Monthly Archives: February 2014

Be a Man. Learn to Cook. The Road to Good Cooking

Learn to cook | Long Road to becoming a good cook

Photo by Alex Proimos from Sydney, Australia (Road to El Chalten) via Wikimedia Commons – Modified by Carl Dunn.

Be a Man. Learn to Cook.

Me…I like immediate results. I want to go from novice to expert in 5 minutes. However if there is one thing I have learned is that rarely happens. Whether it is golf, fishing, car repair, or the computer, it takes time and practice to “master” a skill. Cooking is the same.

When I first started I was a complete novice in the kitchen. I could barely use a can opener and I regularly burned toast. Life dragged me into the kitchen kicking and screaming. Over time, I became a good cook. Not a world famous master Chef but a “damn good cook”. Here are the most important lessons I learned along the way.

Start Slow

Learn to cook by making small changes. Cook (I mean really cook) one meal a week. Chop fresh garlic instead of using garlic powder or salt. Buy one fresh vegetable every trip to the grocery store. The road to a healthier diet and being a good cook is not a super highway. Becoming a good cook is more like a dirt road with many ruts.

Embrace Your Mistakes

Human nature tells us to avoid mistakes and that mistakes are bad. However, as you begin to master the kitchen you will make many mistakes. Even as you become proficient in the kitchen you will make mistakes. Mastering the old “Learn from your Mistakes” adage is key to your success in the kitchen. Julia Child, first renown cooking show host, was famous for breezing over her on-camera mistakes.

Video 1 – The Omelette Flip      Video 2 – Learn to Cook Wisdom from Julia 

Remember Your Success

Remembering your kitchen successes is just as important as learning from your mistakes. Cook a great cheeseburger, perfect eggs, or a succulent chicken…Remember it. Decide what made your food great. Was it the ingredients? Was it the way you cooked it? Was it how you presented it on the plate? Remember the “good parts” and repeat them in other recipes.

Learn to Cook from Masters

We live in a media saturated world. The Internet, Cable TV, Streaming media and eBooks. Find cooking show hosts who intrigue you. Visit “foodie” blogs that interest you. Read cookbooks that relate to you. I started with “simple” meals and ideas. Cooking shows, blogs and cookbooks with elaborate recipes did not interest me. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Cooking Shows: 30 minute meals (Rachael Ray) and Simply Ming (Ming Tsai)
  • Food Blogs: The Pioneer Women (Ree Drummond) and Summer Tomato (Darya Pino)
  • Cookbooks: How to Cook Everything (Mark Bittman) and A Man, a Can, a Plan (David Joachim)

Practice, Practice, Practice

This is a “no brainer”. The more time you spend in the kitchen, the better cook you will become. In the beginning, you may feel like you are wasting your time especially when that microwave dinner or that can of chili is just a few steps away. What can I say? Cooking is a skill. If you want to master that skill, you can learn to cook with a little practice.


Men (and women too) love to adjust, modify and tweak many things. Recipes and cooking is the same. Experimenting with new recipes or new cooking techniques is by far the best part of cooking. Learn to cook by asking “How can I make it better?”. When the experiment goes bad, refer to the Embrace Your Mistakes section. When it works well, refer to the Remember Your Success section.

Learn to Cook Starter Kit


Crock Pot Beef Roast Stew

Crock pot beef roast stew picture

Tender crock pot beef roast stew is a must have recipe. Simple hearty and delicious. Read our tips on cooking this family favorite. Everyone loves a good roast. Make yours great!

Our secret family crock pot beef roast stew recipe is a dinner table favorite. Even the picky eaters will gobble this up and you won’t believe how simple it is to make. See our crock pot tips to creating a delicious home cooked meal. Made with fresh ingredients.

