Category Archives: life

Simple, Speedy Cooking for One

One of my college student friends recently asked for recipes and tips for cooking for one. Before I got married last year, I spent the previous four years living on my own and either working two jobs or working and going to grad school. I love food – a lot! – but had limited time to cook. Here are my tips & recipes for her. Most of these are scalable recipes that can be easily increased to feed a crowd.
 Cooking for One: Tips & Tricks (StairStories.com)
Tips
  • Brown several pounds of ground beef in a skillet and freeze it in one-pound or half-pound portions to speed up meal preparation later.
  • Rotisserie chicken from your local deli can be a healthy, fast way to add protein to several meals (especially if you do not eat the skin). Meal #1: Have the legs and wings with vegetables and a roll or biscuit on the side. Meals #2-3: Use chopped breast and back meat in a Quesadilla or Chef Salad or on Baked Potatoes.
Cooking for One: Stir-Fry with Potstickers Recipe (StairStories.com)
Stir-Fry with Dumplings/Potstickers 
1 serving frozen potstickers, sometimes labeled as Asian dumplings (check package for serving size)
1/2 cup broccoli slaw
1 tablespoon chopped peanuts or sliced almonds (optional)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Prepare potstickers using the skillet directions. When they are done, leave them in the skillet and add the broccoli slaw. If the bottom of the pan is dry, add 1 tablespoon of water. Cover the pan and steam for 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a plate or bowl. Top with soy sauce and nuts to taste.
 Cooking for One: Italian Chicken & Potatoes Recipe (StairStories.com)
Italian Chicken & Potatoes
2 frozen chicken tenders or one breast (split)
1 medium or two small potatoes (white, red, or sweet potatoes are fine)
1 cup Italian salad dressing
Preheat oven to 350. Place thawed chicken on a casserole or baking pan with high sides. Scrub the potatoes and cut them into medium-sized chunks. Place the potatoes around the chicken. Pour the salad dressing over the chicken and potatoes. Bake for 30 minutes. The chicken should be white all the way through and the potatoes should be soft.
 Cooking for One: Baked BBQ Chicken Recipe (StairStories.com)
Baked BBQ Chicken
2 frozen chicken tenders or one breast (split)
1/8 – 1/4 cup barbecue sauce
Preheat oven to 350. Place thawed chicken on a casserole or baking pan with high sides. Pour the barbecue sauce over the chicken. Bake for 15-20 minutes. The chicken should be white all the way through.
 Cooking for One: Quesadillas Recipe (StairStories.com)
Quesadillas
2 tortillas
1/2 cup cooked meat (ground beef, chopped chicken, prepared barbecued pork)
1/4 cup shredded cheese (mild cheddar, American, colby, jack)
Heat skillet or griddle to medium high. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. Lay one tortilla flat on the hot skillet and spread meat evenly across the tortilla. Sprinkle cheese over the meat and top with second tortilla. Cook while frequently pressing down on the top tortilla with a spatula or a plate until the cheese is melted enough to hold the tortillas together and the bottom tortilla is nicely browned. Flip the quesadilla and brown the other side. Cut and serve!
 Cooking for One: Sweet & Tangy Meatballs Recipe (StairStories.com)
Sweet & Tangy Meatballs – adapted from Ring Around the Rosies
1 serving turkey and romano cheese frozen meatballs (check package for serving size)
1/4 cup grape jelly
1/4 cup barbecue sauce
Place all ingredients into small saucepan heat on medium, stirring occasionally until meatballs are heated completely according to package directions and jelly is blended with sauce. Serve over rice or pasta.
 Cooking for One: Chef Salad Recipe (StairStories.com)
Chef Salad
1 cup greens (I like spinach because I can use it in other favorite recipes)
1/2 cup other vegetables or fruits (fresh berries, tomatoes, peppers, celery, shredded carrots, beets)
1/2 cup protein (cottage cheese, sliced almonds, sunflower seeds, chopped sandwich meat, cooked chicken, sliced boiled egg)
1-2 tablespoons salad dressing
 Cooking for One: Loaded Baked Potatoes Recipe (StairStories.com)
Loaded Baked Potatoes
Scrub potatoes. Cook in oven (350 for 30-45 minutes, depending on size) or microwave on high (4-7 minutes, depending on size). Top as desired. Some of my family’s favorites are cheddar cheese, sour cream, olives, ham or any kind of sandwich meat, cooked broccoli, cottage cheese, bacon bits, Italian salad dressing.*
* Not all on the same potato!

