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Author Topic: Help me learn to cook dinner  (Read 5949 times)

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Help me learn to cook dinner
« on: 10 Mar 2009, 08:37 »

Ok so after a year or so of bar work, I have not actually cooked a dinner in a long time. Whenever I have had to cook something it has been spag bol (do not be mistaken into thinking this is the same thing as spaghetti bolognaise though) or some kind of cheap stir fry knocked up from meat, vegetables, noodles and hoi sin sauce. The other day, I went shopping and realised I have practically no idea how to cook up a nice filling evening meal.

This is where you come in, QC forum. What do you like to cook for dinner? How do you cook it? Bear in mind that while I have been cooking for myself for years, I have usually taken care of breakfast and housemates have done dinner for me. I don't know how to cook a roast. I wouldn't have the slightest idea how to make a salad. I basically cook rice the same way I cook pasta and it is deeply unsatisfying on many levels.

I have a cookbook with some nice recipes but unfortunately they usually require ridiculous utensils, obscure ingredients and a massive sinking of time, whereas I am a student on a budget just low enough to mean I buy single ply toilet paper, but just high enough that the idea of eating 2 minute noodles every day is not an option.

I know you all cook dinner you all look so well fed, come on, let her rip.
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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #1 on: 10 Mar 2009, 08:47 »

I like to cook an array of delicious meats.
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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #2 on: 10 Mar 2009, 09:08 »

Things you should know:
- A handful of spaghetti 1 inch in diameter is enough to feed one person
- 2 cups water + 1 tbsp butter/margerine to 1 cup rice. Rinse rice a few times. Boil the water and butter, add rice, cover, cook for 13-15 minutes. Let the rice rest for at least 5 minutes. Fluff and serve.
- The easiest bread to make is Irish Soda Bread. It's great with soup or stew. This is a great recipe, but skip the currants and glaze.
- Learn to make chili. It's cheap, healthy and filling.
- Get a meat thermometer
- The easiest kind of roasted meat is pork tenderloin. They are pretty cheap at the grocery store, fairly low in saturated fat and pretty delicious. Get an oven-safe dish, toss in the pork and if you want, coat with some kind of store-bought marinade (goes particularly well with honey mustard marinades). Roast at 450oF 25-30 mins per pound of meat. Its internal temperature should be around 170o.

Google, Recipezaar.com, Cooks.com, Recipetips.com, Finecooking.com...these all provide pretty user-friendly, easy, step-by-step recipes.

CLEAN AS YOU COOK.
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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #3 on: 10 Mar 2009, 09:10 »

Chili is basically the most delicious thing ever.
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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #4 on: 10 Mar 2009, 09:11 »

Tell me more about this Chilli
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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #5 on: 10 Mar 2009, 09:42 »

I make use of a lot of spices, herbs, and sauces to make boring instant and tinned food tastier. Don't forget how nice things can be just cooked on their own though, like fried onion and mushrooms.
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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #6 on: 10 Mar 2009, 09:47 »

What sorts of herbs and spices and sauces?

Bear in mind that when you say spices I think of a large container of mixed italian herbs, and when you say sauces, I think of Ketchup and BBQ sauce.
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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #7 on: 10 Mar 2009, 10:05 »

Basil, Oregano, Cumin, Salt, Pepper, Chili Powder, Rosemary, and Thyme. You should have all of those.

Learning how to make various sauces is a good thing to do, hollandaise, bernaise, etc etc etc.
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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #8 on: 10 Mar 2009, 10:05 »

Try:
Chili powder, cayenne, dried chili flakes - these are all spicy, so use them in moderation
Garlic - fresh needs to be peeled and minced but the flavour is worth it. Garlic powder is good too though
Nutmeg
Cumin
Paprika
Oregano
Basil - there can be a really nice sweetness to dried basil

For chili...it's easy.
1 tbsp. oil
1 lb. of ground meat (turkey and chicken are leaner/healthier than beef)
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 large can mixed beans (or 1 smallish can black beans and 1 smallish can red kidney beans)
1 small can tomato paste
2 cups chopped bell pepper (colour of your preference)
2 medium onions, chopped
1 can whole-kernel sweet corn, drained
Chili powder, salt, pepper, garlic, cumin and/or paprika to taste
Sour cream and cheese to garnish

