Showing posts with label easy cooking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label easy cooking. Show all posts

Monday, April 27, 2015

Recipe Roundup: 10 recipes for cooking for one

Cooking for one can be a tricky thing when most recipes are for 4-6. Fear not: here we have a great round up of healthy, delicious recipes all scaled for one!

Cutting board of nibbles. Sometimes you just don't feel like cooking. Instead of reaching for your phone to order in, just arrange a few little things onto a cutting board and enjoy a simple meal. Above I have a small wedge of cheese, apple and pepper slices, whole grain crackers and a hard boiled egg. All food groups covered, minimal effort!
Shiitake + Avocado Sammie by Karman of The Nutrition Adventure
Think beyond the PB+J with this filling, delicious sammie that is nourishing and filling - perfect meal for one! Click here for full recipe.

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Molletes  - an open-face sandwich from Mexico introduces to me by a dear Mexican friend of mine! Preheat your broiler. Grab a bolillo, a french-style french bread and spread  it with refried beans and shredded cheese. Toast until warmed through and bubbly and then top with fresh pico de gallo. Sounds simple, and it is, but it is also damn delicious. Click here for one recipe option and scale for your needs!

Tomato Salad Stack
Tomato Salad Stack  by Jamila René Lepore, MS, RD/N of No Nonsense Nutrition  
This is a delicious dinner that looks fancy enough to serve to a date, but easy enough to make for yourself on a week night. Perfect for a Meatless Monday dinner! Click here for full recipe. 

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Salad Nicoice: This classic french salad is a perfect meal in a bowl that is also scaled for one. Hard boil an egg or two as well as some new red potatoes. Meanwhile, arrange some crunchy lettuce on a plate and top with a drained can or tuna, a sliced roma tomato, a handful of green beans (frozen and nuked is easiest) pitted black olives and your favorite vignette. Add your cooked egg and potatoes when they're ready and bon appetite!

A Salad with Split Peas and Soft-Boiled Eggs. Cook split peas (similar to lentils) in plenty of boiling salted water until tender and a bit al dente (about 20-30 minutes). Drain and dress with olive oil, salt, pepper, balsamic, and garlic. Meanwhile, soft-boiled eggs are basically hard-boiled eggs cooked for less time. This makes a runnier yolk and more tender white. For the egg, boil water, add egg (in shell), turn off heat, cover and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove and peel under water. On a bed of greens dressed with a bit of olive oil, add peas, tomatoes, cheese, and top with the  soft-cooked egg. A dijon-balsamic vinaigrette would also complement the egg nicely. Recipe by Kelly Dumke of Off The Wall.

Dutch Baby Personal Pan Pizza by Rachael Hartley of Avocado A Day Nutrition. 
Dutch baby personal pan pizza
In less time than it takes to have pizza delivered, Rachael has a fantastic recipe for pizza + salad all on one plate! The base is an airy crust that comes out of the oven just in time to receive a delicious salad topping! Click here for full recipe.

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Baked Potato + Toppings. Skip the oven and nuke a baked potato until soft. Add blanched broccoli and cheddar or chili and cheddar (I like Amy's brand soups and chili).

Spaghetti Squash: Cut a spaghetti squash in half and use an ice-cream scoop to get rid of seeds and any stringy gunk. Nuke for 5-10 minutes or until the strands separate easily with a fork and are tender. Add scrambled egg, cooked Italian sausage or just keep it simple with pasta sauce or pesto. More details here.

Strata is a great little mixture of stale bread cubes, eggs, milk, cheese and veggies. Basically a whole meal of nutrition in one dish. Easily scaled down to one or up for a crowd, make as much (or as little) as you'll eat. Pour the mixture into an oven safe dish and bake in the oven or toaster oven until puffed up and browned. 
Click here for the full recipe and more tips and tricks for cooking for one (or two!). 

What is your favorite meal for one? 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Kid friendly cooking: Breaded tilapia

Crispy and delicious
Eating fish can provide many nutritional benefits; it is a good source of protein, depending on what you buy it can be inexpensive and it is also delicious. If you use fatty fish such as tuna or salmon, you're getting a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. White fish, such as tilapia, are nearly fat free and low in calories. With this simple recipe, you can have dinner on the table in no time flat.

For a guide to minimizing your mercury exposure in fish, read here.

For a brief introduction to MyPlate (and to follow Michelle Obama and Sam Kass' lead), check out this post.

