Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Food Blogger for the Day

chef2.JPG

It was about a year ago that I told the lie. A food blogger, most probably Delicious or Smitten, had written a post about an interesting dish she had made.

I wrote a comment saying that “I should try to make this dish.”

The blogger wrote back, asking, “Neil, you cook?”

I replied, “Of course.”

Now, I’m not stupid. I know that women love men who can cook, even more than men who are funny. So when a pretty food blogger asks if you can cook, you say, “Of course.”

Of course, I was lying. I’m not much of a cook. I can make a decent salad, a mushroom omellette, a tuna fish salad, and spaghetti and meatballs. That’s about it.

With Sophia in surgery mode, it has been on my shoulders to produce dinner lately — which means take-out. Chinese, Thai, Mexican, Lebanese, Italian. Frankly, it’s getting expensive. A large hot and sour soup + one chicken and broccoli = at least fifteen dollars.

That’s why, I’ve decided to do a little cooking next week. Sophia’s next second surgery is tomorrow, and she’ll probably be out of it for a few days. Wouldn’t it be nice for her to have some home-cooked meals?

This is where YOU come in. I need a few SIMPLE recipes. Remember, Sophia is not a Campbell’s Soup type of gal. The meals have to be simple enough for a moron to cook, but still tasty for a picky eater. Think of this as a public service for men who can’t cook.

And thank you, Whoorl and Marisa from Apartment 2024, who have already given me suggestions on Twitter. (Whoorl: The All-New Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook (is she nuts?)) (Marisa at Apartment 2024: Her terrific ForkYou.TV!)

Mommybloggers, I need you. If anyone knows how to whip up a simple meal, it is you. Now, I know a few of you are still upset at me for insulting you on this blog, mocking you, and drawing Stalin-era mustaches on the photos of your precious children. But let us now make peace. Tell me your secret — for how long do you cook rice?

And please. No macaroni and cheese. She won’t eat it.

And nothing with bacon.

And Delicious/Smitten/whoever it was — I’m sorry I lied.

One more question, before I do this cooking gig, do you think I should ask Sophia if she WANTS me to do this?

59 Comments

  1. Neil, no, don’t ask, just DO!

    Recipes? Well, I’ll make a special selection just for you on my blog later 🙂

  2. Never ask. If you ask, she’ll think you don’t really want to do it and that you’re looking to her to say “Oh Neil, you don’t have to do that. It’s okay.” Just step up and do it.

    One question – you said no soup. But how about a recipe with soup as part of the ingredient?

    It’s 5 am and I need to wake up and depending on your answer I’ll send a recipe. Easy one. Taught it to my kids.

    I’m not saying you’re a kid. Well, you are, but – oh hell, you know what I mean.

  3. Oh, Neil. See what a tangled web of deceit one can weave when one tells a simple white lie to impress a woman? But I’ve got your back.

    To cook white rice: two parts rice to three parts water makes six parts cooked rice, so:
    2 cups rice
    3 cups water
    in a 2 qt thick bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid. Bring in to a boil, and when you see those little volcano-like formations that the bubbles make through the rice (about three minutes of boiling or so). I’m going to guess that you’ve got an electric range and not gas, you philistine, so you won’t have very good control of the heat so move the pot to a different burner that’s set on low. Cover the pot with the lid. Set the timer for twenty minutes. Cook the other stuff, or go watch the rest of your silly soap opera. Whatever you do, DON’T LIFT THE LID TO CHECK THE RICE! It will dry out the rice. When the timer goes off, turn off the timer and remove the pan from the heat but DON’T LIFT THE LID FOR ANOTHER FIVE MINUTES. Set the timer if you have to. When the last five minutes is up, lift the lid and stir that rice, and add just a dash of salt. It should be fluffy and moist, and clump together in a nice ball if you scoop it out with an ice-cream scoop. It should be as good as that rice you paid $8.00 for at that take-out place in LA.

    For brown rice, it’s 1 cup rice to 2 cups water, boil it, cover and cook on low heat for 40 minutes, then turn off the heat and DON’T LIFT THE LID FOR ANOTHER FIVE MINUTES.

