Author Topic: Recipes?  (Read 19950 times)

Villanelle

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Recipes?
« on: March 22, 2013, 10:35:16 AM »
I hate to cook.  Mostly, I just feel lost and overwhelmed in a kitchen. It isn't so much the process of cooking that I hate; it's the sense that I am out of my league.  I can follow a recipe, but figuring out what recipes I will like, are healthy, and fairly cheap totally eludes me.

Consequently, I make a lot of stuff that comes semi-prepared (Think Hamburger Helper-type foods).  This is pricier than it needs to be and far less healthy than it should be.

I thought maybe we (and by "we" I mostly mean "you") could use this as a place to share healthy, cheap recipes for Mustashians looking to cook more, spend less, eat out less, or just be a bit more healthy.

What are some of your favorites?


DebtDerp

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Re: Recipes?
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2013, 10:53:56 AM »
Not really a recipe, but one of my regular meals is beans, brown rice, and fresh vegetables.

Beans, the cheapest way is to by the dry beans in a bag. Soak them in water over night and in the morning strain them add them to a croc pot cover in water and cook on high for 10-12 hours. (If you are making kidney beans boil them for ten minutes before adding to the croc pot). When done I freeze the beans in 1.5 cup servings (about what a can of beans is).

Borwn rice, 2.5 parts water to 1 part rice. Bring to boil then reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer 30 - 40 minutes.

Vegetables, find your favorites. I eat a lot of carrots, broccoli, green beans, and peppers (I know not vegetables). I usually prepare them by cutting them to about the same size, wrapping them up in tin foil, adding some olive oil, salt and pepper and throwing in the oven on 400. Depends on how thick the veggies are but usually around 30 minutes or so....

Simple, and delicious. Super healthy to boot.


the fixer

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Re: Recipes?
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2013, 10:54:52 AM »
I think it's a process of becoming more familiar with the kitchen and cooking, and it can take a while. It certainly did for me. Thankfully I had two pretty culinary parents to help me out.

The most important thing to do is just get started! Anything you can make that isn't prepared and you like is good, don't worry too much about health at this point. Once you're more comfortable and have the habit of cooking in place, you can move on to more complex and more healthy dishes.

Here are some that take minimal ingredients and prep time:
  • Pasta using jarred tomato sauce heated on the stove (yes you can make your own but 1 step at a time)
  • Pasta with cheese, nuts, homemade pesto. Pesto is just basil leaves, olive oil, garlic, and an emulsifier (my Dad uses walnuts) pureed in a blender then stored in the freezer. Wait until the right season to make it, otherwise the store-bought basil is hydroponic with no flavor.
  • Hamburgers (you can mix various things into the patties to cut down on cost, and you can use ground turkey instead of beef)
  • Rice (can be tricky when you're just learning, but really it just takes experience. Keep trying!)
  • Beans & Rice (I'll share my recipe below)
  • Lentils & Rice (ditto)
  • My Dad's chicken with orange juice recipe (ditto)
I have more, but I think this is enough to get you started.

psychomoustache

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Re: Recipes?
« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2013, 10:58:11 AM »
Canned beans too... a half-can of chick peas + some sort of vegetable.

I take a head of broccoli and steam it in the microwave. Add some garlic powder, salt, and some chick peas. Lunch!

I really really love my microwave vegetable steamer, 6 euros... it's a plastic tupperware sort of thing with a top. I'm sure you can find one. Steam anything, takes like 5 to ten minutes depending what it is. Put seasoning on it, eat. And voilà.

I like to cook, I just am sometimes too tired or pressed for time, or just too damn hungry to wait.

the fixer

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Re: Recipes?
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2013, 11:02:15 AM »
Beans & Rice
(I adapted this from http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/beans_rice.html)

DebtDerp's recipe above is not bad, but I think soaking beans, oven-cooking vegetables, etc. can be a bit intimidating if you're just starting out. This is even simpler.

And if you don't know how to cut stuff, see http://visual.ly/hone-your-chops-chefs-guide-knives

1 cup instant brown rice
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced (2 cups) Green bell peppers work too, and are cheaper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 19-ounce can black beans, or dark red kidney beans, rinsed
1/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth, or vegetable broth Optional. I like to use a boullion cube
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro Optional, I usually omit this because it's just something else to cut up and cilantro goes bad quickly

Cook rice according to package directions.
Meanwhile, heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
Add onion; cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes. Add bell pepper and
garlic; cook, stirring often, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add
beans, broth, vinegar, hot sauce and pepper; cook until heated
through, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the hot rice and cilantro; mix well.

If it doesn't taste good to you, add more hot sauce and/or salt.


MtnGal

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Re: Recipes?
« Reply #6 on: March 22, 2013, 11:04:01 AM »
If you are just starting out... to keep it simple, what about two things?

1. Tacos/Fajitas - using either chicken/ground beef/ground turkey as a base. To start you can easily get a low sodium spice packet at the store (which has directions on it). Then at some point you can migrate to using your own combination of spices. Saute up some onions and bell peppers in minimal oil to add (just chop and throw in a pan over medium heat and then stir occasionally until the onions turn clearish). Then chop up a tomato and some lettuce and throw on a tortilla or in a hard shell from the store. Stop there for super healthy or add a little grated cheese and some homemade guacamole.

2. Stir Fry - This is easy to experiment with as you literally just chop up vegetables and throw into a pan. Add some spices/soy sauce/other liquids as you. The key here is to always start with onions first if you are using them and never put so much in the pan that you cannot see the bottom of it with only one layer of veggies. Serve over rice

If using recipes would be easier, I recommend checking out the "super fast" recipes on cookinglight.com. At first they will take you 30 minutes when they say 20, but that changes.

psychomoustache

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Re: Recipes?
« Reply #7 on: March 22, 2013, 11:05:20 AM »
Am not the OP, but thank you so much for the recipes and the links  : )

the fixer

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Re: Recipes?
« Reply #8 on: March 22, 2013, 11:13:30 AM »
Rice, Lentils, and Carmelized Onions

I originally adapted this from http://www.wholefoods.com/recipe/lentils-brown-rice-and-caramelized-onions but have made it much, much simpler. You really only need three ingredients to make it work:

1 cup Rice
1 cup Lentils
1-2 Onions, sliced into long thin strips
...plus oil

Steps:
- cook rice (~2 cups water)
- cook lentils (~5 cups water)
- saute onions in oil for about 10-15 minutes. If they start to stick or burn on the bottom of the pan, add a little bit of water to control the heat. Google "carmelizing onions" for more specifics

Once it's all done, mix everything together. To make it taste better, add some ground cumin to the onions, but if you cook the onions right this isn't really necessary.

