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Turkey Mulligatawny Soup

December 04, 2009 - by Jennifer Mulligatawny small

What better to do with leftover Thanksgiving turkey than prepare a soup? This is hands down the best leftover turkey recipe I have ever encountered, perhaps because its hot curry flavor is such a contrast to the traditional Thanksgiving feast!

This recipe comes from the Williams Sonoma Food Made Easy Soup cookbook, which I received nearly two years ago from my aunt as a wedding gift. I absolutely love soup, so this is definitely the cookbook for me, especially because the recipes are designed to be quick, easy for a novice cook, and are accompanied by beautiful photos, which I borrowed here because I forgot to take a picture of my own creation! I substituted fresh turkey breast for a few pieces of turkey leftover from our Thanksgiving roast. I’ve written the recipe in its original form and described how I worked with the leftovers in the tips below.

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ lbs boneless, skinless turkey breast, cut to bite-size pieces
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • ½ cup long-grain white rice
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large stockpot, melt butter over medium heat. Add the turkey and sauté until lightly browned on all sides, about 7 minutes. Transfer turkey to a plate and set aside.

Add onion, celery, carrots, and garlic, and sauté until onion is translucent, about 7 minutes. Stir in curry and cayenne, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes to blend flavors.

Add broth and turkey to stockpot, and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to medium, add the rice, and cook, uncovered, until the rice is tender and the turkey is cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Stir in yogurt, and simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes to incorporate. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Tips from a student cook…

I selected a few different bone-in pieces from the turkey to use in this soup, including a breast, a leg, and some other part for which I don’t know the name, but I chose mostly white meat. I put the turkey pieces in the large stockpot, and added 2 cups of broth and 2 cups of water. I allowed the turkey to simmer in the broth while I sautéed and seasoned the onion, celery, carrots, and garlic separately in 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet. I removed the turkey pieces, deboned them, cut them bite-size pieces, and added them back to the broth in the stockpot with the vegetables. Then I continued with the recipe as written. I was really happy with the results, and I think perhaps because I simmered the bone-in turkey pieces first, the broth was really flavorful, even though I substituted 2 cups of water!

I think the presentation of this soup was also really helped by some meticulousness with chopping the vegetables. They wrote finely chopped, so I made sure to do a fine job of chopping. Because the vegetable pieces were small, the turkey really came out as the star of this soup.

Actually, I think I added a little more turkey than the recipe calls for, so I decided not to add the rice directly into the soup because I wanted there to be enough broth. I did serve rice on the side though! It turned out to be a delicious and hearty meal. I really recommend this recipe for the day after Thanksgiving, as well as any other day of the year!

Holiday Veggie Pizza (by a special guest blogger!)

December 02, 2009 - by Jennifer Veggie pizza small

Hello, I am this week's guest blogger, Julie, the third Wesp daughter and grad student in California. Since my little sister started this blog I continually check it for some quick and delicious recipes and today I wanted to share one.  My family has brought this dish to parties as an appetizer for many years, but it's also an easy, healthy snack!  With the holiday season coming up, I have an endless list of department and lab parties to attend and decided to bring this veggie pizza with me to spread the (delicious) holiday cheer!

  • 2 cans (8 oz each) Pillsbury refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
  • 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill weed
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 cups finely chopped assorted vegetables (bell peppers, broccoli, carrot, cucumber and/or green onions)

Heat oven to 375°F. Remove dough from cans in rolled sections; do not unroll. Cut each section into 8 slices (16 slices from each can).

Place slices, cut side down, on ungreased cookie sheets to form trees. To form each tree, start by placing 1 slice for top; arrange 2 slices just below, with sides touching. Continue arranging row of 3 slices, then row of 4 slices, ending with row of 5 slices. Use remaining slice for trunk. Refrigerate one tree while the other bakes.

Veggie pizza plain smallBake one tree 11 to 13 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 1 minute; carefully loosen with pancake turner and slide onto cooling rack to cool. Bake and cool second tree.

