8 Recipes Every Real Live Grown-Up Should Master

Hey, no one said being an adult was easy, but it does have its fair share of milestones that keep things interesting. Mark each of life's stages the only way we know how: with food. 

Photo By: Stephen Johnson ©© 2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Stephen Johnson ©© 2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Stephen Johnson ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Stephen Johnson ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Stephen Johnson ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Stephen Johnson ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Stephen Johnson ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Stephen Johnson ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Stephen Johnson ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Bites of Passage

If you just started this whole "living on your own" thing, you know it's all about firsts  — cough cough, like getting a job — and you best be celebrating each one. If you’re asking us, toasting what it means to be considered a full-fledged grown-up starts right in the kitchen. As you check off life's list of to-dos, cook up these so-good dishes with every step. (And even if you've been a bill-paying, key-wielding adult for a while now, we have a feeling these bold recipes will still resonate with you.)

 

Photography by Stephen Johnston

You Just Got Hired

Look at you, all employed! You can finally afford groceries but might not quite be at big-spender status. If you are looking to cook a meal that's both impressive and responsible (just like you), this cost-cutting Cajun dish is just the thing. Make your shrimp work double duty: Use the shells to make a shrimp broth that enhances the flavor of the dish. And don’t forget the Champagne — or sparkling white wine (no judgments here!).

Get the Recipe: Shrimp Jambalaya

You Just Moved Into Your Very Own Place

Congrats! You just signed your first lease! … But the majority of your kitchen tools are still in the boxes. Unearth at least one for a truly amazing one-pot dish: pork carnitas. After some time and TLC, you'll watch the meat go from simmering to frying, leaving you with tender chunks and crisp bites of pork for the perfect taco filling. Stock up on all the fixings and you're in business — even if you have to eat your meal on the floor.

Get the Recipe: Carnitas

You're Hosting Your First Wine and Cheese Party

You’ve graduated from keggers to an affair that’s a little more civilized. The wine is covered (twist-top FTW), but what will you serve? Go for this super-simple ricotta cheese. You get to decide if you'd rather make a soft or slightly firmer version. And flavor options for serving are endless — we're big fans of the classic honey and cracked black pepper.

Get the Recipe: Homemade Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese

You Bought Your First Car

After you hang the little pine tree freshener and program your favorite radio stations, the next step for celebrating your very own wheels is an on-the-road feast. These crispy fried chicken sandwiches are great fresh and hot at home, or wrapped in foil to take along on a joy ride in the car.

Get the Recipe: Fried Chicken Sandwiches

You Just Ran a Marathon

Or your friend did, while you haven’t gotten out of bed yet! Make a recovery snack to remember: This "sundae" is actually a healthy serving of fruit in a bowl with a big helping of extra energy and potassium.

Get the Recipe: Banana Ice Cream Sundae

It's Date Night — and You're Cooking Dinner

Nothing woos like homemade dinner. Pro tip: Don’t forget the candle, and make a dish that’s sure to impress and difficult to screw up. The secret ingredient in this recipe is time (although there's thyme, too). Letting the pork slowly braise in the tomato sauce builds a deep and rich flavor.

Get the Recipe: Pork Ragout with Pappardelle Pasta

You're Hosting Mom and Dad

Before you freak out, cook something that’ll make them proud (and still leave you time to clean the whole apartment). If you've ever roasted a chicken, then consider this Chicken Dinner 2.0 — you're sure to impress with just a little bit of extra work.

Get the Recipe: Chicken Under a Brick

Your Friends Are Pairing Off

Your feed is flooded with engagements, and now your closest friend is tying the knot too. These little pastries are the perfect congratulatory food gift and, since they're made with store-bought puff pastry, you can present them shortly after the question is popped.

Get the Recipe: Chocolate and Almond Knots