Crock Pot Beef Roast Stew
Serves 4
Tender crock pot beef roast stew is a must have recipe. Simple hearty and delicious. Read our tips on cooking this family favorite. Everyone loves a good roast. Make yours great!
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Prep Time
40 min
Prep Time
40 min
  1. 2-1/2 lbs Beef Roast
  2. 4 - 6 Yukon Gold Potatoes (cut into quarters)
  3. 4 - 6 Fresh Carrots (chopped into 1/2 inch slices)
  4. 1 whole clove of garlic (minced)
  5. 1/2 cup of red wine
  6. Beef or Vegetable stock (as needed)
  7. Worcestershire sauce (as needed)
  8. Teriyaki sauce (as needed)
  9. 2 tbsp. of Italian Seasoning
  10. 1/2 tbsp. of crushed red peppers
  1. Marinate the meat with Worcestershire sauce. (both sides)
  2. Mince the fresh garlic.
  3. Place garlic, Italian seasoning, red peppers and wine in slow cooker.
  4. Put the beef roast in the slow cooker. Add stock until meat is half covered.
  5. Cook on LOW for 3 hours.
  6. Cut the fresh carrots and Yukon potatoes.
  7. After 3 hours, remove the meat. Carefully trim the fat from the roast.
  8. Flip the roast and return the meat to the slow cooker.
  9. Top meat with Teriyaki sauce.
  10. Add potatoes and carrots to the crock pot.
  11. Add stock until liquid is just below the top of meat.
  12. Cook on HIGH for 3 hours or LOW for 5 hours.
  13. Add more time if potatoes and carrots have not softened.
  1. Resist the temptation to stir the mixture.
  2. Add extra vegetables at the end. (30 min left)
  3. Do not add creamy ingredients like butter or sour cream.
  4. Allow the sauce to be thin.
Cooking for Guys
Make It Fast, Cook It Slow: The Big Book of Everyday Slow Cooking

crock-pot-beef-roast-stew-snowy-grillWinter Food

Winter in the northern states can be harsh. A good stew is always a welcome treat. Our crock pot beef roast stew recipe will warm your frozen toes while you wait for better weather.



Why Trim the Fat?

During the cooking process, we trim the fat from the beef roast. The main reason is the picky eaters in our family. They do not like eating meats that have visible fat. It is an “eye thing” – If the food looks good, it will taste good. Trimming the fat does tend to produce a dryer meat but the juices in the crock pot should keep the meat fairly moist.

Slow-Cooker Tonight!: 140 delicious weeknight recipes that practically cook themselves

Why Yukon Gold Potatoes?

Yukon gold potatoes are perfect for the slow cooking process. This variety of potato is more solid. It can withstand the long cooking process and still retain its shape. Other varieties tend to break down. Choosing a good potato will make your crock pot beef roast stew better. Trust us.

Can I Use Other Vegetables?

Carrots are so typical. You might even say they are boring. Unfortunately, very few vegetables can withstand the crock pot cooking process. Corn, peas, broccoli, and beans become too soft and mushy after 6 to 8 hours of cooking. Once you start adding exotic vegetables like eggplant or brussel sprouts you will lose the “picky eaters” at the table. Add other vegetables at the very end of the cooking process.

Crock-Pot The Original Slow Cooker: Comfort Food Diet Cookbook

Crock Pot Beef Roast Stew Sauce

The secret to our recipe is the sauce. Use the ingredients recommended in the recipe. The different flavors meld together producing a fabulous sauce. The only way to get this sauce is from 6 to 8 hours of cooking. The sauce should be dark brown and fairly thin. Serve this stew with a basket of warm rolls. Use the rolls to “lap up” the extra sauce.

Taking This Recipe on the Road

I visit friends and family regularly. I often bring my recipe favorites. The crock pot beef roast stew works well as a travelling meal.

Serve crock pot beef roast stew to your friends

Picture from recent visit with my parents. Yummy treat.

Student Recipes | Easy Hero Sandwich

Easy hero sandwich recipe

Make your own Easy Hero Sandwiches. Picture adapted from Wikipedia Commons.

The Student’s Cookbook: An Illustrated Guide to Everyday Essentials

Half-Time Hero Sandwich
Be the hit of your next study group with a fast and easy Hero Sandwich. Great for parties and Saturday football days. Great energy food.
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Prep Time
30 min
Prep Time
30 min
  1. 2 loaves of French bread, sliced in half, length-wise
  2. 2 cups of your favorite Italian seasoning
  3. 1 pound of deli roast beef, shaved
  4. 1 pound of deli turkey, shaved
  5. 1 pound of deli ham, shaved
  6. 1 pound American cheese, sliced
  7. 1 pound Swiss cheese, sliced
  8. 1 pound Provolone cheese, sliced
  9. 1 bunch of leaf lettuce, torn and rinsed
  10. 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  11. Sliced sweet or dill pickles
  1. Spread ½ cup of dressing on cut side of each of the bread halves.
  2. Layer on bottom halves of the bread, ½ pound of each of the roast beef, the turkey and the ham.
  3. Layer on top halves, ½ pound of each flavor of the sliced cheeses.
  4. Evenly layer the lettuce, red onion , tomatoes and pickles on the meat side of the breads.
  5. Combine two halves.
  6. Secure with frilled sandwich pickles. (Nice touch...)
  7. Cut into desired size of serving slices, width wise.
  8. Can make up to 24 sandwiches.
  1. Tip: Wrap individual sandwiches in plastic for later use. Store in refrigerator.
Adapted from 27 Easy College Cookbook Recipes for Busy Students
Cooking for Guys

