Successful Careless Cooking


Some days I just don’t feel like cooking.  Can’t be bothered.  Could care less.  Today was one of those days.  It’s raining, there are still unopened boxes in the garage and everywhere, there is nothing truly exciting in my freezer and refrigerator.  Still, the spouse and child must be fed.  Time for careless cooking.  Careless cooking is only successful when you have the right audience, include certain essential ingredients and make the correct quantity judgement.

Baby boomers are the best targets for careless cooking (Boomers from the “deep country” are perfect).  Born between 1946 and 1964, these are the original one-dish casserole kids. Moms were mostly stay at home but housewife-ing with multiple children was and is an unpaid full time job that naturally runs into overtime; housecleaning, laundry, driving the kids to events, budgeting, cooking, etc. Food companies often advertised their products as time saving and economical which appealed to the housewife trying to find a little personal space for lunch, bridge, the hair salon or whatever.  Cans were good things and in the beginning the contents were not so bad. Casseroles were good things because you could dump a bunch of cans in one pot, sprinkle with cheese, add a little parsley, innovative presentation and you had a family meal.  Note: It is more than possible to successfully careless cook for the generations after the boomers; just add about 2 tablespoons of sugar and maybe some ketchup to whatever casserole you make.  Avoid vegetables that can not be pureed into the sauce.


As to ingredients, careless cooking is centered around a well stocked pantry of canned goods; vegetables, tomatoes, beans, sauces and broths.  Use your imagination and do have on hand a ridiculous amount of dried herbs and spices.  It is essential that no matter what you are making, be sure to saute some onions, garlic and bell pepper to include in your one-dish triumph.  Above all, careless cooking must taste good and these vegetables and aromatic pretty much guarantee that.


If you are cooking for carnivores, be sure to add a decent quantity of meat. Meat casseroles with fillers(rice, pasta, potatoes) that overwhelm to the extent that the carnivore has to search for the meat are not successful, just frustrating.  For vegetarians, just make sure that there’s plenty of sauce and serve everything with thick slices of bread and maybe butter if they’re doing butter.

Chili Mac

1 1/2 lb ground veal

1 lb ground pork

2 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 large red bell pepper, diced

2 cans diced tomatoes

1 small can tomato paste

1 1/2 tbsp Mexican chili powder

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp piment d’espelette

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 can pinto beans, drained

1/2 bean can of water

3 cups cooked elbow macaroni

1 mounded cup grated cheese

Brown the ground meats in a dry skillet, then remove and set aside.  Pour out the accumulated fat, wipe the skillet with a paper towel, then add the olive oil, onion, garlic and bell pepper, sauteing until the onion is soft.

Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, piment, salt, pepper, beans, water and reserved meat to the skillet, stir well, bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes.  Stir in the macaroni and cheese, then allow to simmer, stirring for about 3-5 minutes.



About cookinginsens

An American living in Burgundy, France
This entry was posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to Successful Careless Cooking

  1. Conor Bofin says:

    But that’s how I cook pretty well all the time Rosemary!

  2. Mad Dog says:

    Your careless cooking sounds quite good – I’m not so sure about peas in potato boats 😉

  3. I get can’t be bothered sometimes. I guess it depends on how long I’ve spent exercising. i’ve not cooked properly for two days now!

  4. jz says:

    welcome back to america!

  5. Michelle says:

    Too funny. Some of those old things are not bad when made properly. I actually made a broccoli casserole last night (no canned soup in sight!) to get rid of some broccoli and cheese about to go off. And it wasn’t half bad.

  6. Karista says:

    Oh how I love careless cooking. Sometimes those are the most loved meals! Chili Mac, haven’t heard those two words in years. I loved Chili Mac. I think I’ll have to make this soon. My daughter would love it 🙂 Thanks Rosemary!

  7. I regularly just cannot be bothered, so I love this idea of careless cooking. My problem is often that I can’t think of what to cook when I’m in that can’t be bothered mood, so I end up just having peanut butter on toast (because who can say no?). So a set of “recipes” to cook when you can’t be bothered is a fantastic idea. You’ve given me inspiration – thanks!

  8. Kathleen says:

    I love your term “careless cooking’!! My mom used to make ” chili mac” for us and now I continue the tradition. Her father-in-law taught her to make it using spaghetti. But, yours looks delicious with the macaroni.

  9. This post sums up my life half the time! Definitely on point…a good read!

  10. Piment d’Espelette! In chili mac! Brilliant. And you aren’t kidding about having “on hand a ridiculous amount of dried herbs and spices.” If you haven’t tried Hepp’s “7 Fire Smoke” salt, though, it would be a terrific sub for the salt you’re using in this. Yeah, it’s stupid expensive (not unlike, say, piment d’espelette), but it’s the sanctified union of salt and liquid smoke, and it injects a wonderful bass note into, say, things like chili.

    Love your posts; I really need to make it more of a regular habit to look them up, rather than binge-reading. Keep up the good work, and thanks for putting it out there.

    • Thank you temple. piment d’espelette is expensive in France. I can’t imagine the price they charge here! I brought several jars over with me. It sounds like I need 7 Fire Smoke 🙂

  11. Mörkrum says:

    I LOVE careless cooking! Thanks for the recipe, will try this for sure!

  12. I’d be damn happy with that in my face!!

  13. Karen says:

    I’m sure every bit of that careless cooking was eaten with pleasure by your family.

  14. sakinah30 says:

    Reblogged this on Cappuccino.

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