Heat the oil on medium-high heat in the bottom of a large pot. Brown the meat. Add tomatoes, tomato paste and beans. Mix thoroughly. Add spices. Bring to a boil, reduce head to medium, let simmer for 6-7 minutes. Add vegetables. Bring to boil again, reduce heat, let simmer for half an hour, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Serve in bowls garnished with spoonful of sour cream and some grated cheese.
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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #9 on: 10 Mar 2009, 10:14 »

Sam, you Texans invented chili, but whoever decided "this motherfucker needs BEANS" perfected it.
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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #10 on: 10 Mar 2009, 10:20 »

Query: when you say "ground meat" what is the easiest way to do this. Do I need to buy it this way straight from my butcher? Can I just go to down on some chicken breast with a hammer and pulverise it?
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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #11 on: 10 Mar 2009, 10:21 »

Fried Chicken

1lb chicken strips
2 eggs, beaten
Plate of Italian spiced bread crumbs
Vegetable oil
Frying Pan

Dip the chicken in egg, and smother in bread crumbs.  Pour thin layer of oil into pan, enough to cover the bottom.  Put over medium heat.  Add chicken to pan.  Flip when the bottom starts to brown nicely.  Remove from pan when other side browns.  Ta-da!
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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #12 on: 10 Mar 2009, 10:22 »

My suggestion is to get a crock pot. They are awesome. Most recipes just involve throwing meat, seasoning and water/beer/wine depending on what you're cooking into the crock pot, turning it on and leaving it for a few hours. I like to prepare everything in the morning, turn it on low, and then it will be done by the time I get home at night. It's also a great way to make chili!
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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #13 on: 10 Mar 2009, 10:23 »

You can get ground meat at grocery stores or from your butcher.

if you ever attend sxsw watch your back

Are beans not supposed to be in chili?

And Dire is right, slow-cookers (crock pots) are fucking fantastic.
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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #14 on: 10 Mar 2009, 10:26 »

I strongly dislike chili because of the beans. I hate them, they have the worst texture and they taste terrible.
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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #15 on: 10 Mar 2009, 10:28 »

Garlic powder is not a substitute for real garlic. Like, not even almost. That's pretty much the worst idea I have ever heard.
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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #16 on: 10 Mar 2009, 10:30 »

How long does garlic keep? If I tear off a clove and mince it, how long will the rest of it last? If the answer is "less than a week" is there a way to slow this process without drastically compromising flavour? One of the biggest handicaps to my desire to get really fresh with cooking is that a lot of fresh stuff will not get used by one single dude in a week and so I have to throw it out, wasting valuable money.

I have largely been using shitty prepackaged stuff for most of the things I 'cook' with, but am willing to change my ways if there are economically feasible ways to do so.
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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #17 on: 10 Mar 2009, 10:31 »

True Chili does not need beans. In fact, if you enter a real contest and beans are in the chili, you will be looked down upon.
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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #18 on: 10 Mar 2009, 10:31 »

- 2 cups water + 1 tbsp butter/margerine to 1 cup rice. Rinse rice a few times. Boil the water and butter, add rice, cover, cook for 13-15 minutes. Let the rice rest for at least 5 minutes. Fluff and serve.

This depends on the kind of rice. Some kinds take 5 or less minutes to cook and taste like shit. I like the natural, "unpolished" kinds, most of them take about 20. Don't let the rice boil too hard, either, just simmer. The point is not to "cook" it, but rather to make it absorb all the water, until you sit back with rice only. The 2:1 water:rice formula is what you need to use, but I've never had any butter in the water. A bit of salt perhaps. All have their own tastes I guess.

Query: when you say "ground meat" what is the easiest way to do this. Do I need to buy it this way straight from my butcher? Can I just go to down on some chicken breast with a hammer and pulverise it?

You can usually get them in 200/250g packs at your local food store.

