Today is Day 1 of Offbeat Home's Cooking Challenge, wherein we see if Offbeat Bride's Managing Editor Megan, a complete non-cook who lives off of frozen pizza and cereal, can go an entire week of preparing her own meals.
Each day, Cat Rocketship (who SWEARS you can afford better food!) will be sharing the recipes that Megan will be preparing — feel free to play along at home! If Megan, a pizza-loving non-cooking cereal-for-dinner web dork can feed herself healthy, home-cooked meals for a week — YOU CAN TOO.
For me, the hardest part of learning to cook was learning to get all the timing right. When do I do what? How do I get all the pieces of a meal ready at the same time? I've tried to write these recipes in ways that make linear sense — and I'd advise Megan (and YOU!) to start each meal by prepping the ingredients list: washing, chopping, and measuring.
Now, let's do this…
Breakfast: Bagel with goat cheese, apple, and honey
I am starting you off easy with an easily-doubled breakfast, in case Aaron wants in.
- 1 bagel
- 1 apple
- goat cheese
- Prep! Slice your bagel, pop it in the toaster. Wash and slice the apple in half, then slice one half into smaller slivers. Remove the core bits. Open the goat cheese!
- Retrieve the bagel. Spread on goat cheese, assemble with apple slices, dribble honey on top. Consider whether you want this to be a full bagel sandwich or more of an open-face style.
- Eat. And afterwards, wrap up the remaining goat cheese and apple half to save for future use.
Lunch: Curried egg salad sandwich
A little more difficult than a bagel, but not much. Sorry for two sandwiches in one day. :p This recipe will teach you how to make hard boiled eggs, too! The recipe is for two sandwiches. Divide if you'd like, otherwise plan to save some egg salad for future snacks and lunches.
- 4 eggs
- ¼ cup mayonaise
- ½ teaspoon curry powder
- ½ tablespoon chives or green onion tops, finely chopped
- Lettuce, washed
- Potato chips for eating on the side
- Boil eggs. Place eggs in saucepan and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, cover, remove from heat, and let sit for 12 minutes. Rinse the eggs with cold water, peel, and chop.
- In a bowl, combine eggs, mayo, curry, chives, and mix. Add salt to taste.
- Make a sandwich! Lay a leaf of lettuce on a slice of bread, spoon on egg salad. Potato chips on top are optional, but I toooootally recommend it.
Dinner: Spaghetti with red sauce and parmesan-roasted broccoli
You have a choice with this dinner. Technically making red sauce takes more than 30 minutes, but it's only 15 minutes of work followed by 45 minutes of passive stewing. I'll forgive you if you want to use a ready-made pasta sauce instead, but I will give you a disappointed face like this :-[
Red sauce is SO MUCH TASTIER than jarred stuff, and easily freezable for later.
Red sauce (yields 4 cups sauce. Have enough storage on hand to freeze three cups for future use, or divide into a smaller recipe)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, smashed (don't peel it first! SO much easier after it's smashed)
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- ½ carrot, finely sliced
- 2 cans whole peeled tomatoes
- ½ head broccoli, or 2 cups frozen broc
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- Sliced almonds
Making red sauce
- In a saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat for about three minutes. Add onion and garlic and cook until soft and browned, stirring occasionally, about eight minutes.
- Add thyme and carrot, cook five minutes more.
- Add the tomatoes, squooshing them into goosh with your hands over the pot.
- Bring to a boil, stirring often. Then reduce heat and let simmer — just a few bubbles popping to the surface fairly regularly — for 30 minutes. Stir in ½ tablespoon salt and transfer to another bowl (or directly to storage).
- Fill saucepot with water and ½ tablespoon salt. Cover and bring to a boil.
- Add spaghetti noodles – about a quarter of a package for one person is a hearty serving. I hate estimating how much pasta to cook. It gives me anxiety. Break the noodles in half and stir continuously for first 45 seconds.
- Reduce heat to about a seven out of ten, set timer for eight minutes. Begin work on broccoli.
- Wash and chop broccoli. Unless frozen, then skip this step. Chop head from most of stem, discard stem (bummmmmer.) Cut broccoli florets into bite-sized pieces.
- Put broccoli in a ceramic bowl with 2-3 tablespoons water. Cover with a plate and microwave three minutes. Test a floret. If needed, cook one more minute.
- At this point, it would be easy to get super fancy and lay the broc on a platter to broil in the oven for a few minutes to make it crispy and carmelize it a little. But I'm not gonna make you do it. I'm just going to plant the idea in your head.
- Top broc with grated cheese and a small handful sliced almonds.
Back to the spaghet!
When time is up, remove pot from heat. Drain water over strainer and free your noodles!
Dish up, cover with sauce and some more parm. Add a side of broccoli and enjoy your dinner!
For those of you who want to cook along with Megan, we'll be posting recipes for tomorrow later today. Tomorrow, Megan will be sharing her notes about how Day 1 cooking went.