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Taco Salad

Christina Carpenter, a working mom, says her version of taco salad is delicious, cheap and easy to make. Her family swears that this salad is one of the best they’ve had. Carpenter promises that anyone can make this dish.

Here’s how you make it.

One lb ground beef
One packet of Taco Seasoning
1/2 to 3/4 head of iceberg lettuce, chopped
One can of Kidney or Pinto beans, drained (14 oz.)
One tomato
One Avocado
One or two cups of grated cheddar cheese
French Dressing
Crushed Tortilla Chips for garnish

First, Carpenter says to prepare the meat. She says, “Brown the ground beef and drain it. Then add the seasoning packet and follow the directions on the package to finish preparing the meat. Make sure to let it cool before you add it to the rest of the salad.”

This is the meat browned and drained.

         This is the meat browned and drained.


This is the meat after cooking to seasoning packet's instructions.

This is the meat after cooking to seasoning packet’s instructions.

Carpenter recommends preparing the other ingredients while the meat is cooling.

First, chop and dice the tomato. Then, peel, chop and seed the avocado. If the lettuce is not pre-cut, then clean and cut the iceberg lettuce. Drain and rinse the beans. Put together all of these ingredients in a salad bowl.

Lettuce: cut and clean

     Lettuce: cut and clean


Avocado: chopped and beans and tomato prepared

Avocado: chopped and beans and tomato prepared











Carpenter says to add the meat just before serving and to top that off with crushed tortilla chips. Finally, either pour the french dressing on the entire salad, or allow each person to put the amount they want on their individual salads.

Salad with meat

Salad with me

Salad with dressing: ready to serve!

Salad with dressing: ready to se











Sam Carpenter, Chris’s daughter who is a college student, says, “This meal is one of the easiest and most delicious dinners I can make. It’s good to be able to make something like this on short notice or when you don’t have a ton of money.”

A good side to serve with this is a serving of dinner rolls.

A fun drink to serve with this is a pina colada smoothie.

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Grilled Pizza Sandwich

Pizza is a popular and cheap meal for those who are not expert cooks. However, with this recipe, everyone can enjoy the pizza flavors in a slightly more sophisticated dish. Making these sandwiches is just as easy as ordering pizza.

Dinners for begginners 7

Sara Calton says, “The pizza sandwiches please everyone and everyone can make them. They really are one of the best and easiest dinners I’ve ever made.”

Sara saw the recipe on the Mormon Moms website. Sara says, “There are a ton of great recipes on that site and I always use it!”

The ingredients are: (for about 4 people)

1 can of pizza sauce

1 package of mozzarella cheese

1 serving garlic bread seasoning
( 1 tbsp Mrs. Dash’s garlic herb seasoning mixed with about two pinches of garlic salt also works great)

Butter for spreading

1 loaf Rustic Bread
(sourdough works great)

1 package of Pepperonis
(Turkey pepperoni works great too and is lower in fat!)

The original recipe instructs cooks to use a grill, a stove, or a griddle. Sara suggested a grill pan, which was used in the experiment, but a regular frying pan can work too.

Dinners for begginners 2
First choose two good slices of bread.

Next, spread a thin layer of butter on the outside of both pieces of bread on the same side as the butter.

Sprinkle on the garlic seasoning and rub it in slightly with a knife or fingers.
bread: buttered and seasoned
Heat up the grill, grill pan, or other pan on medium heat. Wait about 5 minutes.

Put the bread on the pan or grill, butter and seasoning side down. (The bread may sizzle, and that is totally normal.)

While heated, spread a layer of pizza sauce on each slice. The original recipe says to layer the sauce on thick because the bread absorbs it, but put as much on as is preferred.
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Next, cover each slice on the side with the sauce in cheese.

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Finally, add the pepperoni.

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Wait about 3 minutes or until the cheese is almost melted. Check the undersides of the bread to make sure it does not burn.

When it is heated, flip one piece of bread onto the other and heat for a few more seconds before removing the sandwich from the heat and placing immediately onto a plate.
Dinners for begginners 8

Good sides for this dish are:

Homemade Potato chips

Italian Salad

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Spicy, Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti

Bryana Merrell, an Arizona State University student has figured out how to eat good food on her strict budget. Though she says living on her own posed a threat to her eating habits in the past, Merrell is now more than ready to prepare a variety of delicious meals on a low budget.

She also says that anybody can cook this. “It is one of the easiest recipes I know,” says Merrell.

Chris Carpenter suggested that if I post a video, she would like to see the step-by-step ingredients in writing with it. “That makes it a lot easier to follow,” says Carpenter. So, here they are!