By making this recipe, you learn how to:
  • control heat when sauteing/frying
  • timing and coordination of separate components of a recipe to get everything to finish cooking on time

MtnGal

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Re: Recipes?
« Reply #9 on: March 22, 2013, 11:22:05 AM »
I really like this: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/chicken-orzo-salad-with-goat-cheese-10000001723375/

To make it cheaper/easier, you can use any greens (lettuce/spinach) for the argula and feta or parmesean for the goat cheese. Also you can use dry spices for the basil and oregano. And last time I made it I forgot the bell pepper and used a tomato instead.

And this is great in the summer when zucchini is in season. http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/chicken-summer-vegetable-tostadas-10000001215924/

Mrs MM

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Re: Recipes?
« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2013, 11:32:24 AM »
Cool thread. 

To the OP, I suggest starting off small and finding things you like to eat.  Start with one recipe and if you like it, add it to a recipe book - or just print it out and keep it in the kitchen.  The next time, try another easy recipe.  Suddenly, you'll have 5 simple things that you like to eat and are fairly easy to make.  When you go to the grocery store, you'll automatically buy ingredients for those 5 things.  Your recipe book will be 5 pages long!

You might run into recipes that you hate or are too difficult, so don't add those to your book.  Try another one.  Come up with at least 5 go-to recipes and then you're already doing pretty well.

I have this idea about making a Money Mustache Cookbook one day.  I'll look through all these recipes and we'll try some new ones out in addition to what we made.  Then, we can put it all in a PDF one day.  Fun!

P.S. Batch cooking is also a great idea.  This suits me well as I don't really like having to cook every single night, but I do enjoy it occasionally.  If I cook up something and freeze it, it is much easier to grab and eat during the week.

the fixer

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Re: Recipes?
« Reply #11 on: March 22, 2013, 11:38:11 AM »
Fixer's Dad's Chicken with Orange Juice
(FWIW this was originally called "Chicken Maxmillian" when my Dad found it)

Ingredients, per serving:
- 2 chicken thighs, thawed
- 1 small onion, cut into quarters or eighths
- paprika
- corn starch
- orange juice
- boullion cube
- grated orange peel/orange zest (optional)

Sprinkle paprika on chicken thighs. Brown skin-side down on a skillet on medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Monitor the skin side to make sure it doesn't burn or stick; turn down heat/add water to control temperature.

Drain the fat off into a fat jar, then turn thighs over and add orange juice (about 1/2 inch deep in skillet), crumbled boullion cube, orange peel, and onion. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes [simmer, by the way, means bubbles are slowly rising to the surface of the liquid and breaking]. This is a good time to start some rice.

The chicken is done when it no longer has that "spongy" feel to it when you press down with a spatula. It should feel firmer. If the middle is still uncooked, that part will give when you press down, and you'll know you're not done yet. If you undercook it, don't worry, I've made that mistake lots of times and never gotten sick from it, so your chances aren't as high as everyone seems to think, at least in my experience. You'll do better next time.

When chicken is done, remove from skillet. Add 1-2 tablespoons of corn starch to a cup, then add some cold water to dissolve. Stir it up, then turn up the heat on the skillet and add the corn starch mixture a little at a time. Keep stirring the sauce. As it approaches boiling and as you add more corn starch, it will thicken into a gravy. When it's the right thickness, turn off the heat and pour over thighs (it's also really good poured over rice).

What you learn in this recipe:
  • Browning dark meat
  • Cooking meat through
  • Thickening a sauce into a gravy with corn starch

Take note that this recipe doesn't keep well as leftovers, unless you cut up the thighs before refrigerating or something.

the fixer

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Re: Recipes?
« Reply #12 on: March 22, 2013, 12:09:21 PM »
I'm going to throw in one more that I learned in college from a roommate's cookbook, then I'm done! This is serious bachelor food, ANYONE can make it!

Flamin' poultry
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 2 tsp oil
- 1/4 cup hot sauce

Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces.
In a skillet, warm oil over medium heat. Add hot sauce and mix.
Add the chicken, stir to coat, and cover. Cook for 10 minutes or until cooked through.


To reduce cost, try experimenting with tempeh instead of chicken. Then try adding a vegetable or two (kale, broccoli, celery, ...). Before you know it, you're making your own stir fry's and you can build up at your own pace.

maryofdoom

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Re: Recipes?
« Reply #13 on: March 22, 2013, 12:35:58 PM »
For timid cooks, a great website to check out is the Tumblr blog Motherfucking Recipes (http://fuckingrecipes.tumblr.com/). Exactly as advertised!

Soups are a good choice for the novice cook. They get better when you cook them longer, and they are usually very forgiving as far as throwing stuff in. The best soup my husband ever made was a vegetable one where he used up everything that was lingering in the fridge. SO TASTY.

My favorite beef stew recipe goes as such:

Beef, Leek, and Barley Stew

2 big, meaty short ribs
2 leeks, white and light green parts
1/2 cup pearl barley
Carrots
Mushrooms (have used both fresh and dried shiitakes to good effect)
2 cloves garlic, peeled

Put the short ribs at the bottom of your soup pot. Add the barley. Cut up the leeks (the technique given here is a good one: http://www.sophistimom.com/how-to-cut-and-clean-leeks/; if you use it, you don't need to dry the leeks off, since they are going into a soup) and add them to the soup pot. Add your other vegetables: carrots are very good, mushrooms are nice, whatever you have. Throw in the garlic; use more of that if you like.

