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Right - I'm in desperate need of some healthy, easy beginners recipes

(38 Posts)
Thurlow Sun 17-Aug-14 18:03:47

I'm a pretty rubbish cook and don't enjoy it, and luckily DP cooks 90% of the time. So far when it's just been me and the toddler to feed I've done something like pasta, veg and sauce (jar sauce, let's be honest). So not exactly takeaway but still, not exactly exciting either.

I've struggled to learn to cook decently because you sort of need to focus on learning to cook, and that's been hard with a toddler. But now she's old enough to either play herself for a bit or try to help cook or pay attention to a DVD for half an hour I feel like I can try and put a bit more effort in.

Has anyone got any basic but tasty recipes I can start with to get my confidence up? (And by basic I mean when you don't have much experience, a casual "saute the onions" still means you're doing to be standing staring, worried, at the pan for the 5 minutes grin)

chocoluvva Sun 17-Aug-14 19:14:52

Fish is very easy to cook.

Heat a small amount of oil or half oil eg olive oil/half butter in a frying pan then put three salmon fillets skin side down in the pan for a few minutes. Put a lid on the frying pan by the way. Turn over with a fish slice and cook on the other side for a few more minutes. To serve, add salt, pepper and melted butter.

Or you can cook it in a medium oven by daubing with butter - beat garlic crushed in a garlic crusher into the butter if you like and/or chopped fresh parsley, finely chopped red chillies, salt and pepper - putting on to tin foil big enough to wrap it with like a parcel. For about twenty minutes. Remember to have the oven hot @190c before you put them in (on a baking tray)!

Stir fries are easy and quite quick - have everything chopped before you start to cook. Eg thinly slice chicken 2X chicken breasts. Fry in a very hot pan in oil until white all the way through. Remove on to a plate while you fry spring onions, peppers, sliced tinned water chestnuts and/or bamboo shoots (remember to drain and rinse), sliced mushrooms and/or carrots. Add a splash of soy sauce, crushed garlic - 2 cloves (segments)sesame oil and half a teaspoon of sugar then add the cooked chicken and half a bag of beansprouts. Serve with rice or noodles.

WhatAHooHa Sun 17-Aug-14 23:05:46

Honestly? buy a kids' cookbook! It's not all cakes and biscuits, the recipes are simple and not too fussy and the ingredients are usually pretty straightforward. Then once you've got some confidence try something like Jamie's ministry of food, or someone old-fashioned like Marguerite Patten or Delia for the next level up.

Thurlow Mon 18-Aug-14 15:29:55

Thanks chocoluvva, those sounds easy enough!

Won't kids cookbooks just have kids recipes in? (Genuine question!)

gamerchick Mon 18-Aug-14 16:03:34

Another way to cook fish.. buy those big oven bags and a packet of frozen white fish.. bung fish in bag frozen, pour on milk and sprinkle with parsley. Tie up bag and put a couple of . slots In the top.. bung in oven until cooked.

Those bags cook chickens and junk as well... I just cooked a full turkey in one, stripped it and separated meat into freezer bags for different meals and froze. Take meat out when you're making something, bung bag in hotish water to defrost and make meal. Make a a lovely turkey dinner if you heat turkey up in the gravy as you're making it on the hob.

SilentBob Mon 18-Aug-14 16:12:03

Casserole (about 10 mins prep and forget about it leave it be for a couple of hours):

Bit of oil in big pan
Roughly chopped onions in
Garlic-press some garlic in
Meat in (if you eat it- beef skirt or braising steak or chicken etc, diced roughly)
While that's browning, roughly chop a load of whatever veg you want (I made this yesterday and used pirates, swede, parsnips, carrot, squash and, bizarrely, babycorn (but it did taste fab!))
Chuck about 2 tablespoons of flour over meat and stir
Lob all the veg in
Add about 2 teaspoons of thyme & salt and pepper if you want
Dissolve stock cube. Add to pot, add more water if it looks like it might need it
Lid on
Oven at 180 for aaaaaaages- I left mine for about 2 hours before I added dumplings and it was fine.

