Help! I’m almost 30 and I can’t cook

*Winner alert!* Lil’ J randomly drew Amy! Congratulations! I’ll be emailing you to claim your prize!

I’m really still a year out from turning 30 but it’s creepin up on me way too fast. I’m looking at my 30 by 30 list (ok, I need to update it because I’m doing better than it looks right now) and realizing there are a few major things I need to start getting underway. One of which is finding my signature dish.

Thanks to a new partnership, Sears approached me about reviewing some of their new Calphalon cookware and at first I sorta chuckled because me?… Cook? HA! But I was reminded of the fact that it is actually one of my big goals to tackle, and I’m not going to find a signature dish overnight. I asked you all on my facebook page what recipes you love and was seriously so impressed by all of you little chefs out there! There are so many delicious dishes I want to try but I haven’t had time yet.

Anyway, so I have these fabulous new Calphalon nonstick pans that are nice for the cooking pros yet also super durable for my clumsy self, and yet all I’ve made on them so far is grilled cheese and pasta (breaking news: I also just made scrambled eggs). They all turned out great, and as promised… food didn’t stick to the pan and cleanup was easy too. So now I’m all cocky and overconfident thinking I can probably cook anything with these things. But what to cook?

Check out my video to see my dilemma.

So like I said, if you can offer some help and leave a recipe you love and you think I could handle in the comments. As a thank you I’d like to give away a $25 gift card to Sears to someone who comments on this post. It doesn’t have to be a recipe you invented, just something you love or think I’d love (or for your non-foodies, just some words of encouragement for me will do 😉 -added 10-11)

Things to keep in mind if you skipped out on the video:
Not too hard

If you want to submit a baking recipe that works too. I have some cool muffin pans I’ll be tempted to put store-bought cupcakes in, so help a sista out with your baking recipes too if you’d like.

I’ll draw the winner on October 12th October 16th so you’ll have plenty of time to go shopping and get some cookin’ practice in before Thanksgiving.

Meanwhile, you can learn more about Calphalon at Sears here. A big thanks to Sears for sponsoring my quest to becoming a little more domestic. All opinions (and typos) are my own.

*By can’t, I mean I currently suck, but I’m sure I’m probably capable.

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  1. This is about as easy as it gets. And it’s even won in a chili cook off. David LOVES it and Savannah will even eat it once in a while. I got it off pinterest and it’s been one of my best.
    Cream Cheese Chicken Chili
    Chicken, Crockpot, Favorites, Frozen Meals, Soups/Stews
    prep 30 minutes ∙ cook 6-8 hours ∙ makes 1 serving ∙ difficulty Easy

    1 can black beans
    1 can corn, undrained
    1 can Rotel, undrained
    1 package ranch dressing mix
    1 tsp cumin
    1 Tbsp chili powder
    1 tsp onion powder
    1 8 oz package light cream cheese
    2 chicken breasts

    Drain black beans.

    Place chicken at bottom of pot, then pour out whole can of corn (undrained), rotel, and black beans. Top with seasonings and ranch mix. Stir together. Place cream cheese on top.

    Cover with lid and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

    Stir cream cheese into chili. Use 2 forks to shred chicken. Stir together and serve.

  2. This recipe has good flavors and can be customized easily. It was a hit with my husband and daughter (I served it with steamed rice and sautéed asparagus).

    The key is to pick one veggie (I’m using mushroom for this one, but sliced tomatoes, asparagus, red/yellow peppers-not green, they usually have overpowering flavors- peas, and yellow squash could all work for this) and one fresh herb (thyme, mint, basil-my personal favorite- sage, bay leaf, and cilantro could work) to combine with the meat. Your best combos are mushroom/basil, peas/mint, tomatoes/cilantro, squash/dill and squash/thyme. You can eyeball the amount of veggies and herbs you want to add to the dish.

    You can use either chicken breasts or thighs, but my family likes thighs best, since they tend to be more moist. If you use breasts, make sure they are boneless.