Pour in 8 cups of cold water and turn the heat on medium to medium-high. When the soup starts to simmer, cover it with a lid, turn the heat down to low, and leave it alone for three hours.

When three hours have elapsed, fish the short ribs out, pick the meat off the bones, and put the meat back in the stew. Then eat it.

Short ribs do have a non-negligible amount of fat in them, but if you chill the stew overnight and then pull it out the next day, most of the fat can be skimmed off.

I made this most recently with beer bread from Motherfucking Recipes and it was a good match.

Vilx-

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Re: Recipes?
« Reply #14 on: March 22, 2013, 01:38:10 PM »
Here's one interesting take on cooking: Cooking for engineers. It has quite detailed recipes (which are actually closer to instructions than recipes) and the killer feature is the "quick cheat sheet" at the bottom of each recipe.

jnik

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Re: Recipes?
« Reply #15 on: March 24, 2013, 08:04:30 AM »
I think of cooking as having three different components; these aren't increasing advancement or anything:
1) what one of my co-workers referred to as "guy cooking," i.e., throwing together something from guidelines/idea more than a recipe
2) cooking from a recipe
3) recognizing idioms. E.g., recognizing when the recipe is really telling you to make a white sauce and knowing what to do from there. Alton Brown is probably your best friend here, although Jeff Potter's Cooking for Geeks is pretty good.

Experience, incidentally, is the only solution to feeling overwhelmed. Thrown down, fail, and learn! Humanity's been cooking for thousands of years, long before there were TV chefs to make us feel inadequate.

Here's what I planned for the grocery trip I did yesterday morning:
0) chicken quesadillas: not planned but I wound up buying a BIG thing of chicken and it sounded good for lunch. Cut up chicken, pan-fry fairly dry on high heat, throw in between tortillas with cheese and green chile, fry medium-high heat with substantial oil.
1) hot dogs--yeah, I wanted comfort food, and 3-4 times a year I just crave hot dogs. (typo'd that as gods to start!) Threw together a potato salad to go with: boiled cubed potatoes, radishes, onions cooked in white vinegar, hard boiled eggs, sauce of about 1/4c miracle whip, 2-3T yogurt, 2T dijon mustard, sprinkle of garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, pepper, salt.
2) fajitas: chop up onions and peppers (this is one of those experience things--you have to make the onion slices thicker than you think to have them cook as slow as the peppers), fry (either high heat and fast, keeping crunch, or caramelize long and slow), fry chicken, again fairly dry on medium-high heat, throw in a fajita seasoning of chili powder plus cumin plus cornstarch to soak up the fat/liquid, wrap in tortilla, cheese optional
3) chicken kiev: this is more of a real recipe, they're all over the place. Drat, just realized I forgot to pick up scallions for it, but at least I have red onion
4) curried chickpeas: recipe from my sister, will dig it up. Goes nicely on basmati rice. Thank goodness for pressure cookers....
5) fish: I bought some flash-frozen salmon, we have teriyaki sauce, we have two pineapples from the CSA--that's all going to go together somehow.
6) an ethiopian lentil bowl: this is a nice red lentil recipe, from Simply in Season (that and More With Less are great cookbooks)
7) some sort of pasta alfredo with chicken and broccoli: again a throw-together (alfredo sauce: white sauce + garlic + parmesean), probably lightly steam the broccoli and again cook the chicken in the skillet, fairly dry, high heat
8) open a can of tuna and throw it in the leftover potato salad

Wow, that's a meaty week. Stupid four pound things of chicken....

I gave up on planning vegetables in advance or matching to the main course; often we'll just have a salad. I have a theory that there are four kinds of vegetables: appetizer vegetables (e.g., salad); side vegetables (e.g., asparagus on the side with your salmon); intrinsic vegetables (peppers in the fajitas); sneaky vegetables (adding spinach in a lasagne, or throw frozen mixed veg in with macaroni). Get two kinds per meal and you're good. Our CSA dump a box of lovely produce on my doorstep every week so there's always something healthy to eat.

Carolina on My Mind

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Re: Recipes?
« Reply #16 on: April 02, 2013, 03:47:56 PM »
Here are two great, easy, inexpensive recipes that I make all the time:

Hummus (from Mediterranean Light, by Martha Rose Shulman)

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup plain yogurt
3 tbsp. tahini
2 tbsp. olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
3 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp. kosher salt (or 1/4 tsp. regular salt)
1/2 tsp. cumin

Throw everything in blender and puree until smooth.  Drizzle in a little more olive oil if it's too thick.  This recipe is a real crowd pleaser.



Lentil-Rice Casserole (from The Tightwad Gazette)

3/4 cup brown lentils, rinsed
1/2 cup brown rice
3 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock or even just water
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. garlic powder

Put everything in a medium-sized casserole dish with a lid (or cover tightly with foil).  Cook in a 300-degree oven for 90 minutes.*  Add salt and pepper. 

*  Because of the long time in the oven, I only make this in colder weather.  But it can also be made in a slow cooker or rice cooker, or on the stove if you keep a close eye on it.  This is great served with a simple vegetable side dish, like sauteed cabbage or roasted cauliflower.

Theadyn

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Re: Recipes?
« Reply #17 on: April 02, 2013, 05:37:30 PM »
Cheap, easy, and makes a lot,  Taco Soup:
1lb hamburger
1 small onion diced
2 cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained
2 cans diced tomatoes, with juice
2 small cans tomato sauce
2 packages taco seasoning

In big pot, cook hamburger and onions until burger is cooked, drain off fat.  Dump in the rest.  Add enough water to within a few inches of the top.  Bring to boil, reduce heat to low, cover, simmer at least 30 minutes.  Longer is okay.  Have even done everything dumped in crockpot on low all day (crockpot is very forgiving!!).    Is really good with some cheddar cheese sprinkled on top.  I eat with crackers, bread, or tortillas.   Even better the next day as leftovers.   As I am by myself, I can eat on this a few days then batch up the rest in like a gladware for the freezer.  Just pop into micro for 8-9 mins for an easy lunch or dinner.

