On this Good Friday, I give you a completely inappropriate recipe. Forgive me — I’m sure you could substitute tofu for the chicken. Or just wait until Lent is over to make it. I discovered this yesterday when casting about in my fridge for dinner after a long afternoon of Coppélia rehearsals. My stipulations: It had to be healthy, quick, and economical (using ingredients I already had).
College Cooking: Stuff in a Skillet
I used: green beans, red bell pepper, frozen chicken (diced and pre-cooked… because I’m a culinary cheat), and mashed potatoes (from a box… because I’m a college student). Also, salt and pepper.
- Boil water in the skillet. Put green beans in the boiling water for about 7 minutes, or until they look pretty and have the desired crunch level. Drain and set beans aside.
- Cook — or in my case, heat — the chicken in the skillet. Set aside.
- Start mashed potatoes. Follow directions on the box. Otherwise, simmer potatoes in a pot for 20 min, drain, and mash together with a bit of milk, butter, pepper, and salt.
- Sauté chopped pepper. Add chicken and green beans back to the skillet to warm everything evenly. Got to make sure we’re all on the same page.
- Add stuff to make it taste good: butter, salt/pepper, a dash of curry powder, or garlic (would add this one earlier when sautéing pepper) are all options… When I was little I liked to put a healthy sprinkling of paprika on my mashed potatoes, but that was less about the taste and more about the fact that they turned orange.
This recipe is particularly vague and rather unhelpful… the perfect addition to my motley College Cooking series!
My College Cooking series is back! If only for a brief time.
I had all the ingredients for a wonderful lentil soup — with some random things left over. I dunked the leftovers in a pot and made a simple leek soup that turned out to be surprisingly delicious.
Simple Leek Soup
- Heat 3 cups veggie or chicken stock in a pot on the stove.
- Chop some carrots and celery. (I used half a stalk of celery and 2 carrots, though I’d add another carrot next time.) Dump in pot.
- Wash your leek well! Chop it up. Dump in pot. My leek was fairly large so I only used one, but you could add another for good measure.
- Add 1 cup pre-cooked rice to the pot OR add 1 cup un-cooked instant rice to the pot and cover.
- The contents of the pot should be boiling by now… Add some parsley, basil, and rosemary, ect… I used a pinch of “Italian spice blend” in addition to the parsley.
- Let it go for as long as you like. The rice will soak up the liquid, so add a squirt of water from the faucet into your bowl just before serving to make it soupier if desired.
You could change types of stocks, add more veggies, change rice quantities, change the spices… If you wanted to be traditional, I suppose you might add potato. All my recipes sort of sound the same, I realize. Also, you might have noticed that I eat a lot of soup. Oh well.
Thanksgiving Break had begun! And Thursday night I found a bunch of perishable items in the refrigerator that needed to be eaten. How does one get rid of onion, carrots, celery, and pasta? One makes soup!
This is the first soup I’ve ever completely winged, and I messed up a fair number of soups last autumn so I was a bit wary. My schoolteacher roommate makes soup all the time and brings delicious smells into the apartment, so I was inspired to try once again… and it worked! Hence this addition to the College Cooking series (which now has the grand total of two recipes — see the first here).
Leftover Vegetable Soup:
- Sauté some onion in olive oil (or butter if your apartment has run out of olive oil like mine). Add a few pinches of thyme or another herb of your choice.
- Heat about two or three cups of vegetable or chicken stock in a pot.
- Add chopped up carrots and celery or whatever vegetables you have leftover. Add the onion.
- Bring to a boil, then simmer for a while.
- While simmering, throw in some already-cooked pasta. I used angel hair pasta because that’s what I had. You could also do a cup of cooked rice. You could also add some canned chicken (or be fancy and cook it yourself) if you want meat in your soup.
- Add more spices — I chose to add a few large pinches of dried parsley, some onion powder, salt, and pepper.
- When the vegetables are soft, remove from heat. I let mine go a little longer because I was doing laundry, and the noodles just absorbed more liquid and it was delicious.
Remember a very long while ago I promised to post vague recipes for new chefs? Remember the disclaimer that much of this seems quite obvious and hardly merits a recipe? Remember my rebuttal that college students (like me) when cooking for themselves for the first time sometimes have more trouble thinking of quick, moderately healthy, moderately inexpensive meals to prepare than actually preparing them?
Yeah, this is one of those posts.
Stuff in Couscous
This recipe is vegetarian, though you can add meat to it if you like. Ingredients are in boldface. Quantities are up to you and left purposely vague because it really doesn’t matter — just put in what tastes good. Treat this as a template.
- Prepare some instant couscous. You can find this in a supermarket. With instant couscous, you usually boil some water, add the couscous, leave covered for five minutes, fluff and serve.
- Heat a skillet with some olive oil.
- Toss chopped-up ingredients into the skillet: mushrooms, bell peppers, carrots, garlic, whatever. When the veggies are tender, you will add these to the cooked couscous.
- OR boil veggies to add to the couscous. If you want things like green beans cut into small pieces or broccoli stalks, fill a skillet with water. Boil the water. Stick the veggies in the skillet and wait for them to turn bright green. Drain the water and add the veggies to the couscous.
- Serve the veggies and couscous together — you can add things like salt, pepper, parmesan cheese, or a bit of lemon juice.
- Clean up, or your roommates will be sad.
I served mine with milk and a veggie patty. Enjoy!
Let’s set the record straight. When I entered my first apartment in Butler’s Apartment Village last fall, I set the stove on fire. I’m not a horrible cook, but making meals when the fancy strikes remains a far different beast from the responsibility of feeding oneself every single meal. That said, I still did not want to take the commuter meal plan option, since my schedule didn’t allow for convenient meal times in Atherton Union. Also, this way ended up being cheaper.
So I learned a few quick and dirty recipes perfect for the college student chef.
In the next few posts scattered randomly throughout the semester, look for recipes like:
- Spaghetti and Meat Sauce
- Fried Rice
- Chocolate Banana Pancakes
- Curried tofu, spinach, and chickpeas
- Not Quite Ramen
- Tomato basil salad
- My friend’s Healthy S*** in a Pan
If you are an experienced cook, I guess some of these might seem obvious. For the new cook, half the trouble isn’t making the food — it’s trying to think of what to make. On that note, if anyone has some easy (quick, inexpensive, yummy) recipe suggestions, please chime in!
My sous chef stirs the chili (recipe courtesy of my Latvian Roommate).