October 27, 2014

What Recipes Should We Know by Heart? (Please add yours to the Top 10 list)

Mar21

Our family christened an inaugural year, so to speak. Our eldest child turned 18  this year – officially a “man.” Yet, in our household, there are certain responsibilities of manhood that comes as a prerequisite to graduation.  I’ve shared before that by the time our children graduate, there are certain kitchen essentials that they need to have mastered.

In my opinion, if they can make a killer lasagna,  some type of baked treat, like a quick bread (Zucchini Banana Bread) or (Healthy Banana Oatmeal Muffins), or chocolate chip cookies (Neiman Marcus Cookies), and finally, a homemade bread recipe (simple French Bread), they are ready to conquer most recipes.

Now, of course, their kitchen skills aren’t limited to that, but those are three recipes I want them to have memorized or mastered.

If they know how to blend spices and layer varying food items, like in homemade lasagna, they can whip together any type of comfort food casserole and that will serve them a lifetime. If they can follow a simple baking recipe, they open up their world to delicious and easy treats, and if they have patience enough to tackle homemade bread, the strong character traits I’ve  hopefully been nurturing, will show me glimpses of that special young adult I’ve been praying for throughout the years.

Yes, a purely scientific basis for the recipes I’ve chosen, can’t you tell?

I’d love to collect a list of the Top Ten recipes or cooking concepts that I think my children should have memorized. No, in reality, I think it would be fun for ME to master these as well.

In order to make weekdays run more smoothly, I  it’s key to have those “Go To” recipes that we can whip up at a moments notice – those recipes we don’t have to ponder and decipher.  Last year, I asked you all if you follow recipes or if you just whip things up off the cuff.  76 of you responded with some great comments, and I realized that we all come from such varying backgrounds with cooking, yet we’d all love to have that mastered.

For lunch and dinner recipes, I do not tend to follow recipes, that’s why it’s often hard for me to post my favorite creations  here, but for baking, I typically always follow recipes, yet switch them up to make them my own.

But tell me what you recommend? If we are to help cooks across America develop some main staples that they should have memorized, what should it be?

I have a repertoire of tried and true crock pot recipes that I can whip up, meeting my Ten Minute Dinner requirement, but here are a few basic recipes that I think would be good, most of which I have memorized, some of which I want to memorize.

I’ll get you started, and then I’ll circle up with a follow up post listing what you have mentioned: Basic White Sauce (perfect for many items, including something for Cream Biscuits), Stir Fry, Pasta Bakes like this Easy Baked Ziti where you don’t have to boil the noodles, Good Marinades and Glazes, (Swedish) Pancakes are so versatile because you can also make them into dessert or dinner crepes, One Minute Cobbler (or better yet, add the butter)…oh, the list could go on, but I’d love for you to take over.

Below are just three of my last recipes posted that I can whip up at a moment’s notice without a recipe. Yes, they change up a bit each time I make it, but they are always tried and true and finished in less than Ten Minutes.

Baked Chicken picnik Cheesy Chicken (3 ingredients)

Three ingredient Cheesy Chicken Recipe (making the flavor combinations more complex if desired by adding additional seasoning, cheese etc) or my Cheesy Cheddar Ranch Chicken. 

Three of mine have these down.

easy taco casserole Taco Casserole Recipe (Our Kids Favorite Family Casserole)

Our most requested casserole – Easy Taco Casseroleperfect for freezing too)

Sesame chicken Simple Sesame Chicken at Home

Chinese Orange Chicken and Simple Sesame Chicken – I get requests for these weekly.

I can’t wait to see your suggestions for our “Top Ten List.”

(This was previously published, but loved seeing how far our kids have come in this area.)


Comments

  1. It’s simple. Maybe almost TOO simple. But, an omelet. They are a go-to meal around here and it’s important to know how to make a good omelet as it can be made in so many different ways and eaten at any meal! =)

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    Sonja B Reply:

    @Heather @girlichef, totally agree! Also simple, but all young people should remember quesadillas as a simple, nutritious, flexible and cheap go-to food.

