Basil Linguine

When trying to decide what recipe to share with the world, I thought about some of the best dishes my mom makes. I was recently back home in cold Minnesoooota and requested a meal that I used to dislike (back when I was young and picky!) but now I absolutely love! Basil linguine!

As I discussed in my previous post, ramen noodles become a staple to many college students. These quick and cheap noodles become a college student’s “Italian” dinner idea. However, this recipe for basil linguine is a very simple pasta dish and the flavors are amazing! Although there are some great Italian eateries around Tempe (such as Oregano’s and Lo Cascio’s), I’ve never found a rich, creamy basil pasta dish like this anywhere. I love a great Italian meal and this one will have you going back for seconds (and maybe thirds!).

This recipe serves 6-8 people so there will be plenty of leftovers for late-night munching and more if you prepare this for only you and a couple others. Here is what you need:

1 pound linguine

3 cups tomatoes (1 large can) peeled, chopped and seeded

1 8 oz. package of cream cheese, cubed

1/2 cup olive oil

1 tbsp. wine vinegar

1/3 cup fresh chopped basil or 2 tsp. dried

2 garlic cloves, minced or 1/8 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

grated parmesan cheese

Directions: In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except for the linguine and cheese. Mix lightly. Cover. Marinate at room temperate for two hours. (Tip: Allowing the mixture to marinate at room temperature really helps to enhance the flavors of all the ingredients.) Prepare linguine according to box directions. Add pasta to marinated mixture. Sprinkle lightly with cheese and serve! It’s as simple as that! (Tip: Using fresh basil really makes this dish delicious but dried basil works perfectly fine!) Also, the addition of shrimp to this dish would be very tasty! Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!

Check out these other basil linguine recipes that I can’t wait to try! Lemon Basil Linguine, Linguine with Tomatoes & Basil, Tomato Basil Linguine, Buttered Linguine with Tomatoes & Basil, Linguine with Pesto Trapanese, and Linguine with Garlic Crab Sauce.

Orzo & Shrimp Salad

I guarantee a lot of people associate ramen noodles with college life. For many students, ramen is a staple in their every day diet. It’s easy, quick and extremely cheap. What more can you ask for? I admit, when I lived in the dorms freshman year, I often times used my mini microwave to heat up the little ramen noodle bowls for a quick snack. It got old very quickly though! After being accustomed to home cooked meals every day by my mom before college, I’ve found that I constantly need to try new things to satisfy my appetite and cravings.

I’m a big noodle/pasta fan. I’m waiting for the day Arizona opens up a Noodle & Co. because this place can cure anyone’s noodle desire. (If you are lucky enough to have this in your neighborhood, I would suggest the classic butter noodles or pasta fresca!) The Italian in me always makes me want to find new pasta recipes. Another staple for college students is spaghetti; however, there are so many other kinds of pasta that are delicious and worth trying. One is orzo, a rice shaped pasta!

Awhile back I stopped for a bite to eat at 7th Heaven Eatery, a casual restaurant located in Phoenix. I had heard great things about their orzo salad so I wanted to give it a try. The orzo pasta was served on a bed of spinach, drizzled with balsamic dressing and topped off with chicken breast, feta, and toasted almonds. This restaurant has some other great sounding pasta dishes such as the Thai Peanut Noodles and Yakisoba Noodles (the Fisherman’s Stew also sounds amazing!). After devouring my orzo salad,  I was inspired to create my own orzo salad! After I found Barefoot Contessa’s (who I love!) Roasted Shrimp & Orzo recipe, I made some changes according to ingredients I had on hand.

Students, do not fret. Orzo may sound scary, but it’s not! You can find orzo in the pasta aisle at your local grocery store. It’s not as cheap as buying spaghetti, but hey, it’s worth it. I promise! This recipe is not hard at all and you don’t need many ingredients to make this pasta dish delicious. I absolutely love shrimp but it can easily be omitted/substituted for another form of protein such as chicken or tuna.