    This is Faux Alfredo, named after it’s inventor, the great Vietnamese-Arab chef Phô al-Freido:

    * 1/2 pound linguini
    * 1/4 cup butter
    * 1/2 cup cream
    * 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    * dash pepper
    * dash ground nutmeg

    Boil the pasta. I’m guessing you can follow the package directions. Drain it and rinse it in warm water to keep it warm.
    In a skillet, melt the butter over low heat and add cream; bring it to a simmer – which is NOT a boil, Neil. Keep that heat low, there should be little bubbles around the edge but not a volcano of magma activity. Combine cooked pasta with butter/cream mixture. Add Parmesan cheese and stir it well. Allow sauce to thicken for a few minutes; turn off the add ground white pepper and nutmeg. Serve at once.

    The Southern Living cookbook is a good one. Don’t be put off by the Southern Living title; besides, as much as you might despise the idea, you live in the South, and is more appropriate for you than Good Housekeeping, since you don’t live in a house.

  4. don’t ask, just do it!
    i’ll e-mail you a link to a kraft page that i frequent, very easy meals. wish i was closer, i’d do up some casseroles for your freezer.

  5. Teebopop — No, she loves soup. Just not canned soup. Which is sad, since I grew up on Chunky Soup.

  6. So cooking is even more important than being funny?

    Craaaaaaap.

  7. Oh dear, I am such a lousy cook compared to so many others I know. So I can’t give you advice or recipes or anything. But I have become exceptionally proficient at Super Scrabble:
    http://www.thepixiepit.co.uk/scrabble/superscrabble.htm

    Just thought I’d mention :>)

  8. Tamarika — You’re on. And I should apologize for being sexist and insinuating that WOMEN would know how to cook better than MEN. Danny of Jew Eat Yet is an amazing cook, and my mother is known to burn hamburgers.

  9. I’m not a Mommy but I think I can help…..this is really easy too….You can do this with or without chicken breast strips (which you can easily buy at the store pre packaged and cooked)

    Take a sauce pan and make some brown rice (simple enough..) you can use minute rice here…then add a can of corn (without the water) and then add some salsa..it tastes delicious and only takes about ten minutes. It is tasty and has flavor and it’s easy..I hope this helps you….also..my thoughts and prayers and with you both as she goes into surgery tomorrow.

  10. Very simple pasta bake:
    Cook a 1 lb package of ziti or similar pasta. Drain.
    Put half of it in a lasagna pan or other oven-proof casserole. Pour half a jar of pasta sauce on it (Ragu, Whole Foods, whatever), then top with half a bag of shredded cheese. You can also add some grated Parmesan. Now make another layer of pasta, sauce, and cheeses. Bake at 375 for about half an hour or until the cheese starts to brown.

    I taught several old boyfriends to make this – you can do it too! Best wishes to Sophia…

  11. I hate to cook–and I’m Italian. Go figure.

    My repertoire is remarkably similar to yours–except for the omelet.

    I used to subscribe to Southern Living. It’s like food porn. And it’s might hard to find a Southern Living recipe without bacon, ham, and or Campbell’s Soup. (Covered with cheese and sour cream.) They’re all about the fat and the pork products. Oink. That’s why it all tastes so good.

  12. Here are links to a couple of my favorite recipes — the first is a soup, the second is poached trout. The soup is always a hit. Whenever my aunt has been ill, which has been a great deal over the last few years, I always make a batch for her.

  13. Put one bag lentils, (any kind) in large pot. Cover with water, add more water. Boil. Go have a drink. Add vegtables. Any kind, cooked or not it doesn’t matter.

    Have another drink or write something funny. Allow lentils and veggies to boil.

    If the pot starts boiling over turn down stove and have another drink.

    Add Braggs (secret ingredient from health food store)

    Make comments on various blogs to create good karma and take your mind off cooking and surgery.

    Add water if you’d like soup, or leave sort of ‘mushy’ for an Indian lentil sort of thing.

    Optional Spices:
    Cardamom
    Coriander
    Fenugreek
    Or use an all purpose curry powder – but not to spicy after surgery.
    Enjoy with rice or not. (see rice recipe in above comment)

  14. Here are a couple of links to two of my fave recipes.

    http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/recipe_views/views/104330

    http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/recipe_views/views/104330

    The first one is a soup (Always a hit.) and the second is for trout.

  15. Salsa Chicken is one of my favorite “easy” meals to make:

    Cube some raw chicken – enough for the two of you. When I make it for myself I use one chicken breast, so I would recommend two for the both of you or three if you want there to be leftovers that you can reheat (it’s pretty fabulous reheated)

    Over a medium flame, set the chicken to cooking on the stove top. When it’s mostly cooked, pour some jarred salsa in. Now if you want to get fancy, you could surely make your own – but the point is to be easy. You could go for medium swank by adding a fancier salsa. I use about a quarter of a jar for one serving, so I’d recommend you use half of a jar. If it looks like too little – add more.