Place each tree on serving platter. In small bowl, mix cream cheese, sour cream, dill and garlic powder; blend until smooth. Spread mixture over both trees. Decorate trees with assorted vegetable pieces. Refrigerate until serving time. To serve, pull apart slices of tree.

Tips from a student cook...
I really enjoy the dill and garlic flavor in the spread so I ended up adding more than the suggested amount in the recipe.  Be creative with the veggies!  My favorite part of cooking is the presentation, plus I think food that looks appetizing always tastes better (but Jen is the psychology expert not me!) and you will receive lots of compliments on this tasty tree-t!

Grilled Cheese Croutons

November 21, 2009 - by Jennifer Grilled Cheese Croutons small

These little babies are going to the make your salad special. I can’t remember where I saw this idea, perhaps in a magazine. It was a while back though, and I just remembered the idea the other evening when I couldn’t get rid of a salad craving. I tossed fresh Romaine lettuce with cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and grilled chicken. These croutons topped off the light meal perfectly!

A salad is an easy solution to a late night dinner, and yes, I did have a few more of those last week. I haven’t been waking up to cook (mostly because I have been waking up to study instead), but I think the prospect of being an early morning chef has made me do more planning. Just thinking ahead in the morning what I might cook in the evening reminds me to take out meat from the freezer or stop at the store before coming home for an extra ingredient. At least we still didn’t eat out at all last week!

  • 2 slices white bread
  • 2 slices cheddar cheese
  • ½ tablespoon butter
  • A pinch of dried parsley

Butter one side of the each slice of bread, and place cheese between non-buttered sides to make a sandwich. Sprinkle parsley over buttered sides.

Place sandwich in frying pan over medium heat. Brown each side to melt cheese.

Let sandwich cool for about 2 minutes. Cut sandwich to small crouton squares. Serve with your favorite salad or soup!

Tips from a student cook…

The parsley was my idea. I’m not really sure what croutons are usually spiced with, but the parsley really added a lot of flavor! Next time, I might also try fresh ground black pepper. Letting the sandwich is essential, otherwise the hot cheese will keeping gluing your little croutons back together. Grilled cheese has always been a favorite of mine, and I have made sandwiches with a great variety of different cheeses. Some forthcoming crouton ideas may be prosciutto mozzarella, ham and Swiss, or maybe even feta garlic… Yum!

Stay tuned for Thanksgiving…

Experiment Results: Lentil Rice Pilaf, Chicken Curry, Steak Burritos and more!

November 15, 2009 - by Jennifer

Well, signing up for that experiment last week was both exhausting and exhilirating!

Overall, cooking in the morning has been tested to be valid hypothesis! We actually had food to eat all week, and not once did we order out. I felt very organized and well-prepared for my day after waking up early enough to have time to contemplate it.

By this weekend though, I have run out of steam. I’m not sure if I can replicate the results this week… I have no idea what I am going to cook tomorrow, for example. Yesterday’s compulsory trip to the grocery store was pretty futile. I went without any recipe ideas in my head, so I will probably end up having half the ingredients for one recipe and half for another. Nevertheless, I am going still going to try my best this week! Perhaps after writing this post, I will take a few minutes to plan out a menu.

I did do some impromptu things last week, in addition to the things I had planned. Here’s how the experiment played out!

Experiment Day 1: Monday
Lentil Rice Pilaf smallI woke up at 6:00 am without groaning. I guess I was looking forward to my first attempt at this cooking in the morning thing. I combined ideas from recipes by Emeril Lagasse and Life’s Ambrosia.

Lentil Rice Pilaf with Kielbasa

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ cups rice
  • ¾ cup lentil beans
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 pound fresh kielbasa, sliced to rounds
  • ½ cup red pepper, diced

In large saucepan, heat olive oil and butter over medium heat. Sauté onion and garlic until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add rice and lentils, and sauté for about 4 minutes. Add chicken broth, bring to a boil, then reduce heat, and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, until rice and lentils are cooked.

Meanwhile, heat remaining olive oil in large frying pan. Add red pepper and kielbasa. Brown sausage for about 10 minutes until cooked through. Serve with lentil rice pilaf.

