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My mother left home for college when I was 7, so like my older brothers, I've been cooking from a young age. My dad used to give me 20 bucks and send me to the grocery to feed the four of us for a week. I became very price conscious, and soon learned that "convenience" packaging is expensive. Instead of buying the Chef Boy-Ar-Dee spaghetti dinner, I could buy pasta, sauce and cheese and have money left over for an extra pound of bologna. Then I discovered a recipe for sauce on the back of the pasta box; all the ingredients together were less than a can of sauce, and they tasted better too. Thanks to one recipe on the back of a Mueller's spaghetti box, I've been a scratch cook ever since. Mom graduated and came back home, got a great job and never did learn to cook that well?but all of her sons are fantastic in the kitchen.
Favorite cuisines: French, Italian, Chinese, Midwest American
All-time favorite food: tomatoes plucked off the vine in my back yard, gobbled down with a salt shaker and juice dripping off my chin. Nothing is better than homegrown produce and local meats.
For Thanksgiving and Christmas I'm making Corn Caper Casserole with bacon and sour cream: late one night in late July, a friend suggested we make a midnight run for fresh sweet corn at his grandparents' farm; they'd told him to take whatever he wanted before it spoiled. So we loaded up flashlights and plastic bags, drove out, parked in the ditch, tiptoed past the dark farmhouse and into the field, grabbing every ear we could, then making our getaway before the sheriff pulled up. Scott was entitled to the corn, but it still felt like high school larceny.
The next day I blanched the corn, cut off the kernels and froze them, so that in November and December we'd still enjoy the sweet taste of summer in Indiana.