Holiday Treats and Desserts for One Person

Sure the holidays can be stressful. And this year brings that to a whole new level. But we can still enjoy ourselves, even if we can’t do it with others. And that means dessert!

And, as I mentioned last week, everyone enjoys dessert, regardless of which holiday(s) you celebrate.

I have gathered a few seasonal favorites here, including chocolate cake, brownies (top them with chocolate sauce and ice cream for a decadent treat), bananas with brandy, pear crepes, and super-easy chocolate mousse. They’re all easy and uncomplicated. Yes, even the crepes. I cheat. Shhh.

Now, I admit the mousse is technically four servings. However, in 2020, I think what’s normally four servings counts as just one! Also, if you freeze it, it comes out tasting like chocolate fudge ice cream.

If you’re pairing these with sparkling wine or champagne, the champagne goes really well with fruit desserts. The chocolate is a bit trickier, but you want a wine that’s sweeter than the chocolate. Try a fruity sparkling rosé.

I wish you all a happy and healthy 2021! Goodbye 2020 and good riddance!

greek yogurt chocolate cakeTriple Chocolate Cake

Want chocolate? Want lots of it? This cake has three kinds: cocoa, chocolate chips, and a super easy ganache on top. Because it’s 2020, and we need chocolate!

 

 

cinnamon sugar bananasCinnamon Sugar Bananas with Brandy

This dessert is ready in minutes, with little fuss. Make it as is, or add chocolate sauce, or ice cream. Or, swap the brandy for some rum.

 

 

 

pear dessert crepeEasy Pear Crepe Dessert Recipe for One Person

Making proper crepes is tricky and requires a lot of practice. My way is easy. I cheat. Great by itself or topped with  ice cream.

 

easy chocolate mousseEasy Chocolate Mousse

One of the first recipes I ever made. It’s only got five basic ingredients. And it is really super-easy. None of the complicated usual mousse steps. You never have to separate a single egg, or put anything in a double boiler. Easy, delicious, and chocolate. What more could you want?

Home Alone for the Holidays 2020 – Festive Cooking for One Person

Instead of being together in person, we’re on Zoom. Rather than lots of people gathered in mom’s or grandma’s or a friend’s kitchen, we’re eating and celebrating solo.

So, I decided to do something a bit different and create a holiday/celebration menu. We’ll start with zucchini carrot fritters. Then, rather than the usual links to recipes with similar ingredients, I’ve included options for the rest of a festive meal, from entrees to desserts.

Since we’re celebrating different holidays, with different rules and traditions, I’ve picked foods that are easy, elegant and delicious.

You can eat the fritters as an appetizer, or a main course.  If they are the meal, start with some simple hors d’oeuvres, such as wine, cheese, olives, and fruit. For a festive, easy treat, add a bit of milk to some goat cheese, and roll it in chopped almonds.

Chanukah

zucchini carrot fritters

Zucchini Carrot Fritters

If you celebrate Chanukah, it’s traditional to have fried foods, usually latkes (potato pancakes) or donuts to celebrate the miracle of one day’s worth of oil that lasted for eight.  Instead of latkes, I thought I would go for something a bit different: zucchini carrot fritters. Rather than traditional sour cream or applesauce eaten with latkes, these are served with a yogurt and mint dip.  Still fried though! Some things don’t change!*

*Yeah, I know. Chanukah is over as I type this, but my family never did it on time!

Christmas/New Year’s

For Christmas or New Year’s, since a whole turkey or ham is too much for one, I’ve included a pork tenderloin, and some sides. If you do get a turkey breast or some smaller portion and have leftovers, make my turkey pot pie.

Dessert for Everyone!

Regardless of which you celebrate, everyone gets dessert: choice of pears with ice cream or chocolate pudding.  Because who doesn’t like dessert?

And, to paraphrase what my grandma said about everyday eating, just because you’re alone doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a party and delicious food.

Festive Holiday Recipes

Main Dishes (Christmas/New Year’s)

pork tenderloin with mushrooms and sour creamPork Tenderloin with Mushrooms and Sour Cream

Tenderloin is quick, easy, and cooks in a few minutes. The sauce is rich and creamy, with the bite of Dijon mustard and the sweet/sour capers. The perfect sauce for pork.

 

turkey pot pie for one personTurkey Pot Pie for One Person

Just right for one person, without creating even more extra food. If you don’t have extra turkey, get it pre-cooked from your local deli.  Made with a rich, all-butter crust. Because why not?