1 box of angel hair pasta

1 prepared and chopped chicken breast (she used 2 cans)

1 can of cheesy “Ragu” sauce

1 can of “Rotel” tomatoes (cook’s choice)

1 can of diced green chilli peppers

1 can of cream of chicken soup

First, boil a pot of water in a large sauce pan. Then add pasta and cook according to the directions on the box.

While that is cooking, blend the can of rotel and can of diced chillis to smooth out the texture. Move the mixture into a sauce pan over medium heat and add the can of cream of chicken soup, the chicken and the cheesy ragu sauce. Stir the mixture constantly until the flavors are melded together and the sauce is thoroughly heated. Drain the pasta.

Finally, put the pasta on the plate first and follow the pasta with a large helping of spicy cheese sauce. This is sure to be a quick and easy favorite!

Side Suggstions:

Chipotle Garlic Bread


Southwestern Black Bean Salad

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Stuffed Peppers

Emily Ivory, a college student, recently suggested a recipe be made on this blog using organic ingredients. She says, “eating organic is a great way to eat healthier and more fresh foods.”

That is how the idea of cooking stuffed bell peppers became the subject of this blog post. During the test, a few modifications were made from the original recipe found on the website, “My Organic Recipes.” 


Ingredients, as found on the website:

1 chopped onion

4 chopped carrots

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 lb organic ground beef

1 cup rice

1/3 cup chopped dill

3 tablespoons tomato paste

salt, pepper

4-5 green peppers

1 can tomato sauce

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon whole black pepper

For the test, bay leaves and whole black pepper were omitted. It would be best to include these ingredients for flavor, but the test turned out well without these ingredients as well. Just substitute regular pepper for the whole black and continue to cook.


First, chop onions, carrots and dill and set, separately, aside. Cook the rice beforehand as well. For the test, instant brown rice was used.


Saute the onions and the carrots in a non-stick skillet for six minutes. If a skillet is not available, a pan will work but the space will be limited and eventually more containers will need to be used.




While this is cooking, in a separate pan begin preparing the pound of ground beef. This may take longer than the vegetables to cook, but it is best to begin preparing the meat around the time when the vegetables first cook.

Cook your meat.

After the first six minutes are up, continue cooking meat separately. Add all of the prepared rice to the vegetable mixture and saute for another six minutes.



The next step is to place the rice, onion and carrot mixture on top of the meat mixture. Then, add the dill, tomato paste, salt and pepper and mix all these ingredients together.

For the test, because the meat and vegetable mixture were cooked in pans instead of a deeper skillet, the meat was put into a larger bowl after being cooked and the vegetable mixture was added to the bowl. Finally, the dill, tomato paste, salt and pepper were mixed into the other ingredients.


After these ingredients are all mixed together, a separate bowl was used to mix about two cups and one fourth of a cup of water with a tablespoon of olive oil.



Add to this same bowl a couple sprinkles of salt, tomato sauce, either the black pepper originally suggested or the same amount of pepper and, optionally, bay leaves. Mix these ingredients together thoroughly.



After these ingredients are mixed, cut the tops off of the peppers. Originally, green bell peppers are used. Most bell peppers will work, but in the test recipe green bell peppers were used.


After the tops are cut off, carefully remove the white core of each pepper.




Fill each pepper with the meat, carrot and onion mixture. Then put all of the filled peppers into an oven-safe pot with a lid.



Take the separate tomato sauce mixture (as seen in the top, left background of the above picture) and pour it on top of each pepper. A lot of the juices will sink to the bottom of the bowl. That is okay, but ensure that each of the filled peppers are coated with the mixture. Cover with the lid of the bowl chosen.

photo            photo

Finally, place the whole pot with cover into the oven, preheated to 375 degrees, and let it cook for one hour or until the peppers are cooked. The peppers will be soft once the dish is cooked.

After this, the dish is completed. Let the peppers cool about 30 minutes and serve.

Final Product.

Final Product!

Some good sides to accompany this dish are:

Whole wheat dinner rolls


Garlic Mashed potatoes










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Baked Chicken-Bacon Alfredo

This week I baked a dish I found on the Mormon Moms:Our Best Bites website. The recipe is, originally, made with penne, but I used whole grain macaroni elbows instead.

Regardless of the change in pasta, taste tester Bryana Merell, 19, still says, “This is really good and I could make it easily with ingredients I mostly already have.” When I told my mom, Stacey Smith, what I made she said, “That is a great idea, I’ve made that before and everybody liked it. I think I’ll make it this week.”

The final dish!