I don’t think I let the rice and lentils fry long enough before adding the chicken broth. I added more broth in the middle because it seemed like the lentils weren’t cooking as fast as the rice, but this caused the rice to overcook.

Not too bad in the end. When I get home from work, the rice didn’t seem as mushy after sitting all day. The pilaf had a lot of flavor and was very filling, as hoped, with the addition of lentils. The kielbasa was the perfect pairing! I left out the mushrooms that had been included in both original recipes, and I think maybe next time I will add them in because they might have added a nice texture.

Experiment Day 2: Tuesday
Persimmon Oatmeal smallWell, I kind of cheated and skipped a day of cooking dinner in the morning. We had leftover rice pilaf, so I decided to wait until Wednesday to cook a new dish. I did wake up early enough to make myself a good breakfast though!

My husband brought home persimmon (fuyu) fruit, which I had never seen before in my life. I was a little skeptical about trying it until completing a Google search, but then I discovered a great oatmeal idea at White on Rice Couple for Cinnamon Persimmon Oatmeal. That was good breakfast!

Experiment Day 3: Wednesday
Tuesday’s skip day kind of through me out of sync. I didn’t really feel like getting up early Wednesday morning. I was thinking of making Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells, and I think I was a little intimidated by the recipe. Plus, one of my classes was cancelled that evening so I knew I would be getting home early.

Unfortunately, that evening my dinner plans were completely squashed. My oven wouldn’t heat up and so I couldn’t roast my butternut squash. I also didn’t have any ricotta cheese because it was too expensive, and I was just going to try to leave it out of the recipe, but then I realized stuffed shells wouldn’t be the same with mozzarella.

So I ended up steaming my butternut squash with a little but of garlic and green beans and serving it with pan friend chicken cutlets. It actually wasn’t a bad dinner, but it was a frustrating evening, which I should have spent at the library instead. That’s what I get for not sticking to the experiment, I guess.

Experiment Day 4: Thursday
Chicken Curry smallI got back on track Thursday morning. The prior evening, I had even chopped up some of my ingredients. I combined ideas for this recipe from First Look, Then Cook and Eclectic Cook.

Chicken Curry

  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • ¾ cup coconut milk  
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

 In a small bowl, combine curry powder, cumin, salt, black pepper, and cayenne.

 In large sauce pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add chicken, and brown on all sides, about 7 minutes. Remove chicken from pan.

Add onion to pan, and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and ginger, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chicken back to pan. Season chicken with spice mixture.

Stir in diced tomato and coconut milk, and add bay leaf. Reduce heat, cover, and let simmer until sauce is thickened, about 30 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, and serve over jasmine rice.

I liked the thickness of this sauce, and the flavor was amazing! But I think it would have been better if there was less chicken and more sauce. Next time, I might add a little more coconut milk, and if the problem was that the sauce was absorbed during the day, I will add more when reheating it in the evening.

The flavor was amazing, and just spicy enough. I think I would like to add spinach next time for enhance the color and health factor.

Experiment Day 5: Friday

At last! I decided it was Burrito Friday. I kind of thought up the recipe on my own from watching them made at Moe’s Southwest Grill! In the morning, I chopped up all my ingredients and cooked the meat and put the burritos ready when we got home.

Steak Burritos

  • 1 lb beef steak, thin sliced, cut to 1 inch pices
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • ½ cup mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ red pepper, diced
  • 4 large tortillas
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • Fresh lettuce, chopped
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Salsa
  • Sour cream

In a small bowl, combine cayenne, cumin, salt, and black pepper. Rub spice mixture into meat.

Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add spiced beef to frying pan. Brown for about 5 minutes on both sides, or until cooked though. Remove and set aside.

Add onion to pan, and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and red pepper and sauté another 5 minutes or so. Add beef back to pan and heat through.

Meanwhile, place tortillas on a microwaveable plate and cover with a damp paper towel. Warm in microwave for 45 seconds.

Layer rice, beef, vegetables, and cheese on each tortilla, then roll up burrito-style. Serve with salsa and sour cream.

