5 essential cooking apps for college students

Finding time to cook real, tasty food in college can be really difficult. Between heavy course loads and extracurricular activities it is often tempting to resort to fast food which can be unhealthy and expensive. Fortunately, there are tons of apps that help students embrace their inner chefs. Here is the best of the best.

  1. BigOven – This app has a recipe for literally anything you could be hungry for, with over 350,000 recipes. It also includes a menu planner, grocery list, and a place to save your favorite tried recipes. The recipes are divided by season, holiday, course, diet etc. making it super easy to find exactly what you are looking for. As an added bonus, this one is completely free.
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    from bigoven.com

    2. Allrecipes Dinner Spinner – One cool thing about this app is that it lets you know which ingredients are on sale in stores near you. It also makes it even easier to learn new recipes, because there is over 1000 step-by-step videos. You can search for specific recipes, but you can also utilize the “Dinner Spinner” when you are looking for something more out there. You give your phone a shake and it chooses a dish type, an ingredient and a cooking time, then gives you matching recipes. This app is also free.

     

     

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Graphic by Erik Zitzermann

3.  Epicurious – Epicurious is well-known as one of the best cooking resources out there and their app is no different. The app generates grocery lists ans has a seasonal section to help with healthier and more local cooking. Epicurious pulls recipes from a lot of different websites so there are over 100,000 recipes. Plus every recipe is rated by other users on a four fork and “would cook again” scale, so you know when you’ve found a good one.

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Photo from iTunes App Store

4. Yummly – Yummly has tons of search filters so you do not waste any time weeding out ones that do not fit your needs. This app is a great curator, it pulls recipes from Allrecipes, Epicurious, Food52 and popular food blogs. It also has an ingredient scanner, so if you find a cool new ingredient on sale, but do not know what to cook with it, you can scan the item and it will suggest recipes.

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5. Kitchen Stories – This app adds new recipes every week and each episode comes with HQ pictures, how-to videos, step-by-step instructions, downloadable grocery lists and even a list of wine pairings for the 21+ crowd. As always, the app is free!  Kitchen-Stories-App-658x370-f40d900bd417ad86

Cooking with a college student

Cooking in college is hard. Not only are our apartment kitchen appliances older than we are but, we lack the skill and, more importantly, the time to prepare a decent meal for ourselves. Over the past semester I’ve picked up a few tricks on how to feed myself, emphasis on “a few”. Here’s what I can share with you.

  1. Breakfast for Dinner. Cook Time: 10 minutes (maybe less). Needs: eggs, bread, butter, Jane’s Crazy Mixed Up Salt (the greatest seasoning you can put on anything), cooking pan, spatula.
    Eggs are simple to cook. With 12 weeks of practice I’ve mastered a flawless over easy egg with the outside perfectly cooked with a runny, warm yolk. If you don’t have strong egg flipping confidence yet, start out with scrambled eggs and work your way up. I promise you, your timing and flipping skills will sharpen with every attempt.
  2. Taco Tuesday.. Thursday.. Friday. Cook Time: 12 minutes. Needs: ground beef, taco seasoning, tortillas, lettuce, sour cream, salsa, etc.
    One of my finer dinner dishes is tacos. Although it may seem a little elaborate, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy and enjoyable tacos are. Warm up a cooking pan, unwrap the meat, toss it on the skillet and let it cook! Once the meat is done (make sure it is really done) dress your tacos according to taste.
  3. Grilled Cheese. Cook Time: 7 minutes. Needs: bread, mayonnaise, cheese, extra toppings.
    A cold, rainy afternoon accompanied with a warm, overly cheesy, grilled cheese, feeds the soul. Grab two slices of standard white bread, slap on a generous helping of mayonnaise (yes, mayonnaise) because it helps grill the bread far better than butter. Most importantly, don’t stick to standard yellow american cheese. Venture to add  provolone, mozzarella, white american or a mixture. If you’re fancy, consider dirtying another pan and warming up some tomato soup.
  4. Garlic Noodles. Cook Time: 12 minutes. Needs: noodles, butter, extra virgin olive oil, garlic salt, sprinkle parmesan cheese.
    Boil the water. Cook the noodles. Garnish the freshly cooked noodles with a dollop of butter, a small drop of EVOO, 3 shakes of garlic salt and a hardy helping of parmesan cheese. (I don’t suggest this dish before a night out or a night spent with a significant other. The garlic isn’t a friend.)
  5. Pizza BagelCook Time: 5 minutes. Needs: Half a bagel or a piece of bread, pizza sauce, shredded mozzarella cheese, pepperoni.
    Pizza is a college staple. But, it can get pricey. I’ve developed my very own personal pan pizza using half of a bagel as crust and topping it as I please. Once the bagel is dressed, pop it in a toaster oven or microwave and your pizza is ready to eat!

