Category Archives: Home Cooking for Broke College Students: Fast, Easy, Inexpensive, Delicious.

Fast and Easy Peanut/Sesame Noodles

You will need:

1 bowl

Cooked Angel Hair Pasta
1 tblsp peanut butter
2 tblsp Soy Sauce
1 (big) pinch red pepper flakes
1 tblsp sesame seeds
Generous heap of cilantro
1 tsp fresh squeezed lime

(Optional)
Veggies, protein, sliced apple.

  1. Heat peanut butter in microwave until it’s the right consistency to stir. 30 seconds should be enough. (I like crunchy peanut butter but you live your own life.)
  2. Add soy sauce, red pepper, and sesame seeds and whisk thoroughly.
  3. Add cooked pasta. (I like to add mine straight from the fridge.)
  4. Top with cilantro and fresh squeezed lime. I also like to add things like green beans, chicken, or sliced apple.

Back home in Virginia there is the best little dumpling place called Marco and Luca. It started out as a hole in the wall on the downtown mall, but they’ve expanded to I think 3 locations! The rumor behind the name is that it’s a family owned place and the kids are Marco and Luca.
I love this place. Their menu is small but mighty, with a few types of dumplings and different noodle bowls. Their sauce is the perfect balance of sweet and spicy, and each dish is so simple and so delicious. On the rare occasion I ordered something besides dumplings, I would get the sesame noodles. These are served cold, with fresh cilantro and sliced apples. You can’t go wrong. I didn’t exactly steal this recipe outright, it started from a variation on ramen I like to make where I add peanut butter, soy sauce, and veggies to microwave ramen. One day while rooting through the fridge for leftovers I found some cold angel hair pasta and the rest is history.

Quick and Easy Biscuits

**This recipe is adapted from Rebecca McCord’s Grandmother’s amazing chicken and dumplings recipe.

You will need:
1 mixing bowl
1 spatula
1 muffin tin

1 cup bisquick
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons melted shortening

~2 teaspoons butter, separated

1.) Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl with spatula.
2.) Divide biscuit dough into ungreased muffin tins.
3.) Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
4.) Add butter to the top of each biscuit. Bake an additional 10 minutes.
5.) Serve the way you enjoy serving biscuits! I like them plain or sliced in half with sandwich fixings. Some people enjoy jam or more butter. I don’t know your life, and I don’t judge!

Today has been a great day for cooking. I went on a long walk and called Becca to ask her for her amazing chicken and dumplings recipe, because it feels like a chicken and dumplings day. She made it a few times while we were living together in South Carolina! I will attach the full recipe to this post with her permission. **

Anyway, I had a great time making the chicken and dumplings, but due to my limited equipment I didn’t have enough surface area to add all of the dumpling dough. (I’m still in the apartment with no stove so I have a hotplate and a toaster oven. I’m extraordinarily proud that I cook most of my meals with this equipment.) I had about 1/2 cup of dough left and this month is tight so I’m hesitant to throw anything away! I decided on a whim to just bake it. And I’m so so glad I did. I’ve tried making biscuits many different ways and this is by far the best!
*By the way, the addition of shortening to my kitchen is a revelation. Can’t get enough of that crisco!

**Thank you so much to Rebecca’s grandma, Wilma Stump!

This recipe is amazing! I substituted celery and carrots for the mushrooms. Incredible.

La La Lasagna

You Will Need:

1 pasta pot
1 frying pan
1 casserole dish

Lasagna noodles

Ground beef/turkey
Mushrooms, any variety, diced
1/2 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. Butter
Tomato sauce

Ricotta cheese
Mozzarella
Parmesan

    1. Boil lasagna noodles and set aside.
    2. Melt butter in the pan. Add garlic. Add onion. Sauté for about 2 minutes, or until onions start to sweat.
    3. Add the ground beef and mushrooms. Brown the beef.
    4. Add 1/2 cup tomato sauce. Bring to a simmer.
    5. Assemble the lasagna! Layer tomato sauce on the bottom of the casserole dish. Add noodles. Spread ricotta cheese evenly on the noodles. Add the meat sauce mixture. Sprinkle mozzarella in an even layer above the ricotta. Add more tomato sauce. Repeat until pan is filled to the top. Sprinkle more mozzarella and add a layer of parmesan.
    6. Bake at 350 until the cheese bubbles! Yum!