Side Dishes (Christmas/New Year’s)

skin on garlic mashed potatoesSkin On Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Creamy and sweet/savory all at once. Cooking the garlic with the potatoes mellows and softens the sharp flavor. This is a family favorite (especially with my sister-in-law, the mashed potato fiend).

 

honey mustard glazed carrotsHoney Mustard Glazed Carrots for One

The sweet carrots and savory mustard are a delightful combination. This pairs wonderfully with the pork, or a simple piece of roast chicken.

Desserts (any occasion!)

poached pears with chocolate sauce and ice creamPoached Pears with Chocolate Sauce and Ice Cream

Easy, delicious, and really quite simple to prepare.  Elegant enough for company, but a lot less fuss than you’d think.

 

single serving double dark chocolate pudding recipeSingle Serving Double Dark Chocolate Pudding Recipe

Just one indulgent serving of rich, delicious pudding, with an extra double chocolate punch.  Cook it more, you get pudding, a bit less and it’s super-thick European dark hot chocolate.

Sugar Crusted Salmon Fillet

I found this sugar crusted salmon fillet recipe in a magazine somewhere. It’s the ideal answer to “what’s for dinner” when you’re hungry and you don’t have a lot of time to fuss in the kitchen.  It was also the perfect opportunity to take advantage of some beautiful (and relatively low-cost) salmon from my Imperfect Foods order.

The beauty of this is, all you have to do is make a quick dry rub, coat the salmon with it, and then cook it. The whole thing takes about 15 minutes. If you have leftover rice (I always make extra), you’re ready to eat in about 20 minutes. What I tend to do with the rice is either make more than I need so I can have it quickly later, or freeze it in little zip baggies. Pull it out, zap it for 2 minutes, and “instant” rice!

Back to the salmon, it ends up slightly sweet, but with a little bit of a kick from the cumin, pepper, and paprika. I did reduce the sugar from the original recipe (because I don’t want super-sweet food). However, if your tolerance is higher than mine, coat it with 1 1/2 tsp of sugar.

Keep it simple and serve this with some plain rice and a basic salad or some fresh cucumber and tomato.




More Salmon Recipes

pan fried salmon with nectarine salsaPan Fried Salmon with Nectarine Salsa

A fresher, sweeter take on the usual salsa. This one is made with juicy nectarines and a squirt of lime. It gives the whole meal an extra pop.

 

salmon in foil packet with potatoesSalmon in Foil Packet with Potatoes

Quick, delicious, and no cleanup. It’s an entire meal in one easy package.

 

salmon greek yogurt dill sauceSalmon with Greek Yogurt Dill Sauce

Rich and creamy, but the taste is yogurt (no cream at all). The tangy yogurt sauce, with a hint of mustard, complements the rich fish beautifully.

 

smoked salmon pasta with tomato cream sauceSmoked Salmon Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce

A rich, decadent sauce that’s great for dining alone, or serving to company.  It’s easy to make too.

 




Chili Citrus Avocado Chicken Salad

It’s a rare treat for me to get avocados at a decent price here in NY.  We always see them during the Super Bowl (for guacamole), but really the best time to buy them is now. But, I got a great deal at Imperfect Foods on both limes and avocados the other day. So, I decided to take advantage and create a chili citrus avocado chicken salad.

I must say it was a smashing success. The sweet limes, velvety avocado, bright and crunchy veggies, and the spicy chicken combine for a carnival of flavor and color.

The chili citrus chicken recipe is one I already had (here on the site).  Adding the veggies and the dressing transformed it into a completely different meal.

Great for hot weather.  Make extra chicken the night before for dinner and you don’t have to cook at all the next day.




 

Chili Citrus Avocado Chicken Salad Substitutions and Variations

  • Mix together whatever greens you like: spinach, leafy green lettuce, romaine, red lettuce, etc.
  • I used cucumber, carrots, and tomatoes as veggies, but feel free to substitute bell pepper, mushrooms, snap peas, cooked corn, or whatever other salad veggies strike your fancy
  • Add some orange segments to punch up the citrus flavor

More Entree Salad Recipes

belgian potato salade liegoiseBelgian Potato Salade Liegoise

A traditional Belgian warm potato salad made with green beans, and sausage.  It’s then dressed with a quick vinaigrette that takes only seconds to make. The result is savory, filling, and easy.

leftover roast lamb eggplant spinach saladLeftover Roast Lamb Eggplant and Spinach Salad

Transform your lamb breast leftovers into a second meal (or make extra).  The creamy eggplant and the spinach balance the strong flavor of the lamb, all topped with a garlicky easy aioli dressing.