4 replies before I finish? You guys really want to give food advice.
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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #19 on: 10 Mar 2009, 10:33 »

Query: when you say "ground meat" what is the easiest way to do this. Do I need to buy it this way straight from my butcher? Can I just go to down on some chicken breast with a hammer and pulverise it?

You buy it.  In the UK it's called mince or minced meat (not mincemeat, which is different!).  You can mince lumps of meat using a mincer, but I would only do that for meat that cannot normally be bought minced, such as bacon.

I mince bacon to make a meat loaf:  minced beef, minced bacon, finely chopped (or coarsely minced) onion, some egg and oats to bind it, some seasoning (including paprika), then press into a loaf tin moderately firmly (not too hard - you don't want to make a brick) and bake (middling - say 180C).  Eat sliced, warm with veg or cold with salad.

On chili - vegetarians often do Chili Beans without the meat.  It's all good if you like it!
« Last Edit: 10 Mar 2009, 10:36 by pwhodges »
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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #20 on: 10 Mar 2009, 10:55 »

here is the only meal i know how to cook:

-chop potatoes into little bits and fry them in a pan with some oil
-cook some bacon to your preference
-cook some eggs to your preference (you can even mix them with the potatoes, but you have to wait till the potatoes are almost done because eggs cook fast and potatoes cook slow)
-you can also add some ground beef to your potatoes and eggs if you are so inclined (i am; it's delicious)

-add vegetables and spices to your preference. i usually add a little bit of chopped onion (but not much) and a little salt/pepper and maybe even some BBQ sauce if i'm feeling daring


there are infinite variations on this recipe, ensuring that you'll never get bored. for example: you can cut the potatoes into slices instead of bits, fry an egg (instead of scrambling) and put it all on some toasted bread and you've got yourself an amazing (and unique!) sandwich.

don't forget to try out different types of potatoes and different types of cheeses (oh yeah, i forgot to mention that cheese usually goes in there somewhere too) and find out what works for you. be creative!


there, i have just exhausted all of my cooking knowledge.
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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #21 on: 10 Mar 2009, 10:57 »

Garlic lasts pretty much forever, doggo.

It doesn't only have to be minced, either! It can be crushed or chopped or sliced or roasted whole! It is pretty much the best thing, garlic is.
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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #22 on: 10 Mar 2009, 11:14 »

i'm seconding chili. it is easy to make and can be varied easily to taste and you can make a whole bunch of it to just store in your fridge and eat throughout the week. pasta sauces are good things to know how to make too. i have a slow cooker too, which is great because that way i can just throw everything in and let it cook and simmer overnight so on top of all that it also takes up very little time. if you are pressed for time, slow cookers are a very good thing to own.

i am a big garlic fiend too. it occured to me about a month ago that literally 100% of the foods i know how to make well have garlic in them which is really somewhat problematic in the event i ever need to cook for someone who doesn't like garlic or is allergic. i wanted to be selfish but my housemate said i needed to diversify and taught me how to make chili. it's really weird cooking without garlic but now i am so glad i took her up on her offer because chili is the best.
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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #23 on: 10 Mar 2009, 11:52 »

Or if you're really lazy, buy some ribs, buy a nice, pre-prepared spice rub from your supermarket, cover the ribs completely and toss 'em in the oven on 300 and come back after work (hopefully that's like 10 hours).

RIBS!
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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #24 on: 10 Mar 2009, 13:16 »

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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #25 on: 10 Mar 2009, 13:31 »

Bring to boil again, reduce heat, let simmer for half an hour, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

I know of no chili that requires less than  6-8 hours to simmer. 

Crock pots are a great idea.  You can dang near throw any mix of stuff in one and in a few hours BANG!  Instant meal.
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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #26 on: 10 Mar 2009, 13:37 »

Garlic will dry out and it can rot.  This doesn't happen right away though.  The internet says that garlic will last 7-10 days once the bulb has been broken.  I don't usually have any trouble going through a head in that time period, but I really really like garlic.  Bulb garlic weighs so little that by the pound it is very cheap.  Probably cheap enough that it costs less to use most of a head and have a little go bad than to shell out several times the price for some powder that is of much lower quality.  Nothing compares to fresh garlic.

