Friday, January 6, 2012

New Year's Resolution

Last year, I resolved to lose the rest of the baby weight I put on while pregnant with my son- I gained a total of 55 pounds.  With a lot of running, working out/lifting weights, and better food choices, I reached my goal in the middle of the year!!!  And happily, I'm maintaining my new weight.  You can read about my journey herehere and here.

This year, I want to become a better cook.  And I want to start cooking more in general.  This last year I have felt quite guilty that I didn't cook more for my family.  And when I did cook, I don't think my food was all that great.  So I want to change that.  I want my family to crave the meals I prepare and have "favorites"!  Wouldn't that be something?!  I have plenty of cookbooks, tools and equipment, and lots of recorded food shows on t.v., I just need to decide what I'm going to cook and try new things.

I recently came across the America's Test Kitchen Magazines/Cookbooks and LOVE them! They are so informative, providing essential information about ingredients and the cooking process, things that work and the explanation behind it.  It's become essential reading for me.

I've planned to choose a variety of dishes that I want to learn to cook and practice on those dishes.  I've made a little spreadsheet of the ingredients for our favorite meals to make grocery shopping easier.

We've had some extra family staying with us lately so it's been great to be able to prepare meals for everyone and then all sit down together to eat.  I know they enjoy it and I feel good at having shown love through food.  Such a nice thing.  I've even been cooking lunches on the weekends, something I never usually did.

So far, the dishes that have been successful are:

Thai Steak Tacos with Cilantro Lime Slaw (I eliminated the tortilla for mine, but the rest of the family ate the theirs)

Add caption

Crab Cakes (Americas Test Kitchen recipe)

How did you learn to cook?  I think most people are taught as children from their parents, which is what I want to do with my son.  He already loves cooking so I'm hoping that my cooking journey will rub off on him and he will acquire a love and skill for preparing food.

I'd also be interested in your go-to recipes.  I'm planning to cook about 3-4 meals a week, and grocery shop on Saturday mornings.  Is that what you do?  I like to have a fridge full of food for the weekend so I don't get that blank look from my hubby when he opens the fridge door:)


*If you are a regular reader of this blog, you might have noticed that I haven't posted in a while.  We have a family member who needs prayer for healing, so if you are the praying kind, I would really appreciate it.


  1. One of my winter standbys is Chicken Provencal Stoup, a Rachael Ray 30 Minute Meal. Although it usually takes me 45 minutes to get it on the table, it's relatively quick and it is super delicious, as well as light and healthy.

  2. Hi Megan,
    Good luck with your new year resolution!! I started cooking very young..I was always veri interested in it. Learned from my mom, books, cooking shows etc. I love cooking so much I started a food blog this week -the blog was my new year resolution!
    I love your blog!
    Here are mine: one is my family blog)

  3. Megan, I will certainly keep your family member in my prayers. I will hold good thoughts for your relative. Your food looks delicious that you've been preparing! Good for you for deciding to explore more cooking. I enjoy cooking very much. My Mom taught both my sister and myself when we were young and I've taken a liking to it all my life. I also find it relaxing! I think that's wonderful that you are James will share in this. Have a wonderful weekend.

  4. just catching up on your weight loss pics - you look fantastic! Way to go and good for you. So motivating :)

  5. My mom taught me the basics and how to bake. Then when I left school I lived in Paris and the "mom" of the family I was staying with taught me what I know now. And there are always recipes to follow ;-)

  6. Coming from a very large and very close family, I didn't have a choice about "learning" to cook. It was just part of knowledge of my childhood. As kids we were expected to help in the kitchen, cutting things up, measuring out quantities, etc. so a lot of the basic stuff just sort of sank in. I think what helped was that as soon as we hit double digits (10) we had to prepare one meal a week for the family.

    On top of this, my mother doesn't believe in recipes per se.... she believes they are "guides" that you base your meal around but change to suit your personal taste. Thanks to this approach I'm the same. It takes a few bad meals to learn which flavors DON'T go with each other, but what is life without experiments?

    My big plan for the year is to further expand on my knowledge. I want to learn 50 new recipes by heart... And - the same as you - I'll be taking my readers along for the ride.

