Cherry Cheesecake Tarts

If you like cheesecake, you will love this recipe. These individual servings of cherry tarts taste just like cherry cheesecake and although they are the perfect personal serving size, you will want to eat them all.

1 can pie filling cherries
8 oz. package cream cheese
1 egg
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 box Vanilla wafers
Foil cupcake liners
Makes about 12 servings
Preheat the oven at 375 degrees. Let the cream cheese sit until it is room temperature, then beat the cream cheese, egg, sugar and vanilla until it becomes a soft mixture. Line a muffin tin with foil cupcake liners. (If you cannot find tin foil ones, you can use paper ones. The foil is just sturdier and easier to eat out of.) Place a vanilla wafer at the bottom of each liner; this acts as the crust on your cheesecake. Then pour about a tablespoon of your mixture over them. Bake for 10 minutes. Allow the tarts to cool and then top with the cherries. Refrigerate to chill.
You need to make sure that you buy cherry pie filling not just canned cherries. This way you'll get the thicker sauce and it won't seep into your filling. I've made it with canned cherries before and did not get as good of results. So I took a picture of the kind I used this time so you'll know what to look for in the grocery store. 
Happy holidays! 

Holiday Cooking

With Christmas coming up, many kitchens will begin to start smelling of baked goods and possibly something burning. Perhaps you have no idea what you are bringing to the potluck family dinner. Or maybe you're still trying to decide what pies to make. Here is a list of some of my best holiday-themed recipes:

  • Dill Dip: Great for dipping veggies in to keep guests held over until the main course

Jessi's Guacamole: The best guac recipe I've tasted, created by my cousin

  • Cran-Ras Salad: A sweet salad to add some healthy to the carb and sugar laden holiday meal
  • Acorn Squash: With brown sugar and bacon for a yummy side or appetizer

Garlic Knots: Bread for the side that tastes sort of like Bertucci's rolls when heated up

  • No Crisp Apple Crisp: If you're running a budget or running out of time, this apple recipe makes a good snack

Butternut Squash: This medley of squash, carrots, onion, and brown sugar is of my own creation and has become a hit at parties

Evil Pie: A very quick no-bake pistachio pie that has been a favorite of the kids in my family

Below is a list of holiday recipes that I would love to try if I had time, but perhaps you can try them instead! (Also my favorite blogs to follow!)

P.S. Tom and I are going to be making cherry cheesecake tarts tonight so prepare for that recipe to be up soon as well!

Onion Burgers with Avocado Dressing

It's finals week, which for me has meant a lot of campus food and frozen pizza. I have little will or time to cook. This weekend I was craving something homemade; something new. Tom and I flipped through his mom's Every Day with Rachael Ray and decided on abbreviating one of her summer grilling recipes.

I was blown away by how good it was. The burger, although there were no traces of pinkness in the middle, was soft and melted in our mouths. The burger's flavor itself was exquisite. I'm not sure if it was the onion juice or maybe the poultry seasoning that lent to the unique taste that I was to replicate in every other burger I ever make. The avocado sauce was awesome as well. The leftovers could be used for technically anything; I was thinking dip for chips or topping on a cold cut sandwich.

For the burger:
1 lb ground beef
1 small onion
1 tbsp BBQ sauce
1 tsp poultry seasoning (generally made up of ingredients like thyme, sage, rosemary, salt and pepper)
1/2 tsp hot sauce
olive oil

For the dressing:
1 avocado
1 jalapeño pepper
1 clove garlic, pressed
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp chives
1/2 tsp parsley
1 tbsp lemon juice

makes 3-4 servings

In a bowl, combine the beef, sauces and seasoning together. In order to get onion juice for the burger, grate the onion over the bowl to catch the juice. (I used about 1/3 of the small onion per burger.) Combine and shape into patties, then place on heated skillet and drizzle with olive oil so the burger does not stick to the pan. Meanwhile, combine the dressing ingredients in a bowl. (For the jalapeño, we grated it so the dressing would not have chunks, then added some of the seeds to add more of a bite.) If you own a food processor, you can mix it that way, but I just mushed up the avocado and stirred by hand. Cook the burgers until they are no longer pink inside. Eat on buns with a slice of cheese if you would like and top with avocado sauce!

Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip

Right now I am sitting in my living room, looking at our nice array of appetizers. Fancy cheese and crackers, shrimp cocktails, mixed nuts, and the spinach artichoke dip Tom and I made. It's a nice addition to a traditional mix of foods.

It was kind of a last-minute idea, but I found this Paula Deen recipe and molded it a little bit. Here's what we came up with:

1 9oz package frozen spinach
1 10oz package frozen artichoke hearts
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp black pepper
dash of cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a casserole dish. Allow artichoke hearts to thaw and then chop coarsely. Microwave the spinach for 5 minutes. Drain the water from the spinach, and then combine the two in a large bowl. Add the mayo, sour cream, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and peppers and mix. Pour into casserole dish and top with the cheddar cheese. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve with crackers or fresh veggies.

Garlic Knots

This was my first ever stab at making bread. Yeast is so weird! This recipe went pretty well for me though; no disasters. Thankfully I had my parents giving me tips along the way. And of course my helpful boyfriend.

1 3/4 cups warm water (about 115 degrees, your sink should be able to do this)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tbsp active dry yeast
5 cups flour
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp parsley flakes
1 tbsp fresh basil
2 tsp garlic powder

In a medium bowl, stir together the yeast and warm water until the yeast has fully dissolved, about 10 minutes.
Then combine olive oil, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Slowly add the flour; you will probably need to use your hands to mix as the dough becomes thicker. Cover the bowl with saran wrap and let rise for 1-3 hours, until it is doubled in volume. When the dough has risen, set up a cutting board and rolling pin covered with oil. Spray 3 baking sheets with non-stick cooking spray and keep near your cutting station. Divide the dough in half so that it is easier to use. Roll the dough into a rectangle so that it is about 1/2 inch thick, and cut the dough into strips about 1/2 inch wide. Sprinkle with flour, and roll the dough strips so that they are rounded. Then take each strip and tie them into knots and place them on the baking sheets. Let the dough sit out for about another hour, until the knots have doubled in size. Then place them into the oven preheated for 400 degrees and bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Meanwhile, simmer together garlic, 3 tbsps olive oil, garlic powder, parsley and basil on the stovetop. Immediately after you take the knots out of the oven, paint the garlic oil on the rolls.

The next time I make this, I would want the garlic to be somehow inside the knots. The coating is not quite garlic-y enough for me. I assume that the reason you are supposed to paint it on after is so that garlic doesn't burn in the oven. Let me know if you have any tips!

Smashed Potatoes, Chipotle Style

The night before Thanksgiving, and all through the house, was people staying up way too late to finish cooking. This year I was one of those people. My mom requested that I bring some non-traditional side dishes to the table this time, so I did what I do best and looked all over the internet for inspiration. I gave her a list and she chose her favorites.

This one is a new twist on sweet potatoes. It may not go over well for the very young and very old, but for those who like a little spice in their dinner, it's a great re-invention of an old tradition.

I found this on the Food Network website, the original recipe here. I used 5 sweet potatoes, making enough for about 10 people to have as a side.

5 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 tbsp butter
2 whole chili peppers in adobo sauce
2 tsp adobo sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup brown sugar

Put the sweet potatoes in a steamer basket inside of a big saucepan, with about an inch of water at the bottom   at medium-low. Put a cover on the pan and let steam for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. In a big bowl, combine the potatoes and butter and mash. In a separate bowl, use the back of a spoon to crush the peppers into a paste. Mix in all the rest of the ingredients until combined.

Caesar Chicken Breast

I got my inspiration for this recipe from a reader, Lauren, who left a comment with her favorite creation. I used the basic instructions and then added a little bit of my own twist. I was a little worried when I took my first bite that it came out too bland, but the more I ate the more I realized what a great flavor I had concocted.  Thanks Lauren, I never would have thought to marinate chicken in Caesar dressing, but it's a really simple ingredient that makes it taste like you put a lot of work into it.

