Homemade Mini Chicken Pot Pie

Mini Chicken Pot Pie is a new take on classic comfort food.  It’s a healthy make-ahead, freezable dish that’s perfect for grab-and-go meals.

Mini Chicken Pot Pie

Mini Chicken Pot Pie

Course Main Course
Servings 12
Calories 343 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup frozen peas and diced carrots
  • cup frozen pearl onions
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • cup chicken broth
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp dried chives
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup cooked chicken, chopped
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • Butter biscuit dough, unbaked

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 450͒℉.
  • Melt butter in a saute pan over medium-low heat. Add pearl onions and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.
  • Add peas and carrots. Turn heat up to medium-high and wait for butter to come to a simmer. Simmer 2 minutes.
  • Stir in flour until well incorporated and smooth. Add vegetable broth, a little at a time, stirring constantly. Bring back to boil and simmer for 2 minutes.
  • Add parsley, chives, thyme, salt and pepper. Take off heat and allow to cool slightly. Add cream and chicken.
  • Spray 12 ct muffin tin with cooking spray. Cut biscuit dough into 12 equal pieces and roll into balls. Flatten each ball and press it into muffin cups, bringing it slightly above the rim of the cup. Fill each cup with ¼ cup of the chicken mixture.
  • Bake for 15 - 20 minutes or until biscuit tops are golden brown.
  • Allow chicken pot pies to cool for 5 - 10 minutes, then remove by sliding a knife into a muffin cup and gently underneath to pop the pies out. Serve warm.
  • Hack: Filling can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • Hack: Leftover pot pies can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Make sure to subtract any days that you stored the filing before making pies.
  • Hack: Place cooled chicken pot pies on a cookie sheet and freeze until solid. Store in a freezer container for up to 3 months. I don’t recommend using a just freezer bag as the crust might break up as they are moved around the freezer.
  • To reheat: .Thaw in refrigerator overnight. Bake in 350͒℉ for 15-20 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160℉.
Keyword Chicken pot pie, cooking for one, cooking for singles, freezer meal, meat pie, mini chicken pot pie, muffin tin meals

Did you know?  The pastry surrounding the very first meat pies was to preserve the filling…and was not meant to be eaten.  Check out these interesting facts on the history of pies!

If you like this recipe, consider trying another single-serve option: Mini Tourtiere Pork Pie!

 

Fresh Homemade Butter Biscuits

These delicious homemade butter biscuits can go two ways…a traditional biscuit or an herb biscuit. The butter creates steam pockets for a light flaky texture.

Homemade Butter Biscuits

Homemade Butter Biscuits

Course Side Dish
Servings 1 biscuit
Calories 185 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ cup cold butter, grated (1 stick or ¼ lb)
  • 1 cup milk

Optional:

  • ½ tsp rosemary
  • ½ tsp parsley
  • ½ tsp chives
  • ½ tsp thyme

Instructions
 

  • Heat oven to 450͒ F.
  • Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and herbs (if desired). Mix in butter, then add milk. Stir to combine.
  • Turn out onto floured surface or silicone pastry mat and kneed a few times to fully incorporate ingredients. Add small amounts of flour or drops of milk as necessary so the dough will hold together but not be sticky.
  • Pat dough to ⅔” thickness. Cut with a 2” biscuit cutter or drinking glass.
  • Place biscuits on greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes until lightly browned.
  • Hack: Biscuits can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to a week.
  • Hack: Place leftover biscuits on cookie sheet and place in freezer until fully frozen. Place in a sealable freezer bag and store in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months.
Keyword baking powder biscuits, baking powder rolls, bread, breakfast sandwich, butter biscuits, homemade biscuits, quick bread

Did you know?  Baking powder was invented in 1856, revolutionizing baking.  According to the Smithsonian Magazine, cooking without it was definitely NOT a piece of cake!

Suggestion:  Use this butter biscuit dough to make mini chicken pot pies!