Here is the recipe:

Serves 4

1 cup orzo

1 pound medium shrimp, cooked and peeled

1/2 cup chopped red onion 

1 cup corn

1 cup cherry tomatoes

1 green pepper, finely chopped

around 1/2 cup lemon juice (about 3 lemons)

around 4 tablespoons olive oil

4 oz. pitted black olives

parsley

dill

salt & pepper (about 1/2 tsp. of each)

optional: scallions, cucumbers, peas, feta cheese, lemon zest for garnish

Directions: Prepare shrimp according to package  directions (dethaw if frozen etc.). Cook orzo according to package directions (tip: the orzo tastes best al dente-when it has a little bite to it!). Drain. Run cold water over pasta for about 30 seconds. In a large mixing bowl, toss together the orzo, onion, corn, green pepper and olives. Add the shrimp. Combine the lemon juice and olive oil in a small bowl. Pour over mixture and stir well. Add  as much parsley and dill (tip: fresh parsley and dill taste much better but dried works well also) as you like (tip: dill can be very potent so make sure to test the mixture before you add too much).  Finally, garnish with cherry tomatoes. Cover and chill for a couple hours.

This dish is so colorful and very easy. I love the combination of the lemon juice/olive oil with the shrimp. The parsley and dill really enhance the flavors of all the ingredients. Barefoot Contessa’s recipe calls for cucumbers which would definitely be a nice addition or substitute for the green pepper. I didn’t have any feta cheese but I think it would be great as a garnish. A lot of college students tend to have canned tuna in their pantry so don’t forget that tuna can be used instead of shrimp. I think I will try this next time! Another tip: keep in mind that this recipe would taste great at room temperature or warm, but I preferred it cold. Make sure to keep the leftovers so you can save time and money! Enjoy!

Check out these orzo recipes I found from bloggers! Pear Feta Orzo Salad, Orzo with Mushrooms, Peas & Parmesan, Orzo Caprese Salad, Sweet Chicken with Orzo and Grilled Vegetable Orzo Salad.

Finally, here are two more recipes from, my favorite, the one and only, Giada De Laurentiis. I could watch her cooking show on Food Network all day! Tri-Colore Orzo and Orzo Stuffed Peppers. Click here to watch Giada make orzo stuffed peppers for a live audience!

Easy Homemade Granola

I love breakfast! We all hear it’s the most important meal of the day and I definitely believe this is true! I especially find that as a college student, I need the fuel of a good breakfast to get me going in the morning. I also know that as a college student, I’m usually rushed in the morning so I look for something quick and easy. Many students buy a sugary pastry or bagel and a coffee on campus every morning but doing this everyday sure adds up! This daily habit leaves you with an empty wallet and often times, an empty stomach after about an hour.

However,  for an occasional splurge and treat, there are some great restaurants around the Tempe area that offer some tasty breakfast choices that I would recommend. One of my favorites is Chompies. Their omelets are to die for and I recently tried their crunchy granola pancakes. I’ve never been much of a pancake fan but the sound of fresh whole grain granola mixed into their house scratch batter sounded too good to pass up. The crunch of the granola in the pancakes was great and I was definitely impressed. However, packaged granola at grocery stores tends to be very expensive so as tempting and delicious as all the variations look, I always put it back on the shelf and purchase my usual cold cereal (I love Kashi’s line of cereals-Heart to Heart and Honey Sunshine are my personal favorites). I have a solution though! Make your own granola at home! It may sound complicated but it’s really not.

While visiting the parents back home in the frigid state of Minnesota for Christmas, my mom taught me how to make delicious homemade granola. This recipe makes several servings and it stays good for a couple weeks so it will save you trips to the grocery store and lots of money! Here is the recipe:

5 cups of rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup honey

optional:

cinnamon

ground flaxseed meal

Preheat oven to 350.
First, measure the oats into a big bowl.  Put the brown sugar, the oil, and honey in a saucepan. Mix and heat together until boiling and combined. Tip: if you measure the oil first, then the honey won’t stick to the measuring cup as much! Add the combined liquids to the oats and mix thoroughly.  Spread on a large, greased cookie sheet (jellyroll pan – a cookie sheet with one inch sides).  Bake for 20 minutes. Tip: Stir once or twice for even browning.  Then, I like to add a sprinkle of cinnamon before baking sometimes and then about 2 Tbsp. of ground flaxseed meal when the granola comes out of the oven.  Stir to combine which also helps keep the granola from sticking to the pan as much!  Tip: don’t wait too long or the flaxseed won’t stick to the granola.  Cool and store in an airtight container.