    Good luck and don't be scared to try something new!

  7. Those meals look wonderful! One of my resolutions this year is the same: create healthy meals for my family with a lot of variety (er ... as much variety as my 3 and 5 year old will tolerate). It looks like most of those that you posted can be adjusted for different palates too. Nice.

    I have noticed you've been MIA and was hoping all was well. I will certainly keep your family in my prayers. Return to regular blogging whenever you are ready. You know we will be here.


  8. Saying a big prayer for you and your family! You know I love cooking. Pinterest is my new obsession when it come to recipes. That greek pizza and the shrimp pasta look amaze. It is my New Years Resolution to use my cookbooks more and try new recipes. Alot of te time I just cook the same thing! Happy New Year Friend!

  9. Certainly will pray for your family member...

    As for cooking, my mom taught my sister and I. From the age of 8 or 9 we were responsible for 1 meal per week...planning, cooking, and everything in between. It was something that I thought was really annoying in school...until I got to college and realized that I was the only one who could cook. Then it was awesome :)

  10. I'm glad you are back :) My mom was a great cook. She taught me a lot, but my food still doesn't turn out as good as hers. I recently subscribed to Bon Appetit...which is a FABULOUS read.

    Thoughts, prayers and positive thoughts being sent your way. Happy 2012~

  11. My cooking skills developed similar to another poster. Helping in the kitchen was quality time with Mom. Cutting, stirring, tasting as Mom added ingredients. Dinner was always a protein, two veggies, one starch and a salad. 7 days a week. We ate together as a family.

    I plan my menu out on Sat or Sun. Grocery shop based off the menu. I do many crock pot meals. As it's so much easier considering the ages of my children and the homework load in the evenings. I also feed my kids dinner around 4:30-5. I noticed before I switched di ner time. They would fill up on an after school snack, then not eat dinner.

    I do not make separate meals...everyone must try each item on their plate. If they do not like the meal. Then that child can have a peanut butter sandwich. :) (same as when I was a kid)

    My MIL made 4 different meals each night. Her family is a bundle of picky eaters. So much so as a grown man my husband is ultra picky. I do not cook for him. I cook for my kids. I want them to eat real food. All three of my children eat seafood, and REAL food. There isn't a diet of kid food in our home. I make homemade chicken nuggets for the kids, never store bought. Good luck with your cooking.

    Prayers fornyour family member

  12. My husband loves to cook and he always uses America's Test Kitchen recipes. He DVRS all of their episodes and we have about 4 of their cook books. I love everything he cooks!

    Said a prayer.

  13. First of all prayers for your family - I'm sorry. All of those dishes you posted look delish...I want to try some out! As for learning to cook I pretty much taught myself and am still learning through trial and error (I've been married for 12 years and have yet to perfect a rot roast if that tells you anything). i really do love to cook and my husband will eat anything so I'm lucky in that regard. Now my kids, that's another story. They certainly go through phases of they will or won't eat but they love to help me out in the kitchen and that's (usually) a wonderful thing.

  14. first off...prayers for your family! Hope all will be well soon.

    I too have been on a weight loss journey lately, have lost about 40lbs. since August. I try to sit down every weekend and go through my recipes for good healthy meals....then shop according to what I will cook that week. Your Thai Beef tacos will be on my list for next week!

    I used to watch Rachael Ray regularly (her old 30 minute meal show on the Food Network) and she really got me interested in cooking....I love how she's not that concerned with measurements etc....she made me realize it's OK to experiment!

    One book that is a favourite go to for me is the Looneyspoon series....these are Canadian girls, so I'm not sure how popular they have become down south, but if you can find their series of cookbooks,they are FANTASTIC for making healthy meals from old time favourites!

    Looking forward to finding more recipes on your blog!

  15. Prayers going up for your family member Megan!
    I started being more aware of our meals as well this past year. We have always sat down to dinner as a family, but I wanted to plan ahead and eat a bit more healthy. I plan my meals on Sunday afternoon, compile a grocery list and shop. It works for us since we still have one in school and it gets the week off to a great start. I keep track in a notebook just for this purpose. I can note what dishes were a hit and also look back to see what we've had recently so we don't duplicate often. Homemade pizzas are always at the top of the list as well as salads. I am fortunate that my hubby loves to cook as well, and our youngest will try anything at least once.