Making an Easy Hero Sandwich

Walk into Subway™. Order any sub. Within minutes, you have a delicious meal. What does this mean? You can make your own subs. Our easy Hero sandwich recipe will have you creating filling, fresh, healthy sandwiches in minutes. Be as fancy or simple as you like. Serve at parties or study groups. The sandwiches are portable too. Wrap it in plastic and throw one in your backpack. Eat it between classes. Skip that nasty vending machine next to the Chemistry lab.

Cooking for College Students: A Beginner’s Guide

Budget Warning

The Easy Hero Sandwich recipe is not budget friendly. Deli meat and cheese tend to be higher priced. You can substitute with cheaper packaged meats and cheeses. However, you will sacrifice flavor. Either way, making a good Hero sandwich is simple and satisfying.

Shopping at the Deli

Nowadays most grocery stores have a deli counter. Learn to visit the deli. The selection of meats and cheese is far more extensive than a typical sandwich meat department. The meat is more flavorful. Often healthier too. Yes, the deli can be more expensive but you need to splurge from time to time.

The Student Cookbook: 200 Cheap And Easy Recipes for Food, Drinks And Snacks

Hero Sandwich History

Whether you call this a Hero, Sub or Hoagie, the design is the same. Lots of meat. Lots of Cheese. Bread. Toss in lettuce, tomato and onion for some flair. Many interesting stories float around about the origin of the different names, but most of the stories are related to the shipyards on the Eastern U.S. seaboard. Read Article from BonAppetit website.

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Student Recipes | Fettuccine Primavera Alfredo Pasta

Plate of Fettuccine Primavera Alfredo Pasta

Shown with Shrimp Added. Picture Adapted from Wikipedia Commons.

The Really Hungry Student Cookbook: How to Eat Well on a Budget

Fettuccine Primavera Alfredo Pasta
Serves 4
Pasta is a family favorite in our home. This is a slimmed down version with a creamy white sauce!
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
  1. 1 pound of fettuccine or other type of pasta (can use whole grain pasta)
  2. 8 ounces of low fat or non-fat cream cheese, cut into pieces
  3. ½ cup of chicken broth
  4. 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  5. ¼ cup of skim, 1%, or 2% milk
  6. 1-16 ounce bag of frozen Italian, California blend, or other mix of vegetables
  1. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil.
  2. Add the pasta, and bring to a full boil for 2 minutes, stirring to separate.
  3. Cover and let set for 10 to 12 minutes.
  4. Place the vegetables in a microwavable bowl and cook for 5 minutes on high in a microwave.
  5. Remove from microwave. Stir. Cook for 5 more minutes.
  6. In a separate pot, bring the chicken broth to a boil. Turn the heat to low.
  7. Add the cream cheese and whisk until smooth.
  8. Stir in the Parmesan cheese, milk and garlic salt. Whisk until smooth.
  9. Drain the pasta. Place noodles into a large serving bowl.
  10. Place the cooked veggies on top of the pasta.
  11. Pour the creamy sauce on top.
  12. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Adapted from 27 Easy College Cookbook Recipes for Busy Students
Cooking for Guys

Fettuccine Primavera Alfredo Pasta

What do think of when you hear Fettuccine Primavera Alfredo Pasta? You think Olive Garden™. Time and time again, people say “That’s too hard to make” or “That is way outside my budget”. Just stop. Put down the iPad. Put the package of Ramen noodles back in the cabinet. With just a tiny bit of imagination and 30 minutes of effort, you can be serving Fettuccine Primavera Alfredo Pasta to your roommates. And, you do not have be a genius. Even a first year Business Communication major can make this dish.

The Starving Students’ Cookbook

Too Hard to Make

I will admit this recipe will exercise the limits of most college student kitchens. It requires several pots and kitchen utensils. It requires a working knowledge of your stovetop. It requires a microwave bowl and serving bowl. Holy crap Batman, it even needs real plates and silverware. But college students tend be resourceful. You are studying Quantum Physics and Organic Chemistry. I know you can master a Fettuccine Primavera Alfredo Pasta recipe.