Quirky And Fun Vintage Recipe Ads

In the 1950s, food manufacturers printed ads with recipes to help incorporate their products into everyday meals. Here are some fun vintage recipe ads I found!

Vintage Recipe Ads
Vintage Recipe Ads

After World War II ended in 1945, the lives of Americans began to change dramatically and for the better.

These were people who had lived through the Great Depression when they didn’t have money to meet their basic needs followed by a war during which they couldn’t buy what they needed no matter how much money they had.

Now prosperity reigned and a new middle class began to emerge. Food was abundant as rationing ended and supermarkets began to crop up in every neighborhood.

Suburbs popped up everywhere and every kitchen in every new home was equipped with shiny new appliances, the likes of which had never been seen before.

And what else popped up?  Come on now, we’ve talked about this.  That’s right…convenience foods!

Companies that manufactured and sold all these new-fangled foods were more than happy to assist the modern-day housewife in getting the most from this brave new world of modern conveniences.

They began to buy ad space in womens’ magazines and use that space to print recipes that included their products.

I guess some of the recipes must have tasted good but, for humor’s sake, I wanted to present to you a small sampling of the most cringe-worthy vintage recipe ads that I found (in a relatively short time).

The Rise and Fall of Gelatin Molds

The Rise and Fall of Gelatin Molds
The Rise and Fall of Gelatin Molds

Who remembers gelatin molds?

They were so popular there was even a name for it:  Gel Cookery (I kid you not).

I personally remember that my mothers’ specialty was a lime gelatin and grated carrot thing.  I don’t know if there was more to it than that, I just know that I liked the lime gelatin, I could have done without the carrots.

Now the fruity, powdered gelatin products that are available to us today were originally brought into existence back in the mid-1800s but there was one problem.

Once it was mixed with water, it needed refrigeration to make it gel, which was a luxury most homes did not possess.

With refrigerators finally being available to mainstream America in the ’50s, gelatin finally came into its’ own.

It was fun to make, fun to look at and it was a status symbol, of sorts, to show that you had the appliance needed to actually gel up that concoction.

But for every good idea, there is an equally bad idea out there. Here are just a few:

Jellied Bouillon
Jellied Bouillon

Jellied Bouillon combined beef bouillon, hot dogs, hard-boiled eggs and Knox Gelatine with the tagline “Frankfurters take on glamor in the gleaming aspic”.

I would not put the words frankfurters and glamor in the same sentence but I guess you had to be there.

 

Barbecue Salad
Barbecue Salad

Barbecue salad was a mixture of lemon Jell-O and tomato sauce. Adding onion juice and horseradish were optional.

The ad makes no mention of what one may have served this as or with but they did proclaim it to be “Tomato aspic with personality”.

 

Gelatin Mold
Gelatin Mold

This ad is a clever mash-up that totes the many uses of Kraft mini marshmallows and…well…other stuff. 

One includes freezing a mixture of Miracle Whip, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, confectioners sugar, heavy cream, marshmallows and canned pineapple. 

Another is far more simple: marshmallows and (generic) lime gelatin. I guess Jell-O didn’t pay for a spot in this ad.

Anyhoo…both delightful creations are served on a bed of lettuce because lettuce beds are, apparently, where all fancy desserts are presented. Tagline? “Keep glamor handy for salads”.

Tuna Fish Mold
Tuna Fish Mold

Now I know I’m picking on gelatin molds but I gotta include one more recipe card, this one for Tuna Fish Mold.

Here it is paired the “flavor blessing” of A-1 sauce and it claims to be “Real Cool”. Like, for real, who doesn’t want to eat a gelatinous mound of pureed, canned tuna and tomato soup molded to look like a marine animal?

There’s even a coupon to get the fish mold for $1 (a $2.50 value!!)

So…Who Thought This Was A Good Idea?

 

Potato Mor Ring
Potato Mor Ring

This particular ad is a throwback to the late 1940s.  Potato Mor Ring presents Wilson’s Mor, a Spam-like pork product, warmed in cream sauce and served over a molded potato ring.