Dumplings if you can be arsed-

100g flour
50g suet
Salt/pepper/herbs if you want

Bung above in a bowl, add enough water so it doesn't create dumpling gloves when you roll it in your hands
Roll into balls, pop on top of casserole, back in oven 20 mins and done.

SilentBob Mon 18-Aug-14 16:12:37

*no pirates were harmed in the above meal.

I actually used potatoes, not long john and his mates!

Thurlow Mon 18-Aug-14 16:15:38

pirates! grin

See that sounds great, thank you. Fortunately because DP cooks so well we have all the gear and a full spice cupboard etc, I just need to learn how to use it all properly. But chopping and leaving in the oven I can do!

Thanks gamerchick, I'll investigate the bags

SilentBob Mon 18-Aug-14 16:19:04

Made-up* Spaghetti bolognaise (prep about 15 mins if you do the veg stuff, less if not, cooking time about an hour):

Bit of oil in pan
Add roughly chopped onion
Add garlic-pressed garlic
Chuck in mince (I use 500g for 3 of us, you may get away with 2 teaspoonsful less wink)
Wait til it browns

Now this is where I go off piste- I cut veggies up dead small, boil them up, drain and then add a tin of chopped tomatoes, garlic, oregano and tomato purée and blitz the lot ie make the sauce separately because I am a weirdo.

Add sauce to mince, stir
Dissolve stock cube in a bot of water (you don't have to do this but but I do and the children say it tastes good!) add to mince n sauce and simmer. For ages.

Spaghetti in pan with loads of boiling water and a dash of oil in it (stops the strands sticking together) for about 8 mins.

* caveat- this is how my daughter and the children i cook for at work like it, I know it is not technically "correct" grin

Whiskwarrior Mon 18-Aug-14 16:21:20

Will go back and read the rest in a minute, just jumping in now so I don't lost the thread because I know exactly how Thurlow feels and want to be a copycat!

Mumto3dc Mon 18-Aug-14 16:23:49

Pasta and sauce easy and healthy:

Chop onion and clove of garlic, fry in saucepan for 5 mins or so with tablespoon of sunflower oil. Not too hot or it will burn.

Add passata (buy carton from supermarket, cut off corner and pour!), tin of tuna and tin of mackerel in Tom sauce.
Mix. Add to cooked pasta.

Vegy bolognase:
Same drill with onion and garlic, also add finely chopped carrot and pepper if you want. Fry in saucepan til softening, add chopped mushrooms, cook for a bit.
Add half a pack of quorn mince (smash it on work top before opening to make sure no big lumps), cook for a little bit.
Add passata as above, add some vegy stock and some hot water.
Cook for 20 mins.

chocoluvva Mon 18-Aug-14 16:24:23

Cottage pie - or is it shepherd's pie? I can never remember hmm

Put a packet of minced beef straight into a big pot on a medium/high heat - there's no need to add oil as the fat in the mince will melt and the mince will cook in it. Break it up with a wooden spoon or fish slice so it doesn't stay in massive clumps. Stir and turn a couple of times. Roughly chop an onion and add. When brown add a beef stock cube and enough hot water from the kettle to just cover the mince. Turn down the heat and gently simmer for an hour.

Meanwhile, peel potatoes - use ones that say they're good for mashing, preferably not new potatoes as they are likely to be too waxy and won't mash well. Boil in salted water for approx. 20 mins. Drain thoroughly and give the pot a bit of a shake to help to dry out the potatoes then add a knob of butter if you like and mash.

If you like you can mix a teaspoon of cornflour with a tiny amount of water until you have made a smooth paste then add a little more water and mix again. Stir in to the mince and cook for a couple of minutes to thicken the mince.

Put the mince in an ovenproof dish (maybe pyrex) cover with the mash and put under a very hot grill until the mash is beginning to get brown bits.

Toadsrevisited Mon 18-Aug-14 16:26:38

My fave casserole serves 4 plus leftovers. Good with jacket potatoes. Surprisingly good leftover lunch too.

