Tuesday, September 6, 2011

0 Do you hate to cook? Do you think cooking is stressful?

Here are some ideas to make cooking less stressful –

1 Plan ahead - Don't wait until the last minute to decide what to cook.

2 Choose easy to prepare meals - make something with just a couple of ingredients.

3 Read the recipe ahead of time and get everything out and within reach ahead of time.

4 Count backwards from when you want to serve dinner and figure out when to start cooking each item so that everything is done at the same time.

5 Clean as you go - if you leave all the cleaning until the end, you'll hate cooking but if you clean as you cook it's much easier.

6 Make ahead or partially prepare for when you're busy - cook more complex or time consuming meals on your days off, somethings like lasagna you can assemble a day or two ahead of time and then pop in the oven when you're reading to cook them.

7 Delegate/share cooking with others, have someone wash/cut veggies, make a salad or set the table

Cooking really can be fun. Get your creative juices flowing. What do you like to eat? How can you make it taste better, make it look better or make it more interesting? When planning a meal try to keep it simple, that will make it less stressful and more fun.  

Try mixing different flavors within each meal – how about a salad with a balsamic vinaigrette (tangy), broiled salmon with a teriyaki glaze (sweet/salty), cucumbers in sour cream (creamy/spicy), steamed broccoli with garlic, crushed red peppers & olive oil (spicy), and a baked yam (sweet). This dinner is tasty, easy and quick to make – if you make the cucumbers in advance, this entire meal shouldn't take more than 20 minutes to make.
The key to putting a meal on the table quickly is to take advantage of your cooking times to make other things. In this example you have 10 minutes that the Salmon is going to be broiling and the yams are going to be baking, during this time you can make your salad. While you're either putting the dishes on the table or plating your food, you can steam the broccoli.

Balsamic Vinaigrette
1/4 c Balsamic Vinegar
3/4 c Olive Oil
¼ tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Put into a glass jar, seal, shake and serve. You can also add a crushed garlic and ¼ tsp oregano for more flavor.

Salmon with Teriyaki Sauce
2 Tbl Soy Sauce
1 tsp Mirin, or dry sherry
¼ tsp brown sugar
1/8 tsp ginger
2 salmon fillets

Put soy sauce, mirin, brown sugar & ginger into a small glass bowl, mix and heat in microwave for 30 seconds. Drizzle teriyaki sauce over salmon, broil salmon for about 5 minutes on each side.

Cucumbers in Sour Cream – see previous blog entry (September 2nd).

Steamed Broccoli with Garlic & Red Pepper
1 head fresh broccoli, cut into florets
1 tsp water
2 Tbl Olive Oil
1 garlic clove crushed
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Put olive oil, garlic & red pepper in a small glass bowl, mix and heat in microwave for 30 seconds. Put the broccoli into a microwaveable bowl, add 1 tsp water, pour olive oil mixture over broccoli, cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 2-3 minutes.

Baked Yams
You can bake the yams in the oven for about 1 hour or microwave them for about 8-12 minutes depending on the wattage of your microwave. Remember to pierce them with a fork before cooking. Serve plain (they're naturally sweet), or drizzled with olive oil, or with butter, or butter and brown sugar. 

The USDA recommends that you eat seafood instead of meat at least twice a week.  Yams and sweet potatoes have a lower glycemic index than baking potatoes and a lot more natural flavor.  Try using them in other meals that call for potatoes.

Tell me why you don't like to cook and maybe I can help you find a way to make it more enjoyable.  You can email me directly at homecookingisbetter@yahoo.com

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