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March 20, 2014


...Sort of.


Trying to save money, I went to the grocery store the other night to buy food and try this whole “cooking at home” thing. I usually spend 60% of my paycheck on food, while the other 40% is spent on alcohol and a subscription.


While perusing the aisles at the Path Mark in Weehawken, New Jersey, I was completely overwhelmed. Being a novice in the kitchen and only knowing how to cook a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I was very uncertain of a meal I could make that would not only be easy, but taste good as well.


After buying 4 boxes of Lean Pockets just as backup meals, I wandered down the aisle housing all of the different types of pasta. Now, a few weeks ago I made a pretty mean baked ziti, which actually turned out pretty decent. But, after eating nothing but left over baked ziti and cheezits for 18 days, I was desperate for a change.

Keeping with the pasta theme (since it’s the easiest thing in the world to cook) I quickly looked on my phone for some great pasta dishes I could actually execute without having to chop garlic or pulsate basil leaves to make pesto.I ultimately decided on three cheese tortellini.


It has been years (okay, a few months) since I have had cheese tortellini, and the directions on the package made it seem so simple. So, with a jar of sauce, some premade grilled chicken, and a frozen bag of broccoli, I was all set to prepare a fantastic meal.


A fantastic meal for one.


Once home, I turned on my 90’s Playlist and unpacked my groceries while preheating the oven and pouring myself a glass of red wine. I boiled a pot of water and threw in two packages (yes, two) of cheese tortellini with a dash (1/2 cup) of salt. While the pasta was cooking, I emptied the jar of sun-dried tomato cream sauce into a medium-sized pot and let it simmer.


THEN, I sautéed the broccoli and chicken in a skillet with a dash (1/2 cup) of olive oil. Now, if you are good at math like I am, that is three different things going at the same time. I KNOW. I’m extremely impressed with myself, too. And if you think that is crazy, get this – I also had two pieces of Garlic Cheese Texas Toast heating up in the oven. As a person who can’t walk and chew gum at the same time, this culinary experience was quite the accomplishment…


…Until the smoke alarms went off, but let’s not get into that. You can read more about that story on my other blog, James’ Catching Fire! (See what I did there? You’re welcome.)


After the pasta was thoroughly cooked (only took 5 minutes!) I drained the tortellini and threw it into an oversized popcorn bowl. I then poured the bubbling sauce over the pasta and topped it off with the chunks of grilled chicken and broccoli heads (I throw out the stems because there is no nutrition there).


Once plated, I took out the Texas Toast from the oven, topped off my wine glass, and sat down to fully enjoy this meal I had prepared for myself.




After what seemed like 5 minutes (in reality, 3) I was completely finished with my plate and tempted to go back for seconds. I soon stopped myself from eating directly from the bowl and portioned it out into 2 Tupperware containers to take to work for lunch.


Delicious AND cost-effective.


Being very proud of myself in making dinner, I decided to go the extra mile and make a dessert instead of walking to the Burger King and getting two ice cream cones.


For dessert, I unraveled one of those Pillsbury Crescent Roll tins (yeah, the ones when you peel off the paper and it pops open like a Jack in the Box almost making you have a heart attack). I rolled out the dough and spooned raspberry preserves and goat cheese horizontally along one side. Then, I rolled it up into a log shape, made it into a “U” and placed it on a baking sheet and put it in the oven.

I baked it on 350 for 15 minutes, and when it came out, the dough was golden brown and the cheese and preserves were oozing out. (Not sure if that’s supposed to happen or not, but whatever).


It’s a fantastic dessert to make because it seems healthy and good for you. And it’s an excuse to eat cheese at 10pm.


All in all, I think I found a passion for cooking myself dinner. Was it the most complicated of meals? No. Was it the most amazing thing I’ve ever eaten? Again, no. But I now understand why people love cooking so much. It’s pretty incredible to take a bunch of ingredients (sure, half of them were already cooked and prepared from the grocery store) and combine them to make a meal. It is a very satisfying feeling to know that you accomplished something.


What is your favorite thing to cook at home? Tell me in the comments or email me @ hungerjames117@gmail.comAnd who knows, maybe I will try making your favorite dish.


But, probably not.




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