NEW! Google Custom Search


What is your favorite default recipe?

Rebecca's picture

Do you have a dish that you:

1. cook very often,

2. that is so easy for you that you know (or practically know) the recipe by heart, and

3. that turns out reliably great every time?

What I mean is, what is your default meal? I'd love to know your favorites! Hopefully I can add to my repertoire...

For now, we have two default meals: Cioppino and Ho-made pizza. The pizza is made at least once a week (this is the kids' favorite meal & we vary the toppings). Take-out here is too far away, expensive, & not even very good. Our pizza meals have supplanted the Noodles w/Butter & Salt that the kids were eating a lot of.

Cioppino is made at least a couple of times a month - we don't get tired of it & its fantastic every time. It is one of Mongo's top 3 favorite dinners. Its great for company when you want to have people over for dinner & not have "fancy", time-consuming food. The fish, peppers, and even the bread can be waiting in the freezer.

Eternal thanks to John Thorne for the recipe for Maine Coast Cioppino (serves 2):

1/4 C extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 red (or yellow) bell pepper, cored, seeded, & chopped

1 large garlic clove, minced

1/4 t dried oregano, crushed

1/4 t cayenne or red pepper flakes

2/3 C (red) Zinfandel or other dry red wine

28 oz container of peeled tomatoes (Pomi crushed tomatoes or Muir Glen Or Progresso have been tested w/good results) and we add a fresh tomato from our garden (OR use 2 lbs fresh tomatoes, peeled, cored, and roughly chopped - we haven't tried this)

1 t salt

freshly ground black pepper

1 to 1.5 lbs fresh, firm-fleshed, white-meated fish (cod, haddock, pollock) (original recipe calls for 3/4 to 1 lb fish)

One small loaf good sourdough or Italian country bread

1. Put the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed 3-qt. pot and set over medium-low heat. Add the chopped onion and bell pepper. Sauté gently, stirring occasionally, for 7 minutes.

2. Add the minced garlic, cayenne, and oregano and cook 3 minutes longer.

3. Pour in the wine and increase heat to medium-high. Cook until the wine is reduced by one-third. Stir in the tomatoes and add the salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. When this begins to simmer, lower the heat to keep it there, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes if the pieces
of fish are thick or 10 minutes if they are thin.

4. Add the fish to the sauce. Bring everything back to a simmer and cook until the fish is no longer translucent and begins to fall apart, about 5 minutes or so if the pieces are thin, or 10 minutes or so if they are thick. Immediately remove the pot from the heat and with a spatula or cooking fork
gently separate the fish into flakes, keeping these as whole as possible. Ladle cioppino into two large soup bowls.
5. Serve with more wine and the loaf of bread, which should be pulled into pieces to dunk into the broth.

You drizzle the finished soup w/more olive oil; we never do.

Chiffonade_'s picture

(post #25785, reply #1 of 19)

My default meal would probably be anything dressed in my marinara. Alternatively, if I get told at the last minute that I am having small dinner guests (courtesy of my 10 year old), this is what I make. (Quantities vary by how many little mouths need filling...)

c Chiffy Helper

c 1.5 lb. Ground Beef
c 1 15 Oz. Can Tomato Sauce
c 1 tsp. Garlic Powder
c 1 tsp. Onion Powder
c 1 tsp. dry Basil
c 1 tsp. dry Oregano
c 1/2 tsp. salt
c 2 cups Small Macaroni Shells

In a large saute pan, saute ground beef till browned and pour off fat. Add tomato sauce and seasonings. Add 2 cups water and macaroni. Simmer at low heat for 30 minutes.

EM_'s picture

(post #25785, reply #2 of 19)

This meal is my "busy day,can't think about cooking, surprise company for dinner, quick but tasty" all time default meal.

Chicken Picatta with White Rice (written to serve two, because we are empty-nesters....increase as appropriate)

2 boneless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/4 inch (or not!)