    Mushroom & Dill Chicken Thighs

    4 chicken thighs (with or without bone, thawed)
    1 pack (8 oz) of sliced mushrooms
    5-6 sprigs of dill
    3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
    1/2 cup whipping cream
    onion powder

    1. Wash and pat chicken dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with onion powder, salt and pepper on both side of each piece. Set aside.
    2. Put butter in the pan, and heat over a medium high heat until the butter is melted but not smoking, and pan is hot.
    3. Place chicken in pan and cook for about 10-15 minutes on both sides (total of 20-30 cooking minutes).
    4. While chicken is cooking, wash mushrooms and work on any side dishes that you want to eat.
    5. When chicken has cooked on either side, add cream, mushrooms, and dill to the pan. Cook until cream starts to boil.
    6. When cream begins to boil, cover the pan, reduce heat to low and simmer for an additional 20-25 minutes. (because I’m paranoid, I like to simmer 30 or more minutes- the meat doesn’t lose moisture, since it’s covered).
    7. Serve with your sides and favorite beverage.

  3. This recipe is a huge hit with my family, and friends. I get asked to make it for pretty much every gathering. The funny thing is that it is super easy!

    Easy from scratch Mac N Cheese

    Set oven to 350*

    1 stick butter
    4 heaping tablespoons of flour
    5-6 cups milk
    1- 1 1/2 pound of good quality sharp cheddar shredded (I love the preshredded bags)
    1 box or bag of large shell pasta
    1 pound bacon, fried and crispy (drain)
    Seasoned herb and garlic bread crumbs (I usually cheat and use the Progresso kind)

    While your pasta is happily boiling away, using a larger saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Using a whisk, stir in the flour until all the butter is mixed into the flour and it is a thick paste. Continue to cook until the flour begins to smell slightly nutty and turns a golden brown. Once that is done, begin to stir in the milk, whisking to prevent lumps. It will seem like it is too liquidy, but as it warms, it will thicken. Once you have at least 5 cups of milk incorporated, begin to add the shredded cheese, a handful at a time, allowing it to melt and blend into the milk mixture. Once all the cheese is in, it should be the perfect consistency, but if it is too thick (paste like) add in a little more milk. Stir in the bacon. Drain your pasta, put it back in the pot, then pour the cheese sauce and bacon over it and stir it together, coating every shell. Transfer it to a large baking dish, 9×13 or two 8×8 and sprinkle the top with bread crumbs. Put in a 350* degree oven* and allow to bake for about 35 minutes. It should be golden brown and bubbly! Serve and enjoy.
    (For those who don’t like bacon, it can be left out. But honestly, who doesn’t love bacon?)

  4. I love the crock pot for cooking. It makes me feel really accomplished even though I don't usually have to put much work into it. My go to for my family is to put a can (or frozen) of corn, black beans, salsa and chicken breasts in the crock pot for 4 to 6 hours. When done shred the chicken and serve with cheese and sour cream. You can put it in a burrito or eat with chips like a dip. It's kind of like an off shoot of tortilla soup. 🙂

  5. Hi Jennifer,
    I´d like to help you out with a baking recipe. It´s simple, easy and done in no time! Just pour all the ingriedients together, blend and bake 😉 My whole family loves it, even our little one, and I get asked for the recipe every time I bring this banana bread to any occasion. And the best thing is, that you can replace most of the ingredients with other ingredients (I wrote those in brackets below) if you happen to forget something when grocery shopping.

    Banana Bread
    Yield: 1 loaf
    4 tbsp margarine (or coconut oil)
    1 cup brown sugar (or honey)
    1 egg (no need to separate!)
    3 very ripe bananas (lots of black spots)
    1 ½ cups flour (white or whole wheat)
    ¼ tsp salt
    1 tsp. baking soda
    1 tsp. baking powder
    1 cup cocolate chips (or raisins)
    Cinnamon to your taste
    Optional: 1 tbsp ground flax, or 2 tbsp greek yoghurt
    Cream butter & brown sugar, add egg & mix well.
    Mash bananas with a fork, then add to your bowl of other ingredients. Mix well with butter/sugar/egg mixture.
    Add flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder and cinnamon. Stir well.
    Add Chocolate cips. Blend.
    If you like: Add flax seed or ground flax or greek yoghurt for more health benefits.
    Preheat oven to 325°F. Pour your mixture into greased loaf pan or non stick pan and bake for 50-60minutes.
    If baking in a muffin pan, I bet 15min would do it. I usually stick a BBQ-skewer into it – if you can pull it out clean (chocolate chips are ok to stick to it though) it´s ready to eat.

