Category Archives: dinner for one

life changing: paper bag microwave popcorn

I love popcorn. One of my favorite (super healthy) dinners is popcorn and wine (maybe capped off with some red licorice). I grew up on stove top popcorn and have always preferred that to buying pricy, neon colored microwave popcorn.

I resist from popcorn for dinner most nights, but tonight I caved. I cranked up the stove and was bummed to see my finished product full of old maids (half-popped kernels) and burnt kernels. This has been happening lately (cheap popcorn?) so I decided to actually try something from the Pinterest…microwave popcorn in a paper bag.

Brown Paper Bag Microwave Popcorn
6 tablespoons (66grams) un-popped popcorn kernels
Brown Paper Bag (lunch sized)

1. Put the kernels into the paper bag.

2. Fold the paper bag over twice, staple it if you have a stapler handy. Make the folds as small as possible so the kernels have room to pop.

3. Put it in the microwave for 1.5-3 minutes, just like regular microwave popcorn watch it like a hawk and if you hear pauses of 2 seconds between pops, take it out.

4. Cut the bag open vertically and don’t hurt yourself on the steam. Dump in a bowl, note that some kernels won’t pop, but there will be few old maids.

This is the easiest thing ever, so delicious, you don’t have to use oil, and it took about 1.5 minutes in my microwave. At the time I declared this life changing and the best thing I’ve found on the internet… but I did find my dog on the internet, so I retract that statement. It is life changing though, I’ll stand by that one.

I like to top my popcorn with a tiny bit of melted margarine (margarine is not tacky! it’s saltier than butter…and vegan, OK!) and shredded parmesan cheese (ruined the vegan-ness here). I like to side this with wine, duh. Dinner is served.



Summer Vegetable Tian

Is your garden and/or CSA box exploding with tomatoes and zucchini like mine? Well, quit googling the words “tomato and zucchini recipe” and make this Summer Vegetable Tian. Don’t worry, I still don’t even know what “tian” means.

Summer Vegetable Tian (adapted from For the Love of Cooking)
Ingredient List:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion cut in half and dicced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 russet potatoes, or red potatoes, unpeeled
1 zucchini
1 yellow squash (I didn’t have this, so I used zucchini)
2-3 tomatoes
Sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Dried thyme, marjoram to taste
1/2 cup of freshly grated or shredded Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Pam an au gratin baking dish or pie pan of some sort.
2. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the onions and saute until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Spread this garlic/onion mixture on the bottom of the Pam’d baking dish.
3. Slice the potatoes, zucchini, squash and tomatoes in 1/4 inch thick slices… or as close as you can get them. Layer them alternately in the dish on top of the onion/garlic fitting them tightly into a spiral, making only one layer. (I liked to stick the tomato in between the zucchini + potato personally!)
4.Season with sea salt, black pepper, marjoram and dried thyme, to taste then Pam the top.
5. Cover the dish with tin foil and bake for 35 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
6. Uncover and sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top and bake for another 25-30 minutes or until browned.

I was scared to make this as it looks complicated, but it’s very easy. The flavors were really good, but next time I make it I might pour the onion/garlic mixture over the top so it is a little less subtle, per Brent’s suggestion.

I googled “what to serve with a vegetable tian” for about 5 minutes and all the internets could think up was chicken. Fail. I was going to make a rice dish of some kind but I decided to go with a little bit of mixed greens w/vinaigrette and a slice of garlic toast. That was just easier; it’s Monday and I felt like hanging out with Maeby/getting a head start on work. By head start on work I obviously mean accidently watching Extreme Couponing with my laptop open.


All the single ladies, part II.

When I’m making dinner for only myself, I like to eat things Brent wouldn’t eat. Artichokes that are not accompanied by the words “spinach” and “dip” are on his list of things he’ll pass on. So I made one of my favorite dishes the other night: Artichoke Gratin.

I don’t think gratin is really the right word for this recipe; it’s really more like fresh artichokes w/garlic, wine and parsley tastes with a nice crust that tastes a little winey. I guess saying “gratin” is easier.

Artichoke Gratin adapted from this Giada de Laurentiis recipe

The Ingredient List
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 lb frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, chopped
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup white wine
.5 tablespoon butter
1/3 cup breadcrumbs (I used italian seasoned)
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, shredded

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

2. Warm the olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the artichoke hearts, parsley, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes and cook until the artichoke hearts are starting to brown at the edges, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and simmer for 3 minutes.

3. Transfer the artichoke mixture to a Pam’d 2-quart baking dish.

4. Melt the butter in the same skillet used to cook the artichokes. In a small bowl mix the melted butter with the bread crumbs. Stir in the Parmesan and top the artichokes with the bread crumbs. Bake until the top is golden, about 10 minutes.

I usually eat this, since it’s supposed to be a side dish with a salad but I tried something different this time: putting feta cheese on top of a tiny baguette and putting it under the broiler. WIN! 

This tastes good with a glass of white wine too. Duh.

All the single ladies.

This post could be about my love of Beyonce songs, but I’ll spare you. Two or three nights a week, Brent goes to class or work and I’m left to fend for just myself in the dinner world. In my many years of pre-Brent, I would just eat a salad or nachos soup or something that involved very little time. Or sometimes my roommate and I would have popcorn and wine, which is what I was absolutely craving last night. But, I was sick for a few days so booze of any kind is out. And popcorn, while a good snack, is not a substitute for dinner. COMPROMISE TIME! Voila:

Cauliflower Popcorn
(adapted from this recipe.)

My Ingredient List
1/2 medium head of cauliflower, washed
2-3 T breadcrumbs (panko works best)
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T red pepper flakes
scant 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions (again, adapted from here)

1. Preheat oven to 400º. Trim the cauliflower keeping only the florets and tiny stalks. You can save the rest for another dish if you want.

2. In a large bowl toss the cauliflower with a 1 teaspoon of olive oil, breadcrumbs, garlic and red pepper flakes.

3. Pam a baking sheet and place the cauliflower mixture on top.  I like to put the little stalks face down so they get nice and roasty. (new word!)

face down!

4. Rotate each tree after about 10 minutes in the oven. Then bake for another 10-15 minutes until the cauliflower should be tender throughout and the breadcrumbs nicely toasted. Salt and serve to yourself immediately.

I added a salad and called it all a delicious dinner. I’ve heard these also taste good with some shredded parmesan and/or lemon juice. Probably tastes better when listening to Beyonce while you eat… I might try that next time.