Want to start cooking healthier this New Year? Or just want to freshen your recipe book? Patch columnist Kelly Burgess' weekly columns are devoted to preparing easy, healthy meals from scratch — but with the understanding that "from scratch" doesn't mean what it did when our grandmothers were cooking.
Her recipes include helpers like canned, jarred, frozen and pre-cut and washed basics, making the recipes just as fast as ordering a pizza or hitting the drive-through, but the results so much better for you and your family.
As for those who "can't" cook, the fact is that cooking is a skill, Burgess says.
"You gain confidence and competence the more you practice," she wrote, . "Cooking isn't brain surgery, anyway. Just relax and toss stuff together and let it cook. Stay away from complex recipes or recipes that require a ton of prep work. And if things don't work out there's always peanut butter sandwiches."
To get you started, here are 13 tried and true recipes that Burgess shared in 2011. If you experimented with any of them, please let us know in the comments how they turned out. If you haven't tried them yet, well, what are you waiting for? The kitchen beckons.
Burgess gives her recipe for chicken noodle soup, perfect for comforting anyone who becomes the target of our gossipy culture.
Carnitas make a delicious entrée or a base for several meals. Here, Burgess gives her favorite recipe for carnitas, which means "little meats." As with so much of Mexican meat, it is traditionally cooked all day. It is then fried in lard until it's crispy and caramelized on the outside, but tender on the inside.
Burgess offers a delish recipe for sauteed calamari (in butter and garlic!) secured from a Key West restaurateur while on vacation.
Don't be chicken. Try making wings at home. Burgess pulled this favorite recipe from a cookbook called 500 Low-Carb Recipesby Dana Carpender. They're called "Heroin Wings," and with good reason—they are highly addictive.
Finding great rib recipes is a smart use of technology. Burgess shares her favorite place online to search for recipes — and a delicious, sticky rib recipe that is finger-licking good.
Burgess takes the chill out of the air with her Chili con Carne — and ensures she has leftovers for the week to come.
Steamed pots are at the top of Burgess' kids' happy vacation memories along with playing in the sand, visiting the marine museum, collecting shark's teeth and learning to snorkel. They're easy to make and very versatile.
Mother and daughter disagree, though, on best way to boil eggs.
Burgess's birthday is September 11. She talks about how good things and bad things happen on every day of the year and how she likes to thumb her nose at mortality and evil by celebrating life.
With chicken from Eichner's Family Farm and a can of beer, Burgess easily makes dinner a hit — even with her picky husband.
Burgess finds that tailgating at home makes Sundays extra super.
When Burgess's son sent her a text on Day 2 of drum major camp lamenting his imminent death from malnutrition, she knew what had to be his first meal when he got back home.
Burgess discusses simple methods for preventing foodborne illnesses and offers a yummy recipe to take your mind off the headlines.