Saturday, June 18, 2011

Let me introduce you to a brand new dance.

So, I lied about the vegetarian thing today. Sorry. The order of our cooking got switched up,
so I'm cooking again, and we gettin' fancy. Because our room averages about $2 per serving for most of our meals, I decided it was ok to splurge with some fancy fish. So please play this song in the background as you follow along:

(Modified recipe from the Food Network) (Serves 4)

Once the song is playing, you'll need this stuff:

1/4 cup packed cilantro leaves
2 scallions
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon grated ginger
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 skin-on wild salmon fillets, about 6 ounces each
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons honey
1 1/3 cups cooked edamame
Lime wedges, optional garnish

Once you've put the song on repeat and have all your ingredients:

  • Position an oven rack so that a baking sheet set on the rack is about 4-inches below the heat source. Preheat the broiler.

  • Finely chop the cilantro and scallion and mix in the oil and ginger. Season with salt and pepper.

  • Cut two 3-inch long slits lengthwise on the top of the salmon fillets, going about halfway into the salmon. Evenly stuff the slits with the herb mixture. Season the fish with salt and pepper.

  • Stir together the lime juice, soy and honey until smooth.

  • Place the fillets, skin down, on a foil lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Broil, basting 3 to 4 times with the sauce, until just cooked through, about 6 to 7 minutes.
Served with edamame, it should look something like this:

Average cost per serving: $5.25
Status of Basil Plant: Enjoying the College World Series.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Paradise by the Dashboard Light

For decades, it has terrorized homemakers, children, and chefs of all shapes and sizes.

Some say it cannot be done.

Some say it should never have been tried.

Some say there's no way Scott could do it.

I am speaking, of course, of


Whoa. Calm down, Sad Sandwich, terrified movie crowd, and my sister Lauren's baby picture.
He made it, and it was DELICIOUS. Seriously.

But before he was able to make it, he needed this stuff:
1 lb 80% lean ground beef
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (undrained)
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped bell pepper (any color)
1 large egg
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon barbecue sauce (the recipe called for yellow mustard, which Scott hates. A lot.)

He also needed this stuff:

1 large mixing bowl
1 not-as-large mixing bowl
Stirring utensil
Measuring things
Cutting board
(not pictured) baking sheet and foil

Then, he did this:
(recipe courtesy of HyVee ComfortFoods) (Serves 8)
  • Heat oven to 350.
  • In large mixing bowl, combine beef, tomatoes, oats, onion, bell pepper, egg, salt, and black pepper. Mix gently until blended.
  • Turn mixture into 9x5 inch loaf pan (or just form it yourself into a 9x5 inch loaf) and place on foil-lined baking sheet. Set aside.
  • In not-as-large mixing bowl, stir together ketchup, brown sugar and barbecue sauce. Spread on top of meatloaf. Bake 9x5 inch loaf for 1 hour or until internal temperature reaches 160.
  • Let rest 10 minutes before slicing.
  • Slice.
  • Eat.
Now, your meatloaf, with a nice side of potato salad and some strawberries, should look something like this:

Colin delivered this to me while I was at work. 5 points for Gryffindor.

See, that wasn't so bad, right? I'll be honest, I judged meatloaf before. No more. Between having these guys as roommates and the good food we're eating, ain't no doubt about it--we are doubly blessed.

The average cost of the meatloaf (based on 8 servings): $1.25. Wow.
Status of Basil plant: flourishing

Stay tuned tomorrow for some vegetarian goodness!

Conquer your fears--try making this yourself.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Chef Colin's captivating culinary creations containing carbs, carrots, citrus and candy!

It's time to see if C-$ McDonald can cook as well as he can run half marathons (which is really well).

Spoiler Alert: He can.

Last night he treated us to Pasta Primavera and HE MADE DESSERT.

Because the phrase "eat dessert first" is, to me, not so much a funny saying as a mandate from God, we'll do dessert first. But seriously, if you're making both, make dessert first. It needs to chill.

Lemon Breakfast Parfaits (recipe courtesy of tasteofhome magazine)
Serves 6.

First, you'll need this stuff:
3/4 cup fat-free milk (we used 2%)
1/3 cup uncooked couscous
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup lemon yogurt
1 tbsp. honey
1/4 tsp grated lemon peel
1 cup sliced peeled kiwi
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup fresh raspberries
(Fresh mint would be awesome on top, but we didn't have any. One fresh plant at a time).