1 lb chicken breast
2/3 cup Caesar dressing
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 onion
1/2 cup bread crumbs

Mix together the dressing and the spices in a small bowl. Dip the chicken in the dressing, then coat it in the bread crumbs. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add oil. Place the chicken breasts in the pan and cook for about 20-30 minutes, until the inside of the chicken is no longer pink. Top with Parmesan cheese before serving.

If you have extra time, try putting the spiced dressing in a Ziploc bag with the chicken and letting in marinate for a while in the fridge. This will hopefully make your chicken softer and the flavor stronger. Enjoy!

Marinara Sauce

In my family, pasta is frequent. Being 50% Italian, I've been blessed with a family of great cooks and lots of homemade dinners. My memory of growing up was pasta for dinner half of the days out of the week (though I don't know how accurate my memory is). I've always been taught there were two types of red sauce: marinara and "meat" sauce. I can't choose a favorite; it really depends on what mood I'm in. Our other nickname for marinara is "quick" sauce. It's the one that can be made without hours of sitting in a big pot. My mom recently emailed me the recipe so I thought I'd share it with everyone. Think of yourselves as pretty lucky, because this is a cherished family recipe. My grandmother, the great Italian cook my dad inherited his skills from, is the original source of this recipe.

1 28oz can of canned tomatoes (we use Pastene "Kitchen Ready" brand)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
3-5 cloves of garlic, crushed
6-8 leaves of fresh basil (or a couple tbsps of dried basil)
2 tsp sugar

Saute onion and garlic in oil over medium heat in a 3 quart pan. Then add basil, tomatoes and sugar. Continue to heat until it begins to bubble, then reduce the heat to medium-low or low. Let simmer for 20-30 minutes. Serve over pasta.

If your sauce tastes too acidic, add more sugar!

Sweet and Spicy Steak Marinade

This recipe is mine and Tom's own creation. We originally made it for chicken drumsticks, but we would much rather try it on steak. Chicken just doesn't soak up marinade like steak does. It was good on the chicken, but the best was when we tasted the sauce right after we made it. The chicken lost a lot of the flavor. Still a good marinade to use on anything really, I'm just suggesting steak to get the full effect.

2/3 cup BBQ sauce (we like Sweet Baby Ray's)
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
2 beers
1 onion, chopped
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp vinegar (we used white wine vinegar)
1 lime, juiced
1 clove garlic, minced

In a small bowl, crush the chipotle pepper with the back of a spoon until it is somewhat of a paste. Then, in a large bowl, combine all ingredients and stir until mixed. Then place the steak (or meat of choice) in the bowl and let soak for a few hours before cooking.

This is the perfect blend of spicy and sweet to make your taste buds go crazy!

Acorn Squash with Brown Sugar and Bacon

This autumn day is probably one of the final weekend days of the year where it was in the 60s, perfect in my mind for a final grilling. Today Tom and I decided to combine seasonal foods with summer-style cooking. First up was this incredible recipe I found here for acorn squash. I love acorn squash. I need to find more recipes using it. I guess I never really thought about it before, but I really do love fall produce.

Anyway, enough of my rambling. Here's the recipe. I wish I could have gotten a better picture; acorn squash is such an interesting vegetable to look at. But I forgot my camera. This is why I'm getting a little digital camera for Christmas, right? (hint hint)

I apologize for the quality of this photo, this is from a camera phone.

1 acorn squash
2 slices of bacon
1 1/2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste

makes 2 servings

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with tin foil. Halve the acorn squash and scoop out the seeds. (You can salt and cook the seeds along with your squash, that's what we did!) Poke holes in the inside so that the flavor can soak in as much as possible. Melt some of the butter and paint the skin side with it. Add the rest of the butter to the scooped out part of the squash. Place the halves on the baking sheet, and add 1/4 cup of brown sugar and top with a slice of bacon on each side. Bake for 40 minutes. We then threw it on the grill to get the bacon crispy, but you can obviously skip this step. Just cook it until the yellow part is relatively soft. 

