Mission Statement

Culinary Adventures in a College Kitchen

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Quick-and-Dirty Pasta Ponza

I learned in my advertising class that a message has to be repeated at least three times before a person will actually retain it. Armed with the new information, I'm going to try something. Alright, bloggies let's see if this works.

You must make this pasta dish.
You must make this pasta dish.
You MUST make this pasta dish!!

Any ideas what you should do now?

If you thought "hmm, perhaps I should make that wonderful, non-specific pasta dish", then you thought correct!

This is one of my favorite pasta dishes for a busy night. It's finished in about 15 minutes. It's loaded with carbs and cheese. It's quick and dirty. What's not to love?

Quick-and-Dirty Pasta Ponza


1 lb rigatoni
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1 cup marinara sauce
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese


Bring salted water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook according to the package's directions, usually 10-11 minutes until the pasta is finished. In a skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the breadcrumbs and cook until browned. Make sure to watch this step so that the breadcrumbs do not burn.

In a saucepan, heat up the marinara sauce.

Drain the pasta and add the heated marinara sauce and browned breadcrumbs. Toss to combine and add parmesan.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Lentils with White Wine and Tomatoes

Quizno's has taken over my life.

For one of my classes I am creating an entire advertising campaign for the company. This involves endless market research, target audience examination, and more Quizno's sandwiches than I can even count.

I swear by the end of this I'll have tried every item on the menu. Not sure how I feel about that. Either way, I have gained a new appreciation for home-cooked meals. Especially ones that only require one pot.

This dish is just about everything you want in a home-cooked meal. It's homey. It's warm and fragrant. The only thing I regret about making it is that I am now entirely out of wine. This must be remedied.

Lentils with White Wine and Tomatoes


2 tbsp olive oil
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
2 1/2 cups brown lentils
6 cups water
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 cup dry white wine
Freshly ground pepper


In a large soup pot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil and saute the onion and carrots until softened.

Add the lentils and coat with the oil. Add the water, tomatoes, wine, pepper, and zucchini and bring to a boil.

Simmer on low heat with the top ajar for roughly an hour, or until the liquid is absorbed.

Finish with another grind of pepper.

Serve with meat dish or on its own with a big green salad.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Today definitely started off right. Part of it may have to do with the fact that I slept past 9 which never happens. But really, I think I should owe it all to this delicious piece of food from breakfast heaven.

Yes, I finally made scones. Now it may not look like the type of fancy scones you get from Starbucks but I personally think these are just as good. So this morning I just slathered it with a little mixed berry jam from Aldi and microwaved it for about 20 seconds.

It's a good thing I shared these with my roommate because frankly, I could eat them all if I wanted to.

But--I won't. I'm trying to keep myself on my healthy food streak because my sorority is doing a fitness challenge. I'm not trying to lose any weight but simply tone up. And 8 scones isn't probably going to allow that to happen. Then again, does running 4 miles cancel two of them out at least??

Well, even though they are delicious I am going to have some restraint because I want to set a good example.

However, if you're feeling like diving into some scones then by all means :)

Oatmeal Scones
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 cup oats
1 large egg
10 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup skim milk (Though I substituted for Soy and it was fine)
1 tbsp Cinnamon
1/5 tbsp Nutmeg

Makes approximately 8 drop scones.
Bake at 375 for for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Couscous Stuffed Peppers

Like most good recipes, this one happened by mistake. I had planned on making Mama Pea's quinoa stuffed peppers. I had everything in the apartment already and after my night class, I hunkered down and set to making the peppers.

I think it was that night class that made me grab the couscous instead of the quinoa. Two and half hours of straight lecture will do that to you. General sleep deprivation will have you not realize you chose the wrong filling until several days after the leftovers are gone.

It's a wonder I'm not failing my classes.

Unlike some cooking mistakes (confusing baking powder for baking soda-BAD) this turned out really, really good. The dish was in no way compromised, and the filling ended up tasting like healthy spaghettios.

Let me say it again: healthy spaghettios.

So, they are basically spaghettio stuffed peppers. Oh my word.

Couscous Stuffed Peppers


1/2 cup couscous
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 bell peppers
parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the couscous according to the package's directions. I had the quick-cooking variety and I recommend that for a busier night. In a medium sized pot, combine the cooked couscous and tomato sauce.