  6. My favorite dinner is what we’ve dubbed Vegetable Pasta.

    Cut up any vegetables you like into bite-sized pieces. We do bell peppers (all colors), zucchini, yellow squash, and broccoli, but whatever you want works. Ooh, maybe I’ll throw in eggplant next time to get the purple color in there. Saute it in a bit of oil. We add lots of lemon pepper, but you can add whatever you want. Toss it with cooked pasta (we use bow tie pasta) and add parmesan cheese (it only needs a little).

    So simple it’s barely a recipe. 🙂 And so stinking good. We now end up with a 2:1 ratio of veggies to pasta, so it’s even gotten healthier.

  7. Working on teaching my 12 year old some stuff she can make on her own (with an adult at least in the house, of course, lol) and these are 2 of her favorites.

    Vegetable soup – 2 lbs meat, can be cooked hamburger, leftover roast, stew beef, ground turkey, whatever your family likes. 2 lbs frozen mixed vegetables. 1 large can tomato or vegetable juice. Mix all in a pot, add 1 tsp black pepper, 1 Tablespoon chili powder, 1/4 cup dried onion flakes, 2 Tablespoons/cubes/packets low sodium beef boullion. Simmer until veggies are almost tender. Add 1 cup quick cooking barley or 1-2 cups instant brown rice, and simmer another 10 minutes, or add 8 oz precooked pasta and serve immediately. Leftovers freeze well!

    Pumpkin muffins – 1 cake mix – literally anything works, including chocolate, but our favorite is yellow. MIx 1 15 oz can pumpkin, 2 eggs, 1/4 cup water, and 1/4 cup or less oil. Mix in dry cake mix. Fold in a chopped apple or two. Scoop into muffin liners, bake 25 minutes at 350 degrees or until tops spring back when touched (if you leave an indent, bake another 5 minutes). You can add up to 1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon, or use a spice cake and have that already added ;o).

  8. For dinner tonight I made Parmesan crusted fish. My hubby said it was so yummy he couldn't believe I made it.
    Ok so it doesn't get easier than this… (recipe can be found online but I don't measure anything sorry)
    Preheat oven to 425
    1- mix a heaping teaspoon of mayo or sour cream with Italian seasoning, salt and pepper set aside
    2- mix bread crumbs and 1/2 bag parm cheese
    3-lay fish (tilapia) flat on oven pan. Spread mayo mixture over each piece, sprinkle with cheese mixture and bake for 30 mins.
    That's it!
    I prepared jar Alfredo sauce, fettuccine pasta, a broccoli to go along with it.
    You have just whipped up a gourmet dish with 15 mins of prep 😉

  9. start easy with the crock pot…no worrying about it burning, no watching the oven or preheating or sauting…that's where I'd start cuz you can dump it in and then just turn it on and come back to dinner ready! This is easy and one of our favs: Crock Pot Sante Fe Chicken (adapted from Skinny Taste):

    2-3 chicken breasts (depending on how much you want)
    14.4 oz can diced tomatoes with mild green chilies (also known as rotel)
    15 oz can black beans
    8 oz frozen corn
    1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
    14.4 oz can fat free chicken broth
    3 green onions, chopped
    1 tsp garlic powder
    1 tsp onion powder
    1 tsp cumin
    salt to taste


    Combine chicken broth, beans (drained and rinsed), corn, rotel, green onions, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, and salt in the crock pot. Season chicken breast with salt and lay on top.

    Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours. Half hour before serving, remove chicken and shred. Return chicken to slow cooker and stir in. Adjust salt and seasoning to taste and top with cilantro. Serve over rice or tortillas and your favorite toppings.

    You can do it!!

  10. You can't go wrong with soup, it is easy, easy! Here are the ingredients. Go to my blog post to see how to throw it together! This recipe is just perfect for fall!

    Curried Pumpkin-Apple Soup

    2 tablespoons butter
    1 cup chopped onion
    1 cup chopped celery
    1/2 large apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
    2 teaspoons mild curry powder
    3 cups chicken broth
    1 1/2 cups solidly packed pumpkin mash or canned pumpkin
    1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
    1 whole bay leaf
    1/3 cup heavy cream
    2 to 3 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
    Sour cream and chives, for garnish (optional)

  11. Super easy and delicious Chicken casserole:

    1 lb chicken breasts (boneless skinless)
    1 can mixed veggies (or use frozen)
    1 can cream of chicken soup
    1/2 can of water
    1 box Stove top stuffing mix (plus it’s required ingredients)

    Cut chicken in to small chunks (1-2 inches). Mix chicken, soup, water and veggies together in a casserole dish (May add salt and pepper). Prepare stuffing per directions, then top chicken mixture with stuffing. Bake in oven at 375 for about 30-45 minutes until bubbly and golden on top.