If you're health conscious you can always skip the bacon. Then you'd just have a sweet side. This also makes a great appetizer. Or, if you make a whole squash for yourself you can have it as a meal. 

My only problem with this recipe was how to eat it. I wish that recipe instructions also gave eating instructions sometimes. I wasn't sure if I should just chop it up and eat the bacon last, scoop out the inside, or what. I ended up just scooping out the yellow part and forgetting about the skin (though you can definitely eat that too!) and then eating the bacon by itself. The bacon had a nice sweet flavor to it, and the squash was very 
yummy! I totally suggest considering this if you are trying to plan Thanksgiving sides. 

Simple Peanut Butter Cookies

This Paula Deen recipe I found on the Food Network website is awesome because it has so few ingredients; great in a pinch. Being a Paula Deen recipe I expected it to have 3 sticks of butter and about a pound of sugar. This is not the case. In fact, there's no butter at all. Like I said, super convenient. 

1 egg
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine ingredients in a mixer until batter is smooth. Shape the dough into balls about the size of golf balls in your hands and place on a cookie sheet. Press them flat with a fork. (Not sure what the use of these fork marks are, but it sure looks pretty!) Bake for about 10 minutes. 

Although this isn't a very fancy recipe, it gets the job done. Definitely not my dad's peanut butter cookies, but still good. I think they would have been better if I didn't burn the bottom, a common problem I've noticed in peanut butter cookies. My only tip would be to take them out of the oven sooner than  you would think. I waited until the edges of mine became golden-brown, but then the bottoms were almost black.

The original recipe calls for Hershey's Kisses, but obviously I did not have any of those on hand. (If I had any they would probably have been gone the day I bought them.) Of course this would be an amazing addition, especially because any peanut butter/chocolate combination is incredible. Enjoy!

Balsamic Orange Chicken

I apologize that nothing new has been posted in a while. A week ago I ate some bad Subway, which caused me only to be able to eat plain pasta for a few days while my stomach recovered. (Funny story, Subway was calling my frantically after I sent them an email informing them that their food had made me sick...they believed that I was suing them!) As I was recovering from the stomach thing, a cold hit me hard and I was in and out of commission for the week. But when I finally began to feel better, I went over Tom's and we cooked a really simple and really yummy dinner. I believe we found the recipe in his mom's Everyday Food: Great Food Fast magazine, but we modified it a lot.

1 1/2 lb chicken thighs
1 whole orange, sliced
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
olive oil 

the spices we added without measuring:
chili powder
red pepper flakes
brown sugar
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. After rubbing all desired spices on the chicken thighs, place them on the pan and cook until the cooked side is brown, about 5 minutes. (If you are using chicken thighs with bones and skin, cook them skin side down. Also, depending on whether or not your chicken has bone will affect the speed at which it cooks. Boneless will cook faster.) Transfer the chicken to a bake pan and put in the over for about 5 more minutes, until the chicken has cooked all the way through. Meanwhile, add the balsamic vinegar and orange to the original pan, scraping the bottom of the pan for crusty leftovers and mix together. Cook until the oranges begin to soften. Then return the chicken to the pan, and stir the sauce with the chicken until spread even.    

I'd just like to say, I love chicken thighs. They are my favorite part of a chicken. I feel like chicken thighs aren't really advertised that much, but the meat is always so soft! The reason I really wanted to try this recipe is that I remember my dad cooking chicken thighs on the grill when I was a kid and absolutely loving them, and this was a time in my life where it was difficult to get me to eat anything, let alone meat. I was surprised that with so few ingredients how well the recipe came out. I squeezed my oranges onto my chicken because I didn't think the orange flavor got into the sauce that well. Also, don't be shy on the spices, because without them this recipe is relatively bland. A lot of the balsamic taste gets cooked away. Hope you enjoy!

