing to pay a premium, some higher end supermarkets sell pre-sliced veg and precooked meat. Grab some tortillas, toss in meat veg and hummus or guac, wrap and eat. Simple lunch.

  66. What about a Dalek pizza? Pizza base, tomato sauce, cheese and pepperoni et voila!


  67. I like using classico pasta sauce for my pasta sometimes. It's pretty simple for those meals. Just pick a pasta you like and follow to the directions on the box to cook it. Then brown some ground beef in a pan (or you can buy a rotisserie chicken that is already cooked and use the meat from it). Drain the fat from the pan, add the sauce and heat it up. Then add to the noodles. Or just keep separate depending on what you prefer.

    I find that you can make lots of different things with a precooked rotisserie chicken from the deli and sometimes it's cheaper than buying raw chicken. You can make fajita style chicken (fry some of the chicken in a pan with salsa, then serve on a tortilla shell with cheese and sour cream), or really just anything that requires cooked chicken. Chicken tacos. Chicken caesar salad. Chicken and dumplings. Spaghetti with chicken.

    I agree with others too about the grilled cheese. Another one that we do that is similar is quesadillas. It's like the grilled cheese where you can put just about any combination of anything between two flour tortillas shells and it will taste good. Just remember to keep the temperature slightly lower than medium (about 4) so that it doesnt burn, same with the grilled cheese.

  68. As someone who's also a horrendous cook and has an incredibly busy husband who cooks, let me share one of my favorite recipes that involves very little actual cooking knowledge and will not kill you if undercooked!

    Baked macaroni and cheese

    1 box of elbow macaroni (not the huge box!)
    1 brick of cheddar cheese (or whatever cheese strikes your fancy, you can mix and match)
    1 small can of tomato sauce

    Cook macaroni. Cube cheese while macaroni is cooking. Eat some of the cheese while you're at it. Drain macaroni. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine macaroni, cheese cubes, and can of sauce in an oven-safe pot/pan/pyrex dish, cover with tinfoil. Cook for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted.

    The best thing about this recipe is that you can toss anything into it to make it taste different. My sister once tossed oregano and other pizza-ish spices in there, and it came out tasting just like pizza! :D

  69. I went to college with chefs, took the Pastry Arts course myself so I know my way around the kitchen. But sometimes (ok, a lot of the time) I'm too tired to cook a big meal so I always keep some KD (Kraft Dinner or Kraft Mac & Cheese for you folks in the US) on hand. I jazz it up by making it into Cheeseburger Macaroni.

    Cook about 1/2 pound of ground beef while your cooking the KD (1/2 pound for 1 box, 1Lb for 2) When the meat is cooked and drained, add in a good squirt of ketchup and a lesser squirt of mustard. Mix and add to the KD after you've got it all cheesed up. I can't even eat plain KD anymore, lol Oh and because I'm weird and like to combine textures, I'll eat it by scooping it up with plain Lays Wavy chips.

    Ok, now I'm hungry.
    Hope you have fun with trying some of the recipes people have posted!

  70. I like beans and rice.
    Normally I use black beans (soak overnight, bring to boil, simmer for a few hours until tender), brown rice (twice as much water as rice, bring to boil, simmer for about 45 minutes), add salsa/picante sauce and top with shredded cheddar cheese.
    If you don't want to go to the hassle of cooking the beans and rice, you can use canned black beans (rinse really, really well) and frozen rice or those bags of "ready rice" you just have to microwave. I like Pace medium strength picante and as sharp cheddar cheese. Sometimes I add a bit of garlic salt or, if I have it, leftover chicken.
    No real need to measure just dump it all in together, mix and enjoy. It's a healthy, filling meal that I find especially good on cold nights.

  71. I learned to cook out of necessity. Mom and dad divorced when I was seven, and my older sister died when I was eight. I was the youngest. Did my first solo Thanksgiving meal at age 12. I'd tried to teach my own daughter to cook over the years, and she didn't really catch onto it other than the simple things. Until she took "home ec" class in high school. But I believe it was called "cooking." Anyway, ever the independent lass, she would often whip up something slightly more complicated than "simple" for herself if I was preoccupied.

    Jen, perhaps it's just the way your mind learns. I am a visual learner. If I hear instructions, whatever it is they're trying to teach me won't stick. I HAVE to have it written down. Perhaps you just need a different way of learning. Have you taken any cooking classes that they have for adults, for fun? You should try it.

  72. My hubby and I are both learning our way around the kitchen. For easy meals, we do a lot of pasta and meatballs, with frozen pre-cooked meatballs (heat in microwave for 2 minutes) and a jar of sauce. To make pasta: heat water until it's boiling, add pasta, let it boil for however long they tell you on the package (usually 10 mins or so), and pour it (very carefully!) into a colander in the sink.

    Another easy favorite is English muffin pizzas. Start with a package of English muffins and break each one in half. Spoon on sauce (we buy it in a can) and top with whatever you like. Bake at 450 for 5-10 minutes, depending on how dark you like the cheese.

    And I know you said you've tried crock-pot recipes, but this one is literally "Open, put in crock-pot, turn on, wait." Stuff you put in: about 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken, 2 cans cream of mushroom soup, small can of mushrooms (drained), 1 cup chicken broth, and 1 package onion soup/dip mix. Put the chicken in the bottom, mix all the other stuff together, and pour it over the chicken. Let it cook on low for 5-6 hours. I like to serve it with rice or pasta.

    For rice, you need to measure out the water. The easiest is the boil-in-bag rice: 2 cups of water in a microwaveable dish + 1 bag of rice. Stick in the microwave UNCOVERED for 10 minutes, drain and serve. If you're doing any other kind of rice you let it cook WITH the cover on, and then you usually let it sit for a while until the extra water is absorbed.

    Also, those almond clusters sound DELICIOUS! I shall have to try them. I LOVE dark chocolate chips--the ones from Trader Joe's are my favorite. Before we had a Trader Joe's in my neighborhood my mom would go to the one half an hour away just for their chocolate chips and buy 5 or 6 bags at a time to stock up.

  73. When I cook bacon, I save all the delicious bacon bits leftover from cooking right there in the pan (drain the grease off though). For the next meal, warm that pan back up over the stove, boil some fettucine (separate pot), strain, then dump it into the bacony pan with a ladle of the pasta water. Stir for a second to absorb the bacony goodness, then stir in as much grated parmesan cheese as your heart desires. That's it! Serve with a salad or something, I guess, to ward off vegetable-related guilt.

  74. I may not be able to do all the awesome crafts you guys do, but I can cook! When we were first married, we ate a lot of KD. After awhile, we started trying new recipes. We kept the ones we liked and threw out the ones that we didn't. My suggestion would be to try one new recipe a week, and if it doesn't work, blame the recipe. I believe that if a recipe is good, it should work for anyone who tries to make it. Here's a recipe for you that mainly involves a lot of can opening:


    1 can black beans, drained, rinsed and mashed
    1 can diced tomatoes, drained (try Rotel or other flavored ones)
    Frozen or canned corn niblets
    Diced onion or shallots (red onion is good since it's milder)
    Shredded cheese
    Soft tortillas

    Preheat oven to 350F. Spread mashed beans on a tortilla. Add as much of each topping as desired. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until tortilla is golden brown.

  75. LOL I let hubby cook, I met him in culinary school, so I knew he would be good, I hate cooking, baking sure, but cooking no. My one thing that I love is simple chicken I slice a chicken breast really thin then I put the slices between parchment paper and pound them thinner and even. Then dip in milk and cover in break crumbs, fry in oil on medium heat it takes just a few minutes on each side as they are so thin, drain on paper towel and eat. I actually love making this.

  76. Jen,

    Some people's talent's lean more toward hilarious writing than cooking! As someone whose main dishes are mac and cheese and what i call skillet dinners (chopped up potatoes with a mix of meat and veggies, scrambled eggs with a mix of meat and veggies, you get the idea), I understand where you're coming from.

    Couple of ideas that have worked for me when I was living on my own: Cook a bunch one day of the week/month and freeze those meals. You only have to do the heavy duty kitchen cleaning once that way!

    Buy the hard parts of the meal pre-made at the grocery store. For example, buy a rotisserie chicken and make a salad at home.

    Or, my dream: get a personal chef. They're not just for Richie Rich anymore and can't be much more expensive than takeout all the time. They'll come to your house at certain intervals, make you a freezer load of delicious meals and you can just pull them out and re-heat!

    I've also browsed through Alton Brown's "I'm Just Here for the Food" and the geek in me thinks his way of explaining the whys of cooking, rather than just the shoulds, would make it an experience where my scrambled eggs always stay yellow, rather than a sickly grey color!

    Or just consider adding hummus to the list of things you dip baby carrots and celery into: it's delicious!

  77. This is actually what I'm eating right now...ha!

    Magic Microwave Muffin:

    one egg
    1/4 cup ground flax seed
    1/2 tsp baking powder
    1-2 tsp sugar (or individual package of Splenda if you'd rather)
    1 tsp cinnamon

    Mix all ingredients together in a coffee mug and microwave for one minute. (depending on your microwave it might take 15-30 seconds longer to fully cook) Loosen edges w a knife, dump out onto a plate, slice and top w/ whatever you want....enjoy!!

    Once you're sick of cinnamon you can sub basically whatever you want, a few tsp of cocoa powder for a tiny chocolate cake. Add raisins, craisin, chopped nuts, or chocolate chips to the batter, whatever you want, go crazy!

    My only tip is to wash the mug right away, the leftover bits on the inside can get really crusty if you leave them there all day.

    Have fun!

  78. Do it yourself Hotpockets

    1 can pilsbury pizza crust
    1 pack cheese (your favorite shreded variety)
    1 pack pepperoni (your favorite kind, I use the low fat)

    Open can of pizza crust and unroll onto flat surface cut into 4 sections with pizza cutter or large knife.
    On one end of each section add 5-6 slices of pepperoni, and a good little pile of cheese.
    roll the side with stuff over onto the side without stuff and seal the edges by pressing down. (think of it as clay scultping in an arts and crafts project instead of food if that helps :))
    place on cookie sheet and back according to instructions on can of dough.

    Hope this helps you :)

  79. Take your boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

    Choose your favorite marinade: BBQ, Teriaki, Italian Dressing, Lemon Pepper seasoning.

    Throw breasts and marinade in a bag...let it get happy. Overnight in the fridge is best.

    Preheat your oven to 375. Cook the breasts for 30-35 minutes. Voila! Dinner!

    I buy a bulk package and freeze 2 portions together in freezer bags. 1 bag of BBQ, one of teriaki, 1 of italian, 1 of Lemon Pepper. Then, thaw what you need. While they're thawing, they're also marinating...BAM! Two for one!

  80. Toast + warmed tomator sauce + cheese + whatever other toppings you enjoy. Instant pizza! (better for lunches and light dinners) SPAGHETTI. learn that and you're golden. learn to loved the canned goods ;), RAMEN.

  81. I have a cookbook called "A Man, A Can, and a Microwave" which is all microwave cooking, and mostly involves opening cans. I bought it when I was in college and my apartment had no kitchen. I've never actually used it, but it's totally amusing to read (and how many cookbooks can you say that about?) with interesting factoids through out.

    One of my favorite easy dishes is frozen pierogies. Melt some butter in a non-stick skillet, add the pierogies. Fry up until golden on each side, add some sauce (whatever you like) and frozen veggies. Cook until veggies are thawed. Serve with whatever sort of meat you like. 10-15 minutes, tops.

  82. Hey, if you want crazy easy, I got your back.

    Italian dressing
    Chicken breasts

    Put chicken breasts in a ziploc bag. Put in enough dressing to cover chicken, then add a bit more. Put it in the fridge for a few hours. Dump chicken and dressing in a casserole dish, and cook at 350 degrees in an oven until chicken isn't raw anymore, about an hour. Done. If you want, you can add mushrooms with the chicken, and they taste fantastic.

