COOKING FOR ONE

COOKING FOR ONE

We all know how hard it is to cook for just one! And sometimes it is very discouraging - you want something good, wholesome and nutritious but when you are cooking for yourself you sometimes deprive yourself of all the good things you would normally make if you were feeding others.

This thread is for all those recipes, hints and tips for those that cook for one.

Please feel free to share with us!

Kitchen Witch

The “make-ahead pie plate dinners”!

Been there - done that.

Craving something really homemade, I would prepare a feast and divide it into aluminum pie plates (I don’t care much for using the microwave) and seal tightly with foil. Stick on a label; date and freeze.

Coming home from work I would dig for what I was in the mood to eat - toss it in the oven or convection oven to heat while I took a nice hot bath. Dinner was then ready and I was eating quite healthy. All I had to do was transfer my pie plate dinner to a dinner plate (I would never eat out of a pie plate - too tacky!) And I keep salad mix of some sort already made up in the fridge most of them time, so adding a salad was no problem.

I had a crazy work schedule so I would prepare things on my days off and freeze meals for myself. It worked for me.

Examples:

Turkey or chicken, gravy, mashed potatoes, veggies of choice.

Turkey or chicken and gravy - place in plastic bags. Remove from the freezer and boil in hot water for a hot sandwich. Same with roast beef and eye round.

Extra gravy was ladeled into small freezer containers in case I wanted gravy for a sandwich or to dip my fries in.

Mashed potatoes - with or without an extra pat of butter or with gravy were frozen in small freezer containers. Rice too.

Meatloaf, roasts, pork, steak, etc. portioned and frozen with or without sauce, gravy, onions, mushrooms, etc.

Shredded pork with BBQ sauce or shredded roast beef with gravy and mushrooms could be heated and served on a nice hoagie roll, baguette or French or Italian bread.

Cakes and pies were baked, portioned and frozen. Microwave homemade apple pie to heat thru - love hot apple pie. Even muffins were frozen.

Lasagna was baked, cooled completely and portioned with a scoop of extra sauce spooned over (I am a sauce nut!)

Individual containers of just sauce or pasta with sauce of choice - all portioned. Stuffed shells, stuffed manicotti, spaghetti, tortellini, rigatoni, etc. with or without meatballs and/or Italian sausage.

Sometimes I would even place a piece of homemade garlic bread in with it with grated mozzarella on top so they would cook together and help round out a meal.

Ditto with casseroles, homemade pizza, calzones. Also rice dishes.

I even made hamburgers and cooked them - sometimes with gravy or sauce or mushrooms and onions. If I wanted a cheeseburger - just added cheese when it was hot.

I would cook a large batch of chicken wings or chicken tenders, even chicken breasts, leave them plain, portion and freeze. To cook - I would just heat in the oven with sauce of choice over them or toss in BBQ sauce and grill on the electric grill.

A nice large chicken or turkey made plenty of meals and the carcass was always used to make broth and/or soups to be portioned.

I enjoy pudding - but a whole box is too much to eat at one sitting so I would make pudding pops with the left over.

Homemade waffles were made by the batch and frozen; pop in the toaster and enjoy. Pancakes were portioned and frozen; placed in the convection oven with a pat of butter and syrup poured over while they were still frozen - worked for me.

One weekend I spent cooking and baking all day - had meals for almost 2 months - and that really helped me with the wacky schedule I had. Working 2 full time jobs - it was not easy trying to cook. I’d be so dang tired that my freezer and my oven were my best friends!!

Lemon Pudding Cake

1 egg, separated
1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. milk
2 T. all-purpose flour
2 T. lemon juice
1 t. grated lemon peel
1/8 t. salt
Whipped cream, optional

In a mixing bowl, beat egg yolk. Add sugar, milk, flour, lemon juice, peel and salt; beat until smooth.

Beat egg white until stiff peaks form; gently fold into lemon mixture.

Pour into two ungreased 6-oz. custard cups (cups will be very full).

Place the cups in an 8-in. square baking pan. Pour boiling water into pan to a depth of 1 in.

Bake at 325 for 40-45 min. or until a knife inserted comes out clean and top is golden. Serve with whipped cream if desired.

2 servings

Nacho Casserole

1/2 (10-3/4-oz.) can condensed Cheddar cheese soup*
1/4 cup low-fat (1%) milk
1 cup mild or medium-hot salsa
1/2 (7-oz.) bag baked, unsalted tortilla chips
1 cup fat-free refried beans
1 jalapeño chile, thinly sliced
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

In 13x9-in. ceramic or glass baking dish, stir undiluted soup with milk; spread evenly.

Top with half of salsa and half of chips. Carefully spread beans over chips. Top with remaining chips and salsa. Sprinkle with chiles and Cheddar.

Bake 20 minutes or until hot.