Article on Microwave Food

The UMass newspaper, The Collegian, put a blog post up with 3 great recipes that are super easy and you only need a microwave to cook. I wish there had been an article like this when I lived in the dorms.

Click here to view it.

Another reason why I haven't been blogging as much is because I'm a part of the Collegian writing staff now. I've haven't published a ton of articles yet because I'm so busy, but I'm doing the best I can. Here's a link to what I've done in case any of you are interested. I was blessed with the opportunity to see a concert for free for my very first article. Grace Potter & the Nocturnals are amazing! (Someday I'll figure out how to embed YouTube videos.)

Sautéed Butternut Squash

Rather than writing the essay I should be, I'm going to share with everyone my creation of the weekend. Butternut squash is in season, which means it's nice and cheap (79 cents a lb for local grown!) and also best-quality. 

I originally began searching for butternut squash soup recipes, but all of them were encouraging use of a blender which I do not have. Instead I used some of the ingredients from a recipe I could barely recall and couldn't find and basically just created my own recipe. This is what I did:

1/2 large butternut squash
1/3 cup diced carrots (I used baby carrots, yum!)
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup butter
dash of cinnamon 

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and melt the butter. Add the squash, carrots and onion to the pan. Add oil as necessary. Stir occasionally. Add brown sugar and cinnamon (I used more than a dash and regret that mistake). Simmer in covered skillet on medium-low heat until the squash is soft (about 20 minutes). 

Great on a chilly fall day!

Something Has Changed

Some of you may wonder where my eye-catching blog title went. Due to a lot of consideration and tips from others, I've decided to take out the profanity. I know, I know, this is college, right?! You're supposed to swear and do all those other things your parents won't let you do. But this blog is viewed by other people too. I don't want to prevent moms with small children from looking at my blog because they don't want to have to deal with, "Mommy, what does THAT word mean?" (And for any newcomers who may be stumbling upon this blog, the word I'm talking about rhymes with quit.)

My dad has seen my blog but told me what prevented him from sending it to all of his co-workers was the profanity. I don't want one word in the title causing me to lose a huge possible audience. Maybe I'm a little vain, but it would be nice to get a little blogger fame someday. I also learned that future employers may not enjoy it, and if I'm getting employed for being a writer someday then what better to show them than this blog! It got me the gig at the UMass newspaper, after all.

I know, it's a sad day. I'm sure you couldn't help but smile a little every time you thought of my blog title, I know that's how I felt. Plus, I'm the blogger, I'm rather attached at this point. But, all things must change. This may be only temporary. If anyone has a suggestion for a more catchy title, please let me know! I'm open to suggestions. Also, hate mail about the title change is welcomed as well.

Microwave Breakfast

This weekend my dad showed me something that is of extreme value to all who live in dorms and only have a Microfridge to serve their hungry stomachs. I've gotten some requests for dorm-ready recipes, but in my two years in a dorm I fell back on the dining commons because I was under the impression that there's nothing of substance that can be made in a microwave.

Maybe I'm just naive. But I had no idea you could cook eggs in a microwave.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, you can build yourself a breakfast sandwich better than from the drive-thru with merely a microwave.

1 english muffin, croissant or bagel
1 egg
1 slice of cheese (preferably American)
1 slice of deli ham
1 dab of butter

Microwave the butter in a bowl until it has melted completely. Coat the entire inside of the bowl with the butter (this keeps the eggs from sticking and makes them taste better). Crack the egg in the bowl (making sure not to leave any shell pieces behind) and scramble with a fork. Microwave the eggs for about 1 minute, until they appear cooked. Then assemble your sandwich and you have a tasty breakfast!

When my dad told me he'd be making this for me, I was a little hesitant. Eggs in the microwave? It sounded disgusting. But really, they don't taste much different than eggs cooked on the stove. The butter that he heated the eggs in made them even more yummy than eggs cooked on the stove with Pam. If you still don't believe me, I dare you to try it. You will be surprised at how non-microwaved this meal tastes.

