Okay, So I’m Not a Chef

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By Jonathan Able

Okay, so I’m not a chef…or a wizard for that matter. Sorry to get your hopes up.

But, I do have a set of Paula Deen knives, a 10-piece Paula Deen cookware set, and a stove, so that’s got to account for something, right?

Living life in the single lane has its definite perks. But when it comes to the kitchen, my choices and my on-the-go lifestyle left me in a rut because cooking-for-one can be difficult at best when every recipe you find has a yield of four servings. I won’t lie to you; I’ve had my fair share of eating out, eating on the go, toaster pastries for dinner, and diets consisting completely of cereal.

As of late, though, I’ve decided to take back my kitchen and turn it into a place where not only I can learn, but you can too.


To get us started, here are some golden rules to single-living and cooking-for-one, as far as I see it:

One-dish meals are your savior.
From soups to stews, and from casseroles to quiches, not only are they easy to prepare, but you can also make excess and have some to eat off of for the rest of the week.

Mix it up.
Cooking-for-one can be carb-heavy and oftentimes unbalanced if you’re not careful. I find myself making a lot of pasta dishes and pizzas, because they’re easy to reheat, and the leftovers save me money. But to keep myself from committing total carb-icide, I mix it up with different vegetables.

Experiment with different flavors you have in your kitchen. Instead of a cheese and pepperoni pizza, try spinach and feta, or chicken and broccoli. Pasta again? Grab a bag of frozen or fresh vegetables and toss them into your homemade (or store-bought, in my case) sauce for an easy pasta primavera.

Think about your next meal.
When I grocery shop, not only do I have to think about a budget, but I have to think about not wasting ingredients. I try to think about things I would like to try and make for the week and stick to it as much as possible. For example, if I know one night I’m only going to chop half of an onion, I’ll try to come up with another way that I can use the rest of that onion the same week.

Keep your staples on hand.
In a tight fix, you’d be surprised just what your imagination can come up with when you keep common ingredients on had. Things I like to keep in my kitchen at all times are milk, eggs, bread, butter, salt and pepper (and other seasonsings), some kind of lunch meat, and canned or frozen vegetables.

Spoil yourself.
When I used to think of cooking-for-one, I used to think of drab, tasteless meals and freezer entrees. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ashamed to admit that I still keep freezer meals on-hand.) But it just simply doesn’t have to be that way. Cooking shouldn’t be a chore, but a nice reward. Because if you’re not having fun, then it’s just not worth it.

Here’s a recipe I found and tweaked to my liking, it’s a good start!


Quiche with Chicken and Broccoli

5 large eggs
1 cup rotisserie chicken (I found some in the sandwich meat section of my local grocery store)
1 cup frozen broccoli florets, thawed and drained
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 cup milk
1 refrigerated piecrust
1/2 cup Kraft Savory Garlic Cooking Crème

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F, and bake the piecrust in a pie plate for 10 minutes or until lightly golden. Make sure to place a pie weight in the center of the crust. Remove from oven.

2. Beat eggs, and incorporate milk, cooking crème, cheddar cheese, chicken and broccoli in a mixing bowl.

3. Pour egg mixture into the piecrust and return to the oven at 300 degrees F. Bake for and additional 35 to 40 minutes, or until lightly browned and a knife inserted comes out clean. (I found that it took a little longer than 40 minutes to finish.)

It was delicious! This recipe is great to share with friends, or reheat it later for lunch or dinner the next day.


Jonathan Able, Online Editor for PaulaDeen.com, is a Savannah transplant and received a BFA in Theatre from Valdosta State University where he spent many hours memorizing scripts and working on his Meisner technique. Recently, he has decided to tackle single-handedly a formerly unknown territory...the kitchen...and he looks forward to sharing his adventures here. His favorite color is green and he's never met a carb he didn't like.
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Reader Comments:


Paula Deen: I heard about your type 2 diabetes and wanted to give you the cure. Yes, the cure! A couple of years ago, I met a guy who two years before weighed 450 pounds, took 5 insulin shots a day, and was restricted to a wheel-chair. I was shocked to hear how this guy that looked like he weighed roughly 200 pounds and was working out had been the guy he described two years prior to our meeting. His doctor told him to prepare mentally for the time that they will have to amputate his legs. He "freaked out" and sought alternative methods from a Chinese herbalist. He started taking cinnamon; yes, the common spice cinnamon. A few months later, his doctor asked him where he was getting treatment and laughed when he told the doctor that he had been taking cinnamon. He ground up cinnamon bark and put it in hot water like a tea. The doctor said that his diabetes was in remission. Over the next two years he continued taking the cinnamon, lost 250 pounds, stopped taking the five diabetes medications from the doctor, left the wheel-chair behind and joined the health club. My wife and I started taking cinnamon. It was late fall, we had found a wonderful creamy ice cream from QFC (Reserve) and had a large bowl each night through the winter (roughly three months). We each, lost 20 pounds by the beginning of the spring and can only account the cinnamon for the weight loss. We stopped the ice cream and continued to lose weight through the summer. We take 8 grams (4-1,000 mg capsules in the morning and four at night)a day and feel great. Try it. Another cure is for cancer. Yes, cancer! Go to youtube and type in "World Without Cancer" and see G. Edward Griffin's six part documentary. You will learn about laetrile, from apricot seeds, that has been a widely used cure for cancer until the late 1960's when the AMA and the FDA conspired to disallow doctors to use it; only for greed. A researcher friend of mine who wanted to publish their study in the AMA was told by his boss that the then president of the AMA told him that "There is a lot of money to be made for finding a cure for cancer but, no money made for having a cure for cancer." God will get him and all the others that prevented the common cure typically used (1940 - 1960) for cancer. Read "Alive and Well", I forget the author (a medical doctor). Best regards, Marvin

By Marvin Hullinger on January 18, 2012


Wow! you can cook for me anytime! Some of my happiest moments have been creating something in the kitchen! Paula has inspired me on may occasions and trying out something new is always fun! and when it sometimes flops, pizza delivery is on speed dial LOL... Would love to swap stories and creative ideas drop me a note when you can!

By Doug on July 07, 2011


Great advise even for people feeding a family. I will definitely be trying the quiche. Good luck with your other recipes can't wait to see what is next.

By danielle cook on May 28, 2011


I have found that making tiny little Quiches in the small #4 baking cups will make you the hit at work with a breakfast snake. No fuss no muss, without using large chunks of vegetables and no crust just bake as you would a small cup cake. Use you imagination ask around work and find out what the people like. Also try this without salt, after a month of cooking you don't really need it anymore use herbs instead.I have been using the mini cup cakes pans for sometime now to create a richer food product without stuffing yourself. After a Kidney Transplant I still craved the good food that I had been used to cooking, just without salt and smaller portions, have fun and watch the eyes.

By Mickey Gilbertson on May 28, 2011


Thank you everyone for you wonderful feedback! I love your ideas...can't wait to share more with you!

By Jonathan Able on May 09, 2011


I really like this post! I have created my weekly grocery list from this blog post. I am really looking forward to more tips and recipes. Keep them coming. This will definitely be one of my "regular" internet surfing stops.

By Jennifer on May 08, 2011


My daughter left for college in August and I had a crash course in cooking for one. Before August, it would me us and one of her close friends for dinner 3-4 nights a week. Cooking for one is a challenge but I still buy family packs of meat and break them down into servings for one so that I have plenty in the freezer and still saved a bunch of change. If you have the space, this is a great option. I keep about 30 days worth of meat in my freezer, along with frozen vegetables, and a few dinners (for those nights I have too much to do and no ideas of what to eat). Can't wait to see more of what you have discovered about the kitchen.

By Diane on May 07, 2011


Love your blog, you're right cooking for one can be challenging, especially when most recipes feed at least four people. However, I'm looking forward to getting creative in the kitchen and becoming a better cook, learning new techniques and skills. smile

By Johanna on May 06, 2011


Biggest thing for me cooking for myself - is sauces - lemon, orange, jack daniels dipping, stoganoff, pasta, pesto, cheese, whatever...i take a day to make all my sauces. put them in small containers and freeze. they work with chicken, pork, beef, pasta, veggies but give a huge variety of menu options

By susan on May 06, 2011


After cooking for a family for 25 plus years it is very hard to transition to cooking for one. So many times it is canned soup and cereal for dinner.Or When I do cook I Make make so much I wind up with a freezer full of leftovers. Thanks for this page.

