“How do you feel about frittatas?” JP asked me one evening.
“Hate em,” I snapped quickly.
I immediately felt ridiculous. I’ve never made or eaten a frittata but I have decided that they are gross. 40% of my disdain lies in the blahness of the word “frittata” (say it a few times and you’ll understand). The other 60% of my disdain exists because I’ve been equating frittatas to quiches (which is another egg dish that I hate despite never having eaten one).
I admitted my frittata lameness to JP and he showed me a recipe that looked… delicious. “Okay let’s make frittata for dinner,” I said, reminding myself that Fooducated is about trying new things.
Turns out, I love frittatas. “We’re frittata people now,” JP exclaimed with his first bite. Yes we are.
Frittatas, to my great admiration, take about 10 minutes to throw together. They require a single pan, which means frittata messes take about 2 minutes to clean up. And frittatas – if you make them without cream – won’t bog you down. They’re light and fluffy and a perfect detox dish after a weekend of eating God knows what.
Frittatas are also a great way to use leftover ingredients. I threw chopped up cherry tomatoes and baby spinach (from our Thai Green Chicken Curry recipe below) into the saute pan. You can add almost anything that you have in your fridge. Ham? Do it. Broccoli? Do it. Cheddar cheese? Obviously do it. Please don’t be afraid to take your frittata night as an opportunity to be creative.
This recipe is basically Alton Brown’s frittata recipe but adapted to the contents of my fridge. Make sure your saute pan is broiler-safe before you do this.
(serves 2 for dinner or 4 if you make a nice salad with it)
- 5 eggs
- 1/4 cup of parmesan
- 1 teaspoon of butter
- 1 1/2 cups of baby spinach
- 1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes
- salt and pepper to taste
- dried oregano (or basil, parsley, thyme, or Italian herb mix)
- Turn on your broiler.
- Get a saute pan with the butter on the stove over medium-high heat.
- Chop up the cherry tomatoes.
- Add the cherry tomatoes and the spinach to the pan just as the butter starts to brown. Let them saute for three minutes.
- Meanwhile, beat the eggs, parmesan, salt, and pepper together in a bowl.
- Add the egg mixture to the saute pan and give it one good stir.
- Cook for 5 minutes or until the bottom is cooked and the top is starting to set. Lightly sprinkle the top with the dried oregano.
- Place pan under the broiler for 3 to 4 minutes (watch carefully) or until the top is brown and the eggs look fluffy.
- Slice the frittata into pieces like a pizza.
Yes, I’m no longer in a dorm and yes, my apartment’s kitchen probably has more appliances and cookware than the kitchens of most actual adults. But I don’t have a good pot for cooking rice in. All of mine are too large.
I discovered this problem halfway through my cooking of Thai Green Chicken Curry (see below). You can’t have Thai Green Curry without rice. Luckily, Google answers all. A quick search found this article: How to Cook Perfect Rice In A Frying Pan, and, since I had no other option, I took the plunge despite being extremely skeptical.
I’ve never cooked better rice. Seriously. I’ve never cooked rice without burning the bottom of the pot and I often end up with undercooked grains. The pan rice was fluffy, moist, and fully cooked. Best of all, I didn’t have to scrub any burnt pots. Granted, there is a large chance I’m just the worst rice cooker in the world but that shouldn’t devalue this new method. Try it even if you’re internationally certified in making rice in a pot.
Here are the steps:
- Put the rice and the water in a frying pan over high heat (use however much water and rice it says to use on your package).
- As soon as the water starts boiling aggressively, give the rice a good stir, put the lid on the pan (or some aluminum foil if you’re forced to be even more ratchet), and then turn the heat down to low (as the author of the page kindly points out, an electric stove takes a bit to cool down so move the rice off of the burner for a minute; if you have a gas stove, good job).
- Cook the rice on low for five minutes. Do not lift up the lid. At the end of five minutes, you should see a bunch of little holes in the surface of the rice. Good job.
- Turn up the heat to high for 1 minute.
- Turn off the heat. If you have an electric stove, remove the pan from the burner.
- Leave the lid on for 15 minutes (DON’T PEEK).
Don’t let the word “curry” scare you. Thai curry is baby curry. It’s for people who don’t “do” Indian food. The flavors are comforting and simple. I Americanize the soup a bit by adding more vegetables but skipping the potatoes (because I like to eat it over rice and don’t understand potatoes with rice). You’ll love that this recipe requires less than 30 minutes of active work but makes you look like a culturally sophisticated cooking rockstar.
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 1 14 oz can of coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons of green curry paste
- 1 pound of skinless, boneless chicken thighs
- 4 cups of chicken broth
- 1 large yellow onion
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 carrot
- 1/4 cup of fresh basil
- 3 cups of baby spinach
- 1/2 tbl of red pepper flakes (or less or more depending on your spice tolerance)
- Other veggies you have in your fridge (we added some english peas and mushrooms)
- Olive oil
- Add a splash of olive oil to a medium-sized pot and put that on the stove over medium-high heat.
- When the oil gets hot enough, add the chicken thighs and season with salt and pepper.
