The Sad Story of One Backslidden Cook

Hello friends!  

So Amanda and I have been reminiscing about my cooking days as though they were ages ago. Um, it was only a year ago that I was flipping out gourmet fruit tarts like I was the Barefoot Contessa.  Let’s just say that apparently my passion for cooking faded quickly.   I went from thinking about cooking every second of the day to loathing going to the grocery store altogether.  Not sure how that happened.  But it did.  Maybe it was a temporary newlywed high. Or maybe it had a little something to do with cooking on a tight budget.  I started planning my meals and it really became a chore to cook.  I’m not sure what happened but I just know it happened. 
Has this ever happened to you? Is there any hope for a cooking revival for me or am I done for…?  Maybe considering my familial history (a.k.a. my Mom), cooking is just not in my destiny.  Perhaps it was only a fool’s hope that cooking would really stay dear to my heart.
To make matters worse, I really don’t like cooking in the summer.  I prefer making winter meals because I love the warmth of the oven on a cool day.  All this to say, I am in a full on cooking crisis.  I have one and only one recipe that I really like right now and I thought you might, too.  It is wonderful for a warm day.  When we make it I try and make extra because it lasts so well throughout the week.  It pairs great with basic Turkey Burgers, if you are a Turkey Burger fan.  
So here it goes, my one little recipe just for you.  This is pretty much the only thing I’ve made in the past two months.  I wish I were exaggerating.  Please don’t judge me.
Couscous with Spiced Zucchini
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup plain couscous
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 lb zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint (crucial to the recipe, don’t leave it out)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


Bring broth with 1/4 teaspoon salt just to a boil in a small saucepan, then pour over couscous in a bowl and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside until ready to use.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté onion with 1/4 teaspoon salt, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and sauté, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add zucchini and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and sauté, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to moderately low, then stir in coriander, chili powder, cumin, and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, 2 minutes. Gently stir zucchini mixture into couscous and cool to warm or room temperature. Just before serving, stir in mint and lemon juice.

Makes 4-6 side-dish servings. 

Recipe from Gourmet Magazine September 2005 

Do you have a recipe that rocks your world right now? Or would you rather just eat out?  

Love to all,


P.S. This is for Roxanne Worsham… since you are going on vacation and all.  I usually don’t share my secrets but here it goes.  This is the mascara I use and I buy it over and over and over again:

I go light on the bottom but way heavy on the top.  The natural look is not for me- I like blackest black 🙂 


201 Responses to “The Sad Story of One Backslidden Cook”

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  1. 101
    Kristie says:

    First of all–re: cooking on a budget…you HAVE to check out! It’s like the Grocery Game, but it’s FREE! (and free is for me!) 🙂 I have saved tons since I started using it. Just last week, my Tuesday Publix receipt said that while I spent $31 on my purchase, my total savings was over $39! And then on last Friday, my receipt said that while I had spent $85 on my purchase, my total savings for that trip was $157! And YES, I did a praise dance in the check out line over that one! 🙂

    My current favorite recipe (I probably saw something similar somewhere, but re-created the recipe for myself):

    In a large bowl, combine:
    1 quart sliced fresh strawberries
    1 pint fresh blueberries
    1 pint fresh raspberries
    about 2 cups clementine or mandarin orange slices (or cut up regular Florida oranges, seeded)
    4 sprigs fresh mint, chopped
    1/3 cup Pomegranate aurels (optional)

    Toss well, and then drizzle with a dressing prepared by combining 1/3 cup honey with 3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar.

    Chill in fridge at least an hour before serving.

  2. 102
    Sandy M. says:

    I’ve been cooking for our family for about 30 years and it does get old sometimes. One tip for you would be to try Taste of Home and Simple and Delicious magazines. You can learn about them at the Taste of Home website. Many of our favorite recipes that I make over and over come from these mags. I prefer good old down home type cooking rather than gourmet cooking so maybe you will find that helpful. Here’s a recipe you can find on Taste of Home we all love: Chicken Pasta Toss. I also have a couple I like from Pioneer Woman.

    Plano, TX

  3. 103
    Lisa @ The Preacher's Wife says:

    I hate to tell you this, but the only obsession I’ve ever hung with is Bible Study. I went through a bread baking phase, a sewing phase, a gardening phase never to revisit any of them.

    It will make me feel way better about myself if I’m not the only one. 🙂

  4. 104
    JW and Susy says:

    You are funny! Dont despair. After 3 years of marriage and a baby I have found that the cooking bug comes and goes! Some weeks I am Rachael Ray other weeks I am a frozen Costco dinners girl. Ahh..grace!

