Microwave Lunch

 Posted by at 1:00 pm  Cooking for One, SGIKS
Jul 072011
 

Weirdest, yet most delicious, lunch I’ve created as of late, made completely in the microwave at work:

Ingredients:

  • 1 sweet potato
  • 2 small slices cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup cous cous [I’m OBSESSED with Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat Cous Cous. So tasty!]

photo source

 Preparation Instructions

  1. Prepare cous cous according to  package directions. 
    [In the case of the Trader Joe’s WW Cous Cous – in a microwavable bowl, combine 1/4 cup cous cous, 1/4 cup water, a shake of salt, and a little less than a teaspoon of butter and microwave for 3:30. Fluff with fork. ]
  2. Puncture sweet potato with fork in several places.  Heat in microwave for 4 minutes.
  3. Slice sweet potato in half.  Add a slice of cheese to each sweet potato half.  Return to microwave and heat for additional 45 seconds.
  4. Top cheesy sweet potato with cous cous. 

Oh my gosh, how did I ever think of this? It’s like a celebration of goodness in my mouth.  Also, it’s super easy to make while at the office. Double score.

Feb 172011
 

The following post was originally written as a guest post for Becoming the Odd Duck.

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I used to live in a house with four boys. Often I found myself preparing meals fit for a large family, as my roommates and a group of their friends would gather in the kitchen.

Then things changed.  I now live roommate free, alone in a quaint apartment. I’m no longer cooking for 5+ every night.  It has taken a little bit of adjustment, of course, but over the last year and a half of living on my own I have definitely mastered what I call the “Single Girl in Kitchen Situation.”

5 Tips To Consider When Cooking for One:

1. Purchase what you’ll use.  While I do often buy non-perishable or frozen items that last a long time in bulk, I purchase produce weekly.  Buying fruit and vegetables from the market near my house each week helps me to not feel the pressure to buy more than what I’ll need at a larger grocery store.

BONUS: Buying local is good for my community.

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2. Make Your Own Frozen Meals. Every so often on a Sunday afternoon, I will make a large batch of a favorite recipe that I know freezes well.  My mom’s chili recipe, spaghetti sauce, a tasty soup recipe.  Once I finish delighting in a serving for dinner, I break up the remaining servings in freezable containers to eat throughout the next few months.

BONUS: These frozen meals work especially well when you don’t feel like cooking; just remove from the freezer, defrost, & heat.

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3.  Transformation Experimentation. It’s time to think outside your box and get creative in your kitchen.  Turn dinner leftovers into a breakfast scramble.  Just about anything can be turned into a salad, wrap, or sandwich.  Lots of things make interesting additions to stir-fry’s, pasta dishes, or pizza toppings.

BONUS: You don’t have to have the same meal experience several days in a row in order to not let your food go to waste.

4. Create “Building Block Dinners.”  Cook a staple protein that can then be used in several meals throughout your week by adding new and different ingredients.  Grilling a two chicken breasts on a Sunday afternoon can be split up and used into four separate entrees: serve with a salsa and rice, make a BBQ tortilla pizza, reheat with a jam glaze, add to pasta, chop into a salad, make any number of sandwiches or wraps – the possibilities really are endless.

BONUS: Don’t get in a chicken rut: create similar blocks with beans, tofu, or a batch of ground turkey meatballs or burger patties.

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5. Don’t be afraid to make one serving meals.  Many recipes you find in cookbooks or online can be halved or even quartered to satisfy your one (fabulous!) person table setting. Here is a great example of a simple one serving meal filled with healthy stuff.

Ingredients:
3 lasagna noodles
2 handfuls of fresh spinach
1 tomato
1 T olive oil or butter
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon prepared pesto

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Directions:
1. Boil water & cook broken up pieces of pasta to normal directions.
2. Heat oil/butter and garlic in skillet.  Add washed spinach to skillet; cover & cook on medium high heat for six minutes.  
3. Meanwhile, dice tomato.  When spinach is done, toss in tomato and pesto.
4. Drain noodles, plate and top with spinach mixture.

BONUS: Easy and DELICIOUS!

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Jul 272010
 

I’m a single girl with a Single Girl in Kitchen Situation.
When I want a new dress for an upcoming event, as a single girl, I don’t settle. I have been known to start the shopping experience months in advance deciding on one dress, then another, and finally another the day before I wear it out.

