Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Easy Dinners for the Culinarily Challenged

Before my husband and I got married, I had never cracked an egg.  I could barely make spaghetti.   And by "make spaghetti" I mean "boil premade noodles to an edible consistency" not "prepare a special dough and use that snazzy Kitchenaid attachment".  Now before y'all get all "a woman's place ain't in the kitchen" on me, lemme tell you that he is a MUCH better chef than I am and actually....wait for it...enjoys cooking.  But let's get to the facts, shall we?  He leaves the house every day to go to work.  I am here at said house during those hours.  It only makes sense, despite the fact that I generally loathe it, for me to be the one to prepare the meals Monday through Friday.

He can have the weekends, though, thankyouverymuch.

So how does a girl who had no good domesticy guidance and who possesses no affection for the act of cooking manage to keep her family alive without Chinese takeout five nights a week?  Aha!  I'm going to tell you!

Sucking. It. Up.

Yeah, you heard me.  The first thing you gotta do is suck it up.  Not "Oh man....I gotta make another meal?  What the heck?  This is so unfair..." 22 nights a month.  Because that's just gonna make you and everyone around you miserable and doesn't actually make you not have to do it.  Amiright?  Right.

Once you swallow that whatever-it-is (maybe it's pride, maybe it's insecurity, maybe it's frustration) you can do a little advance planning.

ERCK!

That's the sound that brakes make in cartoons.

Because I'm about to say this: Stop right there.  I have never actually made a "meal plan" a single time in my whole life.  If you're already doing that, THIS SERIES IS NOT FOR YOU AND I BOW TO YOU IN YOUR DOMESTIC WISDOM.  What I mean is you have at least a general idea of the kind of stuff you can make quickly, preferably on the cheap, and the kind of things you need in order to make that stuff so as the witching hour approaches (you know, that horrible time after naps but before daddy gets home), you can make a decision about what you'll be forcing  bestowing upon your children for dinner.

And that's where this little series comes in.  Because I, the most culinarily challenged woman I know, have recently managed to go sometimes 5 whole days in a row without demanding that we purchase pre-made food from a local eatery.  And if I can do it, I know you can too.  But before we get to the recipes and timing and all that good stuff, here are two things everyone should have in their kitchen:

A bread machine ($5.99 at Goodwill.  Just do it.)

A slow cooker (again, check Goodwill.  Yes, just do it!)

If you don't have them, go and get them before I publish the next first cooking post tentatively entitled- What the Heck Do I Do With a Whole Chicken Because They're so Cheap so I Feel I Ought to Buy Them But Then What????  Help Me!

Stay tuned!




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30 comments :

  1. Do you have Rachael Balducci's roast chicken recipe. SO easy. If not, let me know and I'll send you the link. She posted it last week I think.

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    1. Send it to me! I have a chicken "routine" but I'm always open to more interesting ideas :)

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  2. Making me smile here. :) I so enjoy your sense of humour.

    I roast my whole chickens in the slow cooker and then put them under the broiler to crisp the skin. You can find the "how to's" on my blog. Would you like the link?

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    1. Yes, post the link here! Anyone who's reading this will appreciate any other ideas I'm sure.

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  3. Haha - just last night I was prepping food for today and felt inspired to write a poem called, "My Crock Pot Is the Wife I Want to Be." Given the grade I got in Creative Writing, I think I'll leave it to someone else.

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    1. I want to read that poem!!! My crock pot is also the wife I'd like to be ... sigh.

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  4. A whole chicken? They come all together in one piece???? Oh, mercy......

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    1. Me too! Tried to comment back earlier but my interwebz is being evil.

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    2. HILARIOUS - all I can see is a chicken farm of pieces! - a leg running around here, a wing flying over there, two breasts talking about how they used to be nice and firm until the babies came along - this comment made my day - thanks, jen (sorry, I have a warped mind)

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  5. Love this Dwija. Meal plans have come in so handy with my fam...but seriously, before I was married, I made rice and frozen veggies for supper. I was AWFUL! It's amazing what a little time and effort will do!