  83. Jen, I will gladly come and cook for you if you can send John to Ohio for one weekend to help my husband finish our basement! That is a fantastic trade, and I'm surprised no one else has taken you up on it so far :)
    Being a busy mom (I have two kids and work full time) who loves to cook, I have to say one of my go-to ingredients is rotisserie chicken. You can shred some of it, add a cup o' mayo, a good pinch of dill, cut grapes, a handful of sliced almonds, salt, pepper, and you have awesome chicken salad. You can even omit the dill if you don't have any :) Put it in Ramen noondles, use it in wraps with lettuce and other yummy stuff. I love putting it in a hot pan, adding some taco seasoning and a little water (about 1/4 cup), and there you go, no fuss chicken taco meat. My favorite recipe that we've been eating a lot of in the snow up here is chicken chili. More like a soup, but very good. If you can open some cans you can do this I promise..
    Shredded rotisserie chicken meat (as much as you like)
    One can (the small one) diced green chiles
    One can diced tomatoes with green chiles
    One can canellini beans (half drained, leave some liquid to thicken the broth)
    One can black beans (drained and rinsed, you can always skip the rinsing)
    A box (or a half a box if you want it thicker) of chicken stock
    A cup of frozen chopped onions
    Salt and pepper
    Dump everything in a pot large enough to hold it and heat it all up until it's bubbling. Enjoy. If you're feeling zesty you can toss in some garlic powder, or chopped garlic in a jar. We eat it with some sour cream, shredded cheddar, chopped cilantro and corn bread.
    Also, I've noticed a lot of people mentioning chicken breast, which, in my opinion, can be hard to cook if you don't know how (easy to undercook, easy to over cook). If you like dark meat, swap chicken breast out for boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Delicious flavor and almost impossible to over cook.
    You have a beautiful kitchen, it needs to be used ;) and if the two of you are ever up here and want some home-cookin' look us up!
    Nikki T

  84. I'm always sort of surprised when I read that you guys don't cook because you are so DIY and creative, I guess I always assume that people like you would bring those skills into the kitchen! Have you ever tried to think of making dinner as just a craft project but using food instead of paint and glitter? I can only imagine the amazing things you could dream up.

    I had a friend who could not cook to save her life until she got The Joy of Cooking as a Christmas present. It changed her life. Now she cooks pretty much everything from the Looneyspoons cookbooks, have you heard of them? Silly puns + healthy and creative recipes = one of the only cookbooks I actually use on a regular basis.

  85. If you haven't done so yet, try organic carrots to kill that "dirt" taste. Organic potatoes and carrots are some of the veggies that I can actually taste the difference in. Also, try grabbing normal sized carrots and cleaning them yourself rather than getting the baby carrots. That's all baby carrots are anyways, and sometimes they add chemicals to the little ones to keep the carrots looking firm and moist.

    Organic carrots are pretty cheap anyway. If you can, just scrub them instead of peeling them (lots of vitamins in that outer layer) but no harm in peeling and then doing a quick chop chop to make some finger-length "baby" carrots.

    Not low carb, but something my husband and I did when we were learning to cook was to spend a week ruining rice until we figured out how to make it properly. Once we did that, we could cook up a pot of brown rice and completely transform it using spices and addatives. Add some tomatoes and chile powder and corn and beef? BAM, mexican. Add tamari (we're a wheat-free household) and ginger and chicken and peas? BAM, chinese.

    It's really flexible and also very easy to continue to grow from "I can make rice" to "I can make this incredibly fancy dish that happens to have rice in it" just by trying new things.

  86. I'm an OK cook, but I like baking more... mostly "hacked" recipes that take as little effort as possible. My favorite cookbooks are still the ones I got as a child, one of them is by Disney & has a recipe for finger paint towards the end. I think you need some Disney cookbooks in your life!

  87. Here's a super easy recipe that made for many a meal in my college days

    Bachelor chow (a.k.a. "Alpo"**)

    1 lb. ground beef
    1 lb. sausage (I prefer spicy)
    1 lb. Velveeta cheese

    Brown the meats together, drain off the grease, add the cheese and heat until it's all melty. Serve on toast or biscuits (or if you're really lazy, just scoop some in a bowl, heat and eat). Refrigerate the unused portion.

    ** Growing up we never had a name for it. One day some friends were over and saw it on the stove. "What's that? It looks like dog food." So, we started calling it Alpo.

  88. For dessert: Chop a banana, or several, and mix with lots of nutella.
    (chocolate/hazelnut paste) ermagherd the tasty!

    Dinner, lunch, snack, w/e: Boil some noodles, or use the cup ones where you just add hot water. Open a can of tuna, mix with chopped red onion and some yoghurt, salt and pepper.
    Or yoghurt, honey and dijon mustard.

    Sallad is your friend!
    Buy some lettuce (I like ruccola), cherry tomatoes, cucumber and bell peppers.
    Chop, mix, add pre made dressing and your favourite thing. Ham and cheeze, fetacheese and sundried tomatoes, chicken, tuna, boiled eggs or whatever you like. Done! :)

  89. We love the frozen mesquite grilled chickenbreasts from Sam's. They're already cooked, so you just heat and slice and you have instant fajita meat or salad topping!

    Also, we make 'dump it' soup: in a really large pot, brown ground beef (we generally do a pound). Then dump in a can of ranch style beans, a can of corn, a can of Rotel, a can of minestrone soup (don't add the water the soup label calls for) and let it simmer on low to medium heat until hot through.

    The nice thing is you can play with this however you'd like - sometimes we'll add frozen beans and carrots, sometimes we use the hot rotel.

  90. Two recipes for you. Good luck.

    Hungarian Rice (Epbot Style)

    1 package pre-cooked bacon
    par-boiled (minute) rice to serve 4
    1 bag frozen peas
    Onion flakes
    Garlic Granules

    Cook the rice per directions. As it is cooking, add in a handful of the onion flakes. Toss in a liberal amount of garlic. Chop bacon. Mix it in when the rice is done cooking. Mix in 1/2 the bag of frozen peas. The heat from the rice should thaw the peas and make everything nice and warm. Eat. (When I do this, I do it the hard way by actually frying bacon and using a fresh onion.)

    2. White Chicken Chile (Epbot Style)
    1 package thinly sliced chicken breasts - cut into bite-size pieces
    1 can hominy - drained
    1 can chopped tomatoes with chiles (think Rotel)
    2 cans seasoned pinto or kidney beans (think Bushes Chile Beans)
    1 can chicken broth
    Garlic, chili powder, onion flakes and cilantro or oregano to taste

    Drain the hominy. Dump all ingredients into a large pot. Bring to a low boil. Cook for 20 minutes. Enjoy.

  91. Most of my meals are just throwing stuff in a pan and waiting. For example:
    1. Chop smallest onion in the house(add a clove of garlic if you're adventurous)
    2. Boil noodles
    3. After the onion browns put a can of tuna in the pan with it
    4. Wait 'till everything is cooked the way you want it, mix it all together in the same pan, add mayo, cheese, or what ever spice, salad dressing, or pre-made sause you have in the fridge that sounds good, mix again, and dig in.

  92. Mexican chicken: Toss 4 frozen chicken thighs in a crockpot. Dump a jar of taco sauce on them. High for 6 hours. Shred chicken. Serve it with a can of mexi-corn and some rice. Buy a rice cooker.

    Pork roast: Thawed boneless pork loin in the crockpot. Cover with water. Dump in a packet of au jus seasoning. Stir. Low for 8 hours

    Chicken casserole: Boil some chicken in water. Make a box of stuffing according to package directions. Shred and drain chicken, dump chicken in a casserole dish. Mix with a can of cream of chicken soup. Cover with cooked stuffing. 20 minutes in a 350* oven.

  93. For this recipe (if you read this) you just need a pot and a can opener. No skills required. I taught my sister (who has been known to burn water) this one and she made it even easier by heating it all in the microwave.
    Six Can Soup AKA Super Easy Tortilla Soup
    2 cans chicken broth
    1 can black beans
    1 can corn
    1 can ro-tel tomatoes
    1 can chicken

    Combine in a pot until hot.
    If you wanna get fancy, crunch up tortilla chips in your bowls and garnish with cheese, avocado and/or sour cream.

  94. Buy the book "Jamie's Food Revolution" by Jamie Oliver. It's a cookbook, but it isn't. It's really a "how to learn to cook even if you can't boil water" book. Everything in it is easy and delicious, and it has variations. He even teaches you how to make a salad. Seriously. With like 8 different variations on salad that all come out looking like something out of a real chef's kitchen with no more than 4 or 5 ingredients, including the lettuce. My 11 yr old son loves to try recipes from this book because Jamie explains every single step, leaving nothing out and assuming you know absolutely nothing about cooking to begin with.

    And my go-to meal in university was nachos. Dump chips on a baking sheet, smother with salsa from a jar, top with ground beef or cooked chicken meat if you have any cooked, or with your favourite assortment of veggies, or some crumbled TVP, dump a whack of shredded Monterey Jack cheese on top and nuke until the cheese melts. If you are feeling brave, stick it in the oven at 300 until the cheese melts.

  95. I'm laughing because after you made a point to say you don't like to cook or spend much time doing it, you get this big list of recipes --and ones with a lot of chopping prep work! Don't get me wrong, they sound good to me --but that's because I do like to cook. I think that ideas for meals like a grocery store rotisserie chicken with french bread and fruits and veggies for sides might be something to consider. Refrigerated tortellini (Bertolli? Bertollini?) that you have to boil for three minutes mixed with some good spaghetti sauce is also doable. Lloyd's BBQ meat on a bun...or a salad. The frozen section of the grocery store has a lot more than TV dinners as well --there are all kinds of heat it in the skillet or toss it in the oven meals that are much healthier than they used to be and require only the effort of heating (even the steamable sides are good easy options). Dry bags of soup mix--add water and heat. And, yes, grilled cheese sandwiches or quesadillas can be fabulously versatile.

  96. I don't like to cook (luckily my hubby loves to cook, so he does most of the cooking). However, this is an easy recipe that even I can do.

    1. Gather supplies: frozen chicken breasts, 1 can cream mushroom soup (you can substitute cream of chicken), 1 can cream celery soup, 1 cup uncooked rice, 1.5 cups milk, 1 9x13 pan, cooking spray, tin foil.

    2. Spray pan with cooking spray so stuff doesn't stick.

    3. Put uncooked rice, milk, and soups in pan, stir to mix.

    4. Put frozen chicken breasts on top (as many as you want - I usually put 5-6 in there - this makes great leftovers).

    5. Cover with foil, put in the oven @ 325 degrees for 2 1/4 - 2 1/2 hours.

    6. Eat. :)

  97. My "lazier than even getting take out" meal is rice cooker rice and beans. Get a rice cooker (They're really cheap, mine was €14), drain 2 cans of black beans, and dump them in. Add as much rice as you think you want, plus water (the box of rice should give you rice/water ratios). Also add a bit of olive oil, for the beans, and possibly some salt and pepper. Stir together, then start the cooker. When it's done (rice cookers have an auto shut off), put the rice and beans on a plate, add sour cream and cheddar cheese (and hot sauce, if you're me) and eat.

  98. You should try one of those meal assembly places. You go to their kitchen/store and prepare 6 to 12 meals assembly line style. They have everything prepped and cut for you (with instructions), you just assemble it, leaving out anything you don't want. You'll leave with a freezer full of meals for only a few hours work. I've used Dinner Done in Tampa, but I don't think they're in Orlando. Search for meal assembly kitchens to see what's near you. Yes, it's more expensive than making it yourself at home, but cheaper than take-out! And it's a good way to get your feet wet with cooking.

  99. I love cooking, but also love finding quick and easy recipes.

    Take a half cup of peanut butter. Now slowly add 1/2 cup of water to it, stirring so the PB absorbs the water. It'll look like it can't possibly at first, but it will. Next, add 1 clove of minced garlic (I buy pre-minced jars of garlic, so 1 teaspoon of that), 1 teaspoon of sugar, and 2 drops of hot sauce. Mix it all together. You now have peanut sauce. Add this to chicken, pasta, or anything else you can think of.

    Another tip is to take some vegetables (almost any veggies work, but I like zucchini, eggplant, potatoes, and sweet potatoes). Peel them if needed (e.g. eggplant) and slice them as thin as you can. (Don't worry about being perfect. Go thicker if you can't get them thin.) Preheat the oven to 425. Put the veggies on a greased cooking sheet and spray with cooking spray. Toss on salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Put in the oven and bake for 8 minutes. Flip and bake for another 8 minutes. Then eat.

    With eggplant, I do the last thing, but only put it in for 6 minutes the second time. Then I top it with sauce and mozzarella cheese and then put it back in for the cheese to melt - eggplant parm!

    Finally, here's a favorite with my kids. Make pasta. After draining, add some butter and toss. Then mix in cottage cheese. Serve with cinnamon and sugar.

    Also, I'm going to have to try that chocolate almond cluster recipe. Looks delicious!

  100. I'm gonna assume that John might know how to grill? Men tend to love this playing with fire thing. So have John grill up the meat. If he isn't experienced in this, there are tips online. Then get instant mashed potatoes, or rice - boil water add the stuff and just let it sit for a bit. They also have frozen side dishes.

