Thursday, July 7, 2011

Red Bean Gumbolaya

As I mentioned in a previous post, I enjoyed a fantastic trip to New Orleans a few months ago. The city was beautiful, the people were full of life, and the food was outrageously good. The spirit of the city was so infectious and my memories so fond that I thought it was high time I try to recreate my New Orleans experience at home.

I meant with FOOD of course!!

While in New Orleans, I enjoyed (among other things) red beans and rice, gumbo, and jambalaya. To this day, I don't fully understand what the hell the difference is between the three. They all tend to involve a reddish stew mixture with pork and Cajun seasoning served with rice.

So, in typical Cooking for One fashion, I picked bits from recipes of all three traditional dishes, threw it in a crock pot, and called it a day. Thus was born my Red Bean Gumbolaya, and it is quite possibly one of the most delicious things I have ever made (if I do say so myself).

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

  • 4 Andouille sausages. These are delicious smoked pork sausages you can find in your grocery store. They add that authentic New Orleans heat without being too spicy (cause I am a wimp, after all)
  • 2 large handfuls of diced frozen chicken. No need to thaw. This makes it super easy, but you could also just dice up a couple of raw chicken breasts as well.
  • 2 large handfuls of frozen shrimp. See above.
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 small bag frozen cut okra. Very traditional southern veggie!
  • 1 quart chicken broth. This means four cups.
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes in juice. Do not drain.
  • 1 can red kidney beans. Drain.
  • 2 tbsp. garlic
  • 1 tbsp. Cajun seasoning. Or more if you like it hot!
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp. dried thyme
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • Hot cooked rice. Optional. You can either stir it into the mixture for a more jambalaya-like dish, or lay a bed of it underneath.
Yeah, I know this seems like a ton of ingredients and a ton of Red Bean Gumbolaya. But these are all easy pantry and freezer staples, and it is so yummy you will for sure want leftovers!

Of course, if you have a smaller slow cooker or just don't want to make so much, feel free to adjust quantities accordingly.


Get your Lorena Bobbit on and slice up your sausage. The easiest way is to slice them in half lengthwise and then cut them into half moon shapes. Peel and dice up your onion as well.

Now, dump all your remaining ingredients (EXCEPT FOR THE RICE AND THE SHRIMP) into a large slow cooker. Stir to combine everything.

Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. During the last half hour, stir in your frozen shrimp and close the lid again.

Once the shrimp are heated through, spoon your Red Bean Gumbolaya over hot cooked rice and enjoy! See, only three steps! They don't call New Orleans the Big Easy for nothing ;)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Key Lime Pie

Summer has arrived! Yeah, I know, it's not June 21 yet. But I think summer begins the first time you go out to the bars at night without a jacket, the first time you burn your ass on a hot car seat, and the first time you take a bite of key lime pie.

For me, lime in general signifies summer, whether it's sipping a Bud Lite Lime by the pool or digging into some guacamole at a BBQ. Everyone loves lime! Well, almost everyone....

Key lime pie is an unbelievably easy dessert to make and. It only has five ingredients!! So go ahead and dig into that first bite of summer :)

  • 9 inch graham cracker pie crust. I get the reduced fat kind at the grocery store...way easier and less messy than making your own!
  • 4 egg yolks. Save the whites for a yummy omelette the next day.
  • 2 14 oz. cans of sweetened condensed milk. Find these in the baking aisle, and feel free to use the low fat kind if you are gearing up for bikini season.
  • 1 cup bottled key lime juice. At first I wanted to buy fresh key limes, but they are small and you would need to cut and squeeze about twenty of them to get the juice you need (aw hell, no!) The bottled kind is so much easier, cheaper, and still delicious!
  • Whipped cream for topping (optional). But not really optional.
That's it! You can play with the amounts a little depending on how sweet/tart you like your pie, but this turned out great. Feel free to garnish with fresh lime slices or add a drop or two of green food coloring to the mix (oh you fancy, huh?)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Separate your eggs and put the yolks in a mixing bowl.

Whisk in your sweetened condensed milk and key lime juice (and food coloring if you are using it).

Pour the mixture into the pie crust and smooth it out.

Put the pie into the oven, making sure not to burn the $#% out of your arm like I did! Let it bake for about 15 minutes or until the pie is set and only jiggles slightly in the middle when you shake it, kind of like me.

Let the pie cool to room temperature and then refrigerate for at least a couple hours. Slice it up and top with whipped cream!

What are YOUR favorite summer foods?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Greek Guacamole

Hello, everyone! This is my 69th blog post....SEXAYYY.

