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Tag Archives: dinner

Quick Pasta Dinner for Bachelors

Bachelors – tune into this easy and fast pasta dinner

The Solo Cook blog is for men too.  Hey, bachelors I know there are nights when cooking seems more like a chore than something to enjoy. But trust me, cooking for yourself is fun.

This blog is for anyone who wants to cook for himself or herself. You also don’t have to be “single” to try these recipes and swing by the “hot spot” restaurants that I recommend.

If you are dating someone, but have to fend for yourself because you aren’t shacking up – this is the recipe for you.

If your partner or roommate is traveling out-of-town and the kitchen seems as foreign as a faraway country – this is the recipe for you.

If you are single and want a dinner that will be ready within minutes – this is the recipe for you.

Boil, Chop and Sauté – It’s that easy

The first order of business when you get home from work is to fill a pot with water and put it on high heat so that it will boil soon. And before you take off that tie or dress, pour yourself a drink. It doesn’t take much for me to get in the mood to cook. A glass of wine and some funky music playing in the background always gets me into a food vibe. And if you are into a non-alcoholic drink – grab a sparkling water and squeeze or slice some fresh fruit into the glass.

Next chop up all your ingredients – garlic, mushrooms and zucchini. Yep, that’s the only three ingredients that you have to cut. You can use any vegetable you want, like broccoli or Swiss chard. I used the green leafy tops of beets from the garden to make this pasta dish.  And if you are like me and you crave protein – don’t be afraid to add shrimp or chicken if it’s in the refrigerator. The key to this dish is that it’s easy and fast.

Bachelor’s Pasta Dinner

1/4 bag of capellini also known as angel hair pasta – that’s about 4 ounces

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

4 garlic cloves minced (best if you have a garlic press – which is a total time saver)

2 cups sliced mushrooms (any variety)

1 cup thickly sliced zucchini

2 tablespoons white wine (if available)

½ cup shredded Parmesan

Salt and pepper

Heat oil and butter in sauté pan on medium high heat. Add garlic, mushrooms, white wine, salt and pepper, and cook for several minutes or until liquid evaporates. Put angel hair pasta in salted, boiling water for five minutes. Add zucchini or vegetable of choice, to the sauté pan and cook until zucchini starts to brown, then sprinkle Parmesan on top. Drain pasta, and drizzle with olive oil to prevent it from sticking.  Add the sautéed vegetables to a mound of pasta on your plate and enjoy.

Cheers

Christine

Compound butter adds a boost of flavor

Butter it up Babe

Compound butter incorporates herbs like parsley, thyme and oregano.

Who doesn’t love butter? It’s fantastic to cook with and tastes great on just about anything.  But guess what – you can jazz it up by making compound butter. This is great for single people who don’t know what to do with the extra herbs from the store and those who want to add something quick and rich to a dish.

You only need a couple of herbs to make compound butter.

A compound butter, also known as buerre composé in French, basically incorporates herbs or other ingredients to flavor it. Compound butter saves a single person the hassle of always finding herbs to cut and add to a dish. This time-saving method allows you to have flavor-packed butter ready anytime.  I hate it when I buy expensive herbs from the store for one recipe, and then they go to waste days later because I never did anything with them. Next time you have extra parsley or any other herb, make compound butter.

Hot in the Kitchen

Finely chop two tablespoons of fresh herbs like parsley, thyme and oregano.

Making a compound butter is easy. Just let a stick of butter, 8 tablespoons, soften by taking it out of the refrigerator. In the meantime, chop two tablespoons fresh herbs like parsley, thyme, chives or oregano and any combination of them. Be creative by adding other spices and herbs to your compound butter.

Mash herbs into soften butter with a fork.

Mix or mash the herbs and butter together with a spatula or fork. Use wax paper or plastic wrap to mold the butter into a cylinder, covering the butter and twisting the ends.

Wrap butter in wax paper or plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.

The butter can last for months in the freezer and weeks in the refrigerator. Anytime you want to cook with it, just pull it out of the refrigerator and slice a couple pads off.

