Feed Yourself


I never learned cooking basics, so I’ve relied on recipes for most of my life. You want a grilled cheese sandwich? Let me pull my recipe card. Crap. We don’t have any basil.

Anyway, I finally figured out how to make simple, healthy dinners with prep time under 10 minutes. The below links aren’t recipes so much as skills I failed to acquire from my mom. Apologies if this is derp to you, but I keep coming back to these links, so I’m just putting them all here.

There are a LOT of words on those pages, so my cliff notes versions are below the links. For all of these, line your baking pan with aluminum foil so you can just throw the mess in the garbage and you don’t have to scrub the pan.

How to Bake Salmon from Better Homes and Gardens
Preheat your oven to 450. Salt and pepper the fish on both sides. Bake 8-15 minutes. It’s done when it’s “flaky and opaque,” i.e. you can flake bits off with a fork, and it doesn’t look raw inside. There’s probably a YouTube video somewhere if you feel hesitant.

Baked Chicken Breasts from Gimme Some Oven
I skip the brining, but you do you. Preheat to 450. Rub oil on the chicken, wash hands. Season both sides with salt, pepper, and maybe one other spice (parika, rosemary, thyme are good). Wash your hands again, raw chicken is like slimy poison. Wonder why we eat this. Bake 15 minutes.

Perfect Pork Tenderloin from Food.com
Preheat to 500. Before you throw it out, check the meat wrapper to see how much your tenderloin weighs. Season tenderloin with salt and pepper, maybe some mustard if you’re into that. Bake exactly 5.5 minutes per pound.

While the meat is baking, I steam a veggie, and dress some mixed greens. Bam! Food.

If you have ten-minute prep meals, please tell us. All of us are hungry.

20 thoughts on “Feed Yourself

  1. We are renting a house right now where the oven does not work. The crockpot has saved our lives around here. You can toss anything in there, walk away, and it’s ready at dinnertime. Magical.


  2. Yeah, you need a crockpot. Pork tenderloin in the crockpot can become pulled pork sandwiches or pork tacos. Meatballs, chilli, stew – it’s wonderful to come home to a nice smelling house. The ONLY thing better is if you plan your crockpot day with your cleaning lady day and you come home and your whole house is clean AND your supper is ready!


  3. Some pasta based recipes:

    Sauce (Marcella Hazan style, I add the garlic)
    1 can whole San Marzano tomatoes (yes, have to be SM, no basil)
    1 medium yellow onion, sliced in half longways, so the root end is still attached, peeled
    2-3 cloves of garlic, slightly smashed, skin removed
    1 stick of butter
    some pepper

    put all of that in a sauce pan with a lid, bring to a simmer, check it every so often, breaking up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon, cook for about an hour, then remove the onion and garlic.

    make some pasta, serve sauce over it, parmesan OMFG it’s amazing. recipe is easily doubled, freeze the leftover sauce. there won’t be any though!

    another one:
    get 1 lb spicy (or mild if you prefer) Italian sausage (usually 4 links)
    one big bag or so of arugula/rocket
    one lb pasta

    cook the pasta (salt the water a lot too, should be like the sea!)

    remove the sausage from casings into a pan, and cook, breaking up the sausage with a wooden spoon until fully cooked, about 10 mins.
    drain pasta and put back into big pot, drizzle a little olive oil
    dump the sausage on the pasta, mix
    dump the entire bag (or so) of arugula in the pot and stir, letting the arugula wilt
    serve immediately with parmesan (leftovers of this are great too)

    and yes, GET THAT CROCK POT!! you will love!


  4. I had this salad at Seraphina in NYC and it takes less than 10 minutes.

    Frozen Shrimp + 1 can of small white beans (partially drained you want about a tablespoon of that bean liquid) + 2 Tbs. honey + 1 Tbs of rice wine vinegar (you can do seasoned or unseasoned). Salt & Pepper and poppy seeds if you have them. Put all ingredients in skillet and cook until shrimp are warmed through. While it’s cooking dice up some avocado and put on top of field greens (or arugula if you like it spicy) and then put the shrimp right on top.

    It’s very very good and now I want to make it for lunch.

    See also: Taco salads, Bangers in Boats (Burgers, shaped like bangers served in Romaine Lettuce Boats – I like to caramelize some onions for on top when I use beef, or I do avocado & salsa if I use ground turkey).


  5. Eggs and toast
    Pasta carbonara (sounds fancy, but it’s not) – cooking light has a good recipe
    Creamed spinach with an over easy egg and toast (smitten kitchen’s recipe is stupid easy; I have made it with fresh, frozen, or canned spinach.)
    John Besh inspired Asian soup (search for his name and Pho to find a recipe for the broth) this is great with leftover meat. We keep rice noodles on hand all the time, and add whatever veg we have. Another that is good with an over easy egg on top.


  6. 1) I love this post, as I do all the others, and
    2) THANK YOU for these, and
    3) Smitten Kitchen Shakshuka. I skip the chiles and just do onions in olive oil, add garlic, add crushed tomatoes. Crack in some eggs and simmer a few minutes. I serve over baby spinach straight from the fridge, maybe with crusty bread, maybe with cheese sprinkled on top. Couldn’t be easier but looks impressive. And international!


  7. Egg-stuck-to-a-tortilla, inspired by Heidi, is a surprisingly hearty and quick dinner that you can roll up and eat with your hands like a hungry beast, if you want to.

    Crack 1 egg in a small skillet on medium. Stab the yolk with a fork to break it up a bit, let it cook a sec.

    When the egg’s still runny, place a small corn tortilla on top of the egg. When the egg finishes cooking, it will bind to the tortilla.

    When the egg is done cooking (I press on it with my fingers to see if it’s all firmed up), flip the whole thing over and slide it onto a plate.