  5. 105
    allboys4us says:

    Wow…thanks Melissa! I am so happy to hear that from someone else and am encouraged that I am not alone as God just did not bless me with a love of cooking. Maybe someday that will change…guess I’ll have to be praying in that direction. I have however, been blessed with a husband and 5 boys that love me anyway! 🙂

  6. 106
    Anonymous says:

    Just take a trip to Louisiana, and you’re guaranteed to get a little inspired to cook. With great resorces like Blue Runner Red Beans and an entire line of Zatarain’s boxed mixes, you’ll never get bored cooking. I also love to make a homemade jambalaya. You can start by cooking a rice cooker of rice ( 3 cups). Meanwhile, on the stove in a large pan, saute an onion, green onion, smoked sausage (cubed), some parsley, bell pepper and some cut up chicken breasts. Add two cans of tomato sauce, a cup of water, and salt, papper, garlic pepper, and some creole seasoning. Bring to a boil, and simmer for an hour. Add the cooked rice and stir. Serve with a tossed salad, and a roll. Now you’re cooking New Orleans!! Enjoy.

    From A Blessed Bayou Girl

  7. 107
    Lynnette says:


    What is this thing you call, what was it, cook-king? New to me. I’d rather talk mascara! Gonna try the Loreal. Loving Dior Blackout right now.

    Anyone try these new potions that are supposed to make your natural lashes grow? Apparently, one of these was originally from a glaucoma prescription medicine and it was noted that users were growing beautiful lashes as a side effect. Rather not have glaucoma to get the benefits of long, lush lashes but I’ll take the lashes!

    In addition to buying the mascara, perhaps I should buy stock in Loreal. If it’s anything like the responses with the “Moon Pie effect”, there may be a big increase in Loreal mascara sales! One time a mascara would like a spike in purchases!

    Lynnette in Houston

  8. 108
    Maria says:

    Okay.. I am the worse cook ever…I can only make a few things and that is the family traditional recipes which have been passed down by my italian grandmother. I can make home made die for…I can cook a mean turkey with boys love it…and homemade spaghetti sauce…anything else…forget it..seriously… if its raw vegetables and fruit ..i’m there..anything else beyond washing it under the faucet..just not going to happen….forget it..I don’t like cooking..My recipe tip…if you ever have to bring a snack to a party go to Chilis and buy their bottomless chips and salsa…$3.19 with tax…the height of the party…wins every time..oh oh.. I just remembered…I just learned this one from my friend.

    Wheat Pita Chips with Hummus
    Buy one bag of large wheat pita bread.
    Place in microwave for 20 seconds (this is so you can open it)
    Remove from microwave and cut into four pieces.
    Open each piece and cut in half so you now have 8 pieces.
    Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. The best crackers in town to dip in that wonderful garlic hummus…did I mention one pita bread is only 80 calories. See I can cook something..hahaha

  9. 109
    Beth says:

    If children are in your future, I can guarantee you will get the cooking bug again. When you learn to cook something they really like and you are exhausted but you know that you are the only one who can truly satisfy their tastebuds, you will cook again. I don’t know anybody who cooks 7 days a week. Our lives are just too busy.

  10. 110
    Anonymous says:

    One of my favorites right now is super easy, fairly cheap.
    I like to cook in a wok.
    the ingredient vary according to what we have on hand. And everything is cooked in one pan
    Generally I use:
    cabbage one small head

    broccoli (and you can cut up the stocks also, they cook well)

    cauliflower one-half to one small head

    onion 1/2 – 1 whole

    garlic 2-3 cloves

    meat: anything works

    enough oil to coat bottom


    paprica (sp)

    soy sauce


    stir fry sauce

    seseame (sp) seeds

    get the wok or pan hot (if using a pan it will need to be deep)
    put oil in then:
    cook meat first, and get it close to done or done. cut everything up and dump it on top of meat. stir frequently.
    cook until the veggies are tender to the point you like them.
    fried noodles la choy or off brand are good sprinkled on top.

