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Published: Tuesday, 5/27/2003

Preparing meals for one can be easy and tasty

Whether you are a senior citizen or a twentysomething living alone, cooking for one person can be a challenge.

Last Tuesday during Senior Citizens Day at the Lucas County Recreation Center, I shared ideas on how to cook for one by planning ahead and buying fresh and convenience ingredients. In some cases, it's make one, freeze two.

Cooking a small roast or turkey breast yields several meals as well as sandwich and salad makings. Plus, leftovers can be frozen. With a few convenience ingredients, new dishes can be created.

For example, refrigerated pie crust, leftover pieces of turkey or beef roast, and vegetables can be parlayed into pot pies - one to be eaten the day it is made, the others to be frozen for later.

One pie crust when cut in half yields two pot pies. Before handling, let the crust warm to room temperature, according to directions. Then cut the crust in half.

Cut beef roast or turkey into bite-size pieces. Peel and cut one or two potatoes and boil until tender but not mushy. Don't overcook. If you made gravy for the roast, reheat any leftovers in the microwave; if not, use 1/2 cup jarred gravy. Combine drained potatoes, beef roast or turkey, gravy, and a few slices of carrot and/or frozen peas.

(If you want to make it low-fat, omit the gravy and moisten with a little fat-free broth. If low-salt is needed, omit salt and add fresh herbs for flavor and make your own pie crust without salt.)

Divide the mixture between the two halves of pie crust, placing each half to one side of the fold. Then fold the dough over so that the top and bottom edges meet. Seal the edges with fork tines and bake at 425 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes until pastry is done. Serve with fresh green beans.

Place the other pie in a sealable freezer bag and freeze. On the day you wish to use it, defrost it in the refrigerator for several hours and then bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes, possibly slightly longer because it was frozen.

You can also make a dessert version. Few folks make a pie for one or two people. But you can make pastry tarts using refrigerated dough. Use the same concept as for the pot pies.

Place 1/3 cup fresh fruit or canned pie filling on each half of pie crust and fold over, sealing with tines of fork. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes until golden. Slice each baked pastry into wedges for two servings.

Sliced turkey makes a delicious Hot Brown Sandwich, which is a meal in itself. Named for the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Ky., in 1920, the sandwich can be made with toast or English muffins. For one or two servings, top each muffin half with tomato slices, crisp bacon, and sliced turkey. Pre-cooked bacon is convenient.

The traditional open-face Hot Brown was made topped with a Sauce Mornay, a cheese sauce. Make a basic white sauce and add shredded cheese; or for a quick version use 1/3 cup of canned cheddar cheese soup heated with a little low-fat milk. Serve with steamed asparagus, and you've got yourself a meal!

As for salad, turkey salad or chicken salad are classics. Add grapes, mandarin oranges, or pineapple tidbits for fruity flavor. For crunch, think about cashews, pecans, or almonds. Serve with a crusty roll.



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