Cooking For One

Hey Cats!

Happy Wednesday! It came quickly this week, since we had Monday off. I loved having an extra day to sleep in and lay by the pool, but it’s kind of gotten me thrown off a bit! I kept thinking Monday was Sunday and Tuesday was Monday, and I’m always wishing it was Friday. I digress.

I love to cook. I remember being so excited to escape the greasy campus food when I moved out of the dorm and into a house with a kitchen in college. I was going to cook every day and love life! But that proved to be a challenge. I was used to helping my mom cook dinner for our family of four, so when I started making dinner for just myself, I wasn’t sure where to begin! Over the past few years, I’ve perfected the art of cooking for one, and it’s actually not as difficult as you’d think! Here are some of my favorite tips for those of you just moving into your first kitchen!

FullSizeRender (14)

1. The freezer is your friend! 

Every two weeks or so, I buy a package of chicken tenders from the meat section of the grocery store, take it home and wrap each one individually in foil and pop it in the freezer. In the past, I bought the huge bag of IQF frozen chicken breasts, but then they started to get really gross (think blood and bones-ick.). This may be slightly more expensive and doesn’t last as long, but they’re definitely better quality! Plus, it’s super easy to just move one from the freezer to the fridge in the morning to thaw for dinner that night!

In addition to chicken, I will occasionally buy a big piece of salmon and cut it into thirds or quarters, depending on the size, and freeze that as well. However, I would recommend eating the salmon within the week!

I also like to keep a bag of frozen corn and a bag of frozen peas on hand in my freezer. If I don’t feel like cooking a vegetable I’ll just heat up a small bowl of one of those, or if I’m making stir fry I’ll just toss in a handful! These last forever and they’re super cheap!

2. Try to repurpose your leftovers in creative ways. 

I’m usually okay with leftovers, but when you live alone, leftovers can last a while longer than you want them to. I don’t know about you, but eating something every day for dinner (and sometimes lunch also) makes me never want to eat it again. Typically, I try to avoid leftovers, but sometimes it can’t be helped! Let’s say you made a pound of hamburger meat for stuffed bell peppers one night, and you still have a lot left. Well, you could make tacos the next day, or you could make a small pot of chili!

3. Buy perishables in small quantities.

Sometimes it’s super tempting to buy both asparagus AND Brussels sprouts, but don’t. You will regret it and it will be a waste of money, because one will definitely go bad before you can eat it. You might think that you’ll get tired of the same vegetable every night, but if you prepare it a little differently, that will shake things up a bit! I like to roast Brussels sprouts, but sometimes I sprinkle them with red pepper, or toss them in sriracha, or sprinkle them with goat cheese!

4. If you want something big, invite friends over! 

I love lasagna and enchiladas, but if I made them for just myself, I could never eat it all! If I’m dying to have something different, I will whip it up and invite a few friends over to help me eat it. And depending on how many people you have/what you make, you may still have some leftover for lunch!

5. Don’t be afraid to experiment

I will often find recipes on Pinterest that look delicious, but they typically feed a small country. If I want to try it, I’ll peruse the ingredients and come up with a smaller version for myself! Or, I will add the ingredients on top of a pizza or mix them into pasta for something easy and different. Just make sure you scale everything down evenly, or else the flavors will be off and it will not be delicious.

Cooking for one can seem boring, but it doesn’t have to be! Hopefully you learned something new today. If you have any tips or yummy recipes for just one person, let me know! Also, be sure to check out all of my recipes– most of them have a serving size of one person!

That’s all for meow!

For more Sweet Cats!, follow along at:

Bloglovin’
Twitter
Facebook
Pinterest
Instagram

 

Advertisements

One & Done Dinner- Salmon, Sprouts, & Sweet Potato

Hey Cats!

I hope everyone is having a good week! I’ve got a few projects coming up at work, so it has been a busy week, and it’s only Wednesday! When life gets busy, it can be really easy to eat whatever’s fast and doesn’t require a sink full of dishes. So basically Chick-Fil-A, pasta, or anything else that’s probably fried and severely lacking in nutritional value. However, I’ve found that eating crap when you’re busy makes you feel even worse and slows you down when you don’t have time to be slowed down. Lately, I’ve been experimenting to come up with healthy dinners that are more exciting than my usual chicken-quinoa-roasted brussels sprouts combo, and require less clean up. I crafted this little trio last week and it’s already made a repeat appearance! Pecan-crusted salmon, a baked sweet potato, and roasted Brussels sprouts (lol if you thought I could stray from this) with goat cheese- sounds pretty involved, right? False. Let me show you how it’s done.

image1 (1)

Here’s what you’ll need:

-1 small sweet potato

-1 portion of salmon (I either get the 4oz serving from the fish counter or get a large piece and cut it in 3rds and freeze the rest!)