I had never attempted to make lasagna in my life before I started dating Michael. It’s his all time favorite food, he can eat a full pan in one sitting if I would let him. Lasagna is one of those dishes where it’s easy to sneak in a full serving of vegetables with every slice. I add onions and mushrooms to the meat sauce and you can’t even really tell because they are so well disguised! Sometimes I slice up a tomato or rip up some kale and throw it in with the meat too. The perfect crime.

I took a video of Michael attempting to make his own lasagna around Christmas time. He did really well except he forgot to add the layers of mozzarella until the final two. Eh, probably healthier that way!

(Unfortunately I was unable to add the video to the website. I’ll have to take pictures next time I make this dish!)

Flexible Cilantro-Pesto Sandwich

Stay with me, all. It’s a flexible recipe, albeit a delicious one.

You Will Need:

Food Processor

Toaster Oven

For the pesto:
Cilantro, 1 cup
Garlic, 4-5 Cloves
Walnuts, 6-8 toasted (I almost burnt them and it actually worked nicely)
Olive Oil, 1/3 cup
Red Pepper Flakes, to taste
Salt, to taste

For the sandwich:
Bread
Cheese
Sliced Turkey Breast (Optional)

  1. For the pesto, combine all ingredients in food processor and process until it looks right. (You’ll know. It looks like pesto.)
  2. For the sandwich, Spread the pesto on both slices of bread, place cheese on both slices, and toast in toaster oven at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes, until cheese melts.
  3. Add turkey between bread slices. Slice into triangles (if you’re not a monster.)

I recently moved into an amazing new apartment. Its a one bedroom, complete with bathroom, living room, and kitchen, utilities included and a very low price. The catch? No oven. Not even a stove top. So I’m going to be getting creative this year with cooking with a toaster oven, blender, waffle iron, and hot plate.

Between moving, gigging, and going home for a visit that was too short, I haven’t been doing much cooking. I hope to be better about it in the weeks coming up! I just did a bunch of grocery shopping, and I must confess, I had tacos on the brain. I had these amazing tacos from a food truck near my place recently, and my brain thought they were the most delicious things I have ever tasted. My stomach did not agree. But I’ve been dreaming about these tacos, and I am determined to make them! So I bought a surplus of cilantro. Thus, the cilantro-pesto.

This pesto is actually really delicious on its own. I would absolutely add it to a pasta, or serve it up on toast points as an appetizer! I just happened to be craving grilled cheese today, thus the extremely specific sandwich. I have some leftover pesto that I may incorporate into dinner. Or maybe I’ll just go make another sandwich right now…

Better than OK Okra

You Will Need:

1 Pan

Okra, sliced 

Butter
Salt
Pepper
Paprika
Cayenne Pepper

  1. Heat butter in medium sized pan. Add Okra and sprinkle spices evenly.
  2. Sautee in butter for 5-10 minutes until browned.

Easier than pie, and tasty! I tried Okra for the first time my senior year of college, made in a kitchen that was 5X5 feet. Some people find it to be slimy, but if I’m being honest I don’t really notice it…could be that they swim in butter for a good 10 minutes, but hey, who’s counting? Frankly, I find this recipe is almost a whole meal unto itself, it really fills me up. But tonight I felt I could use a little extra protein so I made some grilled chicken to go along with it. Still, no carbs and no sugar! I had plenty of both of those things when I went to see Wonder Woman just a few hours ago, accompanied by popcorn and a cherry coke. I must say, I LOVED this movie! I think I needed a solo movie going experience. I’m taking time to reflect before I turn 23 on Friday. After seeing that woman Being In Total Control of Herself (BITCH) I am going to make it my goal to be that strong and amazonian by the time I turn 24. Hitting the gym tomorrow!