    So yummy and a good way to sneak in veggies for the kiddie!

    Also, I saw on FB someone commented about making pumpkin muffins, DO IT! They are super easy and you and your kids are going to LOVE them, so tasty and fall festive!

    1. The pumpkin muffins with 3
      Spice cake mix
      15 oz can pumpkin
      chocolate chips.

      Mix together, fill cupcake pan, bake at 325 for 20 minutes. Soft and sooo
      good! (I eat them for breakfast, pumpkin is healthy right?!)

  12. I'm 43 and I can't cook or bake at all. When my husband asked me to marry him, I reminded him of that but he still wanted me to be his wife anyways. I'm wondering if he regrets that now because I still can't cook and eat a lot of frozen meals. Now that we have a one-year old daughter though, I'm beginning to think I need to change that…it's hard when you hate cooking. Anyways, I do have a signature dish that my husband loves and I also make it when the in-laws visit and they like it too. It's a super quick and easy pizza. I don't even make the dough (or buy raw dough to roll – takes way too long to cook when I don't get home from work until 6 pm and I have a hungry kid pulling on my leg crying).
    Ingredients in order:
    *Pre-cooked crust (I use Boboli or a store-brand)
    *Beano's Classical White Pizza Sauce with Oregano (or you can make your own with olive oil and spices)
    *Mozzerella (I buy shredded cheese in the bag but my husband preferred that we shred it from a block – I tend to cut my knuckles though when I do that since I am a terrible prep cook too)
    *Toppings of your choice (my hubby is a vegetarian so we use whatever is in the house…tomatoes, leafy spinach, onions, green peppers, or just plain cheese)
    *Parmesan cheese sprinkled over the top
    Cook at 450 for 10 minutes. Done. This is so good that I have friends and family request it. Crazy, right?

  13. Here’s an easy peasy fail proof dessert recipe. Using one box of cake mix (any brand) mix together with one can of crushed pineapple. Bake at 350 until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. That’s it! No worries about eggs shells, or measuring the right amount. It’s super moist and very delicious. To top it off add some cool whip to the top for “frosting”. I believe it cuts out the extra calories of oil, eggs, and butter (but whose counting those anyway?!).

  14. I would suggest some butter chicken and jasmine rice
    I could tell you the long version but I will make it easy..don't tell my mum lol lol

    If you like chicken breasts use 4. Cut up..clean and set aside
    If you like wings, thighs legs etc mix them up..enough to serve your family. Clean and set aside

    1 packet of Kitchens of India Butter chicken paste..found in most grocery stores

    Jasmine make it easier buy the boil in the bag version…takes 10 mins

    1 onion diced or sliced

    2 small/medium irish potatoes cut up

    Vegetable oil

    2-3 tbsp of butter(optional) I never add butter to mine and it tastes great

    1.5 cups of Water

    Add oil to covered pan on low-medium heat..add onions and potatoes and saute for 5-7 mins stirring occasionally

    Add chicken, butter chicken paste and water to pan..stir well
    Let simmer for 30 mins once it starts boiling under the cover.
    Stir to make sure it doesn't stick.
    Cook a few mins on high flame and then remove from stove and set aside.

    While the butter chicken is simmering follow directions on the back of the jasmine rice box
    I use 2 packets for me and the hubs, you can use 2-3 depending on family size and leftover options.

    Serve butter chicken over rice

  15. I use the crock-pot a lot simply because it is EASY and I am also not a fabulous cook (seriously, I see these photos people post online.. how do they do it??)

    My favorite is simply putting 3-4 frozen chicken breasts in the crock, turn it on low and put salsa on top (just enough to cover each). Let it cook until a fork can pull it apart and then shred it (two forks working in opposite ways IN THE POT- hey, I also like easy clean up).

    The chicken is awesome on nachos (chips, the chicken, cheese, beans, whatever… my 4 y.o. loves them), chicken tacos, burritos, chicken tortilla soup (I'll admit I've only tried this once- many cans were opened that day, I'm not a from-scratcher). My husband uses the leftovers in quesadillas.

    Good luck!

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