Mor was toted as being a “highly nutritious and ready-to-eat source of vitamin B”.

 

Spam and Beans
Spam and Beans

Speaking of mystery meat did you know that when you add Spam to your baked beans “a crisp new flavor is added to an old favorite”?

And much like Wilson’s Mor, it claims to be a magical, healthy food made of pure pork and packed with B vitamins!

I would assume those are canned baked beans as well but it doesn’t specifically say.

Wieneroni Casserole
Wieneroni Casserole

Wieneroni Casserole — Hot dogs simmered in Karo and served over pasta.  “Frankly delicious!”

There’s nothing I can even add to this. I’m at a loss for words.

 

 

Jellygrill Sandwich
Jellygrill Sandwich

Jellygrill Sandwich is made with Velveeta Cheese and Kraft Grape Jelly. We’re encouraged to “bite into the taste of natural fruit”.

If we weren’t convinced that grape jelly is a fruit the first time they said it, they had to get it in there once again:  “The good rich taste of natural fruit and smooth, yummy Velveeta”.

If you say it enough times, it must be true.

7-Up and Milk
7-Up and Milk

We can wash all this delightful food down with a yummy glass of 7-Up and milk.

“Mothers know that this is a wholesome combination. The addition of 7-Up gives milk a new flavor appeal that especially pleases children”.

Or not. While you may be feeling shocked that they’re calling this drink “wholesome” we shouldn’t be too surprised.

This is the same company that claimed their soda was “100% natural” in 2006, a claim they had to drop less than a year later after being sued.

And The Trophy  For Best Vintage Recipe Ad Goes To… (Drum Roll, Please!)…

Oscar Meyer Holiday Hostess Tree
Oscar Meyer Holiday Hostess Tree

I know I’m a little late with this one but how could I resist?

The Oscar Meyer Holiday Hostess Tree features not one…not two…but FIVE types of processed meat, all of which appear to be served at room temperature.

Mini weiners, mini smokies, canned ham, Cotto salami and liver sausage all hang merrily from a holiday tree made of parsley sprigs hand stapled on a cone of styrofoam, into which you have rammed a plastic kitchen funnel.

I think we could still get away with this for New Year’s Eve, right?

Now THAT Was Fun!

I could go on and on.  And on. But really, we should stop as I’m sure you have other things to do.  For more information on the history of processed food, click here!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this fun trip into the past and, if you have a minute or two, comment below and let me know what weird (or wonderful!) recipe you remember from your childhood!

All my best,

Cynthia
cynthia@cynthiaeats.com

 

My Review Of Instant Pot

It’s all the rage so guess what? I hit the streets to get the lowdown on 10 different models and their accessories! I hope you enjoy this review of Instant Pot.

My Review Of Instant Pot
Instant Pot

This post contains affiliate links that, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. Read the full privacy policy here.

I’m sure you’ve heard of Instant Pot. It’s That Thing that has everyone talking. That wondrous, marvelous, amazing, extraordinary, almost transcendent piece of kitchen equipment that the whole world is raving about. Since you’re here, reading this review, I assume that you’re considering buying and you’re looking to see if this is the brand for you.

The fact is that Instant Pot is the best-selling and most popular pressure cooker out there. It’s user-friendly and has many, many uses, from the obvious (pressure-cooking) to things you may not be aware of such as making yogurt, cooking eggs and even sterilization. The problem (at least for me) is that there are 10 different models available. T.E.N. Which one is the right one for you? I’m going to break it down for you here.

My review of Instant Pot.

