Worknight Dinner for One: Baked Chicken with Spinach, Roasted Peppers and Melted Mozzarella

by Maris Callahan on February 27, 2012

You might think that one would be the loneliest number for anyone who lives alone, but if you’ve ever baked cookies in your bathrobe or eaten dinner standing up in the kitchen with no pants on, you’ll agree with last week’s New York Times article about the freedom and perils of living alone.  Song writer Harry Nilsson might have coined the idea in 1967 but for many, living alone is not quite as lonely as one might guess.

The recent article said that today, 1 in ever 4 American homes is occupied by someone living alone. In Manhattan, sky-high rent be damned, the number is nearly 1 in 2. From a person who lives alone, I can say that I wholeheartedly agree with almost every point made in this article. Living alone encourages you to do things you wouldn’t normally do if you lived with someone else (Bra on the kitchen table? Been there). That’s not to say that everyone who lives alone is a freaky nudist slob, but when there is nobody there to judge you for eating peanut butter straight from the jar, sometimes that seems like the right thing to do.

I had my own bedroom growing up so having a roommate in college took some adjustment, but eventually I became used to changing behind my closet door and sharing kitchen space. I lived with roommates for about a year after college and then moved to my own place, so it’s been awhile since I’ve had to worry about playing my music too loud or whether it’s my turn to clean the bathroom (it always is). Though some people transition immediately from living with roommates to living with a significant other or spouse, I can’t imagine not having experienced living by myself. I rarely get lonely and if I do, I lure friends over with the promise of s’mores cookies or make plans to go out where I’ll be around so many people that I can’t wait to get home to the quiet and solitude.

The one item that this article didn’t address is that when you live alone, cooking for yourself, is, well, kind of a pain in the ass. I love to cook and try new recipes, so I am probably the exception to the “why should I cook when I am only cooking for myself” rule. Yet, I too find myself freezing dishes that are never eaten and tossing out three-day old chicken that just didn’t keep as well in its Tupperware home  as I’d thought.

Hence, sometimes having simple recipes to keep us from falling into the Lean Cuisine trap is critical for real estate singletons. Baked chicken or fish is a convenient, healthy option, but let’s all be honest with ourselves and admit that can get a little boring. I hold firm to the fact that anyone can toss a piece of chicken in the oven, but if you want to look forward to that piece of chicken after a long day at work, top it with some spinach, roasted red pepper strips and mozzarella cheese and you’ll forget that you ever thought of calling for pizza.

Baked Chicken with Spinach, Roasted Peppers and Melted Mozzarella

Serves 6
Inspired by Skinny Taste

1 4-6 ounce chicken breast, pounded thin (use a meat mallet or the bottom of a wine bottle)
1/4 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 cup thawed and drained frozen spinach
1 roasted red pepper (from a jar), sliced into thin strips
1/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

How-To:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and treat a glass baking dish with cooking spray. Heat a sauté pan over medium heat and add olive oil and garlic. Sauté for a 2-3 minutes on each side until chicken is golden brown. Remove from heat and place into prepared baking pan.

Top chicken with spinach, roasted red pepper slices and mozzarella cheese. Bake until chicken is cooked through and cheese has melted, about 8-10 minutes.

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Tara @ Chip Chip Hooray February 27, 2012 at 9:53 am

Can we talk about the fact that you’ve honestly just solved my “What the heck am I going to make for dinner tonight for me, myself, and I?” freakout??

Thanks. :)

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Kitchen Belleicious February 27, 2012 at 1:25 pm

Hey- I might have to cook for 3 but this is so going on my dinner to do list this week. It looks utterly amazing and delicious!

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natalie (the sweets life) February 27, 2012 at 2:37 pm

love all of the flavors in this! great recipe!

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Meg@thelegaltart February 27, 2012 at 3:25 pm

I actually enjoy cooking for one because I can cook what I want! This looks really tasty

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Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. February 27, 2012 at 5:04 pm

this look so good! Hope you’re well!!

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katelin February 27, 2012 at 5:38 pm

oh love this. looks so yummy!

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thatShortChick February 27, 2012 at 7:10 pm

this sounds delicious! I’m becoming quite a fan of skinny taste – I just had my first skinny taste meal yesterday when I had her version of shrimp creole. so good.

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Marsha @ The Harried Cook February 27, 2012 at 8:38 pm

Oh Maris that looks so yummy! It has all our favorite things – I love spinach and my husband adores peppers… And that cheese doesn’t hurt things one bit! Love it!

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Erin @ The Speckled Palate February 27, 2012 at 9:52 pm

When I lived by myself after college in small-town-Mississippi, I had a hard time cooking just for myself and hence, would have days upon days of leftovers every time I cooked.

This recipe sounds absolutely perfect for when you’re cooking alone, and I wish I had seen it back in the day. It would have helped me out a LOT!

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Colleen February 27, 2012 at 11:01 pm

oh my God I think we’re soulmates lol. Thank you for this recipe!! Looks AMAZING.

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Nami | Just One Cookbook February 28, 2012 at 12:31 am

When I was single I was cooking just for myself…and I’m kind of glad that I did so that I didn’t lose my cooking skills during that time. Plus it was easier for me to eat what I want to eat rather than going to eat out after work. Now I have to make for 4 people but I still use easy-cooking recipes for week night. =P

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Joanne February 28, 2012 at 6:27 am

You definitely learn to love leftovers if you live alone, that’s for sure. I love how easy this recipe is to throw together and also make in single serving sizes!

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lisa {smart food and fit} February 28, 2012 at 11:25 am

I have some chicken thawing, think I’ll try this! Have a good one!

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Jen at The Three Little Piglets February 28, 2012 at 2:46 pm

With three children, there are times I dream of being absolutely alone in my home! Nobody making noise, nobody needing anything, and nobody to clean up after! Ahh… that would be so nice!

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Kelly February 28, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Have you ever read Alone with an Eggplant? Fantastic book on this exact subject.

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Melissa@IWasBornToCook February 29, 2012 at 7:52 pm

RIght across the high rent city, in the smaller high rent city known as Hoboken, I lived alone for 5 years. Loved it. But hardly ever cooked – I was always out having too much fun :) These days, my cooking for one nights consist of ingredients my sometimes picky husband won’t eat :) This dish would be one of those, since he won’t eat peppers!

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Bee (Quarter Life Crisis Cuisine) March 1, 2012 at 11:48 am

I’ll be living with a roommate soon, but I’ll still be cooking for one most of the time. I’m going to keep this recipe handy for sure :)

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Greg March 5, 2012 at 9:11 pm

Simple and really delicious looking!

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