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Ten-Second Chili

27 Oct

Well, okay not really but this chili is so unbelievably fast and easy to make, I even had time to blog about it! And we all know I’ve obviously been lacking the time and patience for that recently.

What you’ll need:

  • leftover taco meat
  • a jar spaghetti sauce (I used my Grandma’s homemade sauce! Yum!)
  • 1/2 can of kidney beans (no idea what you’ll do with the rest, so if you like them, throw ’em in!)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (I bought the store-brand chili ready ones, though I think Hunts Fired Roasted would be better)
  • 1 small can Mexican corn (I just really like it, but it’s optional)
  • Garlic powder to taste (optional)
  • Steak seasoning to taste (optional)

So dump your leftover taco meat into a medium to large pot and let it warm up.  While it’s doing this, drain your tomatoes and kidney beans and dump those into the pot.  I dumped the large things in first so they wouldn’t splash and get all over the stove.

Add in the Mexican corn if you’re using it & then cover it all with spaghetti sauce.  I added garlic powder (just a bit, use your judgement) and steak seasoning (same as the garlic powder, use your judgement) and let the whole thing simmer covered for about 15 minutes.

So technically it’s like…17 minute chili…but it’s super easy and quick, not to mention absolutely DELICIOUS.  I even had time to make some garlic toast (Bread + a little olive oil + garlic pepper seasoning into the oven til golden brown) to make a quick and hearty meal, perfect for this miserable Happy Valley weather!

So grab a cup of chili and stay warm!

WE ARE…

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This is where it gets a little ridiculous…

31 Jul

Okay, so it probably seems like I have been seriously slacking off on this blog this summer, even though I promised to write.  Truth is, I’ve pretty much abandoned all attempts of cooking in the dorm, beyond toast/bagels.  Tonight though, I wasn’t feeling very well & was really needing some chicken noodle soup (like the kind from Hosses’).  After laying around for a bit, I finally felt well enough to go to Walmart.  I knew I wasn’t gonna find any Hosses soup with those delicious homemade noodles, but I figured I could improvise.

Well.  Improvising apparently became the theme for tonight.  I settled with a box meal of Homestyle Bakes, which is about as close as I could come to satisfying my sick-food craving.  Well, I got home & those darn people at Banquet haven’t upgraded to the pull-top cans of stew yet & of course I don’t have a can opener.  I have like…nothing.

So, I improvised.

Hah. I sent a picture to Ryan & he called it “ghetto.”  But hey, it worked, even though it took a little effort. And so did making the “biscuits” topping.  I only have tiny plastic cereal bowls & plastic picnic spoons to mix with, with no measuring cups to measure out the 1/2 cup of water… so I figured this could get a little interesting…

But hey I figured it out!  To measure, I just used a some bottled water that was labeled in oz & drank what I figured was roughly a little over “three-quarters…” my equivalent to “half a cup.”  Whatever. It worked.

Even though it all took significant amounts of work & got a little silly along the way, I finally, at 9:14 at night (yeah, I’m on central time), managed to get a delicious home-cooked (sort of) sick food dinner.

WE ARE…off to finally eat & watch SHARK WEEK!

Dorm Cooking: Toasted Egg & Cheese Sandwich

11 Jul

Cooking in a dorm room, by default, complicates very simple meals.  For example, an egg & cheese sandwich…something pretty basic that might not, under normal circumstances, have ever been featured on this blog.  I take for granted the simplicity of cooking this meal pretty regularly at home.  Egg & cheese sandwiches are delicious, and there are so many options to explore, but for the purposes of this post, we’re focusing on how to do it, dorm-style.

First off, I am lucky enough to have had my mom send me our GT Xpress Cooker, which although heavily criticized for cooking at home, is actually an awesome tool to have in the dorm.  This thing can do a lot of cooking tasks, like cook eggs, obviously (great for omelets actually), muffins/cakes & even chicken (although from experience you should use it next to an open window to avoid setting of smoke detectors!).

So, since I have the old version, my cooker is broken into two half-circle wells, which work quite well for cooking a perfect over-easyor fried egg.  I added some butter to the well & let it melt, then cracked my egg right in & sprinkled with salt & pepper.

 

Close the lid and wait appx. 3 minutes and you have yourself a perfectly cooked egg!  That in itself is a pretty good dorm meal (and better than cooking eggs in the microwave…ew.)

