Weekend Vibes :: Cooking for Two

Hey what’s up hello

{ Shannon Silver shares her secrets for Cooking for Two // Champagne at Shannon's }

Hope everyone had a rad weekend.

Not much going on here, which is actually kind of a lie, because I’ve been so busy with life, so I guess my goal every weekend is to try and turn off? Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Let’s see….

We practically ate our weight in sushi all weekend. On Friday we had delivery in with an entire nigiri tray via Seamless. Then, on Saturday, we decided to have a dinner + a movie date night. We got some more nigiri at Naked Fish in the Marina, and then saw The Revanant. We rarely do movies out – I usually go by myself during a weekend matinee or we watch them at home… not to mention, I am a major sucker for movie theatre popcorn with butter please {& I don’t care how bad it is for you! #yolo}… so it was a nice change to get out and about.

{ sushi with bae // champagne at shannon's }

Naked Fish Sushi {not pictured – a million other items}

I also spent all day prior on Saturday with one of my best friends, Lily & her partner, Ryan. I know I’ve talked about him here a few times, but he does most of my photography for the blog. I love shooting with him because not only is his eye dead on with my style, but it’s always a good excuse to hang out with Lily! I have some really rad photos to share soon from our last shoot, but we were able to really talk about things coming up in the future. Seriously though, if you are in SF, check him out. Burning Man loves his work too.

Pretty much, I have a secret project I want to launch this year or next on the blog & he will be helping me make it happen. I don’t want to give away too much, but it’s a fun play on things you see on many other blogs. Hopefully it will be up and ready to go by this fall. I also plan on having him guest post on the blog, as well, to talk all things photography directed towards bloggers.

It was really neat to sit with him as he explained in depth his editing process. I’ll admit, I asked for selfish reasons {instagram! #dontjudge} but it was amazing to hear his process – it truly is an art.

Plus, being able to share some mimosas with Lily is a huge plus – not to mention, they have the cutest cat in the world.

 

Fresh Fruit chez Lily & Ryan cooking for twoLily and her sweet Russian Blue Kitten - talking cooking for two

Now what else?

Sunday, we did our yoga & Whole Foods {I suppose our version of Netflix & Chill?!}, and menu planned for the week ahead. My boyfriend has more international travel all week – so I like to take advantage of that time to develop recipes. My big recipe I want to nail down? When we were in Fiji, we had the most incredible Thai Chicken Coconut Curry that I am going to try and replicate. Let me know if anyone has any tips on curry making – it will be my first go!

All that being said…

A question I get asked often is how do I make cooking for 2 easy, especially with cray schedules?

I have always been a lone wolf, so my sweet spot for cooking is for 1 or 2, max. I don’t do well with cooking for more than that, or with a ton of left-overs. That being said, I don’t mind eating the same thing everyday, but I do like to prepare it for the most part each time. Does that make sense? Like, everyday for lunch in the office last week, I had avocado toast, that I prepared the same exact way every day.

I wanted to share some of my tips and tricks, purchases (and why I use them), as well as books I recommend.

⚜ First off, meal prep!

Every Sunday, I like to prep the following: quinoa, black rice, spaghetti squash, and/or lentils. I find these are great bases to have on hand, especially when prepared plain with a kiss of lava salt & cracked pepper. They are so easy to customize. I will do a whole post on Sprouted Lentils, because they are a total lentil game changer (re: cook in less than 15 minutes rather than 45!!), but other than that, I like to prepare these in a large quantity for the week, because they can be a bit time consuming.

I’ll also prep roasted root vegetables. I’ve been on a major sweet potato kick, so I’ll roast these exactly like this {seriously so good} once or twice a week to keep on hand.

I prefer to prepare meat & seafood the day of, but that’s just me. A big reason is because both my partner & I prefer our red meat on the rare / medium rare side of things & the continued cooking will, well, do the opposite. I also find cooking extremely therapeutic, so I don’t mind the extra step.

