Leave it to the Professionals

Here are foods I vow never (okay, likely never) to cook from scratch again.

Hummus: Easy right? Sure as long as you own a food processor and you're not afraid to use it. Meanwhile perfecting the ratios (salt to lemon to tahini to beans) elicits the cry, "Enough already!" Nevermind the price; prepared hummus from Trader Joe's, Whole Foods or Chicago's Middle East Bakery all cost less than the price of two cans of beans, a jar of tahini and a lemon.

Tabbouleh: Aye caramba. The parsley, tomatoes, bulghur and so on. Again, Middle East Bakery. Trader Joe's version is okay, sometimes too much onion for me.

Beef jerky: Yeah that's right, lured by a homemade jerky recipe from an unnamed French cooking magazine. Though tasty, I'm sticking with the packaged nitrate-free stuff at Whole Foods or Joe's.

Fried chicken: One and done. Delicious, messy, not worth it. Visit the Whole Foods hot bar for a fine alternative.

Veggie smoothies: So not palatable. Jamba Juice, people!

Risotto: Let someone else stir for 30 straight minutes.

Whole fish head intact: My husband, disgusted by the foggy eyeball staring back at him, nearly ordered a pizza. Instead I deboned the little fishy and we dined in peace. I see only fillets in our future.

Gazpacho: Tried three times, this mess and a jumbo time commitment received, "It's just okay," ratings. I have moved on.

Potato pancakes a.k.a. "latkes": See "Fried Chicken" above. Visit Trader Joe's freezer section for a fine alternative.

Haggis: Just kidding!

Coming soon: Foods I cook so well eating them anyplace else is a travesty.