Cooking for One

Some of my favorite shows on television these days are broadcast on the Food Network. I’ve always loved watching cooking shows – and the Food Network is like cooking and food almost 24/7. My regret is that I don’t always take the time to try and recreate some of those great recipes in my kitchen, for myself and my family.

Well, this week, I changed that – just a little bit.

Chris has been traveling for business every week for the past few months. This week, he is in Atlanta – next week, he’s in Hartford, CT – lord knows where he’ll be the week after and the week after that!

My kids? Seeing as how it’s summer and they are 16 and 18 – – neither one of them are home at dinner time anymore. See, we live a bit out of the way, in terms of where they and their friends hang out in the summer. Plus, they walk, or ride their bikes, every where they go – – so, they leave the house at around noon and are usually home around 9-10pm-ish (except the 18 year old.. he usually rolls in around midnight).

What does this mean at 6pm when it’s time for dinner around this house? It generally means that Monday through Friday, I’m on my own for dinner. Up until this week, it has mean LOTS of take out for me. Seriously, I’m a Mom who has been very used to cooking for the whole family for that past 18 years. Ask that same Mom to just stop cooking for 4 and cook only for one – – the tempation for takeout becomes HUGE.. and easy.

The affects of all that take out for the past few months is beginning to show in my waistline – so I decided I needed to do something about it and stop the takeout. I decided that since I really enjoy these cooking shows – I would take inspiration from them and start cooking for myself every evening – using some good, fresh ingredients and make myself some nice, healthy dinners and stop all the burgers, pizza chinese and italian takeout all the time.

Today, I hit the grocery store with the whole ‘Cooking for One’ idea in my head — this is just NOT that easy.

Particularly when I hit the butcher. This may sound terribly ‘small town’ – but I know my butcher, and he knows me. He’s used to seeing me a few times a month and knows my favorites. Usually, when I hit the butcher my order usually sounds something like this (it varies based on season and preference):

  • 4 of the NY Strip
  • 2 of those large salmon filets
  • 2lbs of crab legs
  • 3lbs of the Tilapia filets
  • 4 of the Filets
  • 6lbs ground round
  • 8 of the marinated chicken breasts

You get the idea? Today, I stepped up to my beloved butcher and asked for:

  • 1 salmon filet – and can you cut that one in half?
  • 1 Tilapia filet – can you give me that small one there on the right?
  • 2 marinated chicken breasts
  • 4 of the large prawns

My butcher paused and looked at me with a great deal of concern in his eyes and says, “Is the family ok? Is everyone alright?” I guess after years of my usual orders. . . he must have thought my entire family died when I placed my most recent order – – so I had to explain.

Then I hit the produce section – looking for some of the ingredients I have on my list, based on the recipes I got off the Food Network . . and to my surprise, I found them all. When I got to the checkout lane – I got a snotty 16-something girl who wasn’t too happy at the amount of produce I had in my cart. See, she has to weigh the produce before she can price it – – just a tad bit more timely than scanning the bar code… oh. the. horror!

So, yea – here’s the dinner I made tonight – – It was fantastic! If you try it – let me know…

Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Fresh Herbs and Ginger: Low Carb with Roasted Califlower paired with a nice Pinot Grigio from Mondavi.

Good eats!

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14 thoughts on “Cooking for One”

  1. Sounds great Lisa. We got a treat tonight – we had dinner at my parents – grilled flank steak, steamed fresh green beans, roasted new Yukon gold potatoes with olive oil and rosemary, a marinated salad of tomato, cucumber, onion and green pepper. Dessert was fresh strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries with vanilla ice cream.

    I reminded my kids that they had better eat up – it doesn’t get much better than that!

  2. I love the Food Network, too! However, my kids are a bit younger than yours, 18 months and one month, so it will be a while before I´m cooking for one. I´m going to try that cauliflower recipe, I think even my toddler will eat that!

    And Char, you are making me drool!

  3. My roommate is A-D-D-I-C-T-E-D to the Food Network. It’s always running in the background, unless I take control of the remote (heh, heh). As a result, she usually cooks so she can try out a new recipe.

