Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Night Idea: Popcorn Party!

I looked out the window and what did I see? A popcorn party just for you and me.

A few weekends ago I accidentally told a lot of people the same thing- "We should do something fun tonight! I'm sure the gang will be doing something great. I'll let you know!" Unfortunately, I frankly had no idea what anyone was doing, and I honestly hadn't heard of anything going on. I just knew a bunch of people who wanted to do something...or anything really. So that meant I felt some pressure to deliver. Luckily, I have creative friends who helped me brainstorm a list of fun Friday night ideas. The list was quite eclectic- ranging from finger painting with pudding to making a fort to stalking people with lives who were on dates. We were just tired of the typical dinner and a movie night. So, after much deliberation and careful voting, we decided to have a popcorn party. In case you're unaware, a popcorn party means that you make way more popcorn than you can ever eat, in every flavor you could ever imagine.

Thanks to our good friend google we uncovered a dozen or so really interesting recipes all involving popcorn. A trip to the store and $15 dollars later we were on our merry way to buttery popcorn bliss. We only really needed to pick up a few random ingredients like unpopped popcorn kernels, jello, and marshmallow.

Yes, we made all these kinds of popcorn, and yes we ate too much. But each and every calorie was a calorie filled with love. 

Price: as much or as little $ as you want. (Pretty cheap though because you probably have a lot of ingredients already.)
Fun Factor: out of this world!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Under-Appreciated Item of the Week

It's that time of week again! It is time to look inside the fridge and focus on an under-appreciated food item, that should really get a little more lovin. This week's product is..........
Bangkok Padang Peanut Sauce- aka party in your mouth!

Turn every night into Asian Cuisine night with peanut sauce. It is a slightly spicy, very tasty sauce for everyone from the biggest Asian food fan to the mildest of palates. It costs around $4 a bottle, but it is so worth it.

  • Use in stir-fry
  • Put on your veggies to help them go down easier
  • Put on plain pasta, hot or cold.
  • Use to saute stuff, like meat.
  • Try using it as salad dressing
  • [insert your own good idea here]
This sauce literally changed my life.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pace Salsa Upset

A few Christmases ago I was invited to a party, and asked to bring salsa. Between all my final exams and final papers I had to write, I didn’t really have time to make fresh salsa as I would have liked, nor did my pride allow me to bring any old jar of salsa you can buy at Walmart. Luckily I discovered this quick little compromise between fresh and store bought. You just add a few fresh ingredients to your favorite store bought salsa until it tastes just the way you want it. I brought this doctored salsa to the party, and everyone thought that I had made it from scratch! I love recipes that allow you to get credit for hours of work that you didn’t actually do. Plus, as a daughter of a Spanish teacher who spent some time living in Mexico, I can say that this salsa tastes pretty goooood. I’d eat it any day.

Total Prep Time: 7 Min
Total Cost: cheap. (I don’t have the math on this one.)

Pace Salsa
Green Onion

Pour the jar of salsa into a medium sized mixing bowl. Add a green onion, chopped, an avocado diced, some chopped cilantro, and the juice of 1-2 limes. Mix well, and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dorito Chicken- with Jesse C.

What to you do when you go to grab some dinner, and all you have is half a bag of Doritos left over from the weekend football game, a few eggs, and some unidentified frozen goods?

Tuesday’s guest chef, Jesse Croskrey*, has an answer to that question. Jesse is a good friend of mine, and one of my cooking idols. Everything made by his hand is sure to be simply divine. One could say he is the Midas of the collegiate food world, every food he touches turns to gold. Jesse has graciously given me permission to post a few of his most coveted secret recipes. Today I begin with Dorito Chicken.

Dorito Chicken may sound strange, but I found it quite delicious and very easy. I had most of the ingredients on hand, I just had to buy a $2.00 bag of Doritos. If you aren’t a fan of Doritos, or are wanting perhaps to go a more lite version of the recipe, you can really use any kind of chip or cracker that you have around. My roommate uses whole wheat crackers mixed with a light salad dressing to batter the chicken instead.

