Cooking for Two in an Empty Nest Kitchen

Mary Dell writes: One of my roles as a mom has been that of chief hunter and gatherer for our family meals. To say I am bored with every single chicken dish that I have placed on the kitchen table over the last two decades is an enormous understatement. With our youngest child a senior in high school, the end is in sight for family dinners as I have known them but a new challenge looms – cooking for two.

Fortunately, Lisa and I had a serendipitous introduction to Katie Workman, author of The Mom 100 Cookbook, when we were all on a terrifying flight  from Chicago back home this summer. Our shared adversity fostered a friendship and, by the time we finally arrived (safely) in New York, we had learned that Katie is not only an amazing writer and cook, but also someone with a steady sense of humor, regardless of the circumstances.  She offered this advice for retooling our empty nest kitchens:  katie workman   chili-636

Dialing the quantities of recipes up or down sometimes feels daunting, but many recipes are highly flexible, and the freezer can become your best friend. Even if you make half of a recipe of turkey chili (a very easily recipe to scale down) you may have more than you need.  Just freeze extra in pint size containers for easy defrosting, and pull them out as you need them. Not only are you not worrying about how to consume the whole pot, but you’ve got another dinner ready to go. Apple Cider Beef Stew is another great candidate, as are most soups and stews, and casseroles (just divide them into two smaller pans and freeze one).

Roasted-Butternut-Squash-63

Also, think of how leftovers can be used in other meals a couple of days later. Extra Citrus Basil Shrimp Kebabs are a wonderful way to turn a green salad into a real lunch, cooked sausages get crumbled into a pasta, leftover Lemon Garlic Roasted Turkey Breast becomes Turkey Posole Soup.  Making cookies, but don’t want an extra dozen lingering around your kitchen? Freeze half the dough in rolled balls, then transfer them to a zipper top bag with all of the air pressed out, store them in the freezer and defrost and bake them as needed. And don’t forget – your neighbors will always appreciate a little care package!

StruesselApplePie-636 To that we would add, your college kid might actually venture to his post office box if he knows homemade treats awaits for him and his roommates. The cookies that Katie suggests seem perfect!  

Katie Workman is the author of The Mom 100 Cookbook  and the creator of themom100.com blog.  She is also the founding Editor in Chief of Cookstr.com, “the website that shares tested, trusted recipes from cookbooks created by respected chefs and cookbook authors.”

Photo credit: Todd Coleman

Katie Workman and the Empty Nest Kitchen

Work-Life Balance

1000775_380367418730011_511140256_n

Stay-at-Home Mom With Rebuttals and Regrets

Lisa writes: After pondering for 17 years my decision to be a stay-at-home mom, I put my thoughts on paper.  At no point did it occur to me that I would not work outside our home or that one decade or even nearly two would pass before I returned to the workplace.  But days turned […]

returning to work

Returning to Work After a Career Break: The GOOD News

Carol Fishman Cohen, Co-founder, iRelaunch writes: Regardless of her intent, Judith Warner’s NYT Magazine article “The Mid Career Time Out (Is Over)” is causing readers to conclude that taking a career break leads inevitably to divorce, misery and lower pay.  Not only is this conclusion negative and demoralizing, but it’s not true. Taking a career break […]

More Posts from this Category

College Checklist

calm before the storm

Calm Before the Storm, Hurricane Sandy

Dear Son, While I trust you will be absolutely fine in your college dorm room these next few days with Hurricane Sandy heading toward shore, I cannot help but worry. You may be 22 years old but my instinct to protect you and your sister will remain undiminished throughout my life. Today it is the […]

College freshman

Go Ahead, Call Your College Freshman

Mary Dell writes: Whew, congratulations, we survived month one! Since that memorable hug goodbye, we have spent the last few weeks trying to adjust to the absence of our college freshman. We miss them like crazy, long for their phone calls and are thrilled when they text! We follow the rules about not hovering and […]

More Posts from this Category

Parenting and Sports

US Men's Soccer Team

The 30-Second Guide to The World Cup

Lisa writes: In English they call it “The Beautiful Game,” in Portuguese “La Joga Bonito” and, for the rest of the world, it is simply known as “Football.” This week in Brazil, the quadrennial global madness known as The World Cup, begins again. It is a sporting event so large that it is estimated that […]