    One way of saving money if you have a Wal-Mart near by, and they allow you to use ads from other stores and get the stuff for the other price. (In case I am not making this make sense: Say that Krogers has bananas on sell for that week at 3 pounds per dollar. You would tell your cashier that “Krogers has these on comp. for 3 pounds for a dollar” they would give you that price. Some stores require that you have your papers showing the ad. but it will save some money.

    will try your recipe soon! sounds yummy!!
    Delilah in Berryville

  11. 111
    Katie says:

    Butterscotch Spice Muffins

    1 Box of Spice Cake Mix
    I Can of Pumpkin
    1/2 bag of butterscotch morsels

    Combine the spice cake mix, pumpkin, and butterscotch morsels in a bowl (you don’t need the additional ingredients listed on the cake box). Drop into a muffin pan, and bake according to the directions on the spice cake box.

    They are ridiculously good.


  12. 112
    Lindsey says:

    Not even sure if this constitues as cooking cause it’s so easy.

    Boneless skinless chicken breasts
    shredded cheese

    Preheat oven to 425
    Cover (or marinate if you plan in advance- i do it in a ziploc) chicken in salsa
    Put in oven for 45 minutes to an hour (until no longer pink)
    Top with shredded cheese and put back into oven until cheese melts (literally a few minutes)
    Serve with whatever you want!

  13. 113
    Nicole says:

    Personally I would be thrilled if I was the Barefoot Contessa for even a day! You know God is all about revivals so I will pray He brings one to your kitchen! 🙂
    Ok, cooking is not my thing but I love this quinoa recipe (by Jordan Rubin- The Great Physcian’s RX) with some grilled chicken and a big salad. We enjoyed this tonight!

    Mexican Quinoa
    Yield: 4 servings


    1 tablespoon sesame oil
    1 onion, finely chopped
    1 1⁄2 cup quinoa
    1 teaspoon minced garlic
    8 oz. canned diced tomatoes
    1 1⁄2 cups chicken stock, heated
    salt and pepper or Herbamare
    1 cup frozen peas, thawed and drained
    3⁄4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped


    Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and quinoa. Cook for 8–10 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir in garlic and cook for two more minutes. Add tomatoes and chicken stock and season with pepper or Herbamare. Bring to a boil, cover tightly, and simmer over very low heat for 10–15 minutes. Remove from heat and leave covered for 10 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Stir in peas and sprinkle with cilantro.

    FYI-quinoa is gluten free ( my daughter is allergic to gluten) and the protein it supplies is supposed to be a complete protein.

  14. 114
    Warm in Alaska says:

    I live on Post Office Panzanella (too long a story about the name) in the summer – until every resident in the house gets down on their knees and begs me to STOP!

    Here goes ~

    about 4 tomatoes chopped
    one nice size cucumber (think Larry size), chopped (…I take that back – don’t think Larry)
    one smallish size red onion, cut into rings, and cut each ring once
    about 10 FRESH basil leaves, roughly chopped
    about 1/3-1/2 loaf of crusty bread, torn into bite sized pieces
    dressing: 1/4 olive oil w/ 2 T. balsamic (add crushed garlic if you want)

    Toss everything (I use a large wooden bowl so I can really toss it well, and b/c it makes me feel like I’m standing on a sunny Greek isle). Have a fresh cup of good black coffee nearby and


    Warm in Alaska.

  15. 115
    village sister says:

    Everytime I make this casserole, my 16 yr. old son tells me it's his favorite thing that I make. It's is crazy easy. (only 4 ingredients!)

    Simple Chicken Casserole

    2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    2 cans cream of chicken soup
    3 cups cooked rice
    1 1/2 sticks butter or margarine

    Preheat oven to 350. Prepare soup in saucepan according to directions on the can. Cook rice. While rice is cooking & soup is heating up, cut chicken into bite-size chunks.
    Put butter into 13×9 baking dish & put in preheating oven just for a minute to melt the butter.
    Remove baking dish from oven & stir rice into melted butter. Place chicken chunks evenly over the rice. Pour hot soup over chicken & rice. Sprinkle the top lightly with parsely and/or black pepper to taste. Bake for 45 minutes – 1 hour until bubbly.
    *(this is great leftover too – you & Colin could eat off this for a week)

    Also, Tammy H. was right…..Kraft Food & Family magazine is GREAT!:)

    Blessings & Love….

  16. 116
    Anonymous says:

    Welcome to the real world Melissa.

    I’m now going on year 27 of cooking 3 squares for my man and kiddos. The thing is, its not natural for a woman to love cooking all the time. and don’t let any of them tell you that.

    Its just like love. Ask the Lord to give you the capacity to do what you need to do for just today. In Europe, they buy groceries for only a day or two and plan one day at a time. I have started doing that and its a lot easier.