The Ultimate Student Cookbook: From Chicken to Chili

Outside My Budget

Your food budget is limited. I understand this. But this entire dish will cost $12.00 to make. The recipe will serve 4. If my old school math still works that comes out to $3.00 per person. What kind of meal can you get at Burger King™ for $3.00? Answer: A Whopper™, fries and a coke. Take a second to compare the two. Primavera Pasta versus a Whopper™. (Repeat this several times) If it helps at all, Fettuccine Primavera Alfredo Pasta is 10 times healthier than a sack of burgers or tacos.

The $5 a Meal College Cookbook: Good Cheap Food for When You Need to Eat

For the Guys

OK guys. Listen up. Women like men who are strong, confident, funny and good looking. Most of us don’t fall into that category. But women also like men with Social Skills. Cooking is a social skill. Imagine the points you can score with Fettuccine Primavera Alfredo Pasta. This recipe is low fat and vegetarian. More points. Any fool can take a woman out to dinner but how many guys can cook a fancy meal? More points.

“Girls only like guys who have great skills.”

– Napoleon Dynamite  

Related Links

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Crock Pot Stew with Meatballs


We live in a cold northern state. Nothing says Winter like a hot bowl of beef stew. Our crock pot stew with meatballs recipe is a family favorite. Best of all, this recipe so simple to make. Freeze the leftovers for the next snowy, 5 below zero day.

Crock Pot Stew with Meatballs
Looking for a great crock pot stew recipe? Our Meatball Stew recipe will delight your family. Easy simple ingredients. Delicious results.
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Prep Time
30 min
Prep Time
30 min
  1. 1 lbs of Ground Beef (80/20)
  2. 4 tbsp. of Worcestershire sauce
  3. 2 tbsp. of Spicy Mustard
  4. 16 oz package of mixed vegetables (frozen)
  5. Beef Stock
  6. Crushed Chili Peppers
  7. Franks Hot Sauce ™
  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the meat, Worcestershire sauce and spicy mustard.
  2. Form into meatballs and place on baking sheet.
  3. Put in oven at 350° for 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven and put meatballs in the crock pot.
  5. Add enough beef stock to cover 3/4 of the meatballs.
  6. Sprinkle in some crushed peppers and add some hot sauce.
  7. Add the bag of mixed vegetables. (Try to break them up before adding them)
  8. Add enough beef stock so you can see the liquid.
  9. Add more crushed peppers and hot sauce.
  10. Cook for 6 hours (low) or 3 hours (high).
  1. Stir occasionally
  2. Add more beef stock if necessary
Cooking for Guys

 Keys to Success

  • Use Higher Fat Ground Beef
    I know this goes against our message of healthy diet but cooking crock pot stew is a very different process. Meat that cooks 3 to 6 hours will breakdown and lose its’ juicy taste. We recommend 80/20 Ground Round.
  • Preseason the Meatballs
    Adding Worcestershire sauce and spicy mustard will give your meatballs extra flavor that can be lost with crock pot stew recipes. This does require a little extra effort, but your taste buds will thank you later.
  • Pre-cook the Meatballs
    Bake your meatballs in the oven 15 to 20 minutes. This will help your meatballs to keep their shape during the long cooking process. Alternatively, you can brown the meatballs in a large skillet.
  • Use Frozen Vegetables
    Do not thaw your vegetables. The cooking process will perform this for you. Just dump the bag of frozen vegetables in the crock pot. This, in part, is why crock pot stew so simple to make. We do, however, recommend breaking the vegetables apart as best you can.
  • Add Distinctive Flavorings to the Stock
    Choose a limited number of distinctive flavorings. Again, crock pot cooking will blend these flavors together. Be careful not to over-spice your crock pot stew. We recommend hot sauce and crushed chili peppers. Feel free to experiment but remember “Less is More” in the cooking world.

Crock Pot Stew Story

Crockpot Meatball Stew - Dinty Moore Syndrome

Adapted from MeSoHungry Website

As a long time Boy Scout, I often included Dinty Moore™ Beef Stew on the campout menus. And why not. Open the can. Throw it in a pot. Twenty minutes later you had food. Unfortunately, the Dinty Moore™ habit stuck with me into my adult life. If I wanted beef stew, I got out the can opener. By far, the Dinty Moore™ syndrome was the toughest to overcome. Just a mere 5 years ago, I made my first batch of crock pot stew. After the first taste, I donated my extensive collection of can stew and chili to the local food drive.