 

cold leftover steak saladCold Leftover Steak Salad with Goat Cheese and Red Wine Vinaigrette

Forget the classic steak sandwich for a minute and use your leftovers to make this salad instead.  Chop some veggies, add goat cheese, and make a quick red wine vinaigrette. A full meal with no cooking! Ta da!

mixed greens egg potato chicken saladMixed Greens Egg Potato and Chicken Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Another great entree salad that’s easy and flavorful (without a lot of work). Use spinach, mixed greens, chicken, or tuna. It’s flexible and easy. All you have to cook is the potato and the egg.




Roast Chicken with Plums

Once summer rolls around, it’s hard to think about cooking too much. Complicated dishes, with lots of steps have very little appeal. On the other hand, something like this roast chicken with plums just hits the spot. It’s sweet, tangy, with just a hint of savory warm spiciness. And super simple to make.

My first thought the day I made this was to go for chicken with peaches and ginger, Then I had an idea. I had some fresh plums. Why not use those instead? Since plums are more tart than peaches, it needed something to balance the flavor, and add some sweetness. A bit of googling, and some reverse-engineering from a recipe I couldn’t see completely, and ta da!

All you have to do is cut up the ingredients, mix everything together, and bake it. You don’t have to fuss, or make a separate sauce, or hover over the stove.

I recommend using firmer plums as the riper ones are too soft to cut easily and tend to just collapse into mush (delicious mush, but still mush).




Roast Chicken with Plums Substitutions and Variations

  • make a spice rub with cumin, garlic, red pepper flakes, lemon, salt, and olive oil and marinate the chicken overnight
  • add ginger and lemon to the sauce
  • put the plum sauce on the bottom of the pan and layer the chicken over it (so the juices drip down)

More Chicken Recipes

Vietnamese baked chicken with limeVietnamese Chicken with Lime and Ginger

Ginger for warm spiciness, plus lime for a citrusy tang, and a bit of a kick from chili garlic sauce.

 

crispy lemon chicken thighCrispy Lemon Chicken Thigh Recipe for One

Great hot or cold, and perfect for picnics. Three kinds of lemon pack a big, citrusy punch, balanced by brown sugar.

 

feta brined roast chickenFeta Brined Roast Chicken Recipe for One

You’ve heard of brining turkey in salt? This is better. Brining with feta adds more flavor, and keeps the chicken moist and juicy.

 

peruvian roast chicken with green saucePeruvian Roast Chicken in Green Sauce Recipe

The sauce! Oh the sauce! It’s tangy, garlicky, and soooo good. Great on the chicken and also as a veggie dip.

 




Chocolate Egg Cream with Homemade Syrup

Traditionally, the correct and right way to make a chocolate egg cream is with Fox-‘s U-Bet chocolate syrup. And, I may lose my NYC card for this, but I didn’t do it that way. I had no syrup, and I didn’t want to have to make a special trip to get it (particularly under current conditions). So, I made a chocolate egg cream with homemade syrup instead. And besides, not everyone has access to the “right” syrup.

Now, if you’re not from New York, you may not have heard of a chocolate egg cream. You may also, understandably, expect it to be made with eggs and cream. After all, it says so right in the name. Right? Nope. There are no eggs and no cream.  Just chocolate syrup, milk, and seltzer. Why is it called that then? Nobody really knows.

Whatever the reason for the name, it’s a delicious, refreshing chocolatey treat that’s perfect for a hot day.

Turns out making the syrup is really easy. It’s actually quite similar to making chocolate pudding.  All you need is five simple ingredients you likely already have: cocoa powder, water, sugar, salt, and a little vanilla extract.  I have cut the original syrup recipe in half, so it’s enough for two egg creams. You can drizzle the extra syrup over cinnamon sugar bananas or use it to prepare poached pears with chocolate sauce.

Not to mention that if you DIY your own homemade chocolate syrup,  you know what’s in it (and can pronounce all of the ingredients).




 

More Chocolate Recipes

greek yogurt chocolate cakeGreek Yogurt Chocolate Cake

Got a craving for chocolate? This cake is triple chocolate! It’s got cocoa, chocolate chips, and a super easy ganache on top.

 

Mini chocolate banana breadChocolate Banana Bread

Sure banana bread is good. But this is even better.  It’s moist, chocolatey, and minified. So you don’t have to worry about finishing it all.