3 tbsp flour

some white pepper, to taste

a bit of salt, to taste

one clove minced garlic

3-4 tbsp fresh lemon juice

fresh parsley sprigs, preferably Italian

2-3 tbsp butter

white rice

Dust chicken breasts with dry ingredients. Saute chicken in butter until nice and browned, adding garlic somewhere along the way. Squeeze lemon juice onto chicken and sprinkle with parsley. Cover the skillet and turn to low heat so the chicken steams until done. Serve over fluffy white rice. Garnish with parsley sprigs. For a side dish, Saute some fresh spinach in small amount olive oil only for a few minutes, add some fresh ground pepper, and a chopped fresh tomato. If it happens to be winter and there is no spinach and tomato from the garden, open a package of frozen sugar snap peas and microwave for 3-4 minutes. Top with a little butter or spritz with melted butter. Open a nice bread (homemade)from the freezer and ring the dinner bell. No dessert on days like this....actually we don't usually indulge anyway.


dixie_'s picture

(post #25785, reply #3 of 19)

My favorite default meal uses chopped leftover beef, chicken, shrimp in a spicy cream sauce in toast cups. Shrimp and chicken are especially good spiced up with Chipotles in Adobo - thanks, Mean Chef.

Sandra_'s picture

(post #25785, reply #4 of 19)

We have a few standby recipes, but my favourite quick and easy meal is a handful of mussels or clams steamed with a bit of dry vermouth and tarragon (cider vinegar works too, if the vermouth has run out), served on top of a quick tomato sauce (Chiffonade's, for example,) and the whole plopped on a bed of rice or pasta. Add a green salad and a good bread, and you have perfection on a plate.
BTW, I use my microwave for steaming the mussels. Purists may cringe, but to my mind the microwave oven is one of the great advances of the 20th century. It gets a bad rap because too many people use it just to reheat coffee, or pop popcorn.

Juli_R's picture

(post #25785, reply #5 of 19)

Penne with vodka tomato cream sauce. Saute some finely chopped garlic and red pepper in a little bit of olive oil for about 30 seconds to a minute. Add good quality tomato puree. Simmer for 10 minutes or so. Salt to taste. Add a tablespoon or two of vodka and enough cream to thicken and lighten the color of the sauce (I add 1/4 - 1/2 cup of cream to 28 oz of tomato puree). Serve over penne with a generous sprinkle of finely chopped parsley.

Other staples include mussels or langostino sauted in a garlic and white wine sauce served over linguini. Sauted onion pizza. Steamed salmon and vegetables w/ wasabe & soy sauce and steamed rice.

RuthAnn's picture

(post #25785, reply #6 of 19)

here's mine:

I make it so often i don't measure, just go by eye -

b Pasta with Cassie Sauce

1/4 cup of butter melted in small sauce pan

1/3 cup soy sauce

heat together, then blend in 1 cup plain, nonfat yogurt.

grate a little nutmeg over and remove from heat

serve over pasta shells or "ears" top with shredded procuitto.

Nice with a salad and bread.

I know the ingredients sound really odd - but my husband loves it, even my picky mother in law loved it.

nihon_no_cook's picture

(post #25785, reply #7 of 19)

Rebecca -

I'm assuming you meant to type "home-made" rather than "ho-made," unless you're discussing your profession as well as your recipe? : ) Just kidding, we all knew what you were talking about.

My never-fail recipes are Broccoli-Mushroom Spaghetti, and Chili Beef Noodles. I don't have them on my laptop yet, so the recipes will have to wait until I can grab them from home tomorrow morning.

Ironically (since this is a "Fine" cooking site), both of these recipes came from the back of bags of pasta. I have to say that the "home economists" (or whatever they call them nowdays) that work for the major food producers' test kitchens have to be some of the least-lauded and most-appreciated cooks in the world. As with most of my recipes, the stuff I copy off a bag of extra-wide noodles will never win me a Michelin rating, but it keeps the husband fed and me reasonably pleased with the results. All hail, Pillsbury test kitchens!

KarenK's picture

(post #25785, reply #8 of 19)

As you can see from the recipe this a a major "wing-it" in our kitchen. My husband's relatives would kill me if they saw this.

Pasta Fagioli

1 lb pasta
1 can cannelini or great northern beans
1 jar sauce (homemade is best if you have it)
Some peppers or olives or artichoke hearts(optional)

Cook the pasta per directions, stir in the sauce and beans, heat until all is warm, serve with a dollop of ricotta or some parmesan.

cany's picture

(post #25785, reply #9 of 19)

Mine is chicken soup. You can serve it as a soup, add it to rice, or make the chicken into another dish. I don't measure, but here is the basic scoop:

* 1 whole, cleaned chicken (chop if you like--that way the marrow escapes into the soup broth)
* 1 large chopped onion
* 1-2 carrots, chopped
* 3-4 celery stalks, chopped
* fresh garlic to taste (chopped, minced, or whole)
* lemon juice
* 1 or more hot chili peppers or red pepper flakes
* water to cover
* dry, white wine

Saute chicken, skin on, turning to extract some of the fat from the skin; remove chicken and add veggies, garlic, and simmer a while. Put chicken back in, add water to cover, chili peppers, and let simmer until liquid is reduced by 1/4. Cool; skim off fat (if desired, removed chicken and skin it). Then reheat and add lemon juice and wine.

If you want to serve the chicken by itself, save all the "soup" ingredients for soup, or use for liquid to cook rice in--or, you can puree them for a thicker soup. Skin the chicken before serving. (You can deep fry the skin for a very tasty but fattening dipper.)

George_W._Carpenter's picture

(post #25785, reply #10 of 19)

1) Vegetable Ravioli in Carbonara Sauce. (15 min.)
2) Raclette with Crostini and Calamata Olive Spread. (20 min)
3) Chicken Cordon Bleu with Egg Noodles and Mushroom/Cream Sauce w/Tarragon. (1 hr fresh/20 min. reheat)
4) Chicken Peperoncini a one pan meal of Chicken,
Stock, White Wine, Onion, Garlic, Peperoncini, and
Potatoes. (30 - 40 min.)
5) Steak. Spank it, put it on a plate. (quick! before it gets away!)

Elf_'s picture

(post #25785, reply #11 of 19)

Roast chicken, without a doubt. The only problem is that it's not faster. I stuff it with Stove Top. Yes, Stove top, and I'm picky so don't poo poo, it's wonderful if you cook it in the bird and then mix some of the drippings into it at the end. I spread chopped carrot, onion, celery and wedges of potatoes around the bird and sprinkle seasonings over everything. Add broth and baste frequently.

I try to make this once a week in the winter and it's always fab. Now I'm craving winter so I can make a bird!

Elf_'s picture

(post #25785, reply #12 of 19)

Actually the microwave is just fine for reheating and making popcorn. The problems arise when you try to use it to cook food.

Sandra_'s picture

(post #25785, reply #13 of 19)

And you scoff at me for using the microwave for something other than popcorn and reheating coffee?

Andi_'s picture

(post #25785, reply #14 of 19)

Mine would be Pork with Rum Mango Chutney

All you need to keep on hand is:

Boneless Pork loin
Major Greys mango chutney
Rum (preferably Meyers)
Cayenne Pepper

Sear the pork loin in a pan then place in a 350 oven for about 15 min.
Set the pork aside.
In the same pan, add some rum to deglaze the pan.
Add a jar of the chutney (about 6 oz.)
Stir til sort of melty.
Pour over the pork loin (sliced into medalions) and serve with a salad.

Easy and presents well!

MEAN_CHEF's picture

(post #25785, reply #15 of 19)

I hope you mean something other than pork loin. It would be still moving after 15 minutes. Are you sure it's not tenderloin?

Big_Daddy's picture

(post #25785, reply #16 of 19)

I have two stand-bys. In my mind these are the easiest meals in the world to fix. What's cool is that the family simply
i loves

(From Big Daddy's
i Cooking with Attitude)

b Sausage Gravy and Biscuits

This dish is as authentic to the old south as any dish can be. When Big Mamma and I used to make one of our frequent trips home to Florida to visit the family we always made it a point to find the truck stops with the best sausage gravy and then mark them on our maps. It is inexpensive, easily prepared, delicious and, oh yeah, the kids love it.

Authentic southern, country style sausage seasoning can be hard to find but thanks to the many mail order houses, and the Internet, it’s much more readily available to those living outside of the south than in previous years. Pendery’s, in Dallas, Texas is a very good source.

2 C white sauce w/o salt

1 T country sausage seasoning

your favorite biscuits

Prepare the white sauce, omitting the salt (the sausage seasoning is already salty), and double the amount called for to make 2 cups. Add the sausage seasoning.

