Build A Taco For One

Here’s one that’s super easy to fix, allows for creativity, and tastes great.

Build A Taco For One

1/2 pound ground beef

Half a taco seasoning packet

1/2 cup water

1 can black beans (optional)

Shredded Mexican cheese

Sour cream

Salsa

Guacamole

Tortilla chips (optional, use sparingly)

Shredded lettuce

Brown the ground beef, drain.

Add half a seasoning packet and the water, mix and stir over medium heat until thickened.

Warm the black beans in a saucepan or in a dish in the microwave.

Line a bowl with lettuce and/or tortilla chips.

Top with beef and beans, then cheese (so it melts), then everything else. Stir it up and eat it with a fork! That’s it! Super filling and super cheap, too. Enjoy!

Oven-Fried Chicken For One

This is a great dish for when you want fried chicken, but without all the grease. It still has some butter, mind you, but this is low-carb friendly, which means good things for your waistline AND your heart. If you’re allergic to almonds, you can use regular breading (e.g. crumbled crackers are excellent, and bread crumbs will work, too). There really shouldn’t be so much that the carb count goes too high, anyway.

Note: You CAN coat the entire breast with the mixture by shaking it in a bag, but my experience is that the breading is going to stick to the bottom of the pan no matter what you do, so the choice is yours.

Oven-Fried Chicken For One

1 chicken breast

1 egg, beaten

1/8 cup (2 tbsp) ground almonds (blender or food processor) or finely crumbled crackers

1/4 tsp paprika

salt and pepper to taste

1 tbsp butter, melted

Preheat your oven to 400.

Coat the breast in the beaten egg and place in a baking dish.

Mix up the breading, paprika, and salt and pepper in a small mug or plastic bag.

Sprinkle mixture generously over the breast, but not with mounds piled high.

Pour melted butter over the top of the chicken, getting as much coverage as you can.

Bake for 40 minutes to an hour, until the temperature reaches 180. There’s a range here, because some of you will be baking frozen breasts, and others will be using breasts the size of small Volkswagen Beetles, so just keep an eye on it. When it’s done, it comes out nice and golden brown, and tastes better than it has any right to. You might try out my recipes for mashed cauliflower, or carrots and green beens for something on the side.

Enjoy!

3 Easy Sides, Or How To Make Carrots, Green Beans, and Corn For One

You can buy vegetables for sides in various ways, but for our purposes, we’ll say you can buy them canned, fresh, or frozen.

First, let’s dispense with the canned varieties. These are precooked, and the taste (and nutrients) are boiled right out of them. If you’ve ever tried a canned carrot slice, you know I speak the truth. Also, there are more servings in a can than we might want. (Eating an entire can of green beans is a feat I’d rather not try, thanks.)

Fresh is nice, but also more work-intensive, and the longer they sit on the shelf, the less the nutrients are preserved.

Frozen isn’t everyone’s bag, but they do come in bags, which are easy to measure out for a single-serving, with little to no prep work. Also, if you check the nutrition label, you’ll see that frozen vegetables do a pretty good job at keeping their vitamins intact. (Carrots may be the exception to convenience here, since they’re easy to grow, inexpensive, and available year round.) Remember that frozen will take a little longer to cook, and you should be fine.

With that said, canned is the least desirable for healthy, single servings, and it’s a toss-up between fresh and frozen. That’s up to you.

Now, let’s get to fixin’ ‘em.

Green Beans, Stove-Fixed, Mm-mm Good

1 tbls (olive) oil or butter

2-3 tbls water

1/2 to 1 cup fresh or frozen green beans

salt, to taste (1/4 tsp?)

bacon crumbles, optional

Okay, green beans are hard to get right. Sometimes they come out waxy and squeak when you chew them. Not cool.

So, in a little saucepan, throw in the water and the oil and turn the heat up to medium or medium-high.

Put the green beans in there with the salt and the bacon crumbles, if you want them.

Now, boil those suckers, stirring them around, and remember that the higher the heat, the more closely you want to watch them. As the water evaporates, the greens will start to caramelize. Keep stirring. Only just let them do this before you take them off the heat. You’ll smell the burn, but only a little, and it won’t be unpleasant. Some of the beans themselves will look a little browned, not black.

Take these off the heat, put them on a plate, put them in your mouth, and enjoy. I’m telling you, these are the best green beans. Scorched just the best little bit.

Skillet-Fried Corn For One

1 tbsp butter (so good in butter, but sub as you must)

1/2 to 1 cup corn

salt and pepper, to taste

In a small pan, melt the butter over medium to medium-high heat. Throw in the corn and the salt and pepper. Toss in the pan to coat everything with butter, and then sauté until some of the corn begins to brown. Don’t overcook, though. That can dry the corn out, which is not your friend, and is too chewy besides.

