One of the best things you can do for yourself to be a better cook is learn a few basic recipes or processes. This is true for seasoned professionals, long time home cooks, novices who are just learning, or people who really don’t enjoy cooking but are trying to cut back on eating out for one reason or another. Once you learn how to make some of the most basic foods (or foods that you eat often and enjoy), you can build on those skills to make more complicated items, to tailor any recipe to suit your personal preferences, or even to create your own recipes.
Think of it this way: when you were in school, first you learned the alphabet. Then you learned how to read and write your name and other small words. Then bigger words and sentences. Questions. Exclamations. Clauses. Prepositions. Eventually you could take all of these skills and write papers. Some people can even write whole books!
Cooking is a lot like that. While you can easily skip some of the basics and be a pretty good cook, a better understanding of the little things can lead to better food in the long run. I’m not saying learn all the things they would teach in the first semester at Le Cordon Bleu, but master (or at least learn about) how to properly cook your favorite proteins, sauces, and baked goods and you will be well on your way to better meals.
There are a few recipes that I remember vividly from growing up. My mom always had a few standby recipes that she’d make often–usually big batch recipes that she could use for multiple meals. Specifically, I remember chili, spaghetti sauce, and chicken salad, because those were always my favorites.
When I was a kid, my parents both worked full time and were always shuttling my brother and I to whatever sports practice or school event we had, and it all seemed so easy until I grew up. Now I wonder how they did it. Particularly my mom, because she did all the cooking. How did she work all day and get home and cook a meal for all of us that we would all eat? We were all different types of picky too. I wasn’t much of a meat eater at the time (a trait that I no longer possess), but I would eat almost any vegetable that she put in front of me. My dad and brother were almost the exact opposite. Somehow my mom managed to work around it all. It’s more than a little impressive when I think about it.
It’s officially spring, y’all! It’s especially evident here in Texas: warmer weather is (mostly) here, wildflowers are everywhere, and all our cars are covered in pollen. It’s time for the whole state to find a cold beer and a patio! As I sit here typing I can see three different neighbors working in their yards, I’m exhausted for them.
The best part about spring? The food. Duh. (Technically the best part of any season is the food, but just go with me here.) Spring is the season of brunch, Easter candy, and fresh produce. The combination of perfect weather and great vegetables is the perfect inspiration to eat lighter and leave the heavy dishes of winter in the past. Then you can treat yourself with a Cadbury creme egg or a mimosa. Or both. Who am I to judge?
I have a problem: I am incapable of buying the right number of bananas. It does not matter how few I buy, we never eat them all before they get too soft. It doesn’t really help that bananas are only the perfect ripeness for eating for all of about 10 minutes either.
Because of this banana situation, I end up freezing all of the slightly overripe bananas. At any given time I have 4-6 bananas (sometimes 10-12) in my freezer. Sure, sure, they’re great for smoothies, but I’m too lazy to drag out my blender and have to clean it up just so I can make a smoothie. My blender is reserved almost exclusively for salsa making and frozen adult beverages.
More often than not my frozen bananas are destined for baked goods. Breads, cakes, muffins. Mmmm, muffins. Little cakelettes that are socially acceptable to eat for breakfast. An excuse to sneak chocolate chips into breakfast food? Yes, please.
Happy Pi(e) Day! In honor of this magical mathematical day, I bring you Grasshopper Pie! Now, if you don’t know what grasshopper pie is, don’t get grossed out by the name. It’s the pie version of the famous cocktail- a sweet, green, minty beverage. To me, it’s better as a pie. I don’t love my alcohol super sweet, but I do love my desserts that way!
I really wanted to post a traditional Irish dish this week, in honor of Saint Patrick’s Day. Turns out, most of the dishes we Americans know as “Irish” are figments of our imagination. So I scrapped the traditional part and brought you a two-for-one holiday treat, the pie version of the Shamrock Shake! So really you could use this recipe for Pi Day or for Saint Patty’s Day! You’re welcome.
I am a person of many strong opinions. There is no doubt about that. None of my opinions are more resolute than the ones I have about food. Please skip ahead if you are easily offended by other people’s food thoughts. Angel food cake is just a sweet sponge. A sandwich without meat is just a salad. Frozen yogurt is not a suitable substitute for ice cream. And burgers are made of beef. Chicken burgers, turkey burgers and other meat burgers, in my world, are sandwiches. Not burgers. Veggie burgers, bean burgers, quinoa burgers: these strange things fall under the aforementioned category of salad.
“Uh, Casey, you named this post ‘Buffalo Chicken Burgers with Blue Cheese Slaw’ though…” you are probably saying at the moment. And you’re right, I did. Here’s why: while in my house these are called sandwiches, in most people’s homes (and according to various internet sources), any sandwich with a ground meat patty is technically a burger. So for the sake of not rocking the boat, I will concede this point to the internet.
In case you didn’t know, today is a national holiday. It’s National Margarita Day, also known as the best day of the year. The Dallas weather apparently knew, because it is a gorgeous, sunny, warm day, and to celebrate I have made for you (and mostly me) Strawberry Chipotle Margaritas!