Dining Solo

By Mac Millhone

How many times have you chosen a bowl of cereal or some celery sticks adorned with peanut butter when making dinner for just yourself? Instead of drudgery, try to look at this as an opportunity to exercise imagination and creativity, have a satisfying meal and enjoy a rewarding experience. Markets today are treasure chests of raw and prepared materials you can use to fix some fine eats. The salad bar and prepared foods sections are full of portion-controllable great stuff. Pastas, fresh or dry, are ready in less than 10 minutes and can be the base for hundreds of dinners. Baked potatoes take a little longer, but also offer plenty of options. The frozen food section holds a wonderland of possibilities. The produce section is a feast waiting to happen. And then there’s chicken, bacon, sausage, pork chops, fish fillets, oh my.

Most recipes require kosher salt, pepper and olive oil.

Spaghetti Primavera

1/4 lb. spaghetti

1 medium zucchini cut in long thin strips (julienned)

1 medium carrot cut as zucchini above

1/2 medium onion cut in thin wedges

1 medium clove garlic slivered

a pinch red pepper flakes or to taste

1 cup peas fresh or frozen

grated Parmesan cheese to taste

Prepare spaghetti per package instructions minus one minute. Toss everything else in a large hot oiled skillet or wok and stir-fry till crisp tender. With tongs, move cooked spaghetti into veggies skillet. Some water will ride along. This is good. Toss veggies and pasta over heat to mix. Water will evaporate and stick to pasta. Adjust seasoning and serve in a bowl with grated cheese. If too dry, add a little more olive oil. This is a basic recipe. Use your fabulous creative mind to change or add to it. Cooked shrimp?

Baked Potato with Mushroom Sauce

Preheat oven to 350F

1 medium Russet potato

1 Tbs. butter

large handful sliced mushrooms from the salad bar (6 oz.)

1 garlic clove sliced thin

1/4 cup white wine, chicken or beef stock

1 tsp. thyme

1/2 cup heavy cream

Scrub and dry potato. Roll in olive oil and again in salt. Some salt will stick. Put it on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour. Check doneness by sticking with a fork.

In a large skillet melt butter and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add sliced mushrooms and garlic. Cook at medium heat till most of the moisture has evaporated. Add stock or wine and thyme. Continue cooking until most of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in cream and reduce heat. Simmer until sauce is like silk and adjust seasoning. Cut potato and smash the sides to open. Pour mushroom goodness over potato and be glad it’s all for you. Need more? Serve with a grilled rib eye or chicken breast.

Baked Halibut Fillet

Preheat oven to 350F

1 lemon cut in half

1 halibut fillet, you choose size

1 Tbs. butter

2 Tbs. chopped Italian parsley

Heat a suitable ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil and heat until shimmering. Wet a paper towel with a little water and lemon juice and gently wipe fish on both sides. Fillet should be fairly dry. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Carefully lay fillet in hot oil. Do not move it! Five minutes later, slide a thin spatula under the fish. If it resists, give it another minute. Protein will let you know when it is ready to turn. Carefully flip fish and immediately place skillet into hot oven. Give it seven minutes and check it. Fish should flake easily and be translucent in the center. It may want another minute or so depending on thickness. Move to plate, squeeze on a very little lemon juice and scatter parsley over it.

Sautéed Pineapple

1 Tbs. butter

fresh pineapple rings, chunks or spears from the produce section

2 Tbs. brown sugar

Wipe pineapple dry. Heat appropriate–sized, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add butter and sugar the pineapple pieces. Turn fruit in butter mixture for several minutes. Serve over ice cream or purchased pound cake.

Mac, a retired airline captain, is currently living in Annapolis. He enjoys researching food, cooking and baking. He can be reached at [email protected]








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