    Oh, and yes. Crock pots are my best friend. Why hadn't I ever known this before?

    Excited for your series!

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  6. Looking forward to this series! I'm not really culinarily challenged, but I dread cooking dinner a lot of days. I actually enjoy cooking and baking, just not under the pressure of "I must feed three other human beings within the next hour." I'm excited to see how you do it!

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  7. the whole chicken revolutionized my life. and budget. I was much afeared of that 5 pound bird. it's one of the many things that I always thought was incredibly complicated, then I did it, and I was like, "Oh. Could have handled this a lot sooner." Before I became a Mrs. I could kinda make macncheese. The box kind. That's about it.

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  8. Pioneer Woman was the best thing that ever happened to my cooking. Yes, I know that there's a whole subculture of bloggers who live to loathe her, and I will be the first to admit that nothing she does is fantastically innovative. But that's the point. She has approachable recipes that are presented in a clear, enthusiastic format. The pictures? Brilliant for someone like me who is a visual learner, but has six million screaming people around me so I can't hear the directions on a cooking show. Her writing style may be silly and overdone, but it gets me excited to try it, and honestly, if you can get excited about cooking, you've already made the final product taste that much better.

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    1. I second this!! You took the words right out of my mouth. My cooking has improved so much since I started reading her blog. You are absolutely right in that her recipes are approachable and the pictures make a huge difference (also a visual learner here). Things I used to be intimidated by I can now do with ease. It was a process (and really there are still many things that I am improving on), but step by step I was doing better and better things in the kitchen. And now I am not so afraid to try random recipes on the internet.

      As for whole chicken - I like to just boil the whole darn thing, shred the meat and portion it into the freezer, and use the bones to make my own stock, also for the freezer. Then I have ready made chicken and stock to throw into things, saves a few steps!

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  9. I AM SO EXCITED!!!! I <3 everything you said in this post. (I have a great from scratch mac & cheese recipe that maybe, just maybe, I've cooked a bit too often. When your children say, "Mac and cheese AGAIN?!?" ... I need a change.)

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  10. Dinner is in the crockpot here!! A couple of weeks ago I spent the better part of an afternoon cutting, chopping and bagging meals to toss in the freezer. Now, I just pull out what sounds good, throw it in ol' faithful...6-8 hours later, dinner is ready. I'm telling you, the crock pot is my bff!!!

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  11. $5.99 bread machine?! I need to come to your goodwill. Ours just isn't that awesome! So pumped for what's to come!

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  12. Dinner is in the crockpot here too! I use it at least once a week!

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  13. Dang it! Now I'm going to have to start "cooking" again. I won't tell you how long it's been...

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    1. If no one's expecting you to, I'm sayin' milk it!

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  14. We got our bread machine at Goodwill for 5.99 too!! Best Goodwill purchase ever.

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  15. Absolutely BEST bread machine cookbook ever...."The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook" by Beth Hensperger. 300 recipes from absolutely easy, easy fool-proof to that wonderful stuff you would have to pay $5 a loaf for at the local bakery (which is actually pretty easy, too, and only takes 4 ingredients).

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    1. Dwija - have you ever had MacKenzie Bakery's Crispy Italian Bread? The exact same tasting bread is on page 246 of this book. The author calls it "Pagnotta". Merry Christmas!

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  16. Into crockpot place frozen chicken beasts and a jar of salsa....chicken tacos or fajitas in 6 to 8 hours!!

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  17. I am all about cheap and easy meals. If a meal needs more than 5-8 ingredients, I'm not doing it. Just sayin'. :)

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  18. Have you ever seen the "I Hate to Cook Book" that was published in the late 1960s? It is freakin' hilarious and this post reminds me of it. I am not sure if it is serious or facetious but that does not matter, it is a total riot. You should rush out and find it on a used book service and order it, STAT. I never loan mine out in fear that it would not return.

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  19. my favorite food blog is this: http://takebackthekitchen.com/blog/

    Alma is a social worker who helps women overcome their fears of the kitchen. Forrealz.

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