Other easy's for me:   Big fan of buying the big bag of white chicken breast tenderloins.  I don't eat the brown chicken meat or like the bones or skin.  Although more expensive than whole chicken, after tossing out said rest and the time it consumes, this is easier for me.  So, with the white chicken tenderloins, this is what I've come up with:

Easy peasy chicken and rice throw-together and toss in oven stuff:
3-4 tenderloins, a box of rice-o-roni (my fave is spanish, chicken is good, red beans and rice goes well, too) with the ingredients it calls for, toss in baking dish, covered, 350 for an hour.  Easy, cheap, enough left over for lunches or dinners the next day (or more).

Fajitas..  throw some peppers and onions and a bit of oil, sautee' til somewhat tender (not too much), remove, toss in some chicken, cover and let cook like 5 mins..  turn, cover, cook another 5 or so.  Remove and cut into fajita style size (won't be completely cooked, it's okay, it will be).  Add chicken and veggies back to pan.  Add fajita seasonings and what it calls for, cook per pkg directions (I don't like the pre-marinade fajita seasonings, i prefer the add to later kind, to each their own).  Add to tortillas, add your fixings, voila'!

I take frozen chicken tenderloin pieces and put them directly on my grill.  Yep, I do.  Have never had a problem.  Either make my own seasonings, which I baste the top with just before I turn them, then baste the new top with.  Turn just once, whole process takes 10-12 mins, I think.  Can be steaming some veggies in microwave or baked potato or tossing salad together in that time.  Easy, healthy.

I've gotten to where I'll just cook up a bunch and put them together like tv dinner in tinfoil pans, covered in tinfoil, and toss them in freezer.  Get home from work and just throw in oven for bout an hour while I relax, dinners done, no mess, no cleanup.   Hang in there, it gets easier the more you do it.  I love to cook!!!

Kenoryn

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Re: Recipes?
« Reply #18 on: August 13, 2013, 06:53:01 AM »
A great book for beginning Mustachian cooks is Clueless in the Kitchen by Evelyn Raab. (I think it's been rebranded now as 'Basic Cooking' which is way less fun. But if your library had an older copy it would still be Clueless.) My mom gave a copy of this book to each of her daughters as we went off to school and had to learn to cook for ourselves. It has everything in it from the basics like how to boil an egg (actually it even has how to boil water) up to lasagna, and great, fun descriptions, really well explained for people who aren't familiar with cooking jargon, as well as useful sections on shopping, eating cheaply, how to store foods, how long things keep, measurement conversions, useful substitutions, etc. Pretty much everything you need. Also it has symbols coding the different recipes (vegetarian, impressive food for guests, quick to prepare, etc.) and one of the symbols is for inexpensive recipes. Definitely my favourite cookbook ever, and I still use it regularly although I'm not clueless in the kitchen anymore. :) There is also a Clueless Vegetarian and Clueless Baker.

LikeAHawlk

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Re: Recipes?
« Reply #19 on: August 13, 2013, 07:50:54 AM »
This is one of my favorite recipes that is easy, quick, and cheap. Also delicious!

Corn Cakes with Black Beans

Ingredients (for 2 large or 3 small servings):

    1 15-oz can of black beans, drained
    Optional for the beans:
    1 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
    2 tsp Mexican-style chili powder
You can season your beans however you'd like. I'll use dried oregano instead of fresh sometimes, but usually I just use whatever I have that sounds good to me. You can experiment with spices you already have to figure out what you like best! I've found experimenting is the best way to learn.
   
    2/3 cup cornmeal
    2 Tbsp whole wheat flour (you can use other types of flours here - whole wheat is just healthier than white)
    1/4 tsp baking soda
    3 Tbsp salted butter, melted (if you have unsalted butter, just throw in a pinch of salt to your melted butter)
    1 cup buttermilk or substitute
    1 egg
    1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed (I just use canned corn - be sure to drain it first. Works great!)
    1 or 2 Tbsp canola oil
    salt and pepper
    Whatever toppings you like - think salsa, cilantro, cheese, sour cream (or plain yogurt)

For the beans: Over medium heat, combine the beans, oregano, and 1 tsp chili powder.  Heat through, cover, and set aside.

For the corn cakes:  In a large bowl, mix together the cornmeal, baking soda, flour, 1 tsp chili powder, 3/4 tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp pepper.  In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, melted butter and egg with a whisk.  Pour the wet ingredients in with the dry and whisk for a few seconds until mostly combined into a lumpy batter.  Add the corn.

Heat a large pan (you’ll need to be able to flip the pancakes) over medium-high heat.  Brush the pan with the oil to lightly coat it, then pour in some of the batter to make whatever size pancakes you want.  Cook for 3-4 minutes, flipping once.  Repeat by wiping the pan and brushing more oil between batches.  Keep the cooked pancakes warm under foil while you are doing the others.

Top the corn cakes with black beans, and whatever toppings you choose. 

PS I got this recipe from http://www.nomeatathlete.com/ :)

MikeinOhio

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Re: Recipes?
« Reply #20 on: August 13, 2013, 11:30:54 AM »
If you are just starting out... to keep it simple, what about two things?

1. Tacos/Fajitas - using either chicken/ground beef/ground turkey as a base. To start you can easily get a low sodium spice packet at the store (which has directions on it). Then at some point you can migrate to using your own combination of spices. Saute up some onions and bell peppers in minimal oil to add (just chop and throw in a pan over medium heat and then stir occasionally until the onions turn clearish). Then chop up a tomato and some lettuce and throw on a tortilla or in a hard shell from the store. Stop there for super healthy or add a little grated cheese and some homemade guacamole.


Thawed chicken breast (about 3 pounds, 2 large breasts) and one jar of salsa dumped into a crockpot and cooked on low for 6 hours. Shred the chicken before serving.

Add the rice and beans as sides.

If I'm lucky I can make this for about $4 and it feeds 6-12.

cerebus

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Re: Recipes?
« Reply #21 on: April 10, 2015, 03:32:27 AM »
Sorry to bump up this old thread but I'm wading through past topics and it's an area that I feel quite strongly about, as cooking is one of the most mustachian skills you can learn in life, since it has a multiplier effect:

1) It reduces cost dramatically over packaged food. Cooking from scratch can produce incredible food, that even for a basic recipe blows away store-bought equivalents, and still manages to come out much cheaper. You can make what you feel are lavish, decadent meals every night and then when you see your grocery budget, you're still much lower than the average person.

