Dinner for One!

After cooking for two for years I suddenly faced only cooking for myself- with the exception of all my dinner parties!  Most work nights it’s just me.  For a couple of months I lived on salads, sandwiches, and bean burritos.  That got old after a while and I realized that taking the time to actually cook for and nourish my body was just as satisfying (if not always as much fun) as cooking for someone else.  Cooking for one does pose challenges though, especially since I’m not a huge fan of leftovers.  Most recipes are meant to feed at least two and often 4+ people.  Some are easily adapted but other things, like casseroles are really difficult.  I had to look outside cookbooks and get creative to come up with some new dinners for one.  I also had to invest in a small oven safe dish.

To make it a little more difficult tonight, I didn’t want to make an additional trip to the grocery store so I had to work with my pantry.  Specifically, I wanted to use a sweet potato that had been on my shelf for a while and some fresh eggs that a co-worker brought me.  I decided on a baked hash- three layers.

Layer One, Prior to Prep

Layer One, Prior to Prep

I diced all of the veggies, fairly small for a quicker cooking time.  Half a sweet potato, 1/3 cup red onion, three mini sweet peppers, and 2 cloves of garlic.

Diced!

Diced!

Prepped and ready to be mixed with 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.  I put this in the oven at 375 degrees for 40 minutes.

While the potato mixture baked I prepared the other layers.  I shredded 1/3 sharp cheddar cheese for the middle layer (this could be omitted if you want to avoid dairy).  I also chopped 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, four green onions, and half an avocado for the top.  I seasoned them with salt and pepper.

Toppings

Toppings

After forty minutes I removed the potatoes from the oven and cracked two eggs on top.  I also sprinkled the cheddar all around.

Ready for Final Bake

Ready for Final Bake

I baked the casserole for 15 minutes.  My eggs ended up over hard, not too hard, but harder than I like.  Next time I’ll go for closer to 12 minutes so the yoke will still be a bit runny.  I set the table with my tomato salad as well as Greek yogurt and hot sauce.

Toppings Ready

Toppings Ready

Depending on dietary restrictions, preferences, and hunger this can be served with bacon and/or toast.  I have no restrictions, like all food, and was hungry after missing a proper lunch due to a busy day at work- so I had both!

Yum

Yum

What do you eat when you’re alone?  Do you enjoy leftovers?  Favorite one serving meals?

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Bacon and Pea Pizza with Herb Dipping Sauce

This recipe is brought to you by Nicole via shutterbean.  I was originally drawn to this recipe because I thought fresh peas would be available at the farmers’ market (I was a couple of weeks early, but frozen worked just fine).  First up, pizza dough!  There are tons of recipes available online and in cookbooks for dough.  The basic ingredients are yeast, warm water and flour.  Some recipes will include olive oil, salt, sugar and/or herbs.  The other differences come in kneading time and rising time.  I picked a no knead dough with a short rise time.  There was a pinch of salt as well as a bit of sugar and olive oil for added flavor.

Ready to Mix!

Ready to Mix!

I let my stand mixer do most of the work and then put the dough in window to rise in the sun.  After rising (and a bit of kneading on my part) I put the dough into the fridge until I was ready to bake.

Flower Helped the Rising

Flowers Helped the Rising

After the dough is made the pizza comes together really quickly.  In fact, next time I might just buy dough from the store.  Most grocery stores now carry white, wheat and herb dough.  I would stay away from the herb dough though, not wanting to take away from the flavors of the pizza.

Back to cooking.  I took the dough out of the fridge (I only used half of what the recipe made) to warm up for easier rolling and started prepping my topping ingredients.

Ready to Dress the Pizza!

Ready to Dress the Pizza!

