By Annie Sager
Do you ever have those long days of class and work and homework and more class and more work? Those days when you feel a bit tired of being at college, and you’d really prefer to just go home and have your mom or dad cook you a nice homemade meal? Or what about the days when you are on campus all day? You’re running from class to class and don’t have time to eat much, so you’re starving at the end of the day on your walk home, dreaming of mac ‘n cheese, chili, and chocolate cake.
I’m sure we have all had these days or similar experiences, and it seems that the common thread is that when we get home, hungry and exhausted, the grave realization and reality sets in: we have to make our own food. At this point, you have three options: 1. use that hard earned money you just made from work, work, working to go out and buy a meal from one of USC’s local fast food joints, 2. cook something in your kitchen all by yourself, or 3. microwave yet another bag of popcorn and call it “dinner.” As tempting as option one may be and as convenient (albeit boring) option three is, option two – cooking for yourself – may not be as daunting a task as you imagine. You can save money, eat healthier, and maybe even have a bit of fun! Here are three college kitchen recipes that are quick to make, easy to keep, and delicious to eat.
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- Pasta with Pesto, Sun Dried Tomatoes, and Peas
1 box of dried pasta (penne, rigatoni, fusilli)
½ cup sun dried tomatoes (drained and chopped)
½ cup frozen peas
½ cup pesto (or as much as you feel you need)
Salt and pepper
Boil water and cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. Drain the pasta but do NOT rinse. Put the pasta back in the pot, add sun dried tomatoes, peas, pesto, salt, and pepper. Heat for 12 more minutes. Pour into your serving (or eating) dish and top with Parmesan cheese.
- Black Bean and Corn Chicken Salad
1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 package frozen corn (thawed) (you can use 1 can if you cannot find frozen corn)
1 cup frozen edamame
12 cooked chicken breasts (diced)
½ red onion (diced)
¼ teaspoon chili powder or cayenne
Salt and pepper
Salad dressing of your choice (a chipotle dressing or balsamic vinaigrette would be nice)
Mix beans, corn, edamame, chicken, onion, and spices in a bowl. Toss with salad dressing. If you have time to chill your salad, it will taste better once the flavors can come together. You can top with cilantro, radishes, or tortilla chips. Serve with warm tortillas if you’d like.
- Honey Mustard Pretzel Coated Chicken Nuggets*
10 ounces raw boneless skinless lean chicken breast, cut into 8 strips
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons honey mustard, plus more, for optional dipping
20 standard sized (not mini) hard salted thin pretzel twists
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Season chicken strips with salt and pepper. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine honey mustard with the egg and whisk well. Submerge the chicken and set aside to marinate for at least 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, place pretzels in resealable plastic bag, seal, and finely crush through the bag. (This is a great way to take out any professor inspired aggression. Add sugar, reseal, and shake to mix. Spread the mixture out on a large plate or in a large dish. Set aside.
Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray.
Using tongs, transfer chicken strips to the pretzel sugar mixture and thoroughly coat. Then transfer them to the baking sheet. (Discard excess mustard egg mixture.) Mist the tops of the strips with nonstick spray.
Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through baking, until the chicken is cooked through. Eat and enjoy!
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If you saved room for dessert (which is really the whole reason we eat dinner, right?), try topping your favorite vanilla ice cream with chocolate chips, crushed Oreos, dried fruit, or cinnamon for a tasty treat. If you’re trying to be a bit healthier, you can try this bonus recipe for baked apples!
1 apple (Fuji is great, but your favorite apple will work well, too)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Small slice of butter
Vanilla ice cream (optional, but highly recommended if you’re not as into the “healthy” aspect of this dessert)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare a baking pan with nonstick spray. Cut the top off the apple and scoop out the core and insides so there is a clean cavity to the apple. Place the apple on the pan. Sprinkle the apple with sugar and cinnamon, and put the butter in the whole.
Bake the apple for 12-15 minutes (until just soft enough to cut into, but not falling apart). Top with vanilla ice cream while still warm and enjoy!
*This recipe was adapted from: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/honeymustardpretzelcoatedchickenfingersrecipe.print.html?oc=linkback . All other recipes were created by Annie.
Featured image by Kelsey Chance on Unsplash
Annie is a junior studying Cognitive Science and Occupational Therapy. She has always been interested in studying the English language and is knowledgeable in grammar, sentence structure, and reading comprehension skills. She has taken many linguistics classes at USC and loves learning more about the worlds’ languages. Since she was young, Annie has wanted to be an English teacher. Annie is an avid traveler and has lived in Switzerland and Venezuela. She is fluent in French and conversational in Spanish. At USC, Annie is involved in USC Helenes, the American Sign Language Club, and Swim With Mike. She loves to read, cook, and swim, and you might often find her at the beach or in the kitchen.