Welcome back for another edition of Freshman Friday, a weekly installment using only kitchen appliances that can be used in a dorm and food stuffs that can fit in a mini fridge.
Eggs are amazing. Hard boiled, soft boiled, over easy, over hard, and, of course, scrambled with cheese. In any iteration, these portable protein powerhouses (oooh, natural alliteration) are one of that staples for any fridge, big or small.
So, how do you cook the eggs without leaving your room? Well, if you want over easy, over hard, or fried, I’m still working on figuring that out. I’ve already showed you that eggs can be scrambled in the microwave. So all that’s left are boiled eggs and for that, a rice cooker is very handy. A rice cooker should not be limited to making only rice (and actually, since I prefer brown rice, I haven’t used my rice maker to make rice since I got it). In fact, a rice cooker can be used to cook anything that needs to be boiled or steamed. I’ve cooked pasta and eggs, in addition to steaming vegetables (fresh and frozen) and some frozen (though thawed) dumplings. So get one, post haste and let’s get cooking!
Avocado Egg Salad
Adapted from Australian Avocado
- 4 Eggs (Missing from the photo because they were still boiling)
- 1 medium sized avocado
- 2 stalks of celery
- 1-2 tbsp of sweet relish
- 1-2 tbsp of dill pickle juice
- Various seasonings (I used pepper, Old Bay, and garlic powder)
- Boil your eggs, obviously.
- When cool, chop your eggs into pieces. For ease, I like to cut my eggs in half, lay one half down (flat side down), cut in one direction, and, while squeezing the egg to keep it together, rotate and cut in the other direction for a loose dice.
- Put eggs in bowl. Next, slice open the avocado and slice the celery. For this recipe, I would suggest getting a slightly overripe avocado (an avocado that is very soft when squeezed) unless you have a blender. For this recipe, I used my Magic Bullet (six years and still going strong!) to blend my avocado chunks into a mayo like texture. Once done, add avocado and celery to eggs and mix.
- Next, add your sweet relish and dill pickle juice. I use a 1:1 ratio (meaning I add them evenly). If you’ve never made egg salad before, I suggest starting with the smaller amount, tasting, and either adding more or leaving it alone. Finally, season to taste and mix.
Now, you can enjoy your egg salad right away, but I prefer to let it cool in the fridge and then top a rice cake with a slice of cheese and a quarter cup of salad. This is not the best looking recipe, but the avocado provided a creaminess similar to mayo and my addition of spices (and the pickle juice) helped to round out the flavor.
Final Verdict: Delicious
So, now that you have seasoned your cast iron cookware, what to cook? Well I say you should roast a chicken! Why? Because it’s easy and very impressive. Now, as I quickly learned, I am in no place to tell you how to carve a chicken, but I can get you from raw to cooked, so let’s go!
Roasted Chicken with Vegetables
- Whole Chicken (I used a 3.8 lb chicken in a 5 quart dutch oven)
- Oil (I used canola because that’s what I had, but any oil will work just fine.)
- Various spices (I used garlic powder, salt, pepper, Old Bay, italian seasoning, basil, rosemary, and cumin.)
- Various vegetables for roasting (I used red onion, carrots, and Brussel sprouts)
- 1-2 potatoes
- 1-2 lemons
- 1 bulb of garlic
- VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: Before we jump into the cooking, please remember that you are messing with raw meat here. Every.Single.Time you switch from touching the chicken to anything else, you need to wash your hands. Throughly. With soap. Also, Every.Single.Thing that is touched by the chicken (cutting board, colander, knife, etc.) needs to be washed thoroughly with hot water after you are done using it. Okay, now back to our regularly scheduled program.
- Since you are not allowed to use your cutting board after it is touched by the chicken unless you wash it thoroughly (broken record? well, you’ll thank me when you’re not sick!) I strongly suggest that you begin but chopping all of your vegetables and potatoes into manageable pieces. There’s no right or wrong here, you just don’t want your pieces to be too large. One suggestion I do have is to only quarter (as opposed to slicing or dicing) the onion since it will shrink during roasting.