  • In a small saucepan, bring milk and salt to a boil. Stir in couscous. Remove from the heat; cover and let stand for 5-10 minutes or until milk is absorbed. Fluff with a fork; cool.
  • In a small bowl, combine the sour cream, yogurt, honey and lemon peel. Stir in couscous.
  • Combine kiwi, blueberries, and raspberries; spoon 1/4 cup into each of six parfait glasses. Layer with couscous mixture and remaining fruit. Garnish with mint, if you have it. Ginger would be nice, too.
It should look something like this:

Now let it chill while you make yo dinna.

Pasta Primavera. (Recipe courtesy of tasteofhome magazine)
(Serves 8-10)

Sidenote: I looked up the definition of "primavera" and this is what I got:
(noun) the hard, light-colored timber of a Central American tree.

Oh. Right.

So first, you'll need this:

A Central American tree with
lightly colored timber.

You'll also need this stuff:

1 16 oz pkg of spaghetti
1 lb. fresh asparagus. trimmed and cut into 1 in. pieces
2 medium carrots cut into 1/4 in. slices (as you can see, Colin used more).
1/2 cup butter, cubed
1/2 lb. sliced fresh mushrooms
2 cups cubed fully cooked ham
1 10 oz. pkg frozen peas, thawed
3 green onions, chopped (the recipe tried to make us use 8, we said "no, no, no.")
3 tsp. dried basil
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper (the recipe said white pepper, we said "huh?")
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup grated Parmesean cheese (split into 2 half-cups)

Once you've chopped and diced and blahblah, start boiling your water for the spaghetti, then..
  • In a large skillet, saute asparagus and carrots in butter for 3 minutes. Add mushrooms; saute until crisp-tender.
  • Stir in ham, peas, onions, basil, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add cream. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes.
  • Drain spaghetti; place in large bowl. Add contents of skillet and 1/2 cup cheese; toss to combine. Serve with remaining cheese.
Hopefully, the new contents of your large bowl look something like this:

I think this is Colin's way of saying "we need to eat more vegetables."

And once we've combined all of the above with the garlic bread our dear friend Natalie brought over, you should have a plate that looks like this:

"Aw man, I thought we were supposed to mix the dessert in with the pasta!"


That's it! Covers all the food groups, including dessert.
Average cost of the pasta primavera per serving (based on 8 servings): $2.80
Status of basil plant: flourishing

Ditch the easy mac. Make this instead.

Monday, June 13, 2011


Tomato Basil Cream, served over chicken and pasta (or TBCSOCAP, for short). (Serves 4)
(Courtesy of

One of the best parts about spending a summer in a city of which you are not a native is the occasional invitation to eat dinner at someone ELSE'S house. FO FREE. That's what we did last night. However, to quote F.P.h.d. (Future P.h.d.) Colin McDonald, "I eat way better here than I do at home." So, it's back to work/play.

First, you'll need this stuff:

2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh coarse ground black pepper
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup coarsely chopped tomato
1/4 cup coarsely chopped basil leaves
1/2 cup whipping cream

You'll also need this:

A 10-inch skillet.
(Do not be confused by it's resemblance to Mr. Gru from Despicable Me).


(Make your pasta as you're doing this. Make sure your ingredients are ready and chopped, then start boiling water before step 1).
  • Melt butter in Mr. Gru's face until sizzling; stir in garlic, salt and pepper. Add chicken breasts. Cook over medium-high heat, turning once, until golden brown (8 to 12 minutes).
  • Add tomatoes, 1/4 cup basil and whipping cream. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until sauce is heated through (4 to 5 minutes).

  • Serve over your pasta of choice (we chose linguini, the best pasta), which you should finishing about now.

  • Next, oh wait..

And your food should look like this:

Pardon the light, it makes the sauce look way more brown that it actually is. The sauce should look more red/pink.

The average cost of this dish per serving is $1.38. BOOM.

Hope you enjoy! Also, my sister suggested today I get a twitter for the blog...#thinkingaboutit.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Efficiency. It's like heroine, but healthy.