2) Eating home cooked food increases your quality of life enormously. The shop-bought equivalent of recipes are a pale facsimile of the real thing. The other evening we did a cream chicken soup, and previously all I'd had was tinned (or those plastic transparent 'fancy' soup packages) creamed chicken, and it always seemed bland, but making it from scratch with roasted chicken, bacon, homemade stock, and real cream and milk turned it into an incredible and (relatively) frugal family meal.

3) It increases badassity quotient. I think that goes without saying. Most of us are used to being infantilized when it comes to food. We flop about in the kitchen like goldfish on the floor, and revert to back of pack 'recipes' that involve steps like 'add water'. Making your food from base ingredients is empowering and it's a skill that you'll never stop developing. We rarely go to restaurants at all, not even mainly because of the cost, but simply because I can just do the same thing at home and often better, and it isn't even that difficult. It's also, needless to say, much healthier because you're using fresh unprocessed ingredients and you have granular control over what you eat.


Okay so here's my recommendation for learning to cook: take something that you already like to eat and you know how it tastes, like chili con carne for instance. Google recipes for it till you get something like this Jamie Oliver recipe:
http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/beef-recipes/good-old-chilli-con-carne/#dfz6JKtymfETft4Y.97 (which is delicious). Then prop your iPad or laptop up in the kitchen and follow the steps. I don't even own a real cookbook anywhere. It's even rare that I make the same thing twice; as long as the cupboards are stocked with ingredients there's an infinite number of things you can make with it, and you always improve your abilities anyway so why look back?

Anyway as I type I realize it's not a very specific post because there aren't any actual recipes. But I think it doesn't matter too much to have recipes, because if you know how to cook recipes are just procedures that you follow, which often involve smaller sub-procedures (such as making a shortcrust pastry, or a bechamel sauce) that are the fundamental components of cooking - which is what you really need to learn, and once you have that, you can vary it every time you cook. 
« Last Edit: April 10, 2015, 03:42:02 AM by cerebus »

anks

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Re: Recipes?
« Reply #22 on: April 10, 2015, 07:04:36 AM »
A crock-pot was the best thing I ever got to boost my kitchen creations. I didn't have much cooking know-how, and recipes in a crock pot are insanely easy! I make a large batch on Sunday and it keeps me fed through the week easily. Best $20 I ever spent!

cerebus

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Re: Recipes?
« Reply #23 on: April 10, 2015, 07:24:03 AM »
A crock-pot was the best thing I ever got to boost my kitchen creations. I didn't have much cooking know-how, and recipes in a crock pot are insanely easy! I make a large batch on Sunday and it keeps me fed through the week easily. Best $20 I ever spent!

Crock pots are the bomb. Man, we need to get a bigger one. We're using ours now to the max. Wife uses it at least 2-3 times a week. Whack a bunch of ingredients in the morning, come home and there's a smell permeating the  house that makes you go weak at the knees.

Villanelle

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Re: Recipes?
« Reply #24 on: April 11, 2015, 11:27:56 AM »
Sorry to bump up this old thread but I'm wading through past topics and it's an area that I feel quite strongly about, as cooking is one of the most mustachian skills you can learn in life, since it has a multiplier effect:

1) It reduces cost dramatically over packaged food. Cooking from scratch can produce incredible food, that even for a basic recipe blows away store-bought equivalents, and still manages to come out much cheaper. You can make what you feel are lavish, decadent meals every night and then when you see your grocery budget, you're still much lower than the average person.

2) Eating home cooked food increases your quality of life enormously. The shop-bought equivalent of recipes are a pale facsimile of the real thing. The other evening we did a cream chicken soup, and previously all I'd had was tinned (or those plastic transparent 'fancy' soup packages) creamed chicken, and it always seemed bland, but making it from scratch with roasted chicken, bacon, homemade stock, and real cream and milk turned it into an incredible and (relatively) frugal family meal.

3) It increases badassity quotient. I think that goes without saying. Most of us are used to being infantilized when it comes to food. We flop about in the kitchen like goldfish on the floor, and revert to back of pack 'recipes' that involve steps like 'add water'. Making your food from base ingredients is empowering and it's a skill that you'll never stop developing. We rarely go to restaurants at all, not even mainly because of the cost, but simply because I can just do the same thing at home and often better, and it isn't even that difficult. It's also, needless to say, much healthier because you're using fresh unprocessed ingredients and you have granular control over what you eat.


Okay so here's my recommendation for learning to cook: take something that you already like to eat and you know how it tastes, like chili con carne for instance. Google recipes for it till you get something like this Jamie Oliver recipe:
http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/beef-recipes/good-old-chilli-con-carne/#dfz6JKtymfETft4Y.97 (which is delicious). Then prop your iPad or laptop up in the kitchen and follow the steps. I don't even own a real cookbook anywhere. It's even rare that I make the same thing twice; as long as the cupboards are stocked with ingredients there's an infinite number of things you can make with it, and you always improve your abilities anyway so why look back?

Anyway as I type I realize it's not a very specific post because there aren't any actual recipes. But I think it doesn't matter too much to have recipes, because if you know how to cook recipes are just procedures that you follow, which often involve smaller sub-procedures (such as making a shortcrust pastry, or a bechamel sauce) that are the fundamental components of cooking - which is what you really need to learn, and once you have that, you can vary it every time you cook.

This sounds like exactly what my sister and mom would say.  I'm missing the gene.  I don't get it  I stand in the kitchen and stare at all the things in my pantry (or on the grocery store at the things on the shelf), and feel helpless and overwhelmed.  I need basic recipes.  I'm just barely getting to the point where I feel semi-confident adding a few things or substituting, but just coming up with a concept and making it?  I'm not sure why, but even thinking of that makes me panicky.  Being in the kitchen is a chore and a struggle and something I do because I must. 