Basic Instant Pot Features

 

There are certain features that all Instant Pots have in common so I’m going to cover those first:

  • High-Pressure Cooking Function that cooks food up to 70% faster.
  • Slow Cooker Function.
  • Steamer Option for cooking vegetables, seafood, and eggs. Steamer accessories are included with Instant Pot.
  • Saute Function for sauteing, browning and reducing.
  • Rice Cooker Option to cook rice in as little as 4 minutes.
  • Warm Setting for keeping food at the proper temperature when it’s finished cooking.
  • Stainless Steel Inner Port has a 3 ply bottom and is dishwasher safe.
  • Accessories included: stainless steel steam rack with handles, rice paddle, soup spoon, measuring cup and condensation collector.
  • Free Instant Pot App for iOS and Android devices that’s loaded with hundreds of recipes as well as an online community to provide support and guidance.
  • More than 10 built-in safety features, including Overheat Protection, Safety Lock and more to ensure safe pressure-cooking

 

All Instant Pots except the Lux 6 in 1 have these additional features:

  • Low-Pressure Cooking Function for cooking items such as hard or soft-cooked eggs as well as more delicate vegetables and fish.
  • Yogurt Making Function.

 Pot By Pot

Now that we know the basics, let’s get down to the brass tacks: the pot by pot comparison so you can choose the perfect Instant Pot for you! Ready? Let’s roll.

 

My Review of Instant Pot
Lux 6-in-1

Instant Pot Lux 6 in 1

This very basic and economical Instant Pot has 12 one-touch Smart Programs, fingerprint-resistant stainless steel lid and components and a 6-quart large capacity to cook for up to 6 people

Instant Pot Lux 6 in 1 also comes in an 8-quart size for larger households.

Instant Pot Lux Mini has all the features of the 6-quart but in a 3-quart size. It’s great for small households, making side dishes or for anywhere that space is limited.

 

Instant Pot Duo 60

My Review Of Instant Pot
Duo 60

This is the original model of Instant Pot. It’s basic, affordable and the best-selling model out there due to its ease of use.

It has 14 Smart Programs and 12 preset temperatures. The 6-quart size cooks for up to 6 people.

Instant Pot Duo 80 has all the features of the Duo 60 but in an 8-quart size.

Instant Pot Duo Mini has all the features of the Duo 60 but in a 3-quart size. It’s great for small households, making side dishes or for anywhere that space is limited.

 

Instant Pot Duo Nova 7 in 1

My Review Of Instant Pot
Duo Nova

Instant Pot Duo Nova is an updated Duo. It has 12 one-touch Smart Programs plus a new progress indicator to let you know when your Instant Pot is coming to pressure and when the cooking cycle begins.

The new easy seal lid automatically seals your Instant Pot to keep flavors, nutrients and aromas sealed inside.

Accessories included: an extra sealing ring, steam rack with handles, and a recipe booklet.

This smaller Instant Pot Duo Nova has all the features of the standard-sized Duo Nova but in a 3-quart size.

 

My Review Of Instant Pot
Viva

Instant Pot Viva

This 6-quart pot is the first we’ve looked at that has some seriously awesome upgrades.

It has 15 one-touch Smart Programs which include a cake maker (get accessories here), sterilization feature and sous vide feature.

 

My Review Of Instant Pot
Duo Nova Plus

Instant Pot Duo Plus 6 qt 9 in 1

Instant Pot Duo Plus is an updated Duo. Duo Plus upgrades include the easy seal lid to automatically seal when pressure-cooking and a cooking progress indicator, so you know when cooking begins. It has 15 one-touch Smart Programs and can prepare meals for up to 6 people.

A larger version of the Instant Pot Duo Plus 9 in 1 has all the features of the regular Duo Plus but in an 8-quart size.

Instant Pot Duo Plus Mini has a 3-quart capacity. It’s great for making side dishes or for anywhere that space is limited. It has 13 one-touch smart programs but does not have the cake or beans/grain option offered in the larger size.

 

My Review Of Instant Pot
Ultra 60

Instant Pot Ultra 10 in 1

Instant Pot Ultra is the next generation in kitchen appliances.

A central dial with a simple turn and press provides added precision in program selection and adjustment. 16 one-touch Smart Programs include complete temperature customization and preset cooking times for up to 6 hours.

