Welcome to the assembly line

You know what?  I kind of miss cooking.

If it isn’t obvious, I’ve been spending a little less time in the kitchen these last couple of months.  Not sure why.  I mean, I’m mostly cooking for one these days, with the hubs spending most of his waking life at work, but that’s never stopped me in the past. Cooking for one is slightly more challenging, but it’s not impossible.

No, I think it’s just that one’s hobbies and interests tend to ebb and flow, right?

A few weeks ago, I came across a hell of a deal for a subscription to the paper version of Eating Well.  Seeing as EW is one of my favorite online recipe resources – and that I haven’t had a paper magazine subscription, to any publication, in years! – I jumped on it.

The first issue arrived:

And as I sat, flipping through it, I realized how rusty I’d gotten.  Orange cous-cous?  Chard dumplings?  Carrot soup?  This all sounds…hard.

Oh, seriously, Shelby.  This is pathetic.  WTF?  I used to dominate the hardest shit that Epicurious and Bon Appetit had to offer at least twice a week.  And now I’m cowering in the pages of Eating Well?  Pathetic.

But…let’s take baby steps.

So for the last couple of weeks, I’ve been just focusing on making my own food, rather than caving and ordering take-out or heating up a frozen box of crap.  Even if that means assembling my meals instead of cooking them.

Salads?  Nachos?  Pasta + topping?  These are mostly assembled dishes, in my mind.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Because: just because it’s assembled, rather than cooked from scratch, doesn’t mean it isn’t tasty and healthy.

Which brings me to…

Today’s EAT: Yet another version of round-cake-pan nachos!  I am calling this Caprese Nachos.  And it was delicious.

I used to hate raw tomatoes.  Well – I still hate raw tomatoes.  I definitely pick them off of salads and sandwiches.

But when seeded, diced, and mixed with a bunch of other bold flavors:

I actually kind of love them.  This classic mix of tomato, fresh basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar was first introduced to me by one of my college besties, and although I used to give her dirty looks for the liberal application of raw tomatoes on her dining hall tray (and she, to me, ironically, for my enthusiastic use of ketchup), over the years I’ve come to love this combination.

I loaded the tomato-basil mixture on a plate of whole-grain tortilla chips, roasted red peppers, chopped chicken and mozzarella cheese (pictured above).  Simple, easy, delicious.

Today’s DRINK: Pretty fitting that it’s a cold, dreary night tonight.  Because I had just one bottle of beer left in the fridge, and it was a winter-y one.

I feel like I’ve been hoarding this 2007 Brooklyn Brewery Monster Ale for ages!  Really it’s only been a couple of months, but that’s practically an eternity for a beer in this household’s fridge!

I’d seen this barleywine-style ale around the interwebs all winter and am glad I finally tried it!  As expected, it was heavy, juicy, and extremely boozy with scant carbonation.  Fruity flavors blended well with a slightly wheaty flavor: like eating sweet preserved peaches or figs roasted on a browned biscuit-y crust.  At 10.1% ABV, it packs a serious punch, but it’s a perfect thing to sip on a night when you’re parked in front of a roaring fire.

(Or a roaring TV playing Bones reruns.  Same thing, practically.)

Today’s RUN: 5 easy miles today.  And I have to say: today was sort of a relief. I think my legs are still reeling from that Shamrock Half.  It’s been ten days, and today was honestly the first day since the race that I have felt semi-normal – and was able to keep my normal easy-run pace without any extra effort.  I’d planned to do a little speedwork this week, but I think I’m gonna scrap it and wait until next week.  The old rule of thumb is a day of recovery for each mile run, and I guess by that standard, I’m still in recovery mode until the weekend.

Okay, then.  I’ll just pile on the easy miles until I feel ready.  I’m only 7.5 weeks out from my next goal-race half, though.  And I’m hoping to get several weeks of quality workouts in between now and then.  So get with the program, legs!

Today’s QUESTION: What’s your go-to “assembly-line” meal?”  Pizza, nachos, something else?  Do you have a favorite recipe when you’re cooking for one? Help me break out of my rut!

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20 responses to “Welcome to the assembly line

  1. well you can always come up to MA and cook for me and you. then it’d be two. i never started cooking so i have nothing to miss 😉

    ummm my favorite recipe is just a baked chicken and potatoes with green beans. it’s nice because you can buy the individual chicken breasts. perfect for cooking for one.

  2. lifeisbeachykeen

    I’ve never heard that 1 day for ever mile; I think I should have heard that before given the health & fitness board I hang out on. Or, maybe I just wasn’t paying attention. So I guess I don’t feel so bad that I’ve only run 3 times since the half.