    I’ve lived on a budget for most of my married life and MAN can that be a drain creatively on cooking. But, this is why you need your girlfriends and the women around you. One of us at all times is on a roll with a recipe or two. Share with others and let their enthusiasm infect you.

    Also, the Lord will give you something to get your creative juices flowing. Maybe a cooking show or an author. I read Rosamunde Pilcher and for some reason it helps me be a better cook, wife and mother.

    Remember: “The Lord will perfect that which concerns me”. Psalm 138:8 AMP

    Here is one of my all time favorite recipes and it goes together in 5 minutes

    Chicken Chili

    3 frozen chicken breasts. Throw them in the bottom of a crock pot.

    Add 2 jars of salsa. The regular size
    1 can corn
    1 can navy beans
    1 can black beans
    1/4 cup chopped green pepper.

    Kind of run your spoon through it all and turn the crock pot on low for 5 hours.

    Fish around for the three chix breasts and then cut them up.

    Serve with cheese, sour cream and any other fixin’s you desire. BEST CHILI you’ll taste.

    Heidi in Fayetteville, GA

  17. 117
    Anonymous says:

    Interesting on the mascara – I was wondering what kind you were wearing in India – it looks like it stayed on so well in all of that heat and humidity!! I bought that exact same kind a couple of months ago, and it flakes all over my face all day long (live in Fla). I wonder why it works so well for some and not for others ???

    Love you guys!!

  18. 118
    Diane Kinney says:

    My friend started a cooking co-op where a group of us exchange meals once a month. What we do is pick a meal to share and make one family size serving for each family in the co-op. Since there are 5 of us right now, I make the same meal 5 times, and then freeze it. We meet on a Saturday and I get to come home with 5 different meals. Since these are freezer meals, most of the time we just thaw and heat. It really saves time and it’s fun!

  19. 119
    Anonymous says:

    This is for you Melissa. Dont know if you want to post it but I thought it was funny.


    The first man married a woman from OHIO . He told her that she was to do the dishes and house cleaning. It took a couple of days, but on the third day, he came home to see a clean house and dishes washed and put away.

    The second man married a woman from MICHIGAN . He gave his wife orders that she was to do all the cleaning, dishes and the cooking. The first day he didn’t see any results, but the next day he saw it was better. By the third day, he saw his house was clean, the dishes were done and there was a huge dinner on the table.

    The third man married a girl from the SOUTH. He ordered her to keep the house cleaned, dishes washed, lawn mowed, laundry washed, and hot meals on the table for every meal. He said the first day he didn’t see anything, the second day he didn’t see anything but by the third day, some of the swelling had gone down and he could see a little out of his left eye, and his arm was healed enough that he could fix himself a sandwich and load the dishwasher.

    Heidi In Fayetteville GA

  20. 120
    Sheryl says:

    Seriously!!! I just love this GIRL blog. My outlet…After diligently trying to be the “suzy homemaker” for a family of six, for 28 years, I’m now an out to eat person (still working on the guilt feelings over this). I also feel a little booted out of the kitchen because my husband is a Food Network junkie and thinks he has achieved the chef status in the kitchen. I’m surely not complaining, he has turned out some incredible dishes! So, I’m not going to give in to the self-condemnation over my culinary laziness. I will choose to be thankful for the resources to go out and my husbands motivation to create some new recipes. For Memorial Day we had chicken and sausage shish-kabobs. The adult kids loved them and were in the kitchen designing their own. It was like the adult version of decorating your own christmas cookie. SMILES

  21. 121
    Miss Marjie says:

    Only here could we get an awesome recipe and a beauty tip all in the same blog! LPM Blog where girls can be girls!
    So for me summer cooking means grill’in! I love to top a fresh salad with hot grilled meat. Marinade beef, chicken or pork or even salmon, grill it and slice it thin over a salad.
    My marinade is usually just EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) and grill seasoning. Budget, use cheaper cuts of meat like round steak, chicken thighs etc. Topping the salad with it makes a small portion of meat go a long way. Use plenty of in season veggies and serve with a side of bread or your awesome sounding couscous. OH if you don’t want to fire up the grill just broil it or use a grill pan. And as for not feeling the cooking craze as before….well girl you need you some food network! A few hours in front of it and you will be back in the saddle again! Have fun cooking!