 

Make the whole recipe and eat one serving. When the casserole cools, wrap individual servings in plastic wrap and place in a gallon freezer bag to freeze. Unwrap and reheat whenever you need a quick meal. It tastes far better than store-bought freezer meals!
What is your advice on cooking for one?

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31 Days of Random Questions – Day 31

This is the end of of 31 Days with the Nester and 1238 other bloggers. I plan to resume weekly posts like Lows & Highs and Insta-Friday. I also plan to add a weekly random question post. Other posts will continue to be as I feel inspired and find time to write.

Did you dress up for Halloween as a kid? Do you dress up for Halloween now?

My siblings and I did dress up for Halloween, but I remember thinking, “So we dress up in costumes, go to see the neighbors and they give us candy… How is this different from most days?” We liked dressing up so much that we had a collection of costume clothes that we wore on wild, imaginative adventures in the backyard.

 

I had not dressed up for Halloween in years, but was invited to a costume party this year. Brian was Waldo and I went as Carmen Sandiego.* I have short, blonde hair, so many people did not recognize me at first (in person and in photos). It was easily the most fun costume I have had as an adult!

*Carmen and Waldo, hard-to-find globetrotters who wear red, are much more popular couple costumes than I first realized.

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31 Days of Random Questions – Day 30

What is the most adventurous activity you have ever done?

I traveled solo to Seoul to meet friends for vacation and tourism around South Korea. I flew from Tulsa to Dallas to Tokyo to Seoul. On the flight from Dallas to Tokyo, I helped a Taiwanese man change the video screen at his seat from Spanish to English. He was haphazardly pressing buttons but clearly could not read Spanish so I offered to help. He looked at me confusedly and I realized he did not speak much English either. I pointed at the display and asked, “May I help?” He nodded and I tapped at the screen, finding the menu marked “Idiomas” with only a few mistakes. On the way home, I had another adventure but it takes longer to tell than I have time today.

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31 Days of Random Questions – Day 28

I really thought I had today’s post all written and scheduled to post at 6:00 a.m… It has been a busy weekend with meeting my nephew for the first time, partying at a wedding (where I saw no bouquet throwing!), taking a four-hour road trip, and catching up with two different friends. I have had a marvelous time! Bonus question: How was your weekend?

Actual question I intended for Day 28: What is one smell that brings back a childhood memory?

The smell of coconut reminds me of sunscreen and summer and swimming at the lake or pool. As far as I remember, all sunscreen smelled like coconut in the 80’s and early 90’s. To this day, that olfactory trigger is why I avoid coconut-flavored drinks. They taste the way sunscreen smelled.

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31 Days of Random Questions – Day 23

Who or what do you avoid on a daily basis?
I constantly avoid needless conflict… and I think most of it is needless. When I think something matters more than the discomfort and disharmony of conflict, I try to work it out as quickly as possible and then move on.

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31 Days of Random Questions – Day 19

How would you describe your family in one word?
Lively! We are an active, almost-never-bored*, story-telling, teasing bunch. At gatherings with the extended family, the party starts when we arrive. We got a little livelier yesterday when my sister had a healthy baby boy! Eli is my parents’ first grandkid and, boy, are we all glad he is here!

*Bored was a bad word when we were growing up. Mom used to tell us, “There are no such things as boring places, only boring people. If you’re bored, you must be a boring person…”

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31 Days of Random Questions – Day 18

What’s something you would do more often if you had the time?
I would play the piano more. I am definitely not talented at music or rhythm but my mom believed her father’s philosophy that skill at any of the arts can be taught. I took lessons from an excellent and very patient teacher from ages 11-19, only stopping because piano lessons no longer fit into my class schedule. I still play occasionally but would love to practice more often.

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31 Days of Random Questions – Day 17

What is one thing you hope to change?
I am looking forward to changing my job someday. I am currently an accountant but will finish my M.A. in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL). I would love to teach English to college students or adults.

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31 Days of Random Questions – Day 15

What’s one simple way to make life less complicated?
Tell the truth as diplomatically and graciously as possible. That way I have only one “story” to keep track of and people can trust me to be honest without being harsh.

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31 Days of Random Questions – Day 11

What is something you would hate to go without for a day?
Coffee. The second thing would be my phone, but being without my phone does not give me a headache.

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