I’ve been on the Block 50 meal plan for two semesters now, so I only get about three meals a week in the dining hall. Having to cook all my other meals has proved to be a very valuable learning experience for me, as it’s forced me to get creative. Below are a few of my favorite things I’ve cooked for myself.
Macaroni and Cheese
Of course, we all love some plain old Kraft “Mac and Cheese,” but let’s be honest with ourselves — it hardly constitutes actual real mac and cheese if you make it with powder. This recipe is very easy and much more authentic than its boxed counterpart.
1. Cook one pound of macaroni or similar pasta, drain and set aside.
2. In another pot, stir four tablespoons of butter, two cups of milk (use 2 percent for extra creaminess) and 1/4 cup flour. Once these ingredients are smoothly combined, add two cups of cheddar cheese. Feel free to mix in some swiss, mozzarella or some of your favorite cheese. If you want to make this a complete meal, add a bag of mixed vegetables.
3. Mix in your noodles to your cheese sauce.
4. In a large casserole dish, add half your noodles, sprinkle more cheese over them, and then add the rest.
5. Bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes or until the top of your dish starts to brown.
Herbed Baked Chicken Breast
Baking chicken breasts seems so simple it hardly could be considered a recipe, but sometimes simplicity is best. These go great with fresh vegetables or a baked potato.
1. The morning before you plan on baking, rub herbs on your chicken breasts in your baking pan with a mixture of black pepper, oregano, parsley, thyme and dill. I also like to add a bit of Italian dressing for an extra zip.
2. Add a small slice of butter on each piece, and then bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. Flip your chicken in the pan and bake for an additional 25 minutes.
College students stereotypically eat a lot of pasta. I’m no exception; however, I refuse to settle for jarred sauces. Over several batches I’ve come to perfect a fantastic spicy sauce that makes spaghetti anything but boring.
1. Brown one pound of lean ground beef in a large pot.
2. Add three yellow onions — they have much more flavor than white. Add two green peppers, four large tomatoes, two small jalapeno peppers and one whole clove of garlic into the mix. Chop up all these veggies in advance.
3. After your meat and vegetables are adequately cooked, start adding cans of petite diced tomatoes and tomato sauce in an even ratio until your pot is full.
4. Let this simmer on low heat for 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the size. Add black pepper, garlic powder and onion powder to taste. Freeze whatever you have leftover for super quick dinners later.
Trust me when I say omelets aren’t just for breakfast. Like spaghetti sauce, you can do whatever you want with this recipe to suit your tastes.
1. In a small pan about half the size of a full skillet, cook your omelet-filling mixture with some olive oil. Add pepper and salt to taste.
2. Beat three eggs in a bowl and add a splash of milk. Pour your eggs into the pan once your filling is cooked to your liking, and let them cook without stirring for 30 seconds to a minute. Then comes the hard part: flipping your omelet in order to cook the other side. This takes practice so there’s a good chance you’ll end up with chunky scrambled eggs.
3. Once the other side is cooked, put it on a plate, sprinkle your favorite cheese on top and fold it in half.
This is the only recipe that requires something other than basic pots and pans: the slow-cooker. Most dorm kitchens have one lying around, and if yours doesn’t, you can buy one at Target for less than $50. Trust me, you want to buy one. Preparation and execution for this recipe is painfully easy; it just takes most of the day to cook. The results are mouthwatering.
1. In your slow cooker, add a one-pound piece of your favorite meat, be it chicken, London broil or pork tenderloin. Then add two chopped yellow onions, ten or so small red potatoes, a bag of baby carrots and a can of chicken or beef broth.
2. Let it sit on a medium heat for six to seven hours, or until your meat is cooked adequately. Freeze the leftovers you’ll surely have.
Zach Hardy is a Confusion Corner Columnist and is considering making himself a green salad.