baking · Cooking · Cooking for Two

Tips For Cooking For One Or Two

tortillas a

Recently a reader wrote and asked a good question regarding making meals.  She wrote:

I was wondering how you manage nutrition, food, leftovers, etc. as an empty nester. Do you reduce the recipes to make less, do you eat a small portion of the finished item and freeze leftovers for another meal, do you split the meal and pass one on to another or is a combination of things the solution?

When my husband and I were first married, I had been single and living on my own for a couple of years, so I easily cooked for just the two of us. As our family grew, I increased the meals to feed four on a regular basis.  But as the girls got married and we became empty nester’s, I found out quickly that something had to change.  We would either have to learn to love eating leftovers for more than one day, or I would need to adjust my cooking methods.

Here’s how I have learned to manage our meals for two without eating leftovers for an eternity!

  1. Cut the recipe in half.  This is an obvious one, right?  But sometimes we get stumped with ingredients like,
    1. “1 can of mushroom soup.” I simply put in half a can, then put the other half into a freezer bag, label it, and pop it into the freezer!
    2. “1 egg” – go ahead and use one egg.
  2. Make a whole recipe and freeze portions and put them into the freezer, again, with good labels.  You might think you’ll remember what it is, but when it gets into a frozen state, it’s really hard to tell meatloaf from goulash!  So many things freeze well – just take a look on the freezer aisle at your store the next time for some ideas of what you could store in there! This is truly cooking once and eating two or three times from that little effort!  This is one of my favorite ways to prep ahead for busy days!
  3. Make a whole recipe and share the other half with someone who needs a meal – a shut-in, new mother or a family with sickness.
  4. Make meats where you can use portion control – 2 chicken breasts,  1turkey kielbasa or 2 pieces of fresh salmon.  Then I just add fresh vegetables and salads.  This doesn’t’ have to be boring.  Don’t just cook the meat the same way.  You could make one-pan dishes with cut up pieces of chicken, with fresh veggies roasted in the oven.  Make a baked potato with chicken sautéed in herbs and olive oil.  The possibilities are endless.
  5. Make individual servings – pot pies, pizzas, or meatloaves, etc.
  6. Make soup and freeze it in muffin pans as I described here.
  7. Bake small cakes and use only one layer.

There’s also a great web site on Taste of Home for recipes for Cooking for two.  This site has cakes and muffins as well as the standard fare for main dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I enjoy checking here if I want a special recipe without having too much remaining when the meal is over. Too much of a good thing doesn’t end up tasting like a good thing!

banana-cake

As far as nutrition is concerned,

  • I rarely ever fry anything.
  • We eat low-fat meals, with the exception of special meals or times guests are here!
  • Sweets are limited.  I love to bake, but I send most of it away to others so we won’t be tempted by it.  Then on those occasions we do have it, it’s really special!! (I see chocolate in my future come Valentine’s Day!)

But you know what?  We eat really good food every single day.  Fresh fruit.  Fresh veggies.  Homemade breads – I’ve found some great lighter versions like these biscuits.

If you cook for just one or two, what are your tips?  How do you maintain a healthy diet?

If you have questions about meal planning, cooking or baking, feel free to email me (address is in the contact info) or leave a comment here.  I’ll do my best to answer it!

With love from my country kitchen,

Denise Signature 150 px

Cooking · Pork chops · Uncategorized

From My Mom’s Kitchen

Pork Chop Casserole.jpg

The weekend after Thanksgiving found us in my parent’s home for a two and half day visit.  Spite the fact that I urged my mom not to fuss in the kitchen, she told me she was fixing a meal for Saturday evening that would not keep her in the kitchen for long.

When her meal began roasting in the oven, the smells made me even hungrier, and anxious for a peek at what she was cooking!  What she had prepared was a Pork Chop Casserole that made up pretty much the whole meal.  It had Pork chops, sweet potatoes, and apples layered inside the baking dish.  What a great combination of flavors!  It served up beautifully as she slid the spatula under each pork chop “stack” and placed it on our plates.

It was really delicious!!