Sounds easy, right? And I guarantee you will love the sweetness and crunch of this simple recipe. It also beats paying about $5 for a small bag at the store. I’ve also that found that eating granola in the morning satisfies my hunger much better than just cereal (and it’s definitely much more hearty than a pop tart!). If you don’t like eating granola on its own or are looking for ways to incorporate it into other foods, here are my suggestions: sprinkle the granola over vanilla yogurt (greek yogurt is the best-I’m really wanting to try Fage), top some on ice cream or on a banana spread with peanut butter (check out PB & Co’s line which are absolutely delicious!) Finally, I recently tried this vanilla almond milk and it pairs nicely with granola! You can try making your own homemade vanilla almond milk with this recipe. What are some of your favorite ways to eat granola?

So instead of dreading waking up early for class, fall asleep dreaming of your amazing bowl of granola in the morning! I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do! I’ve found some other granola recipes from other bloggers that sound great! Check them out: Homemade granola, Christie’s granolaNami-Nami Granola, Easy homemade granola and Granola.

Chicken Salad Melt Sandwich

When I think about the perfect lunch, I imagine a big, delicious sandwich. If I could recommend one local place to pick up the best sandwich, it would have to be the Orange Table.

I had never heard of it until I went out to lunch with some c0-workers from my internship. Tucked away in Scottsdale’s Civic Center Plaza, the Orange Table is a small cafe that uses only fresh, high-quality ingredients and was voted by the Phoenix New Times as having the “best burger” in 2007 and being the “best neighborhood coffee house” in 2007 and 2008.

As a college student, I get bored with the basic deli sandwiches offered on campus. I rarely order sandwiches when I eat out because I usually end up disappointed. However, the Orange Table’s description of their “Chipotle Chicken Melt” forced me to change my mind. I was blown away when I took a bite into this sandwich! The chicken was juicy-marinated and roasted to perfection! It was served on delicious grilled sourdough bread and the lettuce, tomato, cheese and spicy mayo complimented the chicken perfectly. I was definitely impressed!

I immediately started thinking about how to make my own tasty version at home. Trying to keep things basic, simple and cheap, I came up with this recipe I hope you will enjoy as much as I did! I think the key to a great sandwich is the bread. Sure, it’s easy to pick up the first generic loaf of bread you see at the grocery store, but here’s a tip: If you take just a couple minutes to browse through the bakery section at your grocery store, you can usually find very fresh and interesting kinds of bread available at a discount price. Another tip: Often times there is bread not on display that the bakers will gladly offer to you if you ask (since they end up just throwing it away if it’s not used!).

For my sandwich I used a delicious loaf of wheat sourdough bread I purchased from Trader Joes. First, I combined half a can of shredded chicken (found near the canned tuna in the store) with chopped red onions, celery and tomatoes. In a small bowl, I then combined 1 tablespoon mayo, 1/2 tablespoon sour cream, some lemon juice, salt, pepper, dried parsley, garlic power and cayenne to create a creamy/spicy mixture. I added this to the chicken and other ingredients.

Finally, I arranged the “chicken salad” on 1 lightly buttered piece of bread and sprinkled shredded chedder cheese on top. I placed a slice of pepper jack cheese on the other piece of bread. I then placed  both pieces open face on a cookie sheet and broiled my creation in the oven until the cheese was hot and bubbly! The sandwich was very good and I was impressed by the taste of my spicy mayo/sour cream combination. The canned chicken was surprisingly tasty as well. This was so easy and it just goes to show how easy  it is to make delicious, restaurant-like meals at home! To sum up this recipe, here is what you need:

(Serves One)

2 pieces of good bread

1/2 can (6 ounces) of shredded chicken

1 tablespoon mayo

1/2 tablespoon sour cream

chopped red onions, celery, tomatoes

dash of lemon juice

season with salt, pepper, dried parsley, garlic powder and cayenne (or any other ‘spicy’ spice such as dried chopped chili, cumin, curry etc.)

cheese (cheddar and pepper jack work well!)