  16. I am a self taught cook as well. I support your decision 100% to teach your son to cook. I wish my parents would have taught me, it would have saved a lot time. I have found that almost everything Ina Garten cooks turns out great. Here is my favorite recipe of hers:

    Happy Cooking!

  17. I learned from my mother who was a single working mom. She taught me at 12 because she needed me to start dinner before she arrived home. After college and moving in with hubby, I started cooking more. Watching Food Network and cooking channel gives me ideas. I love America's Test Kitchen shows on PBS. I don't use recipes. I play it by ear. The kids say I'm a good cooker. Just last night, I made grass fed ground meat where I used the food processor to process onions, garlic, carrot, parsnip, baby spinach, herbs and spices, and 2 eggs--I've gone grain free. I made Kale sauteed in onions, garlic and bacon. My other side was a sweet potato. Yum. Experimenting is key. Once you know how to blend herbs and spices, you will have amazing meals. Oh, and don't forget the heat thing. I always have to watch the heat because we've moved often and all ovens and range tops are not the same. Good luck and great job!

  18. I've been reading your comments this morning and really appreciate your prayers. Thankfully, I think things are improving!

    I'm also learning a lot from your comments regarding cooking and how you do things in your house. I especially like the idea of the kids being responsible for one meal a week when they are old enough. Thanks for sharing with me:) I'm off to the grocery store. Have a great weekend!

  19. I started "cooking" when I was young, like 7 or 8; the story is two-fold. My sister and I spent the weekends with our dad and he was always in the kitchen. In order to maximize the time I got to spend with him, I was always right there in the kitchen with him. He is a great cook, as well as a teacher. When we were home with our mom who was raising us and working, I used to help her out in the kitchen, too. I would make the salad or bread chicken cutlets; little things. Funny how I grew up to marry a chef! Good luck on your resolution! Cook books are a great building block to actually learning how to cook. Eventually, you'll be able to take successful recipes and modify them to make new ones.

  20. I think that's a fantastic goal for the year!

    I learned to cook from my Grandma the basics, but when I got married I knew I needed simple recipes that weren't complicated and made from stuff I already had on hand. I wasn't all about making things where I had to run out and buy a bunch of crazy ingredents that I didn't already have or know what they were. I found a few cook books that were easy to understand and simple. I really like a lot of the Pampered Chef cookbooks I have, they are really great dinners and ideas in there. I also love my Better Homes and Gardens one too. They have just about every thing in there. I also now, find a lot of great stuff through blogs. Have you heard of She has tons of great things but a healthier version of your faves.

    I plan all my meals out by the week, and go grocery shopping accordingly I have to have a weekly plan or else for me Monday will come and I'll have a dinner fail and nothing thawed and it stresses this working mama out, so i love menu planning.

    Anyway hope that helps.

    Prayers for your family Megan!

  21. YEA! What a great goal! :-) I am a self taught cook. My dad loves to cook but doesn't do it very often and my mom doesn't really enjoy cooking! I did a post a while back for some of my friends who didn't grow up in the kitchen that I think you would find helpful! :-) Good luck in your endeavor! :-)

  22. Being a better meal planner is on my to-do list this year, and I love Cook's Illustrated! Have you seen any of their "30 Minute Suppers" magazines? So great! Tasty and quick - you'd think I had been slaving over the stove! I just told my husband last week that I needed to renew my subscription to that magazine. I still reference the back issues that I've saved!

  23. All of these recipes look delicious! I think I now have the week's menu set! Thanks for all the nutritious ideas!
    Happy New year! I'll be keeping your family in my thoughts and prayers!

  24. Happy New Year, Megan! I will be keeping your family in my prayers. Wishing a fast recovery for your family member! I love to cook, and I think I learned bits from my mom and grandmothers. Then in college I would cook with my roommates. I still love learning new things and trying new recipes. Yours all look delicious! My husband also loves to cook, so I love it when we are in the kitchen cooking together, having a glass of wine and relaxing. We usually try to reserve Sunday nights as our night to cook together. We don't have kids yet, but my nieces love to bake with me and it's something I've really enjoyed teaching them and having that special time with them.