In the last 2 years, I've gotten better.  Almost nothing from a box, and very few things from a jar (other than individual ingredients).  That's a big deal for me.  But I'm still so far from where you are.  I think cooking is an art, and it's not an area where I have artistic inclination.  And like painting, you can teach someone the monkey skills, but you can't teach everyone to be a true artist.  I'm still mastering the money skills, and maybe I'll eventually be able to create a painting something that someone can recognize as a sunflower or a cityscape.  But it will never be natural for me, and never be true art. 

I'm jealous of those for whom it is though!

cerebus

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Re: Recipes?
« Reply #25 on: April 13, 2015, 01:32:47 AM »
Sorry to bump up this old thread but I'm wading through past topics and it's an area that I feel quite strongly about, as cooking is one of the most mustachian skills you can learn in life, since it has a multiplier effect:

1) It reduces cost dramatically over packaged food. Cooking from scratch can produce incredible food, that even for a basic recipe blows away store-bought equivalents, and still manages to come out much cheaper. You can make what you feel are lavish, decadent meals every night and then when you see your grocery budget, you're still much lower than the average person.

2) Eating home cooked food increases your quality of life enormously. The shop-bought equivalent of recipes are a pale facsimile of the real thing. The other evening we did a cream chicken soup, and previously all I'd had was tinned (or those plastic transparent 'fancy' soup packages) creamed chicken, and it always seemed bland, but making it from scratch with roasted chicken, bacon, homemade stock, and real cream and milk turned it into an incredible and (relatively) frugal family meal.

3) It increases badassity quotient. I think that goes without saying. Most of us are used to being infantilized when it comes to food. We flop about in the kitchen like goldfish on the floor, and revert to back of pack 'recipes' that involve steps like 'add water'. Making your food from base ingredients is empowering and it's a skill that you'll never stop developing. We rarely go to restaurants at all, not even mainly because of the cost, but simply because I can just do the same thing at home and often better, and it isn't even that difficult. It's also, needless to say, much healthier because you're using fresh unprocessed ingredients and you have granular control over what you eat.


Okay so here's my recommendation for learning to cook: take something that you already like to eat and you know how it tastes, like chili con carne for instance. Google recipes for it till you get something like this Jamie Oliver recipe:
http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/beef-recipes/good-old-chilli-con-carne/#dfz6JKtymfETft4Y.97 (which is delicious). Then prop your iPad or laptop up in the kitchen and follow the steps. I don't even own a real cookbook anywhere. It's even rare that I make the same thing twice; as long as the cupboards are stocked with ingredients there's an infinite number of things you can make with it, and you always improve your abilities anyway so why look back?

Anyway as I type I realize it's not a very specific post because there aren't any actual recipes. But I think it doesn't matter too much to have recipes, because if you know how to cook recipes are just procedures that you follow, which often involve smaller sub-procedures (such as making a shortcrust pastry, or a bechamel sauce) that are the fundamental components of cooking - which is what you really need to learn, and once you have that, you can vary it every time you cook.

This sounds like exactly what my sister and mom would say.  I'm missing the gene.  I don't get it  I stand in the kitchen and stare at all the things in my pantry (or on the grocery store at the things on the shelf), and feel helpless and overwhelmed.  I need basic recipes.  I'm just barely getting to the point where I feel semi-confident adding a few things or substituting, but just coming up with a concept and making it?  I'm not sure why, but even thinking of that makes me panicky.  Being in the kitchen is a chore and a struggle and something I do because I must. 

In the last 2 years, I've gotten better.  Almost nothing from a box, and very few things from a jar (other than individual ingredients).  That's a big deal for me.  But I'm still so far from where you are.  I think cooking is an art, and it's not an area where I have artistic inclination.  And like painting, you can teach someone the monkey skills, but you can't teach everyone to be a true artist.  I'm still mastering the money skills, and maybe I'll eventually be able to create a painting something that someone can recognize as a sunflower or a cityscape.  But it will never be natural for me, and never be true art. 

I'm jealous of those for whom it is though!


Well, I hardly ever make up dishes from my own head. My usual routine is something like:
- Scrabble around in fridge to see what we have.
- Form some foggy idea of combining a few of the ingredients into a recognisable dish.
- Google to find a recipe - usually 5-10 minutes of sifting to find one that has my ingredients, and that isn't too time intensive.
- Follow recipe varying it where appropriate.

So the single best cooking tool I own is my iPad. I prop that thing up on the counter top and just follow the steps (then wipe it down afterwards :D).

Okay so in the last while I made these recipes. All were delicious and I think not too complicated and fairly frugal so I can recommend them:
http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1015770-zuni-cafe-chicken
http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1502640/the-best-spaghetti-bolognese
http://www.food.com/recipe/cream-of-chicken-soup-82588
http://allrecipes.com/recipe/caramelized-butternut-squash-soup/
http://pinchofyum.com/carnitas-tamale-pie
http://damndelicious.net/2014/03/31/slow-cooker-beef-broccoli/
http://www.chow.com/recipes/11286-masa-cornbread
http://www.marthastewart.com/868419/bacon-cheese-quiche

Retire-Canada

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Re: Recipes?
« Reply #26 on: April 13, 2015, 09:30:44 AM »
Here is one I found today:

http://bedrockandparadox.com/2015/04/13/southwest-wild-game-cassoulet/

Note you can replace the meats listed at the start with whatever varieties fall to hand.

-- Vik

2ndTimer

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Re: Recipes?
« Reply #27 on: April 13, 2015, 09:32:15 AM »
I am not leaving a recipe.  This is not the place to tell you about how to make the entirely from scratch including sauce and pasta lasagna that I am making for tonight's dinner.  It would just intimidate the wee wee out of you and not leave you with any real knowledge.  I am going to explain how I learn to cook a new dish.

1.  Pick out a dish you like and often order when you eat out.  This is critical because you will be more motivated to make something you crave.  Being really motivated is crucial when you are trying to learn something new.  So no oatmeal unless you regularly order oatmeal in restaurants.  Let's pretend your go to dish is Kung Pao Chicken.