Enjoy! I’ve done some recipe looking for chicken melt sandwiches and these sound great. Check them out: Paula Deen’s Almond Chicken Salad Melt and Chipotle Chicken Melt.

Pita Jungle: Grilled Vegetable Salad

My latest dining adventure was to Tempe’s “Pita Jungle“-a trendy, healthy, vegetarian-friendly restaurant that offers “an eclectic blend of fresh ingredients, creative energy and good times.” I had been there twice before and never disappointed so I was excited to try something new! The first time I ordered the Mediterranean Roasted Chicken Shawarma and the second time I enjoyed the Mediterranean Tuna Pita. Both were wonderful but on this occasion I opted for a salad.

What I thought would be a basic grilled vegetable salad was so much more! The menu describes it as “a medley of lightly sauteed carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, squash, broccoli, and eggplant. Served on a bed of mixed greens with lemon vinaigrette.” After devouring the entire salad (which was huge!), I realized I was definitely capable of creating such a salad at home. I think many college students get bored with salad because they usually just pick up a bag of packaged mix with dressing and it’s just nothing special. Of course this is easy to do but you can really get your money’s worth if you take a little bit of time to buy some fresh vegetables that will last you much longer than a bag of mixed greens. Tip: It’s also always a good idea to check out the local farmers markets (such as Sunflower Farmer’s Market and Sprouts) because you can get some great deals on fruits and vegetables!

I already had lettuce, zucchini and carrots at home but I headed to Trader Joes and Whole Foods (my new favorite place to shop!) and picked up some broccoli, mushrooms, a green pepper, tomatoes (in place of the eggplant, not a fan) and a bag of lemons. I first sauteed about half of a red onion in a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Then, I added in all of the veggies that I chopped into bite-size pieces. Once the veggies started to char a bit (I like them a bit crispy-more of a grilled taste!), I turned down the heat and squeezed all the juice from a smell lemon over top. Tip: The juice really comes out of the lemon if you first microwave it for about 15 seconds before cutting it in half. I then added in some spring mix/romaine lettuce mixture and seasoned the entire dish with salt, pepper and a bit of garlic powder. So easy and so delicious!

The olive oil/lemon juice combination is a great way to dress up any salad. Tip: You could also put all your veggies in aluminum foil and bake in the oven until they are to your liking. Also, be creative with vegetables and spices! Invent your own salad dressing! Also, if you find that you cooked too many veggies, don’t throw them out. Refrigerate them in a container and throw them in a nice whole wheat tortilla with some salsa for a hearty lunch the next day! This will save you both time and money. So to sum up this recipe:

zuchinni

tomatoes

broccoli

carrots

mushrooms

peppers (any color)

lettuce (any kind)

1-2 lemons

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt, pepper, garlic powder

optional: onions, additional vegetables and spices

If you are looking for what sounds like a great grilled vegetable salad recipe, take a look at this one: Recipe. I think putting some fresh feta cheese or goat cheese on top (like this recipe calls for) would be delicious!

Welcome!

Hello! My name is Emily and I want to thank you for visiting my blog! This blog is a semester assignment for my online media class, but I intend for it to become more than just something I HAVE to do for credit. As a huge lover of food and cooking, my goal is to provide college students, and anyone else interested, with wonderful places to eat out in Arizona (particularly around ASU’s Tempe campus) and how to simply re-create some of your favorite restaurant dishes right at home!

My culinary interest stems from my mom, who has always made everything homemade and constantly creates amazing, creative meals. She even wrote her own cookbook called “Shiitake Sampler”, with you guessed it, tons of shiitake mushroom recipes! I remember my friends always being so excited to come over to the house because instead of frozen pizza or ordering pizza, we would make our own homemade dough and create our own special pizzas. There would also always be an abundance of fresh, homemade cookies available to nibble on. Now that I’m no longer in the dorms and I have an apartment with a kitchen, I’ve been experimenting a lot with cooking, trying out tons of recipes and making up my own. After years of watching my mom in the kitchen and getting some great cooking lessons over the holidays from my sister Holly who just spent a couple months in Italy learning how to cook, my goal is to show you how easy it can be to create delicious, fun and cheap meals right at home! Some of my favorites sites to find recipes at include Food Network, Taste of Home, and Yum Sugar. Check them out!