I’m actually not a bad cook, but you wouldn’t know that if you came into my kitchen on a typical weekday night.  Embarrassing as it is, most nights we eat frozen stuff or pasta.  And Friday nights we get takeout.  And Saturday we eat takeout leftovers.  Before we had our daughter, I experimented with cooking a lot, but now I’m just so TIRED.  And going to the grocery store with my little girl is such a PAIN.  And planning ahead for Peapod is just so LOGICAL.  I know you know what I mean.

This past week, I was really proud of myself – I actually found a couple recipes that were doable and pretty delicious, so I thought I would share with everyone out there who I know feels my pain.

The Perfect Baked Potato

I have adapted this from Alton Brown’s recipe.

You will need:

Russet potatoes

Olive oil

Kosher salt

This is SO EASY.  Basically line a couple baking sheets with foil to make cleanup easier, and set your oven to 350.  Scrub potatoes well with a stiff brush (I use a nail brush!) under running water.  Dry potatoes and deeply pierce each one several times on all sides with a fork.  Now prepare to get a little messy!  Use your hands to coat each one in olive oil (I put the oil in a bowl and just roll the potato around), then coat each one in salt.  Place potatoes several inches apart on the baking sheets and bake for 1 hour.  Seriously, it’s the best potato ever – you’ll even want to eat the skin.  Top with butter, sour cream (or substitute Greek yogurt), and/or cheese.  Serve with whatever sides you have handy.

Mexican Tortilla Casserole

This is a recipe I found on a website called Savory Simple. I personally think “Mexican Lasagna” would be a more appropriate title because it is layered like that with a black bean, corn, tomato, onion, and spinach filling and corn tortillas instead of noodles.  I basically followed the recipe as given, except I used canned instead of frozen corn and I used a 9×13 pan, which worked out great.  Chop the spinach small to conceal it from little eyes (I bet you could also add other chopped up veggies to the filling).  This makes 8 good sized portions, and you can garnish with sour cream or Greek yogurt.  Soooo yummy!  Definitely some prep time required, but the difficulty level is pretty much zero.

One-Pot Pasta Primavera

Have you guys heard of these one-pot meals?  You basically put a bunch of ingredients together in a pot and cook/stir as directed.  It’s an amazing concept, and this is the first recipe I tried.  It was a huge hit!  I found the recipe at Oh My Veggies.  Again, follow the recipe because it’s pretty great.  But basically put pasta (I used whole wheat rotini), broth, onion, broccoli, asparagus, garlic, and mushrooms in a pot.  Wait for it to boil, then stir constantly for 7 minutes.  Then add peas (I omitted), heavy whipping cream (I omitted), and parmesan cheese, and continue to stir for 2 more minutes.  Remove from heat and let sit for a few minutes, add some chopped fresh parsley (this is key), and serve.  Even with my omissions, this was SO GOOD.  I’m sure you could personalize even more, based on what veggies your little ones are willing to eat.

Happy cooking to all you other busy, stressed, and uninspired mamas out there!

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