In fact, if I want to cook something bomb for bae but have literally zero time or I am exhausted from the office {which is like, 8 days a week }, my go to is always steak. It takes literally less than 10 minutes. A rare/medium rare steak + a spinach salad + the quinoa/rice/lentils/squash that is already prepared, and there is a rad dinner from stove to table in no time & extremely little effort.

I buy most of my meats from a butcher by my apartment, so these are easy for me to get the day of and keep my quantities in check. I usually ask to get my chicken breasts tenderized so they are all the same width for even cooking. That is also a huge time saver for me.

I know I’ve mentioned this but I LOVE going to my butcher. Seriously. You’d think I was having a secret relationship with all of them since I go as often as 3x a week. I’ve learned so much about meat from our conversations alone, and they keep me inspired. I’m about to start making my own sausages so we’ve had long chats on that. Seriously though. Make friends with your butcher – they are awesome people & a serious wealth of knowledge.

{ sprouted quinoa prepped & ready to go - key to cooking for two! // champagne at shannon's }
Sprouted Quinoa ready to go! {MAJOR COOKING FOR TWO KEY}

 

⚜ Second, have the right equipment.

Seriously, this will make your life in the kitch way easier. The things you, trust me, need to order right now are:

GlassLock Containers

These are major. They were a bit of an investment, but the sizes are perfect, they are extremely durable, do not hold the flavours or odors like plastic can, oven-safe, freezer safe, easy to clean… and not going to lie, I’m about to order a second set, I love them so much. I also don’t lose them or throw them out like I did with the cheap plastic ones.
NOTE: The pieces include the lids, so as a whole, this is 9 containers & 9 lids. The ones I have are all glass with a touch of mint green, which I like.

Mini Prep Bowls

There is a big reason why companies like Blue Apron are making it huge right now. I personally haven’t tried it, but one thing that stands out to me is that they have everything mise en place & portioned out. In my opinion, this is one of the most important steps when it comes to cooking, for parties of all sizes.

If you’ve worked in a professional kitchen, then you know how important mise en place is. It keeps your cooking area clean, and everything is portioned out & ready to go. It also helps when you are winging a recipe. Maybe it is my hospitality background, but the absolute very first thing I do before I start cooking is prep everything, put them in their bowls, use as needed, and I clean EVERYTHING as I go. These just totally alleviate the process.

Quarter sheet pans

If I had to choose one thing to choose from this list, it would be a tie between this or the glasslock containers. They both make cooking for 1 or 2 so much easier. Again, not only do the quarter sheets help control quantities, but they aid with multi-tasking can cook 2 completely different things at the same time.

For example, if you are making a roast, you can throw in a pan of sweet potatoes! If one is finished before the other, no stress, since they are on separate pans.

Or, if I am cooking two of the same thing, I can make mine how I like it (TONNNNSSS of garlic, spices, herbs, oils, etc), and my boyfriend’s (ZERO garlic, onions, and keep it plain) at the same time with no fear of “contaminating” his. I swear by the Williams Sonoma GoldTouch line {more info on why here} & they are on sale!! win & win.

Small Food Processor

this is seriously my go to for prepping. I will seriously put anything and everything in here. Yes, I know I can use a knife, but this takes a fraction of the time, and the clean up is MUCH easier & faster. It also takes VERY little counter space, so for you city studio apartment dwellers (especially in cities like NY or SF where space is a luxury), like moi, that is a HUGE plus.

A 3.5 cup will suffice & they are pretty inexpensive! I linked the exact one I have which totally gets the job done, and I try to keep all my Kitchen-Aid appliances in the Blue Ice colour 😉

Freezer Storage Bags

These are important for when it comes to storage. I will make an image with my girl, Brittney, on how to store what, but if you are cooking for one or two, you likely are using a partial amount of a vegetable so these will allow you to store appropriately. I like freezer bags, even if they are just going in my refrigerator because they are extremely durable, leakproof, and made to stand up to the harshness of the freezer. They are also re-useable and easy to wash!
NOTE: I do understand you can use tupperware for storage, and the ones I have are meant to be frozen, however, I prefer to use those for foods I prepared/portioned, and the bags for storage of foods to prep – does this make sense? It just helps me organize things in my own method of madness because I’m psycho.

