Okay so before you start following my recipes… I will be very upfront here and make sure you know that I am NOT a professional baker or chef. I have no formal training. The closest I have ever been to it would be that year I worked at Panera as a teenager. I enjoyed prepping the desserts, forming tarts and warming up cookies as much as the next person, but it wasn’t REAL baking. I still used boxed mixes and canned icing when I went home and had to make a treat.
The only time I made things from scratch was when it came time for Christmas cookies or Chrusciki at Easter. I’d dabble in cooking but usually I fell back on the easy prepackaged stuff. Then I realized that it just wasn’t good. Food wasn’t nutritional and a lot of the times, the tastes fell flat. So back in 2011, I asked my grandmother to teach me how to make a Dutch apple crumb pie because that was my husband’s (boyfriend at the time) favorite treat. Now, ten years later, I still make that pie every single thanksgiving where he and his siblings rave about it.
During that time, I also added some other goodies to my arsenal.
I started making casseroles and chocolate chip cookies and soups and roasts. I learned how to make pork chops that fall apart in your mouth and cobbler that warms you up. My biggest success has been my cakes and sugar cookies and icings. I started off with a couple of different recipes from my grandmother, my father-in-law and the internet, but then started to add in my own little touches. Swapping out certain ingredients for others, changing a measurement here and there, adding new ingredients all together… Sometimes, it ended in complete disaster. Other times it got me so many compliments that I couldn’t stop smiling for days. I won’t share the failure recipes with you because you can just take my word for it that they failed rather than wasting your own time and ingredients, but I’ll share the successes. From easy to make enchiladas that the whole family will love to the more complicated meals that involve a whole lot of steps but are SO SO worth it.
As I mentioned, I’m mostly self-taught.
I had one lesson from my grandmother where she showed me her method of ‘a pinch of this, a dash of that’ but never used any actual measurements. I had a cookie day in the kitchen with my mother every December for as long as I can remember where we followed her hand written recipe cards that were covered in stains and the ink had smudged from water marks. And of course, we had chrusciki night the Saturday before Easter every year where my sisters and I would each pick a station while my mom made the dough. Someone folded, someone fried and someone doused in powdered sugar. Everything else I’ve learned through pinterest, Martha Stuart magazines, Youtube, and LOTS of trial and error. But the best part for me is when I alter or create a recipe and it turns out successful. Those are the ones I’m going to be sharing here, because a good easy to follow recipe can really help take the stress out of dinner or desert and that means better mental health!
I also think that when you have an easy recipe, cooking and baking can be FUN and a way to feel better after a long hard day!
I hope you find something tasty!
Pro-tip: make a casserole on a weekend and scoop into a bunch of single serving zipblocks. Label and put into the freezer. That way on hectic days, you can grab one, defrost and serve to yourself or your kiddo. Minutes to a homemade dinner without the stress!