I also utilized my panini press to finish off the sandwich by laying buttered bread, topped with cheese and then the egg on the panini press.  Close the lid and wait appx. another 3 minutes and voila! A delicious, hot egg sandwich is ready for you to take to work or class in less than 10 minutes!

Yummy egg sandwich!

WE ARE…hopefully helping all you dorm kids get a break from campus dining!

Zesty Italian Chicken & Veggie Pouch

6 Jul

After a few weeks of trying to get by solely on peanut butter sandwiches, yogurt, and grilled cheese as my entire diet outside of when I’m at work, I was seriously dying for a home-cooked meal.  Being housed in a dorm for the summer, however, has it’s limitations.  The building fortunately has a “kitchenette” with an oven and stove, but unfortunately, I have no pots and pans to cook in!  Actually, up until last week, I only has a much-overused panini press to cook my meals on, and I swear if I had to eat another sandwich last week, I would have screamed!

This is when I decided that it was time to get creative.  It was actually those ladies in the Reynolds Wrap commercials that came to my rescue! I didn’t need pots and pans to cook a delicious meal, if I just got a roll of heavy duty foil!  So after some careful planning, I went to the store to get some ingredients that I could use up in the next few days and make multiple different meals from, all in an aluminum foil pouch!

Since I’m probably missing out on all sorts of vitamins and minerals with this “living on grilled cheese” diet of mine for the last few weeks, I was actually craving vegetables.  Seriously. I just wanted something healthy.  For this no pots and pans meal, I used only three main ingredients:

  • 1 chicken breast
  • 1 package of Bird’s Eye Steamfresh veggies (Baby Potato variety – but pick what you like)
  • 1 packet of Grill Mates Zesty Italian marinade

The trick to living in a dorm this summer, other than not having proper cooking tools, is that I also do not have a microwave, or a freezer, which means I can’t enjoy favorite simple “meals” that I usually do at home/school, like the Bird’s Eye veggie steamers.These are seriously great things on their own and with a microwave, but I had to improvise.  Instead of following the package directions, I just cut open the bag & sprinkled just a little mix of the dry marinade inside, then closed the bag and shook it to coat my veggies.

I put the seasoned veggies and trimmed/seasoned chicken (plus a little salt & pepper for flavor) onto a piece of aluminum foil and folded into a pouch.  You can find the instructions for how to fold the foil, here.  Just make sure you use a piece of foil that is big enough to allow for a little air pocket around your food.  This helps with heat circulation.

I cooked my chicken pouch in the oven for approximately 35 minutes at 450 degrees F.  This oven is kind of temperamental, so you may want to check on your chicken a little early if you decide to do this recipe at home.  The Reynolds Wrap website recommends about 20 minutes at the same temperature for a similar recipe.

Finally, I was able to enjoy a simple meal that tasted home-cooked, even while living in a dorm!  Another huge bonus was using things that were relatively cheap to begin with & could be used over.  A pack of chicken breasts was around $5.30 for 3 chicken breasts, which I was able to use later in the week, the Zesty seasoning packet was about $1.00, but I have more than half of that left to use another time, and the Steamfresh Veggies were only around $2.00.  Being able to cook a delicious, and healthy meal for one person can sometimes be challenging, but if you get creative, you might be able to find new ways to use common products. And, if you cook in aluminum foil, “clean up is a breeze.”

The Reynolds Wrap website has some great recipe ideas for food that can be cooked in this style! Definitely be sure to check it out!

WE ARE… thankful for cheesy Reynolds Wrap advertising for easy cooking ideas!

White Cheddar Baked Mac ‘n Cheese

18 Jan

There is just nothing like the ooey-gooey goodness that is baked macaroni and cheese.  It is the comfort food of comfort foods, and one of my very personal favorite foods in general. Every holiday, I insist upon a dish of baked mac n cheese being present.  Fortunately, my Grandma knows this and of course never lets me down.

There are so many variations of baked mac and cheese, but one of my favorites is a White Cheddar cheese recipe that was part of a cooking class required for my major.  When I tasted that delicious cheesiness, I was in love.  And so was my roommate, Megan.  We’ve gotten ambitious enough on some of the days we’ve craved mac n cheese to make this recipe at home (honestly, the only recipe I’ve ever made at home from that cooking class).   Yesterday was one of those days. 🙂 This recipe is perfect for serving as a side dish for a family or, if you’re like Megan and I, eating the whole pan between yourselves!