    I'm afraid that my child might suffer from this cooking boredom also as I can't get her to stick in the kitchen all that long, except for baking. She loves to bake. She made the "My lap is on fyer!" cake(s - she made an entire pan) herself (Book tour Denver). Which is good because I don't really like baking. I should have her help me this afternoon...hummm

  101. Here is my fav easy dish. Take out the crockpot and spray with Pam. Place 4 chicken breast on the bottom (I put them in frozen but you can do thawed as well). Empty a box of stove top stuffing and dump that on top of chicken. Mix 1/2 cup of sour cream, 1 can of cream of chicken, and 1/4 cup water and then pour on top of stuffing. Cover and set on Low for 4 hours or High for 2 hours. Chicken and stuffing are served. =)

  102. Frozen. Foods. Aisle.

    I like cooking but am too lazy to do it 90% of the time, and we eat a ton of frozen food. It's cheaper than takeout and they have lots of great stuff... chicken pot pies, ravioli, breaded chicken and fish tenders, all kinds of potatoes, and of course lots of veggies. This stuff just keeps getting better too so if you've tried it in the past and been disappointed, I'd take another look. Everything has clear and simple instructions to heat it up. I don't know if you have Trader Joe's where you are, but if you do, that's the place to go. I could happily live off their frozen foods section; the quality of food and the variety is fantastic.

    As far as actually cooking is concerned, another thing I would highly recommend is getting a really good thermometer. Specifically, this one. I know it seems like a lot to spend, but you will never under or overcook meat again if you use it. And if you decided to get one, the first thing you should make is a good steak, which is also a pretty easy thing to make as long as you can temp it to get it cooked just how you like it.

    Buy some nice steak, sirloin or ribeye or whatever looks good to you (look for nice, even marbling of fat in the steak). For two people, 1 or 1 1/2 pounds should be good. Season the steak with plenty of salt and pepper. Heat a frying pan (nonstick is easier but a traditional skillet will give you more browning, which equals more flavor) over medium-high heat (if you have gas, you want the fire high and orange but not as hot as it can go) for a few minutes. Drop a pat of butter (if you're worried about burning, you can also add some vegetable oil) into the pan and swirl it around. Once it stops foaming, add the steak. Cook on one side for a few minutes, until it can be easily lifted from the pan. If it's still sticking, just let it keep cooking until it comes off the pan easily. Flip the steak over and keep cooking until the temperature in the center of the steak is 120–125 for medium rare or 130–135 for medium (it's easiest to find the center by poking the thermometer through the side of the steak, not through the top).

  103. JOE PIE! Can of biscuits, lb of hamburger, sloppy joe sauce (in a can!) and shredded cheese. Preheat the oven to whatever the biscuit Gods tell you to. Brown the burger (or get John to). Add the sauce. Let it simmer until thicker. Open the roll of biscuits (this part always scares the snot out of me.) Mash the crap out of a raw biscuit (you don't even have to try to keep it round, because really, round is overrated). Spoon sloppy joe onto the flattened, raw biscuit. (You are supposed to leave the edges clear, but whatever, I'm a rebel.) Sprinkle with cheese (Supposed to use cheddar, but again, I'm a rule breaker. Whatever is in the fridge is good enough for me!). Flatten another innocent biscuit and throw it on top of the mess you just made. Use a fork to crimp the edges together. (Or not, because it's just going to separate when it bakes and then you'll feel like a failure. No? That's just me? Ok then.) Back it for however long the biscuit Gods demand. My kids and I seriously LOVE these things.

  104. Here you go, Jen...this was my go-to cookbook at about age 10:

    If I could do it then, you could do it now. Warning: this cookbook was written in the 80's and I remember it using things like lipton onion soup mix...so beware :)

    Seriously, though, this one is actually really good--very few ingredients, very little technique...it is from a Zen monastery:

  105. I'm a life-long cook and baker (not that i've been around a long time, but I started following my mum around the kitchen when i was pretty young so i have decades of experience even though i only have a few decades under the belt. . .) - I'm one of those annoying people who can look in the fridge and pantry for half a minute and figure out a three-course meal that won't take more than an hour to prepare. So I literally have no idea of where you're coming from. Not to say I don't occasionally choose eat-out options, but they're definitely in the minority in my life. . .

    So my advice is thus: find something you're interested in doing, that you're even driven to do - maybe challenge yourself to learn a new recipe a week? (of course, keep them simple so you don't bomb out quickly.) If you're not engaged in the activity, you're not going to want to do it, and then the vicious cycle of eating out and take-out just continues. After a few months, you'll have created a repertoire of easy recipes that take little effort you can turn to when you need a break from take-out. Because, honestly, if you don't care about learning to cook for it's own sake, then I don't know where to tell you to start. Because to get good at cooking, you have to do it over and over agin until you don't really think about what you're doing, you just do X to get result Y. Like with any other skill, you do need to devote some time to get good at it. I hope that's not off-putting! Because I have never EVER found something from a can that tastes anywhere near as good as what I can put together with about 10 more minutes of effort - so the rewards are great!

    I'd also recommend looking up lists of "things to have in your pantry" so that you have basic meal building-blocks on hand all the time - that way you only have to pick up a few fresh ingredients to make a full hearty and healthy meal quickly and easily. Plus dry goods bought in bulk last you a long time and save money also. And if you're at all adventurous food-wise, I'd recommend picking up the weird vegetable everyone seems to be avoiding - you never know when you'll find something amazing! And the internet is literally full of simple recipes for them.

    And lastly, learn to enjoy the time you spend in the kitchen. I cannot emphasize this enough - cooking and baking are not just a means to an end, but enjoyable in themselves! I wish I didn't live in Toronto, or I'd totally be willing to drop by once in a while to give small cooking lessons. . . It really is a lot of fun to play with food!

  106. When I went vegetarian a few years ago, I panicked. I wasn't much of a cook in the first place and very lazy and now I couldn't just throw some pre-cooked chicken in with some vegetables and bake it or stir fry it. allrecipes.com to the rescue!

    This is one of my favorite (super easy) recipes. It's full of carbs and cheese but the spinach makes it healthy! And it makes a lot so you'll have left-overs for a couple days.


    The only things I do differently is use onion powder instead of actual onions (I don't care for the texture of real onions plus this is less work) and mix in some shredded cheese with the potatoes AND sprinkle some on top. If you can mash potatoes, you can make this. I believe in you!

  107. I'm inept in the kitchen - the one cookbook that worked for me (and that my ex-husband kept, blah) was Eating in: The Official Single Man's Cookbook. It's out of print, but available used on Amazon. Now the cartoons were very man-oriented and the goal was to get the ladyfriend in the sack after a lovely dinner but darn if there wasn't so much info in there about how to cook and what to look for when buying food. And it was funny.

  108. I make "guacamole" without any chopping all the time. Jennifer (above) has the right idea: just add some salsa and lime or lemon juice and some spices. My trick: I cut a thin slice off the narrow end of the avocado and just SQUEEZE the filling out. Eventually I have to split the skin open to get around the seed, but then it's easy to scoop the rest of the meat out with a spoon. Super easy!

  109. If you have a slow cooker, here is the EASIEST recipe ever:
    Take a hunk of meat of your choice (pot roast, pork shoulder, package of chicken thighs, whatever you like - I don't recommend chicken breasts in the crockpot, they get dry). Put it in the crockpot. Dump in two jars of pickled peppers of your choice (pepperoncinis, cherry peppers, mild banana peppers, jalapeños, whatever you like) including the pickling liquid. Cook on low 8-10 hours or on high 4-5 hours. Shred meat with two forks. Plop shredded meat on sandwich bun (or serve over rice, couscous, etc). Ta-dah!

  110. Josh Lyman got whole pieces of legislation through Congress on Apples and Peanut Butter.

    This is my way of saying: I'm a geek over West Wing, and it's on Netflix now, and you should watch it, because I think you'd both enjoy it.

  111. So I can't cook either. In fact I'm also the pickiest eater on the planet. Basically, I have the refined pallet of a 4 year old. Anyway, one of the easiest things I can cook...erm...one of the ONLY things I can cook are YUMMY Mexican pizzas.

    1)Put the oven on 350 and put some flour tortillas on a cookie sheet. If they start to puff just press them down flat with an oven mit.

    2) When they start to turn golden brown add salsa as sauce, shredded cheese, and any other toppings you like.

    3) bake until cheese melts and VIOLA instant yummy goodness. Takes about 5-10 minutes from getting ingredients out until you're eating. very little clean up or prep needed.

    : )

  112. I can cook--pretty well, actually--but it's rare for me to make the effort, especially when my husband is traveling.

    I'm a big fan of chicken that has been marinated in some way. My favorite involves a homemade yakitori sauce, but we'll skip that one for now. Take a couple boneless, skinless chicken breasts, and chop in chunks (my husband sees them as bite-sized, I tend to cut them in half). Put in a covered bowl or ziploc bag along with one of the following: balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing, buffalo wing sauce, barbecue sauce, or one of the pre-made Lawry's 30 Minute Marinades. Put in the fridge for at least half an hour.

    Fire up the broiler on your oven (about 500 degrees), and cover a pan of some sort with tin foil. Arrange the chicken chunks on the pan in a single layer; discard any leftover marinade as it now has raw chicken cooties. Broil on one side for 7 minutes; turn chunks over and broil another 5-6 minutes. Cut into the fattest chunk to check for doneness. I've found that the small chunks cook much more quickly and easily than a full breast.

    I also absolutely love the following salad: baby spinach, dried cranberries, diced apples and/or pears, walnuts, crumbled feta cheese, and balsamic-based salad dressing. Soooo yummy.

  113. Oh also, my go-to dinner on a busy night is pita pizza.

    -1 bag of shredded mozz or 'pizza' or 'italian blend' cheese - I get the Sargento reduced fat italian
    -1 can of tomato sauce. No, not a bottle. Tuttoroso makes a good one, and it comes in a little can, prespiced and everything. They have it in Florida, I checked.
    -1 package of small pitas. I buy the Thomas' brand.
    -Some of whatever toppings you like. I use turkey pepperoni. No chopping needed.

    Get out a cookie sheet, put foil on it, make pizza on the pita. Put in oven at 425 for like 10 minutes, then I like to put it up under the broiler for a minute so it's crispy. That's it.

    Brisket is also really easy, all you have to do is slice an onion. My mom's recipe:
    2-3 lb brisket (will feed 3-4, it shrinks a lot).
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1 small Vidalia onion
    12 oz. beer, any kind

    Preheat oven to 350°
    Place brisket in pyrex baking pan.
    Slice onion over top
    Dump brown sugar over top
    Squeeze ketchup over top (approx. 1/2 cup)
    Pour beer into pan

    Cover pan tightly with tin foil and place in center of oven.
    Don’t check it for at least 3 hours.
    When Brisket is very tender and comes apart on a fork, it’s done.
    Slice brisket against the grain. Don’t worry if it falls apart. Serve with egg noodles.

    You can make gravy out of the drippings, or just buy it.
    Remove from oven, remove brisket to cutting board to rest.
    Remove onion and discard.
    Pour drippings into a small saucepan over medium heat.
    Shake in some Wondra or cornstarch (a tablespoon or two) and bring just to a boil so it thickens, stirring often. Wondra/cornstarch can be added as needed.

  114. i can actually cook really well, i just don't like to. simply because i'm lazy. and in the mathematical part of my brain, if i spend more time making something than i do eating it, it's a waste of time. no matter how delicious. le sigh. also, i'm not so good on following directions--again with the laziness; i CAN follow directions, i just don't want to. knowing all that, my mom gave me "cook without a book" by pam anderson (a chef, not a baywatch babe). the book gives you general guidelines of amounts of things and steers you toward combinations of foods and spices that taste good together. it's wonderful! all the recipes in it happen to be vegetarian, but my boyfriend--a big ol carnivore--really likes everything i've made from it so far. and lots of the dishes would be delicious by a simple substitution of chicken or pork or whatevs for the protein in the "recipe" (i say "recipe" because it's all just tips and guidelines for mushing things together into deliciousness--i've never used a measuring cup for any of the things i've made from it). i highly recommend taking a look at it!


  115. I like to cook, a lot actually, but I'm also really, really lazy. Here's my favorite lazy food options:

    Combine a can of black beans and a jar of salsa. Eat it with chips, crackers, or sliced veggies. You can eat it cold, or warm it up in the microwave and stir in some cheese. Sometimes, I add in any leftover meat - either ground meat or chopped up meat from another meal.

    We also have "bento boxes" for lunch sometimes. I have no idea why we started calling them bento boxes but basically it's a collection of little snack things. Usually roasted nuts, hummus or black bean dip, cheese slices or cubes, some sliced fruit and veggies, and some type of crunchy snack. We like Snap pea crisps (the regular flavor, not ceasar) and Veggie Straws or Cinnamon Apple Straws (the brand is called Sensible Portions). Trader Joe's also has these awesome Cat Cookies in different flavors - ginger, chocolate and vanilla. They are like animal crackers shaped as cats.

    Also, I agree with everyone else that has said you can add all kinds of things to grilled cheese sandwiches. If you have trouble cooking chicken, try the canned kind. The brand offered at Sams Club is really good, and I've never found bones or gristle in it. It works great to add to things like beans or grilled cheese or pasta.