Total Prep Time: 10 Min
Total Cook Time: 30 Min
Total Cost: around $3.75

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (However many you would like)
1 bag of your favorite Dorrito's.
Egg(s)-use as many as needed, will depend on number of chicken breasts used

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat egg in container big enough to fit in one chicken breast. Crunch Dorrito's into small pieces, like bread crums and place in container big enough to fit one chicken breast. Batter the chicken with the egg then lightly season with salt and pepper. Place chicken on each side into the dish containing the Dorrito crumbs. Then place on baking sheet that has been lightly coated with extra virgin olive oil. Bake for about 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked. Note from Jesse: I usually serve on white rice. Maybe serve with a side of cooked broccoli with cheese or anything you are in the mood for

From this day forward, each Tuesday I will be spotlighting a different Chef from the community (this could be you!) Please send in your recipes for your chance to be the next big deal!

*Jesse is a college graduate with a degree in Psychology and the proud Uncle to a beautiful baby girl. Jesse enjoys holding babies, cooking, and eating in his spare time. He has also recently taken up running, which is nice. Jesse boasts a close friendship with Justin Bieber, although no one has ever confirmed this rumor. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Miracle Monday- Just add water Fajitas

This is a cheap trick that my dear mother taught me. When choosing between name brand and generic brand products at the grocery store, sometimes it matters which you choose while others it doesn’t. For example: when choosing what brand of chocolate chips to get, generic is not an option unless you like your cookies to taste like plastic. For soups, if you are just using it to put into a casserole or some other dish, generic is alright. But if you’re just wanting a bowl of soup, you may want to consider an upgrade to Campbell's. Now, when it comes to the little seasoning packets for things like salad dressing, enchiladas, tacos or fajitas, it is safe to say that Western Family does a really good job. One of my favorite dishes is made with Western Family Fajita Seasoning. Seriously, this meal is so very good, so very easy, and people think I can cook when I make it when really- I just added water. I highly recommend it. 

Total Prep Time: 10 Min
Total Cooking Time: 20 Min max.
Total Price: $7.32- if you feed 4 people, that is $1.83 per person

2 Tbsp. oil
2 green bell peppers (or red, whatever you prefer)
Roma tomatos (optional)
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
WF Fajita seasoning packet
Flour tortillas

Directions: Just follow the recipe found on the back of the spice packet. :)
  1. In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil, saute 1 onion chopped and the green bell peppers cut into thin strips, until onions are lightly golden, and peppers are tender. Remove from skillet and set aside.
  2. In the same skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. oil, add 1lb boneless, skinless chicken cut into strips, cook until browned
  3. Add Fajita Seasoning Mix and ¼ c water; blend well. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered 3-5 min, stirring occasionally.
  4. Return vegetables to skillet to heat; add 1 tomato cut into thin wedges.
  5. Use fresh, warm, flour tortilla. Place some filling on each tortilla. Serve with fresh salsa, sour cream, and guacamole if it suits your fancy
Satisfied Customer

Friday, September 23, 2011

Breakfast at Tiffany's, I mean Mary's....

Sunday brunch at my place? mmmm.

Pancakes are a necessary evil in the life of a poor young adult. There really isn’t anything cheaper that is at the same time so satisfying that gives the illusion of real cooking. Personally though, I’m not a huge pancake fan. I am, however, a German pancake enthusiast. I think they are actually easier and less time consuming to make than pancakes, and they taste fifty million times better. I recommend trying this recipe for your Sunday morning brunch this week. Plus, it probably costs a total of $2.50 tops to make- especially if you borrow the cup of flour from a neighbor. :)  Happy eating!

Total Prep Time: 7 min
Total Cook Time: 20 min
Total Price Estimate: $2.50 tops

6 eggs
1 c milk
1 c flour
pinch of salt
½ c butter
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place butter in 9x13 baking dish and place in oven to melt butter,tilt to coat bottom of pan.
  3. Blend the remaining ingredients in blender until smooth (or mix by hand, both work just fine)
  4. Pour into melted butter in the baking dish.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden.
  6. Serve with powdered sugar, syrup, or whatever suits your fancy.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Under-appreciated Item of the Week!

Each week I would like to give a shout out to some object or food product that can really amp up your overall eating life, yet is usually overlooked and rarely brought home from the grocery store.

This weeks item is.....drum roll!..........