Protip:  Cooking can destroy some of the healthy compounds in garlic.  Letting garlic sit for 15 minutes after mincing it will prevent some of the nutrient loss.  It will taste delicious either way, of course.
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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #27 on: 10 Mar 2009, 13:39 »

We're not working at a fuckin' restaurant here. We're students. We have maybe an hour tops most days to prepare and eat our food.

I put up a quick and cheap veg chili recipe in yon cooking thread.

Also garlic will last for awhile but it will start to sprout a few weeks after purchase (the core of the garlic will turn green and a stem will start to poke out of the end) and in my opinion at least it loses a lot of its flavor at that point. If you squeeze a clove and it's soft you can probably do with better garlic.
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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #28 on: 10 Mar 2009, 13:51 »

I have this garlic that is pre-peeled and then they put them in single clove airtight plastic things. It keeps forever... probably not quite as good as fresh fresh garlic, but the "quasi-fresh" is still better than powder or flakes.

Also! I like roasts for the same reason a lot of other people in here have--you can toss all the ingredients together in the morning, and at night you come home to something really good. I like to take a beef roast with potatoes and carrots and onions. So peel and cut potatoes into quarters, throw in a pot. Cut carrots into big chunks. Throw into pot. Put the roast on top and add water to about halfway up the roast's side. NOW, I like to add some bourbon or whiskey (nothing tastes better with red meat than the woody taste of whiskey) over the meat and add Worcestershire to the water and veggies. When it's close to being done, add four or five Earl Grey tea bags and let them steep. You may need to add more water if the roast is dry and I almost always turn my roast over once while cooking. It goes on low and you have to cover it.

You can make gravy with the juice too, add salt and pepper and a little flour.
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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #29 on: 10 Mar 2009, 14:03 »

One of the greatest by one of the greatest: I'm Just Here for the Food by Alton Brown. This book explains how cooking works, rather than just giving you a recipe and saying "go".

When Achewood's shop reopens, pick up the Achewood cookbook. Sounds corny, but it's actually a great cookbook with tons of quick, easy recipies.

Other than cookbooks, there are endless ways of cooking great meals for yourself in a short amount of time. I cook for myself 4 nights of the week and have leftovers the rest. Here are a few tips:
  • Buy meat in bulk, split it up into individual portions in zip lock bags and freeze. Before you go to bed, take one portion out of the freezer and place in the fridge to defrost. 20 hours is typically enough time for something individual portion-sized to thaw. Costco or Sam's Club sells giant quantities of meat, but if you don't have a membership, your local supermarket will work out just fine. (Like a pack of 4 bonkeless, skinless chicken breasts - put one breast in one zip lock bag and freeze.)
  • For the above meat, if you don't have a grill, use your oven. Set to broil, 400oF or whatever. If you really hate doing dishes, take a metal baking sheet and cover it in foil. Place meat on top, give it a nice dose of olive oil, season with salt, pepper, and any variety of stuff (herbs, chili powder / cayenne pepper, onion+garlic+lemon... be creative!) and cook until desired temperature.
  • Will reiterate this - buy a digital meat thermometer. In the interim if you're cooking a cut of beef: place your index finger and thumb together. Now, with the opposite hand, press the flesh on your palm directly below your thumb. That is what a rare cut of beef feels like. Now place your middle finger and thumb together. Repeat pressing with your opposite hand. That is medium rare. Ring finger & thumb = medium, pinkie & thumb = well done.
  • Buy frozen vegetables (broccoli, califlower, peas, carrots, corn, etc.). They're quick to cook - put your desired amount in a tupperware, place a small amount of water in with it, salt (if desired) and put in microwave for 3-4 minutes.
  • Follow the rice recipes that allison and snalin wrote out above.
  • Experiment!

    Don't buy tv dinners, lean cuisine, frozen pizza, etc. Processed food is so bad for you. My typical night's dinner is a grilled/broiled pork chop, chicken breast or fish (salmon, sword, tuna, etc), a half-cup of rice made in a rice maker and a handful of steamed vegetables. It's filling, it's tasty, and above all, it's good for me.