  22. 122
    Michelle says:

    Here’s my easy go to recipe:
    swiss cheese chicken
    line a pan with chicken breasts, top with swiss cheese and a can of creamof chicken soup, next put stuffing and sprinkle with butter, cook 35-45 minutes at 350 easy, make ahead and cook later and yummy

  23. 123
    Anonymous says:

    I’m one of those annoying people who have been cooking for 25 years now (beginning at age 10) and still loving it! I get a kick out of putting together a bunch of ingredients and coming out with dinner.
    It’s just my husband and me and my puppy, so I use my toaster oven and grill to cook in the summer as much as I can.
    But here’s a couple easy tasty summer recipes.

    Buzz up a pound or so of strawberries (cleaned,tops cut off) in your food processor or blender till there’s no big chunks. Add in a container of vanilla yogurt, 2-3 TBSP of orange or grape juice, 2-3 TBSP of powdered sugar, and I like a dash of almond extract or vanilla works, too, but just a tiny little dash! Buzz that together, pour into bowls or pretty glasses and refrigerate. It’s called Strawberry Soup, and we eat it as a side dish.

    Another easy one I just found thanks to a friend.
    Cook a pound (or somewhere thereabouts) of fresh green beans washed and trimmed for about 5 minutes till crisp/tender. Drain and run through cold water until beans are cool. Add a couple of handfuls of grape tomatoes cut in half. Drizzle over that a vinaigrette made of 2-3 TBSP of tarragon vinegar (I imagine any kind of vinegar would work, though), 2 teaspoons of olive oil, generous dashes of salt and pepper, a half a clove (or more if you like it) of fresh garlic, and about 4-5 leaves of fresh basil chopped. Stir till coated. Refrigerate for an hour or so. Refreshing and yummy.

    One thing you may want to try to light that spark is to subscribe to a cooking magazine. Every time I page through a new one, there’s several recipes I just can’t wait to try!
    Good luck!

  24. 124
    Anonymous says:

    Hello! This has nothing to do with cooking or mascara but I am curious as to when we will start our Summer Siesta Bible Study? Can’t wait!

    Glendale, AZ

  25. 125
    WestTexasGirl says:

    Sweetie – GRILL!!! For some reason, you mention “grilling food” and a man just goes all ga-ga for it. For 36 years I have done all the cooking around our home. Two years ago, we purchased a nice gas grill (have had the ol’ charcoal/wood burner for ages!)…and now the love of my life is DELIGHTED to do the cooking. I especially love Saturday a.m. when he takes the cast iron skillet outsides and cooks up bacon, hashbrowns and all the trimmings. We grill steaks, pork chops, burgers, hot dogs, baked potatoes, corn on the cob, grilled fresh veggies. Add a little olive oil and it’s a feast. Don’t give up….there is nothing wrong w/a good sandwich on good bread and a side of fruit. You can do it! And if your man is a salad type of guy, throw a little flank steak or chicken from the grill on top of a great salad and you are done!!

  26. 126
    Fran says:

    Cooking is so overrated. 😉

  27. 127
    Barefoot Mom says:

    I am with you on the budget not making cooking fun. I could spend obscene amounts buying and cooking. I get stuck in ruts too and cook the same three things over and over. Spaghetti is a weekly dish year round.

    How about a BLT night?? Yummy in the south in summer time,especially with local tomatoes!!!

    Anyway, here is one of my newest faves. Easy and ssssooooo delicious!

    Balsamic Chicken Pasta

    1.5 cups cooked chicken, cut in bite-sized pieces ( I just saute a few boneless breast in olive oil with salt and pepper)

    1 lb pasta (any kind – I use rotini or bowties)

    olive oil

    balsamic vinegar

    1 cup tomato, diced

    1 cup yellow pepper, diced

    1/2 cup scallions

    1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

    4 oz feta cheese

    1/4 parmesan cheese

    Cook the pasta and drain, keep warm. Pour olive oil and balsamic vinegar over pasta.(about 1/2 cup balsamic)

    Add tomatoes, peppers, scallions (none of these are cooked) and hot chicken.

    Toss well. Add basil, salt, feta and parmesan cheese. Toss again and serve immediately.

    Cheap, easy, delicious!!!!

  28. 128
    annie's eyes says:

    I hate grocery shopping. It is just wrong to call that shopping.

    We eat out way.too.much. But recently, I’ve had a little inspiration (translation: winter pounds must be shed!) to cook lighter. We have a garden and that’s a lifesaver for lower calorie foods. Since we have such an abundance of food at home, I have to get creative. I’m into flash freezing and, dare I say, leftovers. So everything fresh and organic gives me the kick I need to get back in the kitchen.

