Keeping it simple and tasty
Once I discovered my love for cooking, I thought I had to prove myself by seeking out uber-complicated recipes that took hours to make. It was always fun to conquer the recipe, but it was also exhausting. The popularity of the Food Network and cooking shows can feed this type of mania – encouraging us to try increasingly more challenging techniques to wow our friends and family.
It took me a while to realize that often the simple preparations were the best – perfectly cooked corn on a summer day or a well-balanced soup on a cold winter evening. I was thrilled to find the Super Simple Cooking article in the August issue of Cooking Light magazine with 25 great tips on an easy approach to great cooking.
Some of my favorite suggestions from the article include:
- The standout strategy – the idea of building a meal around one star dish, focusing your energy on one thing and keeping the other dishes simple.
- The let-others-do-it ploy – I used to feel like I had to do everything on my own, but I have no qualms now buying my favorite hummus or a marinated cut of meat from a store I trust to cut down on some of my prep work. If any of your guests are keeping store on whether you did everything from scratch, then you need new guests.
- The convenience play – having extra cooked grains or pasta on hand so you can quickly pull together salads and sides. I always make a full batch of grains even if I need just one serving so that I have them on hand during the week when I’m in a hurry.
- Cook once, eat twice habit – When I roast chickens or meats, I make more than I need so that I have leftovers to make other meals during the week. Leftover meat is perfect for salads, pasta, enchiladas and more.
- The freezer pleaser – I always make extra so I can freeze the leftovers which makes it easy to have healthy meals even when I don’t have time to cook.
- The slow-cooker scheme – I haven’t mastered this technique yet, but my sister is the slow-cooker queen, making great meals for the family while she is at work. One of my goals for the year is to have her teach me her slow cooker secrets.
What are some of your favorite simple cooking techniques?
Crudite tray with fresh carrots, celery, cucumber and radishes, pickled okra, bread & butter pickles, olives, Mediterranean Chef hummus and pimento cheese
Boiled shrimp, corn, potatoes and andouille sausage
Grilled pork tenderloin
Friday night Fajita Fiesta
Baked stuffed jalapenos from Simply Recipes – I did some of both recipes. The bacon was a big hit, but the plain version is just as flavorful if you have vegetarian guests.
Shrimp Campechana from Goode Co. Seafood
Chicken & beef fajitas
Pico de gallo
Variety of salsas
Spanish Rice ( a friend of the family made this)
Spice Cake (my sister made this)