    Happy to help with any questions, etc. I love cooking.
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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #30 on: 10 Mar 2009, 15:34 »

Stirfry is the easiest thing and works out on a budget
Get your meat (some kind of steak - go for cheap if need be)
Cut into small pieces
Chuck in frying pan/wok with a bit of oil
Throw in a bunch of stirfry veges (or any other prepackaged veges - usually cheapest option)
Add soy sauce, garlic a bit of ginger and paprika.

Cook up some rice on the side and tada. food.

maybe this can help http://www.studentrecipes.com
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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #31 on: 10 Mar 2009, 15:52 »

We're not working at a fuckin' restaurant here. We're students.
Uhh, I'm in the former category there. My bad. =\
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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #32 on: 10 Mar 2009, 16:13 »

(Like a pack of 4 bonkeless, skinless chicken breasts - put one breast in one zip lock bag and freeze.)

Is a bonk anything like a donk? Am I supposed to put a donk in it/on it while I am cooking?
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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #33 on: 10 Mar 2009, 16:16 »

We're not working at a fuckin' restaurant here. We're students. We have maybe an hour tops most days to prepare and eat our food.

I put up a quick and cheap veg chili recipe in yon cooking thread.

Also garlic will last for awhile but it will start to sprout a few weeks after purchase (the core of the garlic will turn green and a stem will start to poke out of the end) and in my opinion at least it loses a lot of its flavor at that point. If you squeeze a clove and it's soft you can probably do with better garlic.

This is no reason not to put some effort into your meals. I mean, take that perspective and you could just make yourself pasta and a salad every night. It's really easy to make the meal a little bit better, often for cheaper, without putting that much more time into it. Making your own pasta sauce is a good example, or spending an extra 5 minutes to season your meat before putting it in. Chili, however, you totally don't actually need to simmer for 8 hours, you're right.

Unless, you know, you want it to be good.
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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #34 on: 10 Mar 2009, 16:30 »

Make some tacos. They're really easy and equally tasty.
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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #35 on: 10 Mar 2009, 16:40 »

One of my favorite things to cook when I don't want to spend a lot of time on the dinner, but want something tasty, is chicken filet with cream cheese, with some salad and rice. I usually get a kilo or two of chicken filet when they are on sale, and keep them in my freezer, so I always have some lying around. What you need is basically this:

- 1 chicken filet, or 2 if one does not make you full
- Cream cheese of some flavoured kind, I use garlic
- Spices, I usually just use oregano, salt and pepper, but I guess other things could work
- Rice
- Salad, I mostly use your basic lettuce, cucumber, tomato, sometimes corn and whatever I have in the refrigerator

I usually cook the filet in a pan for a little while, just so it doesn't have to be in the oven for aages, and then I put the filet and a bunch of cream cheese and some oregano and various spices in aluminium foil, wrap it, and put it in the oven on 175C for about 15 minutes (varies, I guess, I just check whether or not it's done). This makes the chicken super juicy, and the cream cheese tastes really good when heated as well. This doesn't take too long, as I start with heating up water, put the filet in the pan, put the rice in the water, and let it boil while I put the chicken in the oven, and then let the rice boil/simmer until the chicken is done, which leaves a little while for making the salad in between. All in all it takes about 25 minutes, maybe?
« Last Edit: 10 Mar 2009, 16:54 by Ladybug »
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DonInKansas

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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #36 on: 10 Mar 2009, 17:29 »

We're not working at a fuckin' restaurant here. We're students. We have maybe an hour tops most days to prepare and eat our food.

I put up a quick and cheap veg chili recipe in yon cooking thread.


If he was wanting to eat like a student, he would have skipped starting the thread and gone back to the ramen noodles and Easy Mac, bucko.

Crock Pots are great for students.  Throw the stuff in in the morning, get home in the evening and it's dang near ready.  I was a student; I know how it is.  I still have the same Crock Pot from my college days 8 years ago.  It has made excellent chili, stew, and other tasty stuffs.
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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #37 on: 10 Mar 2009, 20:01 »

I don't know where the recipe or anything is but my mom makes this thing in the crock pot where she pours a can of coke around a whole chicken and it is amazing.