    Also, thanks everyone, for the recipes.

  29. 129
    JoLnn says:

    I can’t say I ever got your love for cooking, even in the honeymoon stage 🙂 My mama, like yours, didn’t pass on that gift or love – ha!! Baking I enjoy but for the course before that, well, let’s just say I prefer to EAT OUT! We try to save that for after church and maybe one other time during the week though. So my secret to being sure I’ve prepared a meal for my hubby and kids is: I make out a monthly calendar of what we will eat. Half the battle for me is WHAT??? So, if I have a calendar made and shop for every ingredient (two weeks worth, each trip to grocery) then it’s much easier for me. Hope that helps 🙂

  30. 130
    Anonymous says:

    We grill all year long here in So. Cal. Best is fresh caught yellow fin tuna filets, prepared with liberal salting of Lemon pepper and then grill. You can make Baja Fish tacos out of this so easy – flake the filets with fork, place on two warmed corn tortillas, use packaged coleslaw, top with pico de gallo and sour cream dressing flavored with some salsa. Add guacamole and you are in taco heaven.

    I stood up and cheered when two of my questions were answered on the blog today: thanks to Roxanne for getting you to divulge your mascara 😉 and for Sasha sharing her Baked Potatoe Salad recipe. That’s just the recipe I had searched for, and got on and put in the ingredients but everything that came up was more of a German Hot Potatoe salad. This one is the very one I envisioned but just didn’t know how to do it, thanks to Sasha in blogville, my search is over! I love your LPM Blog and the blessing it is in my life. It always brightens my day. Thank you so much!
    P.S. Our Womens ministry is doing your Mom’s Esther study, and last night in session 7 at the end of her lesson, everyone just sat in stunned silence, taking it all it in, no one moved, no one spoke. As quoted: “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth”…Ralph Waldo Emerson. The Holy Spirit was doing a deep work in all of us. WOW! Heaven will tell…
    Pam H.
    So. Cal Siesta

  31. 131
    Faran says:

    Grill, girl, grill! This is not a man’s domain and you can whip up some great marinades in no time. Make your marinade in the morning and let your meat soak in it all day. Yummy! I’ll have to find my favorite marinade recipe later today.

    Here is my trick for always perfect grilled chicken breasts:

    1. Make your hand into a fist, but don’t squeeze much at all.
    2. Press down on your flesh between your thumb knuckle and pointer finger knuckle, right by the webbing between thumb and finger.
    3. The way that feels is how grilled chicken feels when it is UNDERDONE.
    4. Now tighten your fist just a little bit.
    5. Press down on that same spot between thumb and finger.
    6. That is how a grilled chicken breast feels when it is PERFECT.
    7. Now tighten your fist really tight and feel that spot.
    8. Your chicken is now DRY AS A BONE!

    All you do is cook chicken breasts 4-6 minutes on each side and then give it the feel test. Perfect, juicy grilled chicken every time!

    I’ll find my marinades later. But grilled veggies are great without marinade, too.

    Love the recipe posts, Melissa! You’ll get the cooking bug again soon!

  32. 132
    Melissa says:

    Anonymous- as to the mascara flaking, I will say that this particular mascara dries up quickly so you have to buy it more often than other mascaras and after the conditioner part gets really dry I don’t use it anymore. But, I do think all mascara is different for different people. I’ve used Dior Blackout Mascara which is supposedly rated the best but it didn’t work well at all for me.

  33. 133
    Renee says:

    Here is mine…

    Tuscan Chickpea Soup
    Garlic, rosemary, balsamic vinegar, and Parmesan cheese deliver authentic Mediterranean flavors.

    6 servings

    2 tablespoons olive oil
    2 cups finely chopped onion
    8 garlic cloves, minced
    4 cups water (I did not add any water)
    1 teaspoon minced fresh or 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    3 (15 1/2-ounce) cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained (I did not rinse and drain these..i used the juice they were in)
    1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
    1 to 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    6 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
    Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the water and the next 5 ingredients (water through tomatoes), and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes.

    Place 2 cups soup in a blender or food processor, and process until smooth. Pour the pureed soup into a bowl. I only pureed about 2 cups…next time I will put in the blender and not the food processor and do a little bit more. Repeat procedure with 2 cups soup. Return all pureed soup to pan. Stir in the vinegar, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Spoon 1 1/2 cups soup into each of 6 bowls; sprinkle each serving with 1 tablespoon cheese.