2.  Obviously as a new cook this will SEEM way out of your strike zone.  This is where all that motivation which comes from really liking the dish helps.  Don't do anything right away except look up a recipe on the internet.  Read the recipe.  OMG it looks so complicated.  How does one convert a piece of chicken with a bone in it and skin on it into food.  Peppers, OMG where will I ever find the right kind of peppers?  Stir fry?  OMG that's some exotic thing that can only be done if your last name is Chang.   Rice? How can I ever have the rice be ready at the same time.  Obviously, I must buy a rice cooker (Not a bad idea according to many mustachians, but not necessary RIGHT NOW.)

3.  Now that your mind is full of questions watch a video of somebody making Kung Pao Chicken.  A lot of those questions will be answered by the video.  If you have some that aren't answered watch another video. 

4.  Now you are ready to make your first attempt.  It will be fairly expensive, relax it will never cost this much again.  Find a recipe or video that includes words like "Quick" and "Easy" in the title.  Such a recipe will involve things like bottled sauces, pre-cut chicken and maybe even the ultimate abomination cooked rice in a packet that you microwave.  You are going to use all these shortcuts this once to reduce the stress of trying a new and complex recipe.  It will still be cheaper than the restaurant version. 

5. Make the recipe to the best of your ability and eat it.  Did it taste like you wanted it to taste?  If so move on to the next step.  If not spend some time on the net and talking to real people who cook and try to figure out how to make it taste better.  When you have found something that you think might improve the flavor, make it again and see if it's better.  Repeat this process until your Kung Pao Chicken is as good as any you have ever eaten in a restaurant.

6.  Now make it cheaper.  Don't start this step until your King Pao Chicken is to die for.  One day you will notice that bone in chicken thighs cost less than half the price of the skinned and boned ones.  It will occur to you that even though your name is not Chang, you have mastered the stir fry and you could probably skin it and chop it off the bone somehow.  After all hacking off hunks of chicken that are going to be covered in sauce anyway isn't exactly modern sculpture.  So you will google a video and discover why boning a chicken thigh doesn't require a high school degree.  You will master that skill
     Another day, it will occur to you that your grandmother always cooked rice in a pan on the stove.  Surely it can't be that difficult and it would save a lot of money.  You google.  You cook rice in a pan on the stove.


By the time you have conquered Kung Pao Chicken you have learned or at least put solid down payments on learning a whole bunch of skills that will be very useful when you move on to conquer the next dish whether it is Thai Basil Beef or Indian Butter Chicken or chicken pot pie. 

It may also be time to start cruising for a second hand rice cooker.
     



 
« Last Edit: April 13, 2015, 09:36:51 AM by 2ndTimer »

Villanelle

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Re: Recipes?
« Reply #28 on: April 13, 2015, 10:26:28 AM »
Sorry to bump up this old thread but I'm wading through past topics and it's an area that I feel quite strongly about, as cooking is one of the most mustachian skills you can learn in life, since it has a multiplier effect:

1) It reduces cost dramatically over packaged food. Cooking from scratch can produce incredible food, that even for a basic recipe blows away store-bought equivalents, and still manages to come out much cheaper. You can make what you feel are lavish, decadent meals every night and then when you see your grocery budget, you're still much lower than the average person.

2) Eating home cooked food increases your quality of life enormously. The shop-bought equivalent of recipes are a pale facsimile of the real thing. The other evening we did a cream chicken soup, and previously all I'd had was tinned (or those plastic transparent 'fancy' soup packages) creamed chicken, and it always seemed bland, but making it from scratch with roasted chicken, bacon, homemade stock, and real cream and milk turned it into an incredible and (relatively) frugal family meal.

3) It increases badassity quotient. I think that goes without saying. Most of us are used to being infantilized when it comes to food. We flop about in the kitchen like goldfish on the floor, and revert to back of pack 'recipes' that involve steps like 'add water'. Making your food from base ingredients is empowering and it's a skill that you'll never stop developing. We rarely go to restaurants at all, not even mainly because of the cost, but simply because I can just do the same thing at home and often better, and it isn't even that difficult. It's also, needless to say, much healthier because you're using fresh unprocessed ingredients and you have granular control over what you eat.


Okay so here's my recommendation for learning to cook: take something that you already like to eat and you know how it tastes, like chili con carne for instance. Google recipes for it till you get something like this Jamie Oliver recipe:
http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/beef-recipes/good-old-chilli-con-carne/#dfz6JKtymfETft4Y.97 (which is delicious). Then prop your iPad or laptop up in the kitchen and follow the steps. I don't even own a real cookbook anywhere. It's even rare that I make the same thing twice; as long as the cupboards are stocked with ingredients there's an infinite number of things you can make with it, and you always improve your abilities anyway so why look back?

Anyway as I type I realize it's not a very specific post because there aren't any actual recipes. But I think it doesn't matter too much to have recipes, because if you know how to cook recipes are just procedures that you follow, which often involve smaller sub-procedures (such as making a shortcrust pastry, or a bechamel sauce) that are the fundamental components of cooking - which is what you really need to learn, and once you have that, you can vary it every time you cook.

This sounds like exactly what my sister and mom would say.  I'm missing the gene.  I don't get it  I stand in the kitchen and stare at all the things in my pantry (or on the grocery store at the things on the shelf), and feel helpless and overwhelmed.  I need basic recipes.  I'm just barely getting to the point where I feel semi-confident adding a few things or substituting, but just coming up with a concept and making it?  I'm not sure why, but even thinking of that makes me panicky.  Being in the kitchen is a chore and a struggle and something I do because I must. 

In the last 2 years, I've gotten better.  Almost nothing from a box, and very few things from a jar (other than individual ingredients).  That's a big deal for me.  But I'm still so far from where you are.  I think cooking is an art, and it's not an area where I have artistic inclination.  And like painting, you can teach someone the monkey skills, but you can't teach everyone to be a true artist.  I'm still mastering the money skills, and maybe I'll eventually be able to create a painting something that someone can recognize as a sunflower or a cityscape.  But it will never be natural for me, and never be true art. 

I'm jealous of those for whom it is though!