    When the chicken is completely cooked, sprinkle some of that “mexican blend” cheese (or shred some of your favorite kind of cheese on top) turn off the heat, and cover the pan so that the cheese melts and the chicken stays warm.

    Now, I usually eat it over brown rice, but since you’re having rice issues, I’d recommend my second favorite way of serving: warm up some fajitas in the microwave and scoop the chicken into them, creating a little roll of goodness.

    The best part about this meal is that there is so much room to play around depending on your personal taste. It can be as spicy as you want it to be, as organic as you want it to be, or as swanky as you want it to be… but even at the bare bones it’s still fabulous and simple!

  16. When we’re pretending to cook we buy:

    Tortellini (Trader Joe’s works)
    Pesto
    Frozen Peas

    Make the tortellini and about two minutes before it’s done, toss in the frozen peas. Drain, dish up, add pesto, voila, dinner.

    Good with a green salad and SUPER easy.

    Also, hello, funny is better than cooking, but funny AND cooking? Wow, you are so getting some. I’m just sayin’.

    Good luck.

  17. Here’s the recipe fpr Albondigas..(mexican meatball soup)..It has rice and meatballs and veggies. You will have to cook..some but..it’s really pretty easy.

    Get a large soup pot..or pasta pot.

    Here’s your shopping list:

    -white rice
    -ground hamburger
    -small pkg of ground pork..(oops? do you eat pork? if not you can use turkey..sorry shiksa here!)
    -egg
    -small onion
    -bag of carrots..not baby..normal
    carrots
    -2-3 large cans of chicken broth low sodium…or you can use veggie broth
    -zuchinni if you like it
    -fresh green beans(a handful or so)
    -1can diced tomatoes w/garlic and basil seasoning
    -celery
    -salsa if she like thing spicy.

    ok….now

    first: chop onion and about 3-4 stalks of celery.

    peel about 4 carrots and cut across the carrot into wedges/scices. not to thick..1/4 inch at most.

    Now, take your hamburger and turkey or pork and mix together w/one egg. mix well in a large bowl. Then add one cup uncooked rice. mix again. Then add one half of your chopped onion and salt and pepper. Mix and form into parlm size meat balls. You want tight ball, not loose. They will fall apart. Try to make them all roughly the same size, but no biggie.

    OK, now take the soup pot to the stove. Put a bit of olive oil in the pot…about on quick glug or 1/2 shot. Throw in the rest of your onions and celery. Sautee for about 5 minutes over med heat. then add the chiken broth.
    then add the meat balls. then the carrots and then the tomatoes and salsa.
    Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to an active simmer..about med low.

    Let simmer for about 1/2 hour..then add your zuc and your green beans. Cut the zuc into circles..and trim the beans and cut then in half. simer for 1/2 hour more.

    Skim the fat off the top of the soup with a spoon on a slant. Add some water is you lose too much broth.

    The soup does most of the work for you.

    Now, home made oup is the best..when you don’t feel good.

    I will be thinking of Sophia tomorrow.

  18. Baked fish is always simple and tasty. Get some fish filets, any kind really, and some aluminum foil. Fish goes on the foil with a little olive oil or butter, lemon juice, whatever herbs and seasonings you like (salmon with mustard and dill, mahi mahi with Annie’s Organic papaya salad dressing, and tilapia with white wine, extra lemon, and capers are all good combos). Wrap up the foil to make a little airtight pouch and put it in the oven at 350 til it’s cooked through, depending on how well-done you like your fish. When you buy the fish they should be able to give you approximate baking times. Be careful when you open the foil pouch; there will be hot steam in there.

    This can be a great light meal with steamed veggies or a big salad. In fact, it sounds really appealing to me right now with the high of 80 and humid here today…

    Also, if you come across a good-sounding recipe for risotto, don’t be intimidate by it. My boyfriend who claims he can’t cook but can follow directions has found risotto to be surprisingly easy to accomplish.

    Good luck!

  19. PS

    Really good with crusty french bread..and if you use slsa..a little goes a long way..so 1/2 cup..tops. You don’t want salsa soup…

    The meatball are done when the meat is firm and the rice is tender in them..hour..hour 15..tops.

    Sorry for the typos…can’t think and type at the same time!!