Cinnamon Sugar Popcorn

There never seems to be food in Tom's house that isn't frozen or expired. This is the time when you have to get creative. The only problem is, sometimes I'm not in the mood to be creative. I just want food now. Well, I took a little time to scrounge up edible snack food in his cabinet and found popcorn. Now, I don't know about you, but I don't like popcorn unless it's made at the movie theaters. I just don't eat it in my day to day life. I did a little research on the nutrition of popcorn, and discovered that it's actually a relatively healthy snack!
Of course, in this recipe I make it more unhealthy. But who cares. I'm in college. My body hasn't yet reached the point of slow metabolic rates and wrinkles. But even if you do want to watch what you eat, it seems that 1/3 of a bag of typical buttered microwave popcorn is only about 30 calories. I'm not going to say that I'm a genius when it comes to nutrition, so maybe the fat/calorie content is not optimal or whatever. Anyway, I think its a pretty damn good snack.

1 bag of microwaveable popcorn
2 tbsp white sugar
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 cup butter

Pop the popcorn. In a small bowl, mix the dry ingredients together. Melt the butter in the microwave. You can vary the amount of butter you use, depending on whether or not you have white popcorn, lightly buttered, etc. Pour the butter over the popcorn and mix together. While the popcorn is still wet from the butter, sprinkle on the dry mixture and mix together as best you can. I have a little trouble with this part because all of my yummy stuff seems to sink to the bottom of the bowl. I usually just end up scraping the bowl with my pieces of popcorn. If you try this and find a way of successfully mixing it all together evenly, please let me know.

Ants on a Banana

Here is a snack from my childhood. I totally invented it myself. Now looking back on my life I have come to realize that this must have been my calling. I must have been in middle school when I came up with this one. Either I've always been a foodie genius, or my taste buds are in regression due to the stresses of being in college and working 20+ hours a week. (Yes, I realize that this is my second time mentioning regression. I just really like my Abnormal Psych class this year, gimmie a break. For once I actually want to learn.)

This recipe is great because it can be made in a dorm and is super quick for when it's midnight and you are hungry but not hungry enough to flip on the oven. And depending on what you actually put in this banana, it can be quite healthy. Good source of potassium (banana) and protein (peanut butter).

1 whole banana
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp marshmallow fluff (optional)
drizzle of honey
handful of raisins
handful of chocolate chips (I didn't have any on hand so I used chocolate sprinkles)

Slice the banana in half, lengthwise. Cover one side with the peanut butter, fluff, honey, raisins and chocolate, then place the other side on top like you are making a sandwich. Eat whole with fingers or cut into slices and use a fork.

I feel like this could just as easily but turned into something gourmet and served in a restaurant. Instead they'd drizzle the honey on top instead of inside and maybe put little spurts of whipped cream on top drizzled with homemade chocolate sauce. Oh good lord, my stomach is growling enough as it is.

A Riddle

What's quick and easy and is made with things a college student would have in their fridge?

...Give up? It's the recipe you are going to send me.

This week has been ridiculous, and it's only Wednesday. I'm juggling the most commitments I've ever had, between classes, lots of work, writing for the paper and ballet classes I don't have a lot of extra time on my hands. I hate that I can only blog about once a week now. It's hard to be motivated when you get home from being out for class/work for 12 hours and all you want to do is sleep. It's also tough when I find great recipes but have none of the ingredients to make it. I'm not made of money. My roommate and I grocery shop about once every other week, and we usually just end up buying Gushers and Lunchables. Our Stop N' Shop receipts are proof that our stress has caused severe regression.

This is where you come in. I'm sure you have those days too. What do you make on those lazy days that is still relatively nutritious and doesn't come from your freezer or a drive-thru window??

In case you were under a misconception, this blog is in no way all my own recipes. I'd say probably 90% are not mine. I get them from other blogs, the Food Network, friends and family. So please, I KNOW there's some recipe floating around in that brain of yours. I'm in need of inspiration!