Found it!
http://southernfood.about.com/od/crockpotchicken/r/bl100c2.htm

It's incredibly easy. Try it sometime.
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Fishboy

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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #38 on: 10 Mar 2009, 20:06 »

I cooked for my family since I was thirteen, although there were only the thee of us (me mum and nick, my little brother) most of the time.

With both me and my little brother being teenagers for most of the period in which I was cooking ( from the aforementioned age until when I left home) I found that getting cheap cuts of meat, steaks in particular, marinading them in something (or pre-marinaded, we knew a cheap country butcher that sold these really cheap), then cooking and serving them with steamed vegetables and possibly something with potato was a great staple. There are so many different vegetables available to anyone living in a major metropolitan area that you can actually have this trio three times a week with little to no major variation. Also, snitchel is great and stupidly easy.

I find that with most cooking, timing is key, take a decent t-bone and cook it right and it can support the rest of the dish by merit of its juices alone.

Just experiment with different kinds of meat, taking a base knowledge of each kind of meat/cut from the net, you'll have a couple of flops but you learn fast that way.
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yelley

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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #39 on: 11 Mar 2009, 00:05 »

easy recipes that can be prepared quickly with normal ingredients.

1. honey pecan chicken
-chicken breasts, trimmed and pounded or sliced thin
-salt, cayenne pepper (important, do not leave out), onion powder
-a clove or two of garlic, minced
-olive oil, a couple turns around the pan for frying
-honey
-chopped pecans (or walnuts, i guess)

heat oil in skillet on medium, season the chicken breasts and fry them until cooked through. remove them from the pan and keep them warm. add enough honey to the pan to coat the bottom of it and the nuts. use a spatula to scrape up all the chicken and seasoning bits from the pan and mix everything together, cook until the honey is bubbly and your kitchen smells really good. pour the honey over the chicken breasts and om nom nom.

2. sugar soy salmon marinade
-salmon filets
-1/3 cup soy sauce
-1/3 cup packed brown sugar
-1/3 cup water or apple juice if you have some
-1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil
-1 tbsp honey
-lemon pepper seasoning, salt, garlic powder

season the salmon filets and put them in a ziplock bag with the rest of the ingredients. mix well and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. i like to make it in the morning and let it sit all day, or even make it the night before. cook the salmon however you like, in the broiler for a few minutes on each side, fry it in a skillet, toss it on the grill, whatever... it's good all three ways.

3. chicken casserole formula
-chicken breast, cut into chunks
-seasonings, pretty much whatever you have. i use garlic and onion powder, salt and pepper, parsley, celery salt, whatever is on the rack.
-2.5 cups uncooked pasta - i like to use the leftover boxes that have a stupid amount of pasta left in them
-1 can cream of whatever soup. chicken, broccoli, mushroom, whatever.
-about 2 cups of milk, might need more or less
-1 cup shredded cheese
-a couple cups of vegetables, i use frozen ones. corn, carrots, peas, broccoli, whatever is left in the freezer
-bread crumbs and more shred cheese for toppings

mix everything together except the topping stuff, the mixture should be creamy and slightly liquidy, add more milk if needed. pour it all into a casserole dish, sprinkle with bread crumbs and cheese, bake for 45ish minutes at 350F. makes a lot of servings, so be prepared to eat this for days.

i have some better recipes too, but they are not as simple as these ones. you wanted simple, right?
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Jimmy the Squid

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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #40 on: 11 Mar 2009, 01:53 »

Pasta![/u]

This is sometimes referred to as Tuna Mornay, Tuna Pasta, Pasta Disaster, or, as the title infers, Pasta! It's relatively cheap, horrendously bad for you and, given that it is total student food, mainly cheese. The upside of the whole thing is that one batch will usually cover you for about 3 days, at least two good sized portions a day. The downside is that if you make this too often you will put on a lot of weight and it will essentially cement your insides together making bowel movements much more harrowing than need be. You've been warned.