GF-sports-image-5-1024x679

Saying Goodbye to the Sideline

Lisa writes: It is the beginning of the end.  As the cool autumn air descends, Mary Dell and I stand on the sideline for one final season, watching our seniors take to the fields with their respective high school soccer teams. We are breathing in memories from the days when their little legs were so […]

More Posts from this Category

Parenting and Social Media

Lisa Endlich Heffernan, two identities

Maiden Name or Married Name: A Tale of Two Identities

Lisa writes: At one time a woman got married, shed her former name, and assumed a new identity.  Now a married woman may choose to part with her maiden name, but she may not wish to shed her online identity which includes her professional accomplishments and public recognition. Enter internet search and social media.  Changing […]

Grown and Flown, Mary Dell Harrington, Dell Venue

Grown and Flown Talks Technology, Sex and Sexting

Dell Inc. traveled from Texas to Manhattan and created a pop-up workspace and showroom for their laptops and new Dell Venue tablets. They hosted “She Does it With Dell” and invited Grown and Flown to speak to an audience of  parenting bloggers, journalists, and moms. Skai Blue Media managed the event which also featured Stephanie Humphrey […]

More Posts from this Category

Empty Nest

Pet-Therapy-dog-1024x768

During Pet Therapy, My Dog Does the Talking

Mary Dell writes: I come from a long line of talkers, gregarious Texans who delight in telling tales and learning the back stories from strangers. My upbringing served me well while I worked in media, marketing NBC shows like the Smurfs or Saturday Night Live as story-telling opportunities. Yet now, as a pet therapy volunteer, […]

weekendreading1

Weekend Reading with Grown and Flown in Mind

This past week, Grown and Flown was thrilled to be featured in some of the blogs we love the most.  If you are looking for some new weekend reading, you might want to take a peek at these: Scary Mommy  The funniest, most irreverent look at parenthood on the web, or maybe anywhere else. Our […]

More Posts from this Category

Comments

  1. says

    Fun piece Mary Dell! But of course you also finally get to eat what the little whipper snapper didn’t like! My son was always terrified of fish with any bones so we have enjoyed fresh trout that you can get around here since he has been gone! He also had an aversion to dishes prepared in the slow cooker (that’s me spoiling him probably…) so pot roast has made a huge comeback! Will try some of your dishes! Thanks!

  2. says

    Great suggestions. A year after the youngest moved out I am still buying too much,. cooking too much and throwing out too much. Hard to re-calibrate after almost three decades of cooking for more than two.

    • says

      Mary, I am having the same problems with calibrating down (and then up when our table again includes 4.) Shouldn’t be that hard!

  3. happy outlook says

    Just ordered the Mom 100 Cookbook. Can’t wait to try some delicious new recipes!

  4. Lisa says

    Thank you for the recipes. We are having more leftovers for lunch. Today we had leftover salmon poached in soy sauce, sesame oil, green onions with white rice, greens beans and beets. I agree, we are getting to eat all the things that my daughter did not like. I will try the beef stew tonight. Looks yummy.

  5. says

    What great ideas, Mary! The freezer is our best friend – what a truism. I’ve been surprised at how many foods freeze – like some of my favorite morning muffins. I love these ideas and have already signed up to follow her blog. Thanks.

    • says

      Barbara, the mom100 blog is delightful and full of so many of Katie’s recipes. Bet you will enjoy it as I have, too.

  6. Carpool Goddess says

    I hardly even know where the kitchen is since my kids left. A few home cooked meals might be a nice change :)

Trackbacks

  1. Cooking for Two in an Empty Nest Kitchen | Blop... says:

    […] Mary Dell writes: One of my roles as a mom has been that of chief hunter and gatherer for our family meals.  […]

  2. […] with a Pinterest page, discussions on College Confidential and home remodeling sites, and even cooking lessons.  Indeed a recent survey of empty-nest baby boomers found that more than 90 percent were happy to […]