Indian Fusion Hot Dogs

What is better than waking up late on Sunday afternoons, cuddling and watching the Food Network? Not much that I can think of at the moment. That is what I did a couple weeks ago. I was over my boyfriend's house, so it was a treat to get to watch cable! I was watching Aarti's Party, and she made this dish which looked really interesting to me. 

I'm not a big Indian food person. I had pretty much zero Indian spices in my cabinet, which prevented me from making this taste like anything Aarti made. But I still thought it was bangin'. Below is my abbreviated version, but if you happen to have tons of Indian spices on hand, here is the original recipe

1 tbsp oil 
1/2 large onion, diced
1 med tomato, diced
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/4 cup shredded carrots
1/2 tsp paprika
2 tbsp ketchup
1/2 tsp mustard (I used spicy mustard)
4 hot dogs, sliced
1 pita

(makes enough for 2)

Heat the oil in a medium-large pan over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, carrots and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about 5 minutes. Then stir in the ketchup, mustard, tomatoes, and hot dogs. Add water if mixture is too dry. Cover and let simmer on med-low heat for 15 minutes. Slice pita in half and serve mixture in pitas. 

No Crisp Apple Crisp

Blog posts have been sparse for a couple of reasons. One, I don't have as much time to make meals at home because I'm either at class or work all day, and I hate posting recipes without any photos. Two, my internet is currently down. My roommate was on the phone with Comcast for 2 whole hours and she's pretty sure we're worse off than when we started. You can't do this to college students that don't know anything about internet and have homework to do! The phone call ended somewhere around the point when the person in India asked her, "ma'am, I cannot help you if you are using profanity." They deserved it, they really did.

Anyway, enough of my ranting. This recipe comes from the catacombs of my mind. I honestly don't remember what made me think of it, and I can only recall a piece of a memory of making it in my friend's kitchen when we were young. Maybe it was my kitchen; I don't know. My memory of this snack is pretty vague. I don't know if I came up with it, or who did. All I remember is being a preteen and this was about the only thing I would cook for myself. Well, I recreated it just in time for apple season and just in time for my desire for a late night snack.

2 small-medium apples
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp butter

(makes enough for 1)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Carve out the core of the apple, so you have what looks like an apple bowl. Combine cinnamon and sugar in a separate bowl .Drop half of butter into each hole, then add the cinnamon and sugar. These measurements aren't strict at all; basically just use however much you want. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the apples give way easily if you squeeze them.

This isn't the most intricate or exciting dessert. But you get the sweetness of the cinnamon and sugar and the healthiness of the apple. It's like a sloppy version of apple crisp minus the crispy part, hence my title. I wish I could somehow get the mixture to seep into the apple itself a little more. If anyone has any suggestions, let me know. Also, experiment with other ingredients too!

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Did you know? Everything I cook does not come out blog-worthy. Amazing, I know. Even though this one came out as somewhat as a dud, I still want to blog about it.

Today I was thinking, I really need a new recipe to blog about. I had been wanting to try tuna noodle casserole because it looked so good; I imagined the taste of my favorite Dining Common meal, Hungarian Noodle Bake.

This was literally the most disgusting experience I've ever had making food. I don't know why I thought it was a good idea to mix the scents of mushrooms, tuna and canned peas. I smelled like something died in my kitchen. Know what else I learned? Cream of mushroom soup is NOT soup. It comes out of the can like a solid. Imagine canned cranberry sauce but a little softer and smells like mushrooms. I hate mushrooms. I don't know why I thought this casserole was a good idea to try.

So it didn't come out as horrible as I thought it would. It was definitely edible. Maybe even good. No, it wasn't good. All I could think of while eating it was the word BLAND. It wasn't too fishy, it wasn't too mushroom-y. I can't figure out what else it needs. I learned what it definitely does not need: red pepper flakes. I thought, oh red pepper flakes are good on just about everything. Boy was I wrong. Imagine the taste of spicy tuna. Nasty. Garlic powder didn't do it either.

