Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cheesy Chicken Rotini

Cheesy Chicken Rotini

I'd be the first to tell you that I am not a good cook.

Sure, I can crank out a batch of spaghetti (with a jar of store-bought sauce), whip up some burritos, or throw together a dish of potatoes au gratin with ham, but beyond that I'm pretty clueless in the kitchen.

In the past year, I've briefly considered trying to learn to cook.  But, as you know, thinking about something and actually doing it are altogether different.

I've never had a real desire to cook...

...that is, until now.   

The way I see it, I need to learn to cook for several reasons: 

1) For too long, my husband has done most ALL of the cooking in our house. 

2) I don't want our son to go hungry in future years.  (Just kidding!)  

3) I get bored with the same meals over and over again.

4) I really like to eat. 

So, what am I doing to become a better cook?

First off, I'm reading The I Don't Know How to Cook book, which contains 300+ easy recipes designed for novices like me.

I've never been a big television viewer, but when I feed our son, I watch recorded shows from our DVR.  More and more, I'm finding myself drawn to cooking shows like Pioneer Woman, Paula Deen, and Iron Chef. 

I'm also keeping my eyes open for new recipes on Pinterest.

In addition, I've been ripping out recipes from magazines like Real Simple, Parents, Woman's Day, and Sunset.  Last week, I made a recipe from Parents magazine called Cheesy Chicken Rotini.
It was easy and delicious!  As I was making the rotini dish, I thought about my cooking goals and expectations.

Here's what I'm going to keep in mind the next time I'm cooking in the kitchen.  (Please note: I am writing these thoughts to myself, so the "you" I refer to is actually me!)   

1) Be reasonable about your expectations.  Chances are, you're not going to become a kitchen superstar.  Remember, you just want to be able to make healthy and delicious meals for you and your family.

2) Don't expect to make a new recipe every day.  Cook 2 dinner meals a week, preferably with one of them being a new recipe.

3) If a recipe says it takes 40 minutes to prepare, it will probably take you an hour or so.  Plan accordingly!

4) Cooking is messy, and you don't do messy.  You're a neat freak, but in cooking, you have to accept that the counters might be sprinkled with food particles, the pans will get dirty, the stove top may have drippings on it...and that's just how it goes.

5) Wear your apron; it makes you feel like a real chef.  Plus, it gives you a place to put your iPhone, so it's within easy reach.

6) Play music on your iPhone as you whip up dinner.  Music puts you in a great mood and makes cooking more fun.  The soundtrack from The Notebook is one of your favorites.

7) Profanity is not an option; you gave it up for Lent.  Instead, say "Darn it!" when you completely screw something up...and then move on.

8) If you completely foul up a recipe, all is not lost.  There is always peanut butter and jelly or grilled cheese.  And you can try again another night.    

9) Laugh at yourself sometimes, remembering that you have to start somewhere.

Speaking of starting out in cooking, have you seen the show Worst Cooks in America?  It's hilarious, especially for a novice cook like me.  No joke; I could be on that show.  I crack up at the things the newbie cooks do, but deep down, I know I'd have probably done the same things.  Just for the record, if I ever get to be on the show, I want to be on Bobby Flay's team; Anne Burrell just plain scares me.

So, I'm curious...what's cooking in your kitchen?  Do you have an easy dinner recipe that you love?  Please feel free to share your favorite dinner recipes in the comment section. 

Just make sure that they don't contain words like brunoise, blanching or barding because I haven't a clue what any of those culinary terms mean.


P.S. Do you?!  Click HERE for their definitions.

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