Now, on to the peppers. Cut the top off of the pepper and deseed. Don't worry if you don't get every seed out. Fill each pepper with the couscous mixture and put on a baking sheet. Cover with tinfoil and bake for one hour.

Don't fret if you have a baking casualty. It happens.

Remove the tinfoil and broil until the cheese and pepper begin to brown.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Just a quick recipe for this lovely Tuesday. I actually have quite a large order of baking to complete today. My dormitory is holding a breakfast and I'm baking for it! Definitely looking forward to being able to force all my baking experiments on my entire dorm. *Insert evil laugh*

Nah, I promise to not make anything too risky. There will be lots of chocolate. And butter.

So, I leave you with one of my favorite cookie recipes. I've made these countless times and I always love them. Pop the leftovers in the freezer. Crazy good.

Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies


1/2 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
2/3 cup cocoa powder
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup white chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together the butter and the two sugars. Add the vanilla and then the eggs, one at a time. Add the cocoa powder, mixing until incorporated in. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the wet ingredients and mix with a spatula until incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips gently.

Using a tablespoon, scoop the dough onto a prepared cookie sheet. With dampened hands, press the dough down lightly. Bake for exactly 15 minutes. The cookies will appear underdone. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Farro Stir-fry with Snow Peas and Carrots

When it comes to weeknight dinners, I have a pretty standard philosophy. I like 'em fast and easy.

That's what she said.

Ha, corny joke. Anyhoo, terrible jokes aside, I really do like a recipe that comes together in 30 minutes or less. Basically because most of my classes go until seven, so when I get back I'm not too keen on an hour prep. And I have a short attention span.

Farro is one of those foods that I pretty much always have lurking in my refrigerator. Like brown rice, I can make a whole bunch at the start of the week and then use it in a variety of ways later on. Ultimate time saver, and it tastes pretty good. Below is one of the recipes I turn to often when I'm crunched for time but still want a good, wholesome dinner.

Farro Stir-fry with Snow Peas and Carrots


3/4 cup farro (or brown rice)
1 cup snow peas
1 cup chopped carrots
tamari/soy sauce


Combine the farro and two cups of water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook for roughly twenty minutes, until all the water is absorbed. The farro should be tender, but firm to the bite. Remove to a serving bowl.

In a separate saucepan, boil the carrots until tender. Remove carrots and boil the snow peas. Add the cooked vegetables to the farro. Pour soy sauce on top and mix.

What is your go-to weeknight meal?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Risotto Al Salto

Living alone, whenever I cook I am constantly plagued by leftovers. Yes, I generally enjoy what I make but even the greatest dish can become boring the third or fourth day you eat it. That's why I always get excited when I find recipes that suggest how to use leftovers.

I made this risotto al salto recipe last week and I think I like it even better than the original risotto. Go make risotto and then try out this recipe. You won't be disappointed.

Risotto Al Salto

2 cups risotto
1 tbsp butter
1/4 cup parmesan cheese


In a bowl, mix together the risotto and the cheese. In a skillet, melt the butter and then add the risotto, pressing it into a disc. Cover and cook for five minutes. Remove cover and cook for another minute to two minutes, until the bottom is browned. Serve wedged with a salad or soup.

Also...if you love shoes, stop by shannalikebanana's blog for a chance to win a pair!!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Roasted Pepper Salad

I consider myself a bad Italian, because up until this week I had never roasted a pepper. In fact, before this week I didn't even like roasted peppers. They seemed all sorts of slimy and slippery. I saw no reason to tackle that when I was perfectly content eating them raw.

Clearly, I was an idiot. Roasted peppers are fantastic. They are like a prayer. They are the wind beneath my wings. I want to sing corny love songs about them all day because they are just that good.

My first pepper roasting experience was with Giada. No surprise there, huh? This salad is sweet from the peppers, tangy from the kalamata olives, and perfectly finished with a bit of basil.

It's good stuff, folks.

Roasted Pepper Salad


4 bell peppers (any color)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup basil, chopped
1/3 cup kalamata olives, sliced


Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the peppers on the baking sheet and broil in the oven for roughly 20 minutes, until the skin is brown and blistered. Turn over occasionally to get all sides broiled.