The steak tasted so delicious! I think if I had spiced the meat the night before, it would have been even better, so I might try that next time. The thin cut steak, which was designated on the package as for a stir fry, worked perfect. You can add whatever vegetables you like to your burrito. I just happened to have mushrooms and red peppers.

Perfect! There is no picture because we chowed them down. The only thing they were missed was beans. I like black or pinto… maybe even pinto. That will also be a priority next time.

I'll let you know how next week goes...


Ravioli in Spinach Tomato Sauce and a Student Cook Experiment

November 08, 2009 - by Jennifer Ravioli in Spinach Tomato Sauce small

This is a quick pasta dish that I served with chicken cutlets for a delicious and easy Italian meal! I found this recipe at The Bake-off Flunkie, and it is exactly the kind of quick dinner recipe I have been in need of lately.

With an internship, schoolwork, and graduate school applications (in addition to dinner) on my plate, this is an exciting semester! Lately, my husband and I haven’t been sitting down to dinner until after nine o’clock, and often times, I will admit, that dinner is take-out. Tsk, tsk, I know. Not only is this expensive, it usually doesn’t taste great, and it is horrible for my diet!

So, in an attempt to combat this quickly forming bad habit, this week I will be undertaking a student cook experiment: I will be cooking our evening meals in the morning! This idea is inspired by the advice of some of my co-workers, who claim waking up thirty minutes earlier in the morning is totally worth arriving home at night to find dinner waiting. Please check back for the results of this experiment next week!

  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 3 large tomatoes, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 package ravioli, frozen
  • 2 cups spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese

Combine chicken broth, tomatoes, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a sauce pan, and bring to a boil. Add the ravioli. Cover and cook about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until the ravioli is done.

Stir in the spinach and sugar; cover and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with Parmesan cheese.


Tips from a student cook…

I used frozen ravioli here because I often find it on sale in the grocery store for just a little over a dollar. Perhaps one day I will learn how to make ravioli from scratch, but for now, the frozen variety will do. I was surprised to sugar in the ingredients list. Who knew it would bring out the sweetness of the tomatoes so beautifully. The original recipe uses canned diced tomatoes, but I find buying fresh tomatoes is cheaper. The only additional requirement is chopping. In my early morning cooking experiment this week, I plan to do all prep work like this the night before so that I can just throw everything together the next morning. This may take time, but it also saves money, tastes fresher, and is healthier!

Sausage and Egg Breakfast Quesadilla

November 05, 2009 - by Jennifer Sausage and Egg Breakfast Quesadilla small

I am from the Cheesehead-land. Yes, the great country of Wisconsin. Naturally, then, I take to the Mexican variety of the cheese sandwich, the quesadilla! For brunch last Sunday, my husband and I enjoyed this personally invented breakfast version!

  • 1 large tortilla
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ¼ cup sliced chorizo sausage
  • White cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Salsa

In a large skillet, fry eggs on each side until golden, and set aside. After frying eggs, place tortilla in the large skillet. Place fried egg on tortilla. Layer cheese and chorizo on top of one side of the eggs, and fold the tortilla in half. Cook over medium heat until cheese is melted. Serve with fresh salsa!

Tips from a student cook…

I usually fry my eggs in a small skillet, so they are fluffier, but for the quesadilla, it was better to have them thinner. I didn’t put a suggested amount of cheese in the recipe mostly because I can’t remember exactly how much I used, but also because you might like more or less (especially if you are not a Wisconsinite!). I probably used somewhere between a quarter and half cup. I decided to use sausage after getting this really good chorizo burrito at Gonzo’s (the Mexican restaurant on Nassau Boulevard). The chorizo I used was cured. If you use fresh sausage in place of the chorizo, try sautéing the sliced rounds with diced onion for more flavor!

Seasonal Vegetable Soup

October 14, 2009 - by Jennifer Veggie Soup small

Welcome to autumn. I felt a chill in my bones today. I knew it was time to make a soup. I decided I wanted to make just a simple vegetable soup, which is a pretty easy. Thanks to a recipe at the food blog Nooschi and Planet Green’s Soup of the Week, I found inspiration that really warmed me up. Don’t forget crackers!