  20. You say she’s picky but everyone loves pizza, no?

    You can do one of three things for a crust: Buy Mama Mary’s (regular or thin n’ crispy), buy Pillsbury refrigerated or go to your favorite pizza place and ask if they’ll sell you the dough for a small pie.

    Then you have many possibilities. Some of my faves:

    pesto, sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil (the basil goes on AFTER the pie is cooked).

    Garlic, ricotta cheese, provolone and herb cheese (like Alouette)

    Crushed tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, mushrooms and olives(or other veggies)

    You can also add a bit of gorganzola cheese, parmesan or asiago.

    Bottled pasta sauce works as a base as well (I just prefer my pizza without it).

    Throw everything on the crust and bake at 500 until the cheese has melted and the crust is brown. All the better if you have a pizza stone, but foil will even do. If you buy Mama Mary’s crust you can bake it right on the rack.

  21. I was going to send you a recipe for green chili, but it looks like real cooks have you covered here.

    I love mushroom omelettes. If Hubby made mushroom omelettes I would be a happy camper. Hey, he’s funny so that’s okay.

  22. Well, I suppose my first question would be if there are things that are “turning her off” food – surgery, medications and other things can do that, not to mention make certain things taste funny or off. So, you need to know which those are to cook around them

    Good old stanbys:

    Spagetti & Meatballs (ground meat of your choice, 1 egg, 1/3 c. oatmeal, 1 tbsp oregano, 1/4 c finely chopped onions, 1 close of garlic minced – golfball sized, cooked at 375 about 15 minutes or until done.)

    Beer Chicken – a whole chicken, a half can of beer with 4 cloves of garlic in it a holder (you can find them in the grocery store for about $3) put the chicken on the can like it’s standing up, and roast it according to weight. Add sides to it (veggies, potatoes, etc.)

    Tacos – one of the easy fun meals, or you could even make it taco salads. (you can make the tortilla bowls by folding them over a ceramic bowl and baking in the oven at 400 for about 5-8 minutes, no frying – so no getting sick from the oil.)

    There is about a million recipes, it really depends on what she likes and wants.

  23. My mother was not the greatest cook and she made us ‘girls’ do all the cooking so I learned how but not willingly. Most of the time we ate beans, tortillas and fried potatoes, that’s what you feed 12 kids when you are po. I don’t cook much any more because the boys don’t care for my cooking (except breakfast with bacon) and would rather eat take out.

    I was going to suggest Cambell’s, Ramen, Chef Boyardee or (as I asked my brother when he asked me what time I serve dinner) Corn Flakes or Cheerios.

    I will be taking all these suggestions home and giving that cooking another try. Thanks all.

  24. I like http://www.kraftfoods.com. There are tons of recipes and I usually have the ingredients on hand. When all else fails, sloppy joes work (a sandwich is just a sandwich, but a manwich is a meal!!!) Or breakfast for dinner, which is always popular with my kids. I also like http://www.cooks.com which will give you 365 versions of the same recipe.

  25. I like http://www.kraftfoods.com. There are tons of recipes and I usually have the ingredients on hand. When all else fails, sloppy joes work (a sandwich is just a sandwich, but a manwich is a meal!!!) Or breakfast for dinner, which is always popular with my kids. I also like http://www.cooks.com which will give you 365 versions of the same recipe.

  26. You can do pretty amazing things with an oven. It takes time to cook but you don’t need to watch, so it almost feel like the food cooked itself.

    And you can decline the same recipe over and over again.

    So, you’ll need:

    * meat for two (about 1 pound, a little less if none of us is a big eater), cut in small pieces
    * vegetables (for instance, carrots and potatoes, you can use the mini carrots they sell already pealed and you don’t even need to cut them, and for potatoes just wash them well and cut them in square pieces)
    * 1.5 cup of broth (vegetable, or chicken with chicken, or beef with beef…)
    * a bit of (olive) oil
    * flour or corn starch (about 1 teaspoon)
    * herbs (rosemary, thyme, basil, oregano, one of those, all of the above, or whatever you want)

    Preheat oven at 350F.
    Mix your vegetables with some oil in an oven pan. Coat the meat pieces with flour (or corn starch), for instance by placing them together in a ziploc bag and shaking around, or mixing them well in a bowl. Put on top of the vegetables. Pour broth. Add herbs. Cover with aluminum foil. Put in the oven for about 2 hours (mix after 1 hour and add liquid if it seems necessary, but it shouldn’t)