Serves 2

Breast of Chicken Parmigiana

2 (7-oz.) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
4-ozs. sliced mozzarella cheese
2 Tbsp. butter
1 cup white cream sauce
2-ozs. shredded Parmiagana Regiano cheese
1/2 tsp. powdered garlic
Salt
Pepper

Season chicken with salt, pepper and garlic. Dip into beaten eggs and dredge in Italian bread crumbs. Lightly brown in butter (clarified butter is really the best for this).

Remove from pan and place in a 2 slices of Mozzarella cheese on each breast.

Bake in a 350ºF. oven until cheese is lightly browned.

Add cream sauce to drippings left in frypan and heat.

When cream sauce is hot, place a ladle of the sauce onto the plate, and then place 1 chicken breast on top. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.

Serves 2

Clam Chowder for One

1/2 cup cubed peeled potato
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/8 tsp. salt
Pinch pepper
1/2 cup water
1 (6-1/2-oz.) can chopped clams, drained
2/3 cup milk
Just enough chicken broth to cover potato and vegetables
1 tbsp. butter or margarine
1 bacon strip, cooked and crumbled
Chopped parsley, optional

In a small saucepan, cook potato, onion, salt and pepper in minimal amount of chicken broth until vegetables are tender (do not drain).

Add clams, milk, butter and bacon; heat through (do not boil).

Sprinkle with parsley.

Yield: 1 serving

Macaroni and Cheese for One

2 tablespoons butter or margarine – divided
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch pepper
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup cheddar cheese – diced
1/4 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon onion – chopped
1/4 cup elbow macaroni – cooked and drained
2 saltine crackers – crushed

In a saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon butter; stir in flour, salt and pepper. Whisk in milk until smooth. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low.

Add the cheese, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and onion; stir until cheese is melted. Add macaroni. Transfer to a greased 1 cup baking dish.

Sprinkle with saltines; dot with remaining butter.

Bake, uncovered, at 350 F. for 15 minutes or until heated through.

Yield: 1 serving

Beef Stir Fry for One

1 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. cider or red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 lb. sirloin steak, cut into 1/4-in. strips
1/4 cup broccoli florets
1/4 cup cauliflowerets
1/2 tsp. vegetable oil
1/4 cup diced green or sweet red pepper
1/4 cup diced cabbage
1/4 cup sliced water chestnuts
2 green onion, sliced
3 tbsp. beef broth
1 tsp. cornstarch
Hot Cooked Rice

In a large resealable plastic bag or shallow glass container, combine the first 4 ingredients; add beef and turn to coat. Seal or cover and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes.

In a skillet or wok, stir-fry broccoli and cauliflower in oil until vegetables begin to soften.

Add beef and marinade; cook on medium-high for 3 minutes.

Add green pepper, cabbage and water chestnuts; stir-fry for 2-3 minutes or until the vegetables are crisp-tender.

Add onions.

Combine broth and cornstarch until smooth; add to skillet. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.

Serve over rice.

Yield: 1 serving

GRATED POTATE CASSEROLE

1/2 c. milk
1 egg
Pinch salt
1/2 c. diced Cheddar cheese
1 T. butter, cut up
1 small onion, quartered
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed

Combine all ingredients in blender; blending on high until potatoes are coarsely chopped. Pour into greased casserole and bake at 350* F. for 1 hour.

This can be assembled ahead of time and reheated in the microwave.

Bean And Cheese Burrito

1 flour tortilla
refried beans
cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon salsa

Step One - Warm tortilla in microwave for 30 seconds.

Step Two - Spread tortilla with refried beans.
Top with grated cheddar cheese and salsa.
Fold the sides of the tortilla over the center.
Heat in microwave 2 minutes. Enjoy!

APPLE LEMON PUFF

1 1/2 teaspoons butter or margarine
1 small apple, peeled, cored and cut into rings
6 teaspoons sugar, divided
1 egg, separated
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon all-purpose flour

In a skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add apple rings; sprinkle with 2
teaspoons of sugar. Cook until tender, turning once. In a mixing bowl, beat
the egg yolk, lemon peel and vanilla for 1 minute. In another mixing bowl,
beat egg white until stiff peaks form; fold in flour and remaining sugar.
Fold into egg yolk mixture. Place apple rings in a greased 2-cup baking
dish. Spread egg mixture on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes or
until golden brown and set. Invert onto a serving plate. Yield: 1 serving

BAKED VIDALIA ONION

1 medium Vidalia or sweet onion
2 teaspoons butter or margarine
1/4 teaspoon salt, optional
Pepper to taste
Garlic salt to taste, optional

Quarter onion halfway through and open slightly. Place on an 18-in. x 12-in.
piece of heavy duty foil. Place butter in center of onion; sprinkle with
seasonings. Fold foil to seal tightly. Bake at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes
or until onion is tender. Open foil carefully to allow steam to escape.
Yield: 1 serving