  116. Meat Thermometer, with a lead (so the metal stick part is connected to the reader by a cord, though the IR are nice, you can't just stick it in the oven)

    Some of my friends are not experiencing life-without-a-college-cafeteria and that's the one thing I recommend. It comes with a chart to tell you what temp you need each meat to be and you can set an alarm to go off when it reaches that temperature. I don't even use it for meat all the time, yeast slurry that needs to cool, water for tea...

    But a quick, and easy dinner? Pasta Lasagna- boil 1lbs noodles (anything shorter, don't do spaghetti), brown 1lbs ground beef (no need to do a temp check, scramble them up and wait till they're brown), dump together in the warm pasta pot with a jar of pasta sauce, 1/2-3/4 Cup Sour Cream, and some chunks/shredded handfuls of mozzarella, swirl together till the sour cream disappears and you've got dinner and lunch for a couple days (depending on serving size- 2 lbs lasts me for most of a week if DH is out of town)

  117. Is spaghetti with jarred sauce too far outside the consideration set? It's literally boil the water, dump in the pasta, throw the sauce in another pot while the pasta cooks and you magically have dinner 7-9 minutes later.

    One of my favorite super-easy meals is boxed mac and cheese with hot dogs thrown in. Add in some green beans at the end and it's practically a casserole.

    I'm also a big fan of grilled cheese and tomato soup. The only cooking involved is buttering the bread and grilling the sandwich (hint: get your pan hot first.) You can cook the soup int he microwave.

  118. I am a lazy cook. So lazy, in fact, that if the cooking bug strikes me, all the things I need to cook had better be in my pantry or freezer.

    With that in mind may I present to you:

    ~Easy Peasey No Fail Tomato Sauce~

    1 packet mccormick thick & zesty spaghetti sauce
    1 can contadina garlic tomato paste
    2 cans tomatos - whatever you have on hand is fine

    Add all ingredients to a blender and puree til smooth. Then heat according to your level of lazy, stove or microwave.

    Cook your pasta of choice and enjoy!

    Fancified #1 - use some bertolli frozen ravioli or tortellini. They are really easy to cook and store just fine in the freezer til you are ready.

    Fancified #2 - Add some form of precooked chicken. From a can, from frozen foods, whatever.

    Fancified #3 - Cook a breaded chicken patty and add it on top of your pasta with a slice of mozzarella cheese for a knock off chicken parmigiana.

    Good luck, toots!

  119. I once had a cookbook with a recipe for mock turtle soup that said (no lie!) don't bother, it's too difficult, just go buy it.

    As for easy cooking... did you know that fully cooked rotisserie chicken is cheaper than uncooked chicken in most places, and can be shredded up and used in easy recipes like chicken tacos? (shred chicken, add to taco shell, top, eat)

    Many stores also sell fully cooked shredded pork, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, cheesy broccoli.... all sorts of stuff. They are in the cold section near the meats in what look suspiciously like butter dishes.

  120. I'm concerned that so many of these recipes require you to know when things are done/ripe/etc. You should definitely get a meat thermometer. I like my little Ikea timer/thermometer combo if you have an Ikea near you. Personally I don't think you should try making grilled cheese without a George Foreman or similar; I'm a great cook and I still have a tendency to burn the bread before the cheese melts. It's very sad to ruin good cheese.

    And now, a link dump:
    ImportFood.com Pad Thai kit (minimal cooking). I also recommend everything else on that site - you can cook as much or as little as you want using their supplies.
    PDF of salad ideas. From Oprah's magazine, this tells you what to throw together in a bowl so it takes delicious.
    Sachiko's microwave cooking. A decent collection of microwave recipes that actually look good.
    PDF of how to cook chicken breasts. Good guide if you have a meat thermometer.

    Finally, have you ever tried Schwan's or something similar? You could get meals delivered right to the house. Meals for two section of their website.

  121. Here's a classic from my Midwestern upbringing: tuna casserole. I love this, because it's got exactly three ingredients and you can mess with the ratios without destroying it.

    Boil a largish bag of egg noodles. Crack open and drain two cans of tuna (I like Starkist Solid White Albacore, but you'll need to mash it up a bit before using it) and mix with two cans of concentrated mushroom soup--the full-fat kind, since the low-fat just doesn't taste as good. Grease a casserole dish (glass is best), add the soup/tuna mix, and mix in the egg noodles. Keep mixing until everything is evenly distributed and the noodles have gotten a nice coating of the mix.

    Then bake for . . . oh . . . 300 degrees for ten or fifteen minutes, or until the top is a little crispy when you touch it. The goal for baking is mainly to just get everything good and hot, not effect any specific change in the casserole's state. The end result is pretty darn salty, but it's also creamy and tasty, and you can make a lot really fast. I generally put the water on the stove, then mix the ingredients and grease the bowl while it's heating; that means the prep time is usually only fifteen minutes or so.

  122. had to post this... a book that takes a scientific approach to cooking!


  123. I see Julia posted chicken tortilla soup - I agree with that one! And you can add variety / change it up (like kidney beans for extra fiber, fresh chopped bell pepper, etc). When it's time to serve, put tortilla chips in the bottom of the bowl and they'll be soft but still a little crispy if you eat right away. Top with shredded cheddar.

    My mom taught us to simmer a can of condensed cream of chicken or mushroom soup on the stove (without adding water) and add cooked chicken. Stir for a few minutes until it's hot, and serve over rice. You can add shredded cheddar OR curry spices (probably not both) for variety.

    Better yet, use turkey breast to make something delicious (the whole one, not deli sliced). Slice it yourself (not super-thin) and:
    - Crisp it (under the broiler or on the stove) and serve with cranberry jelly and baked potatoes.
    - Fill a pita with it and sliced apples, cranberry jelly (or dijon mustard), and brie. Set it on foil in the toaster oven for a few minutes and you have a melty sandwich.

  124. You can buy a bag of grilled chicken already cooked and sliced. Pick up some taco shells (hard or soft). Pick up whatever toppings. Heat up the shells and chicken. Put together. No different than making a sandwich, really.

    Bamboo steamers are also awesome. Sit them on top of a wok or pot of water, but don't let them touch the water. Put whatever you want to steam (baby carrots, broccoli..even apples) inside the basket. Turn on the burner and wait about 15 minutes. Turn off the burner. Check your veggies with a fork and if you like the consistency - eat them.

    Boil tri-color pasta. Veggies made into pasta...that's good stuff. Once the pasta is cooked add butter and salt and pepper to taste. Eat.

  125. As a person who really enjoys cooking and making her own bread, peanut/sunflower seed butter, or pizza, etc., as much as you like all of your crafts (which would bore me to try and accomplish, frankly), I don't think I can help all that much. However, I do have a really easy spaghetti recipe (that is NOT from a jar).

    1. Put a little olive oil in a large pot.
    2. Mince some garlic (which I don't think you will - garlic powder works well).
    3. Chop an onion (Gordon Ramsey has done a YouTube video on the proper technique, if you or John is interested).
    4. Put the onion in the garlicky oil.
    5. Cook on medium high until the onion is translucent.
    6. Add a pound or so of ground beef and cook that completely.
    7. Add two cans of minced tomatoes (I've actually started mincing fresh tomatoes myself and staying away from cans, but baby steps).
    8. You can add a few chopped bell peppers or a chopped Anaheim pepper or something, but the tomatoes, onions, and meat are really good by themselves.
    9. Now, let it simmer for an hour, until it just falls apart.
    10. Serve over pasta.

    Okay, so that wasn't all that simple or short, but it's one of my go-to recipes. One of my best friends is a chef and taught me proper sauce technique (i.e. brown garlic in oil before you do ANYTHING else).

    Also, that sauce is especially good the next day, if your refrigerate it.

  126. Do you have a Crock pot?-
    you need
    3 bulbs of Garlic,
    One bag of Chicken parts(boneless,skinless,Frozen)
    salt & Pepper
    half a cup of water.

    First thing in the morning:
    Break up the garlic.. Get rid of all the loose papery skin. No need to peel individual cloves-just break it up and drop into the bottom of the crock. This recipe used to be called 40 cloves of garlic, but you don't have to count cloves- just put it all in. Dump the water in.
    Dump the bag of frozen chicken parts on top of the garlic. Shake salt & pepper over the top. A little goes a long way. Remember you can always add salt and pepper at the table if there's not enough, but once it's cooked in, there's no getting it out.
    Put lid on crock. Make sure it goes all the way down- rearrange or remove chicken so it closes completely. Set to low- let cook 8 hours.

    Serve chicken with minute rice, and microwaved vegetables. If you decide to rescue the garlic, grab some french bread, slice it and butter it, and then grab a garlic clove (careful, they're hot) and squeeze it out on the bread. smush it down all over the slice, with a knife or fork. best garlic bread ever....

  127. This statement cemented my belief that we are platonic soulmates:

    >So, we get by on take-out and going out and leftovers from both. Also protein bars. And sandwiches and cereal.

    Except we're not big on protein bars. But the amount of takeout in my house is truly phenomenal. Sometimes I feel like I can't possibly count as an adult if I can't feed myself.

  128. like tuna?
    box of elbow noodles, cook 8 minutes in boiling water, stir two separate times. Drain.
    open a can of good tuna, drain off the water. Add to noodles
    Open a bag of shredded cheddar cheese, dump in pan with tuna and noodles. STir until melted. ( tuna and cheese will lump together) Add a little salt and pepper. Eat.

    My kids love this! There is a tastier but more involved version but this works as a one pan dinner in the summer.

  129. I don't remember how I came across this on youtube but you've got to check out My Drunk Kitchen. It's Hi-larious. ....and shares some super easy recipes. http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=my+drunk+kitchen&oq=my&gs_l=youtube.1.0.35i39j0l6j0i3l2j0.300364.301043.0.303383.

  130. I hate cooking. LOVE to bake, hate to cook. That being said, I have a few go-to things that I make regularly when it's my turn to cook.

    1) Get a package of refrigerated Buitoni (like the cheese ravioli, etc.).
    2) Open fridge and take out anything you might think would taste good with said pasta (chopped onions, celery, tomato, whatever! Anything you have)
    3) Cook buitoni, toss with olive oil and fridge findings (sometimes I don't even cook the fridge findings, I just throw them in raw, but you can sautee them with the oil for a few mins). BAM. Done. Add parmesean cheese if you want, or some pesto paste. Easy peasy.

    I make this once a week but vary it up depending on what's in the fridge, or I'll add a spaghetti sauce instead of olive oil. Keeps it different but stupidly easy. :)

  131. Hormel Pot Roast (you can find in the lunch meat isle AND it microwaves!) plus instant mashed potatoes = instant dinner for 2. We layer the potatoes on the bottom of a bowl and then add the meat and juice on top.

    You can do lots of the above recepies that say to cook chicken with a store bought rotesseri chicken. I have one chicken enchiliada pasta yum yum dish that makes enough to feed an army and it's basically boil pasta in one pot and in the largest pan you own mix everything else in. I'll tag you in the recepie on pinterst.

    BTW Pinterest is the bomb dot com at finding easy meals.

    Also Kraft makes these cheese&bread crumb shake and bake packages that are awesome. All you need is the raw meat (we like chicken breast or pork chops) and the kraft bag (its with the cheese) just heat to temp and serve with veggie of your choosing. We usually use canned green beans or bagged salad.

  132. Well, I'm really sorry, but I have to do this. It's just too relevant not to! Enjoy! (evil laugh) http://imgur.com/gallery/Yq1gYTo (Here's the artist's FB.Some of his stuff is pretty risque,if you check it out) http://fb.com/pablostanleyart

  133. This one of my regular go-to recipes. You need five ingredients: italian dressing, chicken tenderloins, broccoli (fresh, not frozen), rice (I use jasmine rice for EVERYTHING), and shredded cheddar cheese.

    In a big skillet put about two table spoons of the dressing. Turn burner on medium heat. Throw in the chicken tenderloins. Cut your broccoli down to the crowns (florets?). Flip your tenderloins over and throw in the broccoli. Add enough water that the broccoli mostly covered, but not completely submerged. If you've got a lid for that skillet put it on now, if not, no worries it'll just take a little longer. Stir occasionally and add water as needed.Simmer until broccoli is tender (10-15 mins). At this point if you wanted to break up your tenderloins you can do it with a fork. Add about a cup of rice and water until rice is covered. Cook until rice is done (15mins?) stir frequently, and add water as needed or the rice will stick to the bottom. If you have excess water after the rice is cooked you can drain it out. Add cheese. I usually use about half a small bag. Mix well.