  27. My boyfriend begs for this Pot Pie once a week. It super easy with relatively no clean-up.

    Ingredients:
    *1.5 packages of pre-cooked diced chicken–the smaller kind in the lunch meat aisle
    *1 (15 ounce can) of mixed veggies
    * 2 (10.5 ounce can) cans of cream of chicken soup
    *Original Mrs. Dash
    *Salt and pepper
    *2 pre-made pie crusts
    *disposable pie pan from grocery store

    Steps:
    1. preheat oven to 375
    2. prepare one pie crust in the bottom of the pie pan and pour in one can of cream of chicken soup
    3. drain the veggies and pour them into the pie pan
    4. season the chicken with Mrs. Dash and salt and pepper
    5. put the chicken in the pan
    6. put the second can of cream of chicken soup on top and mix it all up
    7. put the top crust on the pie and cut four slits in the top
    8. bake at 375 for 45 minutes

    Best/easiest pot pie!

  28. I like feta and spinach pita pizzas, myself. Mix together half a block of feta cheese with about a cup of mozzarella and half a package of frozen spinach. Add a tablespoon of garlic, a little salt and pepper, and put it on top of a pita. Bake for 15 minutes or so on 425*F. If you want, you can top it with sliced tomatoes. So easy and SO delicious.

  29. The other thing you might try, is seeing if you can get your neighbors to make you food, and tell Sophia you cooked it.

    My neighbor just made me a pan of lasagna yesterday, and it was so nice to just throw it in the oven and not have to clean up a mess.

    That’s how the lame-a$$ mommy bloggers do it.

  30. I’m with Churlita. Unless you have time to practice and practice some more (because it never turns out right first time around), I’d just let someone else do it. Take the credit. And hope she doesn’t want you to do it again.

  31. Another easy way to go is to just bake up some chicken legs and steam a veggie (like broccoli or zucchini). It’s fairly basic, but tasty. The secret is to put something on the chicken legs to make them taste better. I find that a little of Annie’s Goddess Dressing is fantastic. Teriyaki sauce is also good. Honey mustard is also good and apricot jam can be used in a pinch. Bake at 375 for 30-45 on a foil covered pan.

  32. Definitely don’t ask, just do it — but don’t get all hurt and offended if she wants take-out instead. She may have weird post-surgery cravings/nausea.

  33. Easist & yummiest soup in the world:

    Zucchini Soup from Damerna’s Värld Magazine (absolutely delicious! can’t recommend this highly enough!!)
    1 yellow onion
    3 medium large zucchini
    1 liter water
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    3 squares chicken bouillon
    15 sun-dried tomatoes in oil
    2 dl creme fraiche (or regular sour cream if you can’t find it)
    2 dl chopped fresh basil
    salt and white pepper

    Chop the onion and boil it in the chicken bouillon for about 10 minutes. Chop and slice the zucchini. Add zucchini, garlic and cremé fraiché to the bouillon. Let boil 10 minutes. Drain sun-dried tomatoes and slice. Salt and pepper soup to taste, add tomatoes and basil, and serve immediately with your choice of soup-dunking bread.

  34. Should have mentioned regarding the above recipe, that after you put the creme fraiche/sour cream in, it will look like it’s separating. JUST STIR, don’t despair. It’s fine, trust me. 🙂

    Here’s another easy recipe that I use a lot:

    Lizardek’s Easy Herbed Chicken & Rice
    1 chicken breast filet per person
    1/2 cup uncooked rice per person
    1-2 cans sliced/chopped mushroom pieces
    chervil
    thyme
    garlic powder
    white pepper
    salt
    optional: 1/2 cup cream

    For each measure of rice, add twice the amount of water, i.e. one cup rice = 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and steam until rice is finished, approximately 20 minutes.

    Pour small amount of cooking oil into a frying pan on medium heat. Add mushrooms to frying pan. Chop chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces. When pan is heated, add the chicken. Add generous coating of thyme, chervil and garlic powder. Add white pepper and salt to taste. Sauté chicken until cooked through. For days when you need extra yumminess: add 1/2 cup cream to chicken/mushrooms, let warm through before serving.

    Serve with green asparagus spears or broccoli florettes. (frozen is fine!)

  35. Some great suggestions. But my eyes glaze over when I read cremé fraiché or casserole pot. Is that the long wide one?

