The food company I work for, previously known for cheese balls, dips and beer bread mix, has lately turned its focus to meal solutions – that is, answering the age-old question, “What’s for dinner?” Our meal collections include products and recipes to provide wholesome, homemade fare for a family of four.
It’s a great idea, but not a perfect fit for middle-aged spinster cat ladies. For me, the answer to, “What’s for dinner?” is likely to be, “Toast.” (Or cereal. Or ice cream. Or all three, if it’s a holiday.) It’s not so much that I don’t appreciate good, wholesome food (though in fact I don’t); the bigger issue is quantity. Recipes simply aren’t designed for solo eaters. My very sensible mother, who spares me the pain of having to deal with this problem by cooking for both of us, has suggested that I simply cut down the measurements on recipes. However, this requires a facility with basic mathematics (Fractions! Division!) that I only marginally possess, and frankly can’t be bothered to bone up on.
It does help that I’m not one who craves variety in my diet; I’m happy to eat the same leftovers for every meal as long as the supply lasts. A few years ago I made a fettucine alfredo with heavy cream and butter. The recipe produced an enormous quantity of noodles and sauce, and I subsisted on this for many days. By the end of the week the cream had curdled and the butter separated out into a greasy puddle under the noodles; I was guaranteed a raging bout of dysentery 20 minutes after every meal. But I finished the whole thing, by God.
In a misguided effort to compete with the bright, young whiz kids who sail up the corporate ladder past mid-careerers like myself, I suggested to a company exec that, instead of jettisoning our old trade in cheese balls, brownie mixes and pound cake, we might repurpose them. I envisioned a whole new line catering to a very special niche market: people like me. Instead of kits containing products and recipes for entrees and sides, these collections would cater to the unique needs of past-our-prime singletons with feline companions, to wit, sweet, fatty and carb-intensive comfort foods. I even pitched a name for the campaign: LonelyTime: Cheese Balls for One. Each collection would come with a cheese ball mix, chips and dip, brownies and a can of tuna for Fluffy. Shockingly, my proposal was met with … blank looks. Hrumph. Just wait until I form my OWN company and become a bajillionaire. In the meantime, it seems I won’t be celebrating that hoped-for promotion to Vice President of Specialized Marketing.
Until I get my enterprise off the ground, I’ll go on making too much food and filling little plastic containers of leftovers. I’ve already got a freezer full of ‘em. At least when the Zombie Apocalypse comes, I’ll be well stocked with provisions – at least until the electricity cuts out. I wonder if Walkers like cheese balls?
Too-Much-for-One Cream Cheese Spaghetti Casserole
Adapted from this recipe
1 lb. spaghetti
1 Tbsp. Tastefully Simple Roasted Garlic Infused Oil
1 lb. ground beef
2 Tbsp. Tastefully Simple Onion OnionTM Seasoning
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp. Tastefully Simple Mama Mia Marinara Sauce Mix
1 packet Tastefully Simple Roasted Garlic & Herb Cheese Ball Mix
1/2 cup whipped cream cheese
½ cup sour cream
1 cup shredded Mozzarella or cheese of your choice
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly grease or spray a 9 x 13 or equivalent baking dish.
- Cook pasta according to package instructions; drain.
- Heat Roasted Garlic Infused Oil and Onion Onion Seasoning in a large skillet on medium-high heat.
- Add ground beef and brown, crumbling the meat as it cooks. Drain when browned.
- To the beef in the skillet add the diced tomatoes and Mama Mia Marinara Sauce Mix. Simmer.
- In a small bowl, whisk together cream cheese, sour cream and Roasted Garlic & Herb Cheese Ball Mix
- Layer as follows in the baking dish: cooked pasta, cream cheese mixture, beef mixture. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top.
- Bake until bubbly and heated through.