- 500g pasta (spagetti is nice but penne works well too).
- 425g tinned tuna (with oil, not brine or springwater).
- 500g cheese (chedder or tasty is good as is mozzarella but I prefer to use a "pizza blend" which is basically tasty and mozzarella mixed together).
- 1 bottle of Pasta Sauce (Dolmio's stuff is really nice, specifically the ones with mushrooms or garlic).
- sweet chilli sauce (Trident is very nice but most generic brands are ok too, it's hard to fuck up sweet chilli sauce. If you're very rich come shopping day try and get Always Fresh. It's really incredible).
- At least 2 heaped tablespoons of Praise mayonnaise (or whole egg mayonnaise is also good but Praise has a nice eggy flavour without losing the tanginess).
- 2 tsp of wholegrain mustard (this is entirely optional, you can also substitue tabasco sauce if you prefer, it's just for taste).

Boil the pasta, remove from heat, drain it and mix in the Pasta Sauce. Open the tuna and dump the whole lot in, oil and all, mixing as you go. Then goes the sweet chilli (as needed, I like a lot) and then the mayonnaise. Stir through the mustard or tabasco sauce and make sure the colour is more or less pinkish in colour. Put the pan back onto the heat and begin adding the cheese, stirring through the entire time. Use as much cheese as you feel you need. The 500g is really just what I like to use. Once the cheese has melted through you can take it off the heat and begin serving.


Honey Soy Pork[/u]

This is really very easy, reasonably cheap and doesn't take too long to make, though cutting up the pork can be a little difficult if, like me, you only have access to rudimentary cooking utensils.

- 500g of pork ribs.
- 1 large onion (per person)
- ABC Sauce (available from any Asian grocer and most supermarkets)
- Soy Sauce
- Honey
- Sweet Chilli sauce
- 2 tsps Brown or Raw sugar
- 1-2 cups of water-
- Chinese Five Spice (Fennel, Aniseed, Ginger, Licorice, Cinnamon and Cloves)
- Oil (olive oil, vegetable oil, I don't care, something to grease the pan with)

Slice the onion and lightly fry it in oil, sprinkling the sugar over the top and mixing it through to caramelise. While this is happening chop up the pork ribs (it's easier to do this if they are slightly frozen but at any rate you'll get there), cutting off any excess fat if you want (not too much, it helps with the flavour). Throw the pork in with the onions and stir. Liberally apply Soy sauce until it is a fairly watery mixture, then add a copious amount of ABC sauce (the bottles are huge and cheap, you won't run out). Keep mixing this together until the pork is cooked to your liking (due to better standards of meat, pork can now be eaten if it's a little undercooked so don't feel you have to burn the shit out of it), adding water if you think the sauce is reducing too much.
Once the pork is cooked, reduce the heat, cover the pan and allow the mixture to simmer for about 10 minutes. Then add some honey and sweet chilli sauce and stir that through. The entire mixture should be now be quite thick. If it isn't, reduce it until it is. Once everything is finished, sprinkle the Chinese Five Spice over the entire mixture and stir it through. Use as much or as little as you think it needs.

If you really want to make the pork taste right then wait for it to cool, and then put it in the fridge. Eat it the next day. Your mind, she will be blown.
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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #41 on: 11 Mar 2009, 02:11 »

If he was wanting to eat like a student, he would have skipped starting the thread and gone back to the ramen noodles and Easy Mac, bucko.

Actually I started the thread trying to find a good compromise. The achewood cookbook is a great example of this actually but my copy legged it a while ago. I make enough money as a bartender to have a higher income than the average student, but I still don't make nearly enough money to really go to town on cooking. Of course, this thread is not all about me and sometimes I do have enough time to really prepare a meal, but not always so both options are pretty useful for me, personally.
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snalin

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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #42 on: 11 Mar 2009, 02:22 »

If you can ever get hold of some fresh mackerel, it's the single best fish to fry. Frozen it's still awesome.

To fry white fish, you need to use a lot of margarine, and remember not to shove the fillets around. If you do, it'll just turn into a mush. Fry on both sides, on pretty high temperatures, serve with boiled potatoes and vegetables.