Because Scott and I were the only two home for dinner last night, we have a TON of leftover pesto pasta. As such, we're not making anything new today. I know that many college students in our position (first year of self-responsibility for food) are hella nervous about how to divide cost, responsibility, etc. Therefore, I offer you our most prized possession:

The Wall of Efficiency.

We record what we spend on milk, cheese, bread, butter and fruit. Scott, Colin and Westin split the cost of chicken (we use it a lot, as you'll soon see). At the end of each month, we pass money around to make up any differences. Otherwise, each individual is expected to pay for the ingredients when it's their night to make dinner.

This has worked really well for us so far. Hope it helps!

Everyone is gone today, so if I find a ride to the grocery store in the next 24 hours, I'll be back tomorrow with something delicious. If not, more leftovers. Happy weekend!

Friday, June 10, 2011

The First Supper.

So it begins. I'm up first, and I decided to open with one of my absolute favorite dishes, which I learned from my dear mother back home and had ingrained into my head by requesting it for dinner every time I come home to visit.

Pesto Pasta with M.T. (Mozzarella Tomato/Much Tasty)
(serves 6-8)

First, you'll need this stuff:

1 box linguine
1 can basil pesto
at least 2 pints cherry tomatoes (you can/should use more..the topping always runs out before the pasta)
1 package fresh mozzarella (if you can, buy the cubed kind, so you can just tear it off into cute little..cubes. The grocery store didn't have any today, so I cut mine, which looks far less pretty).
olive oil
balsamic vinegar

salt/pepper (optional)

You'll also need this stuff:

1 big bowl

1 not-as-big bowl

1 big pot

  • First, start making your linguine. It tells you how on the back of the box.
  • Once you've started boiling your water, cut your cherry tomatoes in half (top-down, not side to yourself the juicy mess). Put your halved tomatoes in the not-as-big bowl.

  • Add olive oil and balsamic vinegar to the not-as-big bowl, and stir the tomatoes so they're thoroughly bathed. How much you put in is up to you, but when in doubt, add more. You should be able to taste the balsamic vinegar. The salt and pepper is also optional here. I really like balsamic vinegar, so I just add a dash of salt (I've always wanted to say that).

  • Hopefully your fresh mozzarella is already cubed. If not, cut it now.

  • Once your linguini is finished with it's bath, drain the water, then put the water-less pasta into the big bowl.

  • Stir your pesto while it's still in the can, then add all of it to the big bowl. It will look disturbingly similar to Jabba the Hutt taking a crap on your pasta.

  • Overcome your disgust at the look/my description of the pesto, and stir the pasta/pesto until it's well mixed.

  • Dump (get it?) the contents of the not-as-big bowl onto the pasta

  • Add the mozzarella on top of the newly-tomahawked pasta.
It should look something like this:

Once it's on your plate, it should look something like this:

Why grapes? Because I like grapes.
They actually go really nicely with the pasta, thanks to the olive oil.

Once you've taken a bite, you should look something like this:

The average cost of this meal (based on 5 people eating) is $2.82 per person.


P.S. This pasta is also delicious with grilled chicken on top, but I didn't want to ostracize Nick with our first meal. Even though he could have picked it out.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Dinner is served.

I am a junior in college, I live with three other guys, and we do not have a meal plan for on-campus dining. Bring on the ramen noodles and easymac, right?

Transitioning into my first year of self-responsibility for food, I was determined to defy the stereotype of the culinarily incompetent, underfed and over-pizza'd college male. If only my roommates liked to cook...

Oh wait. They do.

Scott and Colin required no convincing that making our own delicious meals on a small budget was not only possible, but mandatory.

After one fresh omelet, homemade pesto pasta, and a promise not to serve chicken every evening, Nick was on board, ready to make his own pescetarian contributions to our bold and potentially delicious adventure.

So. This blog.

This blog is both for our benefit and for yours. I am convinced that if we commit to recording our edible endeavors where others can read them, we will challenge ourselves to consistently create meals that are not much money and very much awesome.

With each meal, we will post not only the recipe, but approximately how much it costs per hungry student. Although you'll get a ton of delicious and affordable recipes along the way, our goal is to prove to ourselves, our peers, and our mothers that four college guys can eat restaurant-quality food on a college-quality budget, and share this high-quality experience with anyone else who's willing to try.

Let's eat.