- In a large bowl, toss your vegetables and potaotes with 3-4 tbsp of oil and a healthy sprinkle of each of the spices you plan to use on your chicken. Set aside.
- Next, slice your lemons in half and set those aside.
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
- Rinse off your chicken and dry it completely. Lift up the wings and the legs to dry off all the nooks and crannies. If your chicken is wet when it goes in the oven, you won’t get that nice crispy skin that everyone loves.
- Next, (and this was the worst part for me) stick your hand inside the chicken and pull out anything inside. Luckily, I did not have anything in there, but you don’t want to be like my mom who left the gizzard bag in a turkey one year and scared the mess out of everyone. Learn from our mistakes.
- In a small bowl, mix 1-2 tbsp of each of your chosen spices with 4-5 tbsp of your oil. Combine and spread over the entire chicken. Be liberal and don’t worry about getting oil on your counter. It will happen and you will clean. It is okay.
- Next, stuff your chicken with as many lemon halves as you can manage (but save one half for later), one quarter of your onion, and as many cloves of garlic as you like. You do not have to peel the cloves, just stick them in there. If you’ve never had roasted garlic, you’re in for a treat.
- Now, layer a small spoonful of vegetables in the bottom of your roasting pan (or dutch oven) so that the chicken will not just sit in it’s own juices during the cooking process.
- Put the chicken on top of the vegetables and spoon more vegetables around the chicken. Try to leave as much of the chicken showing as you can so that the skin can crisp. I actually ended up having to roast some of my vegetables in a skillet so that my chicken wasn’t covered.
- Put the chicken (and any extra vegetables) in the oven for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes remove the chicken and squeeze the lemon half that you saved over it. Squeeze hard so that you can get all of the juice out. I did this because I couldn’t reach the chicken juices to baste, but I think it added another (amazing) layer of flavor. Lower the oven temperature to 400 degrees and cook for another 45 minutes.
- Once the chicken is done, pull it out of the oven and walk away. Do not touch the chicken for ten minutes because if you touch, you’ll want to cut, and if you cut, all the delicious juices will run out and you’ll be left with a very dry (and sad) bird. After ten minutes, dig in!
Isn’t she lovely?
Fianl Verdict: Delicious
I am in love with my crockpot. Completely and totally infatuated. Once, my boyfriend broke the liner of the crockpot (the part you can remove to clean) and I was devastated. But I got another and have been slow cooking to my little heart’s content. What I love the most is putting ingredients into the crockpot, going to sleep, and waking up to at least a week of delicious meals. It’s one of the easiest things to start learning how to cook because it is very, very difficult to screw things up. So enough talking, on to the recipe!
Lasagna Soup- Adapted from Family Fresh Meals
- Ground beef or sausage (I used Mild Italian Sausage)
- 3-4 cups of beef broth
- 1 cup of water
- 1 bulb of roasted garlic (or 4-5 cloves finely chopped)
- 1 can of diced tomatoes (28 oz.)
- 1 can of tomato paste (6 oz.)
- 1 can of diced tomatoes with green chilies (10 oz.)
- 1 can of fire roasted tomatoes (14 oz.)
- 1 can of chopped green chilies (6 oz.)
- Garlic powder (to taste)
- Italian seasoning (to taste)
- Shell pasta (uncooked)
- Cheese (as much of the glorious substance as you wish)
- If you have time, brown your meat. You do not have to do this because given enough time (6-8 hours) the crock will throughly cook all meat, but browning the meat gives the dish an amazing level of flavor. Put the beef in the crockpot.
- Add the roasted garlic. This is another step that adds an unbelievable amount of flavor, but requires some pre-planning. But I can attest to the fact that once roasted, a bulb will stay fresh in a ziploc baggie for at least a week. To roast the garlic, put the bulb in the center of a large square of foil, cut the tip of the bulb, generously pour olive oil onto the exposed cloves, wrap the foil around the bulb, and put in the oven at 400 degrees for an hour or more. Delicious!