She added a salad and bread to round out the meal.  There was no need for snacking that night!

pork chops 2.jpg

With the busy Christmas season upon us, we might be tempted to go out for dinner after busy days of shopping, wrapping, and a long list of holiday events, but with recipes like these, there’s no need!  This simple recipe would be a perfect prep-ahead dish so your family can eat a scrumptious meal at home.  I’ve renamed it from simply Pork Chop Casserole to Busy Day Pork Chop Casserole.  Here’s the recipe:

Pork Chop Casserole

6 Pork chops
4 Sweet potatoes
4 Tart apples
1/4 Cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp salt
Dash of pepper
1/8 tsp sage

Directions:

Peel and slice potatoes.  Without peeling, cut apples into thick slices.  Place the potatoes in a  greased baking dish and sprinkle with salt.  Add the apples, sugar, and cinnamon.  Arrange the pork chops on the apples and season with remaining ingredients.  Add 1/4 cup hot water and bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour or until pork chops are well done.

My mom always sets a gorgeous table.

pork chops 3.jpg

It was delicious.  It was lovely.  It was typical of my mom’s kitchen.

She’s a great cook and a gracious hostess.

I hope you’ll put this dish on your busy calendar/menu!  The flavors are perfect and you’ll have it ready for the oven in minutes!

Denise Signature 150 px

Beef · Cooking · Main dish. · Main entree

An Old Favorite Main Dish

salisbury steak 2

Recently I went to the kitchen to fix supper and I suddenly thought about an old favorite recipe, and the craving for it caused me to immediately change my menu for the night! It’s one of those comfort-food kind-of-dishes that is delicious, easy and filling, yet so simple that I had everything for it on hand already! It’s also ready in under 30 minutes!!

What did I make?  Salisbury steak.!  If you’re thinking about the frozen dinner variety, think again.  This is meaty, plump and bursting with flavor as well as plenty of gravy to cover the meat and/or any potato you might eat with it.

My recipe came from the Betty Crocker American Country Cooking Cookbook.  It has some fantastic recipes in it but the Salisbury Steak is probably my favorite!  If you’re wondering what to have for supper this week, this could be your next family favorite!

Salisbury steak 1

Salisbury Steak

Ingredients

1 pound lean ground beef
1/3 cup dry bread crumbs (any flavor)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 egg
1 large onion, sliced and separated into rings
1 can (10 1/2 ounces) condensed beef broth
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced (3 cups)
2 tablespoons cold water
2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • Mix beef, bread crumbs, salt, pepper and egg. Shape into 4 oval patties, each about 3/4 inch thick.
  • Cook patties in 10-inch skillet over medium heat about 10 minutes, turning occasionally, until brown; drain. Add onion, broth and mushrooms. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 10 minutes or until beef is done.
  • Remove patties; keep warm. Heat onion mixture to boiling. Mix water and cornstarch; stir into onion mixture. Boil and stir 1 minute. Serve over patties.

     

    salisbury steak 2a

What dish do you sometimes crave?

With love from my country kitchen,

Denise Signature 150 px

 

baking · Bread · Cooking · dessert · Dinner · dinner in 30 minutes · entertaining · Fall · main dish · Pasta · soup

Roll Call of Fall Favorite Foods

I’m not sure what it is about fall and winter that bring a variety of foods to our mind, but aren’t we all thinking about comforting casseroles, warm soups, and pumpkin everything?  I thought I’d gather together some of my favorites in those categories and highlight them all in one post for you today!  My recipe index here on my blog could be overwhelming, so maybe this list of a few favorites will help your October to be delicious!

meat loaf meal
I’m not a mac and cheese fan, but this recipe is fabulous!!!  I’d eat it every day if I could!

Casseroles
Mexican Chicken Casserole
Countryside Chicken Bake
The Best Ever Mac and Cheese
Taco Casserole
Baked Pasta with Sausage, Tomatoes and Cheese

Breads
Nutty Orange Coffee Cake – Perfect for breakfast or brunch!
French Breakfast Puffs – Breakfast or brunch
Butter Dips – Delicious with supper!
Low-Fat Baking Powder Biscuits – Any time you need a biscuit – breakfast or supper!