The automatic altitude adjustment takes the guesswork out of recipe conversion while the new self-closing pressure valve adds a higher safety rating.

My Review Of Instant Pot
Duo Evo

Instant Pot Duo EVO Plus 9 in 1

Instant Pot Duo Evo is a hybrid of the Duo Plus and the Ultra and has features you won’t find in other models. It has 10 one-touch Smart Programs and 48 customizable preset options, making it a must-have for cooking enthusiasts!

It has the biggest display of all the models we’ve looked at so far, big, bold and angled so it can be read from a distance while the new cooking progress indicator shows clearly where you are in the cooking cycle. The 1200W heating element reduces preheating time allowing you to make meals faster.

The easy seal lid automatically seals the pressure cooker while the improved steam-diffusing cover takes the fear out of the pressure release process. Pressure release time is shortened with the new QuickCool technology.

The cookware-grade inner pot made from 304 (18/8) stainless steel features non-slip, cool-to-the-touch silicone handles and a flat bottom that can be used on gas, electric and induction stovetop/cooktop.

Accessories include stainless steel steam rack with long handles and an extra sealing ring.

This pot also comes in an 8-quart size.

 

My Review Of Instant Pot
Smart WiFi

Instant Pot Smart WiFi

This WiFi-enabled cooker lets you schedule, cook, adjust and monitor the progress of your meals on the go from your mobile device with the Instant Pot app. It’s also compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant. As if that’s not awesome enough, you’ll have access to thousands of pre-programmed recipes and 13 one-touch Smart Programs!

 

My Review Of Instant Pot
Max

Instant Pot Max 9 in 1

The sustained 15psi pressure in this cooker not only cooks food faster while using less energy, it also enables you to do home pressure canning. It automatically releases pressure in the pot when the food is cooked. New Nutriboost technology creates a boiling motion during pressure-cooking to break down food, adding nutrition, flavor, and taste to soups and bone broth.

A new-brushed stainless steel exterior body, stainless steel interior cooker and inner pot are made from food-grade 304 stainless steel and accessories include 2 heat-resistant silicone mitts.

 

My Review Of Instant Pot
Duo Crisp

Instant Pot Duo Crisp 11 in 1 Air Fryer

The Instant Pot Duo Crisp offers the best of all worlds with the simple flip of the lid!

The pressure cooker lid offers all the options of a regular Instant Pot while the air fryer lid offers 5 dry cooking functions: use it to quickly air fry, roast, bake, broil and dehydrate.

Accessories include a multi-level air fryer basket as well as a dehydrating and broiling tray designed to ensure optimal results time after time.

The Best Instant Pot Accessories

My Review Of Instant Pot
Replacement Cover

Instant Pot 9” Tempered Glass Lid for 6 Quart

My Review Of Instant Pot
Silicone Cover

Instant Pot Silicone Lid for 5 and 6 Quart

My Review Of Instant Pot
Loaf Pan

Silicone Springform Loaf Pan

My Review Of Instant Pot
Cake Pan

Silicone Springform Cake Pan

 

 

My Review Of Instant Pot
Mini Mitts

Instant Pot Mini Mitts

 

 

 

So…Is An Instant Pot Worth It?

A lot of people I know call their Instant Pot a game-changer. They’re absolutely hooked.

Much of their fondness comes from a place of convenience. There is a shorter cooking time for large, tough cuts of meat, wild rice, steel-cut oats and lentils plus its ability to cook meat from frozen.

As a one-pot meal creator, it will leave you with fewer dirty dishes, leading to a quicker cleanup time. You can’t hate that!

What about you? Which Instant Pot are you going to choose? If you already have one, tell me what you think about yours! I’d love to hear from you.

All my best,

Cynthia
cynthia@cynthiaeats.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easy Pan Seared Scallops / Shrimp

This easy pan seared scallops / shrimp dish is a delightfully simple yet elegant dinner for one! The added zip of lemon poppy dressing makes it unique and tasty.

