College Student Cooking: Alex

by Alex McPhail

Moving off campus or into your first apartment is a very exciting experience. You have your own space, and more of it, to do what you want with, but moving off campus comes with a price. Without a meal plan, you are now forced to cook for and feed yourself. This was something that actually really excited me about moving off campus, but I know for a lot of people it can be much less exciting. So I am here to share a few of my favorite recipes (with pictures because that is all I post on Facebook anymore) so that you can get started with some cooking of your own!

1) One of the easiest things you can make is chili. There are lots of recipes online for chili, but here is an easy one that I use:

  • 1-2lbs ground beef
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • 2-3 tbsp chili seasoning
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • ½ onion (diced)
  • 2 cans chili/kidney beans
  1. Brown ground beef
  2. Combine all ingredients in a crock pot
  3. Cook on low for 6-8 hours

My crock pot has been my saving grace when it comes to cooking. Just throw some stuff in in the morning and by night you have a great meal! I would highly recommend getting a crock pot for making lots of simple and delicious meals.

2) Another main dish that I loved making was glazed pork chops. The recipe is as follows:

  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ tsp cayenne powder
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Boneless pork chops
  1. Combine all seasonings into a small bowl
  2. Rub seasoning mixture on both sides of pork chops
  3. Heat olive oil in a skillet, add pork chops, and cook until brown

HyVee has some wonderful deals on pork chops every once in a while, and I end up with a lot of extras, so I have tried out many different recipes for them and this has been one of my favorites! My only warning is that the glaze can be a pain to clean off, so be prepared to do some extra scrubbing on your pan (but it’s so worth it, I promise!).

3) Now to go with your main dish, you can never go wrong with potatoes. It took me 3 or 4 attempts to figure out how to make these correctly, but I can proudly say I have finally made the perfect roasted red potatoes with the following recipe:

  • Red potatoes (I used enough to fill my sheet pan)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp basil
  • 1/3 cup parmesan
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F, spray sheet pan with Pam or other cooking spray
  2. Cut red potatoes into 4ths
  3. Mix potatoes and all other ingredients together in a bowl
  4. Spread potatoes into a single layer on the sheet pan
  5. Bake for 45 minutes-1 hour in the oven, turning the pan halfway through cooking

These potatoes were one of the absolute best things I’ve made and I highly recommend you make them as soon as you can.

4) Lastly, it’s not a full meal without dessert. I hope I’m not the only one that always gets trapped by those Buzzfeed Tasty videos on Facebook. They always pop up and most of the time I just skip them, but this one caught my attention. Cookies and cream brownie cheesecake bars. You heard me right. It was kind of a pain to make, but it was oh so worth it.

  • 1 box brownie mix
  • 24 oz cream cheese, softened
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • Oreo cookies (you’ll need two packages but will have extra)
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F, spray cake pan with Pam or other cooking spray
  2. Prepare brownie mix according to directions on box
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the cream cheese and sugar until there are no lumps (make sure to leave the cream cheese out to soften or heat for a short period of time in the microwave, it is very hard to stir if it comes right out of the fridge); add eggs and vanilla, mix until evenly combined
  4. Pour brownie batter in bottom of cake pan
  5. Place Oreo cookies on top of the brownie batter in a single layer
  6. Pour cheesecake batter on top, spreading over the cookies
  7. Take a few extra cookies, crush them up in a plastic bag, then sprinkle them on top of the cheesecake layer
  8. Bake for 45 minutes
  9. Cool and chill for 2 hours before serving

I actually didn’t find the recipe for this until now, I just followed along with the video, so I skipped the very last step, but I would recommend doing this so the dessert keeps its volume. As you can see from the pictures, mine isn’t quite as pretty as the original, but it was still very delicious and worth the time to make!

The Tasty dessert

My dessert!

And there you have it! Some recipes for you to try. And if none of these excite you, get to Google or Pinterest and you’ll easily find something that you can try for yourself!

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