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  2. I find it incredibly handy to have an easy fruit crisp recipe memorized. That way, when we have unexpected company, I can whip up a desert that doesn’t take long, but tastes great.
    My go-to meal is burritos. If you drop by unexpectedly, you’ll probably get burritos for dinner. :)

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  3. One of them should definitely start with “Grand ma’s Famous ____________” I think that’s a fabulous way to tie generations together and it’s probably already a family favorite.

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  4. I think one should be Barbeques (Sloppy Joe type)…no Manwich required ;) That’s always my go-to recipe when I don’t have any idea what we should eat!

    The Betty Crocker pancake recipe is one that I whip up for Sunday mornings–pancakes can be pretty versatile because you can add fruit to them or chocolate chips or whatever else!

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  5. Banana Bread and No Bake Cookies.
    gourdsrmylife(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  6. Hmm that is a good question. I am trying to think if I have any easy recipes. I think the easiest is my crockpot chicken. http://www.suzyhomemaker.net/2012/02/easiest-crock-pot-chicken-ever.html
    Just a chicken and spices in a crockpot. Nothing else needed.

    I think also enchiladas are easy, because you don’t really need a recipe, just the components.
    Maybe an easy pie or dessert. Oh and maybe a roast.

    You could think of seasonal recipes. So ahve a couple that are good for winter, then spring…you get the idea.

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  7. Kay’s Missouri Chicken for the crockpot, Sweet-n-Sour Meatballs, and Veggie Fried Rice (clean out the fridge style).

    For Kay’s Missouri Chicken, you just brown up your chicken pieces, place in crock pot, add 1 jar French salad dressing, 1 packet Onion Soup Mix, and 1 jar Apricot jam — cook on low for 8-10 hours.

    For Sweet-n-Sour Meatballs, make your own meatballs or use frozen ones – brown in oven, put in crockpot; add 1 jar chili sauce and 1 small jar grape jam. Cook on low for 4-6 hours.

    For Veggie ried Rice, saute onion and garlic in a bit of EVOO, add any leftover veggies, and leftover rice. You can also add any leftover chicken, pork, beef to make it more hearty.

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  8. I think your list sounds great! I would add a good basic pastry recipe to the list. As well as sweet pies you can make main dish meat or vegetable pies, quiches etc.

    Thank you for hosting :)

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  9. Bbq/Sloppy Joe’s which can be used for sandwiches, on top of baked potatoes, in a casserole covered with corn bread. Chocolate chip cookies.

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  10. More than anything the things I have committed to memory are the staple parts of a lot of recipes. Before I was a vegetarian I knew without thinking how to cook chicken, pork chops, ground beef, etc, but I didn’t really memorize anything else. the reason for this is that it left me so much space to experiment even at a moments notice. I would come home late from work, throw in chicken breasts to cook and then fish through my pantry to decide what else I wanted to put with it. Now I make a staple chick pea salad, lentils, rice, and I know how to steam just about any veggie. This way there is always a lot of space to experiment and I still have the hard stuff taken care of every time.

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  11. I linked my Chicken Pot Pie above. I think it is a great go to comfort food that everyone should know how to make.

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  12. A basic spaghetti sauce is a must! I have two versions – a basic marinara sauce that comes together in literally 5 minutes, and a more robust one with onions that you can vary with many different tomato ingredients and meat/meatball additives. Once you master this, you can make ANY tomato-based recipe.

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  13. Spaghetti, simple breakfast (bacon, eggs, toast), cookies, some kind of baked chicken (maybe breaded and then a bbq-type), basic chicken noodle/veggie soup, and easy veggie prep like steaming or roasting.

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  14. 1) Boil and scramble eggs so they are good, not green or dry or overcooked.
    2) Mac and cheese
    3) Favorite Salsa or dip

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  15. What about grilling? I think they should know how to grill a steak and burgers… and make an easy chocolate cake too, like Texas Sheetcake (I’ll link mine up above!)

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  16. I believe spaghetti sauce because it is so versatile. You can make spaghetti or use it in lasagna, or make parm chicken!

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  17. Corrie Weaver says:

    I have so wanted one of those blenders for a while now and just can’t swallow the price. We would love to start juicing and that would be perfect for that! Pick me! Pick me!