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped 6 cups of water
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 small Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup green beans, chopped
  • 6 cups water
  • 1/4 cup of curly parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat oil over medium heat. Sauté onion and garlic until translucent then add celery and carrots. Sauté until tender, about 20 minutes.

Push vegetables to one side of pot. Add tomato paste to cleared area. Stir constantly until paste begins to caramelize, about 2 minutes. Combine with vegetables.

Stir in tomatoes and green beans. Add water and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer, covered, until all vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.

Tips from a student cook…

This soup can help you use up a ton of vegetables! I had green beans, that’s why added them here, though they were in neither of recipes I pulled other ideas from. I wanted a tomato based soup, and I love the idea to carmelize the tomato paste from Planet Green’s Soup of the Week. I couldn’t make a real minestrone because I was missing other ingredients. I also would have loved to add barley as the recipe at Nooschi suggests, but I didn’t have that either. In the end, though, I do have a flavorful, comforting, and perfectly autumnal vegetable soup!

Peanut Soup (Nkatenkwan)

September 28, 2009 - by Jennifer Groundnut Soup small

Here is another traditional Ghanaian dish! This meal is best enjoyed on a Sunday afternoon. Most people in Ghana flock to restaurants and “chop bars” after Sunday church services to enjoy Nkatenkwan, a hearty peanut (groundnut, as it is known in Ghana) soup. Rice as well as boiled black eyed peas, hard boiled eggs, or steamed greens are also sometimes served with the soup, and along with your large bowl of food, you will also be served a large bowl of water and a bottle of liquid soap with which to wash hands, since the best way to eat soup in Ghana is sucked from your fingers! Complete the meal with a tall Star beer (the local brew), and you will be satisfied for the rest of the day!

I have described below the cooking process, which I first learned one Sunday afternoon with one of my host moms, Ma Lucy, while I was in Ghana as an exchange student. It’s difficult to give specific measurements for all the ingredients, since I’ve never seen any Ghanaian cook using measuring cups, but when my husband and I decided yesterday it was a good Sunday to enjoy a good soup, I tried to make record some precise observations…

Cut up one whole chicken (do not debone or remove skin). Place chicken pieces in large stock pot over medium-high heat. Season with salt and cayenne pepper. Add 1 clove chopped garlic, 1 tablespoon minced ginger, and about half of one small sliced onion. Steam chicken for 10 to 15 minutes, or until browned.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix a little less than 1 cup of pure peanut paste (natural peanut butter with no additives) with a little more than 1 cup water, until it has the consistency of a thin yogurt.

At the same time, combine 1 medium tomato, 1 medium red onion, 2 cloves of garlic, and 5 dried chili peppers in the blender. Blend to a smooth consistency, then add 3 oz tomato paste to thicken and give color.

Pour tomato base over chicken. Use 1 cup of water to rinse out blender and add to soup. Add a dash or more of salt. Bring to a boil, and let simmer for 10 minutes.

Add diluted peanut paste to soup. Use 1 cup of water to rinse out bowl and add to soup. Add 4 to 5 additional cups of water. The soup should be very thin, and have a light tan color. Add salt to taste.

Bring soup to a boil, and let simmer for another 30 to 40 minutes, partially covered. As the soup boils, it will turn a darker brown, and some oil will rise to the surface. Continue to boil until this happens, and then for another 30 to 40 minutes after that. Serve in large bowls with steamed rice!

Tips from a student cook…

Preparing Nkatenkwan

When I first learned to cook this dish with my host mom, we used a mortal and pestle instead of a blender. We also cooked over a coal pot that we continuously had to be fanning in order to maintain a consistent heat. That was a lot of work, but of course, worth all the extra energy! Sometimes it is hard to cook traditional food outside of a traditional area. You never have quite the same ingredients, nor the atmosphere. Somehow in Ghana, even the hot sun is an essential ingredient, and without it, it’s not quite the same. But it still can be done!

The most important thing for this dish is to find a good peanut paste. Peanut butter doesn’t work as well, but you can use a natural peanut butter, one that has that oil floating on the top. We used a peanut paste that we found at the African grocery on Meacham Avenue in Elmont.

