I’m astonished by the number of perfectly intelligent people who tell me they can’t cook. Cooking isn’t rocket science folks! Anyone who can read and has access to a kitchen, can cook. It really is as simple as opening a cookbook or finding recipes online. Here’s a breakdown on how to read a recipe (so no more excuses):

If you can read, you can cook

If you can read, you can cook

Title: The title of the recipe should give you an idea of the main ingredient, cuisine, and preparation for the recipe it represents, but sometimes recipe authors like to get cutesy with titles (guilty as charged), so if in doubt, read the…

Description: is usually found beneath the title. A good example of this is my Le Freak-N-Great Chicken Soup. The title does not explicitly tell you what makes this soup different from any ordinary chicken soup, but the description let’s you know it’s a chicken twist on Hungarian goulash.

Easy recipe scaling does the math for you and automatically updates your grocery list

Easy recipe scaling does the math for you and automatically updates your recipes and grocery list

Servings: tell you how many people this recipe will serve. Personal Chef Approach members can easily scale the serving size right on my recipes by typing in the number of servings you want to cook – grocery lists and recipes automatically update with the amounts of each ingredient needed. Not a member? Then you will need to exercise your math skills (multiply or divide each ingredient amount by the number of servings desired) and apply any changes to both the ingredient amounts and grocery list manually before shopping. Note: Sometimes it’s wise to cook all four servings (even when there are only two in your household). Then cool, package, and label the extra servings to freeze.  Defrost and heat to eat at a later date – it will save you tons of time and effort, and that’s what the PCA is all about!

Prep all your ingredients before you cook

Prep all your ingredients before you cook

Ingredients: No guessing necessary – they’re all listed right there for you along with the amount of each one you need!   Add each ingredient you need to your grocery list, double check your fridge and pantry, crossing off anything you already have on hand, and voila you’re ready to shop. PCA members can skip this step entirely when they use the menu I plan for them each week (they just print, shop, and cook); or the custom menu plan tool that will automatically generate a grocery list as they click on the recipes they want to add to their own menu for the week.

Directions: Make sure you read through all of the directions before you start. Timing is often imperative to the success of a recipe, and you want to make sure you have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go (remember the ingredients list will tell you amounts and how to prep (ie. peel, dice, slice, mince etc.) to ensure the steps flow smoothly. This is called mise en place – which means everything in it’s place. Then you systematically complete each step to create your delicious dish.

You wouldn't drive a car without paying attention, the same goes for cooking

You wouldn’t drive a car without paying attention, the same goes for cooking

Another excuse often I hear is “but I burn everything”. You are not cursed, you just need to PAY ATTENTION when you cook! You wouldn’t drive a car distracted without expecting to have an accident, so don’t cook without giving it your full attention either. If you focus, you can master turning out perfectly delicious meals right from the start. That sums up the most important elements of cooking a recipe, but many recipes will go a step further to include:

Serving Suggestions: These give you helpful suggestions like what temperature the dish should be served, suggest side dishes or condiments, and/or how to plate or garnish.

Variations: Sometimes the same recipe can be used for an alternate protein (I often suggest vegetarian options), or alternative spices and herbs you might like to try for a change.

Notes: Usually cover any special equipment you might need to prepare the recipe, or a basic cooking technique the recipe refers to.

Turn dinner impossible into dinner accomplished

Turn dinner impossible into dinner accomplished

Since the Personal Chef Approach is about saving you 4-7 hours each week, while still getting a healthy, home cooked dinner on the table in as little as 5 minutes nightly, our recipes also include something you won’t find anywhere else…

Heat to eat instructions (unique to my recipes) are key to retaining the original integrity of your recipe

Heat to eat instructions (unique to my recipes) are key to retaining the original integrity of your recipe

Heat to Eat: instructions on how to optimally heat your prepared meal to preserve it’s original integrity. This is one of the key differences between leftovers, and scrumpdillicious Personal Chef Approach meals. Please watch the video below for more about how it works, and don’t forget to tell your friends about the Personal Chef Approach too!

P.S. One last thing to remember is that recipes are not gospel. There are no recipe police who will swoop down and throw you in jail for changing or omitting an ingredient, so don’t freak out if you are missing an ingredient – that’s often how great recipes are born. Think about flavors, textures, spices, and herbs you prefer, and don’t be afraid to make it your own. Have you ever turned a kitchen “mistake” into a brand new delicacy? Tell us about it in the comment section below.

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  • February 16, 2014
    11:09 am

    Cuisinart food processors are built to last, so you can usually find a great second hand one inexpensively – you want be sure they have all the attachments for the various cuts though.

    As for toasted oven, you can certainly use them to heat to eat, but I don’t think they work well for cooking fish and chicken – they’re just not built for that, Ruthee. You’re already saving on electricity when you cook multiple meals at once anyway.