Brown 1 pound of ground pork and drain the grease. Mix with the spiced white sauce and serve over warm biscuits

b Big Daddy’s Baked Burritos

No need to go out for Mexican when you can fix these at home. Be creative by trying different options for the filling and the garnishes and dazzle your family and friends. This should make four burritos.

1½ lb. Big Daddy’s Taco and Burrito Filling

1-16 oz can Ortega Refried Beans with Jalapeños

1-4 oz can green chiles, chopped

1-16 oz can black beans

Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

chopped tomatoes

shredded lettuce

Scallions, chopped


large Burrito wraps

Preheat oven to 300°. Prepare the meat filling of your choice. Shred enough cheese and lettuce and chop enough tomatoes to top the burritos to your liking. Combine the refries and the beans and heat through.

Lay a burrito wrap on an oven safe plate. Spread a layer of the refries and bean mixture down the center of the wrap, taking about 1/3 of the surface area. Top this with a layer of meat mixture. Fold one side of the wrap over the beans and meat then fold the other side over the first. Carefully turn the burrito wrap over so the seam is face down on the plate and top with the jack cheese and scallions. Put in oven until the cheese melts, about 5 minutes.

Remove the burrito from the oven. Cover with salsa if desired and garnish with the shredded lettuce and chopped tomatoes.

Serve with extra salsa and sour cream.

b Big Daddy’s Taco and Burrito Filing

Use this along with you favorite veggies and cheeses to make tacos or burritos that are bursting with flavor. The taco seasoning is the key.

1½ lb. ground beef and/or pork *OR*

1½ lb. Steak or boneless chicken, cut very thin ( ¼” or so)

1 small can green chiles

1 medium onion, chopped

1 bunch scallions, diced

Big Daddy’s Taco and Burrito Seasoning

For the ground meats:

Heat skillet over high heat. Break up ground meats and add to skillet along with onion, scallions and ½ of the seasoning. Reduce heat to medium, add the chiles and sauté the meat and onions until meat is almost cooked. At this point drain excess grease from skillet. Add remaining seasoning and finish sautéing the meat mixture.

For the steak or chicken:

Slice the meat very thinly and set aside. Heat a little oil and sauté the chopped onion and scallions until just tender. Turn the heat to high and add the meat, chiles and seasoning. Stir fry just long enough to cook the steak medium rare or until the chicken is just done, a minute or so, remove from heat.

b Big Daddy’s Taco and Burrito Seasoning

(for 1½ lb of meat)

2 T chili powder

1 t cumin

1 t cilantro

1 t salt

½ t granulated garlic powder

¼ t cayenne

½ t Mexican oregano

Andi_'s picture

(post #25785, reply #17 of 19)

You're right, my mistake! I usually get the double packs from Costco of tenderloin!

kai_'s picture

(post #25785, reply #18 of 19)

Rebecca, I don't have one particular default recipe; I have several. Here are a few examples:

* Chicken parts in veggie-infused (e.g., celery, onions, etc.) water w/lemon or lime juice and chiles--make as a soup, or a salad or sandwich.

* Veggies (esp zucchini or leafy things) steamed in chicken broth w/lemon or lime juice--this is great!

* Bread spread w/whatever tasty things you like--from honey to pesto--this is almost impossible to ruin.

Because I'm so busy, I don't generally take the time to make complicated recipes--instead, I eat things raw, or in very simple recipes. For example, a bowl of sliced radishes and cukes, feta, and crumbled herbs plus olives, sounds like a meal to me! This would also sound good on toasted bread, topped w/parmesan, and broiled.

In my next life I will have a chef in my home!

Wolverine's picture

(post #25785, reply #19 of 19)

I have a couple of things-

Chicken in a tomato cream sauce, toss with spinach sauteed with pine nuts & fresh garlic, add feta cheese, place the whole mess over pasta

Sautee some onions & garlic with herbs of your choice( I use oregano,basil,salt, & pepper, add chick peas,add left over cooked chicken. heat all through, set aside. Cook Pecan rice ( this is a brand with no seasonings, but rice has a wonderful taste - a lot like basmati). Once rice is cooked, stir all together and add fresh green & red pepper slices, drizzle all with lemon. The chick peas & rice really do go great together, and this stuff can serve as room temp salad stuff, too. Just put a vinagrette at the table.