- Let it saute for about six minutes on one side. Then flip it over, season that side with salt and pepper, and then saute it for another 5ish minutes. Pull the chicken out and put it on a plate.
- While the chicken is sautéing, cut the yellow onion and carrot into smallish chunks and mince the garlic.
- Once you’ve taken the chicken out, throw the yellow and carrot into the pot. Saute for about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and saute an additional 2 minutes.
- Add the curry paste and mix it into the veggies, sautéing it for about two minutes.
- Add the coconut milk and bring it to a boil.
- Once that is boiling, add the chicken broth and the red pepper flakes.
- Let it cook on the stove with the lid on for about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cut the chicken into chunks and the bell pepper and basil into strips.
- After 20 minutes, throw the bell pepper, basil, baby spinach, and chicken into the soup.
- Serve it over rice and enjoy! (also take a picture and share it with Fooducated on Facebook).
The transition from a dorm to an apartment is more dramatic than I’d anticipated (hence the dramatic lighting in this photo). When you move out of your childhood home and into a dorm, you are convinced that you’re such an adult because you tuck yourself in at night. But then you move into an apartment and buy things like Tupperware and Clorox wipes and suddenly you really feel like an adult. I’ll probably be elderly by the time I have to pay my own bills.
One of the biggest adjustments is to the changed nature of cooking. When in a dorm or at home, cooking is something you do for fun, not for sustenance. That all changes when Bear’s Den is a 40 minute walk away. Suddenly, you either cook, starve, or eat Thai food. Fooducated’s mission this semester is to help you choose cook over starving or ordering in as often as possible.
I plan on accomplishing that by bombarding you with recipes that will make you want to cook. They will make you want to cook because they’ll be easy, quick, and packed with flavor. They will be the types of recipes that you can make often and never get sick of. They will be written with instructions that’ll help you organize your cooking and minimize your mess. And they’ll be flexible and forgiving enough that you can eyeball most of the measurements. I want to convince you that you can do your homework and fix your resume and organize the latest Student Union event and cook yourself a delicious dinner.
Take this “Putanesca” for example.* It requires 30 minutes and 9 ingredients to make but it’ll blow your socks off.
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp of dried oregano
- 1 28 oz can of plum tomatoes
- 1 lb of pasta (the more ridges the better)
- 1/2 cup of pitted kalamata olives
- 3 tablespoons of capers
- 1/2 cup of fresh parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fill a pot with water and put the heat on high.
- Chop the garlic, olives, and parsley into small pieces on a single cutting board. Keep the parsley separate.
- Add olive oil to a saute pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic, olives, red pepper flakes, oregano, and capers.
- Saute for about three minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the can of tomatoes and break them up with your spatula.
- Add the pasta to the water (if it’s boiling- if it isn’t, add it as soon as it’s boiled).
- One minute before the pasta is al dente (it’ll tell you how long on the pasta package), pour two scoops of pasta water into your tomato sauce and drain the rest of the water.
- Then add the pasta to the sauce in the saute pan and stir.
- Let it cook for about a minute or two and then sprinkle on some fresh parsley.
- Take a picture and post it onto the Fooducated Facebook wall.
- Oh and enjoy!
I served it with parmesan cheese and two slices of bread that I’d drizzled with olive oil and salt and broiled for 3 minutes.
*I put the putanesca in quotes because a true putanesca has anchovies in it but I couldn’t find anchovy paste in Schnucks.
I spent two days as a cantaloupe and learned a lot about life.
Let me explain:
I had to get my KitchenAid mixer to St. Louis (obviously), which meant I had to road trip it from NYC to STL. I don’t have a driver’s license or a car (I’m a New Yorker through and through) so by “road trip it from NYC to STL” I actually mean “bum an 16-hour ride from someone.”
That someone became JP and Alex. They drove their cars while I sat in their cars. “Jolijt is as useful as a cantaloupe,” Alex’s mom Valerie said pre-departure. Alex kindly responded: “Jolijt is better company than a cantaloupe.” Val’s answer: “maybe.”
With that exchange, I became the cantaloupe. Life as a cantaloupe was eye opening and I learned quite a few things that might be helpful to you when the semester starts tomorrow:
1. Peach bread is a great road trip snack.
Desperate to prove that I am the best cantaloupe one could ask for, I baked and brought peach bread (click here for the recipe). Peach bread, to my great satisfaction, is a perfect road trip snack because it adds some fruity freshness to your diet of chicken fingers and chips, doesn’t spoil quickly, and isn’t too sweet.
2. When driving through western Pennsylvania, pee whenever you get the chance.
JP and Alex ruled that the I had to switch cars after every pee break. This rule became a problem when the I expressed the need to pee and was told: “hold it because I haven’t had my fair share of the cantaloupe yet.” I had to hold it for 40 miles because Pennsylvania spaces out their rest stops to trick you into thinking that there are actual buildings outside of Philly.
3. America is big.
When you drive 16 hours in Europe, you can enter and leave multiple countries. When you drive 16 hours in America, you only drive through 6 of our 50 states.
4. America smells like bacon.
Seriously, I smelled bacon on the middle of the highway twice. I swear.