Breaded Tilapia 
Serves 4 - recipe can be easily doubled or halved
  • 4 tilapia fillets, thawed (about 1 pound total, 4 ounces each)
  • 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs (substitute corn meal if you're avoiding gluten)
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 2-3 teaspoons lemon pepper flavored Mrs. Dash
  1. Preheat oven; temperature is flexible. Are you baking anything else? I served my fish with baked sweet potato fries, so I used the package temperature of 425. Anything from 350-450 is just fine.
  2. In a shallow bowl, mix egg and Mrs. Dash with a fork. 
  3. On a pie plate or large dinner plate, toss together bread crumbs (or corn meal) with Parmesan cheese. 
  4. Dip tilapia into the egg mixture and then dip and press into breading on both sides. Place onto a cookie sheet and coat the rest of your filets. 
  5. Bake in the oven until the coating is crunchy and the fish is cooked through. How do you know? Poke a fork into the filet and check the color; cooked fish is opaque, underdone fish looks a bit clear. Twist the fork; cooked fish flakes apart easily, underdone fish holds together tightly.  My fish at 425 took about 10-12 minutes. If your oven is cooler, or the filets larger, it may take closer to 20 minutes to cook through. 
Cooking the fish at home (versus buying packaged fish sticks) significantly reduces sodium. Using Mrs. Dash for flavor lowers the sodium further. 

Egg wash of one whole egg and Mrs. Dash
Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs - easy breezy!
Ready for the oven!
Nutritious and delicious for kids of all ages!
The fish would be good served with roasted veggies; get the veggies in the oven first, then prepare the fish and pop them in the oven too. 

You may also like my cold Pesto Tuna Salad Recipe to take your fish with you to work (without stinking up the office!)

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Cooking class: how to hard boil eggs

I like to store boiled eggs in a mini loaf pan b/c it fits nicely in the fridge
Hard boiled eggs are a fantastic thing to have available in your refrigerator. They can be quickly peeled and sliced onto a sandwich, whipped up into an egg salad or simply dipped into some pepper and snacked on. The protein is very high quality and it is loaded with nutrients like choline and omega-3 fatty acids; both needed for healthy brains, nerves and moods.

Hard boiling is one (rare) case where we don't want the freshest eggs; fresh eggs are much harder to peel once boiled. Choose older eggs that have been in your fridge for a few days.
  • Place eggs in the bottom of a saucepan and add a splash of white vinegar
  • Cover eggs with water and cover; turn stove to high setting and bring to a boil
  • Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 12 minutes --or-- if you aren't in a rush, once eggs come to a boil, remove from heat let eggs cool on their own. By the time the water has cooled, eggs will be perfectly cooked
  • Place eggs in a bowl or bread pan and pop in the fridge. Don't put back in the carton because you won't know which eggs are raw and which ones are hard boiled.

Egg issue
Egg-cellent solution
Yolk is green after boiling
Boil for shorter time next time; green color comes from iron in the egg yolk. Safe to eat, just not very pretty
Egg is hard to peel
Eggs were (gasp!) too fresh; older eggs are easier to peel
Egg cracked during boiling
·         Add vinegar to boiling water to slightly soften the egg shells
·         Reduce heat to low; rapidly boiling water can jostle eggs too much causing them to hit the bottom of the pan

Lower heat when boiling to prevent cracking

Have your hard boiled eggs ready? Try my avocado egg salad. 

Pop quiz: which eggs are healthier; brown or white?
Answer: Neither; they just come from different breeds of hens. The nutritional quality of eggs depends on what the hens ate; hens that have a varied diet produce more nutrient dense eggs than those only eating chicken chow.

Most hens that produce eggs in this country aren't treated very well. Look for eggs at your farmers market so that you know the conditions in which those eggs were produced; you'll be supporting happier hens and get better quality eggs too. Or, raise your own. As Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm would say;  

"Replace the parakeet. Raise two chickens instead. They won't make as much noise, and they'll lay eggs."

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Cooking Class: How to cook spaghetti squash

Ready for toppings!
Spaghetti squash is a super summer vegetable that tastes great, is in season now and is hiding a little secret: underneath that creamy yellow rind are strands of squash that look (and taste) like spaghetti!

Spaghetti squash is much lower in calories than its whole grain counterpart. Plus, this is a great time to make use of your microwave to cook dinner without heating up your entire kitchen. You can also cook spaghetti squash in the oven, but I'd rather save that for winter when we're seeking more heat in the house.

Kids of all ages could get a fun kick out of serving the spaghetti squash right in the rind; no dishes needed!

