I have discovered that cooking for two can be a challenge. I love to cook and especially enjoy the big meals that center around the holidays. But my reality is that I do not have a huge family to cook for on a daily basis. It’s a shame because I have all of these great family recipes that are always a hit at big social and family functions. So the question is how do I modify these recipes to fit our lifestyle and family? I don’t have all of the answers but am trying to my hand at modifying some of the recipes and the serving sizes. I will share that journey here with all of you.
So far I have learned there are some rules that are helpful to keep in mind. I’ve already mentioned Portion Size. As obvious as that seems it isn’t that easy figuring out the proper amount to cook for just two people.
It has been helpful for me to break the meal down to its individual components when deciding how much to cook. 6-8 ozs of protein, meat, poultry, or fish, per person seems to be a good rule of thumb.
Generally between one and two cups of carbohydrates and a cup of vegetables complete the balanced meal. This isn’t always the case but simply what I try to use as a starting point. Depending on the dish I make adjustments and most times everything turns out right. I guess that practice makes perfect….I have a lot of practicing still to do. I am by no means an expert.
Storing Leftovers Cooking too much is not necessarily bad. With proper storage and a little creativity, leftovers can be turned into brand-new and delicious meals. I find it helpful to take the time at the beginning of the week to plan out some of our meals. I try to choose a few with the same main ingredient-roasted chicken, for example. If I roast chicken once at the beginning of the week, I just reuse anything left over and save myself time and energy at the end of the day when I need it the most.
Enjoy Your Food Just because I am not cooking for a crowd doesn’t mean I shouldn’t put effort into making a meal that me and my husband will enjoy. This has been a hard habit to overcome and something I struggle with. It requires planning. I have found that it is easy to get in a rut and convince myself I have more important things to do than worry about dinner, but a nice meal every night is often time exactly what we need to get ourselves ready for the next day and give us an opportunity to focus on each other’s day and connect. Intentional living and intentional relationships…part of my 2012 plan.
In addition to cooking meals that I enjoy, I’m incorporating some tips that I’m trying out here that helps with the relationship and quality communication. Rather than trying to kill two or three birds with one shot….you know, eating dinner, working on the laptop, talking to your partner, and watching TV all at the same time, I’ve made some changes and I must admit, I like it. We actually USE our dining room. We leave the work out the dining room, and we turn the t.v. off.
My pointers that I will pass on and things that we are trying are:
Create a pleasant place to eat. Set a table with flowers, place mat and napkin, even candles. Listen to music. No T.V. allowed.
Now for a family recipe that I am trying out on my husband this evening…..
Veal Loin Stuffed with Roasted Bell Peppers, Goat Cheese, and Basil
2 large yellow bell peppers, roasted
1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese with chives, at room temperature
1 (5.3-ounce) package basil and roasted garlic goat cheese, or 6 ounces soft fresh herb-flavored goat cheese, at room temperature
1 bunch arugula, stems trimmed 16 large fresh basil leaves
1(3-pound) boneless veal loin
14 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained 8 bacon slices 2 tablespoons butter Olive oil Salt and pepper
2 3/4 cups chicken broth
3 medium shallots, finely chopped
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons capers
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature
Reserved cheese mixture
Salt and pepper
Char the peppers over a gas flame or in the broiler, turning until blackened on all sides. Place peppers in a paper bag for 10 minutes to loosen the skins. Peel, seed, and stem the peppers. Cut lengthwise into strips. Set aside.
Stir the cream cheese and goat cheese in a small bowl until blended. Set aside.
Plunge the arugula and basil into hot water with tongs. Remove immediately, drain, and place into a bowl of ice water to blanch and shock.
Slice the veal open like a book and cover with plastic wrap. With a meat pounder or rolling-pin gently pound the veal to approximately a 10 by 12-inch rectangle of even thickness. Season with House Seasoning, as desired.
Overlap the arugula leaves down the center of the veal forming a 2-inch wide strip. Cover with half of the pepper strips, skinned side up. Arrange the sun-dried tomatoes in 2 rows on top of the peppers.
Set aside 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture for the sauce. Spoon the remaining cheese mixture in an even log over the tomatoes. Arrange the remaining pepper strips, skinned side up, over the cheese. Arrange the basil leaves over the peppers.
Fold 1 long side of the veal over the filling. Roll up the veal jelly roll style and secure by tying with string. Wrap the string lengthwise around the veal to secure ends. Cover the ends of the veal with aluminum foil to enclose the filling completely. Cover the veal and the reserved cheese separately and chill for at least 6 hours. Can be prepared 1 day ahead.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Melt the butter and olive oil in a heavy large shallow roasting pan over medium-high heat. Season the veal with salt and pepper. Brown the veal on all sides, turning frequently, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from heat. Drape the bacon over the veal and tuck in the ends.
Place the veal in the oven and roast until a thermometer inserted into the center of the meat (not the filling) registers 140 degrees F, about 45 minutes. Transfer to a work surface and let stand for 15 minutes.
Combine the broth and shallots in a heavy medium saucepan. Boil over high heat until the mixture is reduced to 1/2 cup, about 20 minutes
Whisk in the lemon juice, capers, and parsley. Reduce the heat to low; gradually whisk in the butter and reserved cheese mixture. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, to taste.
To serve, remove the tinfoil from the ends of the roast, the bacon and the string. Cut the veal roast crosswise into even slices. Spoon a few tablespoons of sauce onto each plate. Top with 2 veal slices.