Anyways. In my experiments with cooking, I have always found it fun to combine different flavors and ethnicities depending on what I have on hand and what I love. My Greek Guacamole is quite literally a cultural mash-up (har har har).

Normally, you wouldn't think of combining Greek and Mexican. But these cultures have more in common than you might think: both wear gold neck chains, both have dark hair and mustaches (the men and the women,) and both have cute little grandmothers who cook lots of food:

This recipe is a five ingredient delight that takes five minutes to whip up for a great healthy snack. And it's perfect for the next time you host a toga party fiesta! :-/

  • 1 avocado

  • 1 capful of lemon juice. Takes the place of lime juice for keeping the avocado from browning, plus adding nice acidity and bright flavor. Feel free to use fresh if you have it.

  • 1/2 tsp. bottled minced garlic. I like using the bottled kind for convenience, and also because the oil in the bottle helps flavor all the guacamole.

  • 1/2 tsp. Greek seasoning. This stuff is delicious and has things like oregano, lemon peel, and other goodies.

  • 2 tbsp. feta cheese. Or if you are like me, a giant handful.
You can also feel free to add diced tomato or olives if you like them. Avocados have such a nice mild flavor and are a great blank canvas for anything you want to add to them.


Slice your avocados in half, working your knife around the pit. Then pop out the pit and use a spoon to scoop out the flesh into a small bowl. (Gross! Flesh!)

Add the lemon juice, garlic, and Greek seasoning to the avocado and mash everything with a potato masher or a large spoon.

Cooking for One TIP: If you are making this ahead of time for a party, lay a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the guacamole to prevent it from turning brown and yucky.

Sprinkle the feta on top and serve with baked pita chips. Enjoy!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Roasted Fish with Tomato Basil Cream Sauce

Aaand we're back! I actually have a good excuse for this insanely prolonged absence...I moved to Colorado.

In the process of moving, finding an apartment, and moving into said apartment, my diet has mostly consisted of fast food and Lean Cuisines. And, since my new job is marketing for a company that works with many food brands, I have also been surviving off work-related food. My first assignment for Wendy's: eat everything.

In the interest of hearkening back to my roots with this blog, today I have a recipe that is fast (15 minutes) and easy (six ingredients). I have also sprinkled a couple tips throughout. Enjoy!


  • 1 fish filet. You can use pretty much any fish you like...I used swai. I had never heard of swai, but apparently it is a Vietnamese catfish, and it was the cheapest fish at the grocery store. Good enough for me!
  • Handful of cherry tomatoes. I had some leftover from a veggie party tray. Ghetto?
  • 1/3 cup cream. I used half and half but you could use whipping cream or heavy cream.
  • 1 tbsp. jarred basil pesto. It's not cheap, but it lasts forever and has so many delicious flavors in just one ingredient.
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 capful of lemon juice. I just use the bottled kind for ease.
  • A bit o' olive oil, salt, and pepper. Yeah, I said this was six ingredients, but I consider these ones freebies.
The great thing about this recipe is that the pesto and tomato paste are both pantry/fridge staples that add so much flavor in just a small amount.

Cooking for One
If possible, try to buy tomato paste that comes in a tube instead of a can. It is so densely flavored that you will only need a little bit for a recipe, especially if you are cooking just for yourself, and it sucks to have to buy a whole can and then throw it out. The tube just stays in your fridge and lasts almost indefinitely.


Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Cooking for One TIP: When baking or roasting something for yourself, use the toaster oven instead! It saves on the energy bill and takes much less time to heat up, which means you get to nom sooner.

Cover a small baking sheet with aluminum foil and lay your fish on it. Cut your cherry tomatoes and half and lay them around the fish.

Drizzle the fish and tomatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with Salt 'n Pepa to taste.

Put the fish and tomatoes in the oven to roast at 425 degrees. Meanwhile, you can make your sauce! Mix together the cream, lemon juice, pesto, and tomato paste in a small saucepan over medium low heat and let it simmer away while your fish cooks.

After about 15 minutes, your fish should be opaque and flake easily when you stick a fork in it, and your tomatoes roasted to sweet delicious perfection.

Put the fish and tomatoes on a plate and drizzle the tasty sauce over them. Buon appetito!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Moqueca de Peixe (Brazilian Fish Stew)

Over the years, I have developed a love/hate relationship with Brazil (despite the fact that I have never been there.)

Things I Hate About Brazil:

1) They stole our Olympics! I had glorious visions of bringing my futuristic Jetson-like family of 2016 to see the Olympics in my hometown, Chicago. With Obama and Oprah both lobbying for the Windy City, I thought we were a shoe in, but NO.

Watch your backs, Rio. No one %$#@s with Oprah.