 1 cup
 Whole wheat spaghetti
 Spaghetti squash
 6.3 grams
2.2 grams
 7.5 grams
1 gram
 37 grams
10 grams

Using the microwave makes quick work of dinner (or lunch, or breakfast) prep. Simply rinse off, poke with a knife a few times and microwave about 5-10 minutes or until tender. Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds and "guts" and discard. Then, use a fork to fluff up the strands of spaghetti squash. If the squash isn't cooked enough, don't panic. Simply toss back in the microwave for another minute or two and try again. This comes down to personal preference as well; just like regular wheat spaghetti, some of us like it al dente while other like it more tender. Up to you!

Give your squash a quick rinse and poke with a sharp knife a few times to prevent explosions

After microwaving for 5-10 minutes, cut in half
Scoop out the seeds and "guts" and discard them
Fluff up the squash strands with a fork and add any topping you'd usually use for spaghetti; marinara sauce and pesto are both delicious!

Now, what to fill the spaghetti squash with? Give these ideas a try! 

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Decadent Dip: roasted carrot hummus a l'orange

Decadent Dip: roasted carrot hummus

Watch out folks; hummus is putting on his fancy pants. His orange fancy pants! 

I am a huge fan of hummus; I love making it at home even more becuase it costs a fraction of store bought and you can experiment with flavors. You also cut out some of the packaging. Triple win.

This is a recipe that I am especially proud of! It is just so delicious and the bright orange color is really beautiful too. I hope you'll try it; I bet you'll love it (almost) as much as I do.
Garnish with an orange wedge for some extra flair

Roasted Carrot Hummus a l'Orange

  • 1 16-ounce can chickpeas (aka garbonzo beans) drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup roasted carrots
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • juice and zest from one orange
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic (1 clove or so)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin (or more, to taste)
  • black pepper and salt, so taste
1. Roast carrots until tender and nicely browned.
2. Place all ingredients in a food processor or kick-butt blender and puree until very smooth. Taste (try not to get weak in the knees) and adjust seasonings as needed
3. Try this fabulous spread on crackers, raw veggies, spread on toast and by the spoonful!Mais oui!

Gather your ingredients
Roast your carrots; no need to peel
Plop everything in the food processor et voila!
So pretty...are you licking the screen?

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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Decadent Dip: peasto-pesto dip

Decadent Dip: peasto-pesto dip

This lovely little dip whips up in a flash with a food processor or blender and is inspired by a recipe from Jamie Oliver's cookbook: The Essential Family Cookbook.

This is a delicious dip for fresh vegetables and whole grain crackers and is even tasty tossed with whole grain pasta!

Peasto-pesto dip
  • 6 ounces greek yogurt (3/4 cup)
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen peas (thawed)
  • 1/4 cup pesto
  • juice of 1/2 lemon  
  • Freshly ground black pepper

1. Place all ingredients into food processor or blender and blend until smooth and creamy
2. Dig in with crackers, fresh raw veggies, blanched veggies or toss with pasta. This could even be a sandwich spread!

Place ingredients in food processor or blender...

...and puree until smooth! So easy!

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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Cooking techniques: how to blanch vegetables

Cooking techniques: how to blanch vegetables

What is blanching? Blanching vegetables is a simple cooking technique that includes cooking vegetables very briefly in boiling water and then submerging them in ice-water or running them under cold water to stop the cooking. You're left with very brightly colored vegetables that are like al dente pasta; crisp tender and lovely. You have also taken apart (ie denatured) the enzymes in the vegetables, so they'll stay fresh for longer.

I demonstrated this technique with asparagus, but it works well with green beans, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots too!

What do you do with these veggies? Lots of things; blanched vegetables make a great base for simple salads when tossed with a vinegarette. Blanched veggies also look prettier on a vegetable tray; you can try dipping them into balsamic black bean hummus.

You can also use this technique to prepare vegetables for storage in the freezer. If you didn't take the time to blanch the produce, it wouldn't last as long in the freezer. Place blanched veggies into zip top bags and remove as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn. By saving seasonal produce for later, we get to take advantage of the produce at its peak of freshness and nutrition and best price.

I also like to pop an over-easy egg on top of blanched veggies for a simple meal.

Trim ends from veggies

Drop into boiling water just long enough to develop bright color and to soften

Run under cold water or submerge in ice water; your veggies are ready to go!
Blanched asparagus topped with an over-easy egg and feta cheese
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Monday, July 23, 2012

All about pesto - food of the gods

Pesto - food of the gods - what a great way to start the week!

Pesto is so delicious! Born in northern Italy, pesto is traditionally made with fresh basil, olive oil, pine nuts and parmesan. What was once done by hand using a mortar and pestal is now accomplished in moments using a food processor or blender. 