Fry chopped onions, garlic, one chili pepper, cubed/chopped up chorizo or six sausages
Add a big squirt of tomato purée and a teaspoon paprika
Stir in drained beans from a tin- two or three tins- butter beans, kidney beans, whatever you've got plus baked beans
Leave in casserole dish at 180 for an hour or so

SilentBob Mon 18-Aug-14 16:26:57

For my toddlers at work today I made Mediterranean(ish) veg couscous- so so easy I promise and can be eaten hot or cold. Pre time about 5 minute, cooking about 15 mins:

As per all my other recipes, it seems, it begins with-

Bit of oil in pan
Add finely chopped onion & pressed garlic grin

Finely diced (or grate/whizz in processor etc.) veg- I used courgette, Aubergne, peppers, sweet corn, peas and broccoli into pan and stir
Cover with water
Add veg stock cube, oregano and a squeeze of tomato purée

Once veg is cooked, bung in dried couscous, cover with water and boil, stirring until it soaks up liquid

The children like it quite "wet" so I added more water to get it quite erm...mushy (mmmmm, sounds fab, huh?!)

That's it.

Can add chicken, pork, whatever you want- if you've cooked a magic chicken and have leftovers this is a good way to use it up wink

Thurlow Mon 18-Aug-14 16:27:05

We'll do it together, WhiskWarrior!

These are really helpful, thank you, and just what I wanted - basic but hearty foods that I know DD will eat, and then I can slowly build up.

I did try and get DP to teach me but he's not a natural teacher, bless him, and as he's such a good cook he was waffling on about how to make the naan bread yourself, and didn't really get I was still 8 steps behind on what size to cut the potatoes to blush

Thurlow Mon 18-Aug-14 16:29:45

Ok, deep breath - having already admitted I'm useless in the kitchen I'm just going to go with further embarrassing questions - what's the best way to do jacket potatoes in the oven? We don't have a microwave, and I did try in the oven once but it just didn't cook right at all.

(Before you all think I'm a complete moron we did have a microwave until a few years ago so I just cooked them in that...)

SilentBob Mon 18-Aug-14 16:33:23

Thurlow, I'm a chef so get exactly where you're coming from re home made naan bread- I am guilty of this too! As if my also-chef DP!

I am now working as a nursery cook though so kind of "back to (really good) basics" type of thing and if the guys at work ask for recipes, they get the above as I tend to make things up as I go along grin

holmessweetholmes Mon 18-Aug-14 16:35:53

Jacket potatoes: Heat oven to 180. Put potatoes in for 1to 1.5 hours depending on size. You can stick a metal skewer through each one if you have any - it helps cook the middle a bit more quickly.

SilentBob Mon 18-Aug-14 16:37:12

I love jackets- I do this:

Prod potatoes loads with a fork (I'm a div who counts and it's usually about 16 prods per large spud!)

Smear with a little olive oil

Season (I put salt on mine, it crisps them up, but not for little ones!)

Wrap in foil

Oven-200 for long as it takes that when you squeeze them they're soft! (I'm a "see if it's done by prodding it" cook!) about an hour in my oven. Fan, but not fancy.

If I remember, I turn them over after about 30 mins because I like the lovely brown bit you get on the bottom- turn over and you get 2 bottoms!

EvansOvalPiesYumYum Mon 18-Aug-14 16:41:47

I have a brilliant recipe (actually, not mine, but a Jamie's, with a couple of alterations)! Dead simple, but seems popular with everyone I've ever served it up to. Ahem:

In an ovenproof dish, put in chopped red peppers and some chopped chili peppers (I use red, but you could use green). Add lots of fresh basil (lots)!

Chicken thighs (with skin on) laid on top. Season well with salt and pepper.
Lots of chopped, fresh tomatoes and garlic cloves (no need to take them out of the skin) dotted all around.
Glug all over with olive oil and pop in the oven to cook slowly (at around 140 degrees celsius) for three hours. Sounds long, but once you've done the initial (simple) preparation, you can forget about it for a while!

Serve with boiled or mashed potatoes and a green veg. Alternatively, you could add some new potatoes or chick peas as you pop it in the oven.