The pepper is also a very important ingredient. We used a handful of fiery red dried chili peppers, but you could also use finger peppers, or the small round peppers that I have seen labeled in the grocery store as Jamaican hot peppers. This soup is best served spicy!

Frozen Grapes

September 28, 2009 - by Jennifer Frozen Grapes small

I may have discovered this idea a little too late, since it would have been a perfect summer treat. Then again, I eat ice cream year round, and these little guys are nearly just as good! When frozen, the inside of the grapes turns to a sort of sorbet. I am not kidding! I can't stop eating them. 

All you need is a bunch of grapes. There is no need to remove them from the stems. Simply place them on a freezable tray, and freeze overnight. When you remove them from the freezer, you dont have to thaw them for more than a minute.

I have tried red and purple grapes, and both were delicious. I think the red were a little more juicy. Green grapes would be also be a bit tangier. They also are fun to use as ice cubes in your favorite drink!

Peanut Noodle Sauté with Chicken

September 18, 2009 - by Jennifer Peanut Saute final

I love the flavor of peanut sauces. I found the recipe for this sauté at The Noshery. The recipe there is really great, but I had to make some changes to fit what I had available. Instead of rice noodles, I had spaghetti. Instead of snow peas, I had green pepper. Instead of rice wine and rice wine vinegar, I had chicken broth and white wine vinegar. Regardless, I was really pleased with how this dish turned out! It is a really nice change of flavors.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seed oil
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ginger, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup rice wine
  • 2 Tbs rice vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon chili sauce
  • 2 medium carrots, julienned
  • 1 green pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ pound rice noodles or spaghetti, cooked
  • lime wedges
  • chopped onion
  • chopped peanuts

Heat olive oil and 1 tablespoon of sesame oil over medium heat in large skillet. Add garlic, ginger, chili sauce and chicken. Brown chicken, then add rice wine, rice vinegar, and peanut butter. Stir until combined into sauce, then add remaining sesame oil and vegetables. Sauté for 5 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are medium-firm. Add cooked noodles and toss to coat evenly.

Garnish with lime, onion, and peanuts.

Tips from a student cook…

I prepared my own chili sauce by processing five or six dried red peppers with a splash of water and salt in the blender. I probably added more like a teaspoon to this recipe because I like the spice. I found the peanut butter melted into a sauce pretty quickly and evenly, so I really paid attention to stirring it as the vegetables cooked to prevent burning. I really think the original ingredients in the recipe would give the best flavor, but like I said, the substitutions I made on the fly still worked great!

Mocha Frappuccino

September 17, 2009 - by Jennifer Mocha Frappuccino

I don’t buy Starbucks often, but I still enjoy my coffee! I made a pot of coffee earlier in the week, and after drinking only one cup, I decided to freeze the rest. Then, instead of using ice cubes, I blended the frozen coffee for a homemade, much cheaper version of a mocha frappuccino!

  • 1 cup coffee, frozen
  • ¼ cup soy milk
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder

Add all ingredients to blender. Pulse on high until well blended.

Tips from a student cook…

Using frozen coffee really boosted the flavor of this drink. There was no watery melting, only coffee. Starbucks has a million different versions of frappuccino flavors. I’m starting to think up a whole bunch of coffee experiments… caramel, peppermint, maybe pumpkin spice? For the mocha flavor, you could substitute chocolate syrup for the cocoa powder and omit the sugar. I like soy milk in my coffee, but you can prepare this drink according to your own coffee philosophy!

Zucchini Quiche

September 07, 2009 - by Jennifer Zucchini Quiche slice small

This quiche was the star of our Sunday morning brunch! I have never made quiche before, but thanks to another great zucchini recipe from my grandma, we have a new favorite breakfast dish. My grandma’s recipe is really unique from others I have read. Many call for heavy cream or milk, but my grandma’s recipe is just good old butter, cheese, and eggs. She also suggests using crescent rolls for a crust, an easy, inexpensive, and very innovative solution! You could also use a prepared pie crust. I really loved the zucchini in this quiche. I also added a few sliced cherry tomatoes, but you can use any vegetable or breakfast meat as add-ins.