What You’ll Need:

  • 1/2 lb elbow macaroni (about 1/2 of a box)
  • 1/4 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 lb sharp white cheddar cheese, grated (One 8 oz block)
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs (~ 2 small handfuls)
  • 1 9X13 baking/casserole dish
  • 2 cups medium white sauce  (as follows)
    – 4 tbsp butter
    – 4 tbsp flour
    – 2 cups warmed milk
    – 1/4 tsp salt
    – 1/8 tsp pepper

When we make this at our apartment, Megan starts off grating the cheese while I get water boiling for the noodles and start the white sauce.  This is also a good time to preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  To start the white sauce, melt your butter in a sauce pan, once it is melted, quickly whisk in the flour by the tablespoonful.  I had Megan adding in the flour while I whisked to avoid making a giant mess (Yeah, it didn’t work…).  Then whisk in the warmed milk, and continue whisking until thick and add the salt/pepper & 1/4 tsp dry mustard.  Don’t forget to keep an eye on your boiling water! Once it starts boiling, add in the noodles.

While waiting for the noodles to finish, turn the heat to low on the white sauce, and whisk occasionally.  When the noodles are finish, drain them and place them in a large bowl.  Mix in the grated/shredded cheese with the warm noodles.  Then, slowly mix in the white sauce.  Put the noodles & cheese sauce mixture into a casserole dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray and coat the surface with breadcrumbs.  Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes and enjoy!!!!

Yum! Baked cheesy goodness!

WE ARE… awesome mac n cheese chefs!!!

Mark Your Calenders!

17 Jan

Everyone mark your calenders and plan to make a trip to State College!
Monday, March 21st & Monday, April 18th will be the official meal dates of my HRIM 430: Cafe Laura theme dinner! We need at least 100 people to attend each dinner and would love it if you could stop by!
We’re planning a lot of great dishes and can’t wait to see you all there!

And don’t worry, even though I’m going to be pretty busy this semester, LION BITES has an update or two in the works! Get ready for Hawaiian Punch Cupcakes & Cheddar Mac n Cheese!

Please, check back for details about our theme dinner and keep your eyes open for a Facebook Event & flyers around campus! We would genuinely appreciate all of your support!

http://www.cafelaura.psu.edu

WE ARE… in shock that we’ve made it to this class already! Time’s running short here at PSU.

A Peppers & Onions Potluck: Hot Sausage Spaghetti

3 Jan

This recipe was introduced to me when a guy from my THON committee brought it to our spaghetti potluck. My last minute, store-bought meatballs paled in comparison.  I love this combination of spaghetti sauce, sautéed peppers & onions and sweet spicy sausage.  Thursday, I decided to cook this for my family & thought it would be a great recipe to share with you all on LION BITES.  Enjoy! And don’t thank me, thank the guy on my THON committee!!

What You’ll Need:

  • appx 1 lb sausage (use hot, italian style, mild, smoked, whichever you prefer!)
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 jar of spaghetti sauce (24-26 oz — I used Delgrosso’s)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 1/2 box spaghetti
  • Italian Blend or Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • seasonings: garlic or garlic powder, salt & pepper, cayenne pepper
  • a Crock Pot!!

 

Start off by boiling water & cooking the sausage according to the directions on the package. While the water is boiling, begin by seeding and cutting the bell peppers in to long thin strips (julienning) and slice/chop 1/2 of a small onion.  Sauté these in a pan with the olive oil (and garlic if you so choose).

Start to heat up your crock pot on high with the spaghetti sauce in it. When the onions & peppers are ready, add them to the crock pot as well.  After boiling your sausage, allow it to cool for a minute and slice into 1/2 inch chunks.  Sauté them in the pan that you took the vegetables out of, just allowing them to get a nice brown color, and then add them to the crock pot as well.

Simmer in the crock pot for a few hours...

I left the crock pot set on high until the sauce began to bubble (checking regularly) and then I added a dash of garlic powder & a dash of cayenne pepper and mixed it all in.  I let it continue to cook on high for about 20 minutes and then reduced the heat to low for about 2 1/2 hours.  After 2 hours, I switched the crock pot to warm, just to keep it hot.

When you are about ready to eat, boil a large pot of water on the stove and cook your spaghetti to preference.  Drain & serve spaghetti topped with sausage & peppers “sauce” from the crock pot.  Top with cheese if desired and enjoy!!!

WE ARE…