Easy Pan Seared Scallops / Shrimp

Easy Pan Seared Scallops / Shrimp

Course Main Course
Servings 1
Calories 360 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 5 5 large sea scallops (or 5 large shrimp, peeled and deveined)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ cup lemon poppy seed dressing
  • ½ cup cooked rice, hot

Instructions
 

  • Heat oil over medium-high heat.
  • Scallops:  Place scallops carefully in the pan so they are not touching.  Cook on one side for 2-4 minutes, until they are nicely seared.  Flip them over and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Shrimp:  Place shrimp carefully in the pan so that they are not touching.  Cook for one minute. Flip over and cook for one more minute, or until shrimp is opaque.
  • Remove seafood from pan and arrange on top of rice. Add lemon poppy dressing to the pan and scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze.  Empty contents over the top of seafood and rice.
  • Serve immediately.
  • Hack:  Place leftover rice while still warm (to retain moisture) in serving-size containers and freeze for future use.
  • Hack:  Shrimp and scallops can be purchased individually from the seafood counter at most grocery stores.  Alternately, both of these items can be purchased frozen in larger portions if you wish to keep some on hand.  Thaw needed amounts before cooking.
  • Hack:  Seafood can be thawed overnight in the refrigerator.  It can be thawed more quickly by placing it in a sealable bag and submerging in a bath of cold water for about an hour.
Keyword buffet, fast meal, low calorie, pan seared, quick and easy, scallops, seafood, shellfish, shrimp, vegetarian

Did you know?  Scallops are considered to be one of the healthiest kinds of seafood!

Suggestion:  Try this dish would pair nicely with rice pilaf!

Roasted Sausage, Peppers and Onions

Roasted sausage, peppers and onions are not just for subs! Jazz this recipe by serving it with rice, polenta, cornbread or potato salad!

Roasted Sausage, Peppers and Onions

Roasted Sausage, Peppers and Onions

Course Main Course
Servings 6
Calories 349 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 4 sweet onions
  • 6 sweet bell peppers in a variety of colors (green, red, yellow and orange)
  • 6 Italian sausage links, hot or sweet (1 Pound)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Heat oven to 350͒℉
  • Cut onions and peppers in 1" chunks and place in a baking pan. Add ¼ cup of vegetable broth and the sausages.
  • Oven roast for 45 - 60 minutes until sausages reach an internal temperature of 160℉ Add vegetable broth ¼ cup at a time as necessary to avoid having the pan from going dry.
  • Hack:  Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze in serving-sized portions for up to 3 months.
Keyword fair food, oven roasted vegetables, Roasted sausages, sausage subs, sausages with peppers and onion

Did you know? The biggest sausage ever made was an amazing 38.99 miles long?  Check out some other fun sausages facts here!

Slow Cooker Barbecue Pulled Pork

Slow cooker barbecue pulled pork is easy to put together with a few simple ingredients! Serve it as a sandwich or with cornbread and baked beans!

Slow Cooker Barbecue Pulled Pork

Slow Cooker Barbecue Pulled Pork

Course Main Course
Servings 12
Calories 500 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 5 lb boneless pork shoulder (or butt)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup fresh tomato, pureed in a blender (1 small, ¼ lb)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp spicy brown mustard
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp liquid smoke

Instructions
 

  • Place pork and onion in the slow cooker. Combine the rest of the ingredients and pour over the roast. Cover and cook on low 10 hours or until fork-tender.
  • Remove roast to plate and use two forks to pull the pork into small pieces. Return to the sauce and serve.
  • Hack: Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.  Freeze serving-sized portions in freezer bags or containers for up to 3 months.
Keyword barbecue pulled pork, crock pot meal, easy meal, make ahead, pork butt, pork roast, pork shoulder, pulled pork, slow cooker meal

Did you know?  The slow cookers we know and love today began as The Naxon Beanery All-Purpose Cooker back in the 1940s.  Check out the whole story here!

