Thursday, July 16, 2020

Is One the Loneliest Number When it Comes to Cooking

By Carl Weiss

Image courtesy Man Cave Munchies
I started Man Cave Munchies to help teach my bachelor buddies how to cook some tasty, basic meals that didn't require a lot of exotic ingredients.  Most of their refrigerator were either stuffed with half-eaten takeout containers or their freezers looked like the frozen food aisle at the Wynn Dixie.  In short, their idea of cooking was to nuke something out of a box when they came home from work.  When I asked them why they did this, their usual excuse was that it was too much trouble to cook for one.  My response was always, "Well, do you plan on eating for one?"

Personally, I think that my buddies are using a lame excuse that makes them lose a lot of time and money.  In less time than it takes to place an order and wait for your takeout food at a restaurant, they could have prepared a delicious meal.  Having until recently lived on my own for the past ten years, I found it extremely easy to cook for one.  My usual modus operandi was to cook 2-3 meals over the weekend, then reheat the leftovers.  This would usually get me to Thursday, when I would cook one more meal that would last me until the weekend when I shopped for the following week.  Not only has this routine saved me tons of time and money, but I ate like a king.

Below are five meals that are quick and easy to make.  The leftovers taste even better than when you serve them up fresh.  As an added incentive, the first four can be cooked in a crockpot.

1. Boeuf Bourgignon - Think beef stew with wine and you'll get the idea.  This recipe and Coq au Vin, which I'll show you how to make next start with a base of onions, bacon and mushrooms.  If you don't care for shrooms, just leave it out of the recipe.  The beauty of crockpot cooking is that once you set it up, it will do its thing while you're away at work.  Then when you come home after a hard day at the office, you'll be greeted by the smell of a gourmet treat that will melt in your mouth.   Bon appetit!


2 lbs beef cubes
1/2 lb  bacon
1  onion
4 carrots
4-6 potatoes
1 lb of mushrooms
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 cup of red wine

Directions: See the video below.

2. Coq Au Vin - This recipe is eerily similar to the boeuf bourgignon with the substitution of chicken for beef and the elimination of the potatoes and the carrots.  While you can serve this dish over rice or egg noodles, I recommend you take an extra 5-minutes to prepare spatzles that are the quickest, easiest pasta on the planet.  It literally takes longer to bring a pot of water to a boil than it does to prepare these delectable bavarian noodles.  (See spatzle recipe below)

3. Tamale Pie - When it's hot outside you want chili inside.  This classic Mexican dish is basically chili topped with cornbread.  The difference is that you substitute corn for the red beans.  Not only does the recipe feed an army, but it freezes well in case you get tired of eating it.  While the video below shows me using fresh corn on the cob, you can substitute frozen (not canned) corn in a pinch.


4 ears of corn (or 1 bag of frozen)
1 lb of ground beef or caseless sausage
1/2 bottle of pitted green olives
Green pepper (or chili pepper)
small can of tomato sauce
1 onion
chili powder
ground cumin
cilantro (optional)
hot sauce
1 bottle of beer

Crust recipe:

1 cup of cornmeal
1/4 cup of milk
1/2 cup of water
1 egg

Directions: Everything needs to be prepared in a cast iron or stainless steel skillet since you'll need to pop the dish into the oven to bake the cornbread crust. (If you don't have either, you can pour the chili into a pie pan and top it with the cornbread mixture as you'll see me do below.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes until cornbread has risen and is golden brown on top.

4. Moussaka - I've taken this classic Greek dish and given it an Italian slant by preparing meat sauce and then taking this mixture and used it to top sauteed eggplant to create something akin to Eggplant Lasagna.  )I'll feature this recipe in season 7.)  To get started, you'll need to make the red sauce with meet, otherwise known a Bolognese Sauce, which you'll see on the video below.

Classic Bolognese Ingredients

2 lbs ground beef
1 large can of crushed tomatoes
1 small can of diced tomatoes
3 cloves of crushed garlic
splash of vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
pinch of cinnamon

 While the sauce is cooking down, slice the eggplant into 1/2-inch-thick rounds and salt them thoroughly.  Allow the slices to sweat for 20 minutes before rinsing them off.  Then take a saute pan and light a medium fire under it to lightly fry the eggplant slices on both sides in a little olive oil. Pat the slices dry and lay them in a 12x8-inch baking dish.  Top with the meat and sauce.  Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  While you're waiting for it to preheat take a small saucepan and melt 4 tablespoons of butter.  Sift an 1/8 of a cup (approx 6 tbls) of flour and stir into the butter.  Add a 2/3 of a cup of milk and stir constantly until it just starts to boil.  Take off the heat and add a 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese and a pinch of salt.  Pour over the top of the baking dish and bake for 45-minutes until the moussaka is bubbling and the cheese topping is golden brown.

While this dish is fantastic on its own, what I like to do with the leftovers is to cut it up into 3-inch square slices before nuking it for 30-45 seconds to heat it up before putting the moussaka on a toasted hamburger bun.  My friends have come to love what I call Mooseburgers.  They're way tastier than a hamburger.

5. Easy as Pie - What's dinner without dessert.  The video below shows you how to make a crustless apple/raisin pie, but you can use almost any kind of fruit.  I've done pineapple, strawberry, blueberry and peach pie using this recipe that takes all of 30-minutes to make including the time to bake the pie.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  While it's heating, prepare the fruit and custard as directed below.


3 apples
1/4 cup of raisins (I soak mine in wine for a few days to make them taste even better)
1/2 cup of brown sugar
3 tbls butter

Core, peel and slice the apples
Take a pan and melt 3 tbls of butter
Add the apple slices and raisins and allow to cook until the apples soften a bit (about 5-mins)
Add the brown sugar and stir until it is thoroughly melted and mixed with the fruit.
Remove from the heat and pour into a greased pie pan then allow to cool

Custard directions:

Pour 1 cup of milk into the blender
Add 3 eggs and blend
add a 1/2 tsp of vanilla

Take the custard and pour it over the fruit in the pie pan
Pop the pie pan into the preheated oven and let it bake for 30 minutes.
Allow the pie to cool in the fridge and serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

Note: If you substitute berries or peaches, do NOT precook them.  Simply layer the fruit into the pie pan and top with the custard mix before baking.  The oven will cook them sufficiently.

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