Tag Archives: Cheese

Mexican Black Beans and Quinoa

Mexican Black Beans and Quinoa

I love this dish. The idea came to me on the walk home from the gym when I needed a quick, protein-packed dish that could cook on its own while I took a shower! I had less than an hour to eat, shower, and head back off to class, so those were the rules my lunch had to live by. Black beans and quinoa seemed like the perfect combination.

There was some trial and error the first few times I made it. I cooked the quinoa separately and added it to the bean mixture at the last minute, but that left the quinoa too flavorless, and the beans too dried up. Next, I tried cooking the quinoa with the beans, but left the lid on like you normally do with quinoa. It puffed up just fine, but there was too much liquid leftover that had to cook off in additional time. I’ve also added bacon to it before. Crisped up the bacon, then crumbled it and cooked the veggies in the bacon fat. You can add the bacon on top for a salty, delicious crunch. But, the bacon is also extra time (and money!), and I’ve found that it’s perfectly fine without.
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Enchiladas Suizas

Enchiladas Suizas

Mexican food. I crave it.

But so many of the Mexican restaurants around here just don’t cut it. There’s one in particular, well-known by college students for their Margarita specials, that I dread going to with friends because it means a $12 plate of sub-par enchiladas suizas (my favorite) next to a sad pile of rice and brown blob of refried beans.

Give me better Mexican food! For $7 in California, I can get amazing enchiladas suizas with the best rice and beans you’ve ever had.

Don’t tolerate bad Mexican food!

Make your own.

Enchiladas Suizas

Enchiladas Suizas

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Parmesan Risotto with Shrimp

Parmesan Risotto with Shrimp

Almost a year ago I bought The Professional Chef, the Culinary Institute of America’s textbook, because…. it cost $40. Had 900 recipes. 800 color photographs. Recipe per dollar, it must be blowing every other cookbook out of the water!

But it’s overwhelmingly intimidating. All the recipes are to feed a crowd. And all the ingredients are listed by weight. It took me a little while (read: until this week!) to face the 1200 page behemoth and say, Yes. I am going to cook something from you.

So I cut the recipe for Risotto Milanese in half and got some shrimp so that I could make a less froofy-sounding dish: Parmesan Risotto with Shrimp. By all textbook/cookbook accounts, half the recipe should have served 5. But… it only served us 2. We were hungry. It was delicious.

Maybe you’ll have leftovers. Maybe you should double the recipe to feed your family. Maybe we were just two hungry 20-somethings who had been so busy all day we’d barely eaten anything.

Maybe, maybe, maybe. I’ll stick with it’s unstoppably delicious.

Parmesan Risotto with Shrimp
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Polenta Gnocchi with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Polenta Gnocchi with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

I got a little manic about cooking yesterday. Maybe I’m always a little manic in the kitchen. I started browsing the Sundays at Moosewood chapter on Italy and ran across a yummy-sounding recipe for roasted mushrooms. Then the cookbook suggested I pair them with polenta. With a red pepper sauce on top. And suddenly I was making three dishes at once in my tiny kitchen with only an hour and a half to cook and eat before I had to be out the door (note: rushed photos so I could eat and run).

It can be done, my friends. If the polenta is cooked and cooled ahead of time, you can whip together a spectacular Italian meal for that someone special (in my case, it’s my roommate Meredith) in an hour. You might go a little crazy and smell like a red pepper for the rest of the night, but you can do it! Or you could relax in the kitchen with a glass of red wine and cook leisurely, if you have the time.

Polenta Gnocchi with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
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Midterms Mac n’ Cheese

Mac n' Cheese

Five months later and I finally post a recipe for my blog’s namesake. And it comes at a time when I’m trading tea towels for textbooks, and hot plates for highlighters. Midterm season. At Northwestern, midterm season lasts from about week 4 until… week 10. From here on out, I’ve got a major exam or paper deadline every week.

What’s one thing that can comfort us while we battle constant examination and dreary weather? Mac n’ cheese. Cheap, cheesy, and oh-so-good.

This recipe cost me about $2.00 for 3 to 4 servings (about $0.50 a serving!). It was $0.50 for half a box of pasta ($1.00 for the pound), $1.00 for a quarter pound of cheese ($4.00 for the pound), and about $0.50 for milk. That is a MUCH BETTER DEAL than any boxed macaroni and cheese at the store, and it’s free of all the weird things they must be putting in powdered, non-perishable cheese. I don’t mean to hate on Kraft, because I do love my Spongebob and Scooby Doo macaronis. But when it comes down to it, this recipe is cheaper and better for you. It doesn’t take much longer to cook, either.

This recipe was my excuse to not study for a little bit. I think you should use this recipe as an excuse not to study, too. But now it’s time to hit the books with a full and happy stomach! Good luck on those exams, people.

Mac n' Cheese
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