Soups
Spicy Chicken Corn Chowder
Sausage Corn Chowder
Butternut Squash Soup – I made this again last week.  It’s heavenly!
Taco Soup
Baked Potato Soup

Oh, this cake!!!!  Love it.

Pumpkin
Pumpkin Muffins – Great addition to breakfast or a fall supper!
Pumpkin Roll Step by step instructions in my post!  You can make this!
Pumpkin Crunch Cake – Fast and incredible!
Pumpkin Bread – Make small loaves to share.
Pumpkin Scones with Berry Butter – Oh my goodness, these are fantastic!!

Pumpkin Scones with Berry Butter Recipe
Picture credit:  Taste of Home

 

If you’ll be hosting any fall event, having guests over, or cooking supper for your own family and want to try something new and delicious, here’s a great list to pull from!  These are some of my favorite fall foods that are tried and true!

If you need suggestions for other categories – salad, easy bread, breakfast, etc.) just leave a comment.  I’ll be happy to help you!

With love from my country kitchen,

Denise Signature 150 px

 

Cooking · Crock Pot · Uncategorized

When Gluten-Free Meets Delicious

GF White chili a

No one in my family is Gluten-Free, but I have friends who are, so I’ve been pinning GF recipes on Pinterest.  Some recipes are just plain strange, but when I found this White Chicken Chili, I knew it would be good!  It was so delicious and had NO SPECIAL INGREDIENTS in it.  You simply substitute coconut milk for the regular milk and corn starch for flour.  This is so good with the thighs, too, but of course, you could use white meat.  I will make this again, not just for my GF friends, but for anyone who wants a delicious bowl of hearty, tasty soup!

GF white chli 5

Here’s the simple recipe:

Slow Cooker Gluten-Free White Chicken Chili

  • 2.5 lbs Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs
  • 3 cans Great Northern beans
  • 2 8 oz Cans Diced Green Chilies
  • 1 Very large Yellow Onion diced
  • 1 Tbl Garlic minced
  • 2 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1/4 tsp White Pepper
  • 1 Tbl Coarse Real Salt
  • 2 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 Cup Coconut Milk (unsweetened)
  • 1/4 Cup Arrowroot Starch or cornstarch (I used cornstarch)
  1. Place the chicken thighs, beans, chilies, onion, garlic, cumin, chili powder, pepper, salt, chicken broth, and coconut milk in a crock pot. Cook on high for 5-6 hours, or until chicken is very tender.
  2. Remove the chicken and place in a bowl. Lightly shred with a fork.
  3. Place the arrowroot starch in a small bowl and slowly whisk in the 1/2 C. water to make a smooth, lump-free mixture. Stir the mixture into the chili in the crock pot.
  4. Add the chicken back into the chili and stir to distribute. Let cook for another 30 minutes. Soup should thicken up.
  5. Add the cilantro to the soup just before serving and check the seasonings, adding more salt or pepper if desired. If you want the soup to be a little thinner, add more chicken broth or coconut milk until desired consistency is achieved.
  6. Top with a squeeze of lime juice.

GF white chili 2

Now how about a tasty little sweet ending for this meal or a nice snack that’s also Gluten-Free?  This tastes like real food !  We loved these, and they whip up in minutes!

Cashew bites 2c.jpg

Cashew-Coconut Bites

Ingredients

1 Cup Cashew – salted
1 Cup dates
1 Cup unsweetened Coconut
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbl Almond Butter

Instructions

  1. Process dates in a food processor fit with “S” blade until crumbly.
  2. Add coconut, cashews, vanilla and salt and process until well blended and fine.
  3. Add almond butter and process until mixture starts balling up or sticking together.
  4. Roll into balls, 1-2 TBS at a time.
  5. Enjoy! Store in the refrigerator or freezer.

Do you make any Gluten-Free recipes you love?  

With love from my country kitchen,

Denise Signature 150 px