CHICKEN VEGGIE PACKET

1 bone-in chicken breast, skin removed
1 cup diced zucchini
1/2 cup diced green pepper
1/2 cup frozen mixed vegetables
2 tablespoons diced onion
1/8 teaspoon dried basil
1/8 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Place chicken and vegetables in the center of a large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil, about 18 in. x 13 in. Sprinkle with seasonings. Fold foil around mixture and seal tightly. Place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until meat juices run clear. Open the foil carefully to allow steam to escape. Yield: 1 serving

CLAM CHOWDER FOR ONE

1/2 cup cubed peeled potato
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/8 teaspoon salt
Pinch pepper
1/2 cup water
1 can (6 1/2 ounces) chopped clams, drained
2/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 bacon strip, cooked and crumbled
Chopped parsley, optional

In a small saucepan, cook potato, onion, salt and pepper in water until
vegetables are tender (do not drain). Add clams, milk, butter and bacon;
heat through (do not boil)/ Sprinkle with parsley if desired. Yield: 1 serving

FISH IN FOIL

1 halibut steak (6 ounces)
4 medium mushrooms
2 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 lemon slices
1/2 medium green pepper, sliced
1/4 cup diet Mountain Dew
Crushed pepper

Place fish in the center of a 20-in. x 14-in. piece of heavy duty foil. Place mushrooms, tomatoes, lemon and green pepper around the fish. Fold edges of foil up; pour soda over fish. Fold foil to seal tightly. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Open foil carefully to allow steam to escape. Sprinkle with pepper. Yield: 1 serving

GREEN BEANS WITH MUSHROOMS

3/4 cup cut fresh green beans (2-inch pieces)
2 tablespoons chopped onion
2 teaspoons butter or margarine
1/4 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
Pepper to taste

In a saucepan, cook beans in water for 6-8 minutes or until tender. In a skillet, sauté onion in butter until tender. Add mushrooms; cook and stir for 1 minute. Drain beans; add the mushroom mixture and pepper. Yield: 1 serving

Seafood is a natural choice for small portions

1 small fish fillet (orange roughy, catfish, sole, etc.)
1 teaspoon each dried bread crumbs
1 teaspoon grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano or thyme salt and pepper

Season fish with salt and pepper. Combine bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and
herbs. Place fish in lightly oiled baking dish; sprinkle bread crumb mixture
over the top. Bake at 375 deg. until fish is just opaque, 5-10 minutes
depending upon thickness of fish. Serve with some boiled pasta tossed with
good olive oil and sprinkled with salt and freshly ground black pepper. A
serving of steamed broccoli or carrots rounds out this tasty meal.

MOIST PORK CHOPS

Dip each chop into an egg wash, then bread them with crushed Ritz Crackers or Spiced Bread Crumbs. Lightly oil a baking sheet with vegetable oil, and place breaded chops onto the sheet, and cover with foil. Bake 20 - 30 minutes in a 350 degree F. oven, and serve hot.

OYSTERS WITH CHAMPAGNE VINEGAR AND CAVIAR
Serves 2

Your fishmonger will probably open the oysters for you if ask. Just be sure to carry them carefully and buy them the same day as your dinner.

2 tablespoons champagne vinegar or good white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon water
1 shallot peeled and chopped finely
a pinch of salt
8 fresh oysters
1 ounce of American or imported sturgeon caviar, optional
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Parsley sprigs

  1. Mix the vinegar and water, add the chopped shallot and season with salt.

  2. Open the oysters. This can be done with an oyster knife or flathead screwdriver. Rinse first to remove excess sand. Hold firmly with a kitchen towel, using it to stabilize the oyster and to protect your hand in case you slip.

  3. Find the hinge and twist the oyster knife or screwdriver to open. Gently separate the two shells, scraping the oyster off the shells and leaving it in the larger or more attractive half.

  4. Place the oysters on a cloth napkin on a large plate and spoon a little of the vinaigrette over each oyster. Top with caviar, if desired, and garnish with lemon and parsley.

FISH HOT DISH

1 cup dry noodles of choice
1 can flaked fish
1 half can (or more) cream of mushroom soup - undiluted
1 cup frozen green peas
1 bunch pretzel sticks
1 stack dill pickle slices
Some cross-sectioned black olive slices, pimento, and cocktail pearl onions for flourish

Cook noodles in salted water and drain (double noodles and soup if more than one person is eating). Heat oven to 350 degrees. In deep dish casserole, combine noodles, drained flaked fish, mushroom soup, and peas. Stir, add a dash of pepper (no salt needed), and level. Arrange pretzels and pickle slices in seasonal designs or other theme (holiday tree, ice fishing house, self-portrait). Garnish with olive slices and/or onions. Dust with paprika or parmesan cheese, depending on theme. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.