Home cooking for one (or more)
My son Jeffrey delights in sending me oddball emails about food. He has been a strict Vegan (no meat, eggs, cheese, etc.) for many years. And he knows just how to gross out our meat eating family (me!) with strange stuff. So I never know what to expect when I open one of his ‘informational’ emails.
His latest treatise, “The world’s saddest cookbook!” came from a huffingtonpost.com website. The article referred to a cookbook and video by Marie T. Smith. Her “Microwave Cooking for One “ garnered raves in the mid-1980s when microwaves were just becoming popular. Evidently, the idea behind the ‘saddest’ headline was that eating alone is a sad state of affairs and microwave cooking only makes it lonelier.
Well, that’s a questionable statement but the article did serve to remind me that many individuals live and eat alone: students, divorcees, the widowed, travelers, singles and others. And since all of us have to eat, I’m aware that most cookbook recipes are scaled to serve 4-8 people and are highly impractical when you’re cooking for one or two.
Because I love to cook, I find that cooking for two people is challenging. I am pretty much a failure at halving recipes. In fact, there’s no such thing as a small pot of soup at our house. The ingredients always expand to fill the container and provide leftovers for an army. I can always set an extra place at the dinner table.
Although there are only two of us, I often cook recipes for four people. We eat half of the entrée and I freeze and serve the remainder for another day. For-instance, I make the full recipe of spaghetti sauce and serve it over pasta the first night. Then, I divide the leftover sauce into portions for chicken marinara or lasagna. I also mix it with rice and use it to stuff bell peppers.
Not everyone shares my enthusiasm for cooking. So, in honor of singles and small families, here are some simple but delicious recipes to serve one or two people. They are quick to prepare, plate up nicely and taste so much better than fast food. I’ve also included a couple of desserts that look as good as they taste. And of course, all of the recipes can be adapted to serve four or more. Jeff, thanks for the inspiration! Enjoy!
8 unpeeled jumbo fresh shrimp
4-ozs. angel hair pasta, uncooked
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. chopped shallots
6 stalks asparagus, cut into 2-in. pieces, blanched in hot water
1 cup peeled, seeded, diced tomato
1/2 cup sliced mixed mushrooms
Salt to taste
1/8 tsp. dried crushed red pepper or to taste
1/2 cup dry white wine (or wine vinegar)
1 Tbsp. each of chopped fresh basil, oregano, thyme and parsley
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Peel and devein shrimp; set aside.
Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside.
Heat a 9-in. skillet over high heat 1 minute; add oil, and heat 10 seconds.
Add shrimp, garlic, and shallots; cook, stirring constantly, 2-3 minutes or until shrimp turn pink; remove shrimp. Add asparagus and next 4 ingredients; cook and stir until hot. Add wine, scraping bottom of skillet to loosen any particles, if necessary. Add shrimp, pasta and seasonings. Toss gently. Garnish with Parmesan cheese. Serves 2 (maybe).
1 sweet Italian sausage link, casing removed
½ onion, chopped
1 raw hamburger patty, crumbled and fried
2 whole mushrooms, washed and sliced
Dash of oregano
Dash of fennel
½ cup prepared (or bottled) spaghetti sauce
2 ounces of multi-grain spaghetti, cooked and rinsed
Cut the sausage link into bite-size pieces, and place it in a large skillet over medium heat. When the sausage is nearly done, add the onion and crumbled hamburger patty, and continue frying. When the meat is done, drain and add the mushrooms, oregano, fennel and spaghetti sauce.
Prepare the spaghetti according to the manufacturer's directions. Drain and rinse the spaghetti with hot water. Cover and set aside. As soon as the garlic toast has been broiled, grab a large bowl, fill it with a good size portion of spaghetti, top it with meat sauce and enjoy.
1 chicken breast, skinless and boneless
half of a red pepper chopped fine
4 fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp of dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
1.Preheat oven to 425
2.Squeeze lemon juice into a small baking pan
3.Add red pepper and mushrooms to the pan, mix with a fork
4. Remove fat from chicken breast and add to the pan, coating it with the lemon, oregano, red peppers and mushrooms. Add salt and pepper. Put in the oven for about 30 minutes. Turn the chicken at least once and serve with the pan juices and vegetables. Serves 1.
1/2 cup frozen strawberries
1/4 cup strawberry jam
1 Tablespoon water
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over medium low heat until syrupy. Serve over ice cream.
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup lime juice
1 teaspoon grated lime peel
2 drops green food coloring
2/3 cup whipped cream (or low fat Cool Whip)
In the top of a double boiler, combine the egg and sugar. Cut the butter into tablespoons; add to double boiler. Add lime juice and peel; cook and stir over boiling water for 8-10 minutes or until thick. Remove from the heat; add food coloring. Cool. Fold in the whipped cream.
Chill for at least 1 hour.
Yield: 1 serving.