Fried corn is kind of awesome. Trust me.

Glazed (Baby) Carrots For One

some water

1 cup (baby) carrots

1 tbsp butter (or sub as needed)

1 tbsp honey or brown sugar or maple syrup

Use the water to either boil the carrots (submerge them in a saucepan and boil for many minutes until tender), or cook them in the microwave (1 tbsp water and maybe 1 1/2 to 2 minutes until tender, check them while you’re cooking, microwaves can mummify carrots if you’re not careful). Steam them if you have a steamer, ‘cause that thing’s super easy.

Use a saucepan to melt the butter and whatever sweetener you decide to add. Toss the cooked carrots in the glaze. Eat. Enjoy.

These would go super good with the meatloaf or the blackberry pork chops I’ve mentioned. Or maybe as another side with your mashed cauliflower. Dang, I’m hungry again!

Pork Chops with Blackberry Glaze

I know, it sounds a little odd, doesn’t it? But it’s pretty far from odd when the sweet tang of blackberry (or apricot) accents the other white meat. So, so good. Try it, you’ll like it. Feel free to throw thanks my way, or share it with someone you know. And it’s for one!

1/2 cup chicken broth (from can or prepared with bouillon powder)

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 1/2 tsp vinegar (red wine vinegar if you have it)

2 tbls blackberry preserves (or apricot)

1 tbls oil

1 or 2 pork chops, boneless, center cut (about 1 1/4” thick)

salt and pepper

1/16 tsp of garlic powder or minced garlic (half of 1/8 tsp, or a pinch)

Mix the first four ingredients (broth, mustard, vinegar, preserves) in a bowl.

Heat up about a tablespoon of oil in a pan over medium high heat, then salt and pepper a pork chop (or two) and throw ‘em in, about 3 minutes per side until they’re good and brown.

Take ‘em out, then add the stuff in the bowl to the pan, mixing all the good bits up together. Reduce the heat to a little above simmer, then put the pork chops back in and cook until they’re done (5-10 minutes, but for crying out loud, use a meat thermometer, about 170).

Take the chops out again and keep ‘em warm, raise the heat on the pan, bring that glaze to a boil and keep stirring while it thickens, about 2 or 3 minutes. When it’s thick as you like, spoon it over the pork chops and season with salt and pepper.

Yum! Uh, let me say that again. Yum! Easy and tasty. Let me know if you like the blackberry best, or if apricot’s your thing. Pictures to come.

Mashed Cauliflower for One

Meatloaf and Mashed Cauliflower

Here’s my dinner for one, meatloaf and mashed pota- I mean, cauliflower! (And wild, feral oregano! Thanks to my wife for that one.)

Mashed Cauliflower for One

You need something to go with that Meatloaf for One, right? And while you can mash potatoes, consider that mostly, with a potato, you’re not getting a lot of bang for your buck. Empty calories, easy carbs, and your blood sugar goes up. Now, unless you’ve ever had these before, please don’t go off half-cocked about mashed cauliflower. The taste is mild, the consistency is right, and you’re getting all kinds of vitamins up in your grill. (Okay, my street cred is a little on the shady side, but take my word for it, these are good, and good for you!)

Credit to Diane Carpender for the idea and the recipe. Her stuff is awesome. Please check her out sometime.

Mashed Cauliflower

1 1/2 to 2 cups cauliflower, fresh or frozen
1 to 2 tbls butter, margarine, sour cream, etc.
Salt and pepper

Steam or microwave the cauliflower. Make sure it’s soft.
Drain it and put it in the food processor or the blender and blend until smooth. This may take a minute, so be patient.
Add topping and salt and pepper to taste.

If you’re adventurous, try adding a tablespoon of cream. That stuff’s the bomb.

If you’re crazy wild for adventure, try adding the cream and another tablespoon of cream cheese! Whoa. Rich and thick and creamy? And it’s a vegetable? Sign me up.

What, you want gravy? Jeez, give me a second, alright? Gravy for one. You got it. Keep your ears peeled.

Easy Meatloaf for One

Let’s start out easy, okay?

Meatloaf and Mashed Cauliflower

Meatloaf and mashed cauliflower! So good… 

Meatloaf is one of those comfort foods, something warm and tasty and usually reserved for feeding more than one. No more. We’re taking it back.

Easy Meatloaf for One Recipe

Preheat your oven (toaster or regular size) to 400. Grease a little loaf pan or some kind of baking dish you can stick in there.