  134. If you buy some refrigerated biscuits and put some garlic powder, butter, and cheese on them, all you have to do is put them in the oven and cook them according to the instructions you have a quick and easy appetizer! :)

  135. I'm just like you! I am just to lazy and get to bored with cooking. However when I do decide to cook a few things I like to do are...

    Mac and Cheese Bake

    We cook the mac and cheese as normal on the stove top (we make box noodles and add Velveeta ) then we plop it in a casserole dish and bake it at about 350 for 10 min or so. I like to sprinkle more cheese on top, shredded provolone is my favorite.

    Also if you're feeling fancy we bake chicken (the frozen stuff) for however long the bag says to and cut that up and mix it in before baking. Or you can add bacon and basically any other type of meat.

    Speaking of bacon...

    If you like sandwiches and have the stuff around the house you can bake bacon in the oven and add it to any sandwich (or if you're like me just eat it and forget the sandwich.

    Place bacon on a baking sheet or stone with sides.
    Start cooking in a cold oven.
    Turn heat to 400 degrees.
    Set timer for 17-20 min and then you're done.

    When I'm not using my stone for bacon I do like to place tinfoil down on my baking sheet for easier clean up on the pan. However I've found the bacon fat seasons a baking stone perfectly, although it's a little bit harder to clean.

    Hope this helps! Good luck! I'm going to continue to keep my man around and hope that he eventually rubs off on me and I can get my butt in the kitchen and cook more.

    OH!!!! One other thing!!!! Here in Minnesota we have "Let's Dish" where all you do is pay to make your own dishes and bring them home and freeze them. It's actually a lot of fun and it's helped us a lot with the whole eat out less thing we're trying to do. Just an idea you should check them out. They have different options every month and the pricing is great (I find it a better way to spend my money than actually going to the grocery store). Anyways... now that I've written a book I'll let you get on to the other comments!

  136. Have you ever tried using those frozen meal kit things? Like John, I can cook, but I hate doing it. We can't afford to eat out every night though, so I do it anyway, since hubs refuses to.

  137. Dates and Brie for a quick sweet. Feeling fancy? Get the Medjool variety of dates, cut out the pits, then stuff them with Brie. They're like little cheesecake morsels. You can also use cream cheese, but I like Brie because of the lower lactose content and because it's more salty than cream cheese.

    Quick Chicken Meal
    Our "easy" dinner is a 4-pack of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (try to get chicken that hasn't had anti-biotics administered or one that has been on pasture) and broccoli or whatever pre-cut veggies I can find on sale. Set your oven to broil (ours is set to "hi"), throw your chicken thighs skin-down in a glass baking dish, shake some sea salt and pepper (or any other seasonings you like) on it. Put it in on the center rack (do this and see how it works; you may need to raise or lower your rack next time). Set a timer for 12 minutes. After 12 minutes, take out the chicken, flip it over, salt/pepper/season the skin, then put it back in for 8 minutes. After 8 minutes, check if the skin is golden. If it is, take it out and get ready to serve. If not, add another 30 seconds or minute, depending on how it's looking. We like crispy skin in our family.

    While all that chicken broiling is going on, rinse your pre-cut veggies. If it's broccoli, we dump the broccoli into a pot, fill it so the water is half as high as the broccoli, add a bunch of sea salt to it (the water should taste how you want your broccoli to be seasoned), then boil. When it turns bright green, check for doneness by poking the broccoli with a fork. If it's tender, drain that broccoli. Otherwise, keep it going until it's how you want it to be, then drain. You can cover the broccoli while it cooks, but I've found I tend to let it overcook when I do that (whoops!). And overcooked broccoli is awwwwwwwful.

    My kids like honey mustard with their chicken. The recipe: honey and mustard. Mix. We like spicy brown mustard.

    We don't eat grains or starchy veggies at the moment (we're on a healing diet called the GAPS Diet), but obviously add whatever else you want to a meal like this. Funny enough, this healing regimen is why we lean toward fattier meats like chicken thighs (with skin!). It seemed crazy at first, but we've been doing this for over a year and a half and haven't been as healthy (in all respects) as we are now.

  138. I actually do like cooking, but am terrible at coming up with ways to do vegetables that don't involve mashed potatoes. Mostly because I'm still trying to learn how to like most vegetables. Green Giant makes these steam in the microwave veggie packs that are great--seriously, all you have to do is take it out of the box, maybe slit the package to let steam out (I think it varies depending on the veggie), hit a few buttons on the microwave, and instant veggies with all of the sauce and seasonings done for you.

  139. Convenience foods are your friends! And if you can afford restaurants, you can afford some convenience foods at the grocery store. Let's start with nuke-able entrees and nuke-able veggies with or without sauces. Then, no less fabulous are the frozen entrees that are best baked in the oven. Sashay down the noodle and rice aisles for a mind-boggling selection of mixes. Some favorites that leap to mind include Uncle Ben’s rice, Stove Top stuffing, noodle side dishes with yummy sauces, gravy mixes, soup mixes, canned soups, canned stews, canned chow mein, etc. etc. You get the idea. Sure, they cost more, but they’re easy, they’re fast, and seriously undemanding. If you can measure out water, milk, and butter, and follow directions for time and temperature, dinner will be ready in just a few minutes. Here’s a favorite menu at our house: BLT’s and escalloped potatoes made from the Betty Crocker mix.

  140. It's kinda funny to read this, because we have an ongoing discussion called "Recipes for people who can't cook" on the forum I frequent.

    Here are some (truly!) easy things:

    Crockpot Salsa Chicken
    Ingredients: 1 jar salsa of your choice, 1 package chicken breasts, 1/2 package velveeta cheese (I like the queso blanco), 1 can diced tomatoes.
    Directions: slice up the velveeta, dump everything into a crockpot, cook on low for 8 hours. Shred chicken with tongs and fork.
    This is great in bowls, on salads, with chips (like rotel dip), or in quesadillas.

    Black bean and corn dip
    Ingredients: 1 can black beans, drained; 1 can white corn, drained; 1/3 cup italian dressing; 1 package feta cheese
    Directions: Mix together, chill for half an hour before serving with crackers or tortilla chips.

    Crockpot roast
    Ingredients: Roast (Sirloin tip, chuck, shoulder, any chunk 'o cow works), 2-4lbs; 32oz vegetable broth (low sodium plz); salt, pepper, garlic powder; small potatoes; baby carrots
    Directions: sprinkle salt, pepper, garlic over roast the night before you want to cook it. Wrap in plastic wrap, put in a container, and put in the fridge overnight. Next day - Turn crockpot to low, put the roast in, pour in veggie broth, put lid on. Leave for 4 hours. Open lid, add potatoes and carrots, put lid back on for 4 more hours. Remove (this may take a while as it will be falling apart) and serve.
    BONUS! Turn the leftover broth into gravy. Take a sauce pan, and put 3tbs of butter in over medium heat. When the butter melts and stops bubbling, whisk in 3 tbs of flour (kinda slowly) and stir for a few minutes. Add the broth 1/2 cup at a time and keep stirring. Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Add pepper to taste.

    Heart Attacks On A Steeck (good party food)
    Ingredients: one package bacon, one package hot dogs (don't use Ball Park), one box brown sugar, toothpicks.
    Directions: Cut the hot dog weiners into thirds. Cut the bacon in half. Wrap each hot dog piece with a piece of bacon, spear with toothpick to hold in place. Place a layer on the bottom of the crockpot, pour brown sugar on top. Add another layer. Place any extras in the fridge to add later.
    Turn crockpot on high. One hour later, you have amazingness on a stick.

    Barbecue cups (again, good party food, but also great grab-and-go snacks or meals)
    Ingredients: 1 lb ground beef or turkey; 1 bottle bbq sauce; 1/2 cup grape jelly; shredded cheese; 1 can buttermilk biscuits (not Grands)
    Directions: Brown the ground beef, drain (it's ok if it's not *completely* cooked through, you're going to put it in the oven shortly). Preheat the oven according to biscuit directions. Toss the beef with one bottle barbecue sauce of your choice and 1/2 cup grape jelly. Mix well and simmer on low while you mess with the biscuits. Unpackage biscuits and mash them flat, put them in cups of a muffin pan...squish 'em into place and fold where needed. Spoon bbq mixture into your newly made biscuit cups and top with shredded cheese. Bake according to biscuit directions. Serve and enjoy!

  141. quick simple option. Frozen ravioli and jar pasta sauce. You could add some frozen italian style meatballs if you want. You don't even have to boil the pasta! Seriously. Put some sauce on the bottom of the pan, add the ravioli, top with rest of sauce and some grated Italian cheese. Cover and cook at 350 for 35 - 40 minutes. You can grab some of that garlic bread that is already slathered in butter and add that the last 10 minutes of cooking. There you have it.

    Also, my next easiest meal. Can of chili, can of refried beans, a tablespoon of hot taco sauce and some graded cheese. Add the first three ingredients to a microwave safe bowl and cook on high for 3 minutes. Stir, cook for another minute or two. You will want to cover the bowl. Take a couple flour tortillas and put them in the microwave for 15 seconds to warm up. Put some of your bean mixture and some cheese on each, roll and enjoy. You can also just put some of the mixture in the middle of a plate, cover it with corn chips and grated cheese, throw in the microwave for less than a minute and have super easy nachos.

    #3 Take a loaf of french bread, cut in half, add some jar pasta sauce, Italian graded cheese and what ever else you want to top with, pepperoni, mushrooms, olives. Just make sure all meats are cured and ready to eat. Throw in the oven at 350 for 10 minutes. DONE. You notice almost everything I cook goes in the oven at 350? lol.

    #4 Frozen country style potatoes and frozen bell peppers and onion mix thrown in a hot pan with oil and cooked on medium high until brown, don't stir too often. Make a couple wells in the potatoes, add eggs, cover with salt and pepper and cheese. Put lid on pan and lower heat to low. In 5 minutes you will have a yummy dinner/breakfast of eggs and potatoes.

    That's it for now. I'll let you know if I can think of any of my other go to, quick, no measure meals. :)

  142. My friends and I used to cook from the Clueless in the kitchen book in high school! It really is a great little book! Our only real misadventure happened when trying the brownie recipe one weekend. Something whent wrong and in the end we ended up with an inedible, looks like it was breathing, inflamable (Friend's little brother took it to the science lab and expiremented with the pseudo-brownie disaster results) mess.

    Seeing the book pop up on your blog brought back some great memories!

  143. We've started eating antipasto for dinner sometimes. It's a bit of work but not difficult. We like to have crackers, raw veggies, fruit, cheese, one or two things in the pickle/olive/caper/pickled beet family, cream cheese, and smoked salmon. It could be a bit less expensive with something like pepperoni in place of the salmon. It feels fancy and while there is some chopping to be done for the fruit and veggies (we especially like sweet peppers and a pear), nothing can be screwed up.

    I also play the "what can I put on the nachos this time?" game. The most recent big success was chili (pre-made at the grocery store) and leftover mixed veggies (frozen are easy to cook in the microwave in a glass bowl with a lid loosely on top or a piece of waxed paper wrapped over it - add a little water, how much isn't crucial, and zap for 3 minutes; stir and zap for a minute more or until they are hot through, and drain off extra water if needed) in between tortilla chips and shredded cheese.

    Actually, on the microwaved frozen veggie note, I sometimes make "succotash": lima beans and some water, then corn on top of them, then green beans on top of them. A wad of butter and some spice mix (Mrs. Dash has a lot of options, though you may want to add salt) on top, cover it loosely with a lid or waxed paper, and zap as above.

    Another noncooked idea is my summer bean salad. Two cans of beans - I try to mix it up and use white and black or light red and black - poured into a sieve or colander and rinsed off, and either one cup of frozen corn or one can of high quality canned corn (not the cheap cans, they taste like metal). Mix together and add chopped fresh cilantro - how much depends on how much you like cilantro, but I add enough so it looks like every bite will get some. Then cut a lime in half, pick out any seeds you see, and squeeze it over the beans. I like to stick my fingers into the sections and pull out some of the pulp to mix in. You can salt it now or wait and use coarse salt when you eat it, for a little extra crunch.

    Well! That was a long comment for what is possibly my first-ever Epbot comment!

  144. 'Fancy' grilled cheeses are always good! And surprisingly similar to my quick easy go-to recipe when I don't actually want to make dinner but need food.

    Cheesy pasta (not mac'n'cheese, but you could use macaroni noodles)

    1. Cook pasta (any kind, however much you want, but probably not spaghetti noodles)
    2. While pasta is cooking, grate some cheese - cheddar, pepper jack, mozzarella, whatever (also however much you want, for me more is better)
    3. Drain pasta, then add cheese one handful at a time while stirring, so the cheese bits melt and make a sauce of sorts. Usually I'll add a splash of milk to help with the saucification.
    4. Add some garlic Mrs Dash or something similar, and you're done!

