As we make the transition from childhood to adulthood, there are many things we need to learn how to do if we want to live independently, including how to do taxes, laundry and bills. Perhaps one of the most important skills is cooking, since after all, we need to eat, and getting take-out from a restaurant every meal is not exactly the healthiest nor the most financially-smart decision. While some of you reading this may know how to cook already, others may have never used a stove before. Over the years through much experimenting, I’ve learned how to make some simple meals when home alone. Here are three of my favorites:
This protein-and-Vitamin A-rich meal will fill you up while still being relatively low in calories. Frozen salmon is found in most supermarkets. Thaw it in the refrigerator overnight. Decide if you want to make it on the stove or in the oven; the oven is easier but the stove allows you to make crispy-skin salmon. Regardless of what you choose, sprinkle seafood spice, garlic (can be garlic powder) and optionally breadcrumbs onto the fish for flavor.
If you choose the stove, put butter (or olive oil) in a pan, put the pan on the stove, then turn the stove on to medium-high. As the butter melts, tilt the pan around so the butter coats the entire surface. Then, put the salmon onto the pan skin-side down. It will begin to sizzle. Keep the fish there for 3-5 minutes or until the bottom becomes opaque pink, then use a flat spatula to flip the salmon. Keep it there for another 3-5 minutes or until the top becomes opaque pink. If you want crispy skin, flip it again and wait another minute. Take it off the stove and enjoy. For an optional side dish, wash and chop up some vegetables to make a salad.
If you choose the oven, put the spiced-and-breaded salmon into an oven-safe container. Preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit, then put the salmon in and set a timer for 15-17 minutes. Once the timer goes off, make sure the fish looks opaque pink with an internal temperature of 145° Fahrenheit. Let it cool off and enjoy.
This meal is simple and fast to make, with a lot of room for customization. Take jasmine rice and put as much as you’d like to eat into a small pot. Rinse it with water (in order to make sure rice doesn’t spill out while you are rinsing, hold your hand against the rice to hold it back), then fill the pot with water until it completely covers the rice with about an inch or so extra. Turn on the stove to low-medium heat and put the pot on. As the rice is cooking, take a can of black beans (you can use dry beans too, but that takes more work) and dump it into another pot. If you’re using canned beans, put the pot on the stove and let it heat up for 5-10 minutes. If you are using dry beans, fill the pot with water, then put it on the stove and cook the beans until they are soft.
After the water has completely evaporated, the rice is cooked. Put the rice into a bowl. Then, put the beans on top. Depending on what you like, you can add cheese, guacamole, salsa, sour cream, chicken or more.
“Gourmet” Grilled Cheese
A staple of childhood cuisine, grilled cheese can be enjoyed even as a teen or adult. Take two slices of bread and coat one side each with mayonnaise for extra flavor. Grab two or three slices of your favorite type of cheese and place it in between the two slices. If you’d like to make your sandwich more unique, you can add strips of bacon or drizzle on some mustard.
Turn on the stove to low-medium heat and put butter in a pan, making sure to tilt the pan as the butter melts in order to coat the entire surface. Place the sandwich mayonnaise-side down and let it sizzle until the bread is crispy and the cheese has mostly melted. Flip the sandwich with a spatula and wait until the other side is crispy as well. Put it on a plate, cut it the way you like and enjoy.