Cooking for two made easy and delicious
BY JENNIFER KORNEGAY | PHOTOS BY BROOKE ECHOLS
Most recipes are written to serve four (or more) people, forcing young married couples, empty nesters and other families that are only composed of two people to do math just to make dinner. (That is, of course, if they don’t want leftovers, and lots of people don’t, and lots of foods don’t freeze that well.)
I usually try to avoid math, so when my husband and I were first married, I just followed the recipes I had, as written. Most of them came from my mama and grandmother. I still treasure the index cards with my grandmother’s tiny, scrawling, half-cursive, half-print ingredient lists and instructions and those with my mother’s elegant, textbook-perfect penmanship.
Many of these dishes were rich, hearty, comfort-food classics (read: packed with fat and calories), and as mentioned above, most were meant to feed four folks. Despite having no problem with eating leftovers and owning a working fridge, a big freezer and a brand new collection of tupperware I’d gotten as a wedding gift, for some reason, my hubby and I felt obligated to eat nearly every bit of whatever it was I’d cooked, every single night.
Within three months of our taking our vows, our pants no longer fit. We’d quickly and easily gained 10 pounds apiece. We signed up for Weight Watchers, and two weeks later, he’d lost about 12 pounds. It took me months to get rid of eight pounds, and I swear the final two are still sitting on my hips, some 18 years later.
To prevent others from choosing between math (yuck!) or eating more than they really should, we asked our readers to send us their best recipes for two. Here are our favorites from the ones we got. Find those that look appetizing to you and enjoy the appropriate portions!
Cook of the Month
Peggy Key, North Alabama EC
Desserts can be some of the hardest dishes to make for two, but Peggy Key’s just-right-sized recipe for Blueberry Cake Cups makes satisfying your sweet tooth with appropriate portions simple. “These are really easy to whip up, and when you are done, you don’t have the rest of a whole cake or pie sitting around,” she said. “That’s why I keep making this recipe over and over. We love it.” She and her husband also love its ingredients, namely blueberries. “Who doesn’t love blueberries? I think we all do,” she said. She also pointed out that the recipe works just fine if you want to substitute Splenda for sugar. And she even enjoys making her cake cups for breakfast. “They’re great in the morning,” she said.
Blueberry Cake Cups
- ¼ cup plain flour
- ¼ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- Dash of salt
- ¼ cup milk
- 1tablespoon butter or margarine, divided
- 1cup blueberries (fresh or frozen), divided
In a small bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in milk and butter just until moistened. Divide half of the berries between two greased 10-ounce custard cups. Top with batter and remaining berries. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.
Chicken Bundles for Two
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
- 2 medium red potatoes, quartered and cut into ½-inch slices
- ¼ cup chopped onion
- 1 medium carrot, thinly sliced
- 1 rib celery, finely chopped (optional)
- ½ teaspoon rubbed sage
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fresh dill sprigs
Pull off two 18-inch square layers aluminum foil. Sprinkle chicken with sage, salt and pepper; top with dill sprigs. Place each chicken breast and half the vegetables on each foil square. Fold foil around the mixture and seal tightly. Place on cookie sheet and bake about 45 to 50 minutes on 350 degrees or until the chicken juices run clear and the vegetables are tender.
Peggy Key, North Alabama EC
Meat Loaf for Two
- ½ pound ground beef
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup oatmeal
- 1 tablespoon ketchup
- 1 tablespoon each bell pepper and onion, minced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon oil
Beat egg and other ingredients; add meat last, mixing lightly. Form into two portions. Fry in oil for 15 minutes or until done. Turn once.
Pat St. John, Cherokee EC
90-Second Microwave Brownies
- 3 tablespoons each flour, sugar, cocoa
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder (optional)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons of any liquid (I like milk)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla
- Pecans (optional)
Stir and microwave for 75-90 seconds. (I put the liquids in first to melt the butter.)
Patricia Reed, Cullman EC
Creamed Chicken and Eggs
- ¾ to 1 cup cooked, diced chicken
- 1-2 boiled, peeled and sliced eggs
- 1½ tablespoons butter
- 1 cup milk, whole or low-fat
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
Other seasonings, such as leftover cooked vegetables, minced parsley or celery leaves, onion or garlic powder, etc.
Make a sauce by melting the butter and slowly stirring in the cornstarch, salt and other dry seasonings. Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil and cook for at least one minute, stirring until it is a thick as you want. Fold in the chicken, eggs and cooked vegetables if you have them and heat thoroughly. Serve over toast, biscuits or cornbread with a tall glass of iced tea.
Helena Harris, Baldwin EMC
- ½ cup milk
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Dash of nutmeg
- 6 slices of bread
- 3 tablespoons butter or margarine
- Chopped pecans
In a shallow 4-quart casserole dish, stir together milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and nutmeg. Lay bread slices in milk mixture. Turn the bread over to coat both sides; allow to soak 2-3 minutes to absorb the milk mixture. While the bread is soaking, melt the butter in a skillet or on a griddle. Fry the bread on both sides until golden brown. Place 2-3 slices of French toast on each plate; drizzle with maple syrup and sprinkle with pecans.
Rena’ Smith, Tallapoosa River EC
Recipe Themes and Deadlines:
April: Easter Meals, February 8
May: Shellfish/Shrimp, March 8
June: Berries, April 8
Coming up in March…