Happy New Year, friends!
Like most humans, I’ve kicked off 2018 with some resolutions, or really one resolution with an addendum.
In general, I’d like to cook more. I realize this probably won’t come as a shock given you have landed on my food blog. But to achieve this goal, I’d like to cook less from recipes. Let me explain.
With cooking as with most other areas of my life, I tend to be a bit (well, maybe more than a bit) Type A. And that’s why I love recipes: I like knowing which ingredients to buy and in what quantities and then following a set of rules that tell me what to put together and when. Plus, recipes help me break out of the mold and cook adventurous things that stretch my culinary limits in the best possible way.
So I definitely plan to keep cooking from recipes. But I’d also like to cook more during the week, not just on weekends when I have the luxury of time, starting with breakfast every morning, meal-prepped lunches, and quick homemade dinners.
And when it comes to those dinners, I feel like the best thing to do is to stop cooking from recipes – at least sometimes. To see what’s in the fridge and then turn it into something. To think about what I like to eat and what tastes good together and then make those things.
Not only does it sound a lot more freeing (less research, less time consuming) but I also have a suspicion it will help me be a bit more economical by not doing the thing I always do where I buy ingredients for a specific recipe, use bits of them and then abandon the remains to a sad, slow death in my refrigerator.
In short, I hope cooking without recipes will give me the liberty to cook more often with fewer restraints and maybe discover something delicious in the process. And I’ll share those discoveries here!
So far, I’m doing pretty well. Ok, well not on the breakfast front. Last week I diligently woke up 30 minutes earlier every morning and cooked breakfast for me and M but this week I found myself adding an additional 5 minutes to my alarm until I was actually waking up later than usual, and also I quickly fell into a bit of a rut because while time efficient, after 3 or so days, scrambled eggs start to make me nauseous.
But I’m proud to report that I’m keeping up on the lunch & dinner front. So far lunch has consistent of my absolute favorite soup, a black bean soup also from Smitten Kitchen that I wasn’t crazy about so I won’t share it here, and an Instant Pot/slow cooker chicken tikka masala that I can’t wait to post.
And for dinner last week, there was this marvelous skillet of crackly kale, roasted sweet potatoes and runny yolk eggs.
So for those of you who are still cooking from recipes, here we go! I’ve included two versions, one for a single serving and one for 4 meal-prepped servings.
Baked eggs with sweet potato & chard, versions A and B
(Inspired by a recipe I made a long time ago when my sister and I were doing a Buzzfeed Clean eating challenge and before you judge me let me just say it was 2015 and Buzzfeed was cool then. Also you’re probably thinking “Wait I thought the whole point was to not cook from recipes?” Hey, I never said this was going to be easy and I did adapt it pretty heavily and I really only used the recipe for a gut check on oven temperature, ok??)
Version A: “I’m cooking for 1”
Yields 1 serving
2 cups kale, removed from stalk and torn in pieces
1 sweet potato, peeled
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 large or 2 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Sprinkle of paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil.
(I really hate trying to slice uncooked sweet potatoes but if you have any measure of upper body strength or knives that actually slice, you can skip this step.) Wrap the sweet potato in a moist paper towel and microwave for 2-3 minutes until softened but not cooked through. Let cool, then slice into 1-inch pieces.
Toss sweet potato with a teaspoon of olive oil and paprika, salt, and pepper to taste. Spread on a baking sheet and roast 20 minutes or until tender and browned.
When sweet potatoes have about 5 minutes left, heat remaining teaspoon of olive oil in an oven-proof skillet. Add kale and sliced garlic and cook until kale is wilted. Add sweet potato to the skillet and create two indentations.
Crack eggs into the indentations, season with salt and pepper, and place in the oven. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until whites are set but eggs are still slightly runny.
Version B: “I’m meal-prepping because I’m a financial & culinary goddess”
Yields 4 servings
1 large bunch kale, removed from stalk and torn in pieces, or about 8 cups, used two cups at a time
4 sweet potatoes, peeled
1 tablespoon olive oil plus 4 teaspoons, divided
4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced, used one at a time so don’t chop them all now!
8 eggs, used two at a time
Sprinkle of paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
You’ll start by prepping the sweet potatoes for the week. Wrap each sweet potato in a moist paper towel and microwave for 3-4 minutes or until they are softened but not cooked through. Let cool, then slice into 1-inch pieces.
Toss sweet potato with a tablespoon of olive oil and paprika, salt, and pepper to taste. Spread on a baking sheet and roast 20 minutes or until tender and browned.
You’ll cook the kale as you need it. So for each serving, heat a teaspoon of olive oil in an oven-proof skillet. Add 2 cups kale and 1 sliced garlic clove and cook until kale is wilted. Add 1/4 of sweet potatoes to the skillet and create two indentations.
Crack 2 eggs into the indentations, season with salt and pepper and place in the oven. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until whites are set but eggs are still slightly runny.
What if I’m cooking for more than one person?
I thought you’d never ask. General rule of thumb is 2 cups kale, 1 sweet potato and 2 eggs per person. So for 2 people just double the single serving recipe. If you’re serving 4 people, everyone may need to go down to 1 egg unless you can fit 8 eggs in your skillet. I cannot.