 

⚜ Third, know your quantities!

Leftovers are never my goal for cooking, for a variety of personal and practical reasons. Personally, if I have the food laying around, it’s not uncommon for me to keep going back for seconds, or thirds…or fourths… or tenths… and then before I know it, I am left with nothing.

The only thing I really make with leftovers in mind are soups, stews, sauces, and chilis. The reason why, is that I find that the flavours really meld together nicely with the additional time. However, to keep my quantities in check, I store them in preportioned containers. That way, if I want to take a soup to work, I can just grab and go. For whatever reason, keeping them all preportioned keeps me from going back and sneaking bites from a large pot that I can just spoon out.

Another tip I have is if you are making pasta dishes, like macaroni, spaghetti, etc – store the sauce and the noodles separately. I personally like to save the sauce, and make the noodles on the fly, as I need them. Again, not only does this keep my portions in check, but it takes less than 15 minutes to prepare and reheats much better. You’ll get more of that nice al dente pasta rather than too soft and absorbed in the sauce.

As far as leftovers, I keep containers of the pre-made quinoa, lentils, squash, or rice constantly on hand. You will never see my fridge without them. Since these are made plain, I rarely go to them for a midnight snack, and the possibilities are endless. You can seriously make so much with these, as well. For a grab and go option for work, I can mix my greens with one of the above, a bit of olive oil, lemon juice, and lots of veggies & have a simple, filling, & clean salad.

If I am prepping for lunch at my desk, I will dedicate separate containers for it & keep them in my refrigerator at the office. A go to meat for this is the spa chicken. Seriously easy & it holds up well – whenever I  make it for dinner, I go ahead and throw in 2 extra breasts for the sole purpose of taking to the office.

PS – for the midnight munchies, I keep raspberries & chocolate on hand! This always satiates it for me. If I am craving something sweet, but not hungry, then I make dessert tea.

⚜ Champagne Book Club

Here are some of my go-to books for cooking:

{ the Food Lab - THE book you need in your kitchen library // Shannon Silver talks cooking for two. }

 The Food Lab by J. Kenji López-Alt.

It’s no secret how big of a fan I am of this book. I’ve said it over & over, but this book WILL make you a better cook. It is a great cookbook, but I also love to read it before bed to understand the science.

 Feel Good Food by Giada de Laurentiis.

Giada de Laurentiis is one of my ultimate #WCW’s. I’ve followed her for about 13 years now. I LOVE her recipes, and this book is a nice look into her “day in the life” recipes – in fact, I make her quinoa pilaf regularly.

 Kitchen Decoded by Logan Levent & Hilary Hattenbench.

This book is incredible, and I’ve never met the ladies behind it, but I love following them on social media. What they did that is really rad in this cookbook, is they break down the equipment, give a bunch of MUST HAVE PIECES (and with no affiliations) for every kitchen, and in each recipe, they break down what exactly is needed, equipment wise. REALLY cool book.

{ Pumpkin Spice Latte cookies inspired by Kitchen Decoded // Champagne at Shannon's. }
making Pumpkin Spice Latte cookies, with Kitchen Decoded as a base!

 Ratio by Michael Ruhlman.

ah, another book that totally changed cooking for me. If you follow me, you’ve noticed that I rarely post quantities of food. This book is a big reason why. It is much more important to know the ratio. The ratio is the key & will change the way you look at recipes. This is another book worth it’s weight in gold because it WILL make you a better cook.

The Ultimate Cooking For Two Cook Book by America’s Test Kitchen.

Seriously, my physical copy of this book is already falling apart because it gets so much use. The recipes are off the charts, and it gives a lot of helpful tips on cutting things down for only one or two. Whenever I am uninspired, I read this book.

 

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I hope you found this helpful! Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below. Anything you’d like to see, let me know? And get excited – boozy spiked desserts are coming soon!

What are your kitchen time savers or any time / space hacks? How many people do you find you cook for on the average? Any good cookbooks I should check out

 

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