I used four strips of bacon instead of three because mine was really fatty and I trimmed quite a bit off.  My thawed peas, looking forward to my garden peas ripening!  Crushed red pepper, I finally gave in and bought the big jar from Costco- a good investment.  Three thinly sliced garlic cloves.  Three green onions sliced, the original recipe called for two but I was able to find these at the farmers’ market and they were so beautiful I went for more.  Mozzarella and aged cheddar, I did a 50/50 combo, about a cup and a half total.  I rolled out the dough on a pan greased with olive oil so it wouldn’t stick.  Baked at 450 for twenty minutes.

Instead of fresh mint on top I had some cilantro and parsley to use so a made an herb dipping sauce.

Fresh Herbs

Fresh Herbs

I put a handful of both herbs in the food processor with salt, pepper, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice.  This wasn’t very precise, just taste and add lemon, salt, olive oil as needed.  Apologies for the following picture the quality isn’t great, but this sauce tasty!  On the pizza, added to sandwiches, just with bread.

Thick Sauce!

Thick Sauce!

The sauce came together just as the pizza came out of the oven.  I gave the pizza a generous squeeze of fresh lemon right as it came out.  Don’t skip this step, it brightened the whole dish!

Pizza!

Pizza!

 

 

 

Nicole’s first lamb and Ivie’s first fava beans- Our first post!

We were lucky enough to create our first post while we were actually cooking together!  Nicole’s new cookbook, Jerusalem- A Cookbook, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi arrived in the mail on the same day Ivie flew into Eugene.  We went through the whole book and settled on this recipe because Ivie wanted Nicole to try lamb for the first time and Nicole knew fava beans were in season and Ivie had never had them.

We went to the Eugene farmers’ market and then the meat market to collect our ingredients.  Nicole assumed she had all of the spices but some adjustments had to be made.  Ivie and Nicole were both pleased with their firsts- it was delicious.

Here’s what we did:

Ivie was in charge of the meatball portion, Nicole helped by chopping the onions and garlic.

Spices first

Spices for Baharat

The recipe called for black peppercorns, coriander seeds, cinnamon stick, whole cloves, allspice, cumin seeds, cardamom pods, and nutmeg.  We did not have allspice and nutmeg.  The spices were ground in an old coffee grinder and it smelled great!

Next up, making the meat mixture

Ready to mix

Ready to mix

In the meatballs we had two parts ground beef to one part ground lamb.  We were lucky enough to buy direct from free range farmers.  One medium onion, finely chopped.  One cup of bread crumbs.  Three cloves of garlic (the recipe called for two but we are both garlic lovers).  An herb blend of parsley, mint, and dill- straight from the backyard.  The recipe called for fresh cilantro as well but we forgot to pick that up.  Finally eggs to bind.  The recipe also called for capers which we omitted.

Hand rolled by Ivie into the size of golf balls

Hand rolled by Ivie into the size of golf balls

While Ivie seared the meatballs, Nicole got to work on the ingredients for the fava beans and sauce.

meatballs cooking

Brown all sides of meatballs with olive oil on medium heat

fava beans

Fava beans have two layers of shells. They are whole here, ready for their first shelling

For the fava beans and sauce Nicole did a quick blanch in boiling water followed by a cold water shock after removing the beans from the pods.  The recipe had called for two cups of beans, we thought we bought plenty but were surprised to find only three beans in some of the pods.

photo 1 (1)

Favas out of their outer pod

We took the inner shell off of half of the favas.  The inner shell is edible so doing half and half added a layer of complexity to the recipe.  For the sauce which was sauteed in the pan after removing the browned meat balls we used the shell on fava beans, three sprigs of thyme, six sliced garlic cloves, eight green onions cut into one inch segments.  Chicken stock and lemon juice finished the sauce.  The sauce simmered for ten minutes and then the meatballs and twice shelled favas were added back to the pan to finish cooking (covered) for another twenty-five minutes.  We kept an eye on the liquid level and added more stock to be sure there was enough sauce.

The final product

Finished with more chopped herbs and lemon juice

Finished with more chopped herbs and lemon juice

We served this with roasted beets and shallots and look forward to leftovers for lunch today.