    If I'm feeling fancy (or like I need to eat more food groups), I'll put in some frozen chopped spinach that I've thawed in the microwave along with the cheese. Or some mushrooms, or really any veg that you like.

  145. One more, I recently discovered frozen brown rice. It's par-boiled. Microwave on high for 5 minutes. I then open a can of red beans and drain them, a can of tomatoes with green chilies and mix it all together.

    The rice is usually hot enough to warm everything. You can put some cheese on top along with some sour cream if you like. Or, add some chicken broth and call it soup! Corn chips added to it make for a yummy hot meal in minutes.

  146. Oh, and you can make some delicious ribs with very little effort, and in your oven so you don't have to worry about getting your kitchen all smoky.

    Get a package of baby back ribs, and buy a jar of Cocoa & Chile Rub and toss liberally on the ribs. Wrap them in plastic wrap and put in the fridge for at least 12 hours. Turn your oven on 175 (200 if it doesn't go down that low). Here's the trick:

    Take a long piece of foil, wider and longer than your rack of ribs, and turn up the edges and crimp the corners together to make a little pan, then place on a cookie sheet (preferably one with raised edges). Pour 1/3 cup of apple cider into the foil, and dash in 3-4 drops of Liquid Smoke. Place your ribs on the foil, and turn the edges of the foil up around the ribs. Lay another sheet over the top and crimp to the bottom like you've just made a foil sleeping blanket for your ribs. Poke a fork in the top piece of foil 2 or 3 times to make vents.

    Put in the oven for 4 hours. After 4 hours, pull them out, peel back the top sheet of foil, baste with bbq sauce, and turn the oven up to 350. Back for one hour.

    Eat the crap out of them.

  147. My favorite no-effort meal tastes and looks like I spent a lot of time on it, when it in fact takes 12 minutes and only a couple of easy steps. The ingredients sound like a lot of work, but it's super easy.

    You will need:
    A frosen salmon filet (usually enclosed in plastic and sold four by for)
    Teriyaki sauce (preferably the one with ginger and sesame seeds)
    Water (2 parts water for 1 part rice)
    A pinch of salt

    Put the water and salt in a pot and set to boil.

    While you wait for the water to boil, take the salmon out of the plastic and onto a plate. Defrost in microwave owen for like five minutes.

    When the water boils, put the rice in and stir (like, once.), put on a lid an set a timer for ten minutes.

    When the salmon is no longer frozen, (optional for faster cooking: make a few small gaps in it using a fork) pour teriyaki sauce over it. One thick line as long as the salmon is usually enough.

    When there is two minutes left on the rice, put the salmon back in the microwave on full effect and cook for two minutes. (The salmon is ready when it's whitish-pink and not squishy-pink on the inside.)

    Put the rice on your plate and you are ready to go!

    The only dishes is the pot wich you easily wash while the rice cools to eating temperature, and thus you have cooked a delicious meal and done the dishes in under 15 minutes!

  148. Asparagus fries are really good for you and easy to make. Break off the woody end of the asparagus, lay it down on a cookie sheet. drizzle some olive oil over them and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put it in the oven to broil for 7-8 minutes depending on how thick they are. They are super yummy.

  149. Grocery store rotisserie chicken! Any recipe that involves chicken, just buy one of these puppies, pull the meat off the bone, and add it. No more overcooking or undercooking the chicken! Or, you can just buy a chicken, a bag of salad, a bottle of salad dressing and have dinner. Just as easy as take-out but probably cheaper.

  150. I LOVED your post Jen! And thanks for being honest in it. :) Keep it real girlfriend!!!
    So, I'm actually a nutritional sciences major and I HATE cooking. I really enjoy prepping food, baking, washing dishes and cleaning up afterwards. I get in a Zen-Mode when I do this. My husband loved to cook and is quite good at it. So we naturally make an awesome kitchen duo. I know, you're like, what? You like to prep and clean? Yes I do.
    Dinner prep has become this really treasured time in my household so I can talk with my hubby after a long day at work/school. Then we watch something while eating to relax(I know - not ideal!)
    So, perhaps you and John can make a thing of it while cooking some easy dinners. One person does one thing, and the other helps. Put on some fun music while cooking - this definitely helps. Otherwise, I do not know what to tell you!
    You're stuck with frozen dinners, take-out, convenience foods and snacks till then!!

  151. So, I must admit I have a food blog. But it's not THAT kind of food blog. It's one where I make what I want to, what challenges me, and what I really, really want to eat for dinner.

    I have a ton of friends who aren't too handy in the kitchen - yet. So I created a series of posts called Basic Skills that gives a step-by-step with photos along the way.

    So far there's:
    How to Roast a Chicken

    Chicken Soup

    and Mashed Potatoes

    Hope that helps!

  152. Cook's Country (the magazine and its associated website) is excellent as well, and they always explain the tricky bits with illustrations and so forth. Tends to be more down-home style cooking than Cook's Illustrated. I believe they have a TV show as well, "America's Test Kitchen" or something like that. A lot of their website is subscribers only, but they have a free section that would be INVALUABLE to you: Cooking 101, which explains in detail how to make those staples of the kitchen. http://www.cookscountry.com/how-to-cook/

    As a carless college student in a very small town, I have neither time, money, resources, or equipment to do much beyond baking. I spend a lot of time thinking about good food, though, and when I'm at home, I really enjoy cooking, even though I'm honestly not very good at it. Takes me forever to chop things up. I think that to enjoy cooking, you've got to be in a certain state of mind, especially if you're trying a more advanced recipe. You're preparing a dish because you REALLY want to eat it and you know it'll be delicious. Even if it's not perfect, YOU made it. In the meantime, you get to smell it and taste-test it and make a big mess, then force your husband/family to clean up because the cook should never have to do dishes. And as long as you double-check the recipe as you go along and keep an eye on it while it's baking/boiling/frying/whatever, it's pretty hard to utterly fail at preparing a well-written recipe.

    OOH! Cooking blogs! They can be so inspiring. Man, I'm hungry.
    http://smittenkitchen.com/ Hundreds of delicious, easy-to-follow recipes created and adapted by a busy mother. Also, humorous writing.

  153. preheat oven to 500 degrees. take 2 chicken breasts. if they're thick, slice them in half lengthwise. put them in a baking dish (i use a glass pie pan) that's lightly greased with pam or whatever. throw a couple peeled cloves of garlic in a food processor (or mince them yourself - i have a mini food processor, so i let it do the work). saute for a minute or so over med-high heat in a little oil or melted butter in a small frying pan (warm it up a little, just don't burn it). mix garlic in a bowl with two tablespoons of brown sugar. spread mix over chicken. pop chick into oven for 20ish minutes. serve over rice or pilaf or couscous with veggies on the side. it's my go-to easy weeknight meal.
    (link to the actual recipe: http://www.daydreamkitchen.com/2012/08/baked-garlic-brown-sugar-chicken/)

  154. 1. Start with a rotisserie chicken and shred or chunk up all of the meat and throw it in a bowl. (when I'm really busy I buy a couple, use one right away and store one in the fridge for a couple days, until I'm ready to use it)

    2. Decide if you feel like asian, mexican or italian or american tonight.

    3. Heat up a bag of frozen veggies: I like steamfresh, throw the whole bag in the micorwave for 5 minutes and done! green beans or fiesta corn for mexican, stiry fry veggies for asian etc... or just use whatever you have

    4. Pick a carby component: Rice for asian, rice or tortillas for mexican, pasta for italian, buns or a baked potato for american. Cook the pasta or rice (or use the precooked rice that comes in pouches). Throw the potatos in the microwave after you poke the heck out of the with a fork.

    5. Pick a sauce: stir fry or soy sauce for asian, salsa for mexican, spaghetti sauce for mexican, bbq sauce or sloppy joe sauce for american

    6. Heat up chicken with sauce and if you're going for asian or mexican, throw in the veggies too. Nuke or stir on the stove until combined and warmed up.

    7. Assemble: Carby component on the bottom, top with meat/sauce veggie mix. If doing italian or american, serve the veggies on the side.

    8. Add any toppings you like, cheese, lettuce, sour cream etc...

    9. Enjoy :)

  155. As far as smoothies, we do the work ahead of time and once every couple weeks hit the store and get some bananas (we get lucky and can often use the already ripe ones for cheap!), frozen fruit as you like, and some spinach. Take the small sandwich size ziploc and fill those (full but not bursting) with whatever you just got, throw it in the freezer. In the morning we use our Magic Bullet, add the baggy, add a scoop of yogurt, some almond milk (or juice, depending on flavors), and blend. The amounts vary a bit based on what's in the bag and personal preference, but you can also throw in cinnamon or protein powder for various flavors as you like. Chia seeds and flax (ground) can also thicken and add some extra nutrition. But it's all very 'make it up as you go'.

    We also have a 'quesadilla maker' which is easy since you can basically throw whatever you like in. There's a certain amount of eyeballing the first few times to get the amounts right, but we make pizza quesadillas, just plain cheese, tuna melts, salsa, pre-cooked chicken, etc. Sure, you can do it in a pan yourself, but that gets messier (with the flipping), and is easier to burn.

  156. You can make your own guacamole (assuming you can get good avocados) as long as you can cut things up. This is one of those experiment until you find the right proportions things, but here's the basics.

    Three ripe avocados (ripe = dark and slightly squishy. if they're overripe, just cut out any dark spots). Slice in half with a very sharp knife (don't do it in your hand. Trust me.) Scoop out the pits and save them. Scoop out the rest of it into a bowl. Slice up a little (how much depends on if you like it chunky or creamy)

    Dice a tomato and some onion (green or white - either works). About the same amount tomato and onion. Dice some green pepper or cilantro (about half as much or less than the tomato). Dump those a handful at a time into the bowl with the avocado. Stir. Add more if it's not chunky enough.

    Add a couple dashes of black pepper and red pepper if you like it spicier. Add a couple of squirts of lemon juice: from a lemon if you're into that, or those plastic squirt bottles are fine.

    Then the secret ingredient: Garlic. Minced fresh is best, but that minced stuff in a jar is fine. If all you have is garlic powder, that works too. (Or nothing, but it tastes better with it). You want to add just a smidge at a time, until everything tastes better, but it doesn't taste like garlic.

    To store, throw the pits in there (they keep it fresher somehow). Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Eat within a couple of days. Bits that are exposed to air will turn an unattractive color, but just stir them in and it's fine.

    Master this and any time you need to bring a dish, people will think you're amazing.

    If you have extra onion and green pepper, make fajitas. Get a can of chicken (or pretty much any meat, including leftovers) and a packet of fajita spice mix (it's on the Mexican or spice aisle). While you're at the store, pick up a red pepper too, if you want.

    Slice up the peppers and onion into big chunks. Throw them and the meat into a bowl. Sprinkle a generous amount of mix on top (how much depends on how much stuff you have and how spicy you like things). Stir. Throw in the microwave for about two minutes at a time, until everything is cooked.

  157. Buy a pre-cooked Chicken. Take some spinach wraps, lay flat. Pile Spring Greens, shredded chicken, 1 -2 T goat cheese crumbled, some Mandarian Orange slices, handful of walnuts and dried cranberries. Splash with Balsamic Vinegar. Roll up. Got yourself a Keating Wrap from The Corner Deli, Hamden, CT. Seriously, pre-cooked/roasted chicken can go a long way. Rice steamer, sauted (cooked until clear) onions, dollop of mustard and sour cream and chicken = yummy stove top casserole. Enjoy!

  158. I won't eat dump cake even though I hear it's delicious. because it's called "dump" cake and I'ma jerk like that.

    Meanwhile, last night I made Sheppherd's Pie. It was delicious.

    Make mashed potatoes. I'm lazy- I don't peel the potatoes. (to make mashed potatoes, you wash and cut up a bunch or potatoes. then you boil them in water (with some salt) until you can easily stick a fork in one. drain the water (you can leave a little) add some milk and butter and mash it up. These potatoes don't have to be pretty, you're making a pie out of them)

    Cook up some ground beef. Or turkey, whatever turns your sprockets. Add chopped onions and some fresh chopped garlic while there is still pinkness in the meat. I put wocheshire sauce (in the beginning and in the end) in there and a bit of ketchup (at the end). Salt, pepper, garlic from the spice cabinet. Taste the cooked pieces and spice/sauce till you love it. When it's done cooking, you can drain the meat, but I didn't because I am lazy.

    Take a pie pan and put some potatoes in there. I like to sculpt it up the edges so that it's like a pie crust. layer meat and veggies. I buy frozen because I don't eat fresh fast enough. Since you are baking this, you don't have to defrost them, just put them in there. Last night it was broccoli, green beans, and corn. I forgot that I like carrots in there too. I also forgot that I like some cheese in there, but not a lot. You don't have to add cheese, I just have a cheese habit. 1 pound of meat and the veggies should fill your pie. Put the remaining potatoes on top. You can get fancy and make it all pretty, but I prefer to spread it out like the top crust of a pie. Plus, since I'm lazy, my potatoes tend to be chunky. If you like smooth potatoes, mash them longer.

    Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Might take less for you, living at sea level and all. Sooo tasty.

  159. I have a question... Does the laziness stem from the inability? I had a friend who was an awful cook, but it was because she had so few kitchen skills, and almost all recipes expect a certain level of knowledge. That is actually an easy fix. Among other things, you can look for a cookbook specifically designed for college students. The recipes are generally very basic, with many of the terms explained and usually budget friendly.

    But if the inability is a cause of the laziness, you're better off going somewhere like trader joe's or sprouts for premade dinner components that are decently healthy for you.

  160. As a teenager Top Ramen sandwiches & chocolate milk was my go to meal. I would cook up the Top Ramen, slam it on buttered bread and mix up the choc milk. I know, lots of sodium & carbs. My cousin, who is 7 years younger than me, recently told me she still makes them every once in a great while.

    I used to make chili pizza too. Buy a boboli crust, slather chili on the crust, throw cheese on, bake as directed on the package & voila! An easey, peasey meal.

  161. I have a foolproof recipe that anyone can do. It has only 3 ingredients, but I never shared it in english, since I live in Brazil, so pardon me if I use unusual terms:

    1. A whole piece of filet mignon (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filet_mignon). If it's too expensive in the US, you can use some other kind of meat, as long as it is very soft and tender.

    2.Soy sauce

    3. Orange juice (fresh squeezed is better, but you can use processed OJ just fine)

    That's it. You need a deep baking dish that is deeper than the piece you bought, put the piece in the dish, cover half of the piece with soy sauce and the remaining half with orange juice. Put in the oven and set the heat to ~200 degrees Celsius. Wait 40 minutes and it's done. It should be cripy brown.

    It's very good, has a very different taste and ridiculously easy to do.


  162. Haha this is HILARIOUS! ;D And actually surprisingly delicious!

    I won't offer any recipes (people above me though are doing awesome! ;D), but I will give you a word of advice.

    Cooking is not about being "good" or fancy...it's about expressing yourself and trying new things to end up eating what you love. I know this sounds like a load of c...auliflower because I always hear the same about gardening, and everything green I touch wilts under my hand ;) lol

    But I'm of the opinion that you don't have to be educated, culinary-ly talented or a heck, even coordinated (clumsy Queen of Klutziness here to tell you that!) to cook good things and cook them well. You will never get far if you criticize yourself; just try everything including the kitchen sink and you're bound to come up with a recipe you love and that loves you! ;D lol (probably ditto for me on gardening...ugh :))

    best wishes, and Godspeed! Go get yourself a spiffy kitchenaid mixer and do great things! :D

  163. This:

    is what i cook when I'm super lazy. If you can use a can opener and boil pasta, you're golden!

  164. My brother in law was given the board book cook book- a man, a can and a plan. Super easy meals. But in the interest of actually being helpful, my new favorite crock pot meal is a salty pork roast. The night before you want to eat it (so you have to think ahead a bit) put a 3-5 lb pork rast in your crock pot (original recipe said pork butt, but I've used others with great results, so get whatever's cheapest) drizzle in 1 tablespoon of liquid smoke and 1 tablespoon on kosher salt. Cook on low 18-20 hours. (in the morning I've added 3 cups of water) Shred the meat, serve with any liquid over rice. Pampered chef makes a microwave rice cooker that's fantastic. You can add 2-3 tablespoons of sweetend shredded coconut to the cooked rice for an island flavor. Yum!
    good luck!

  165. Being single, I live and die by panini sandwiches. (Yes, yet another fancy grilled cheese person.) My current favorite sandwich: Throw 3-4 asparagus stalks on the grill or pan first for a minute or so. (They'll turn bright green) Put mayo (or yogurt or jarred alfredo or olive oil) and a little salt and pepper on sourdough. Add a slice of mozzarella or provolone, rotisserie chicken, and the asparagus. Pop on the top piece of bread and cook on the grill or a frying pan on the stove until the cheese is a little melty.

    You might also like - take pretzel, smear on peanut butter, top with another pretzel, dip in melted chocolate.

  166. Before I got married, my husband was Microwave Gamer King. (Once he was being romantic and said he would make dinner for me. I got to his place and he had two frozen pasta bags. I got to pick the one I wanted and he thawed it out/ cooked in in the microwave.) I, on the other hand, loved to cook, but did not considered myself a food snob. I introduced my husband to Good Eats and Alton Brown on the Food Network, and now a miracle has occured: he LOVES to cook and is good at it. So I would suggest to find a show that makes you want to cook and watch it; before you know it, you will want to cook. (Good Eats is a great show to try out!!)

  167. If you'll pardon a bit of not-completely-shameless self-promotion... I actually wrote a book that might be able to help. It's called What to Feed Your Raiding Party, the comic book cookbook that challenges gamers to cook their way out of the fast food dungeon. There's comics, and illustrated techniques (from how to boil water and drain canned veggies to how to debone a leg of lamb), and you actually earn XP for completing (even attempting!) the recipes. And all of the recipes are rated by skill level, so you can feel free to stick to the Level 1 recipes for quite some time before working your way up to Level 5 :) I'd be happy to send you a copy if you're interested.

  168. I have another suggestion. Take a pound of ground pork. Put it in a big skillet or frying pan with a cup or so of water. Take some time to carefully mix the water into the ground pork. Now put the pan on the stove and turn the heat on to medium high. The extra water in there will let the pork cook without as much risk of burning. You'll still want to poke at it occasionally to break it up or you'll have a giant pork patty. Once it looks cooked, you will need to drain off that water and the extra fat that you've cooked out of the pork. If you're afraid of the hold-the-food-in-with-the-lid-while-you-pour-the-liquid-into-the-sink method, I'm sure a colander lined with some cheesecloth would be ok for that. Leave the drained pork in the pan. Stir in a tablespoon of the jarred minced garlic and a teaspoon or two of the jarred minced ginger. Stir those together and dump in a bag of coleslaw mix (the shredded cabbage and carrots). Let it cook for about 5 minutes until the cabbage starts to look wilted (stir it every minute or so). Then pour in a 1/4 cup of soy sauce and turn off the heat. Mix it together really well. It's intended to be the filling of egg rolls, but there's no law that says you can't sit down with a bowl and a spoon and just eat it. Or get some wonton chips in place of the spoon. You could put it over rice too. You can get cups of heat-and-eat rice next to the raw rice in the grocery store.

  169. I have found that stir frys -both noodles and rice- are the easiest meal to make, as long as you have a rice cooker.

    Presuming that you do have a rice cooker and some rice (or noodles - World Market and Publix have great Asian noodle selections), all you need to start is some quality stir fry oil (I use Hokan stir fry oil from Publix) and some vegetables (sliced half moon shape for noodles, diced for rice) such as bell peppers, onions, sugar snap or snow peas, matchstick carrots, minced garlic (from a jar), water chestnuts (from a can).

    Pour some oil into your skillet/wok (roughly 1/2 tablespoon for a large pan). If you're using meat (fajita cut pork/beef/chicken is best) throw it in first with some salt/pepper/red pepper flakes/cayenne/soy sauce, cooking only half way to desired doneness, then throw in your veggies with some soy sauce to taste, and stir and fry until meat is fully cooked, garlic is fragrant, and onions are becoming clear/brownish. At that point, you can turn off the heat and top your prepared rice/noodles with your fried meats and veggies.

    Choosing a sauce is the fun part - again, Publix and World Market have great selections. If you like spicy, my favorite is House of Tsang Szechuan Spicy stir fry sauce, from Publix. Dump some on top, toss it all together, and you're ready to eat!

  170. Watch some Good Eats. Problem solved. Before Alton Brown I couldn't cook, now people ask to come over for dinner!

  171. I love to cook, but I totally understand the fear of kitchens and the magic that occurs within. So in the spirit of really easy cooking I offer these options.

    1) Put a bag of frozen chicken breasts or thighs in a crock pot. Add a packet of taco seasoning. Turn corckpot on high for a few hours. When chicken is cooked you can shred it with two forks. Ta Da! Perfect for tacos, or enchiladas or quesadillas or the easiest of all - nachos. Just put some hot chicken over some tortilla chips and top with shredded cheese. You can add anything else you'd like to chop up, or heat a can of beans. But the chicken, cheese and chips are good too. (PS this techinique works with pork too. For a different flavor, use pork roast and BBq sauce. Turn on, cook, shred pork = pulled pork. Sandwiches or main dish!)

    2) Mix plain yogurt (plain, not vanilla!) and parmesan cheese, say 1 part cheese to 4 parts yogurts (ie 1 cup cheese, 4 cups yogurt, or 1/4 cup cheese, 1 cup yogurt). Ta Da! Alfredo sauce. Put on pasta. Sauce and pasta alone make a great side dish. Add cooked chicken or veggies if you want a meal. Microwave frozen peas, whatever. Broccoli is good. Add pine nuts if you want to really impress someone.


  172. My mom bought me that cookbook years ago. I hate to cook, but I love to bake. Go figure.
    Anyways, my fave recipe in that book is the Mushrooms Masquerading as Escargot. Really. Really. Good. Mushrooms. *drowns in garlic butter sauce heaven*

  173. http://hartoandco.com/my-drunk-kitchen/

    Hanna rocks, and by the time your done cooking/drinking, you no longer care if it's edible!

    Barring the drinking, I totally agree with mastering the grilled cheese. Get a sandwich press and it's even easier. Some bread, cheese, bacon and tomato and you're on your way to an awesomely delicious sandwich.

  174. Another favorite of mine is Cuban Picadillo. It is so incredibly easy!

    You'll need: 1 large green bell pepper, 1/2 of a large onion, 1 garlic bulb, 1/2 of a small can of tomato paste, some olive oil (probably about 1/2 tablespoon), a jar of green olives (as many or as few as you like, halved), and your choice of ground beef/turkey/pork/chicken. If you like spicy food, feel free to also add a few habanero/chili/serrano/jalapeno peppers into the mix as well.

    All you have to do is:

    In a blender, blend the pepper(s), onion, garlic, tomato paste, and olive oil together into a sauce. (It should not be chunky or too runny. If it's too runny, add more tomato paste. If it's too chunky, keep blending!) Set aside.

    Cook your meat until done, then stir in your sauce and olives. When it's all nice and hot, spoon on top of white rice, mix it up, and enjoy!

    I told you it was easy! (And so delicious!) ;)

  175. Easiest thing in the world - and pretty darn good too! Boil a decent amount of water. Thaw two frozen tilapia filets and cut into quarter sized pieces (or use fresh - whatever!) Dump half a bag of frozen stir fry veggies (with no noodles!) in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Drain veggies and break one cube of ramen noodles into the bowl (throw away the seasoning packet). Put raw fish pieces on top of noodles and veggies on top of fish. Cover with boiling water and cover bowl with lid, plastic wrap, foil or whatever for 3-4 minutes. Remove covering, dump about half the water and add one or two drops of sesame oil and soy sauce to taste (add a little, stir and taste - otherwise it can get too salty fairly quickly). It takes a maximum of 15 minutes to make the whole meal, and that's only if you aren't paying attention! Easy peasy and oh so good! My whole family loves this, even my hubby - and he hates ramen! Good luck and have fun with it! It's just crafting with food!

  176. I'm one of those crazy people who loves to cook! But I have a dad who made his room mates sick with his cooking. He wanted to make dinner for my mom one night , called me up and I talk him through this. So if he can do it you can.
    Frozen burritos
    Enchilda Sauce ( green, red, doesn't matter)
    Cheese ( whatever works)
    Preheat oven to 350 or whatever the wrapper says. Unwrap burritos, put in pan. Open can and pour sauce all over burritos. Bake for about 20ish minutes. Pull the pan out, throw some cheese on top. Bake for another 5 mins. Turn oven off.
    Also fancy up some ramen. Add some frozen chopped spinach. Crack an egg or two into a bowl, beat 'em up and pour them in once the water/broth is boiling.