    But this summer, I’m staying with my gramma up by the Dells, so I’m cooking for both of us. I got creative with a recipe I found online and came up with this sandwich last week: chicken salad (canned chicken breast mixed with mayo), dried cranberries, chopped walnuts and pepperjack cheese on WalMart’s “everything” Italian bread and served toasted. It was so tasty my gramma got mad when I told her we didn’t have any more chicken salad. LOL But nice thing is you can mix up the salad ahead of time and just put together the sandwich is less than 5 min, paired with a side salad.

  4. The only host on FoodNetwork I can stomach (bad pun, sorry) is Alton; at least I get some serious science behind what he cooks. Otherwise, for me, cooking isn’t a spectator sport.

    As for cooking, myself, I tend to favor blackened chicken, blackened beef, blackened corn flakes… you get the picture, right? I am hazard in the kitchen. b-)

  5. My wife’s addicted to the Food Network. If you’re ever in Atlantic City, check out Bobby Flay’s Steakhouse. We went there for our anniversary this year, it was well worth it.

  6. I know what you mean! I’m used to cooking for the scouts during our camps etc and always love the moment where everyone enjoys the result of 3 hours chopping, cooking and seasoning, but when I’m at home alone, nobodys going to put up a happy face when dinner’s ready, so I tend not to do any fancy cooking either….

  7. Sounds darn good! Our family’s addicted to the Food Network as well, and we regularly tape Alton, Nigella (not sure I’ve made anything she does, but she’s just too hot not to watch), and Michael Chiarello. The Mite also requests Giada (smart boy, he is) as well as “Auntie Rachel” Ray. If you’re doing the small time cooking, I think Rachel Ray has one of her cookbooks that’s just cooking for 1 or 2. Also, Tyler Florence’s “Real Kitchen” (his first cookbook) has a great section on cooking for 2 that’s good enough it got me eating tofu. I try doing his Ultimate show (which also has a very nice cookbook), but the times just aren’t the best for it.

    TLC also has some good cooking shows. ‘Inner Chef’ with Marcus Samuelson (who closed a restaurant I’m not even going to try spelling in Minneapolis to move to NY where he really went big) is some nice fun as is ‘License to Grill’. I always forget about those two, but they’re worth checking out.

  8. Somehow I knew you’d be a kindred spirit that way, Astro. I don’t mind Giada’s show – I just wish she wouldn’t talk with her mouth full all the time, it’s annoying. But – she makes up for it in.. other ways 🙂

    Rachel Ray is fun to watch. I almost picked up her cookbook the other day in the bookstore – I’ll have to do it next time I’m there.

    I really like those ‘cookoff’ type shows.. like Iron Chef, The next Food Network Star, etc. I also watch “Top Chef” on BravoTV on Wednesday nights – that one is fun.

    Learning how to cook for just me has been a challenge – but it’s fun so far!

  9. I think cooking has taught me patience and restraint more than anything else I’ve done.

    I normally avoid the cookoff shows just because I avoid reality TV like the plague. The only really good thing I know of coming out of it is that Izzy’s Ice Cream from Minneapolis kicked Bobby Flay’s @$$. Very light and creamy ice cream and not quite my favorite from Minneapolis / St. Paul, but still darn good stuff. My current favorite there might actually be a sorbet. I think it’s called “Sonny’s” and they have a cherry zinfandel. It’s like heaven on your tongue!

    Do you ever watch “Bizarre Foods” on the Travel Channel? We’re going to a cooking class with the guy who hosts it tonight. I’m really curious to see what kind of stuff he’s going to make!

  10. How’d the cooking class go, Astro? I was just telling Chris the other night that I was going to look into local cooking classes.. I think I’d really enjoy doing those.

  11. Fun class. Zimmern’s a great guy, and his classes are well worth checking out if you have a chance. Lots of personality and great food. I’m really looking forward to making a batch of his pickled mushrooms, and would already have a batch made if I wouldn’t have had to been around LA for the last week. The main thing to check out is how they do the class. Some are just demonstration classes and some are participation. Either way you get some good food, but the demonstration classes normally seem to be limited to about a dozen people while the participations can be 50+. If the papers out there have a taste section, check the calenders in it. There’s a few of the GOOD restaurants around here who will have classes once a month. We went to one really good one that was only $35 for a 3 hour demonstration class / wine tasting last year. So for basically what your entree cost eating there at night we had a 3 or 4 course meal with some very nice wine.

  12. If there’s any decent sized kitchen stores around they’d also be a very good place to check. Is there a Sur la Table in Milwaukee? I know a lot of them are set up for cooking classes.

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