Some people look to cooking as a way to unwind at the end of a stressful workday. For those who never spent much time in the kitchen, it tends to have the opposite effect. On top of that, you usually end up with having to choke down something that doesn’t taste very good.
Like any other skill, cooking takes time to master. Attempting a cheese soufflé during your first foray in the kitchen will just end in disaster, so you have to think smaller. Recipes that utilize ready-made ingredients and simple techniques are your best bet. Get started with these seven foolproof recipes. And in a few years, that soufflé might seem like a cinch.
1. Spinach, Mushroom, and Fontina Frittata
Eggs can be as finicky or as fuss-free as you’d like. Frittatas definitely fit into the latter category because they don’t require any flipping or special techniques. Try this delicious version flecked with mushrooms, spinach, and cheese from Fountain Avenue Kitchen. You can even skip the broiled topping at the end. Just add all the cheese to the eggs before transferring the pan to your oven.
- 8 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons milk
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 8 ounces cremini or other mushrooms, chopped
- 3 ounces spinach, coarsely chopped
- ¾ cup shredded fontina cheese, divided
Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, milk, salt, and a bit of pepper.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a cast-iron or other ovenproof, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until soft, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until deeply browned, about 8 minutes longer. Stir in spinach and cook just until wilted, about 1 to 2 minutes. If needed, add additional oil.
Reduce heat to medium low and add egg mixture. Cook, stirring gently with a rubber spatula, until eggs begin to set. Stir in ½ cup cheese and continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer. Once eggs have set around edges, transfer to the oven and bake until eggs have just set, about 4 to 5 minutes.
Remove from oven and switch oven to broil. Top frittata with remaining cheese. Transfer back to oven and broil until cheese is golden and bubbling, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Let cool briefly, slice, and serve.
2. Roast Beef Salad with Goat Cheese and Balsamic Vinaigrette
Most people wouldn’t consider an entrée salad difficult, but poor knife skills can make the meal a bit tricky to pull off. Things get even more complicated when you have to perfectly cook a piece of steak to serve over the top. This super easy recipe from Real Simple avoids both problems because it uses deli roast beef and minimizes chopping. Since the lettuce is so tender, tearing works just as well as using a knife.
- 2 small heads Boston lettuce, torn
- 12 ounces sliced deli roast beef
- 1 large beefsteak tomato, cut into wedges
- ½ red onion, sliced
- 4 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- Kosher salt and pepper
Directions: Divide greens, roast beef, tomato, onion, and goat cheese among four serving bowls or plates.
In a small bowl, whisk oil, vinegar, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper to combine. Drizzle over each portion and serve.
3. The Perfect Tuna Salad
If you’re sick of winding up with dry, mealy fish every time you attempt to cook seafood, simplify things with canned tuna. With just five more ingredients, this tuna salad from The Kitchn will become one of your favorite foolproof recipes. Once you’ve mixed everything together, you can use the salad to build sandwiches, make lettuce wraps, or use it as a topping for baked potatoes.
- 2 (5-ounce) cans water-packed tuna, drained
- 2 to 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 celery rib, diced small
- 1 small shallot or ¼ red onion, diced small
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon pickle relish (optional)
Directions: Add tuna to a large bowl. Stir in 2 tablespoons mayonnaise along with celery, shallot, lemon juice, and relish, if using. Season with salt and pepper and stir with a fork to combine. If desired, add more mayonnaise. Adjust seasoning. Serve at once or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
4. Pulled Chicken Sandwiches
Chicken is the go-to dinner protein for novice cooks, which can actually be a mistake because it’s easy to overcook. Since supermarkets have mastered rotisserie chicken, you’re better off buying the precooked bird. One of our favorite uses for the poultry is a simple barbecue chicken sandwich. This recipe from Good Housekeeping is especially nice because it uses bottled barbecue sauce and packaged coleslaw but still manages to taste homemade with a few additions.
- 1 small rotisserie chicken
- 1 cup barbecue sauce
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 6 Kaiser rolls
- ½ pound deli coleslaw
- Carrot and celery sticks
Directions: Shred chicken into bite-size pieces, discarding skin and bones. Add to a 2-quart saucepan along with barbecue sauce, water, and vinegar. Cook over medium heat until hot, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.
Pile chicken mixture onto roll bottoms, top with slaw, and close with roll tops. Serve with carrot and celery sticks.
5. Microwave-Steamed Garlic Green Beans
Do you find yourself choking down mushy green beans every time you cook the veggie at home? As delicious as green beans can be, a lot of folks have a tendency to overcook them. The solution is as simple as using your microwave instead of your stove. Try this recipe from Martha Stewart to see for yourself. As long as you follow the directions, you’ll have perfect veggies every time.
- 1 pound green beans, trimmed
- 1 garlic clove, smashed and peeled
- 1 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces
Directions: Combine green beans, garlic, butter, and 1 cup water in a 2- to 2½-quart microwave-safe dish with a lid. Season with salt, cover, and microwave on high until beans are crisp-tender, about 6 to 7 minutes. Stir and drain off any additional liquid. Serve.
6. French Bread Pizza
Working with pizza dough can be a pain even for good cooks, so a homemade pie is out of the question for those lacking any kitchen skills. Partially homemade pizza, on the other hand, is completely doable. All you need is a good loaf of bread and a handful of ingredients to make this delicious French bread pizza from Epicurious. And feel free to add any of your other favorite pizza toppings.
- 1 (12- to 14-inch) loaf soft French or Italian bread, split in half lengthwise
- 1 garlic clove, smashed
- ½ cup store-bought tomato sauce
- 1 cup coarsely grated mozzarella cheese
- 3 ounces sliced pepperoni
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil
Directions: Position oven rack in top third of oven and preheat to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Place bread, cut-side up, on a rimmed baking sheet. Transfer bread to oven and bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately rub cut sides of bread with garlic.
Spread tomato sauce evenly over cut sides of bread. Top with cheese, pepperoni, and red pepper flakes, if using. Bake until cheese is melted, bubbling, and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Top with basil, slice, and serve.
7. No-Bake Monster Cookie Balls
Baked goods can be tricky to master for anyone. Everything from overmixing batter to underbaking a cake can lead to lackluster results. Skip the stress by making these no-bake cookies from The BakerMama. These treats contain just 6 ingredients and only require the ability to stir, so they’re perfect for every skill level. Consider these your new potluck staple.
- 2½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 cup creamy or crunchy peanut butter
- ½ cup honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup mini chocolate chips
- ½ cup candy-coated chocolate pieces
Directions: Combine oats, peanut butter, honey, and vanilla in a large bowl. Stir well to combine. Add chocolate chips and candies. Stir to combine, then roll dough into 2-tablespoon portions between your hands. Transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Transfer to refrigerator until set, about 30 minutes. Serve or keep stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
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