Unbelievably Simple Shrimp-Bacon-Kale Pasta

You Will Need:

1 Pan
Cutting Board
Knife
Spatula

Bowtie Pasta (Cooked)
Bacon (Crumbled)
Shrimp
Kale (Chopped)
Carrots (Diced)
Tomato Sauce 1 tbls.

  1. Cook Pasta and set aside.
  2. Fry Bacon in Pan. Remove Bacon, but LEAVE THE FAT!
  3. Sauté shrimp in bacon fat. Add chopped kale and diced carrots.
  4. Add Pasta to pan with the tablespoon of tomato sauce.
  5. Let simmer and stir for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Enjoy!

Oh man. I made this dish late last night after work (I work at a gym so that makes me feel better about the bacon fat thing, although I do know that working at a gym doesn’t necessarily mean I am working OUT at a gym.) It was one of the most delicious pasta dishes I have ever enjoyed. Honestly, I think I’m going to make it again today, but leave out the pasta so I can have some semblance of healthy eating. Side note: If you are not a vegetarian, ALWAYS save the fat.

I know I’ve been terrible about posting, but it has been a crazy couple of weeks! A few days after moving into my new apartment in Brooklyn (yay for the fancy new kitchen!) I attended the Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival, which was possibly one of the most incredible learning, musical, and social experiences of my life. Check out the recordings we made of Hye-Jeung Kang’s incredible music on the recordings page of this website! (https://sammarshallarts.com/recordings/)

 She and the rest of the quintet are some of the kindest and most talented people I have ever worked with. Honestly, I don’t think I have ever connected with such a diverse group of people in such a short time span!

After Imani, a few people called out of work for vacations and such, so I was almost never home. I even spent a memorable night sleeping in the Barre Studio at work because logistically, the total two hour commute just was too much! But it has been worth it, because here I sit, typing away with the occasional glance out my new window at my new porch with my new herbs that I grew from seed! It’s raining, but for the first time in a while I feel at peace.

Happy Saturday, everyone!

Springtime Guacamole

You Will Need:

Bowl
Spoon

1 avocado
5 cherry tomatoes
1/2 jalapeño pepper
Mint
Olive Oil
Lemon
Salt
Pepper

  1. Remove skin and pit from avocado. 
  2. Mince tomatoes and pepper. Combine in bowl with avocado.
  3. Pour a splash of olive oil, a splash of lemon juice, and a large pinch of chopped mint. Salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Mash with a spoon and serve with chips!

I love going home to Virginia. The clean, fresh air, the green grass and leaves, the gorgeous blooming flowers (despite all that pollen!), the wine, the quirky cats at my parents house, I could go on forever. But one of the best things about being home is that there is always somehow a perfectly ripe avocado, ready for consumption. I’ve been a bit avo-crazy since I’ve started cooking for myself. They go great with any meal, sliced and displayed beautifully on top. Heck, they’re even good in smoothies-seriously, trust me! You can’t particularly taste them, but every smoothie I’ve made with one is creamy and smooth and delicious thanks to the good kind of fat.

So, this guacamole. Don’t ever be intimidated by guac like I was, just let the magical fruit do it’s thing. My mom has this incredible lemon infused olive oil that she just splashes on the avocado before she mashes it and it’s absolutely delicious guac! I like adding a few extra flavors in mine. Normally, cilantro really does it for me, in anything, but especially in spicy foods. (That bit of jalapeño really goes a long way for me!) Unfortunately, the cilantro I planted in my garden didn’t make it through the winter, but we had an abundance of mint! I can’t believe how much I liked the mint in the guac, it counter-balanced the spice of the jalapeño and added just a little something extra to make me go “yum!”

I’ve been eating too much of all this delicious food! Here’s a recent photo of me:

 

IMG_5791

 

Pre-Spring Break Meal*

*Pre-Spring Break Meal: (noun) When you are trying to use up all of your groceries instead of buying more because you are about to go home for a week.