    I really love pizza. Last week we might have had pizza twice. I bought some whole wheat flat bread then added some pizza sauce, pineapple & ham. SO easy and it takes literally 10 minutes to prep & bake. It’s so basic. oh yum!

    I rarely, hardly ever cook for one. I usually just make pasta. I’m so boring. Nothing extravagant.

    • I’m sure it’s come up before, probably more in the marathon context. I believe the “rule” is meant to refer to full recovery: as in, ready to race again, do speed work, etc. Not that you can’t run at all within that timeframe…just reduce the volume and intensity.

      I feel like it works pretty well for me for other distances. I’m probably not going to try another race or a hard speed session within 3 days of a 5K; and lord knows it takes me at least 3 weeks to fully get over a marathon.

  3. I totally didn’t expect a half marathon to wipe my legs out either, but 3 days out and my hamstring is too shot to run. Now you’re telling me I have ANOTHER WEEK until my legs will feel normal!?! stupid halfs. I thought they were just little warm-ups for the fulls.

    I don’t cook, that’s a pretty strict rule. But I also don’t pierce the plastic. Mostly, I snack. A half jar of almond butter here, a can of beans there, a yogurt here, some cheerios there. ta da!

    • Honestly, it’s taken me by surprise too! I’d run plenty of halves before, but usually just as a tempo effort en route to marathon training. This is the first time in a looong time I actually raced one and it has totally killed my legs! Argh. But ten days out I’m finally feeling good….hopefully you’re just a few days away from the same!

  4. Pizza is definitely a go- to meal.

    I was cooking a lot before vacation and trying a ton of recipes. It felt really good to be creating things! I got out of the habit though. I’m trying to get back at it!

  5. Burritos/ fajitas with lots of tasty things piled on are definitely my go to, or otherwise sandwiches. We actually did a sort of nacho salad tonight, so apparently a lot of ourmeals are rather assembly style. Good luck prepping for your next half!

  6. i love assembling meals! wayyy easier than cooking. i usually go with the simple mexican-spiced veggie and bean saute with salsa, cheese/ guac and chips for dipping. weak yet spicy sauce, i know.

  7. You mean I’m not an expert chef because I can make noodles and pesto and then slice some shit over it?! EFF YOU.

    I have tried the Brooklyn Monster Ale and to my knowledge, I enjoyed it very much. X )

  8. Can of black beans in a pot on the stove plus spices = chili. That’s about as easy as it gets.

  9. I make a lot of quesadillas at home because they are so ridiculously easy. I like to buy canned refried beans and smear that on a tortilla, then cover it with cheese and pickled jalapeno slices. The possibilities for quesadilla fillings are infinite!

  10. “Fried” chicken! First cornstarch and spices…then egg…then panko/bread crumbs. It’s quite the assembly line, but totally worth it!

    …I want one of those beers. It’s 11:52am. Shame, shame.

  11. I feel exactly the same way about tomatoes! Love them cooked and mixed in things like salsa and bruschetta, but the thought of ingesting a “raw” hunk in a salad or on a sandwich makes me nauseous!

  12. Brooklyn Brewery is awesome, I agree.

    Other than salads, I usually just put a bunch of veggies/beans/rice in a skillet and saute it with whatever sauce I have in my fridge (Worchestershire, soy, salsa…there are usually several). It’s easy. Works every time.

  13. Lately, my go-to “assembly” meal is udon + stir fried veggies + a protein. I almost always have edamame in the freezer (eggs in the fridge), I like to get my veggies in, and udon seems fancier, somehow, than rice or other noodles 🙂

    I subscribe to a few food magazines, which help with my kitchen malaise. Last month’s issue of Fitness (not a food mag, I realize!) had a recipe for a beet/quinoa/arugula salad that has become my new staple. It’s effing GOOD — and easy.

  14. It’s crazy how easy it is to get out of the habit of cooking. It’s something I enjoy SO much but I let it go when I get busy. I think your baby steps are a good approach to get back into the game. The nachos look super delicious!

  15. Stir fry is my definite ‘assembly line’ favorite. I don’t cook much anymore (since my wife all but planted a flag in the kitchen when she started her food blog) but stir fry was always the easiest way to get compliments about cooking while really just heating up veggies, adding pre-made sauces and making rice.

    Also, stirfry is pretty good for eating solo; most veggies come in a size such that if you use 3-4 different veggies (and maybe protein) you can get a varied dish while only generating as much leftover as you want to.

  16. Embrace the crock pot, and if you have a lot leftover, section them off into individual tupperwear and freeze them! That way next time you need a quick meal at least it’s not mass produced like Lean Cuisine.

  17. I’m not a huge raw tomato fan myself. But stewed, sauteed, ketchup or soup is good to me!

    I love assembling nachos and pizza. 🙂

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