  36. Wow. If you try even half of these, you’re braver than I.

  37. BAKED CHICKEN CATALINA

    6 chicken breasts for a 9×13 pan (you can really use any chicken…breasts, thighs, or a cut-up chicken..skin or no skin ok…I like skin)

    1 lg. bottle Catalina Salad Dressing
    1 can whole cranberry sauce
    1 pkg. dry Lipton Onion Soup

    Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
    Place chicken breasts in pan. Mix together cranberry sauce, Catalina dressing, and dry onion soup and pour over chicken. Cover with foil and bake 1 hour at 350 degrees.

    To make it more gooey, you can remove the foil for the last 10 minutes or so.

    Recipe can be increased according to the number of people you want to serve. This same recipe can be used with pork chops. Very tasty, colorful and delicious

  38. Hi Neil,
    Tuck’s Catalina Chicken is MY kind of recipe. Here’s an even easier version:

    Grandma Freda’s Baked Chicken:
    One pkg. of chicken parts w/bones
    one sml. bottle of Wishbone Italian Dressing
    Salt and Pepper

    Take the chicken pieces out of the package and rinse them in cold water. Salt and pepper the bottoms of each piece lightly, then place each piece right side up in a baking dish. Liberally pour about 1/2 the bottle of Wishbone Italian dressing over the chicken. Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes. Open the oven, ladle some of the juice over the chicken and then prick the skin of each piece. This makes the skin nice and crispy. Close the oven and continue cooking for another 25 minutes (total time, 1 hour). Serve with steamed vegies and rice.

    Another tip: Trader Joe’s has brown rice in the frozen section. All you have to do is nuke a bag and it’s ready in 5 minutes!

    Good luck Cheffie

  39. Simple and fresh- A baguette, some greens, olive oil, fresh cheese, tomato and onion with a sprinkle of sea salt and cracked pepper.

  40. Neil, I just served this last week. It’s a blintz dish, but tell sophia they’re blinis, a Russian dish.

    Buy a pack of frozen blintzes, preferably cheese. (usually 6 to a pack)Lightly grease a container and lay the blintzes side by side, single layer. In the meantime, mix together 1/2 cup sugar (or Splenda), 1/2 cup orange juice, 1 cup sour cream and 2 eggs. Pour the mixture atop the blintzes, and put in a 325 degree oven. Bake for 30 minutes or slightly longer, until you see the top slighly brown. Can serve hot or cold.

    Moroccan fish is also a good meal. Put a little olive oil in a pan, add one or two green and red peppers, lots of garlic and start to saute the veggies. Take fillets, fresh or frozen, drizzle olive oil on top of them, along with lots of paprika. Put in pan. Add more garlic and pepper pieces, fresh coriander, can put hot sauce on, sprinkle with coarse salt and other seasonings if you want. Add some water, let boil briefly, then reduce to simmer and fish is done fairly quickly. (flake with fork to know it’s done).
    The fish primarily gets its flavor from the coriander/Chinese parsley. (It helps if you like that flavor!)
    Happy cooking…

  41. Just my luck. My blog was closed down all afternoon by my host Dreamhost for overloading the system with spam. Even the spammers must love recipes!

    Tonight, Sophia and I are going to go see Jay Leno perform in a Hermosa Beach comedy club. Laughs are good for surgery. Luckily, they have food there, so I don’t have to attempt to cook any of these dishes YET.

    Of course, Sophia has already seen the post and has threatened to tell you all if I cop out and don’t make anything… which would truly hurt my reputation in the blogosphere.

  42. If you can’t comment or see this page, please email me… I’ve been fighting with this thing for an hour already…

  43. An easy salad – chop one avocado, 4 or 5 pieces of heart of palm, a small vidalia onion, 2 tomatoes, pour a raspberry vinagrette over and marinate for about 4 hours in the refrigerator. Pour off excess vinagrette and serve on a bed of boston lettuce.

  44. “If you can’t see this, email me”??? Is that like the adult literacy billboards that say “If you can’t read this, call us!”?

  45. Wow. I cook, but even I’M intimidated by some of these. Good luck! Bertolli and Contessa make great everything-in-a-bag-ten-minute-skillet-dinners. As for “homemade”, fill a casserole dish 1/2 way with sliced potatoes, the other half with cooked scrambled hamburger, dump a mixture of tomato paste and spaghetti sauce over the top, cover and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes. Simple but yummy…

  46. Neil: If Sophia is not feeling well she needs chicken soup.

    Take one whole chicken, cut up, or 6-8 chicken legs. Add 1 quart water, 1 onion, 1 rib celery, some parsley if you must. Cook until it looks and smells like chicken soup. Add salt to taste.

