I’ve been cooking for myself for 4 months now!!!!!!!!!!! I’m sorry, but that deserves an abundance of exclamation points. On the surface, one may think to oneself upon reading this blog, “hey, she writes about restaurants and recipes and bakes like nobody’s business, cooking must come so easily to her!” Ha. My first conquest of the semester was the perfect egg white scramble. That was the jumping off point for experimentation with other essential college concoctions like quesadillas, stir-fry, roasted vegetables, and even broiled fish!
Now that I have almost a complete semester of kitchen trials and tribulations under my belt, I feel like I embody a “college girl in a foodie world” even more than when I first began this blog after my sophomore year. My tips to fellow college girls (or boys) in this foodie world are as such:
1. In keeping with the theme of this post, big batches are key. When a recipe says “serves 4,” don’t cut all the ingredients so that you’re only cooking one serving. You’ll be so glad when you open your fridge after a long day of class and have dinner ready to go for the rest of the week!
2. Be strategic with your grocery shopping. Only buy so much produce as you know you will realistically use in a week. Spend money on products where it matters rather than on pantry items like chips, crackers, and snacks. Let yourself splurge on a little treat or two so that you’re not tempted to buy a snack every time you go to a new coffee shop on campus.
3. Freeze your protein! I’m never ready to cook a chicken breast the day I buy it. I buy a package of a few chicken breasts or a few tilapia filets, separate the individual pieces into Ziploc bags, and freeze until I’m ready to use.
4. Establish foundations, than build on to those basics. Like I said, some of the first things I taught myself to cook were egg scrambles and stir-fry chicken and vegetables. Now that I’ve gained enough practice with the methods involved in those recipes, I add in different veggies, sauces, and combinations.
5. Roast what’s about to go bad! Take that broccoli and cauliflower out of the depths of your refrigerator drawer, toss it in some olive oil, salt, and pepper, and bake on a baking sheet for about the length of half an episode of Grey’s Anatomy.
Now onto a recipe involving A surprisingly inexpensive, surprisingly easy, and super versatile superfood I’ve found myself cooking almost weekly: quinoa. Made in big batches, I’ve thrown in everything from goat cheese to walnuts, chicken to onions and mushrooms. One big, fairly quickly cooking pot will last me 3 dinners over the course of the week!
On my “easy” Pinterest board (much of which I add to during my extremely dry Comm 122 Lecture), I had been eyeing a quinoa recipe with winter-y, hearty roasted eggplant, salty feta, and sauteed spinach. I had never roasted eggplant before, but I figured my practice with roasting broccoli and and cauliflower could prepare me properly.
This quinoa was as easy as tossing cubed eggplant with olive oil, salt and pepper, roasting it for 20-25 mins, and preparing some sauteed spinach with garlic as the eggplant roasted. Once the roasting was complete, all the recipe elements, including the cooked quinoa, were combined in one big pan. I make big batches of quinoa all the time, yet I pleasantly surprise myself every time I take in my work and consider how long I’m about to have leftovers for.
I scooped mounds of the quinoa mixture into a deep bowl and dug in. Garlicky, filling, multi-textured perfection. And the most exciting news? I can stay longer at the library tomorrow night cause I don’t have to rush home to prepare dinner afterwards! Click HERE for this yummy recipe!