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  18. Corrie Weaver says:

    I follow you on FB

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  19. Corrie Weaver says:

    I subscribe by email

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  20. A base sauce that can be used to make gravy, cheese sauce, or creme of whatever soup. And french toast.

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  21. If every young person who leaves home had this recipe for personal fritattas, they would eat much better. They can make them once and have breakfast for the week, or serve a crowd. Can also be customized.

    For comfort food, nothing beats a killer homemade Mac-n-Cheese.

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  22. A basic muffin recipes that can be adapted to fit any ingredients, and stir fry that can be adapted to fit any ingredients will serve them well.

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  23. Chicken and rice. It’s such a mellow, but tasty meal in terms of flavor that it has a wide appeal! : )

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  24. A basic smoothie, pasta sauce, a skillet meal, breakfast hash, and a vinaigrette.

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  25. This Pineapple Pork recipe is less than 10 minutes to prepare, and the flavors are fantastic! Some boxed rice and a frozen veggie, and you have a complete meal:

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  26. Trying to think of what meals I make without a recipe: Taco salad, Goulash, Chicken noodle soup, Parmesan chicken, and EZ toffee cookies {the kind made with saltine crackers}. I’ve showed my kiddo how to make the taco salad and the goulash. Need to really think about what I want him to learn in the kitchen! Need to be able to make eggs & other breakfast foods too.

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  27. Biscuits and cornbread were my first recipes so my kiddos better know how to make it for their families (with Momma’s recipes, if needed):) Thanks for inspiration and great chicken recipes

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  28. I cook mostly from scratch without recipes, just the way my Mom always did. I think it is good to have a soup recipe that you make from memory, we eat soup through out the winter. It is a quick and nutritious supper after working all day. I also make a chocolate cherry cake from memory and try to keep the ingredients in pantry to make it when we need a quick snack to share.

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  29. I think everyone should know how to make a biscuit recipe. Drop biscuits that don’t need kneading are quick to mix up and can round out any dinner.

    I agree–there are definitely standards that everyone who’s “out on their own” should know how to cook!

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  30. I pretty much make the same things over and over again: Baked Chicken, Chicken Soup (with homemade Chicken Stock), Tacos (homemade taco seasonings), Chicken Salad, Chili, and Hamburgers. It’s taken awhile, but since I memorized those recipes, I’ve gotten good at improvising if I need to and it still tasting pretty good. Sometimes the improvisation becomes the new go-to!

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  31. Spaghetti and marinara with meat sauce is a must. Quick, easy, and tasty. Perfect for unexpected guests and those nights where cooking something fancy is just not going to happen.

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  32. The first recipe I memorized was a buttermilk biscuit. I remember my home ec teacher in 7th grade made everybody make them from memory as a semester test. I already had that one down.

    Everybody should know how to cook an egg and make a soup of some sort. Also spaghetti is a good one, Built sauce is so much better than jarred even if you start with canned tomatoes.

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  33. One staple to know how to cook is eggs. Plus they’re fast! My sister had a college roommate who watched her fascinatedly as she cooked scrambled eggs—it was like magic to her.

    There are so many ways to cook eggs, and none is terribly difficult: fried, poached, boiled, scrambled, omelets, quiche.

    Also: pasta!

    Then some basic comfort foods that are favorites. These will be different for everyone.

    It’s a long way off, but when my kids move out I want to give them a cookbook of our family’s favorite recipes. Also a special cookbook with recipes for one or two people, if they’ll be on their own, so they know they have options beyond Pasta-Roni. :) And if we have cooked the recipes together a few times, I think they’ll be ready.

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  34. Chicken Noodle soup, lasagna, basic stir-fry, enchiladas, pancakes, banana bread, brownies, chocolate chip cookies, apple crisp, muffins.

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  35. The first two things I learned to cook/bake were scrambled eggs (and omelets soon after) and my grandmother’s molasses cookies.
    My first memorized recipe was my best friend in college mom’s chocolate chip cookies. She brought them from home so when I went home with her one weekend I learned. I still only make that recipe and know it by heart.

    Oh, and I love that pic of your daughter!

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  36. One of the easiest and tastiest things I make here is Chicken & Chilis. So simple. 3 steps and I usually have all the ingredients on hand.

