What We Eat When We Eat Alone Turkey Fapita {The Kitchen Reader}

“Women (and some men) who are tired of cooking for those ingrates called children and the occasional spouse, who are weary of cleaning up after meals and bored with eating on a schedule . . . know the pleasure of being alone at last in one’s kitchen. It’s an enjoyable moment when we get to eat whatever and whenever we want – and wherever, too, for that matter”, writes Deborah Madison in her book, written with her husband Patrick McFarlin, What We Eat When We Eat Alone.

This basically sums where I am in life related to alone time in the kitchen.  Most of my time in the kitchen is spent cooking for others, trying to provide meals that are healthy, that everyone will eat and (mostly) enjoy, and cleaning up the mess afterward.  When I find myself alone, cooking for only me, I absolutely relish that time and try to make the most of it.  And if this time happens to be on an extremely rare night alone, it will include “more red wine than usual”, as many of the interviewees in Madison’s book confided.

In Madison and McFarlin’s book they interviewed anyone they encountered to find out their preferences when faced with eating alone.  It was discovered that often people felt that cooking for one was not worth a big production, and as a result people usually threw together a few pantry items, like toast and sardines, crackers and milk, or soup from a can, and called it a night.

Others, however, shared some relatively simple but tasty recipes they save for alone times, usually because they are things only they like (kidneys) or they are a little embarrassed to admit to liking them (Frito pie).  The authors took many of these recipes and tested them out themselves, finding that indeed they were worthy of preparing, and shared them in the book.  A couple I plan to try in my own kitchen – Asparagus with Chopped Egg, Torn Bread, and Mustard Vinaigrette; and Potato Wedges with Red Chile.

I spent many years before marriage cooking for one, and I would say the only drawback was having to scale everything down so you didn’t end up eating a whole cake alone, or ending up with gallons of soup to eat for the rest of the year.  But being someone who really enjoys cooking and eating good tasting food, I didn’t compromise just because I was the only one eating.  And even now when I am alone, if I have a little energy to spare, I will whip up something just for me.  Because like one contributor to the book admitted, “Eating alone is nothing less than a luxurious, even decadent, act, because I get to thing about myself. I don’t have to think about someone else.”  That could even mean chips and a really good dip for dinner, even, just because I can.

Here’s a recipe I might have shared with the authors if asked, an easy but tasty recipe I’ve been making for myself since my school days, called a Turkey Fapita.  Deli turkey, onion, Worcestershire or soy sauce, and a pita or tortilla wrap are all you need to make it.  Of course it can be embellished with anything else you have on hand, such as peppers, cheese, salsa, a squeeze of lime, etc., but it is perfectly good and filling as is.

Turkey Fapita

from Shortbread

makes one

Ingredients

  • cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup onion, sliced
  • 4 slices deli turkey, sliced into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce
  • hot sauce, to taste (optional)
  • 1 pita or tortilla

Directions

  1. Heat a skillet over medium heat and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Add onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly browned.
  3. Add turkey to pan and stir for one minute.
  4. Add sauce(s) to pan and cook another minute. Remove from heat.
  5. Warm pita or tortilla (in microwave, skillet, or over stove flame). Put turkey mixture on top and roll up.
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Crooked Smile Tuna Artichoke Melt

Ok, there has got to be a better way to have your mouth numbed at the dentist.  I mean, couldn’t someone invent some kind of trans-gum patch that they could put on while they’re working, and then just take it off at the end and voila, you’re no longer dribbling water down your shirt trying to drink some water?  And it would be much less painful, and that’s the most important thing, right?

Well, maybe being able to eat is important too.  Especially something as good as this Tuna Artichoke Melt.  A tasty twist on the more familiar tuna melt, this recipe adds artichoke hearts to the tuna and is dressed with a mayonnaise-free vinaigrette.  It’s extra good topped with avocado, tomato, and Swiss cheese, and if you’re feeling ambitious you can make your own English Muffins to hold it all.  Yum.

I’m hoping the numbness will be gone by the time I finish making lunch.

 

Tuna Artichoke Melt

from Shortbread

serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup jarred artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1/4 cup scallions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 12 oz canned tuna, drained and flaked
  • 4 English muffins, split
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese
  • avocado, tomato slices (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat broiler.
  2. Combine first 7 ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Place muffin halves on a baking sheet and divide the tuna mixture evenly over them. Top each with avocado and tomato if desired, and half of a cheese slice.
  4. Broil until cheese is golden and melted, about 5 minutes.