-1 tablespoon of butter

-1 tablespoon chopped pecans

-1 tablespoon grated parmesan

-1 tsp dry ranch dressing mix

-1/2 cup brussels sprouts,  quartered

-olive oil

-honey

-goat cheese crumbles

-almond butter (optional but HIGHLY recommended. Highly)

Here’s what you do:

1.First, you’ll need to bake the sweet potato by itself for a bit. Wash your sweet potato and poke holes all over with a fork- just don’t stab yourself (I have done this. Raise your hand if you’re not surprised). Bake at 400 for 30-45 minutes, depending on the size of your tuber. You can just place it on the middle rack of your oven, no pan needed!

2. While your sweet potato is baking, do what you need to do. Live your life. Unload your dishwasher. Throw a load of laundry on. Do your workout for the day. Sit on the couch and watch trash tv. Neglect to write a blog post. It’s up to you. This is your time.

3. When your timer has about 15 minutes left, prepare the rest of your dinner for baking. Cover a baking sheet with foil whilst rejoicing that this is the only thing you will have to wash.

4. Prepare the salmon by following steps 1-4 of this recipe. Yes, I’ve made this before, but it was solo. This time it has friends. If you’re not feeling fancy, you can always simply season your salmon with salt, pepper, and dill!

5. Next, prepare your sprouts. Here’s my process: chop off the hard stem on the bottom, hopefully taking the outer leaves with it. Peel off a few layers of leaves until it looks clean. (always wash them first, by the way) Chop the little sprout in half, then in quarters. If the quarters are still large, I’ll chop them again! Toss them in olive oil, salt, and pepper- this can be done on the pan!

6. Then, assemble the pan. Place the salmon on one side, sprouts on the other, and the sweet potato in the middle. Fits perfectly!

IMG_1683

7. Increase the heat to 425, and bake everything for another 20 minutes, until the salmon is cooked thoroughly and the sprouts are crispy!

8. Next, dress it up! I drizzled honey and crumbled goat cheese on the brussels sprouts, thanks to Bites of Bri. Ugh, so good I nearly cried. Then, instead of cinnamon and sugar on my sweet potato, I put a dollop of almond butter on top after a recommendation from my coworker (thanks, Natalie!). Changed. My. Life. It’s so creamy and delicious. I was afraid it would be too sweet but it is excellent. You will die. And then come back to life to thank me profusely.

9. Enjoy your gourmet dinner and then enjoy only washing one pan!

Side note: when I told my mom about this, I kept going on about how “it only took one pan!”. Eventually she asked me, “Is that because you only have one pan?”. No, it’s because I’m lazy. But honestly, I’m not even surprised, because I also told her that day that I had made toast in my oven in a loaf pan. Because I’m resourceful. And I’m not married so people don’t think I need/want nice kitchen appliances such as a toaster. I digress.

Do you have any one-and-done dinners? Please share, I hate washing dishes!

That’s all for meow!
For more Sweet Cats!, follow along at:

Bloglovin’
Twitter
Facebook
Pinterest
Instagram

Recipe-Pizza Spaghetti Squash Boats

Hey Cats!

We’ve talked about how eating healthy was a big part of my life when I was in college, but unfortunately, I have fallen off the wagon since graduation. For some reason it has been extra hard to cook every night, so when I find healthy recipes that I love, I hang on to them!

I have a love-hate relationship with spaghetti squash. It usually sounds like a good idea at the grocery store, but then once I get home I realize that it’s a lot of trouble, and until now, I didn’t have a super delicious way to prepare it. A few weeks ago I was pushing my cart through Trader Joe’s and saw a spaghetti squash. “I haven’t made one of those in YEARS”, I said to myself, and tossed it in my basket without another thought. Then I got home and it was staring at me, asking me, “now what? Please not just garlic powder and cheese”. So I had to get creative. I scrolled through Pinterest for some inspiration, and came up with this pizza-inspired twice-baked squash.

IMG_0895

Here’s what you will need:

-1 spaghetti squash

-1 cup marinara sauce

-1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese

-1 tbsp olive oil

-salt, pepper, and garlic & onion powder to taste

Here’s what you do:

  1. First, prepare your spaghetti squash. There are a few ways to do this, but you’ll want to cut it in half lengthwise and cook it in the oven for optimum boat shape. Be careful while cutting it, it’s a dangerous task, especially if you only have steak knives. Anyways, bake at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes, or until it is soft to the touch.
  2. Once the squash is cooked, scrape the “noodles” of one half into a mixing bowl. You can prepare both, but this recipe is for those of us cooking for one! I wrapped the other half in foil and stuck it in the fridge for another day, and just followed the same recipe!
  3. Mix the olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder into the squash.
  4. Then, mix in 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce and 1/4 cup of the cheese.
  5. Next, spoon the squash mixture back into the shell.
  6. Top with the remaining sauce and cheese, and broil until the cheese is brown and bubbly!
  7. Enjoy your boat!

