Recipes for when you're cooking for one
I haven't done my own dishes in months. This week has been rough.
I’ve been spending a lot of time eyeballs deep in my budget spreadsheet this month. There’s something about that new job feeling that makes me want to rip up my current finances and start all over again. Also, my boyfriend has been out of town, so I’ve had no one around to tell me, “babe, stop trying to calculate how much you’ll spend on cleaning products in 2027, come to bed.”
For me, budgeting can turn into a runaway train: what started as a simple monthly check-in on my category spend will become a full four hour project in which I’m writing complex formulas to predict how many investment properties I need to purchase (with what money? hmm?) at the current rate of appreciation to afford to build a dream house by forty. This is crazy person behavior, for the record.
I think this kind of work entraps me so easily because it’s basically playing pretend: who knows what’s going to happen in ten years? There are so many variables, so many unpredictable (but also inevitable) events that will either leave me totally broke or insanely wealthy. But making a ten year budget outlook makes it seem like all of this is perfectly within my control. It’s like Pinterest but with fake money.
If you’ve been thinking a lot about money management recently, I listened to this podcast episode on my walk yesterday and found it really grounding. I love the idea that a budget is a permission slip to spend money on the things you actually want. It’s a tool to be sure your spending is in line with your values. And, yes, forecasting your finances over longer horizons—while daunting and inevitably incorrect—is a powerful manifestation tool.
(Please note that I’ve demonstrated extreme self control during the life of this newsletter and that was the first time I used the term “manifesting”!!!!)
Call it whatever you want, but I had several stretch goals over the last two years that, at the time that I wrote them, seemed completely out of the realm of possibility. I revisited them recently and realized that I had accomplished almost every single one. There is something to be said for just naming what’s important to YOU and letting that intention subconsciously guide your financial decisions.
Simple fish and roast vegetables
I had a hazy IPA after work yesterday and adorably thought I’d be able to be productive after that. I was able to pull this dinner together, half inebriated, stumbling around my kitchen at 8pm, so I’m going to go ahead and categorize this as “easy.”
Roast some vegetables: I did cauliflower, tossed in a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and grated parm, roasted at 425 for ~25 minutes or until crispy.
Prep your fish: A thin fillet of white fish is ideal. Pat it dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Melt a tablespoon or so (fine, I used 2) in a frying pan over medium high and add your fish and a spoonful of minced garlic. Cook gently while spooning the garlic butter over your fish. Flip and do the same butter/spoon situation.
When your fish is just about done, if you’re feeling fancy, add a handful of spinach to your pan and saute.
Plate your fish and vegetables with a sprinkle of fresh herbs and a drizzle of lemon.
Espresso cardamom brownies
This recipe from Nargisse Benkabbou for NYT Cooking has been called “the best brownie recipe ever” by my brownie expert family—seriously, we eat a LOT of brownies. I made these for family dinner this weekend and am not ashamed to say I ate most of the pan all by myself during the week.
Preheat your oven to 350. Grease and line an 8x8 pan with parchment.
In a microwave safe bowl, melt 7oz of semisweet chocolate chips with 3/4 cup butter, stirring every 15 seconds or so. Add to the bowl:
4.5 tsp instant espresso coffee granules
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp ground caradmom
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
In a mixer, beat 3 eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1/2 cup brown sugar on high for ~3 minutes. Add your chocolate mixture just until combined, followed by 2/3 cup flour.
Tip your batter into your prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean (mine took closer to 45 minutes).
This is a no-recipe recipe and it’s what I make for myself almost 100% of the time when am riding solo for an evening:
Boil some noodles of your choice. I enjoy soba noodles for this.
Make your sauce: In a bowl, whisk together a spoonful of PB, a drizzle or two each of rice vinegar and soy sauce, a spoonful of minced garlic, and enough pasta water to loosen the PB and make a nice smooth sauce.
Make your toppings: I like to top this with chili crisp shrimp (just pan sear some shrimp and toss it with chili crisp) and/or chili toasted panko crumbs (panko+chili oil in a frying pan, toast til…toasty) and/or roasted peanuts and/or sliced green onions.
Put it together!
Still here? Want to be here every Saturday morning? You know what to do: