When I was a kid, I grew up on hearty, home-cooked meat and potatoes meals every night of the week. Looking back on it now, I don’t know how I missed my mom’s Wonder Woman cape! I have no idea how she prepared a fully cooked meal with side dishes — she must have had super powers.

At 27-years-old, I find myself completely exhausted after work, with very little energy to cook anything other than buttered noodles. But, I work at one of the best culinary schools in the nation and decided I needed, and deserved, to step it up to better, more complete meals.

So with my mom as my inspiration, I had to retire my lazy ways and seize the chance to make better meals. When the winter edition of ICE’s newsletter, The Main Course, came out, I jumped at the opportunity to take the Super Fast Weeknights recreational cooking class.

For those of you also tight on time and not sure what interesting and diverse meals you can cook quickly during the workweek, you have to check this class out. For example, rather than plain grilled chicken, I can now whip up Balsamic Chicken with Grapes and Almonds. The class was an incredible boon to my repertoire of dishes that can be made after work. In a few short hours, we learned how to prepare six main-dish meals, all cooking in 30 minutes or less. Plus, Chef Instructor Marge Perry gave us guidance on creating side dishes without recipes. Here are some helpful tips to get you started:

*Read your recipe thoroughly before you get started. It’s easy to miss a critical step if you read as you go.

*Gather and prepare all of your ingredients before starting to cook. Have everything at your side before you even turn on the stove to prevent scrambling.

*Never make more than one recipe a night. Go with your gut and create very simple side dishes from scratch. Roasting veggies while your main dish cooks is always a great idea!

With a little commitment and attention to detail, we all can become the master’s of our own kitchens on any weeknight! Just last night I overlooked the noodles in the cupboard and started roasting some veggies and sautéing some chicken for a more grown-up meal.

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