1/2 pound ground beef
1 egg, beaten, or egg substitute*
1 tbls chopped onion**
1 tbls chopped bell pepper, optional
2 tbls milk
2 tbls bread crumbs, or a piece of bread torn up into small pieces
Salt
Pepper

* Egg substitute is great for premeasuring, but if you’re out, just beat an egg in a mug. You can keep it covered in the refrigerator for a couple of days, and it comes in handy for the chocolate chip cookie you’ll make for dessert later.
** Fresh or frozen, but I like frozen, because it’s already cut up and so easy to measure. If you have trouble with heartburn, first sauté the onions until they’re good and brown, then add them to the mix. You get the flavor without the nasty belches that way.

Topping
This could be ketchup, barbecue sauce, or even cream of mushroom soup. A tablespoon or two’s worth. Whatever you like.

Mix it all up in a bowl, ’bout 30 seconds worth, then put it into the loaf pan or shape it into one for your baking dish.
Put the topping on and stick it in the oven.
Cook for 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature is 165. (If you don’t have a meat thermometer, get one. It’ll make you feel better. Do not stick it in your leg!)

When the meatloaf is done, enjoy, and take it to heart that you just made it for one person! Yes, it’s possible, yes, it’s good, and yes, you did it! Take that, stupid stereotypes! I’m eating this because I like meatloaf and it doesn’t have to be for four or more!

Thank you, and you may now return to your regular programming.

Welcome To Eating Well, By Yourself, Even If You’re Hitched

So, hey, I’m married. But most of my adult life, I was single, and I always struggled with fixing food. I’m kind of lazy, though I like to cook. I don’t like doing dishes, though I like eating off of them. And while I always thought of myself as being competent in the kitchen, the thought of saving or, yech, freezing those extra portions in my mismatched plastic containers was just too much. Too much thought, too much work, and I’m not a big fan of leftovers, anyway.

Enter the fast food joint. Enter the expanded hip joint. Enter the larger pair of pants.

Fast food is great when you’re single, and my guess is that while the restaurants have given this little thought, they never really knew what kind of audience they were capitalizing on. Quick, easy food, convenience, throwaway containers, and nearly 100 million single people in the United States are easy targets. Because how many times do we go to the store to buy food that is pre-measured for 4 or more servings? How many times do we look at the back of the chocolate chip bag and wonder who in their right single mind would make five dozen of these little morsels of heaven? Who caters to the great population of single adults in America?

That’s right: Nobody, except for fast food. And if you’ve seen “Supersize Me,” then you know that fast food is, shall we say, a little less than healthy. And if you haven’t seen it, that’s perfectly fine, that’s what this blog is for. Easy to digest information on how to eat, but more importantly, time-saving tips and tricks and recipes for single people, and those who eat singly.

Single people are discriminated against, pure and simple, mostly because we have this notion that everybody needs somebody. Maybe, maybe not, but it doesn’t change the fact that during some part of their lives, nearly everybody is single, and there isn’t anything wrong with that. So, if I want to eat out, it’s potentially expensive or unhealthy or both. If I want to eat in, then cookbooks and supermarkets aren’t meant for little old me. (Unless you count frozen dinners, which by all accounts are another bastion of health. And always so tasty, just like the picture on the front of the box. Mm, a soggy corn dog, am I right?) Cookbooks and supermarkets are geared toward the average, just like fast food, but 100 million people in the U.S. don’t fall under those guidelines, and are left in the drive-thru lane holding a frozen skillet dinner that feeds two or more.

Those who eat singly are people like me, people who have partners, but who often don’t eat the same things, or follow the same diet. You’re eating Paleo, and they’re eating Low-Fat. Maybe the family is focused on a protein plan, while you want to veg out. Maybe you’re a carnivore while they use pasta as a lifesaving flotation device. The end result is a need for recipes that cater to one, rather than two or more. They should be easy, and quick, and tasty. And they shouldn’t end up in plastic containers that sit back in your freezer, unused, unloved, and eventually, thrown out.

Finally, it’d be nice if the recipes you got weren’t gonna send you downriver to the mouth of diabetes and heart disease. While they won’t entirely cut out sugar, I’ve tried to make the entries something you could proudly wave in front of your doctor. To that end, some of these blog entries will have to do with how food works, and how to make it work for you. We’ll talk about sugar (Eek! Yum!), fat (How It Got There and How To Get It Off), carbs (The Poor Man’s Food), and exercise (Not To Be Confused With Weight Loss). Don’t worry, the entries will (usually) be much shorter than this one, and many of them will be recipes, so here’s to enjoying your food, one serving at a time.

Please, pull up a computer, and let’s get cooking!

Be sure to like me on Facebook and Twitter, and leave lots of comments, would you?