These are from before the broiling, obviously
Remove the peppers from the oven and seal them in a plastic bag. Let them come to room temperature, then peel and seed them. Slice them into strips.

In a bowl, combine the pepper strips, kalamata olives, basil, olive oil, and salt/pepper. Enjoy at room temperature.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Let's Take A Trip...

From what I hear, the weather is pretty bad all around. Freezing windchills. Buckets of snow. I like winter and even I'm getting a bit sick of it.

So, let's take a trip.

Las Vegas, anyone?

Travel to the MGM Grand, and meet the wizard.

Go to Excalibur and take some very awkward pictures with knights.
I did not take any-but witnessed quite a few.

Fall in love with Paris

Take pictures that look remarkably like Impressionist art.

The Strip: Enough Said

Pretend you're Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday

Meet a jester
**I swear my bottom is not as large as it looks in this

Witness the world's largest chocolate fountain.
Begin to make plans to install one in dorm room.

Massive shrooms in hotel lobby
Ookkaaayyy Las Vegas

Make a famous friend

One more

Three more

And one enemy
Boy just couldn't keep it in his pants

Alright, so I am just going to spend the rest of the day in my dream vacay. May even do some gambling. 20-schmoney, it's not illegal if it's not real!

Where is your dream vacation?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Snow Day!

I don't think I have ever appreciated being a college student more than I do today. Ladies and gents, I have a snow day today!! And there is a possibility there will be tomorrow as well. I used to love snow days when I was younger, that is until the end of the year when we had to make those days up. Fortunately now, I don't have to worry about that anymore.

I woke up to a snow storm in which I could barely see anything clearly. As Liz stated, Chicago was supposed to be hit with a blizzard and this was just the beginning. We're supposed to be getting hit with at least 10 inches so hopefully I'll be putting up some pictures up :)

View outside of my sorority house

So what is the first thing I do on a snow day? Sledding? Making a snowman? Nope! I made a delicious breakfast that did not consist of milk being added to cereal. Don't get me wrong, I love cereal but there's just something about taking the time to make a good breakfast that makes it take a little bit better.

Without delaying any further, here is a Protein Sandwich. I do not take any credit for coming up with the name or the recipe. That all goes to my roommate Kelley. She has made them multiple times and I never actually make them myself. Today I decided to venture on this delicious journey.
Two egg whites, whole wheat toast, a little cheese, spinach and turkey

After I devoured every morsel of this sandwich, I decided to lay around for a bit since well, I can. I am going to avoid going outside at all costs because getting pelted with snow and ice isn't actually on my agenda. Maybe I'll curl up with a book and a cup of cocoa.

How would you spend a snow day?

Blizzard : and not the Dairy Queen Type

Chicago is supposed to be hit with the worst blizzard to date. Teachers yesterday warned us that classes may be cancelled for Wednesday. That little weather band on the bottom of news channels is going into overdrive. Supposed to be the snow storm of the century. Or the year.

Snow and I have a love-hate relationship. I think it's pretty. When it isn't flying directly into my eye (which it tends to do) I actually find it somewhat pleasant. At least it has to be above freezing, right?

But sometimes it gets a bit tense between the flurries and I. Snow likes to play tricks. It likes to make my commute to campus a bazillion hours long. It likes to make me slip.

It likes to steal my boots.

When I was little I hopped out of our boxy Cadillac into knee deep snow. When I unearthed my foot, it was bootless. Despite all our searching, we could not find that boot until the snow melted.

Clearly, you can see why snow and I have issues. No one touches my shoes and gets away with it.

According to all reputable weather sources, snow and I are geared to meet again. And I'm ready. I've got cookies, nutella, and a salad so spectacular, it only can be served in a mixing bowl. So, bring it blizzard. Just stay away from my boots.

"Everything But The Kitchen Sink" Salad


Kalamata Olives
Balsamic Viniagrette


To make the farro, combine 3/4 cup of farro with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for roughly 20 minutes. Watch for when the water is absorbed and test the farro for doneness. They should be tender with a bit of chewiness.

Add the rest of the ingredients and dressing. Toss and enjoy!