After a day full of classes and work and a night of papers and studying ahead, make sure to eat. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Use what you have to throw something together and be proud of your wonderful meals!

A Thanksgiving for 100

Friendsgiving is a roaring trend. People all over the country reserve a day for a second or maybe third, Thanksgiving celebration.

Janet Smith, Chi Omega House Cook, helps the 160 sorority sisters celebrate their Friendsgiving accordingly by preparing and cooking a full blown Thanksgiving meal a few days before the women leave to return home for their family Thanksgivings.

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Cooking on such a large scale can be overwhelming and time consuming. But, Smith is here to give us a few tips on how to make our very own Thanksgiving meal.

  1. Make sure to take the packet out of the neck cavity that has the giblets in it. Don’t bake it in the turkey… It will ruin it.
  2. Bake your turkey in a cooking bag. It will brown nicely and will not dry out.
  3. When the turkey is done, take it out, set it on the counter, cover it with kitchen towels and let it sit and it will carve nicely.
  4. Bake the pies the night before. Makes it easier so you don’t have to wake up as early.
  5. Enjoy your time cooking!

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Thanksgiving, done the college way

Not able to go home for Thanksgiving, low on cash, or simply wanting to host a quick “friends-giving” before trekking home for the week? No worries, because a delicious, easy and cheap Thanksgiving dinner is well within reach. Between personal experience and the wealth of crafty cooking that is Pinterest, here is a quick guide to a successful college thanksgiving.

  • The potatoes – Arguably the tastiest part of Thanksgiving dinner, mashed potatoes are also going to be the easiest for a college student. Potatoes are extremely cheap and likely something already in the pantry. In addition, mashed potatoes are a very wing-able recipe, as in one is not really needed. For the perfect mashed potatoes c3873468062_5bd39e7b92_ohop the desired amount of potatoes into small cubes (the number will vary depending on how many people need to be served), boil them until they can be pierced with a fork. drain the potatoes, and add them back to the pot. Once they are back in the pot mash them with whatever you have on hand, often a large ladle will do. While mashing add in a few splashes of milk, a tablespoon or two of butter, and a dollop of sour cream for extra creaminess. Mash till their smooth or leave a few chunks in, again, the recipe is completely adaptable to personal tastes.
  • The turkey – Depending on the group and budget, a full sized turkey is probably unmanageable and unrealistic. Instead, try a thick cut turkey sandwich. For a fancier feel, get it cut fresh from the deli, or get something like Oscar Meyer Carving Board turkey. It will give the feel of sliced-from-the-bird meat without the hours of cooking. Buy a nice crusty bread and layer it up with all the fixings.
  • Rolls –  Nobody has time to make homemade rolls. Take a break and pop your preferred store bought brand into the oven.
  •  Gravy – Again, this will be better done store bought, because without a turkey being cooked in the oven, there will not be any drippings for the base. Luckily, gravy can be bought for about $2.50 a jar and local grocery stores.
  • Cranberry Sauce – Let’s be real, canned cranberry sauce is a classic and the way it jiggles on the plate is tons of fun, but if you are feeling adventurous this recipe promises to be quick and easy.
  • Pumpkin pie – The crowning glory of Thanksgiving dinner and also a deceptively easy recipe to make. For a twist on this time honored dessert try making individual pumpkin pies. To make 12 you will need 1 prepared pie crust, 2 eggs, 4 ounces of cream cheese (half a package), 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/2 can of pumpkin filling, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Roll out10934602786_09a2e29546_o the pie crust and cut into mini circles that will fit into cupcake tins. Separate the white from one of the eggs, whisk it and then brush over the pie crusts. Put the yolk from the first egg in a bowl and beat with the remaining egg. Mix softened cream cheese, sugar, pumpkin, vanilla extract and the pumpkin pie spice into the eggs and keep mixing until the mixture is smooth. Spoon the filling into the little pies and bake until golden brown and the filling is firm. Finish with a little whip cream or ice cream and voila, little bitty cups of pumpkin goodness.

Feel free to round out the meal with a big green salad, and extra veggie sides, but these basics will get you a delectable dinner and the praise of all of your guests.

5 easy fall meals to make off campus

One of the struggles of living off campus is having to make food for yourself. It’s not as easy as going to the dining hall and having prepared food waiting. So for those looking to make some simple but still delicious easy fall meals, here are some.

Stovetop Mac & Cheese

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To me, nothing says “cold-weather comfort food” quite like mac & cheese. It’s super easy to make, but also delicious. Making it on the stove with good pasta and real cheese makes it so much better than Kraft mac & cheese. (Who knows what is in that powdered “cheese.”)