Well, I hardly ever make up dishes from my own head. My usual routine is something like:
- Scrabble around in fridge to see what we have.
- Form some foggy idea of combining a few of the ingredients into a recognisable dish.

- Google to find a recipe - usually 5-10 minutes of sifting to find one that has my ingredients, and that isn't too time intensive.
- Follow recipe varying it where appropriate.

So the single best cooking tool I own is my iPad. I prop that thing up on the counter top and just follow the steps (then wipe it down afterwards :D).

Okay so in the last while I made these recipes. All were delicious and I think not too complicated and fairly frugal so I can recommend them:
http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1015770-zuni-cafe-chicken
http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1502640/the-best-spaghetti-bolognese
http://www.food.com/recipe/cream-of-chicken-soup-82588
http://allrecipes.com/recipe/caramelized-butternut-squash-soup/
http://pinchofyum.com/carnitas-tamale-pie
http://damndelicious.net/2014/03/31/slow-cooker-beef-broccoli/
http://www.chow.com/recipes/11286-masa-cornbread
http://www.marthastewart.com/868419/bacon-cheese-quiche

The bolded is what I can't do.  I know it sounds stupid, but I can't look at what I have and think, oh, i could make a bacon cheese soup.  let me google for a specific recipe.  I look and I see bacon, and cheese, and milk, and all the other stuff, but I'm freakishly incapable or looking at them and seeing parts of a specific dish. 

The more I cook, the more my repertoire grows and tht does help.  And the more I cook, the more I experience different flavor combinations and see where maybe I could apply them outside that specific recipe.  for example, one of my go-tp dishes is Shepherd's Pie. Last week, I got creative. Instead of just generic shepherd's Pie, I added diced green chilies, cumin, oregano, and a bit of chill powder.  These are the flavors that go in my favorite white chili recipe, so I know they go well together.  And low and behold, we liked the shepherd's pie.

So I know part of my issue will be solved the more I cook.  My problem isn't the actual cooking.  It is the knowing what to make, I think, or knowing what to substitute if I don't have, can't find, or don't like X ingredient.   

swick

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Re: Recipes?
« Reply #29 on: April 13, 2015, 10:43:24 AM »
Villanelle, Plan To Eat might be very useful for you. It is a meal planning/recipe/pantry organizing site that allows you to "Cook from Pantry" and will sort recipes depending on how many ingredients you have already in your pantry. I find it is a lifesaver - I've used it for years. There is a free 30 day trial, and I think it's about 40.00 a year, but there is frequently 1/2 off deals.

Unique User

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Re: Recipes?
« Reply #30 on: April 13, 2015, 11:12:22 AM »
I plan meals around what is on sale.  Chicken thighs and hominy were super cheap one week so I bought a lot, we've been having chicken posole soup once a week since then.  I do a search with the ingredients on allrecipes.com or just on google. 

I also do a lot of roasted/grilled meat and veggie meals.  I use a half sheet pan, turn oven to 400, start meat and slow cooking veggies (onions, carrots), then add in whatever was cheap that week at Aldi - green beans or broccoli usually, sometimes peppers.  Season however you want - I mix up the spices and or sauces to add variety.  You can leave the meat or fish whole, cut up to make more of a stir fry meal, endless variations and super easy.


cerebus

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Re: Recipes?
« Reply #31 on: April 14, 2015, 01:26:41 AM »
The bolded is what I can't do.  I know it sounds stupid, but I can't look at what I have and think, oh, i could make a bacon cheese soup.  let me google for a specific recipe.  I look and I see bacon, and cheese, and milk, and all the other stuff, but I'm freakishly incapable or looking at them and seeing parts of a specific dish. 

The more I cook, the more my repertoire grows and tht does help.  And the more I cook, the more I experience different flavor combinations and see where maybe I could apply them outside that specific recipe.  for example, one of my go-tp dishes is Shepherd's Pie. Last week, I got creative. Instead of just generic shepherd's Pie, I added diced green chilies, cumin, oregano, and a bit of chill powder.  These are the flavors that go in my favorite white chili recipe, so I know they go well together.  And low and behold, we liked the shepherd's pie.

Well, you see, that's an act of creative dish-making that disproves your inept-gene hypothesis :p. Honestly cooking is nothing more or less than a skill that you develop over time.  You start off with small-scale dishes and develop into much fancier ones, and eventually realize that even the fanciest dishes are just recombinations of techniques that you learn along the way.

To learn how to cook you just need to develop the skills to make the parts that make dishes. There are fundamental sauces, combinations of ingredients, herbs and spices, tools, and even entire dishes, that then become the basis of a huge number of other recipes. That's why the recipe itself is the last thing you must look for, because there are simply too many recipes to single out a handful and just make those every time, and also because if you don't know how to do the fundamentals, it's not worth talking about recipes.

For instance, this is how you do a bechamel sauce:
http://allrecipes.com/recipe/basic-bechamel-sauce/

Just ensure that you keep whisking fairly fast, and keep the heat low and slow, and don't pour the milk in all at once, and it's dead simple. Now you've got the basis for hundreds of recipes like mac and cheese and lasagne, and a notch on your chef belt.

Similarly, here's a shortcrust pastry:
http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2983/basic-shortcrust-pastry

Now rather than making a shepherd's pie, one evening try the shortcrust on top instead. It's basically the same technique and see how rich and buttery that pastry is. Then branch out a bit and use the pastry to make a steak and ale pie:
http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1912643/beef-and-beer-pie
Or, just add sugar to the pastry and use it as the basis of any number of dessert pies.
http://allrecipes.co.uk/recipe/2154/mum-s-rhubarb-tart.aspx

All the time you cook you're just growing and developing. This last Christmas, since we don't really do Christmas, I instead proposed to cook for my wife's extended family, and made a beautiful 3-course meal that took me 2 days, and everyone contributed to the cost. It was the most I'd pushed myself before in the kitchen, and it was a huge boost to my confidence.

cerebus

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Re: Recipes?
« Reply #32 on: April 16, 2015, 02:39:06 AM »
Here's what we made last night, quite simple:

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2303636/family-meals-easy-fish-pie


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