Impromptu Dinner

I promised myself, I’d start blogging more.  Perhaps it’s my attempt at cramming in these “resolutions” before the new year or rather as 2010 comes to a close. Plus I’m “killing” time at the office before heading to pick up a friend at the airport.

Awhile back, a few friends and I started a group centered around the book The Happiness Project,  we developed “goals” we wanted to accomplish each month; the object was to support each other and hold ourselves accountable. Well our “sorority club” seemed to get too busy to meet on a regular basis thus becoming more lackadaisical with our individual goals. However, I can proudly say one of my “goals” this year stuck! I promised myself one “date” night a week. This date meant cooking a new recipe and enjoying time at home instead of my normal tendency to go out.  At first I had to plan these nights, schedule them in my calendar. As the months progressed, I found myself automatically doing this, without marking a set night in my Outlook calendar. Originally I planned to blog about them (ahem, this goes back to another goal, but we won’t discuss that), obviously that didn’t happen. But that’s ok because you know what,  as the weeks progressed I enjoyed my ritual increasingly. And in turn, my kitchen acquired a few more pots and pans each week. Have I mentioned how much I loathe doing dishes?

Some nights still are the requisite eggs, popcorn and salad; those easy and quick meals when cooking for one. However, my impromptu meals now are taking on a different course. I’m more inspired to cook a good meal for myself. Last night was one of those nights. After a few days of more carb-centric meals, I was craving veggies. I picked up some swiss chard, brussel sprouts and broccoli while shopping for items to bake. Post delivering bags of this delicious caramel corn to friends in my neighborhood, I found myself home not having eaten dinner at 9pm.

Determined to eat something other than the movie theatre popcorn which served as my breakfast and lunch for that day, I took out the swiss chard and started to cook. Lacking a plan, something delicious and hearty took form. I quickly defrosted some ground turkey and turned them into a meatball of sort. Leftover butter beans from my “pasta for one” also needed to be used.  It turns out swiss chard, turkey meatballs and bean stew is something I’ll make again.

Here’s my non-recipe impromptu dinner:

Turkey Meatball Stew with Swiss Chard and Beans:

Meat Balls: 3/4lb or so of ground turkey, two cloves of garlic finely chopped, a dash or two of dried basil, one egg, perhaps a cup of bread crumbs (I used garlic/herb convention ones)- just enough to make the meat balls bind, salt, pepper and a bit of chopped onion.

Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a dutch oven on medium high heat. Once warm, add the meat balls and brown evenly on all sides. Remove from the pan. Add a bit more olive oil and heat.

Add approximately 1/2 onion chopped and another clove or two of garlic plus the stems of the swish chard sliced. Wait til they glisten and start to soften. Then incorporate the leaves of the swiss chard which I coarsely chopped while the onions were cooking. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook stirring often for approximately 5 or so minutes. Then add 1/2 can or so of butter beans (any large white bean would do). Mix everything together. Toss in a bit of red pepper flakes if you like some spice. Cook for a minute or two.

After the swiss chard begins to wilt, add some chicken broth, just enough to help keep the chard tender. Stir cooking for a minute or so. Then add your pre-cooked meatballs and perhaps some more broth depending on how much liquid you like in your stew. Simmer for approximately 10-15 minutes to thoroughly cook meatballs and chard. Season to taste and enjoy!

Serves approximately 2-3 depending on portion size.

Dinners like this one are important reminders that not everything is planned in life nor should we stress about the right proportions, rather sometimes the best things just come together. Cooking shouldn’t be arduous nor cumbersome. Even a food-centric person like myself gets caught up all too often rather than thinking what sounds good. And this trial and error is one for sure I’ll repeat. What have been your most successful impromptu trial and error meals?

3 responses to “Impromptu Dinner

  1. Hi, VG — I stumbled across your blog when looking for cooking-for-one kindred spirits. The recipe combination looks great! Love that you captured the impromptu experimenting that can happen when you have nobody to pleae but yourself… Happy cooking!
    Joe Yonan

  2. I like your ideas… I came across your blog because I’m interested in what people do when cooking for one. I had the same concerns… and over the years have collected recipes and modified them for one. I also like to eat healthy… so I thought I’d recommend my cookbook to you. It’s called “Table for One: Perfectly Portioned Meals for the Single Chef.” I hope it helps… good luck!

  3. @Joe- I agree, pleasing yourself and finding the right proportions is hard sometimes as well.
    @Camille- thanks for sharing, I will have to check it out!

    I often do scale back recipes so it serves 2-3 rather than 4-6 portions to keep variety. Happy cooking!

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