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Diced Potato, Leek, and Pepper Hash

27 Jan

Potato hashI recently took a knife skills class and like any good educational experience, it inspired me to dice. Dicing is the term for cutting food into small 1/4 inch squares.

Dicing is a rarity in my cooking repertoire. There are very few times I must summon my dicing skills with dinner go-tos like baked chicken and fish tacos. So, I had to pick the right recipe to practice my new craft. In an effort to continue my education, I pulled out a pound of potatoes and began dicing.

After completing my potato-cutting marathon, I decided to make the one dish where diced potatoes are the star — home fries.

Diced Potato, Leek, and Pepper Hash Recipe

Ingredients: (Serves 6-8)

  • 6 potatoes (diced)
  • 1 bell pepper (diced)
  • 1 leek (diced)
  • 6 strips of bacon (chopped)
  • Light beer
  • Salt and pepper to taste

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Cheeseburger Pasta Bake

24 Apr

Cheeseburger Pasta BakeToday was a long day and to top it off, I haven’t been food shopping in a week.  These are the nights every cooking college student dreads.

The typical starting point for my no-food-left dinners is the freezer. In my freezer, I found three boxes of English muffins, sugar-free ice pops, and, in the back right corner, two frozen hamburger patties.

Since ice pops aren’t the best dinner base, I started with the hamburger. I added a few other pantry ingredients and came up with a new and satisfying meal.

Cheeseburger Pasta Bake

Ingredients: (Serves 2)

  • 2 hamburger patties
  • half a box of pasta (Macaroni or Rotini)
  • 1/2 cup of tomato sauce
  • 1/8 cup of diced cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup of steam-in-bag corn
  • 1 mini dill pickle, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • salt, black pepper, and Cayenne pepper

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Spring Break 2013: Eating Cheap in Williamsburg, Virginia

5 Apr

Most senior college students spend their spring break lounging on the beach, drinking Malibu and getting tan. I spent my senior spring break exploring the rainy wonders of Colonial Williamsburg and running until I could no longer feel my legs.

As is the life of a college runner.

Overall, the trip wasn’t too bad and I’ve returned with some new money saving food lessons. Want to know which Lean Cuisine dinner is best? Need to know how to make the most of continental breakfast? Should you bring your George Foreman on vacay? I’ve got all the answers.

Conquering Continental Breakfast

I think my whole team would agree that there’s nothing better than a hotel continental breakfast. It’s free and all you can eat. The best way to make the most of this amenity is to go to breakfast on the later end and eat a decent sized breakfast each morning. That way, you won’t be hungry until much later in the day, saving you from having to spend money on snacks.

Cheap College Student Trick #1 – After you’ve finished breakfast, grab an extra bagel and yogurt. Bring them back to your room and you’ll have continental lunch also.

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Budget-Friendly Pasta with Clam Sauce

25 Mar
Canned clams, cayenne, garlic, Parmesan, oregano, olive oil, white wine and salt

Canned clams, cayenne, garlic, Parmesan, oregano, olive oil, white wine and salt

One of my favorite pasta dishes is pasta with clam sauce. I love the dish, but I hate ordering it out because it seems too simple to spend $15 on. That’s why I’ve taken the college student approach and decided that if it’s too expensive to buy, it’s time to make.

I didn’t want to spend the extra dough on fresh clams, so I turned to the canned version instead. Canned clams cost about a dollar a jar and have a more concentrated flavor than fresh clams. By cutting back on spending on the main ingredient, the dish becomes college budget friendly.

Here’s how I made pasta with clam sauce on a college allowance.

Pasta with Clam Sauce Ingredients: (Serves 4)

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Refrigerator Clearing Dinners: Roasted Chicken

10 Mar
Roasted chicken

Roasted chicken

As a full-time college student, track runner and part-time blogger, I don’t always have time to go to the supermarket. Some weeks, it’s just not in the cards, but that doesn’t mean I resort to eating frozen dinners. Even when there seems like there’s nothing in the pantry, there’s always something to make.

This week, I lucked out because my non-cooking roommate’s mom gave us a whole roasted chicken. Obviously, my non-cooking roommate does not cook, so it was up to me to figure out how to make two great dinners with one roasted chicken and a half-full refrigerator and pantry.

It was basically like Iron Chef, except I had no idea what I was doing.

After taking inventory of my food supplies, I came up with two easy, no-cook dinners. They both highlight roasted chicken and are stuffed with every ingredient that wasn’t nailed to my refrigerator.

Whatever You’ve Got Chicken Caesar Salad

Traditional Caesar salad consists of romaine lettuce, croutons, Parmesan cheese and Caesar dressing. It’s simple and always a favorite. I love the standard mix, but to make it a satisfying dinner, I bumped it up by adding chicken, spinach, cabbage, blueberries and almonds. This is a hearty salad, so it only benefits by adding whatever you have in the fridge. Don’t be afraid to experiment!

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Restaurant Italian on a Budget

6 Mar

College students love eating out. We’re all broke, but that doesn’t stop us from throwing down $25 on an entree from the new gastropub down the road. It’s a way to socialize and eat something not made from a galley kitchen, but it’s killing our bottom line.

My pockets are particularly light at the moment and it doesn’t help that my house it surrounded by amazing Italian restaurants. The temptation to spend is overwhelming, so I’ve come up with some tricks on how to eat restaurant quality Italian food, without paying the restaurant price.

Don’t Skimp on the Sauce

The main difference between college kitchen Italian food and restaurant quality Italian food is the sauce. Good Italian restaurants hand make their sauces daily. They simmer vats of tomatoes and spices for hours,which is why their sauce tastes so good. When I make Italian food, I just pour jarred tomato sauce over pasta and call it a day. Jarred tomato sauces are great because they’re cheap and easy, but they don’t compare in flavor to homemade sauces.

Want to know how to work around the system? Buy pasta sauce from your favorite Italian restaurant. Most Italian places sell their sauces by the pint. They cost around $2, which is the same price as jarred sauce, but are a million times better tasting. All you have to do is cook a box of pasta, throw on the sauce, and you’ll have the same restaurant dish for a quarter of the price.

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