Can’t Cook? Neither Could I! Tips & Tricks to Live By
A quickie post full of tips and tricks to help you earn that imaginary chef hat. Don’t worry I’ve got one too. 🙂
You may have already read this in my “About The Chef” page but it is no secret. Back in the day, I COULD NOT COOK. All of my food came from a can and everything was warmed in a microwave. Anything that hit a pan turned out crunchy and anything that went into my oven came out charred. Not a pretty site.
Here are some basic cooking tips and food staples you may find handy to have in your home that I came across during my trials and errors to get you started on your skinny self!
Instructions: (Or as my boyfriend likes to call them – The “Destructions”)
So true! Most meals can be prepared simply by following instructions. However I never use baking and cooking instructions anymore. To me, they became solid guidelines. I have moved a lot in my life and have had to adapt to different kitchens, ovens and stove top ranges. No 2 of them are alike. Pinky swear. A lot of times when the instructions would call for baking at “top rack at 400 degrees for 35 minutes” it was a recipe for disaster. Therefore, I came up with a few insights that seem to work like a charm every time… If you are baking and cooking something willy-nilly such as chicken breast or any other dish that doesn’t come with a printed-on-the-bag cooking instructions then remember this tip:
When in doubt, and you are attempting to bake, set the temp at 375.
Most dishes will bake easily and slow enough at that temperature to bake evenly and allow time for you to catch issues that may arise such as over cooking. If you like to create something a bit more crispy, notch it up to 400 or 450 degrees. Anything hotter than that and you might as well be barbecuing over an open flame.
“I know we should all know this by now but just in case” Note: The hotter the degrees, the quicker it will bake.
Don’t forget your food is baking. It’s ok to check on it. Heck! It’s encouraged!
When in doubt, #2 rule: Use the smell test!
Simple as can be: If you can smell it – It’s done! Someone told me that once and it has saved a life of various pizzas, brownies, cupcakes and casseroles. If I am going to the trouble to bake goodies instead of buying them then I must have meant business. What a bad day it would have been if I caught chocolate on fire. (Not that I have ever done that before….Jennie. 😉
Mom Knows Best Rule: You can always add something but you can never take it away.
To be honest, I am not much of a baker. Many of my recipes featured on this blog will be a lot of cooking “skillet style.” A lot of slicing, dicing and dash of this and that. I know when the wine is flowing and your dancing around in your kitchen to Whitney’s “I wanna dance with somebody” it can be easy to over season that chicken parmesan. I still have to be careful with the crushed red pepper. Point is – one heavy hand of garlic salt or hot sauce can and will totally kill your dish. And that just sucks. Pretend you are a gourmet chef and add a bit of the spices your including. Stir. Taste. And decide whether or not you really need to add more. You can always add more, but you can never take away.
The Most Important Rule Of All: Try Something New!
I’m pretty sure I never make the same dish the same way twice. It may have similar ingredients or cook times but overall I am a fond believer in trying something new. Be open to new food and new techniques. Having the same food, prepared in the same manner gets boring and will make it harder for you to stick to your healthy eating habits.
Good Luck and Good Choices!