By gloria on May 06, 2011


I just tuned in to the PaulaDeen.com blogs and really enjoy them! Although I'm about as far away from Jonathan's life style as you can get (grandma, 3 kids, 2 grandkids) I thought his blog was very "homey", with a lot of good tips. And, as we all know, grocery store rotisserie chicken is our best friend! I'm definitely going to read all the Paula Deen blogs again!

By Betty Yarnell on May 06, 2011


Like your article on cooking for. Any advice on making recipes more friendly for diabetics?

By Carol on May 06, 2011


Another thing that helps make smaller meals is instead of using your 6 qt or 5-4-even 3 qt Slow cookers---go buy a 2 qt and make smaller meals. Just the right size for one person, cornish hens, noodles, chicken broth and a onion with salt/ pepper and cook it all day===SOUP is good for 1. Also for chili or goulish--just use 1/2 lb. of hamburger, noodles, 1 small can of tomatoe's and onion along with spices. Just the right amount for one in this Small tiny slow cooker...LOVE the small one, save the big one for parties.

By Sherry Fouts on May 06, 2011


I loved the post. I dont cook for 1 but I do cook for 2 people and I to find myself making pastas and rice meals. Thanks for the recipe! looks great!

By Angie--Bigbearswife.com on May 06, 2011


I make large pots of soups like split pea or hamburger vegetable soups and then put them in one portion bags and freeze them. How more American then soup and sandwich can you get.

By Jacque Bowes on May 06, 2011


This looks really good will have to try it.

By Anonymous on May 06, 2011


As a newly single woman, this advice is priceless. After 25 years of cooking for a family, and loving every minute of it, I find it hard to get motivated to cook for just me. When I first moved into my new duplex, I would cook like I always did, and ended up giving it to my neighbor, or bringing it to work. But I can't afford feeding the world any more. I love to cook, and I love to cook fresh and healthy, but I've gained a lot of weight since being on my own, and it's because I have quit cooking what I know is good for me. I've been living on soups, stews, spaghetti and take out. You have motivated me to try harder! Thank you for the tips.

By Dinah Moore on May 06, 2011


I love the idea of receipes for one person. I usually cook then eat the same thing for a week. Keep more receipes comming!!

By patricia on May 06, 2011


Like your blog!..keep posting the pics~love to see what you are making..found you thru Paula Deen...( :

By Judy Flynn on May 06, 2011


I lost my Mom just this past week. :o( She used to do all the cooking. Every now and then and I mean eeeveryy now and then I cooked. So I took it easy on learning how to cook for one. Now is do or starve (yes being dramatic). So thanks for sharing. I really hope to read and learn more. I don't own any Paula Deen's cooking things, but I am a huge fan of her (pumpkin gooey cake is one of my favorite dessert ever) and sure do have a stove that works it's magic. So thanks for sharing

By Dalice on May 06, 2011

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Paula, I love watching you and your family. I miss seeing your show, I watched you everyday. My son lives in Charleston S.C. He took me to the Lady & Sons to eat. Oh my goodness! People are always telling me that I look just like the cooking lady Paula Deen. I always tell them that you are my hero. May God Bless You Mary Ann
Mary Ann Tharp in A Summer of Burgers on August 15, 2014 at 10:48 pm

Add a few spoonfuls of parmesan cheese to the flour and cornmeal breading and it kicks the tomatoes up another notch. Bev
in Crispy Fried Green Tomatoes on August 15, 2014 at 10:33 am

I just bought Paula's Peach Salad Dressing and wondered if anyone has a good recipe that they use it in?
Melissa in Taste Testing 101 on August 13, 2014 at 8:36 am

Congrats Bobby. Loved the family picture miss you Paula on TV will be watching online. Jack is getting big. Looks like his mom but Matt aka moose has your face. Your eyes cheeks hair even falls to his face like yours except to the left. Good luck on your next venture. You give us other 60+ yr women strength to move on. Keep up the good work.
Carol Bryant in Love at Last on August 11, 2014 at 6:12 pm