All the Single Ladies!

All the Single Ladies!

I hear from my single girlfriends that cooking dinner for one is just too hard to do. Instead they opt for a drive-through fast food joint, a stop at the expensive prepared food department in the grocery store, a table for one in the corner of the local restaurant or even worse….  a bowl of cereal in front of the tv! There must be a better way.

When I find myself alone for an evening I look forward to enjoying a meal that I might not have on a regular basis. For example, my hubby is allergic to shellfish and hates, hates, hates beans. When he’s absent my culinary tastes go wild with anticipation. Red beans and rice, black bean enchiladas, lobster mac and cheese. The meals are endless, and most are made with ingredients that I keep in the pantry and freezer. Just like that box of cereal.

My Cajun Shrimp over Sautéed Spinach is just the recipe you need when you find yourself hungry and alone. It’s comforting, yummy, quick and adjustable. A well-stocked pantry and fridge help make your meal come together without a trip to the store. I keep certain frozen foods like shrimp and veggies in my freezer at all times. Most shrimp is flash frozen on the boat after it’s caught so doesn’t get much fresher than the freezer bag. Fresh veggies are best, but frozen veggies are often prepared right after harvest at the peak of ripeness, so they are a great back-up.

Seasonings like Cajun spice and hot sauce will last forever on the shelf and in the fridge, respectively. So all you really need for this recipe is fresh lemon, and this too is something I keep on hand. Remember the old Oprah decorating tip of keeping a bowlful of lemons on a side table? Not only do you have a fresh ingredient… you have décor!

Let’s channel your inner chef (kinda like that Chopped show on the Food Network):  What if you don’t have frozen spinach? You can serve this shrimp dish over rice or pasta (also pantry staples). What if you don’t have shrimp? You can use chicken tenders or veggies. This same recipe can become Spicy Cajun Brussels Sprouts over Rice or Spicy Cajun Chicken over Pasta. Any ingredient works. The dish comes together in minutes and lends itself to your tastes. You know what else? A nice glass of chilled white wine pairs way better with seafood, poultry or veggies than it does with cold cereal and milk. Right there is all the motivation you need to get cookin’.

What’s your “Single Ladies” favorite meal?


Cajun Shrimp over Sautéed Spinach

I keep frozen shrimp and spinach in my freezer all of the time. On those nights I find myself at home alone for supper, this is my go-to meal! I love it spicy…. So will you!

Serves 4
15 Minutes ‘til Dinnertime

For Spinach:

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced, about 1 cup
  • 4 to 5 large garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 pounds fresh spinach (substitute with 20 ounces frozen spinach, thawed)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon coarse ground pepper

For Shrimp:

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • ½ lemon, thinly sliced
  • Juice of 1 ½ lemons, about ¼ cup
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun spice
  • 4 to 5 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 to 6 drops (or more) hot pepper sauce
  • 1 lb. fresh jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined, about 21 to 25 (substitute with frozen, thawed shrimp)

For the spinach, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and just beginning to brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the spinach and cook until wilted. Season with salt and pepper.

For the shrimp, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the lemon slices. Squeeze in the lemon juice. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, Cajun spice and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes. Stir in as much hot sauce as you like. Add the shrimp to the pan and cook until the shrimp are opaque and tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour the shrimp over the spinach and serve!

Harvest Tomato Cheddar-Feta Soup

Harvest Tomato Cheddar-Feta Soup

With the arrival of fall the time for soul-warming soups is here. Sunset Produce is the best choice for this recipe, but anytime you have grape tomatoes old or new, this is your go-to dish. The cheeses marry so well with the robust, tanginess of the tomatoes that you will want to make this soup once a week!

Serves: 2 to 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook time: about 10 minutes

  • Sunset Trio Tomato Package or 12 ounces grape tomatoes
  • ½ white onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ⅓ cup crumbled feta
  • ⅓ cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 cups tomato juice
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 handful fresh chopped basil

In a stock pot or large skillet, sauté the tomatoes and onion in olive oil over high heat. Add the cheeses, thyme, salt and pepper, and cook until the tomatoes break open and the juices meld with the feta and cheddar, about 5 minutes.

Working in several batches, add tomato juice and tomato-cheese mixture to the blender and puree until smooth. For a more rustic finish pulse the blender a few times instead to leave seeds and tomato pieces, yum!

Heat the chicken stock on high in a stock pot, and then add the mixture from the blender. Stir in the basil, salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a great big grilled cheese sandwich for dipping—after all, you have plenty of cheese left over right?

Chick’s Night In

Chick’s Night In

Sometimes I find myself home alone.  When this happens I mostly occupy myself by doing purposeful projects like cleaning out the closet, rearranging the kitchen drawers, and stalking my children on Facebook. You know — the boring stuff. The one thing I absolutely cannot bring myself to do is eat cold cereal for dinner. I have friends that do this. Rather than nuke something or throw something into a pan they eat cold cereal from a bowl. I tried this once and then made my way directly to the stove and cooked a full meal. I guess I’m just addicted to good food.

Alone last night, I defrosted some chicken thighs and braised them with some chopped veggies, wine, beef broth and added some frozen okra and fresh thyme. Yes… it was yummy; and while the chicken cooked I rearranged my knife drawer, it’s in stellar condition.

I have a recipe in Sunday Best Dishes  for “Braised Chicken Thighs with Sweet Peas and Bacon” on which this dish is based. Here is my home alone adaptation.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 large (5 to 6-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken thighs or 6 smaller thighs
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • ½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
  • 1 large white onion, peeled and diced, about 1 cup
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped, about ½ cup
  • 2 large carrots, diced, about ½ cup
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen okra, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Cook the chicken in the pan until browned on one side, about 5 minutes. Turn and brown on the remaining side, about 5 minutes more. Transfer the chicken to a platter. Carefully pour out the fat from the pan, reserving about 2 tablespoons. Place the onion, celery and carrots in the skillet. Cook until soft, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the wine, beef broth and tomato paste. Return the chicken to the pan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in the okra and thyme and cook for 3 to 5 minutes more. Serve with rice or pasta or just on its own – single.

What is your favorite chick’s night in dish?