 

small batch brownies cocoa powder

Small Batch Brownies with Cocoa Powder

Made with cocoa powder so you don’t have to make a mess melting chocolate. Rich, moist, and downsized for one.

 




Pan Fried Salmon with Nectarine Salsa

Does this happen to you? I bought a big bag of nectarines from Imperfect Foods without thinking what to do with them, or how I was going to eat all those nectarines all by myself.  Sometimes my eyes get ahead of my brain. Uh oh, now what? But, I had previously bought salmon from them and frozen it. I thought, well the sweet nectarines should pair beautifully with the fish. So, the answer was pan-fried salmon with nectarine salsa!

And then later, there will be nectarine mini tarts. Because why not.

Nectarine makes a refreshing change from the usual tomato. They’re sweeter, juicier, and a perfect foil for the tangy lime and spicy jalapeño. And summer is the ideal time to take advantage. The salmon was simply pan-fried with a squeeze of lime and a few seasonings.

This made a bit more salsa than I needed for just the salmon. But, it was fantastic over eggs the next day.




Pan Fried Salmon with Nectarine Salsa Substitutions and Variations

  • Don’t have salmon? This would work beautifully with a pork chop too. Pan-fry with some olive oil and cumin
  • Or, try the salsa with some scrambled eggs
  • Haven’t got jalapeño? Use red pepper flakes instead

More Salmon Recipes

salmon in foil packet with potatoesSalmon in Foil Packet with Potatoes

Season, fold, and bake. No cleanup, and it’s a whole meal in a simple packet.

 

salmon greek yogurt dill sauceSalmon with Greek Yogurt Dill Sauce

Crispy cucumbers, creamy yogurt, and touch of fresh dill add brightness and freshness to this sauce. Let it sit if you can to let the flavors meld.

 

smoked salmon artichoke saladSmoked Salmon Artichoke Salad

This works with either smoked or cooked salmon.  The citrus is sweet and bright, and the marinated artichokes add kick.

 

smoked salmon pasta with tomato cream sauceSmoked Salmon Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce

Creamy, velvety and elegant enough for a special occasion. Yet, it’s surprisingly easy to make.

 

 




Pork Chili Verde for One

I know, I’ve already got two chili recipes on here already: Chicken Chili Verde and Small Batch Spicy Stovetop Chili. So why a third? Because the chicken was frozen, and I found a pork chili verde recipe that appealed to me. It also seemed more authentic and actually was entirely green too. It’s made with ground pork, simmered in a salsa verde of jalapeños, garlic, onion, and cumin.

And, unlike the others, this recipe is ready fairly quickly. If you’ve already got cooked (or canned) beans, you can make this in about half an hour. If not, it’s about an hour (still pretty speedy for chili).

The original recipe called for potatoes and corn. I had some pre-soaked cranberry beans leftover from something else, so I tossed those in instead.

The cranberry beans are firmer than kidney beans, and more colorful than the navy beans I usually buy.  I initially bought them because that’s all that was in the store, but I find I rather like them. One of the few pleasant outcomes of the quarantine!

If you don’t have pre-soaked beans, the canned ones are fine. And it will take only 35 minutes to cook, since you don’t have to wait for the beans to soften. Or, speed up the soaking/cooking process with my quick soak beans method.




Pork Chili Verde Substitutions and Variations

  • If you have access to Hatch chiles, use those instead of the jalapeños
  • Don’t want to use beans? Substitute 1 or 2 small potatoes instead (and/or 1/2 C of corn)
  • Make it with all beef, all pork, or a combination of the two
  • You can also use pork shoulder, but then you’d have to cook it longer
  • Skip the beans, double the broth and you have green chili sauce for enchiladas or burritos

More Chili (and Chile) Recipes

eggs with spinach and chili pepperEggs with Spinach and Chili Peppers

Just the thing for a fast lunch or brunch.  The spinach mellows out the peppers, the eggs cook quickly, and the whole thing is topped with cooling yogurt or sour cream.

 

 

egg chili cheese burritoEgg Chili Cheese Burrito

Saute, scramble, and it’s a wrap.  A meal in minutes.

 

 

chicken chili verde recipeChicken Chili Verde Recipe

A mild chili, with green chiles, chicken, and cumin. Not spicy, and easy to put together.

 

spicy stovetop chili recipeSmall Batch Spicy Stovetop Chili Recipe

If you’d rather have something that brings the heat, try this spicy chili. It’s flavored with sriracha, cumin, garlic, and onions. Slow-cooked for maximum flavor.