    Oh, and one more thing, pinterest is amazing, but also check out foodgawker! It's full of fun stuff too!

  25. This comment has been removed by the author.

  26. That is such a great resolution. I too would like to learn more and cook more often. My husband loves to cook, and I'm not very good so consequently he does all the cooking. I would like to return the favor from time to time, and he isn't the healthiest cook :)

    Happy New Year,


  27. I've learned to cook by trying it out and practicing - my poor poor family. I'm pretty strict about healthy foods, no high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oils in our home. I also have a daughter who is allergic to many things - so cooking is a daily adventure! Good luck!

  28. First of all, prayers for your family member. Glad to hear that things are improving.
    I never really learned to cook either. My husband does most of the cooking. I can follow a recipe but can't just whip things up from random ingredients which is something I would love to learn. The dishes that you posted look amazing. Maybe I'll attempt them.

  29. Keeping your family in my prayers. I am excited for your cooking journey, as I'm sure you'll be sharing about it! Maybe it'll inspire me to do more cooking?! I hope so!! :-)

  30. Great job on accomplishing your resolution so early on last year! And I love your resolution for this year :)

    I have a few go-to recipes that I always go back too, but also need to brush up on my cooking skills this year!


  31. Great job! There are so many food blogs out there (or pinterest) that's how I find most of my recipes- I like to try out new recipes, it keeps cooking inspiring and not such a chore! Good luck!

  32. Your family is in my prayers!

  33. I'm glad to hear that you think things are going better but I will keep your family member and your family in my prayers. I cooked for the first 17 years of my marriage because we thought it was important for the family to sit down together every evening. Now my children are grown and my hubby is out of the country a lot so I don't do as much cooking but I enjoy that too! Enjoy this time in your life and don't put too much pressure on yourself!

  34. Learning to cook delicious meals is definitely something I would love to do! Everything you posted looks delicious! Will keep you guys in my prayers xoxo

  35. Thanks again so much for your prayers. I have been reading the comments throughout the day and each one means so much!

  36. Praying for healing for your family member and for peace for you.

    What a good resolution! Have fun cooking. Thanks for sharing some of your favorite new recipes.

  37. Prayers sent. :) We need them over here too. Moosey has been running a fever on and off this whole month. Bad virus...

    M- You are a tiny one like me...and I'm sure you don't have much to go in terms of getting back to your pre-James size. I just read an AMAZING book on the history of obesity and the science behind "why we get fat"...

    It's by Gary Taubes...Why We Get Fat and What to Do About it.

    Basically, he explains why carbs spike insulin and cause fat to accumulate all the while looking at how fallacious government policies have damaged our country's health...

    Our go-to recipe is Chorizo Tacos. I low-carb that recipe {on my site} with zucchini instead of potato...

    My best to your family.
    Talk soon.

  38. I learned to cook when I got married. My husband helped me learn the basics and I just used trial and error from then on. I have a food blog about my cooking adventures, if you'd like to check it out. I linked to a post about a week of easy meals (so there's 7 ideas in one post) and also a link about how I food shop. Good luck!

  39. I have my prayer group coming up this week so we will collectively pray for your family member, we often pray for friends of friends etc that all or none of us know so it is not as random as it sounds. I hope there is some improvement being seen.

  40. I've never been a good cook. I've finally figured that out after 25 years of marriage. (my poor family)
    But I've come to accept it and stick to the things I'm good at. These recipes look so good and I wish you much success at your new goal.

  41. I've been reading forever, but think this is the first time I've commented! I LOVE cooking, though I'm no chef! I generally cook at least 5 nights a week, and breakfast/lunch on the weekends. Religiously, I clean my fridge out and make my menu/grocery list on Wednesdays and shop on Thursdays after work/school. My favorite cookbooks are the Taste of Home, Comfort Food Diet books. They have photos with almost every single recipe, they're delish and simple, and they're healthier.

    Something that makes it fun and easy to stick to for me is trying a new recipe once a week. It keeps my boys from getting bored, and I'm always adding new recipes to my go-to book. The boys have fun "rating" the new ones after dinner, too :)

    So sorry to hear about your family member, you will be in our prayers!

