I’ve always loved to cook. As a teenager, my very first cookbook was Trader Vic’s Mexican Cookbook. I used my family as guinea pigs while I cooked many of the recipes in the book. Dad wasn’t a fan, but Mom and siblings were on board.
Today, I’m only a slightly intuitive cook, so I do use a recipe for the groundwork, but I’m not afraid to make changes or additions based on personal taste.
My cooking abilities seemed to miraculously ratchet up a notch during the pandemic. … Actually, it was because I became hooked on watching YouTube videos of people cooking great food. I couldn’t write recipes down fast enough.
The menfolk couldn’t believe all the good food I was turning out, and unless they requested something specific, we easily went six months without eating the same thing twice. Every meal was judged against this statement: “I’d be happy if I got this in a restaurant.”
I made monthly menus and categorized each day of the week – Sunday Dinner, Italian (Monday), Chinese (Tuesday), Sandwiches (Wednesday), Mexican (Thursday), One Pot/Casserole (Friday), Pizza Day (Saturday). Homemade pizzas were so good, we never had any desire to call and order one.
I became addicted to kitchen equipment. I spent way too much money on a Dutch oven. I love it for baking round loaves of rustic bread. A Kitchen Aid mixer? You betcha. And I’ve yet to use it for mixing anything. I bought the pasta attachments, and I make my own pasta. I always have homemade spaghetti in the freezer, ready to drop in boiling water and on the table three minutes later.
I make my bread dough by hand but let my bread maker produce my pasta dough.
Because it’s all the rage, I had to have an air fryer. Probably the one purchase I have some regrets about, because I only use it for wings. However, now that I’m by myself, and the air fryer is on the kitchen counter instead of tucked away in a cupboard, I might use it more often.
Oh! And a carbon steel wok. I love this wok! My Chinese food was great coming out of my large Farberware skillet, but the wok makes it so much easier and faster. The last Chinese dish I made was Orange Chicken. It was fantastic.
I keep my handwritten recipes from YouTube in three-ring binders. I won’t overwhelm you, but I’ll pull a few recipes I think are winners from each category. Maybe you might want to try them, too.
Spicy Chili Oil (I love this stuff and am not afraid to put it on anything!)
Pasta Alla Norcina (I make my own Italian sausage for this.)
French Onion Soup Potato Gratin (Oh my! So good! I made this for Thanksgiving dinner last year. It was a hit.)
Spanish Stuffed Zucchini with Cheese
Chicken Pan Pot Pie (Made in a cast iron skillet. Awesome!)
Roast Chicken with Lemon & Garlic (Lemon Gravy! This chicken is fantastic. I cut all whole chickens this way now – even Cornish game hens.)
Taco Bell Copycat Red Sauce (I use loads of this in Mexican dishes.)
Chili Con Carne (From Trader Vic’s cookbook.)
One Pan Chicken and Dirty Rice
Farmhouse Loaf in a Dutch Oven (I love this water/slap-and-fold method for making bread. So easy.)
Ciabatta Bread for Sandwiches (Another favorite. The recipe doesn’t say to, but I use the same water/slap-and-fold technique when making these.)
Low Sodium Deli Style Roast Beef (My go-to protein for in my salads.)
OMG Burgers (A little work, but they are super tasty.)
Beer Pizza (One hour pizza.)
Mushroom Pizza with Fresh Herbs
What are your favorite kitchen items? Will you try any of these recipes? If you do, pop back in and let me know what you think!