    Remove onion, celery and parsley. Remove chicken, and cut into small pieces if you wish, and add to soup if you like it that way. Or you can make chicken salad (cut up chicken, mayonnaise, cut up green grapes, and curry powder to taste. Delicious.)

    Now you get creative. Add baby carrots, or any other nice veg–mushrooms, zucchini– matzoh balls, noodles or rice.

    The soup is fine either with or without the meat.

    The secret is to use a lot of chicken and not too much water.

    We Jewish mothers have gotten by for years on this recipe.

  47. Neil,

    Don’t bother cooking. Find yourself one of those food places (www.dreamdinners.com) where you go, make 12 dinners in two hours, and come home and tuck them in the freezer.

    In the morning you pop the frozen meal in the fridge, bake it in the oven at night, add a salad, and instant dinner.

    Or find a personal chef.

    Easy!

  48. Wow! I consider myself a bit of a foodie and these recipes sound fabulous. I skimmed a bit, but I don’t think anyone has mentioned some basics like Baked chicken and baked potatos.

    Probably, I would recommend that instead of a whole chicken you get it already cut into pieces or quarters (I have no idea whether you have the desire to clean a whole chicken, so…)

    Get however many pieces of chicken and a couple of Idaho bakers. I’ll let you figure out the salad part.

    Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

    Get a pan that can go in the oven. Rectangular cake pan, or an actual baking dish if you have one.

    Rinse the chicken in cool water. If you see large pieces of fat, pull them off and throw them. Don’t obsess about it. Pat it dry. Put the chicken in the pan. Rub the skin with a little softened butter (just use your fingers.) Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. If you want to make it a little fancy, separate some unpeeled garlic cloves and tuck them under the pieces of chicken.

    Put the pan in the oven.

    Wash the potatoes and poke them with a fork (*this is important. An exploded baked potato is a pain to clean up.) Put the potatos directly on the oven rack next to the pan of chicken.

    Put the timer on for an hour. The potatos are done when you can easily poke them with a fork. The chicken is done when the juices run clear when you poke a piece in the thickest part. The skin will be crispy and the chicken should be moist.

    If you used the garlic, you can squeeze out the baked garlic onto the baked potatos. Add a salad for a green veggie and maybe a piece of bread. Easy and delicious.

    You’re both in my prayers tomorrow.

  49. if sophia likes fish, here’s a good one:

    1 pound salmon or tuna
    butter
    olive oil
    one package of sliced white mushrooms.
    1 teaspoon garlic
    1/2 red onion, sliced
    7 ounces brandy
    4 ounces heavy cream
    pepper
    salr

    first off, get a shotglass full of brandy and slam it. enjoy the warmth as it permeates your body. (even though it’s not in the recipe list, feel free to chase it with a beer if you like.) get a nice, thick chunk of salmon or tuna. give it a nice coating of freshly cracked pepper. heat a pan over medium high heat, melt some butter, add a little olive oil, and once the butter is melted, place the fish in the skillet. for medium rare, cook about two minutes each side. set aside once finished.

    on another pan, heat some butter and olive oil and throw in the mushrooms, garlic, and onions. add salt and pepper to taste. (I’ve always wanted to write that.) cook until onions turn soft. then pour in three ounces of brandy, light in on fire (seriously! i mean, the alcohol is going to cook off anyway but it’s so much cooler if you light it.) after about 30 seconds, pour in the heavy cream. stir and mix thoroughly, and let it simmer for a few minutes. after that pour it over the fish. serve it with a side of potatoes. once done cooking, pour yourself the last two ounces of brandy and slam it to celebrate your culinary masterpiece.

  50. buy a cooked chicken in supermarket and slice it.make a salad . and you have a great dinner.

  51. Neil, I’m not a Mommyblogger but I do like to cook…

    Do you have a slowcooker (crockpot)?

    I have a yummy and very simple recipe for potato soup I can pass along, if you’d like. ??

  52. I don’t like to (don’t have the talent to) cook either, BUT Trader Joe’s was tailored for people like us. I checked, and there’s one in Redondo Beach. For a really simple, under-20-minute and under-10-dollars recipe, I go to Trader Joe’s. Pick up some of their pre-made brown rice, a bag of frozen vegetables, and a jar of red curry sauce. I defrost the veggies in the microwave, then throw them and the rice together in a wok (frying pan if you need). Brown everything in an extra virgin olive oil. Warm up the curry sauce, then dump some on and serve. It’s really good, and pretty much the only thing that got my roommates and I through finals last year.