  34. 134
    Anonymous says:

    Melissa you are so right. Menu planning can be such a drag. I have found an awesome website For a minimal fee, you will have menus and grocery lists sent to your email. There are a lot of options–heart healthy menu, vegetarian menu, a menu for 2, etc. Also LeAnne does a great job making sure the meals are seasonal and delicious. Just thought I would share my “secret.”

  35. 135
    Anonymous says:

    My latest fav is so easy

    Frozen Tilapia loin fillets from Costco (thawed)

    Mix 40% low fat mayo and 60% grainy mustard and spread it on the fish. Then coated in ground up Fiber One Original cereal (or Panko if you like). Nonstick fry pan with a little EVOO and 4 minutes each side. Served with fresh snap peas sauteed a little in EVOO.

    It is the best!

  36. 136
    Anonymous says:

    Ok, in the summer, we like to eat light too: We make kabobs on the grill with beef with a dry rub (buy the bottled stuff), mushrooms, green pepper, onion, tomato. What about french dip sandwiches with the packet of au jus? Couldn’t be simpler. Or make Philly Cheese steak sandwiches. How about anything on the grill? Meat, fish, veggies, fruit. you don’t need a recipe for those, just grill em and they are great!

  37. 137
    Anonymous says:

    Well I don’t like cooking myself. I am not good at it and because of that it is a chore. I also live on a tight grocery budget so that limits us to many things – like meat!!! HAHAHA Anyway I prefer simple recipes that only require a few ingredients. Anymore than a few and I get confused and mess the whole thing up! One of my favorites right now is Cheeseburger Pie by Bisquick. You can look it up online. When you look it up, also read the reviews b/c folks put other ideas out there on how to tweak the recipe adn get the best flavor. Check into Kraft Foods too b/c they have lots of simple ideas for some great meals. Best of luck to you- and don’t get discouraged by the no cooking thing. You are not alone!!
    Angie Ehrenreich, Hickory NC

  38. 138
    Joni says:

    Cooking may be just one of many “flash-in-the-pan” passions of your life (snicker, snicker). I’ve seen my own passions for cooking, knitting, crocheting, cleaning, sewing, gardening, and reading come and go at various stages in my life, but then I’m 3 decades older than you. BTW, the Food Network website has easy weeknight recipes and since they come from professional cooks, I feel like I’m “gourmet” cooking even if I’m not going all out.

  39. 139
    Melanie Miller says:

    Another inspiring post, thank you. Just last week I said to my girl friends, “when I think about planning and cooking meals for THE REST OF MY LIFE, I could scream.” Sometimes it’s all I can do to put good food on the table for my family. Thankfully they are not too hard to please. That said, I do love to cook. I love food magazines, the Food Network, recipe swaps, etc. Tonite I’m going to try grilled pizza. Never done it, been wanting to try for awhile. We’ll see.

    I had to laugh out loud at Heidi’s poem. Also that verse from Psalms 138 was timely.

    Here is our family grilled chicken recipe that is a favorite:

    1/3 c. balsamic vinegar
    1/3 c. cider vinegar
    1/3 c. dill vinegar or any flavored vinegar (I use a seasoned rice vinegar)
    1/2 c. olive oil
    2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

    Mix well and pour over chicken pieces. Marinate up to two hours. Grill chicken, brushing often with marinade.

    You Siestas are the best!

  40. 140
    Susan A. says:

    I don’t have a specific recipe to share, but I do have a resource. Forgive me for not reading all 200+ responses – I may be repeating someone. My cooking rut lifesaver is They e-mail you a menu along with the recipes each week. (If you hate cleaning, they also will e-mail you a “chore of the day” to keep your home in reasonable order – ha).

  41. 141
    Anonymous says:

    Black Bean Salad by Guy Fieiri

    2 cans black beans, drained, about 30 ounces
    1 (15-ounce) can corn, drained
    2 Roma tomatoes, diced
    1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
    1/4 cup diced red onion
    1/4 cup diced green onions
    1/4 cup diced pineapple
    1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves
    1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
    4 tablespoons sherry vinegar (I use red wine vinegar cause that’s what I have on hand)
    Juice of 1/2 lime
    3 tablespoons honey
    1 tablespoons salt
    1 teaspoon black pepper
    Pinch ground cumin

    Mix all ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour.

    This salad is GREAT and lasts several days. It’s even good on tortilla chips as a snack.