 




Mini Chocolate Banana Bread

Take banana bread to the next level of deliciousness and make it mini chocolate banana bread instead! This recipe is adapted slightly from Smitten Kitchen. The original recipe is divine as is, but a whole chocolate banana bread is just too much for one.  Not to mention, I only had two bananas and the original recipe called for three. I used one and a half for this, then ate the other half with my lunch.  Plus, I just got some mini loaf pans I was dying to try out! I couldn’t resist.  It worked beautifully.

The bread is rich, moist, and chocolatey delicious.  I admit I skipped the chocolate pieces. You see, it was supposed to be double chocolate banana bread.  However, the chunk of chocolate I had was too cold and hard to break up and I was too lazy to wait for it to soften. And, I wanted banana bread ASAP!

If you want it super-chocolatey go for both and add about 1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate. Then you get chocolate chocolate chip banana bread.




Tools for Mini Chocolate Banana Bread

Wilton Mini Loaf Pan

I got two of these. They’re about half the size of a normal loaf pan, and just perfect for smaller scale baking. I used them for this chocolate banana bread first.  Then, I took my white bread recipe and divided it between the two pans. Voilà, two mini breads instead of one large one! And, they won’t go stale before I can finish them.

The pans also work for other kinds of quick breads and mini meat loaf too. Eat one, freeze the second one. Or, cook once, eat twice.

More Banana Recipes

banana smoothie for oneBanana Smoothie Recipe for One

Easy, refreshing, and not too sweet. A good in-between meal snack you can make in minutes.

 

strawberry banana yogurt popsicles plateStrawberry Banana Yogurt Popsicles

Beat the summer heat with this sweet treat that’s actually good for you. It’s loaded with fruit! And there’s no added sugar either.

 

cinnamon sugar bananasCinnamon Sugar Bananas with Brandy

Whip up an elegant dessert without a lot of work. All you need is bananas, a bit of butter, brandy, and only a touch of sugar.

 




Bibimbap Rice Bowl with Meat and Vegetables

It may not roll off your tongue (if you’re not used to it), but bibimbap means a variety of ingredients mixed with rice. So, essentially, a Korean rice bowl. You make this meal in layers, building up the rice, then the meat, the veggies, sauce, and finally top it all with an egg. It’s really flexible though, sort of a Korean spin on cleaning out the fridge.  This particular bibimbap rice bowl recipe is loosely inspired by a recipe I found on Korean Kitchen.

However, I didn’t have all the ingredients she used, such as sprouts or seaweed, and under current circumstances, I didn’t really want to go out looking for them. The idea was to make this easy for myself, and for you too.  In addition, I also wanted to focus on “sturdier” ingredients, such as cabbage and carrots that will last in the fridge, rather than sprouts. You could even use frozen veggies (cook them for less time), like broccoli or one of those frozen stir fry mixes. Definitely not authentic, but still good.

Since I was using cabbage, which takes longer to cook, I just chopped the carrot up, instead of julienning it. That way, the two vegetables would be ready at the same time.

You make this in several stages. If you are using brown rice, start that first, and let it cook while you put the meat mixture together and let that sit so the flavors blend together. If you have white rice, start the meat mixture, and then put up the rice while that’s marinating.




Bibimbap Rice Bowl Substitutions and Variations

  • try different vegetables, such as broccoli, mushrooms, bell pepper, or zucchini
  • swap the beef for ground chicken or even leftover fish
  • this should properly be made with gochujang, which is a spicy Korean pepper paste; if you have it, use it and add about 3/4 tsp water.

 

More Cabbage Recipes

chinese chicken noodle cabbage soupChinese Chicken Noodle Cabbage Soup for One Person

Wonderful comfort food when. you’re stuck inside. Just enough soup for a generous serving for one.   The spicy hot broth helps clear your head , the garlic, ginger, and chili sauce have anti-bacterial (not viruses, bacteria) qualities, and it’s delicious.

asian chicken salad with cabbageSingle Serving Asian Chicken Salad with Cabbage Recipe

Colorful, spicy, and frankly more colors makes a dish look and feel more appetizing.  Works with chicken, leftover pork, or even add some cooked noodles or rice instead.

 

unstuffed cabbage roll recipeSmall Batch Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls Recipe

Stuffed cabbage is delicious, and pantry-friendly. But making all those separate rolls is a pain. So don’t bother.  Layer it like lasagne instead!