I love a dab of compound butter on my steak or mixed in with garden vegetables. The compound butter I added to my green beans made them glisten and taste rich.

The dinner below uses only one pan and is perfect for one. I sautéed green beans with garlic and topped it with compound butter. After I removed the beans from the pan, I cooked tilapia (you could use any white fish) for about three minutes until translucent.

Next week I’ll highlight a Hot Spot restaurant for singles.

Cheers

Christine

Sautéed green beans with melted compound butter is a great side to white fish like tilapia.

Simple is sometimes better when it comes to food

Building a salad is about tantalizing the eyes with colors from fresh vegetables and fruits. Dinner doesn’t have to be complicated, just be creative with your ingredients.

There are times, after several long days of reporting and writing at the Seattle Times, that I just want a simple and easy dish to eat that doesn’t destroy my clean kitchen. In my younger years that meant grabbing a burger or tacos at a fast-food joint, just to kill the hunger pangs. Since then I’ve learned a few things about single cooking along the way and I hope you can take a few of my ideas into your kitchen.

There are days I’m jazzed about tackling complicated, multi-step recipes, realizing I have the time and patience. But often times we all are in a rush or getting home late from errands or a fun happy hour with friends and we still need to nibble.

If you don’t have the time to cook something elaborate, don’t worry about it. The reason some dinners and snacks are so great is because they are simple and fresh – and that typically means healthy too.

My garden produced golden sweet tomatoes and purple carrots

Visit your farmer’s market or local store and grab fruits and vegetables that are in season. Those fresh foods are the foundation of a flavorful, simple dish. So when I’m in a hurry, salads are my go-to meal. Chopping the vegetables, greens and toppings take only a couple minutes and you can create your salad.

I grabbed fresh greens, tomatoes and purple carrots from my garden. The purple carrots catch your eye with the color and surprise the palate with a spicy, sweet flavor.

Hot in the Kitchen

Mixed Green Salad with Plum Vinaigrette:

Ingredients:

Three cups chopped or torn fresh mixed greens, including any combination of mesclun, spinach and arugula if available

Two carrots sliced into coins

Four cherry tomatoes quartered

Two tablespoons crumbled blue cheese such as Cabrales

One tablespoon fresh herbs like thyme, cilantro, oregano and parsley if available

Any other ingredients from your pantry or kitchen that inspire you

Plum Vinaigrette (Bon Appetit, August 2012)

2 black plums, pitted, chopped and halved

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Dash of salt and pepper

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Bring plums and ¾ cup water to boil in small saucepan and then simmer on medium-high heat, stirring and mashing plums for about 15 minutes until they are broken down. Pour plum mixture through fine-mesh sieve, pressing solids through to make a puree. Let cool. Then add oil, vinegar, 2 tablespoons water and salt and pepper and whisk. Add hot pepper flakes, if you like a little kick. This can be made ahead of time and will last for at least one week in frig.

Toss salad ingredients and drizzle dressing on top.

A plum vinaigrette adds a sweet tanginess to this mixed green salad with blue cheese.

Tailor a salad for your palate

Another great thing about making salads is that you literally can open up the refrigerator and use leftovers or extras from a previous dish. Maybe you grilled salmon the night before and you can add some bites to your salad. When I grill a chicken breast for dinner, I make sure I either buy an extra large one to grill so that I have chunks to add to the next day’s lunch.

Also see what mood you are in that day. Are you craving protein? Then add tofu, salmon or shrimp. If you are craving something sweet, add fruit like strawberries, nectarines or apples. Are you yearning for some salt? Add some olives, pecans, pumpkin seeds or hazelnuts. Be creative by topping your salad with something different. My favorite additions to a simple salad are any of the following: edamame, avocado, hard-boiled egg, peas and dried cranberries. You can also add caramelized onions or crispy fried shallots. If you are like me, I also love cheese as part of my salad, so I usually sprinkle feta or goat cheese on top.

What are your favorite foods to add to your salad? Let the Solo Cook know.

Cheers

Christine