2) They charge $200 to set foot in their country. When I was at Iguazu Falls in Argentina two months ago, I could literally see across the river into both Paraguay and Brazil. All I wanted was to take a short boat across so that I could claim Brazil for my Facebook travel map, but NO. I was not going to pay that ridiculous visa.

Get over yourself, Brazil. $200? Really?

3) Brazilians are just too attractive for their own damn good. (You're welcome, gentlemen readers of this blog).

Things I Love About Brazil:

1) Brazilians are just too attractive for their own damn good. (Like Madonna's recent boy toy, aptly named Jesus):

2) Every Brazilian I have ever met is incredibly friendly, nice, and full of life. Case in point: the lovely Brazilian ladies Megan and I spent New Year's with in Montevideo:

3) Brazilian food.

This brings me to today's blog post. My first amazing experience with Brazilian food was at one of their rodizio style restaurants in North Carolina, where they bring you endless cuts of meat on swords. Who wouldn't like that?!

My second experience with Brazilian food was when I visited my friend Phil in Miami. His mother is Brazilian, and she took us to a great restaurant where I had a delicious moqueca de peixe, or fish stew.

I dug around for some recipes online to try to recreate this dish, and it turned out AMAZING, if I do say so myself! Tons of flavor, and very unique tasting. Great to try if you want to break out of your boring dinner routine.

Bom apetite!

  • 3-4 fillets of tilapia. Depends on how hungry you are and how big the fillets are. If you have an even firmer white fish such as cod or halibut, all the better.
  • 1 onion
  • 2 green onions. I included these cause I love green onion, but I honestly don't think they added a whole lot to the stew. If you have them, throw 'em in. If not, no worries!
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro. If you are one of those people who despise cilantro, I suppose you could leave it out. But it adds wonderful South American flavor and color.
  • 1 can diced tomatoes. Do not drain.
  • 1 can lite coconut milk. Obviously you can use regular if you want to, ya fatty.
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 3 tbsp. lime juice. I used the bottled kind, but use fresh if you have it!
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1.5 tsp. paprika
  • 1.5 tsp. chile powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Drizzle of olive oil. Real moqueca uses dende, or palm oil, but I couldn't find this stuff ANYWHERE! Oh well.
This dish is quite flexible. If you have shrimp, that would make a great addition. Traditional moqueca usually has bell peppers, but I personally $%#@ing hate peppers.

You can eat this served over rice, or just out of a bowl like I did. This makes enough for 2-3 people, so feel free to adjust quantities accordingly, or just enjoy the leftovers!


Cut your fish fillets into large chunks and lay them out in a single layer in a small dish or tray to marinate (you could also put them in a plastic bag). Keeping the pieces fairly large will help them to hold together during the cooking process.

Time to make your marinade! Mix together the lime juice, minced garlic, cumin, paprika, chile powder, and salt. Pretty colors, ooooh.....

Now it's time to get your hands dirty and pungent. Pour the marinade over the fish, and toss it together so the fish is well coated in the spices. Cover the tray with plastic wrap and pop it in the fridge for at least 20 minutes, and up to a couple hours.

I wouldn't do much longer than that though cause the acidity of the lime juice will actually start to "cook" the fish and make it fall apart (this is how people make fact!)

Peel your onion and slice it up. If you are using green onion and cilantro, chop them up nice and fine.

Heat a large pot or high-sided skillet (make sure it comes with a lid!) to medium high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil and cook your onions until they are soft and translucent.

Add your green onion, cilantro, and can of diced tomatoes with the juice. Let the mixture simmer together for a couple minutes.

Add your can of coconut milk, the fish, and the marinade. Stir everything together well.

Turn the heat to low, cover the pot and let it simmer for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pieces of fish are opaque and flake easily. Your house will smell like a sexy Brazilian beach vacation.

Ladle some of that delicious stew into a bowl, garnish with some fresh cilantro and lime wedges, and dig in!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Beef and Cheese Empanadas (Or, How Two Wrongs Made a Right)

I know I may seem to you all like an accomplished three star Michelin chef, but I'm going to let you in on a little secret: sometimes the food I make sucks!

That's right, I'm woman enough to admit it. It's what happens when you try to invent your own recipes based on knowledge cobbled together from old Food Network shows and stuff you have laying around in the pantry.

I try not to include sucky recipes on Cooking for One, but I recently had a suckfest that I thought might at least win me some chuckles. Here's the story:

My friend Rachel invited a bunch of us over for a Superbowl potluck party. This, of course, sent me into a fit of excited giggles like Ina Garten at the thought of hosting a gay supper club.