Suggestion: Pulled pork pairs perfectly with Broccoli Coleslaw!

Healthy Cooking for One — How to Create a New You

Trying to start a new program of healthy cooking for one? Old habits die hard but here are a few tips to help get you back on track to start eating healthier!

Healthy Cooking for One
Healthy Cooking for One

We’ve all seen him. That guy in the checkout line at the grocery store, the one we know is single and lives alone. 4 frozen dinners, 1 deli sandwich, 6-pack of beer and an economy-sized bag of Cheetos.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Just because we’re single, it doesn’t mean we’re doomed to a future of breakfast cereal, frozen pizza for one and Ramon noodles.

Nor must we choose drive-thrus or gas station hot dogs.  I often who came up with THAT idea. Like, was someone pumping their gas and suddenly thought, “Well, this makes me want to eat a smoked sausage!”? (Yes, I’m kidding.  Here’s why gas stations started selling food).

We have a choice. I’d like to share a few things that I’ve picked up along the way to make cooking for one a bit easier and, hopefully, a little more fun.

Healthy Ways Start to Your Day

Healthy Ways Start to Your Day
Healthy Ways Start to Your Day

Running late this morning? Always keep some bananas, frozen strawberries and yogurt on hand to make a smoothie. It just takes a minute and you can drink it on your way to work!

Overnight oats are convenient and the flavor combos are endless so you’ll never get bored. They can be stored for up to 5 days in the fridge so go ahead and throw together a few one evening for a week of quick breakfasts.

Everybody loves Sunday morning breakfast! Make a crustless quiche to enjoy with a leisurely cup of coffee and the newspaper. Store a few pieces in the fridge for up to 5 days for a healthy lunch and put the rest in the freezer for another time!

Play It Again, Sam

Play it again Sam
Play It Again, Sam

No big plans for your day off? Make a big pot of spaghetti sauce and freeze it in portions for use another day. Might as well freeze up a batch of meatballs to go with it, too!

A dozen mini pork pies make a great grab-and-go lunch (or, rather 12!).

Make a dinner recipe that serves two and take the leftovers for lunch. Or make a recipe that serves three or four and have some left for an easy meal later in the week.

Try this Szechuan-style shrimp or garlic chicken with caramelized mushrooms. They’re easy to put together and any leftovers you don’t use can be put in the freezer for a future meal!

Make connected meals. For example, when making potatoes for garlic chicken, do a few extra and use the leftovers to go with Korean beef (instead of cooking rice).

Or save some potato cubes unmashed to make potato salad. While you’re boiling the eggs for the potato salad, throw in a few extra for egg salad.

And always, always, make extra rice to package up in single serving sizes and store in the freezer!

Strategic Contingency Planning

Strategic Contingency Planning
Strategic Contingency Planning

It happens. You get stuck working late, encounter a major traffic jam on the way home or get caught up in a lengthy conversation with a friend. Then it’s too late to cook that dinner you had planned or you’re just too tired.

Make sure you’ve stocked up on a few items that have a decent shelf life and are quick and easy to throw together.

Eggs, cheese, peanut butter and pasta are excellent choices, as are crackers, rice and bread (store this double wrapped in the freezer if you need to!). Frozen fruits and vegetables require no prep at all so they can easily be used in a pinch.

Think of Ways To Be Creative!

Be Creative!
Be Creative!

Decide to go to the farmers market, choose something you haven’t had before then go home and create a meal.

No, honestly, I “wing” a lot of my recipes and it always turns out fine. Ok, almost always. There was the “Fennel Incident”. Fennel, as it turns out, tastes like black licorice. Gross. Who knew?

Dress up your go-to meals. Grilled cheese? Mix it up with a two cheese combo, mustard and a couple of pickle slices. Add a splash of cream and some croutons to your tomato soup. Swap out the ketchup on your burger for some thousand island dressing.