    Top with salsa or sour cream or yogurt or spinach or cheese or whatever. The crispy capers Heidi recommends are so good but can seem like a fussy extra-step if you’re just wanting to get food on the table. http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/quesadillas-recipe.html


  8. Your notes on chicken and hand washing are my thoughts exactly! Pretty much the only reason I eat tofu is because it’s so much less anxiety producing


  9. I get a ton of use of a rice cooker, not only for rice (I like the white sticky kind) but also for steaming veggies or frozen dumplings. We’ve even made rice cooker pancake!


  10. Roast your veggies! So much tastier. Throw veggies on in a bowl, toss with olive oil, throw onto a baking sheet, salt and pepper, 425° for 10-25 minutes depending on vegetable. Any vegetable is delicious this way. Broccoli, asparagus, zucchini, potatoes, kale, cabbage hunks…all so good.

    Then you can cook the meat on a skillet if you don’t do them at the same time in the oven.


  11. The old Moosewood Cooks at Home cookbook has a great recipe for “Asian Fish in a Packet” but I do a variation on the original :

    Basically, place the fish on two layers of foil, and toss on a quick mix of the following, seal it up and cook in the oven at the temp (400-450F) and time you described above (on a cookie sheet or small pan to catch leaks if any):

    2 green onions/scallions, chopped into one inch pieces
    1 Tbs vegetable oil
    1-2 tsp grated fresh ginger
    1-2 cloves of garlic, minced/pressed
    2 Tbs soy sauce
    2 tsp dark sesame or chili oil
    2 Tbs maple syrup

    If you’re cooking a bigger piece of fish you can just double or triple that tasty sauce. Even my fussy kids like the salty sweetness. If people like heat, throw in a bit of chili oil or sriracha.

    A friend does a salmon baking sauce made with 1:1 soy sauce and maple syrup – haven’t tried it but she loves it.


  12. The easiest fried chicken (without frying!) : take skin-on chicken thighs, roll them in flour, place them skin-side-down on a baking sheet, bake for 35 minutes in a 375F oven, flip and cook for an addition 30 minutes. They are so perfectly delicious and crispy, and really you’re just eating chicken and flour.


  13. I have two crockpots in heavy rotation – a 4qt for soups, and a 6-qt for whole chickens, pork shoulder, and big batches of soup. Plus a rice cooker. I figure all I need to prep for our kitchen remodel is an electric kettle.

    Pasta Fazool:
    Into a 4-qt crockpot:
    1 large onion
    4 ribs of celery,
    2-3 med-large carrots
    3 cloves of garlic
    2 cups cranberry beans
    2 quarts of stock/water, or to cover by a good 3 inches
    Italian seasoning
    Olive Oil

    In the morning, dice your veggies and throw them in the crock. Add the beans, oil, salt, and seasoning. Add the liquid and mix it all up a bit. Cover, turn on the “LOW” setting, and ignore for 6-8 hours.

    Before dinner, cook about 1-1.5 cups of ditalini or other small pasta, drain and toss into the crock with a couple of teaspoons of tomato paste. Stir well and serve.

    The next day, add veggies and extra liquid if needed to make a lazy minestrone.

    Crocked Whole Chicken:
    Into a 6+qt crockpot:
    1 3-5lb Chicken, giblets removed, otherwise whole
    Herb mix of choice – I like Herbes d’Provence

    Early in the morning, wash hands, finesse bird out of packaging and into crock, wash hands, remove giblets, wash hands, salt the bird down, wash hands, season with pepper and herbs, wash hands. Cover, turn on “LOW” setting, ignore for 8-10 hours.

    Leave the bird in the crock. Strip the remaining meat, and add:
    1 Onion, quartered
    2 Carrots, broken in half
    4 Ribs of celery, broken in half
    2-4 Garlic cloves, whole
    Water to cover (I tend to fill the crock)
    Turn it on to “LOW” and ignore over night, or 12-14 hours. Strain. Throw that goodness in a big pot with the leftover chicken meat and veggies. Eat for days and feel invincible during the head cold season.


  14. Couple notes on chicken: if you buy yours from a butcher counter, it usually tastes better and isn’t so slimy and wet. Plus you can use the wrapper as your prep surface, and to move it around. There’s no reason to touch your raw chicken quite so much.


  15. Okay I am similarly clueless. I totally appreciate your cliff notes. I was visiting a friend (new baby and toddler in her house) and she whipped up shrimp, elaborate salad, and something else delicious, no recipes, and I was like how is this happening? I stepped in to help peel shrimp and my toddler fell off her barstool counter chair which is the kind of thing that happens whenever my hands are meat slimy.

    Anyway, here’s my contribution:

    Leftover frittata
    Oil a cast iron pan. Arrange leftover things like roasted potatoes, brocolli, chicken, bacon (if such a thing as leftover bacon exists), spinach, whatever you’ve got. Beat six eggs with a splash of milk, handful of any kind of cheese, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and dump on top. Cover with foil, bake for 20 at 400 degrees. Uncover and bake 10-15 minutes more. Based on smitten kitchen recipe.

    Now if only anyone else in my house liked eggs. They are crazy. Fortunately it makes a great lunch leftovers.


  16. Tostadas are the food of the (Mexican) gods.
    They are fried corn tortillas, so, like a round flat tortilla chip. Always keep in your pantry, with a can of refried beans.

    Mealtime: Open a can of refried beans, smear the tostada. Grate some cheddar on there. You can then microwave or stick under the broiler, depending on how hangry you are. Once cheese is melted/beans are warm, add toppings: we do black olives, fresh avocado, fresh chopped tomato, cilantro, sour cream blobs, and hot sauce.

    In summary: Easy, fast, delicious, healthy. Yay!


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