I planned to give 'em the old razzle dazzle with some mini vanilla cheesecakes with blueberry ganache topping and pumpkin and goat cheese empanadas. How I envisioned the party going:

Here is what actually happened:

Mini Vanilla Cheesecakes with Blueberry Ganache Topping

The inspiration for these came from my lovely former roommate Danielle who is a cheesecake making fiend.

I had made these babies once before for my boyfriend's graduation party and they turned out pretty well, so I figured they were a sure thing. I'm still not really sure where it all went wrong.

Basically, the way you make them is by mixing some graham cracker crumbs with melted butter and pressing them into mini muffin pans to form the crust, and then pour the cheesecake mixture over them.

Then you melt some chocolate with heavy whipping cream for the ganache, and that becomes the glue to stick a blueberry onto each cheesecake. Cute, right?


Not sure where things went awry, but out of the twenty four cheesecakes I intended to bring to the party, only about fifteen made it successfully out of the muffin pans without crumbling into a mess (highly reminiscent of Failcake).

For some reason the cake part never really adhered to the crust, so when I popped them out of the pan, the crust remained behind like little piles of sawdust.

I decided to salvage the fifteen that kind of made it out successfully and topped them with the chocolate and blueberry to bring to the party. Even still, they tasted dried out and not something I would ever include on Cooking for One except to laugh at.

Pumpkin and Goat Cheese Empanadas

Now you may be thinking to yourselves, "Stacy, those don't even SOUND good! Why would you make those?!"

The inspiration came from my recent trip to Argentina, where I feasted upon empanadas. The best ones my friend Megan and I tried were pumpkin, corn, and cheese empanadas that were unbelievably delicious.

In my warped delusions of culinary grandeur, I thought I could replicate the native Argentinian cuisine with nothing but Pillsbury crescent dough and a sense of my own self-worth.

I made the filling with pumpkin puree, sage, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. In a flash of insight, I decided to try the filling before I actually made the empanadas. I was as disgusted as Ina Garten after tasting batter that didn't use GOOD vanilla.

It was salty, bitter, and nasty. I even tried microwaving it to see if the filling would taste better warm, and it didn't, so I just threw it all out. Strike two for this Superbowl party.

Beef and Cheese Empanadas

Now faced with the prospect of having one mediocre dessert to bring to the potluck, I needed to get resourceful. I still had my Pillsbury crescent dough for the empanadas (the grocery store didn't sell empanada shells and I'd be damned if I was gonna make them from scratch!) so I figured maybe I could just change the filling.

Hallelujah, they turned out delicious! They took a really long time to stuff and I'm not sure I would ever make them again because of that, but they tasted great and were a hit at the party. So, without further ado, my Beef and Cheese Empanadas.

  • 4 tubes Pillsbury Crescent Roll Dough. I used the reduced fat kind.
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp. cumin
  • Salt n' pepa to taste
  • 1/2 package of Mexican cheese blend shredded cheese
This will make 32 empanadas, so feel free to adjust quantities based on the size of your crowd. If you are Cooking for One, you can also always make a big batch for yourself and freeze them for a quick snack later.


Peel and chop up your onion and throw it into a saucepan with a drizzle of olive oil over medium high heat.

Once the onion is softened and translucent, add the chili powder, oregano, cumin, and garlic.

After just a minute, add your ground beef and crumble with a large wooden spoon to mix in all the spices. Once the beef is browned after several minutes, go ahead and pour in the diced tomatoes, juice and all (I kinda jumped the gun and did it early.)

Let the mixture simmer for several minutes so the flavors get all incorporated. Taste it and add salt and pepper if necessary. Then take it off the heat to cool down before stuffing the empanadas. You should also skim off some of the fat.

If you are making this ahead of time for a party the next day, you can just refrigerate the filling and stuff them the next day.

Time to get your hands dirty! This part took forever and was kinda annoying cause I was making 32 empanadas. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and cover three baking sheets with aluminum foil.

Pop open your dough and separate it into the eight perforated triangles on a baking sheet.

Add a sprinkle of Mexican cheese to one corner of the triangle and about a tablespoon of the beef filling (don't overstuff!) Then fold the other corner over the filling and pinch the open edges together to seal. It's not the end of the world if they don't close all the way.

Continue until you feel like you want to claw your eyes out and your fingers reek of beef. Remind yourself that these will taste delightful and be worth it.

Once all the trays are filled, pop them in the oven to bake for about 14 mins, or until they are golden brown.

All's well that ends well!

Crisis averted, and I had a party appetizer to offer. And in honor of the winner of my last Cooking for One Contest, I am going to close with:

"Next stop, Munch Town. Population: you." --Matt Ogren