Ingredients, according to the “Our Best Bites” website:

8 oz. penne or bowtie pasta
1 recipe alfredo sauce (1 16-oz. jar would work in a pinch)
2 chicken breasts, grilled and chopped (about 2 c. chopped chicken)
6 oz. (1/2 package) cooked bacon, chopped
1 14-oz. jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/2 c. chopped green onions (about 1 decent-sized bunch)
1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
Salt and pepper, to taste


The first step any cook must take to make this dish is to preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Then, decide whether to make alfredo sauce or buy it. Once the cook has gathered either the chosen alfredo sauce or the ingredients to make it, then it is best to boil the pasta according to the suggested preparation.



If you chose to make your own alfredo sauce, prepare the sauce while the chosen pasta is being prepared.

If you’ve already purchased alfredo sauce heat it up and begin to combine your grilled and chopped chicken, cooked and chopped bacon, chopped green onions, and  one half of a cup of mozzarella cheese in a separate bowl.

Then, drain and chop the suggested amount of artichokes then add them to the mix as well.

photo  photo

However, if the alfredo sauce of your choice is ready and the pasta of your choice is cooked before you can complete mixing the remaining ingredients together after you mix the alfredo sauce into the cooked pasta.




After the pasta and alfredo sauce have been mixed together and the other mixture is prepared in a separate bowl, mix the pasta and other mixture together.



Then, season with salt and pepper, to taste.

After the pasta is mixed together and seasoned, put the food into an eight inch by eight inch baking dish. Then cover the pasta with the remaining mozzarella cheese.



After that, cover the dish with foil and bake it for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. It should turn out something like this:

finished product

Sides that go with this include:

The Food Network’s “Almost-Famous Breadsticks” and Once Upon A Chef’s “Big Italian Salad.”

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Super Bowl Sunday


How to make “Cilantro Chicken”

Welcome to Dinners for Beginners! Let’s Get Started.

The first recipe on this site is for a “Cilantro Chicken,” suggested by Sara Calton, a 20-year-old college student. The original recipe was found at the “Taste of Home Recipes” website.

Cilantro Chicken Preview

After trying to make this chicken at a beginner’s level, a few changes were made so that the meal could be made successfully by anyone who wishes to cook it.

The official ingredients, according to “Taste of Home Recipes,” are:

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 teaspoon honey

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (1 pound)

1 cup finely crushed tortilla chips

1 jar (16 ounces) salsa

2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

1/3 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

The changes that could be made, if desired are to use any shredded cheese. What was used in the test was a mexican cheese blend.

Also, you may use as many breasts as desired. If you use less than four chicken breast halves, the same amount of ingredients will work. If you desire to make more than four breast halves, it is advised to double the amount of ingredients listed.

“The salsa you use can make or break this dish,” says Serena Snyder, a 20-year-old who tasted the dish. Make sure to use a salsa that is enjoyed by all guests. In the test, a chunky red salsa was used.

First, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

The first step the cook must make, according to “Taste of Home Recipes,” is to combine the lime juice, honey and canola oil into a shallow bowl with a spoon or whisk. Either will work for this mixture.

"lime juice mix" and tortilla chips

The second step is to crush the tortilla chips in a plastic bag. Use a dough roller or spoon to crush the tortilla chips into small pieces, but not into powder. Then place the tortilla chips in another shallow dish, according to “Taste of Home Recipes.”

Prepare a baking pan. A nine by thirteen pan will work for four chicken breast halves, but “Taste of Home Recipes” calls for an eleven inch by seven-inch baking pan.

Thirdly, dip each chicken breast half into the lime juice mixture, then dip each half into the tortilla chip pieces, coating the chicken breast half and place each half into the baking pan immediately after it is coated with tortilla chip pieces.

Once all of the chicken breast halves have been coated and placed into the baking pan, cook the chicken at, “350 degrees for 25 minutes or until juices run clear,” according to “Taste of Home Recipes.” During the test, this was not a sufficient amount of time and the chicken cooked for about 30 to 45 minutes.
The chicken should look like this after about the first thirty minutes.

While Chicken is cooking, combine the minced cilantro and salsa. Once the chicken is finished cooking, top each half with a generous amount of the salsa and cilantro mix, then top each chicken breast half with cheese.

Put the baking pan with the chicken back into the oven for another, “5-7 minutes or until cheese is melted,” according to “Taste of Home Recipes.”

Calton, who tasted the meal says it is, "easy to make and really good."

Calton, who tasted the meal says it is, “easy to make and really good.”


Some good sides to make with this dish include:

Corn Salad with Queso Fresco


Homemade Mexican Rice by “hilahcooking”