- Add the tomatoes, green chilies, water, 3 cups of beef broth, and seasoning. Stir and put the lid on the crockpot. Cook on low for 6-8 hours (or high for, I’m assuming, 3-4, but if I’m using the slow cooker, I’m going to cook my meal slowly so all of the flavors have time to come together).
- Approximately 30 minutes before serving, add the uncooked pasta and an addition 1/2 to full cup of broth. I didn’t and, as a result, I had to add a little bit to each serving.
- Serve with cheese. You could also add sour cream or green onions, but I was heading to work and did not have time for all of that.
I have not had one recipe come out of the crockpot that I have not loved and this is no exception. It’s warm and filling and easy, all the makings of a great meal in my book!
Final Verdict: Delicious
So I’m always on the lookout for quick simple recipes that look very impressive. This recipe hit 2.5 of those needs. The only downfall is the proofing time, but if you take the bread out in the morning, it’ll be proofed and ready by the time you come home. Well, on to the recipe.
adapted from What About Pie
- Frozen bread dough (chosen for ease, if you have a pizza dough or bread recipe you love and the time to do it, by all means, do it!)
- Deli pepperoni (much larger than regular pizza pepperoni; I needed a little more than 1/2 lb. for two rolls)
- 2 cups italian shredded cheese blend
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Garlic powder
- Italian seasoning
- Olive oil
Proof your dough (this is a fancy way of saying let your dough sit on the counter and rise). Below my dough after about four-five hours. What A Pie suggests (and I second) spraying the side of the plastic wrap that will touch the bread with cooking spray. I also put sprayed parchment paper under the dough.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Next, roll out your dough into some form of a rectangle. I had a bit of a difficult time working with my second roll. In hindsight, I should have walked away from the dough for a couple of minutes and let it calm down, but I didn’t. Ah well, you live you learn, right?
Pour about three tablespoons of oil onto your dough and spread it. Sprinkle on your seasonings and lay down your pepperoni. On my first roll, which was far more cooperative, I managed to get five rows of four. Put your cheese on top of your pepperoni and roll. What A Pie put melted butter on top of her rolls (and they turned out gorgeously), but all the butter in my fridge is spoken for so I used a little more oil, some seasoning, and more cheese (because you can never have enough cheese :-D). Repeat with second (or third) roll and put them in the over for approximately 25 minutes. *Note These will rise more in the oven, so make sure you have room between your rolls and the top rack or top of your oven.*
Look at this deliciousness.
These were amazing straight out of the oven and even better for lunch the next day. I cooked two rolls and after two meals for two people, I still have about 3/4 of a roll left.
Final Verdict: Delicious
I am an unapologetic carnivore. To the chagrin of my vegetarian friends, I will savor almost any kind of meat, but chicken has to be my absolute favorite. When I first started cooking, I lived on skinless boneless chicken breast. I would bake them, saute, fry, you name it, I did it. But the breast soon became very expensive, so I began to branch out into different parts of the bird.
Now, wings are decidedly more expensive than breast, but they are delicious and fun. I have quite a few chicken recipes up my sleeve, but let’s start with the basics: baked chicken wings.
- Chicken wings (defrosted)
- Oil (I used canola)
- Various spices (I used salt, regular pepper, garlic pepper, garlic powder, and Old Bay Seasoning)
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
- Cover your pan with foil.
- Season both sides of your wings generously.
- Pour a small amount of oil onto the wings and rub over the entire piece.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes or until no longer pink.
I love this recipe because it is so basic. Once done, you can mix up a sauce to coat the wings, cut the meat off of the bone and mix it into rice or noodles, or just eat the wings (because they’re delicious). I paired mine with some hot sauce and garlic mashed potatoes. How do you like your wings? Share in the comments.
Final Verdict: Delicious