  177. I used to be super scared of the kitchen. I had to follow recipes to the letter or I just didn't feel comfortable with the possible results. What this meant of course, was that I subsisted on ramen noodles and cereal. Something clicked for me one day though and now my husband calls me the kitchen MacGyver. Basically, it's this: I just think about what flavors I like and start mixing them together. Stir fry is the easiest thing on the planet. What veggies do you like cooked? Get some stew meat or fajita strips (already sliced means less preparation and for me it's worth it) and cook them with some garlic. Throw in your veggies and a little soy sauce (lighter sauce is better, you can always add more later) and let em cook until they're to your desired crunchiness/softness. Easy peasy. Or take things that are really simple and just amp them up a bit. Ramen wish veggies and a little bit of meat tastes way more deluxe than it sounds or costs. Grilled cheese with pear slices, or bacon, or guac, or pretty much anything that tastes good with cheese is my favorite, favorite! Tacos are always super easy to make (just make sure you warm the tortillas either in a pan with a tiny drop of oil or in the microwave for 5-10 seconds first. Another really simple recipe I got from gluten free girl involves a can of garbanzo beans and a bag of frozen spinach. Saute them together in a bit of olive oil, salt to taste and enjoy! Seriously delicious and satisfying. Enjoy your adventures in cooking! You've got this! :)

  178. I usually cut up and parcel out fruits for smoothies ahead of time. that way we can just grab a bag from the freezer, blend it (with liquid) and go. My favorite recently has been bannana, blueberry, and cantaloupe smoothies.

    quesadillas are really easy to make in the microwave or on the stovetop.

    My husband really likes to make himself spaghetti with butter and salt.

  179. Also, you can roll a crescent roll over just about anything and make a delicious treat. Just bake for whatever it says on the rolls package. Hot dogs (pigs in a blanket!); canned chicken, salsa and cheese; canned chicken and cream cheese; sausage and tomato sauce. The possibilities are seriously endless. Don't think you need to be married to the triangle or crescent shapes either. Mash that dough and shape it anyway you like. The results will still be delicious!

  180. Dude I do quesadillas or burritos ALL the time. Get those giant tortillas and fill them with whatever you want. Spinach (not the kind with e. coli), black beans, cheese, and grilled chicken I do a lot. Sometimes I don't feel like grilling the chicken, so I don't and I just have a veggie version. Add some cumin, lime juice, garlic powder, salt, etc. Messican flavors. Then grill. Then nom. I have a george foreman grill, so I use that. You can also just use a pan on the stove, but it's slightly more work because you have to flip the quesadilla/burrito to get both sides all crunchy like.

    Fave flavors:

    - spinach and chicken
    - black bean and guacamole
    - spinach and black bean and mushroom
    - rice, chicken, black bean, corn

  181. Here's a few for your crock pot:
    Lasagna (seriously easy)
    Uncooked noodles
    1/2 lb cooked ground meat
    1/2 jar of favorite pasta sauce
    1/2 liter (um the big tubs? pint?) of cottage cheese, not the dry stuff
    bunch of grated mozza
    repeat all layers again
    cook 4 hours on low

    couple hunks of meat
    some seasoning (onion soup is awesome)
    coke, root beer, coffee, bbq sauce... to cover, if liquid, some puddle on the bottom
    Cook for 8 hours, low.
    Add rice! however much rice you eat + however much water to cook in a pot (unfancy rice is normally double) - stick it under the meat.

  182. Yoda was wrong about soup. "Do or try, there is no do not." Seriously, it's nigh impossible to screw up a soup.

    CARROT-SQUASH SOUP (Easy, healthy, and it doesn't taste like dirt, I promise.)
    Chop up 1 lb of carrots.
    Peel a butternut squash, cut it open (off with its head!) & scoop all the seeds (braaains!) out. Chop up into little chunks.
    Chop up an onion.
    Peel (scrape the skin off with a spoon) 1-2 inches of ginger root and chop up. (Or add some storebought minced ginger.)
    Throw all of those in a pot with some salt, pepper, and dill weed if you have it. Cover with chicken broth and boil on MED-LO for 2 hours.
    Put in a blender, or if your veggies are really soft you can just go to town with a handheld mixer. Eat.

    And then: http://www.amazon.com/Man-Can-Plan-Great-Meals/dp/1579546072 (It was made for incompetent bachelors. Trust me, you can handle this.)

  183. Try chocolate peanut butter. Peanut butter and company makes a great one. We have a case of it shipped to the house every month. It is great with apples and strawberries. Put some on a few rice cakes with strawberries and blueberries for breakfast.

  184. I just wanted to say that my Grandma gave this book to me 15 years ago when my oldest daughter was a toddler and I still refer to it for many things to this day. I also detest cooking and would rather do anything than cook a meal, including scrub the floors. Although my copy is a little more beat up than yours, stained and the cover is barely hanging on. Mine has been through hell and it shows (many frustration tantrums have been had in my kitchen)

    The Dribs and Drabs Stirfry has been my go to meal at the end of many weeks, when I need to use up everything in the fridge but have no inspiration to do anything creative with it. Each time I make it, it's different and I feel like I made a healthy meal for the family but still got to be lazy in the kitchen.

  185. if you can't be bothered with cooking noodles, buy couscous. seriously, it's easier to make than ramen (boil amount of water stated on the package. put couscous in a bowl, add a little bit of butter (just for the taste), poor boiling (or just very hot, doesn't need to bubble) water over it, let it sit for a couple of minutes (or until water is gone), done.

    for vegetables: start with veggies that cook fast and/or can be eaten raw (bell peppers, zuchhini, champignons), cut small (or put in blender shortly and while shaking it, until it's mostly bite size pieces), put pan on stove on medium, put a little oil and throw the veggies in. stir for about 5-10 minutes (taste if they are soft enough for your liking yet), add spices you like and cream or sour cream. done.

    or, even simpler, use pre-cooked canned veggies (peas, baby carrots, beans, lentils), dump into pot without straining them (which means: pour the juice in with the veggies), add a cup of sour cream and warm up. done.

    leftovers can be wrapped in tortillas the next day.

    for savoury snacks or to take to a potluck: get puff pastry dough, spread dough, add a thin layer of whatever you like (i do spinach and feta, or tomato sauce, corn or champignons and grated cheese. you can also put tuna, corn and cheese, or tomato sauce, bacon and cheese). roll up again, slice into finger thick rolls and lay them out on baking pan. put into hot oven until the cheese starts bubbling and the dough gets a little bit of color. done. (plus it's more like baking than cooking, so you should be fine)

    i don't have any tipps on meat as i'm a vegetarian, but i'm sure others will come up with enough.

  186. I can cook, but I often lack the time. Quesadillas are my quick, easy solution. (Buy the pre-shredded taco cheese.) Also, when I was a kid I loved the Mickey Mouse Cookbook. It's a kid's cookbook, and I don't remember all of the recipes, but I know the ones I remember making were pretty simple. :) Good luck!

  187. What you need to do is get your hubby hooked on smoking meats. Buy pork tenderloin, sprinkle with your favorite grill rub, put on smoker for 2 hours, then wrap in foil and place back in smoker for additional 4 hours. Low and slow heat. He has to drink beer while doing it, per the hubby.

    You can repeat this process with nearly any meat, such as a whole chicken. Then all you have to worry about is what to do with it. Spinach leaves, tomatoes and salad dressing with bits of the smoked meat is great. Pannini's are great! Smoked chicken in alfredo sauce plus pasta is fantastic. Chicken salad sandwiches from the smoked chicken are fantastic. It makes like really easy, to smoke some meat on the weekend and use it in different ways during the week.

    Before I got adventurous at cooking, I used to buy boxed mixes like Zatarains Jambalaya and then check the ingredients. If it already contained green peppers, I would add some fresh green peppers also. Same with onion. I would also add some smoked sausage slices, etc. It was easy.

  188. Oh, gurrrrl, cooking is just DIY but you get more practice.

    Easy things:

    Dump jar of marinara in pan. Heat on medium-low until bubbling. Crack eggs (2 per person) into sauce in a ring around the pan. Cover and let bubble for five minutes. In those five minutes, make toast. Turn off heat. Scoop eggs and sauce onto toast. Nomnomnomnom.

    Open and drain a can of black beans. Put beans in microwave safe bowl. Sprinkle on some chili powder, paprika, lime juice. Heat until hot (1-minute increments). Top with sour cream/greek yogurt, sliced avocado, pico de gallo (or salsa of choice), onion. Put in tortilla if desired. Nomnomnom.

    Cut up a bunch of root vegetables (carrots, potatoes, onions, beets, turnips, parsnips, etc) into 1-2" pieces. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Toss vegetables in olive oil and generous amounts of salt and pepper. Scatter over cookie sheet in single layer (put down foil first if you want minimal cleanup). Roast until done, 20-30 minutes. Top with whatever! Cheese, au jous, chicken, pot roast and juices, etc. Eat.

    Finally, this is what my boyfriend calls a vegetable mess. Cut up a bunch of veggies into bite-sized pieces. Heat big frying pan over medium heat, add some cooking oil (olive, vegetable, peanut, whatevs). Throw in veggies, stir around a couple times. Whisk up some eggs (as if to scramble), adding whatever spices. Salt, pepper, Penzey's Greek seasoning, seasoned salt, etc. Pour eggs over veggies and stir around until cooked. Delicious!

    The basic concept behind cooking is that you heat it until it won't kill you anymore, but not overmuch. Everything else is variations on a theme. Alton Brown's show is great for us geeky-types, because he tells you why everything works, not just what to do, and there's Science!

  189. One of the favourites in my house right now is a really simple casserole.


    1- box frozen perogies (any type)
    1- can/bottle tomato sauce (again, any flavour)
    grated cheese (usually use cheddar or mozzarella, any will do)
    veggies (generally use a frozen 'spaghetti mix'- it's chopped small and a nice variety)

    Dump perogies in casserole pan- cook at recommended temperature for about 10min while you heat frozen veggies in a sauce pan; once veggies thaw slightly, add sauce and continue cooking on low to medium heat until warmed. Remove perogies from oven. Cover in sauce. Cover in cheese. Bake approximately 40min or until cheese is melted and golden.
    Alternatively, depending on the brand of perogies you buy, a similar recipe is on the box for you to follow.

  190. I Can't Believe It's Not Crab Hotdish:
    Package of egg noodles, cooked
    Package of imitation crab, hacked into smallish bits
    Jar of alfredo pasta sauce.
    Combine and MMMM. It's also pretty good cold, and tastes even better with a hint of cayenne. I mean a HINT. Don't over-do it.
    We also eat a lot of rice tacos... which I suppose are actually burritos, but whatev. I looove rice, as long as it's basmati or jasmine. plain american white rice is ishy, but yummy asian rice is yummy! :) We almost always have a pot of that in the fridge, from our rice cooker. I could NOT cook rice without one of those. Love love love my rice cooker. So you just put your rice, some cheese, maybe meat or veg or whatever you have in the fridge, and nuke it, wrap it up, put on some sauce, and Mmm. Oh, I love putting avocado in there with just rice and cheese, too!
    I'm much more of a baker than a cook, so I like to do baked breakfasts or dinners when there's time. If you teach yourself bread pudding (assuming you like it) then you also have mastered egg bakes... same thing, just don't put in the sugar and add veg and (cooked) sausage and cheese instead.
    Those are my go-to things, and I find them pretty easy. The best part of the rice taco thing is there's pretty much no cleanup but your own plate and fork, and half the time I don't even use a fork! :)

  191. This is my "go to" I'm too tired to cook recipe. A steamer bag of broccoli (fresh, not frozen), an envelope of instant butter & herb instant potatoes (only need to add water) and a rotisserie chicken. Very easy and also great when you need comfort food!

  192. One of my favorite recipes is my "specialty" pasta that no one in my family will make but me :) But it's super easy: Cook angel hair pasta, then toss with olive oil, lots of crushed garlic (use the pre-minced stuff in a jar to make it even easier) salt, pepper, parmesan, and whatever else you like and happen to have in your kitchen. We usually use sun dried tomatoes, olives, and artichoke hearts. Basically, as long as you can cook pasta and chop up a few ingredients, you can make this!

    Another easy but really tasty recipe is this little gem from Pinterest. I know you said crockpots aren't your thing, but I swear this one is simple and so, so tasty! You don't even have to pre-cook anything, just dump it in the pot and walk away:

    2 chicken breasts, still frozen
    1 can Rotel tomatoes
    1 can corn kernels, do not drain
    1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
    1 pkg. Ranch dressing mix
    1 T cumin
    1 t chili powder
    1 t onion powder
    1 8-oz pkg. cream cheese
    Put the frozen chicken in the crock pot.
    Top with the tomatoes, corn, the drained and rinsed beans, ranch dressing, cumin, onion and chili powders,stir to combine then top with the cream cheese.
    Cook on low for 6-8 hours, stirring one or twice to blend in the cheese.
    Shred the chicken into large pieces and serve over rice.
    Can also serve in tortillas or taco shells.

  193. My ex-stepmom's lemon pie

    1 tub lemon crystal light
    1 packet vanilla pudding mix
    2 cups cold milk
    1 pre-made graham cracker crust

    Mix the crystal light, pudding mix, and milk in a bowl. Pour into pie crust. Let set for a few hours in the fridge. Top with whip cream and enjoy!

    I love this stuff - My ex-stepmom called it Lazy Lemon Pie.


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