I don’t know about you, but I love to cook. I love learning how different foods work together and experimenting on the fly. In fact, many of my dinners go from simple three-ingredient meals that should take maybe an hour to massive productions that take two hours or more to complete. With hungry children and hungry spouses, that’s probably not an option for you. But even I have a few meals that I turn to when I need an easy meal that tastes good and doesn’t require a lot of thinking. Everybody should have a go-to meal or cooking tip to rely on for those extra-hectic days. So I reached out to our Distance Learning teachers to find out some of their favorite easy cooking tips and recipes.
Tip from Mr. Matesevac
Mr. Matesevac recommends cooking meats “low and slow.” Chicken, beef, and pork are all much tenderer and juicier if cooked at a lower temperature for longer periods of time. That’s why a slow cooker is an excellent tool for cooking meat. If you’re planning on having chicken for dinner, why not throw it in the crockpot in the morning with some seasonings and let it go all day? You get great results without much effort.
Mrs. Overly’s Slow-Cooker Roast
This four-ingredient recipe may take longer, but it takes very little thought. Mrs. Overly buys a roast or two whenever they are on sale for a good price.
Roast, 3–4 lb (round roast, sirloin tip roast, or chuck roast)
Package dry onion soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can water
This is the easiest, and it makes its own gravy. Depending on your family size, you will have leftovers for the next day.
- Place roast in slow cooker.
- Sprinkle dry onion soup over top.
- Spread cream of mushroom soup over roast.
- Fill the cream of mushroom soup can with water and pour over roast.
- Slow cook 5–6 hours on high or 8 hours on low.
If you have plenty of leftover meat and gravy, here’s a simple vegetable beef soup you can make for the next day in the same crock pot:
- Shred the remaining beef.
- Add a couple of chopped potatoes, 1 can diced tomatoes, chopped onion, and chopped celery.
- Mix in 2 cups beef broth.
- Add seasonings—oregano, basil, bay leaf, or any of your favorite seasonings.
- Slow cook on low until the vegetables are soft.
- Add 1 can corn.
- Add 1 can green beans.
- Heat through and serve.
Mrs. Gillenwater’s Venison Gravy
Mrs. Gillenwater loves biscuits and gravy—and she especially loves making gravy at home with venison.
½ to 1 lb venison
½ cup flour
3 cups milk
3 cups water
your favorite biscuit recipe
- Brown venison.
- Coat meat with flour.
- Alternate adding milk and water until it is as thick as you want it. Use less milk and water if you want thicker gravy.
- Make your favorite recipe for biscuits.
Tip from Mrs. Jarrell
Mrs. Jarrell just might be a cooking genius. She recommends cooking several pounds of hamburger crumbles and pulled chicken 3–4 times a year. Then she freezes it in portion sizes for use later. Imagine how much time and mess that saves when you’re ready to cook!
Mrs. Jarrell’s Crockpot Squash Casserole
1½ cup chopped onion (optional)
3½ cups cut-up yellow squash (frozen)
4 oz (½ brick) cream cheese
½ bag stuffing mix or a sleeve of crackers
1–2 cups hamburger crumbles
- Add onions, squash, and cream cheese to crockpot. Make sure that the squash is frozen, as fresh squash will have a different consistency.
- Cook in crockpot on high for 4 hours.
- If hamburger crumbles are frozen, let them thaw in the refrigerator.
- A few minutes before serving, stir in hamburger.
- Slowly add stuffing mix or crackers. It takes a few moments to absorb the liquid, so add a little at a time to avoid making the casserole too dry.
Mrs. Rulapaugh’s Spanish Paella
Mrs. Rulapaugh, who is our new K5 Math teacher, grew up in Spain, so making Spanish paella reminds her of her former home. Cooking international foods may seem intimidating, but this one-pan meal is a cinch to prepare!
2 cups rice
4–6 chicken pieces
1½ tsp salt or to taste
½ lemon or 2 tbsp lemon juice
1 green pepper, chopped
1 small can pimientos (optional—for garnish)
1 medium onion, chopped
5 cups water
- Cover frying pan or paellera with a thin layer of olive oil.
- Fry chicken, onion, green pepper, and seafood.
- Once chicken is done, add rice and water.
- Sprinkle with salt and add lemon juice and juice from pimientos, if desired.
- Cook rice at a boil. Add water as needed until rice is fully cooked.
- Garnish with pimientos, if desired.
- Let paella sit a few minutes, and then enjoy!
I hope these tips and recipes inspire you as they’ve inspired me! Let us know how yours turns out if you try it, or share one of your own favorite easy recipes in the comments below.