When grocery shopping, as a single girl, I used to go overboard.  Purchasing everything that may fit into my kitchen, into my menu, into my mouth. Adjusting to taking market trips for one was a bit of a challenge early on, but I’ve come up with a list of tips over the last year that has helped me to reach single girl in kitchen situation grocery shopping success.  These tips are helpful no matter if you are shopping for one or a bunch!

Single Girl in Kitchen Situation’s Grocery Shopping Tips

Tip #1: Never go in hungry. You’ve heard it many times before.  Yet somehow, on occasion, we find ourselves entering automatic doors with a hungry tummy.  DON’T DO IT.  Would you go into the Gap naked? No. Because you would end up grabbing the first thing you saw, even it didn’t fit your body type or lifestyle.

Tip #2: List. You probably know to keep a running list of what you need as you need it, but why not keep other lists, too?  A list of things you purchase every trip, expensive items you would buy if on sale, or products you are wanting to try but not yet found.  These lists are semi-permanent and can be kept in your wallet for each trip.

Tip #3: The 80/20 loop. The outside perimeter of the store is filled with the freshest, healthiest ingredients.  Produce, bakery, meat, dairy, and sometimes bulk grains. To assure my diet is filled with 80% of the healthiest, whole foods and not as much packaged stuff I make an effort to spend 80% of my time in the grocery store in the outside loop.  I also try to keep my cart at a ratio of 80% items from the outside loop and 20% from the middle aisles.

Tip #4: Speaking of Carts…. you do not need a huge cart.  The grocery stores near me have a few shopping convenience options; hand held baskets, small double-decker carts, and GINORMIOUS shopping carts.  I usually choose the double-decker cart and only fill the top of the cart.  Choosing the grocery-mobile that best suits the needs of the mouths you feed, whether just your own or a whole group of hungry yappers.

Tip #5: High & Low. Those grocery store managers are tricky bastards.  They know their marketing.  That’s why they put what they want you you to buy at eye level.  When you do make your way into the middle aisles, scan the top and bottom shelves for the best priced items.

Tip #6: Do It Yourself. Forget 100-calorie packs. Convenient snacks are not so convenient for your wallet.  We want food to carry with us on our busy days. We want it to be inexpensive, we want it to be easy, we want it to be tasty, we want it to healthy.  It’s often more simple than we think. An orange is half the price of a 100-calorie snack bag of Doritos. (cha-ching!) Banana peel is the same amount of waste as a candy wrapper (only, bonus, biodegradable.) Not to mention how much you save buying from bulk bins.  Not only do you avoid paying for excess packaging, but you can choose the amount you want to buy (and therefore, not waste) at a time.

Tip #7: Thrifty is the new cheap. Don’t fear the discounts.  Buying in-season produce is a must (corn in August, apples in September.)  Stocking up on what you know will last when it’s on sale is key (long-shelf life groceries on super sale are great pantry fillers.)

Tip #8: Location, location, location. Don’t get in a market rut.  Give discount grocery stores such as Aldi, Price Right, or Safeway a try.  Don’t only visit your standard farmers market, visit small family run stands on the side of the road.  Every so often look for groceries in non-traditional non-grocery stores – I’ve found great products at great prices at TJ Maxx, CVS, and kitchen supply stores.

Tip #9: Connect. E-newsletters from grocery chains share promotional information of upcoming sales and coupons to your inbox.  Twitter accounts of favorite food companies links to discounts and free product samples. Sharing recipes with co-workers and neighbors means shared information on good prices and sightings of rare or new products.

Tip #10: Expect the Splurge. I am a single girl who has been known to have one glass of wine too many.  A time or two I’ve left the bookstore with seven new books. I am well aware that on most occasions I will likely leave the grocery store with at least three items that weren’t on my list, one of which is probably an $8 jar of nut butter, even though I already have six other brands/flavors at home.  Set aside a small amount for a “special splurge” budget.  You’ll thank yourself later.  Possibly while eating cashew butter by the spoonful while sitting on the kitchen counter.

What are your top grocery shopping tips?  Is money no object to you when it comes to food, or do you clip coupons and shop sales?