Friday, August 24, 2012

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Cooking For One

Earlier this month, my husband went away on a business trip for a whole week. I'm lucky that he doesn't have to travel often and so the week felt like a very big deal to me, but I'm sure those of you whose spouses travel for weeks if not months at a time are rolling your eyes at me. But yeah, to me it was a big deal.

One of the things I have always hated about being on my own is cooking for just me. It just seems like too much effort, what with the prep and the cooking time and worst of all, the clean up. But whenever my husband has to travel for work, I find myself forced to cook for one. And I've learned a few things along the way.
Lentil Soup with Sausage and Kale
1. Use Your Freezer

One of my favorite ways to make things easier on myself is by cooking big meals ahead of time and freezing the leftovers in individual serving sized portions. This does not work for everything. Potatoes for example don't tend to freeze very well. But lots of soups, chilies, and pasta sauces freeze and reheat beautifully.

Chili with Chips and Cheese

To reheat soup or other liquidy foods on the stove, run the container under some warm water to loosen it and plop it right into a small sauce pan. Warm it on medium low heat and stir every 5 minutes or so to keep it from scorching to the bottom.

Pasta with Meat Sauce and Salad
2. One Pot Meals

Any meal with easy clean up gets a big gold star from me. I enjoy cooking but I hate washing up. One way to minimize clean up is to make one pot meals. It doesn't have to be a literal pot, of course. Any meal that you can make with a single skillet, cookie sheet, frying pan or whatever can be considered a one pot meal. The point is that you don't dirty a lot of dishes. Some examples are my fish in a packet recipe, fried rice, and macaroni and cheese.

Asian Fish in a Packet
Garden Veggie Salad with Chicken
3. Indulge In Small Luxuries

I'm a big proponent of spoiling yourself a little every now and again. So go ahead and toss a few luxury ingredients into the mix. Pasta with shrimp and smoked artisianal bacon? Yes please! Grilled cheese sandwiches made with aged sharp cheddar? For sure! Add some local edamame on the side and wash it all down with your favorite micro brew. There's no reason why you should eat a hot pocket while watching the real house wives of wherever just because your significant other is traveling. Martyrdom is for, well, martyrs. And there is no need for that. 

Bourbon Bacon Pasta
I missed my husband quite a bit while he was away, but I really enjoyed the cooking adventure it led me on. A few things I had made ahead and frozen for easy, throw-it-in-a-pot-and-warm-it-up, dinners, like chili (add some grated cheese and chips), meat sauce for pasta, and lentil soup with sausage and kale. Others fell into the quick and easy category. Such as bourbon bacon pasta with mushrooms, asian fish in a packet, and chicken over garden veggie salad with aged balsamic vinegar and olive oil. And each was delicious in it's own way.

Thursday, August 16, 2012