I love trying new recipes, but there’s something very comforting about cooking the same thing over and over again. Instead of measuring ingredients and chopping vegetables haltingly as you refer to the recipe, the process becomes one easy rhythm. You learn that the amount of time it takes for your oven to preheat is just enough to prep the chicken; you don’t forget to turn on the rice until it’s too late; you can forgo measuring spoons when it comes to the spices. It’s not only easier and more relaxing, but more efficient, too.
And having a handful of these recipes in your repertoire is helpful even before you begin cooking. If you find yourself grocery shopping without a list, or if the store has run out of a key ingredient for a meal you planned to make, you can fall back on a recipe you’ve committed to memory.
Of course, some recipes lend themselves to memorization far more readily than others. These are a few that are stashed in my own mental cookbook.
Hummus-Crusted Chicken (The Kitchn)
“Crusted” is somewhat aspirational, as I’ve never actually been able to get the hummus to form a crust on this chicken. But that’s okay—it’s still delicious.
This recipe features chicken breasts (though I prefer boneless skinless thighs), hummus (try a garlic or red pepper variety for extra flavor), and smoked paprika, and that’s it. Spread the hummus over the chicken, top it off with the paprika, bake it, and then broil it for a minute or two at the end. It’s delicious on its own or over rice, and leftovers are great for salads or wraps.
Find the recipe here.
Mexican Baked Fish (Allrecipes)
Fish tacos are delicious, but I typically only eat them when I’m at a restaurant. This recipe, however, is essentially deconstructed fish tacos—same taste, but easier to prepare and eat. On top of a few fish fillets, you add salsa, cheese, and crushed tortilla chips, and then bake it. It sounds simple, and it is, but it is so, so good.
Find the recipe here. (And consider picking up a few frozen cod or tilapia fillets next time you’re at the grocery store to keep on hand.)
Creamy Mushroom Ramen (Budget Bytes)
I have become something of an evangelist for this recipe—hence I’m putting it in this roundup, even though it’s very much spring where I live, and I probably won’t make it again until the fall. But for anyone who likes to eat soup on an overcast (if warm) day, or whose locale is still in that post-winter defrost, read on.
This recipe is a creamy, umami take on the ramen you may have eaten in college. And it’s almost as quick to make: after sautéing baby bella mushrooms, you basically just cook the noodles in veggie broth (also of note: this recipe is vegan) and add coconut milk and spinach. There. I just told you how to make it.
The actual instructions are here. Note that it’s written to yield one serving, though it’s very easy to scale up.
Kalua Pork (Our Best Bites)
I find myself in a chicken rut all too often, so lately I’ve been trying to mix things up with shredded pork. This slow cooker recipe is so easy that it quickly became a regular in our house, especially to start the week off strong with leftover meat for rice bowls, sandwiches, and salads.
It calls for liquid smoke and Hawaiian sea salt. (I do not have the latter, and it’s always turned out great with regular sea salt.) Liquid smoke can be found in most grocery stores or online, and it adds a beautiful depth of flavor that’s almost as good as a grill. As for cuts of meat: pork shoulder is the best, but pork loin is excellent, and pork tenderloin will do (just make sure you don’t overcook it, as it’s not nearly as fatty and can easily dry out).
Find the recipe here.
Come the next holiday or family birthday, I look forward to cooking a beautiful, multi-step meal like lasagna and fresh homemade bread. But in the intervening time, I’m grateful for recipes like these.
What are your go-to easy recipes? We’d love to know.