5. Brazil, Indiana is the “home of the popcorn festival.”
6. Don’t underestimate Wash U students wearing matching shirts
Every time I moved onto the South 40, I thought all of the yelling WUSAs and RAs were a bit much. Little did I know that they are essential. JP and I arrived to our new off-campus apartment after driving for 16 hours and could not get into our building. We swiped our room keys 10 times and then stood on the stoop for 5 minutes saying “eehhhhhhh” and “heeeellllppp” (not exactly the way I pictured starting life in my very first apartment). I finally called ResLife and they reminded me (with a slight chuckle) that you have to swipe your ID to get in. The screaming red-shirt-wearing Wash U students are essential because, after three months of summer vacation, I am dumber than ever before.
So there you have it, six tips learned by a traveling cantaloupe that might or might not help you out this school year (probably not).
Please stay tuned because Fooducated’s next post will actually be about food. This semester, Fooducated will focus on easy and delicious dishes that are perfect for a student’s life, budget, and attention span. It’s going to be great (or, at the very least, vaguely interesting)!
It’s been over a month since I last posted. I know, I know, that’s against the rules of blogging. But, truth be told, I need a break.
I love writing Fooducated but I miss eating normally. I miss enjoying a meal without taking 20 pictures and pausing to jot down details.
Fooducated will be back. In September, when I return to Wash U, I’ll be writing all about the adventures of cooking in my very first apartment.
In the meantime, I’m working on an email blog called Dinner Unprocessed. Our goal is to help families ditch processed food and replace it with homemade dishes by making planning and executing meals easier. Here’s a scary fact:
I understand how processed food sneaks its way onto your family’s dinner table. Billy has a soccer game. Mary’s friends are over. And you just got home from a hard day at work. Before you know it, that cup of sugar in the jarred tomato sauce and the Bisphenol A (BPA) in the canned green beans have made their way into your family’s food.
This can be prevented. You just need someone. You need a Robin to your Batman, an Ethel to your Lucy, a sous chef to your Wolfgang Puck. We can be that someone.
Sign up for Dinner Unprocessed’s email blog and we’ll send you links to tried-and-true recipes that all require no more than 10 ingredients and 30 minutes.
Dinner Unprocesesd will be a lot like a more mature, less long winded, and more family oriented Fooducated delivered straight to your inbox. I hope you’ll sign up and, if not, I’ll see you in September!
Who doesn’t love assembling their own dinner every now and then? It’s an adventure… a statement of independence… an appeal to the love all Americans have for feeling in control while doing little actual work.
It’s also a great way to ensure that those of us who want to bite into a fiery taco don’t destroy the dinner and nasal passages of those of us who can’t handle the heat.
My taco table includes: grilled tilapia, grilled skirt steak, guacamole, red onion, lettuce, tomato, spicy spicy salsa, chipotle mayo, limes, and corn tortillas. It’s an impressive spread that looks and sounds like a lot of work but is secretly a lot easier than most dinners.
After setting everything out on the table, I encourage (forcefully) everyone to top their tilapia or steak with a little bit of everything (yes, you need salsa and chipotle mayo) and then dig in. This dinner is a winner.
- 1 1/2 pounds of tilapia
- Juice of one lemon
- 1/2 tbl spoon of honey
- 1/2 cup of olive oil
- Salt and Pepper
- Marinade the tilapia in the lemon, honey, and olive oil for one hour.
- Season both sides with salt and pepper.
- Grill over medium-high for 4 minutes on each side or until the fish is done.
- Cut into smaller pieces.
- 4 tomatoes quartered
- 3 jalapenos
- 1 yellow onion quartered
- 3 cloves of garlic
- Juice of two limes
- 1 tablespoon of Tabasco sauce
- Throw everything except two tomatoes and the salt in the blender.
- Blend until well pureed.
- Add the two tomatoes.
- Only briefly blend so that the tomatoes do get cut up but the salsa stays chunky.
- Add salt to taste.
Grilled Skirt Steak
- 1 pound of skirt steak
- 1 cup of orange juice
- 1 cup of whoa salsa (from above)
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat your grill so that it’s about 600 degrees.
- Marinade the steak in the orange juice and salsa for at least 3 hours.
- Season both sides with salt and pepper.
- Grill over high heat for 6-8 minutes. Do not cover the grill.
- Let the meat rest for 10 minutes (this is a good time to throw your tilapia on).
- Slice the steak against the grain. This is really really important with skirt steak. Click here for a great explanation if you don’t know how to.
- 3.5 ounces of chipotles in adobo sauce
- 1 cup of mayo
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 cup of cilantro
- Blend it all together.
- 2 ripe avocados
- 1/2 diced small yellow onion
- 1 diced plus tomato
- 1/2 cup of diced cilantro
- Juice of two limes
- Mash the avocado until it’s soft and creamy.
- Add lime juice, onion, tomato, and cilantro and mix together.
- Salt to taste.
Dice the red onion and tomato. Thinly slice the lettuce. Quarter the limes. Grill the corn tortillas for a few minutes to warm them up.
And you’re done! Enjoy.