You Will Need:
One Pot for Pasta
One Pot for Sauce

Ingredients:
Thin Spaghetti
Chopped Kale
Tomato Sauce (Whatever is left in the jar)

Olive Oil/Butter
Salt
Pepper
Red Pepper Flakes
Cheddar Jack Cheese (Whatever is left in the bag)

Directions:

  1. (Golden rule for cooking pasta dishes: Always cook the pasta first.) Boil water in pasta pot and add pasta.
  2. Slice kale while pasta is cooking. Heat olive oil and/or butter in sauce pan (enough to coat pan.)
  3. Add kale to pan, along with the desired amount of spices.
  4. When pasta is cooked, add to sauce pan. Sprinkle cheese on top.
  5. Combine ingredients and serve!

 

I don’t mean to brag, but I am an expert at using up ingredients in my fridge. It’s like a fun puzzle- what can I make with these totally random ingredients that will be tasty as well as edible? Once, I made a pretty incredible pie out of some fruit that was on the brink of going bad, and next time that happens I will be sure to include a how-to.

With my schedule as a grad student also working a job, I’ve found it to be hard to maintain groceries for two reasons. A.) I’m never home, and B.) In the time I have off I don’t enjoy buying groceries. So lately I’ve been buying huge bags of kale and other vegetables (and of course cheese) and just adding them to the staples I already have here: rice, ramen, pasta, bisquick, etc. After spring break, I promise I’m going to gather my life back together!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best Meatballs you will ever have

You will need:

Large Bowl
Large Skillet

Ground Beef or Turkey 1 pound
1 egg
Minced Garlic (I used four cloves which may have been overkill)
1/2 chopped onion
2 tablespoons bread crumbs (panko works well)
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon rosemary
Salt
Pepper
Handful of Parmesan Cheese

Olive Oil

Directions:

1.) Place ground meat in a large bowl. I like to mold a little hole to put all the ingredients into.
2.) Add Egg, Garlic, Onion, Break Crumbs, cheese, and seasoning. If you’re squeamish use a spoon, but I like to get my hands dirty and squish all the ingredients together. It’s easier to shape balls with your hands anyway.
3.) Form meat mixture into small balls, about 1 inch in diameter. Let chill in the fridge for about 15 minutes.
4.) Coat skillet abundantly in olive oil and heat until extremely hot.
5.) Add meatballs gently to skillet to avoid oil spattering. Pro tip: Don’t just plop them in because you will most certainly get burned.
6.) After about 5 minutes, flip the meatballs. Wait another 5, then flip again, trying to cook each side evenly. I usually flip them around twice, then just move them around in the pan until all sides are browned.
7.) Serve any way you like! Obviously they’re great with Spaghetti, but they make a good sandwich or party appetizer as well.

Credit for this recipe goes to my brother, who really does make the best meatballs you will ever eat. I think the secret is breadcrumbs. They hold in the moisture and flavor and make the balls less dense. I also think chilling the balls before they go into the frying pan is a good move. I found this out by accident, actually, but it keeps the garlic and onions a little bit crunchy and I think helps everything stick together during the cooking process. A metaphor for life, perhaps, that if we all just chill a bit more we will eventually have everything come together. I digress.

In the picture above I used turkey, way too much garlic, and a little bit of avocado oil in addition to the olive oil, and I must say they were heavenly. (Although my apologies for anyone who interacts with me today because I think garlic is seeping out of my pores. Is it just me or are my instructions for this recipe slightly graphic and slightly more disgusting than usual?)

My Red Wine Sangria

 You Will Need:

A large pitcher

Red Wine, 1/2 bottle
Apple Juice, 1 cup
Whiskey, 3 shots

1 Orange, sliced
1 Apple, sliced
Strawberries, sliced

1 tsp. Cinnamon 

Ice cubes

  1. If I’m being honest, just combine all ingredients in a large pitcher (I only had a blender) and serve. 

This recipe was born last year after St. Patrick’s Day when I had some leftover booze and some fruit in my fridge that was about to go bad. That being said, it’s easy to substitute almost all the ingredients for something else. White wine for red. Cranberry juice for Apple. Lemon for the orange. Et cetera.

The ingredients listed above are also delicious in mulled wine. Simply mix in a large stove pot and heat on low until warm. And of course, omit the ice cubes.