Also makes a very nice pasta sauce, reheated, with a salad.

It is delicious, honestly! My daughter has recently left home, and she's made it for her b/friend and friends, and they were very impressed. And it is SO simple.

SilentBob Mon 18-Aug-14 16:47:42

Cheese and onion pie is always a winner and easy peasy.

Finely dice onions and simmer in milk.

Pastry- buy jus roll or make by using

200g plain flour
110g butter

Rub them together to make breadcrumb type bits

I then use the milk I simmered the onions in to bind the pastry together cos I like how it tastes, or you can use cold water.

Roll out pastry onto baking paper
Lift pastry on the baking paper (you can just lift the pie out of the tin this way to cut, so much easier) and put it in tin
Prod bottom of pastry with fork
Bake for about 10 mins

While that's baking

Mix approx 500g (depending on tin size) of grated cheese with onions
Add 1 whisked egg
Add 1teaspoon English mustard and seasoning if you want
Mix thoroughly

Take pastry out of oven, add cheese mix
Egg wash sides of pastry base
Put pastry on top (if you use puff for the top it's even better imo!) and egg wash

Back in oven til top is brown.

Leave to cool a bit- lift out entire thing inc baking paper and put on wire rack/plate/whatever you have- before cutting else you'll end up covered in melted cheese.

I serve with home made wedges (cut up spuds, skin on into wedge shape, boil for a bit til soft ish, put in tin with oil, add Cajun spice or peri peri or garlic or whatever if you fancy, slosh about a bit in the oil, bung in oven) and the obligatory baked beans!

Thurlow Mon 18-Aug-14 17:00:27

Evans, I think I've been served that by a friend and you're right, it was delicious!

I am going to have to surprise DP one day when he gets home and I've already started on dinner.

catsofa Mon 18-Aug-14 17:02:03

I'm a crap cook, but found I could do loads of interesting things with cheese sauce when I learned to make it.

Heat some milk in a pan, don't let it boil just simmer. Slowly add plain flour, which at first will make it go all lumpy. Don't panic, but just keep heating and stirring it until all the lumps have gone.

Keep adding a bit more flour and stirring until all the lumps are gone, until you have a nice thickish sauce base and your arm is about to fall off. Then add grated cheese and stir it in so it's all melted.

If the sauce gets too thick BTW you can add more milk, but this somehow makes it go all lumpy again, something to do with science. Keep stirring and it will sort itself out.

Serve with broccoli and roast potatoes, bacon, sausages and mash, fish, whatever...

DoItTooJulia Mon 18-Aug-14 17:08:54

Risotto: buy finely diced frozen onion or onion, carrot, celery mix.
Fry a cup full in a spoon of oil.
Add a cube of frozen garlic.
Fry on low for 5 mins.
Add risotto rice to cover bottom of pan and stir so all the rice is glossy from the oil.
Add a pint of stock. Stir occasionally to make sure it doesn't stick. Keep adding stock a ladel full at a time until the rice is tender.
Add cup full frozen peas/broad beans and final ladel full of stock. In 5 mins it's ready. Serve with Parmesan.

Ratatouille: bung roughly chopped onion, 4 chopped courgettes, 6 normal sized tomatoes, roughly chopped, cubes of frozen garlic to taste, seasoning to taste (stock cube would work) and a splodge of tomatoes purée. Put lid on. Low heat. Stir occasionally. It's cooked when it's soft. Yum. Serve with cous cous, jacket spuds (as per Silents recipe!) or wild rice.

SilentBob Mon 18-Aug-14 17:09:59

chocoluvva that's cottage- shepherds is sheep (lamb)

catsofa save your arm! Make a roux- melt some butter, add plain flour and stir until it balls together.

Add a dash of milk and use a whisk to get a smooth paste. Add more milk, whisk again. Add cheese, nutmeg, herbs, whatever you want! Easiest cheese sauce ever.

(Please don't think I'm saying your way is wrong btw, I'm a lazy, get it done sharpish cook, that's all! smile)

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