I have two sides to my cooking repertoire. You probably do, too. I refer to one side as Chef and the other side as Cook.
Chef needs time and preparation and a bit of skill. Chef appears for dinner parties and special occasions and on nights when I have time to dally in the kitchen. Chef is adventurous and interested in trying new things. Chef makes food better than what my family could get in most restaurants.
Cook is utilitarian. Cook appears when the family needs to be nourished and I have barely enough time to make that happen. Cook relies on family-favorite recipes that are made repeatedly over the course of a year. Sometimes Cook throws in the towel and calls in a “guest Chef” known as Chinese Delivery.
In a given week, I’m Chef a third of the time and Cook for the rest. Almost all of our meals we eat at home, which means I’m constantly on the lookout for simple, healthy, uncluttered recipes the Cook side of me can use for the 14 meals she is not incredibly excited about getting on the table. Unless you’re a professional chef or have super powers, your cooking routines are likely similar to mine; you’re interested in finding meals you can make when you’re wearing your proverbial Cook’s hair net instead of your Chef’s hat.
NPR recently reviewed Perfect One-Dish Dinners by Pam Anderson, which got me thinking about how often I use my crock pot, rice cooker, and Dutch oven when cooking utilitarian meals. (There are three recipes from the book in the NPR piece, so be sure to check it out.) I toss steel oats, water, and sliced up bananas in my rice cooker for simple warm breakfasts on chilly mornings, and a brined chicken in the Dutch oven with baby carrots, red potatoes, and onions makes an incredibly simple dinner.
Want to add more simple, utilitarian meals to your Cook repertoire? Try these free recipes from trusted online resources:
- “Bake it! Stew it! Cook it! One-Dish Dinners” from Rachael Ray magazine.
- “One-Dish Supper Recipes” from Good Housekeeping magazine.
- “Slow Cooker Favorites” from Martha Stewart.
- “20 One-Dish Dinners” from SouthernLiving.com.
- “Quick and Easy One Dish Dinners” from the Food Network.
What are your favorite simple recipes? Add your suggestions to the comments.