  42. Megan, I LOVE to cook and my go-to recipe is for Mexican Shrimp Cocktail. Super easy AND healthy.

    Here's the link to it on AllRecipes.

  43. Praying for you and your family. Those recipes look delicious!

  44. Wow! Such great inspiration! You must be so proud to have reached that goal! I didn't learn much cooking when I was very young. However, when my dad met my stepmother when I was a teen I learned a LOT. We also have a very large collection of cookbooks from the everyday to the gourmet. Feel free to let me know if you'd like a list of our faves!

  45. So happy your relative is improving!

    I love America's Test Kitchen & Cooks Country! Stuff costs too
    much today to take the time and
    money to prepare if it turns out

    I recently purchased ATK 30 minute meal cookbook which gives ideas on
    cutting down on meal preparation.
    Been too busy to look it over, but got it already.

  46. My dad tried teaching me but he was very impatient. My mom and grandma taught me how to bake. I also took home ec classes in middle school, then cooking became trial and error.

  47. Most certainly will send prayers your way. I learned the LOVE of cooking from magazines and the Food Network. I LEARNED to cook both by self teaching and I took several classes at a local cooking school. I cook nearly I have 3 little boys who all have their favorites as well as the hubs. It really does make you feel great that YOU can provide something they SO enjoy. Mens like their food! And it opens (for us anyway) the doors for our kids to like such diverse food. My 11yo fave is Butternut Squash Soup and my 9yo is risotto! Even my 4yo loves these. Good for you!

  48. Looks like you made some great things! I completely understand the busy mom syndrome and how hard it is to cook something healthy--and fast! I have a ton of 15 to 30 minute recipes on my blog. Hopefully a few will be a good match for you! :)

  49. This was my resolution about 7 years ago and I have to say that I kicked ass at it. I have a whole bunch of my go-to-recipes on my blog, but my high-level tips would be...
    :: Only make 1 or 2 new, potentially difficult dishes a week. That keeps you enjoying the process without getting overwhelmed.
    :: Plan out a week of meals before you go to the store.
    :: The slow cooker will be your best friend - case in point -
    :: Cook a lot and freeze what you don't eat. My freezer meals have replaced the last minute pizza takeout nights.

    Good luck with your resolution! You are going to do great!

    And happy, healing thoughts for your family member.

  50. I didn't learn to cook until about 7 years ago. My Mom wasn't a very good cook (it happens, lol) and I never had an interest. I made a resolution 7 years ago to learn to cook and I've come a long way! The thing that helped the most was watching the Food Network. Rachel Ray's 30 Minute Meals really inspired me, especially when she'd talk about all of the beautiful colors of the produce. I watched a lot of the Food Network for six months, tried a ton of the different chefs recipes and after a while, you learn which chefs food matches your family's palate the most.

    Fast forward to 2012, and I make nearly 100% of my meals from scratch, make all of my own bread, buns, pizza dough, pasta sauce, etc. I NEVER would have thought I'd be doing this but find it incredibly rewarding!

    I am sure James will love his Mom's cooking (and Dad too):)

    Sending prayers for your family member.

  51. Hi Megan,
    Just catching up on your blog now. I'll keep your family member in my thoughts, for sure.

    All of these photos are just drool-worthy! I have taught myself to cook just by experimenting. Everyone says I'm a great cook, so it must have worked! :)

  52. I will definitely keep your family in my thoughts and prayers

    Being a working mom and making sure to have healthy, yet quick meals each night is tough. Since our son was born my saving grace has been meal planning. I meal plan for the week either Saturday night or Sunday morning and hit the grocery store that morning. I know exactly what I need to buy and I do not have anymore standing with the fridge door open going uhhhhhh, ummmmmm for what I'm going to cook for dinner. I keep my weekly meal list on the fridge and decide that day what I will make. Since I eat gluten free now meals are a bit more challenging, but I make it work. If I don't feel like cooking there is a My Fit Foods just down the street. Almost all their meals are gluten free.


Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, I read every one! I try to answer questions in the comment section since many readers are "no reply" and so everyone can benefit from the response- so please check back. :)

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