This is a yummy, healthy dinner that’s pretty filling and will make you feel great about yourself. Unless you go overboard on the cheese, which is understandable. Plus, if you’re cooking for only yourself, you have dinner for two nights! Spaghetti squash might just be my friend after all.

Recipe- Tangy Summer Salad with Salmon

Hey Cats!

Happy Wednesday! This week is both flying and crawling at the same time, if that’s possible. I’ve been trying to eat healthier lately, but it’s also SO HOT in Houston that just the thought of turning the stove on makes me sweat. I typically make a pizza or other fun dinner for myself on the weekend, but after laying out at the pool all day Saturday, I needed something light, but obviously still delicious and filling. So I decided to combine a citrus salmon recipe that I love with a homemade version of my favorite Salata salad. And it was so good I made it without the salmon for lunch until I ran out of kale.

IMG_0672

Okay first we need to address this MASSIVE salmon plank. I asked for 4oz, and the little fishmonger just haphazardly whacked off a chunk, weighed it to get the price, and wrapped it up without noticing that it was 6oz. I’m fine with more fish, but I also had to pay more for it, which I wasn’t too pleased about. Also, it was so large that it just fell apart when I tried to plate it, so that’s why it looks kind of sad. But hey, I did the best I could and it’s delicious so that’s all that matters, right?

Here’s what you’ll need:

-1 serving of Honey Garlic Lemon Salmon– this recipe from The Whisking Kitchen is SO good!

-1 cup kale, rinsed and chopped

-1/4 cup fresh spinach, chopped

-3-4 large brussels sprouts, grated or finely chopped

-1 small granny smith apple, thinly sliced or diced

-1/4 cup cooked quinoa

-2 tbsp pine nuts

-2-3 tbsp goat cheese (feel free to go crazy here, I sure did)

-lemon vinaigrette dressing- I used Marzetti’s Simply Dressed Lemon, in the refrigerated section.

Here’s what you do:

1. First, prepare the salmon. It has to marinate for at least 30 minutes, so plan for that. ALSO cook it on a foil-lined pan, because I cannot tell you how long it took me to scrub the burnt honey off my pan.

2. Finely chop the kale and spinach and add to a very large mixing bowl.

3. Add the brussels sprouts, apple, and quinoa and toss.

4. Next, add the pine nuts, cheese, and dressing. Toss until everything is fully coated with dressing. I usually just pour my dressing over the top, but tossing your salad ensures every bite is tasty!

5. Serve your salad with your salmon on top, and enjoy!

What’s your favorite light summer meal? Let me know!

 

That’s all for meow!

For more Sweet Cats!, follow along at:

Bloglovin’
Twitter
Facebook
Pinterest
Instagram

 

Recipe-Chocolate Chip Muffins

Hey Cats!

Who is excited for the weekend? I know I am, especially since this is the first weekend in probably two months I don’t have plans or have to go out of town, so I’m looking forward to a relaxing weekend at my house. As I have mentioned, breakfast is my favorite meal of the day- I love the variation of breakfast foods, from extra savory to basically dessert. I’m usually fine with cereal on mornings when I have to go to work or school, but lately I’ve just gotten tired of it. Tonight, I told my mother “I am so over my cereal, I’m making muffins.” She’s used to my dramatics, so she just told me to make sure I cleaned up my mess. We didn’t have any fruit I wanted to use, and I didn’t feel like going to the store, so I scoured the cupboard for usable ingredients. I came across mini chocolate chips and vanilla pudding mix, so I decided to see what I could do! I used a basic muffin recipe for guidance, but used my own judgement for most of the ingredients! Here’s what you’ll need:

Dry Ingredients

-1 1/2 cups flour

-1/2 cup granulated sugar

-2 tbsp brown sugar

-1 1/2 tsp baking soda

-1/2 tsp salt

-1 packet of instant vanilla pudding mix

Wet Ingredients

-1/3 cup melted butter

-1 egg

-3/4 cup milk

-3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Here’s what you do:

First, preheat your oven to 350 and line a muffin tin with paper liners. Next, combine all the dry ingredients, making sure the brown sugar isn’t in clumps (I would suggest using a fork). Then, add your wet ingredients and mix well. The batter should be thick, but still pourable-at first I only added 1/2 cup of milk and it was like cookie dough, so I added more! Finally, stir in the chocolate chips! Pour into the lined muffin tin and bake for 25 minutes or until slightly golden and firm.

photo (29)

These are really dense, yet still creamy from the pudding mix! Also, mini chocolate chips are my new favorite thing because when you bake with them, they just take over the batter and you get chocolate in literally every bite…it’s beyond delicious. I can’t wait to have another one of these in the morning-hopefully I’ll be happier about this than I was my cereal!

What’s your favorite breakfast food?

That’s all for meow!