I know this is my second post today, but this lovely long weekend has given me lots of time to cook. Most of my blogging will probably now be happening on the weekend. Classes have started, and I am also working full time, so there isn’t much cooking going on during the week! It’s a challenge balancing everything, but finding easy dishes like this that can last us through a week’s worth of breakfasts sure is helpful!

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 medium zucchini, sliced (about 4 cups)
  • 1 package crescent rolls
  • 4-5 large eggs
  • 4 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Sauté onion and zucchini until transparent, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, unroll crescent rolls and place in the bottom and along the edges of a 9 inch pie pan. Spread mustard on crust.

Combine eggs, cheese, and seasonings in a large bowl. Stir in zucchini mixture. Pour filling into prepared crust.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until top is lightly browned.

Tips from a student cook…

My grandma suggests using a 9 x 13 inch pan in this recipe. This would give you a thinner layer of eggs, but a lot more slices of quiche. This definitely makes sense for a crowd, but since there are only two of us (instead of the nine my grandma was used to feeding), I decided to use a round pie pan. One slice of this deep dish quiche will definitely satisfy you until lunch!

Zucchini Quiche pan small

Another thing I did a little differently was that I used half the butter called for in the original recipe. I was surprised when I saw the recipe called for a whole stick of butter. I am becoming more aware of techniques of healthy cooking, and that would probably not be one of them. However, I also understand that bad stuff usually makes food taste pretty good. So I compromised and added half the bad. And no, the finished product did not taste half as good; it was as delicious as ever!

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

September 07, 2009 - by Jennifer Zucchini Bread loaf small

I received a huge (and I mean huge!) zucchini from my friend Nicole’s parents’ amazing garden this week, a supply that lasted me through three entire recipes, all of which you will see posted here this week!

For zucchini recipe inspiration, I turned to the one whose recipes I know never fail: my grandma. As the mother of nine, and the grandmother of close to thirty, plus a few great-grandchildren, my grandma knows how to satisfy a stomach quickly and on the cheap! And she loves to bake for us. Whenever we were expecting grandma over, we would also be expecting something delicious to eat…brownies, cake, or if we are lucky, her famous chocolate zucchini bread!

She sent me the melt-in-your-mouth recipe for this delicious bread, along with a few other zucchini dish ideas to help me use up my stock of the summer vegetable...stay tuned for Zucchini Quiche!

  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 ¼ cups vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat eggs in a large bowl until light. Add sugar, oil, and vanilla. Stir in zucchini. Combine with flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cocoa. Fold in chocolate chips and walnuts.

Divide between two 8 inch loaf pans. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Use a toothpick to test if center is done. Cool on wire rack before serving.

Tips from a student cook…


This recipe makes two loaves of chock full of chocolate zucchini bread. However, with my cocoa-abstaining husband in mind, I decided to make one plain loaf, and one chocolate. I did this by pouring half the batter into one pan before adding half of the cocoa powder to the remaining batter. I would have gladly eaten two loaves of the double chocolate all by myself, but I thought better of it! My grandma also said that instead of using cocoa powder, you could use 2 ounces of melted semi-sweet chocolate, but she used cocoa powder because it was less expensive.

Zucchini Bread slice small

The plain loaf was delicious, and you could really taste the cinnamon in it, but unfortunately most of the chocolate chips sunk to the bottom. I think this is because I let it sit out while I was stirring the cocoa powder into the second batch. It might be a good idea to get the pans into the oven as soon as you pour the batter into the pans to prevent any sinking. I put the chocolate loaf in right away, and the chocolate chips melted perfectly throughout. If I make plain zucchini bread again, I may try adding raisins instead of chocolate chips!

Fresh Tomato Basil Salad

August 29, 2009 - by Jennifer Tomato Basil Salad small

I have a garden this summer! It is indeed my victory garden, considering it is growing on my front steps! My friend Nicole and her parents donated several potted tomato plants to me in early June, and I set them up in a nice spot right outside my front door. Last week, my tiny tomatoes finally began to ripen! It turns out I am growing yellow pear tomatoes, a sweet miniature tomato that is perfect in any kind of salad! I featured them in this simple salad with a few other varieties of tomatoes as well as fresh basil from my friend Nicole's amazing (and much larger) garden!