This week I found Classico’s Traditional Basil Pesto on sale at Macey’s for only $2.99. The beauty of Pesto is that a little goes a loooong way. Plus, one can't help feeling a little Euro-chic while eating it.
I’ve brainstormed some of the possible uses:
  1. The obvious- put it on pasta!
  2. Add to your grilled cheese sandwiches to add some class
  3. Use as a spread on bread
  4. Add to potatoes, baked or mashed
  5. Check here, for even more ideas!
Please don’t forget about Pesto this week, and please comment with some of your favorite ways to show Pesto a little lovin! Happy eating!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ice Cream Pie that will change your life.

Ice cream is the most important food group. This is what I learn in college anyway. Luckily, a kitchen-savvy aunt of mine introduced me to this divine dessert which helps me get my daily dose of dairy. It was an instant favorite. I asked her for the recipe and she directed me to a magazine aimed at children ages 8-12 where she first found it. Basically it is the best deal ever- Martha Stewart taste, for elementary school effort! Plus, I honestly think it tastes like cheesecake.

Total Prep Time: 10 min
Ready In: 4.5 hrs
Total Cost: about $5.75 per pie

1 graham-cracker piecrust (10 inches/25 cm)
1 pint (.5 L) vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt
4 ounces (113 g) cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 package whipped topping (8 ounces/227 g), thawed
  1. Fill the piecrust with ice cream or yogurt. Cover and freeze for 30 minutes.
  2. In a mixing bowl, mix cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Stir in whipped topping.
  3. Spread the cream cheese mixture over the ice cream. Cover and freeze for 4 hours.
  4. Cut into 8 slices and enjoy!
*Try different flavored pie crusts and ice creams for more fun! I’ve used oreo pie crust with mint chocolate chip ice cream before- so good!

Find the original recipe here!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Easy Cheesy Bacon ‘n Avocado Quesadilla

In a typical week, I usually eat a cheese quesadilla for 4 out of 7 of my dinners, which can kind of get old after 4 years. Luckily though, some internet surfing actually paid off, and I was given the idea to make the Easy Cheesy Bacon 'n Avocado Quesadilla. It is as easy and simple as it sounds, yet surprisingly very tasty. A whole different experience for my taste buds to relish.

Total Prep Time: 6 Min
Total Cook Time: 4 Min
Total enjoyment: Priceless

2 Flour Tortillas
1/4 c Shredded Cheese
2 slices Bacon, cooked
Avocado slices

For you quesadilla experts out there, just make one like normal, just add bacon and avocado! Easy.

For those who prefer more guidance, all you do is take a tortilla, and on half of it arrange some of the avocado slices, then sprinkle as much cheese as you want the same side. Then line up the bacon to cover the cheese. Fold the tortilla, and cook it in a frying pan for about 2 min on each side, or until the cheese is melted and the tortilla is a beautiful golden brown.

Monday, September 19, 2011

And so it begins!

The typical college student’s diet consists mainly of the three main food groups: 

1. Cereal
2. PB&J
3. Quesadillas

(*One or all of the above food groups can be replaced or supplemented with Ramen noodles.)

Sound familiar?

Unfortunately, this diet is very lacking in the essential areas of color, flavor, and nutrition, and is unable to provide the essential vitamins and minerals necessary to live a fully energized life. We find ourselves caught in a vicious, wearied cycle where by the end of the day we have no energy or time to prepare the very meal full of nutrients that would replenish our supply of energy. Therefore we turn to alternative methods of finding strength, including (but not limited to) carbonated beverages and excess amounts of sugar. 

I personally have found myself in this pattern at many times throughout my college career, while subtly observing others around me who didn’t seem to struggle with the same problem-- incredible roommates, neighbors, and friends who just seem to have everything put together, and always are eating something that causes me to find myself envying them. They put together meals in less time than I typically waste on Facebook every day, and are usually made with simple iingredients that are easy to find and inexpensive, but when combined together create surprisingly simple, yet incredible flavors that leave all partakers satisfied.

I have undertaken the task of discovering these recipes that are just that, Surprisingly Simple. The meals and deserts that wow a crowd, and make people think you’re a much more competent cook than you actually are.