In the hustle and bustle of today, the art of cooking appears to have suffered with the rise of fast food and frozen dinners. No matter how convenient that category of food has become, a home-cooked meal will always have a certain magical quality that cannot be replaced. Nothing brightens my day like food that has been cooked with love and made with the best ingredients. Mealtime has a unique way of bringing people together and can be a time of fun and bonding for people of all ages. Here are a few recipes that have been passed down through family and friends that can hopefully help you as you search for new ideas.
The Healthy Meal: Vegetable Pizza
Many of you might turn up your nose at the thought of vegetable pizza; however, you may be shocked by how delicious it tastes when cooked correctly. This meal is a great healthy option that is fun to share with others. The recipe calls for a roll of pizza dough, 2 (8oz) packages of cream cheese, 1 packet of ranch dressing mix, broccoli, purple cabbage, cauliflower, sliced green onions, radishes, carrots, and small diced tomatoes. Place the dough on a sheet and bake according to directions, then let cool. Mix in the cream cheese, some mayo, and ranch dressing together and spread it over the crust. Shred or chop the vegetables and spread them on top of the cream cheese. Add a personal touch if you want to experiment and enjoy your vegetable pizza!
The Kid-Friendly Meal: Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich
The average child in my household ate a grilled cheese sandwich almost every single day. Grilled cheese is a huge kid-pleaser and very simple to make. The Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich however, is a step above the competition and sure to impress. Ingredients are (3oz) cream cheese (softened), 1 cup of shredded mozzarella, ¾ cup of mayo, 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine, ½ teaspoon of garlic powder, 1 cup of shredded cheese, 1/8 teaspoon of seasoned salt, and Italian bread. Mix the cream cheese and mayo together until smooth then stir in your garlic powder and seasoned salt. Spread about a third of the mix on bread and butter both sides of the sandwich. Cook until golden brown on both sides and serve.
The Dinner Meal: Lasagna
Growing up in an Italian family, lasagna was a staple food. It requires a fair amount of ingredients, but it is simple and very fun to make. For your ingredients you will need 2 (29oz) cans of crushes tomatoes in puree, 1 (12oz) can of tomato paste, 1 medium onion, 2 tablespoons of cooking oil, 2 cloves of garlic, 2 tablespoons of sugar, ½ pound of ground beef, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/8 teaspoon of pepper, 2 teaspoons of basil, 2 teaspoons or oregano, 2 teaspoons of parsley, 2 bay leaves and ½ pound of Italian sausage. You will need to make the Ricotta filling separately with (16oz) ricotta cheese, (12oz) mozzarella cheese, ½ pound of lasagna noodles (9 noodles), 1 egg, and ¾ cup of parmesan cheese. Sauté your onions and garlic in oil and add tomato paste with one can of water. Add sugar and simmer over heat for 10 minutes, adding in the remaining tomatoes and spices. Add beef and sausage (cooked) and simmer for two hours, stirring frequently. For the ricotta filling, combine your egg, parmesan, and ricotta and mix. Use a 9 x 13 pan and layer in the pan with the sauce, noodles, sauce, ricotta cheese mix, mozzarella. Continue layers ending with the cheese on top. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes and serve when ready.
The Quick-and-Easy Meal: Beef Stroganoff
If you are looking for a busy day dinner solution then beef stroganoff is a great option. It only needs a few ingredients to make and it is a very tasty crowd pleaser. For a typical dinner you will need 1 pound of ground beef, one box of Hamburger Helper, and 1 cup of milk. Cook the beef thoroughly and drain. Cook the noodles in a pot of water and when done add to the pan of beef with milk. Stir on medium to low heat until there is a thick consistency, then serve!
The Dessert Option: Chess Bars
If you are looking for a healthy dessert option, chess bars are not the way to go. They contain 1 box of yellow cake mix, 1 stick of butter, and 1 egg. Mix that and press it in to a greased 9 x 13 pan. For the top layer you need (8oz) of cream cheese, 1 box of powdered sugar, and three beaten eggs. Mix them together and pour over the bottom layer. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30-35 minutes. These bars are sugary deliciousness that is sure to bring the kids running.
Are You Ready to Start Cooking?
I hope these recipes bring some joy and fun to your kitchen. Experiment with meals you have never tried before and remember that if they turn out mouth-watering good or maybe even burnt to a crisp, it is all about making those special memories with your family. Happy cooking!
Natalie Smith is a Tampa native and a marketing professional with a passion for nutrition, the written word, traveling, athletics and the ocean. She studied Marketing at the University of South Florida and enjoys boating and playing soccer in her spare time.