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I’ll Be In Australia French Bread {The Bread Baker’s Apprentice}

It’s been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.  My son woke up sick, my dog got off her leash, my oatmeal was runny, I put yeast in the flour canister instead of the mixing bowl, and my washing machine detergent dispenser is clogged.

I think I’m going to Australia.

I’ve hit a snag in my bake-through of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, too.  Peter Reinhart’s French Bread really gave me pause.  I have made most of the recipes with relative ease, but this bread proved to be a little more ‘sensitive’.  Making the dough was not difficult, but when it came to baking the loaves I couldn’t seem to get it right.

I started baking the loaves with my baking stone on the bottom rack of my oven.  When I checked them, they had gotten way too brown and the tops were still white.  So I moved the stone to the middle, but by the end of the recommended baking time they were still not brown on top.  I turned off the oven and left them in until they were brown enough.

The result?  Very tender with lovely holes on the inside, but a little too tough on the outside.  But I’ll keep working on it.

Just not today.

Interested in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice?  Preview it here.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

No Fakin’ Hot And Spicy Sausage Dip

I have a confession to make.  I used to be a football ‘faker’.  I would feign interest in football games just to be part of the crowd – clap when everyone clapped, stand up when everyone stood, and yell out things I heard others yell out.  My boyfriend was on our college football team, and I had no idea what went on for four years.

I feel a little ashamed now, especially knowing the reason for my lack of interest – it all just seemed way too complicated.  And if I hadn’t learned the rules before college, well it was simply too late.

Since being married to a football fan who is very dedicated to his college team, I have once again found myself attending football games, this time with young kids often in tow.  And they ask me questions . . . about football.  Well, I can’t have the children growing up in ignorance like their mother did.  So I’ve been forced to actually pay attention and figure out what’s going on.  I guess it’ll keep my brain young and all, you know, learning something new.  And my kids won’t have to fake it either.

Now, something I don’t have to fake is cooking up some tasty football snacks.  If you’re in need of a warm and spicy dip for the game, this is what you need to put on the table.  Sausage, cream cheese, spicy tomatoes and hot sauce melt together to make a delicious dip for corn chips, baguette slices, or crackers.  It also tastes just as fabulous with turkey sausage and light cream cheese as it does with the regular stuff.

Trust me, there’s no fakin’ the fabulousness of this dip.

Hot and Spicy Sausage Dip

from Shortbread

Ingredients

  • 1 pound (16 oz) ground sausage, pork or turkey
  • 2 (15 oz) cans diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained
  • 2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, regular or reduced fat
  • hot sauce to taste

Directions

  1. Cook sausage in a large saucepan over medium heat until no longer pink. Drain and return to pan.
  2. Add tomatoes and cream cheese to pan and cook, stirring occasionally until thoroughly blended and heated through.
  3. Stir in hot sauce to you liking.
  4. Serve warm with corn chips, crackers, or baguette slices.

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{Tuesdays With Dorie} No Substitution Chocolate Oatmeal Almost-Candy Bars

There are just some things that cannot be substituted or duplicated.  Like ranch dressing, hazelnut spread, cherry pie filling, or Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups.  Try as you might, it’s just impossible to make some things at home that work as well in recipes or taste the same as certain foods, whether you like it or not.

Another example of this is sweetened condensed milk.  This tooth-achingly sweet version of milk in a can makes so many recipes taste fabulous and they just aren’t the same without it.  Can you make it at home?  Most likely.  Would it taste the same?  Probably not.  But I’m willing to have someone else do the work for me in this case.

If you happen to have some of that fabulous milk on hand, you probably also have  the rest of the ingredients to make this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe, Chocolate Oatmeal Almost-Candy Bars.  These bars are composed of an oatmeal cookie-like layer on the bottom, a rich fudge center, and are dotted with more oatmeal cookie dough on top.  Mine were made without the peanuts and raisins to increase their chances of being eaten at my house, but I know they would be great if you like them at yours.

Give Lillian a visit at Confectiona’s Realm to see the recipe or find it in Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.

No Substitution Chocolate Oatmeal Almost-Candy Bars

There are just some things that cannot be substituted or duplicated.  Like ranch dressing, hazelnut spread, cherry pie filling, or Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups.  Try as you might, it’s just impossible to make some things at home that work as well in recipes or taste the same as certain foods, whether you like it or not.

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