    Step #1. Cook boneless skinless chicken breasts in covered dish. I usually flatten them out a bit. ’350 until done – 30 min.

    Step #2. Uncover cooked chicken and sprinkle (liberally) with Montery Jack Cheese, chopped green onions, crumbled bacon (I save a couple strips from Sunday breakfast), canned diced green chilis.

    Step #3. Place uncovered dish back into turned off, but still warm oven until cheese is melted.

    Serve with sliced avocado or guacamole in a pinch. Even the boys who don’t like avocados eat it with this chicken because it adds so much.

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  37. I recently discovered the art of the white sauce and am experimenting with different ways to flavor it up. I just might not ever buy canned cream-of-anything ever again! It’s so simple, so much healthier, and I always have the ingredients on hand!

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  38. Buffalo Ranch Chicken Dip
    2 larger cans chunk white chicken (drained)
    1 cup ranch dressing
    3/4 cup buffalo wing sauce
    1 eight oz. Pkg cream cheese (softened)
    2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
    Mix all ingredients together and cook in a crockpot on high for two hours.
    Serve with tortilla or corn chips, bagel crisp, or bagets.
    To make it quicker, melt all ingredients together in a large pan over med heat on stove top. Then pout into crock pot and heat on high for about 30 minutes. Stir well and turn cooker down to warm.

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    Jen Reply:

    Oh yes, I love this one and have it posted too. It’s even great on sandwiches :)

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  39. A good hearty beef stew with root vegetables and a nice robust gravy. Also chili.

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  40. I think all young adults should be able to make a pot of soup, brown cubes of beef or hamburger, saute onion and garlic add to meat , 4-5 cups of water, add beef broth or soup base with water, can add barley or noodles ,season with salt and pepper, add frozen or fresh vegetables a herb, cook till tender – add spinach or kale etc last 5 mins.. Chicken soup same as above, expect use chicken and chicken broth noodles vegs etc…plus a herb.. Homemade soup with a sandwich is a great meal.

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    Jennifer Reply:

    @sandra, I agree! My go-to recipe is soup. Decide what kind of base (broth, tomato, cream), add meat, veggies (fresh, frozen, or even canned), and noodles or other starch if you want, then whatever spices you like, to taste. Let simmer, and serve with sandwiches or salad. I generally keep cooked hamburger meat and chicken in bags in my freezer to speed things up, but you don’t have to.

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    Jen Reply:

    That’s a great idea – learning how to change up soups is a great suggestion.

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  41. When I have kids, I would definitely want them to know how to boil eggs and make a basic muffin mix for quick breakfasts. Stir-fry and shepherd’s pie for main meals

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  42. I have 2 boys (7 and 12), so I think more about how healthy and affordable their food will be when they will go to college, not how many dishes they can cook. What I want them to know
    1. Basic rice (with lime, ginger, and garlic, their favorite) and whole baked chicken. Fast, cheep, and healthy.
    2. Crepes. Because they are not expensive, the butter can be prepared in advance and stay in the fridge for few days, and they can be used for any meal: fruits or something sweet for a breakfast, some meat leftovers, cheese, fish, eggs for lunch and dinner. And they are also good to impress girls :)
    3. Basic salads. Veggies, that they like, olive oil, salt, freshly grounded black paper. Maybe some lemon/lime juice. Veggies are most!
    4. They have to know, that spices make all the difference.

    They already know how to (following recipe) make cupcakes/browny/chocolate cookies from scratch, they can make pizza (with ready dough, that I make or buy at Trader Joe). Older one doesn’t like eggs, little one knows how to make basic omelet, and that he can put some meat or vegetables when he cooks it. They also can make fruit salad, and know that pasta taste better with a little bit butter. Maybe later I will show them how to cook some easy soup.

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    Jen Reply:

    WOW!! Good job, momma. It sounds like your boys are well on their way to being amazing cooks.

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  43. Oh, and I forgot spaghetti with shrimps (or chicken, broccoli) in Alfredo sauce. Their favorite, easy, and it’s good when men can cook something for a date night :)

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    Abbie Reply:

    @Marijka, How do you make the alfredo? Looking for a good homemade recipe and you seem like a good one to ask. :)

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  44. Gravy or sauce and salad with homemade dressing should be added.

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