  • 1 small Roma tomato, sliced
  • Fresh yellow pear tomatoes
  • Fresh red grape tomatoes
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • Handful fresh basil, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • White wine vinegar
  • Sea salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Combine tomatoes, onion, and basil. Splash wtih oil and vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Tips from a student cook...

This salad is probably the easiest dish you will ever prepare. Everything just has to be thrown together. If you make it ahead of time, and let it rest for a while, the tomatoes marinate beautifully in the oil and vinegar. I also have started to use natural sea salt, on the recommendation of my holistic doctor. It is much stronger than regular iodized salt, and without the added chemicals, it is also much healthier! This salad is the perfect demonstration of how delicious (and easy) natural food really can be.

Tomato Plant small




Here is a photo of my tomato plants mid-summer! They are even taller now, and I had to put a wire cage around them so that we would still have space to use the stairs. New buds should continue to blossom for a few more weeks, so I am sure I will be enjoying plenty of fresh tomato salads!





Grilled Polenta Wedges

August 21, 2009 - by Jennifer Grilled Polenta small

Polenta is supposedly a popular Southern dish. It is also a favorite in Italy. I first discovered it in Connecticut! I was visiting a friend there last weekend, which was possibly the hottest weekend of the whole summer. Cooking in my small apartment featuring sorry half-size windows and no air conditioning is unbearable in this heat, so it was the perfect weekend to be with a friend who has an outdoor grill (and an indoor air conditioner). 

I have certainly fallen in love with polenta. It is so simply to prepare with the main ingredient being water and corn grits. Polenta is actually cooked first on the stove top, but heated the wedges on the grill to give it an extra smoky flavor. With fish and grilled vegetables on the side, this polenta completed a perfect summer meal. Plus, polenta is gluten-free, so it can be enjoyed by everyone!

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cups polenta (corn grits)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in polenta and salt. Simmer gently over medium heat, stirring frequently, for about 30 minutes, or until thickened. Pour thickened polenta into a loaf pan. Allow to set for 10 minutes. Cut into 1 inch slices. Serve immediately, or place on grill to reheat.

Tips from a student cook (and the expert advice of her good friends)...

Polenta cooks pretty violently. It boils rapidly and then starts popping and splashing out of the pan. Be careful when you are stirring during the cooking process. According to the package directions of Bob's Red Mill Corn Grits (which is a the brand everyone recommends), you should a long wooden spoon to stir during cooking just in case! The recipe also says it takes about 30 minutes for the polenta to thicken, but you should use your own judgment. When I prepared it with my friends in Connecticut, it thickened enough so that when we scraped the bottom of the pan with the spoon, the polenta didn’t fall back to the center after just 10 minutes. When I prepared it at home, it took only 15 minutes or so to thicken. I picked up my own stock of corn grits the day after I returned from Connecticut, and I was really surprised that polenta is relatively inexpensive. It can be served plain, but also topped with pasta sauce and cheese for an Italian twist.  You can also prepare polenta as a breakfast porridge! Considering it is such an easy and versatile dish, I am certain it is going to become one of our favorite dishes of all time.

About the Author

Student Kitchen is written by
Jennifer D.

Jennifer was born and raised in the suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Just missing the chance to claim baby-of-the-family status, she holds fourth place in a brother-less line of five daughters. A product of Catholic schools, she loves traveling, gardening, and new recipes. Fulfilling her childhood dream of becoming Pocahontas in an age of immigration chaos, she was recently married to Ghanaian husband James, whom she met while studying as a high school exchange student. After completing her degree in psychology at Adelphi, Jennifer, currently working as a gym receptionist, plans to earn her masters in counseling with a specialization in cross-cultural psychology.

The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the page author(s). The contents of this page have not been reviewed or approved by Adelphi University. The copyright and all related rights to original work posted via the blog service are owned by and are the sole responsibility of its author(s).


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