What you’ll need:

Pasta (I prefer shells or elbow macaroni)

Shredded cheese

Milk

Butter

First, boil that pasta. Once it’s done cooking, drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Next add a small slab of butter and stir it around the pasta until it melts, then add a bunch of cheese. I like to use a few different varieties of cheese to have different flavors. The more cheese, the better. Stovetop mac & cheese is at its best when it’s really, really cheesy. Lastly add a small splash of milk and stir everything together. It’s a simple meal, but a classic for college kids.

 

BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

There’s never a bad time for BBQ pulled chicken, but fall is the best time. The flavorful chicken does a good job of warming you up. It’s perfect to make for you and your buddies for football games on Sundays; to share with roommates or to just make a big batch and have leftovers for days just for yourself (that’s what I do). The fact this dish is made using a crock-pot makes it so much easier. You can throw it in, go to class, and come home to the sweet smell of barbecue sauce.

What you’ll need:

3 or 4 boneless chicken breasts

1 cup of barbecue sauce

1/3 cup of Italian dressing

2 tablespoons of brown sugar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons water

Buns

Place chicken breasts in the bottom of the crock-pot. In a glass measuring cup or a bowl, mix barbecue sauce, Italian dressing, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce until it’s smooth. Pour the mixture over the chicken breasts and turn them over until they’re coated completely. Set the crock-pot to low and leave it for four and a half hours. Then, take the chicken out and put it on a plate or cutting board. Once that’s done, mix the cornstarch and water together and then pour it into the sauce in the crock-pot and mix well. Turn up the heat to high for 10 minutes while you shred the chicken with forks. Place the chicken back in the pot and toss in the sauce. (Before I continue cooking the chicken, I add a little more barbecue sauce for extra flavor.) Then cover and cook on low for another 45 minutes. Stack buns with the pulled chicken and you’re ready to go!

 

Stuffed Peppers

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Every other time I’ve made stuffed peppers, I’ve used ground beef and rice. But I found a new recipe that suggested crumbled meat substitute and quinoa. It was actually very tasty, and also healthy. The fun thing about stuffed peppers is that you can mix and match what you want in them. Colorful bell peppers make for a colorful meal as the leaves change colors for fall.

What you’ll need:

Bell Peppers

Quinoa

Ground beef or meat substitute

Salsa

Shredded cheese

Black beans

Corn

Start off by cooking the quinoa. Bring it to a boil then turn the heat down to a simmer, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes. While the quinoa is cooking, brown the ground beef or meat substitute. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Once both are done, put them in a medium sized bowl and add some cheese (I used Monterey Jack), salsa (I used the mild salsa from Frog Ranch, which is made locally), black beans and corn. Stir it all together then spoon the mixture into the peppers. Top peppers with some more cheese, then put them in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Then, you’ll have a yummy fall meal!

 

Fried Rice

This is one of my favorite and go to meals. It’s great to make when you’re looking to stay in on a cold night and want to take the time to make a good meal. I like to make a big batch of fried rice so I can have leftovers for a few days (because I’m a poor college student and all). Like the stuffed peppers, you can mix up what you put in the fried rice or you can add meat or whatever seasonal vegetables you want. It’ll always be good.

What you’ll need:

Rice

3-4 Eggs

Carrots, shredded or cubed

Peas

Green onion

White onion, chopped

Garlic, minced

3-4 Tablespoons of soy sauce

1 Teaspoon of sesame oil

Make the rice a little bit in advance and put it in the fridge. Cold rice works better when you go to fry it. Chop up the green onion and white onion and place to the side. In a small skillet, scramble and fry the eggs. Once that’s done, place a slab of butter in a large skillet and add the peas, carrots, green onion, garlic and other vegetables you want. Sprinkle a little bit of salt and pepper on top and simmer until onions are translucent and carrots are tender. Then add another slab of butter, take the rice out of the fridge and mix it with the vegetables. Turn the heat up on the stove to help fry the rice. Add the tablespoons of soy sauce and feel free to add more to suit your taste. After letting the rice fry for a few minutes, add the egg and green onion and stir. When the mixing is done, add the sesame sauce, stir and let the rice fry for just a few more minutes. Now, you have a tasty meal to accompany your Netflix binge.

Locally Made Pasta with Meatballs

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Luckily, Athens is a great place to eat local. There are farmers markets, great local shops and an “eat local” section in Kroger. While grocery shopping, I stumbled down this isle and picked some pasta made by Crumbs Bakery. This is an easy meal, but it’s quick to make and delicious — and you’re supporting a local business, which is just as rewarding.

What you’ll need:

Pasta

Sauce

Meatballs

Cheese to top the pasta

Boil as much pasta as you’d like in a pot. At the same time, cook fresh or frozen meatballs according to directions on the package. In a small pot, simmer sauce and remember to stir it occasionally so it doesn’t burn. Once the pasta is done cooking, drain it and spoon it onto a plate. Place meatballs on top and cover with sauce. Add a few sprinkles of mozzarella or Parmesan cheese for a finishing touch.