  53. easiest chicken in the world:

    -preheat oven to 350 degrees
    -chicken breasts – no skin – given em a quick wash and dry with paper towel.
    -cover breasts in mayo or miracle whip (i prefer mayo).
    -roll breasts in crushed cheese nips crackers

    (the hardest part of the recipe is crushing the nips. if you have a food processor, you’re home free)

    wow, if you read this a certain way, it’s kinda kinky.

    spray a baking dish with pam, put the chicken in the dish, put dish in oven for 30 minutes or till fully cooked.

    trust me. these are delish. this recipe is my daughter’s favorite comfort food. i hope you and sophia enjoy them :0)

  54. Wow, a lot of people sure love you to be offering up all this foodie advice. Or maybe it’s Sophia they love. No matter. Stop trying to cook rice. Get thee a rice cooker. Pour rice in, pour water over it. Let rice soak. Drain water out. Of the required liquid needed, make 1/2 of it chicken broth and the other 1/2 water. Easy example? Two cups of rice + one cup of chicken broth + one cup of water. Press button to “rice cook.” When button pops up, rice is done. And delicious.

  55. Here’s a recipe that is soooo incredibly simple but Sophia will think you spent hours in the kitchen… 😉

    First buy yourself a cast iron skillet. They’re super cheap & easy clean up (you basically just rinse it with water & scrap off any food once you’re done). I know that sounds gross but the oils when you cook keep seasoning the pan. The skillets can be find at K-Mart, Target, Wal-Mart, etc. for less than $10. Before you cook with your new pan, don’t forget to season it (applying a little oil to the pan and baking for an hr.); the instructions will be included with your pan.

    Season a package of skinless chicken breast with a little salt, seasoned pepper, garlic powder and Adobo (spanish seasoning by Goya can be found in your supermarket’s ethnic section). Turn your stove top on high and when the pan is nice & hot place the chicken breast inside for about a minute on each side. Take the pan off of the stove top and put it in the oven at 350 for 5 mins. on each side. If you an olive oil pump you can spray it when you turn your chicken but if you don’t it’s ok. I sometimes will sprinkle a little balmsamic vinegar on my chicken to add a little more flavor. Cooking with cast iron skillets definitely makes my meats more tender and the cooking time is incredibly fast!

    Buy a box of Couscous. Boil 1 3/4 c of water and 1 Tbl of olive oil. Once the water is boiling turn off the stove top, add the couscous and cover. And voila it’s done. It’s super simple! I sometimes will microwave a bag of broccoli and add that to the couscous and drizzle a little soy sauce. I’m telling you this is the easiest recipe ever! This truly is a 30 minute meal! Let me know if you have any questions and good luck!

  56. Easiest recipe ever and it looks fancy. You need only four ingredients, and you don’t have to measure anything, and even a GUY can make it (ha ha):

    1) Salmon fillet (buy it FRESH, Neil)
    2) Jar of mango Chutney (usually called “major gray’s”)–you’ll find it in a jar at your local supermarket either in the condiments or international food aisles
    3) Seasoned bread crumbs (you can buy this already made and seasoned)
    4) Pam Olive Oil cooking Spray (or substitute real olive oil if you can manage it)

    Directions:

    –preheat oven to 350

    –Wash and pat dry salmon

    –lay it skin side down in a pan sprayed with Pam (or greased with olive oil)

    –take a few spoonfuls of chutney and smear it over the top of the salmon until all parts of it are covered

    –Then sprinkle the bread crumbs in on top of the chutney layer (there should be just enough so that you can’t see the chutney anymore)

    –spray breadcrumbs with pam olive oil spray (or, drizzle olive oil over bread crumbs)

    –place in oven

    –bake for 10-15 minutes, or until salmon flakes easily in the thickest part of the fish.

    –if the bread crumbs haven’t gotten crunchy by the end, you can turn on the broiler and keep it there for a second so that the bread crumbs brown SLIGHTLY. watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn.

    Easy peasy.

    For a side dish: buy some brocollini, chop off the tail ends of the stems, stick it in a steamer, steam until bright green and JUST soft enough for a fork to poke into the stems. Season with salt and pepper. Done.

  57. sorry, neil, that should be 375, not 350.

  58. bawk bawk bawk! I think you should make them ALL now. What a lot of great recipes!

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