I mentioned in my previous post that I have learned to enjoy cooking more recently. I used to grouse about cooking saying "I don't like to cook, but I'm not horrible at it." I have to cringe now looking back on that statement. Why would ANYONE ever want to come over for dinner?! My poor husband! I'm sure he thoroughly enjoyed hearing my laments about cooking...
My first official non-babysitting job was at a fledgling catering company a couple from our church started running out of their home. Truth be told, I was their babysitter. I babysat the kids while they went to small group, out on dates, wherever. Once the children were tucked in I would disappear to the basement to wash their catering pans, stain treat the table cloths, and tidy up. I worked for them once they started their restaurant and I loved it.
My brother works for the same couple now and has for roughly five years or so. He is in his last leg of culinary school at the local college and has honed his skills not only as a cook, but as a pastry chef. I'm very proud of him.
I'm amused by the fact that I've developed this new fascination with cooking/baking. Maybe it's partially more appealing to me now that I have a dishwasher? :) In all seriousness though, I've realized what a joy it can be for not only me, but for my loved ones. Most people enjoy a delicious meal. I think that most people can also appreciate the work that goes into cooking. I get a real sense of fulfillment when I can simply (or not) throw ingredients together to make something nourishing and satisfying.
It is my impression that the majority of people who cook on a regular basis have some staple recipes in their repertoire. I thought I would share some of the favorites in our house.
I know a lot of people aren't big on cooking "meat dishes", but around here pork is a much loved meat. Everyone likes it, which means that cooking it is truly rewarding. I was introduced to this recipe last weekend by my husband's step mother and I loved it so much that I made it for my mom's Birthday dinner yesterday and am officially adding it to my on-hand recipes. As a side note: It's a perfect dish for Fall.
PORK ROAST 3-5 lbs of pork
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 can of cranberry sauce (with the whole cranberries in it - not just the jelly type).
2 granny smith apples cut into wedges
You can either put this in a roaster on 375 for around 2 hours or cook it in the crockpot for about 8 hours low, 6 hours high. I did it in the crockpot and added the apples in the last 2 hours.
PULLED PORK Inspired by my best friend's account of how incredible Pulled Pork is I decided to attempt it. Who knew that it would be so insanely easy and tasty? It was an instant hit for us. I made this while living at my in-laws and they also loved how it turned out. This is the recipe I found and followed!
SPAGHETTI Yeah, I know! Everyone knows how to make spaghetti - but why not put a fun spin on it? I'm fortunate that my son (the one who is not nursing), will eat most vegetables so I am able to experiment. I'm going to say now that I don't generally use specific measurements - I throw a little of this and a little of that and hope for the best! ;)
2 lbs of beef browned in a skillet with some garlic powder (or 1 garlic clove) and approximately 2 tablespoons of diced onion (preferably fresh, not dry). If you're not big on beef I suggest grilling 2-4 chicken breasts to the point of almost drying them out!
I will occasionally make my own homemade tomato sauce, but usually I use 2 jars of Prego Spaghetti sauce or Healthy Choice (I don't like Ragu)! I season it with salt and pepper, oregano, parsley, another 1/4 cup of freshly diced onion, a sprinkling of garlic powder or another clove or two of garlic, and then as a fun flourish a small amount of cinnamon - no more than 1 teaspoon! At this point I add the meat. If you are using chicken the reason for drying the chicken is so that you can allow the sauce to cook into the meat. Slice the chicken into bite size pieces prior to combining with sauce. After adding the meat I add any compilation of the following:
Sliced black OR green olives
broccoli (small florettes work the best)
green, yellow, and/or red pepper
Depending on which vegetables you're adding take into account which will need to cook longer. Usually broccoli, carrots and squash need a little more time (you can always use frozen if your want to cut down on cooking time). I like my yellow and red peppers as well as onions to still have a slight crunch when the dish is served.
Cook noodles until your preferred consistency.
Last but not least an easy lunch recipe! I asked my husband what he thinks are our go-to recipes and he immediately said "The grilled tortilla wraps!" This is a simple and quick lunch option that Greg was introduced to by his best friend's mother back in high school. We've adopted the recipe into our family and use it frequently.
GRILLED TORTILLA WRAP
Simply grill a tortilla with two american cheese slices side by side in the middle of the tortilla on the griddle with butter or pam to coat the griddle. Over the cheese put any combination of lunch meat (2-4 slices depending on how thick). I like turkey, Greg likes ham.
It will cook pretty quickly so keep it on a low heat so you're not setting off the smoke alarm!
Once you've removed your wrap from the griddle spread a thin layer of mayo or miracle whip, and some mustard - if you like it, over the meat and cheese. Then add lettuce. We sometimes put freshly sliced tomatoes on too. Fold the two sides over the middle and enjoy with your choice of lunch sides!
I have more recipes, but I think this post is pretty full already! I wanted to post a yummy recipe for Bean Salad and our Chili recipe, but I think I'll put a hold on those until a later date. :)
Do you have any recipes that you and your family cannot do without?