Sunday, November 29, 2015

Apple Cake 4 College Cooking

What I love about Thanksgiving is not only the obvious--friends, family and good food--but, I love experimenting with recipes that I have never made before on an unassuming crowd! 

This is good for several reasons: 1. Instant Feedback 2. Plenty of Food 3. Endless Variety 4. No Leftovers! 

That said…I went to town so to speak…especially with the sweets and desserts! I took total advantage of having the crowd to see if so-called "super-simple" or "genius" recipes are worth the effort, and really the "crowd pleasers" they promised because if they are, these recipes are perfect for college cooking!

Baking has to be straightforward for anyone living on a budget, living on their own, just learning to cook, or limited with equipment, i.e. as it is for college students living off-campus! Additionally, baking gear can get expensive; especially, if you are not using them daily or even regularly--it just becomes stuff you have to lug around.

That said, I proceeded with an apple cake promising to be easy, delicious, and "genius" from the recently released Genius Recipes Cookbook from Food 52 / Kirstin Miglore whose premise was to select the best (and most genius-"crazy-enough-to-just-work") recipes of our time into one cookbook.

Indeed….the crowd went "wild" for the Marie-Helene Apple Cake! Thus, if they liked it, I figured you would as well!

Marie-Helene's Apple Cake 4 College Cooking

10" Springform, well-greased and then floured
Apple Corer (optional)
Mixing Bowl

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
4 large apples (different if possible), peeled, cored, chopped into 1" chunks
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3 Tbls dark rum
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1. Wash your hands.
2. Preheat oven to 350F degrees and prep your pan and apples.
3. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together.

4. Melt butter and set aside to cool.
5. Beat eggs with a whisk until foamy.

6. Add sugar and beat x 1-2 minutes.
7. Add rum and vanilla.
8. Add half of the flour mixture and beat until smooth followed by half of the butter.

9. Repeat with other half of flour and melted butter until smooth.
10. Toss and cover apple chunks in batter.

11. Pour batter into springform and bake at 350F degrees x 55-60 minutes.

12. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Enough said--Just Do It!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Butternut Risotto 4 College Cooking

Actually, most folks would say this recipe is the furthest thing from college cooking…and you would be correct, because this recipe is "4 Jon"; and, he has waited patiently for me to post this incredible recipe! (Risotto requires patience and preparation, so I certainly understand your concerns seeing this on a college blog!)

Having said that, it remains one of Jon's favorite dishes; and, risotto is one of the most versatile meals you can master--this is one of the best comfort foods there is; and, when a bag of arborio rice makes enough for 4 separate meals to easily feed 4 hungry college students with leftovers…this is worth adding to your recipe box. 

Risotto is merely a vehicle for any combination of ingredients you like--chicken & mushroom, mushroom & leek, peas & proscuitto, or Summer Corn--but you must learn the process of making the base! That is the key to making great risotto! We had him make his first batch of risotto upon arriving home for the Thanksgiving holidays...that is the best way to learn making risotto, or anything, right? Hands-On!

Definetely a recipe where practice makes get started!!! 

(Adapted from Ina Garten's Roasted Butternut and Saffron Butternut Risotto recipes, but modified with skills I have learned over the years)

Roasted Butternut Risotto

For Roasting:
  • Baking sheet with edges
  • Mixing bowl for tossing risotto
For Risotto:
  • Large saucepan, ie 5 quart
  • Wooden spoon with a flat end (ideally)
  • Medium saucepan or bowl to hold warm broth

Roasting Butternut:
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
  • 2 Tbls olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1-2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 Tbls olive oil
  • 2 Tbls Butter
  • 1 shallot, finely sliced & chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio Rice
  • 6 cups chicken or veggie broth, warmed
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup white wine
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 1 cup parmesan

Roasting Butternut:
  • Preheat oven to 400F degrees
  • Toss butternut squash cubes in 1-2 Tbls olive oil
  • Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and thyme.
  • Spread in single layer on baking sheet.
  • Roast x 30-35 minutes or until tender
  • Make this earlier in the day if need be or the day before.

Making Risotto:
1. Wash your hands.
2. Heat the olive oil and butter in 5 quart saucepan and sear the shallots until translucent.
3. Add the risotto and make sure the rice is coated in oil-butter mixture. 
4. Stir x 1-2 minutes.
5. Add enough broth to cover the risotto and bring to a boil.
6. Reduce heat to MEDIUM-HIGH until bubbly. 
7. Stir fairly continuously until broth reduces and risotto is visible, peaking thru broth.
8. Repeat the process of adding broth and reducing it x 4-5 times.
9. After the 4th addition of broth has been reduced, add 1/2-2/3 cup of white wine.
10. Add the fresh ground pepper and continue stirring. Adjust salt and flavors.
11. Once you are satisfied with "done-ness" of rice, i.e. soft, tender, but not mushy, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butternut and cheese.

A creamy, delicious mixture of ultimate comfort food is now ready to eat!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Menu Planning Parents Weekend

Menu planning can be incredible when you have the liberty of letting your parents take you grocery shopping! It's essentially having the ability to splurge while someone else handles the bill--a great benefit of Parents' Weekend and having them visit campus!

For this week's planning, I did not include a full list or price tally since your parents would likely be picking up the tab, but you will need to go over the recipes to make sure that you have an complete list. Another benefit of this menu is that you will likely have multiple meals to either share or freeze for future use--make the most of this week!  You will be well-fed!

The Menu This Week
Total: 28 meals 
Cost: whatever your parents can spare

  • Plan next weeks menu and budget
  • English Muffin with cheddar, eggbacon / 8 oz milk
  • Grilled Cheese with Tomato Soup / Veggies
  • Out for night (Take only Cash $20-30 from not having to buy groceries this week)

Sunday, November 15, 2015

25 Cent Chocolate Coconut Cookies

Nothing reminds you of home like a good batch of homemade cookies, and nothing is better than making them yourself for a quarter a cookie! Couldn't believe chocolate chip cookies could be made this cheap when I purchased and read the low-income cookbook "Good And Cheap. Eat Well On $4 / Day", but these little dessert bites do not disappoint--all 36-48 of them--crispy, chewy, and a perfect balance of salty-sweet! 

I made a batch without the toasted coconut flakes and a batch with chocolate chips, white chocolate chips and coconut all combined--something for everyone!! Best part of purchasing this cookbook, is that one copy will go to you and another copy will be given to a low-income family or someone struggling on low-income budget!  Thus, your improving your baking skills could make a difference in someone's life!

25 Cent Chocolate Coconut Cookies

Baking Sheets with parchment paper
Mixing Bowls
Handmixer (will make this recipe really easy but it is doing by hand with some upper body strength)

1/2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted (optional)
1 cup butter, melted and cool
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar, tightly packed
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract1 
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips (optional)

1. Wash your hands.
2. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
3. Melt your butter and set aside while you get other ingredients measured.
4. Combine flour, salt, and baking soda with a whisk.

5. Combine butter with dark brown sugar until smooth and creamy. Approx 2 minutes.

6. Add eggs and vanilla and beat with a hand mixer until mixture becomes light colored.

7. Add the flour mixture 1/3 at a time until well-combined.

8. Fold in the chocolate chips, white chocolate chips and coconut.

9. Place ping-pong ball size rounds onto the parchment lined baking sheets.
10. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Plain Chocolate Chip Only

Coconut White & Chocolate Chip Cookies

Share the joy and make new friends.