It seems these days that cooking most meals at home is unpopular with the millennial crowd, not for any reason other than a lot of people just don’t know basic cooking skills. As for myself, I love to cook. My mom cooked a home cooked meal most every night she possibly could, and with our very low income family she got creative with simple and tasty meals. And because I know he proudly takes this credit and would be mad if he saw I didn’t give proper credit, my uncle was the first one to let me cook! He taught me how to make pancakes and cook the perfect egg, and then my mom couldn’t resist my cooking pleas anymore. I took cooking classes through high school and throughout the years have gained some good knowledge and skill, and I hope this can inspire more people to get out there and cook at home a little more!
So before I share a few of my favorite simple meals, I gotta say although I love organic items and eating healthily, I will sacrifice these things in a second for taste and price. I remember I bought an Odwalla one time and someone told me, “You know, Odwalla’s actually have a lot of sugar and Naked juices are better because they don’t, they are way healthier.” Girl, I don’t drink those things for any other reason than I like the taste! I have a great number of processed things I love (Cheeze-its, Handi-Snacks, Candy, Soda) and I know its bad, but I am not too worried. I love all the good things too! Veggies always accompany my meals. In short, while a lot of things I cook are really good for you, I throw in a hearty now and again that just plain old tastes good.
Pasta Bake- Quite possibly the easiest of recipes!
- 1 jar of preferred brand of tomato sauce (I like ones with garlic or basil)
- 1 box of either Rotini or Penne pasta
- 1 pack Shredded Mozzarella cheese
- Instructions: Depending on how many you are feeding, you can adjust things accordingly. For just yourself, use 1/2 of the listed items, and you will have leftovers to each for lunch still! Boil enough water to cover your pasta by at least an inch.
- When water is boiling, sprinkle some salt in. Then pour pasta in and stir to keep pasta from sticking together.
- Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.
- Stir periodically until pasta is tender, I always just take a noodle out and test it myself to check readiness, but the box from which the pasta came should tell you the exact mount of minutes it should take. Strain when tender.
- Mix sauce and pasta in pot, and sprinkle in a small handful of mozzarella and stir.
- Pour pasta mix into a deeper oven pan, whatever you have you can make work besides a cookie sheet.
- Sprinkle a good layer of mozzarella on top of the pasta in the pan, and pop it in the over for 30-40 minutes, depending on how well done you like the cheese. (I like it with golden brown spots.
- Viola! You are done. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Don’t forget you can always add! Ground beef, fresh herbs, mushrooms, sausage, there are a lot of options to make this dish versatile. Pair with a side salad or steamed veggies and its a full meal.
Crock Pot Whole Chicken
- 1 Whole Chicken (any brand is fine, I try to go organic with meats whenever possible and love the Rocky or Mary’s brands)
- 1/2 stick butter
- Lemon-Herb spice mix
- Prep Crockpot by rolling chunks of tin foil into balls, putting four on the bottom evenly to support the chicken.
- Rinse your chicken thoroughly before placing it into the crockpot. Make little cuts in the chickens skin along the breasts and legs so the butter and spices can sink in.
- Cut your butter into thin squares and set aside.
- Season the chicken all over and to your taste, I use a lot because I prefer it really flavorful but as always it is up to you.
- Peel your preferred about of garlic cloves (I love garlic) and place inside the cavity of the chicken.
- Pour 1/2 cup water in the bottom of crockpot
- Place butter slices strategically on the top and in the creases of the legs of the chicken.
- Cook on “low” for 5-6 hours depending on the size of your bird. The meat will be falling of the bone and juices running clear when it is done.
- Remove the chicken from the crockpot, and place on a small roasting pan or whatever you have that will fit it. Broil for a couple minutes until the skin is as crispy as you like.
- Let cook for 5 minutes and carve to serve! Whatever you dont eat can be saved for other meals (salads, enchiladas, ect) and the bones can be slow cook to make chicken broth. Serve with whatever side you want! Pasta roni, roasted veggies, baked potato, au gratin potatoes, whatever you like.
- Beef roasting meat- I use a variety of different cuts of roasts depending on price and availability, I don’t like much fat on my meat so I look for leaner cuts. Estimate the amount you will need by how many you are cooking for, the butcher will cut you a smaller bit if its just for you, and if you want leftovers!
- 1 can beef consumme
- 1 can beef broth
- 1 can french onion soup
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- Hogie style rolls
- Sear meat in a nonstick pan on all sides with olive oil until color changes to a deep brown
- Place meat in crockpot or dutch oven with 1 can beef consumme, 1 can beef broth, and 1 can french onion soup and Worcestershire sauce
- Cook for 3 hours on 375 in oven for the dutch oven, and on low for 5-6 hours for the crockpot
- Remove meat and place on cutting board to rest for 15 minutes
- While meat is resting, I like to toast the inside of my rolls by broiling for just a few seconds.
- Slice meat to your preference of thickness and place on roll to make a sandwich. Adorn with and toppings you would like or none at all.
- Pour the liquid remaining in the crock pot into a bowl for a tasty au ju dip.
This is another than can be customized in any way! Add sauteed mushrooms or onions, cheese, condiments and more to ramp up the flavor in this dish.
Well those are my most favorite simple meals! I have many more and would be happy to share if you would like. Let me know what you think and if you try any of these tasty recipes!