And remember, if you're going to serve peas, tinned peas taste shit and should be avoided at all cost. Frozen are the best.
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clockworkjames

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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #43 on: 11 Mar 2009, 04:09 »

learn to make a good white sauce, I have to cook dinner for 4 people each weekday and it sucks. Few things I have picked up, oven baked potatoes are always better than microwaved or microwaved then ovened. A good white sauce is easy to make and mac n chez needs it. Pizza is good and cheap to make, put oregano, a little oil and basil into the base then punch it lots for like 5 minutes otherwise it will be nasty and biscuity. That's about all I can think of rite now.
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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #44 on: 11 Mar 2009, 04:24 »

Honestly as long as you show a bit of care with it then it is not hard to turn a budget bit of steak into some seriously classy nosh. You don't necessarily have to go with T-bone or fillet to get decent quality meat. Steak is also great because it basically takes no time whatsoever to cook.

A few tips on steak:

Take it out of the fridge a bit beforehand and let it come back up to room temperature, this is especially important if you are cooking the steak rare or medium rare (i.e; doing steak right).

Brush that shit with some extra virgin olive oil, do not put the oil in the pan/on the grill. This will stop it from smoking. Then season it to taste with some salt and pepper.

Make sure your cooking surface is very, very, VERY hot. If the steak doesn't sizzle as soon as it hits the hotplate then it is not hot enough.

Turn the steak ONCE. If you're going for rare turn it the moment you see blood start to appear on the surface of the uncooked surface, medium rare turn it when the blood is droplets on the surface, medium or well done, turn it when the blood starts to run together.

A good rule of thumb for cooking the other side is to cook it two minutes less than you cooked the first side

Once you have finished cooking, take the steak off, put it on a plate and let it rest. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT! It allows the juices to settle.

Eat that shit and live like a king.
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Ladybug

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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #45 on: 11 Mar 2009, 04:36 »

See, the thing I don't get about steaks is that people say the pan should be sizzling hot, but you should also not turn it until there is blood appearing/gathering on top - I don't get how you make it not burnt on the bottom when doing it like this.
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phooey

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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #46 on: 11 Mar 2009, 06:55 »

I think simple is really the best option in this case.  I don't eat particularly good, filling meals, but with a few simple staples you can have some really good, delicious food every night.  Soup is godsend in this regard.  If you make a surplus of soup, you can freeze the extra into portions for later on, and it will keep until you are no longer tired of the soup.  Same goes for pasta sauce, and one of my favorite freezer tricks is to make pesto and then freeze it into ice cubes, so if you think a meal is boring, just pop a pesto cube into it.  Couscous is also idiotproof.  Most have preparation information on the side, but it's a pasta, and you said you already know how to cook that, so you're good to go.  Throw a few tomatoes and chive on that motherfucker, and you're good to go.

It's really easy to eat right! 

This, coming from someone who is content to have spinach in broth and hummus on pitta with tomatoes several nights a week, might lack a little credence.  But this is how I eat, and So Should You.

On that note, why are you telling the man to buy a meat thermometer?  That's a fucking bizarre first addition to cooking dinner.  I'd recommend baby steps, like maybe learning how to cook before learning how to cook right.  If I were to construct a syllabus for Learning to Cook Dinner, steak would be maybe the last class, especially because it's not really a versatile meal that you can have very often by yourself.  I would have a hard time rationalizing a meal of steak for one.
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Professor Snuggles

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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #47 on: 11 Mar 2009, 08:42 »

See, the thing I don't get about steaks is that people say the pan should be sizzling hot, but you should also not turn it until there is blood appearing/gathering on top - I don't get how you make it not burnt on the bottom when doing it like this.

I mostly do steak in a broiler, which helps. It's just an issue of timing then, since it's getting heated on all sides at once. You also end up with an incredibly tender piece of meat. I want to start pan searing them, but my cast-iron isn't big enough for the steaks I like to eat.

Also, a meat thermometer is a waste of money, completely. You can sort of just tell when things are done by looking at them, or knowing even a little bit about food.
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clockworkjames

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Re: Help me learn to cook dinner
« Reply #48 on: 11 Mar 2009, 11:04 »

Grill the steak until it stops moo-ing, then you turn it for 30 secs and eat it.
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