In The Kitchen, Party Of One

There are only so many ways you can spice up a chicken breast; and so many nights you can spend trying to convince yourself that pretzel chips and hummus constitute a well-balance meal… Yes, cooking for one can become tiresome – but a girl’s got to eat! I find that the most difficult part about dinner for one is remaining creative without being wasteful. That fish sauce I bought when I thought I’d master the art of Thai cooking? Still in the cupboard. The slow-cooker mac and cheese that looked too good to be true? Endless leftovers that eventually ended up in the trash.

After much trial and error, I’d like to think I finally have a grasp on this whole party of one scene. After eyeing a couple of one-pot pasta recipes (which typically serve four to football team) I decided to try my own modified version. It was easy, quick, and delicious – and best of all, my kitchen looked just as it had before I began cooking: spotless pretty clean.

Pasta with Tomatoes & Spinach
Pasta with Tomatoes & Spinach

Pasta with Tomatoes and Spinach

Ingredients:

  • One garlic clove
  • ¼ yellow onion
  • Olive oil (just a drizzle on the bottom of the pot)
  • One cup diced tomatoes (I like Mur Glen diced tomatoes with basil)
  • Two big handfuls of spinach
  • One cup pasta (I used brown rice fusilli)
  • One cup water
  • Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes (optional)

Instructions:

  • In a medium sized pot, heat minced onion, garlic, and a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat.
  • Add tomatoes, water, and pasta, bringing these ingredients to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer for the cook time listed on your package of pasta.
  • Add spinach and stir occasionally.
  • The water should absorb, so there is no need to drain. Transfer to your dish and top with parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes, if you like!

If this sounds a little boring, add shrimp for a one-pot, one-pan combo!

Lemon and Garlic Shrimp

Ingredients:

  • ¼ lb peeled, deveined shrimp
  • One clove garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • ½ lemon

Instructions:

  • In a sauté pan, warm a drizzle of olive oil and minced garlic over medium heat.
  • Add shrimp, and then season with salt and pepper.
  • Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the pan, and stir.
  • Cook until opaque.

There will be plenty of shrimp leftover. I like to pack it for lunch the next day over an arugula salad with parmesan cheese and lemony vinaigrette. Yum!

Still feel like you’re stuck in a cooking rut? Here are some tips worth sharing:

  1. Cooking does not require the same precision as baking, (I tried to make chocolate chip cookies this week, and they melted into one giant thin-crust cookie pizza,) this means you can multi-task! I like to catch up on podcasts in the kitchen; or just blast Pandora’s Pop Hits and dance around. (I didn’t say the other task would be productive.)
  2. Some people buy cute workout clothes because that encourages them to get out there and exercise. Why not pick up some cute kitchen supplies that make you excited to start cooking? I recently bought a garlic press; a total game-changer for less than 15 bucks! Pretty bowls and wine glasses can usually be purchased individually and are relatively inexpensive. Just because you’re cooking for one doesn’t mean you don’t deserve an adorable place setting.
  3. Think SIMPLE rather than EASY. Instead of heading for the frozen food aisle, grab a few fresh ingredients and prepare them with your favorite spices.
  4. Share tried and true recipes with your friends. Sure, everything looks great on Pinterest, but I prefer a real-life recommendation.
  5. Finally, they say you’re supposed to eat dinner at the table in order to be more conscious of what you’re consuming. I say, you know what went into preparing that dish, and if you want to enjoy it on your couch in the company of Olivia Benson and Eliott Stabler in their glory days; nobody’s stopping you.

Have fun, and be sure to share your recipes with us, lady!

Catherine Kwolek was born and raised in Rhode Island, where she works as an accountant by day and blogger by night. She loves nothing more than a tall iced coffee and a good laugh. When she's not busy exploring what's new around Providence, she can be found crafting, perusing the makeup aisle, or binge watching House Hunters.