Presto Chango! Leftovers don’t have to be the same thing that they were when they were originally left over. (Say THAT 5 times fast!) Pair the grilled chicken and roasted carrots you had last night with chopped onion, soy sauce, leftover rice and – BOOM! – a delicious (and definitely not leftover) stir-fry.

Riddle Me This

Riddle Me This
Riddle Me This

Who do you have to answer to anyway? Cooking for just you allows you to eat what you want, when you want, using whatever ingredients you want and as spicy (or not) as you want.

Who’s gonna even know? So what if that tuna and spaghetti thing didn’t measure up to your expectations? I’m not gonna tell and you don’t have to either!

No one’s watching, right? Pour a glass of wine, turn up the 80’s pop music and have a dance party in your pajamas while cooking pasta for the 3rd day in a row. Because you can.

Life is what you make it so make it good. Be brave, be bold, be empowered. And above all, have fun.

What are your thoughts on cooking for one? What are your favorite recipes and strategies? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Cynthia

Cynthia@cynthiaeats.com

 

 

Homemade Best Italian Meatballs

In my book, nothing says comfort food like a nice plate of spaghetti with these: the best Italian meatballs ever! I’ve skipped the pan browning to it simple.

Best Italian Meatballs

Course Main Course
Servings 4 meatballs
Calories 258 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • ½ cup Italian style bread crumbs*
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 lb 85% ground beef
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp)
  • 1 tsp Worchestershire sauce
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Instructions
 

  • Soak crumbs in milk for 20 minutes.
  • Mix all ingredients in a bowl until well blended.
  • Shape meatball mixture into 24 balls (1 ½“ each).
  • *For gluten-free meatballs, use old-fashioned rolled oats instead of bread crumbs.
  • Cooking Method #1: Drop meatballs one at a time into the sauce, soup or other cooking liquid and simmer gently for 30-35 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160͒. Do not stir for the first 10 minutes to allow meatballs to set. Stir gently and occasionally after that.
  • Cooking Method #2: Bake uncovered in at 400͒ for 15-20 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160͒.
  • Hack: Place cooked or uncooked meatballs in a single layer on cookie sheet and place in freezer until solid. Seal in a freezer bag or container and store in the freezer for future use.
Keyword gluten-free meatballs, ground beef, homemade meatballs, Italian cuisine, Italian food, Italian meatballs, meatballs, pasta, spaghetti

Did you know?  Beef has gotten a bad rap due to its high fat and cholesterol content but the health benefits make it a healthy addition to a balanced diet!

Suggestion: Substitute meatballs for the sausage in this spaghetti sauce!

Penne Pasta with Tomatoes and Peas

Penne pasta with tomatoes and peas is a vegetarian option that’s quick, light and super simple. This dish is a winner at any meal!

Penne Pasta with Tomatoes and Peas

Penne Pasta with Tomatoes and Peas

Course Main Course
Servings 1
Calories 385 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • cup uncooked penne pasta (2 oz)
  • ¼ cup frozen peas
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • cloves garlic, minced (1½ tsp)
  • ¾ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ¾ tsp dried parsley
  • ½ tsp dried basil
  • tsp black pepper
  • tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp shredded parmesan cheese

Instructions
 

  • Cook pasta according to package directions. Stir in the peas during the last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain.
  • Add oil to a saute pan and heat over medium-low heat. Saute garlic for 4 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Increase heat to medium-high, add tomatoes, basil and parsley. Cook for 1 minute.
  • Add pasta, salt and pepper to pan, cook for 3 minutes or until heated through.
  • Sprinkle with cheese and serve immediately.
Keyword fast and easy, green peas, low calorie, meal for one, meatless, pasta, pasta sauce, pasta with peas, pasta with tomatoes, penne, quick and easy meal, quick dinner, vegetarian

 

Did you know?  Traditional “white” pasta has gotten a bad rap lately but there are plenty of healthier alternatives out there, either with carbs and without!

Suggestion:  For a more protein-rich meal, add some Italian meatballs!