You may have noticed, though, that pine nuts can be pricy! Per pound, pine nuts can be up there with selling your kidney or your first born child. I think that pesto is just as delicious when made with toasted almonds, and a lot more affordable. So, grab a huge bunch of basil from your back yard garden, your herb pot or local farmers market and whip up some pesto to use now and freeze some for later.

Another money saving tip? Ok! If you don't have quite the volume of fresh basil you'd like, you can stretch this recipe using fresh spinach or arugula (aka rocket if you're on the other side of the pond).

To toast your nuts, simply place in a dry skillet over medium-low heat and stir around a bit until they smell good. You're not going to see too much change in color until it is too late and they're scorched. Let your nose tell you when they're done and don't walk away from the stove. 

This recipe is really accomplished by "touch and feel", so exact measurements aren't given. Some folks like pesto more cheesy than others, some like it to be thinned with more olive oil, others skip the garlic. Up to you!

Basil Pesto - a big batch

Toasted nuts (1/4 to 1/2 a cup per big batch)
Fresh basil, augmented with spinach, if needed (Fill up the food processor container)
Parmesan cheese (1/4 to 1/2 a cup per big batch
Salt and pepper, to taste
Olive oil (about a cup)

Toasted almonds
Food processor stuffed with fresh basil
Handful of Parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper
Drizzling in olive oil
Fresh basil from the garden: future pesto!

Drizzle a thin layer of olive oil on top of fresh pesto to prevent browning
Pesto served on toast with goat cheese, an egg and tomato

Where to use my pesto? The possibilities are truly endless, but here are a few ideas to get you started:
  • Tossed with hot or cold pasta, rice, barley, quinoa or gnocchi
  • tossed with hot or cold zucchini pasta
  • Stirred into scrambled eggs or tofu
  • Drizzled onto a fried egg
  • Thinned with balsamic vinegar to dress salads and roasted vegetables
  • Mashed into potatoes
  • Tossed with freshly popped popcorn
  • Schmeared onto a bagel with cream-cheese
  • As a substitute for mayo/mustard on your favorite sandwiches or subs
  • Drizzled onto hot soup or cold gazpacho
  • Take your grilled cheese up a notch
  • Mixed into tuna, egg or chicken salad
  • Spread on toast with goat cheese
  • Spread onto cream cheese for a quick party dip for crackers, pretzels or crisp breads
  • Marinate your chicken before grilling or baking
  • As a sauce base for your homemade pizza or drizzled on top after baking...or both
  • Tossed with blanched green beans, broccoli or cauliflower
  • On a spoon...

All about storage
In the fridge: pour a thin layer to cover your fresh pesto to prevent excessive browning
In the freezer: scoop pesto into small jars (leaving room for expansion) or spread into an ice-cube tray to freeze smaller portions

Nut allergies?
Try this with toasted soy "nuts" 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Baked Oatmeal: Love child!

I was recently informed by my friend Sarah Schwartzman that something in my life had been missing; an excellent breakfast treat that is healthy and delicious....BAKED OATMEAL! What is this treasure? It is a layered treasure of whole grain oats, fruit, nuts baked together with milk and eggs and a touch of cinnamon. The texture is something like the love child of fruit cobbler and a bowl of thick oatmeal. Delicious!

I scoured the internet for recipes and found several. I found one recipe that used significantly less butter than most and then made it my own. Here is what I did:

Blueberry-Banana Baked Oatmeal

  • 2 cups berries (fresh or frozen are both fine)
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • 2 cups old fashioned oats - not the minute kind
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup nuts
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seeds
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 cups low-fat milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees

    Spray a square pan with non-stick cooking spray
    Frozen blueberries; mixed berries would also be delicious!
    1 sliced banana

    Pour berries into bottom of prepared square pan; top with sliced bananas

    In a 4 cup measuring cup, mix together the oats, brown sugar, baking powder, nuts, cinnamon and flax. Cover fruit with dry mixture and even out surface.

    Dry mixture

    Cover the fruit!

    Reuse your measuring cup to melt butter in microwave (let's not create more dishes than necessary!). Add eggs, milk and vanilla and whisk together until smooth. Pour liquid mixture over oats evenly.

    Not too much butter!

    Pop into the oven and bake for about 40 minutes or until fruit layer is bubbling and edges are browned.

    All ready!

    Cut into rectangles and serve with a splash of milk and a tiny drizzle of maple syrup or honey, if desired.

    This reheats well in the microwave. I make this on the weekend when I have more time and then enjoy throughout the week for a fast and healthy breakfast. Enjoy!

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