  42. 142
    Jill says:

    Hi my friend. I like to cook but I like to be outside in the summer, so I get some premade stuff to put in the oven at costco.
    I missed getting to tell you my favorite quote. I don’t know where it came from , but I have it in my kitchen.( my aunt needle pointed it.)
    Teach me to feel anothers woe,
    to hide the faults I see.
    That mercy I to others show,
    that mercy show to me.
    Jill in MT

  43. 143
    Kristib says:

    I am so blessed, Melissa. My hubby cooks. He has lots of good ideas for meals. He used to be a chef before he became a Pastor. He has cooked for many dignitaries like George Bush Jr. and Sr., Margaret Thatcher, Bill and Hilary Clinton, among others. (by the way Hilary asked for my husband’s secret salad dressing recipe.) I’ll see if I can get him to part with a recipe for something yummy! Stay tuned.

  44. 144
    kathy pink bicycle arkansas says:

    Hey girl!

    Cooking is not my cup of tea although I will admit to lately “attempting” some very simple recipes. I even made Poppy Seed Chkn a couple of weeks ago and to my great surprise it was actually easy!!!!!

    IF there are any very very very simple recipes out there that have 2 minutes prep time I’d like to hear about them. Soemtime I honestly don’t have even that!!

    Hope you get back into the groove

  45. 145
    Latte With Me says:

    I feel your pain…I was thinking about you and your cooking the other day…go figure!

    This is what I use and it helps me TREMENDOUSLY! Someone has already planned the meals and the grocery list :). You can click on the link for a sample newsletter to see what food/meals are offered. Like you, I find the whole planning and list making horrible and this has really helped.

    Given the number of studies of your mom’s that I have done – I can say that you are YOU and you have the ability to not fall victim to your mom’s cooking ways – that’s not who you are…:)

  46. 146
    Lindsee says:

    As a girl who has never, ever, ever liked to cook, I have no wisdom for you. The sad thing is, cooking just doesn’t run in my sweet lil’ family. My dad is the chef of the family and he doesn’t even really use a recipe at that!

    But who knows, maybe when I’ll get married I’ll enjoy it more??! But then again, maybe not. The nice thing is, right now I only have me to worry about. HUGE plus about being single! 🙂

  47. 147
    Anonymous says:

    Melissa, secrets… tips are secrets? Well, PPPLLLLEEEAAASSSEEE tell us about the eyeliner and lip stick. Mine never last much longer than lunch time….I’ve noticed all of the Moore women seem to hang on to their eyeliner and lip stick ALL DAY! What is up with that? Come on and reveal the secret to eyeliner and lip stick!!


  48. 148
    Becky says:

    A backslidden cook….oh my
    I can sooooooo relate. On those lines I’ve been in that condition for years. ha-ha
    After 25 yrs of marriage, here’s the ‘thang’ sweetie. We women get tired of the same question 3x a day 365 days a year. what’s for breakfast? What’s for lunch? What’s for supper?
    Mom I’m hungry what’s here to eat?
    And what come afterwards…the clean up, w hile everyone else goes off to do whatever, the mess us for us to deal with, even if it is to assign it to someonelese.
    We just get tired of it honey.

    Good to hear from ya Melissa.
    bye the way it’s getting that time and I have to ask myself…what’s for lunch?..aaaahhhh


  49. 149
    Anonymous says:

    I hate cooking. Absolutely despise it. Can’t stand the grocery store or the kitchen. But now gardening–I am queen. My flower garden is to die for and my husband’s veggies that he grows even more so. So, here’s a quick summer recipe(s)that requires no thought.

    Tomatoes fresh off the vine:

    Cut into thick slabs, drizzle olive oil over the slabs with a little basil and feta cheese. Place under broiler for 3 (maybe 5) minutes. Unbelievable.

    Another one with asparagus:

    wrap four stalks of asparagus in a strip of bacon and toss on the grill with whatever you’re grilling, about ten minutes. Divine.

  50. 150
    Trustin1 says:

    Don’t think you are alone, Melissa. Perhaps all good cooks go through dry patches; I wouldn’t know as I am just an average cook who sometimes hits it big. I, like you, prefer to cook in the cooler weather and love the smell of good food cooking and fresh baked bread. In Summer, I pretty much like salads and grill cooking. In the South it’s just too hot to do much in the kitchen. Hang in there and I’ll bet one day some recipe will spark your interest and voila! you’re on a roll again.

    Thanks for sharing. I so enjoy this blog.

    Wilmington, NC

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