I've been thinking about it for a while now. I want to try Worcestershire sauce. Sounds disgusting also, I am aware. But Hungarian Noodle bake is quite similar to this except it doesn't have tuna instead it has cottage cheese and Worcestershire sauce. I'll have to see. Or maybe as the blogger commented, it just needs more cheese.

I think my biggest problem with this dish is that I got all excited about it when I read comments on recipes for it and everyone was saying things like, "ah just like my mom made it" and "best comfort food everrrrr". My problem is that my mom has never ever made this dish before, so it doesn't bring back memories of playing Candy Land or Sunday dinners with the family. It just tastes like a shitty version of fettuccine alfredo. But actually nothing like fettuccine alfredo, which is another thing I was comparing it to in my mind.

But maybe your mom did make this all the time and maybe it will make you so nostalgic that you call her up and tell her how much you miss her and wish you had her at your disposal to cook for you all the time. Then by all means, make tuna noodle casserole. It's another freakin' cheap meal. I'm not going to post the recipe though, because I didn't really make any changes to it at all, except I didn't have potato chips and I used more cheese. I also don't really know if posting my photo is necessary, since it looked exactly like every other tuna noodle casserole on the planet. This is the great website I found this not so great dish on.

EDIT: Nicole loved my tuna noodle casserole. Maybe there's nothing wrong with it. Maybe I just don't like tuna noodle casserole. I don't ever recall actually eating it before now.


I have found the answer to life's question.

Alright, maybe not. I still don't know why mosquito were created or why weekends are only 2 days long. But I do have a really simple secret to completely changing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich into something much more epic. And there is only one alteration you need to make. It's not even a different ingredient.

This magical element is a toaster.

Your PB&Js will never be the same. They will no longer taste like what your mom made you every single day for your entire elementary school career. They will be something more adult, more gourmet, more delicious.

And it's the same exact freakin' ingredients.

There's something elemental that changes about a PB&J when the bread is toasty and the peanut butter drools from the edges.

What's even better? Grilled PB&J. Slap some butter on your bread and turn your sandwich golden brown in a skillet. It's like a grilled cheese and a PB&J in one....minus the cheese.

Ever make a peanut butter fluff? Take this another step too and make a peanut butter and fluff and jelly sandwich. Add some banana slices if you want to get crazy. I have just reinvented the most basic American childhood meal of all time. Thank me later.

Breakfast Quesadillas

Every weekend morning is a dilemma, especially no longer living on campus where food is ready made for you all day long. Yesterday I found myself looking for a breakfast recipe with minimal effort that still tasted good because even the milk for cereal had gone bad. Then I found this recipe.

It was a great new way to use eggs and gave quesadillas a fun new twist. Plus it's so simple. And the perfect protein.

4 eggs
1/4 cup milk (optional)
1 whole tortilla
1/2 cup of shredded jack cheese (I used pepper jack)

This makes 1-2 servings, depending on how hungry you are.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Scramble the eggs in a bowl and add milk to make them fluffier. Cook the eggs. Put the cooked eggs on one half of the tortilla. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with cheese and fold over the other half of the tortilla. Oil both sides of the tortilla and place on a baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, until the tortilla begins to turn golden brown. Serve with salsa and sour cream. 

Twitter and Whatnot

No, I haven't forgotten about you. It's just been a hectic first week of classes and I haven't had much time to do any cooking. Hope none of you are getting too impatient!

On the flip side, I made a Twitter account for my blog! That way if you don't have a blogger account, you can easily follow what I'm doing and get other quick updates from me. I'll be honest, I've barely ever used Twitter before. To me it just seemed like a crappier version of Facebook...but I've learned that it can be an awesome tool for bloggers, so I'm giving it a try! Bear with me while I smooth out the bumps. You will find a handy dandy little link to my Twitter account right over there on the right hand of this post. -->
I'm also following some pretty cool bloggers, so be sure to check them out too.

I also wanted to say how much I love and appreciate everyone who reads this blog. It's taken off way better than I expected it to, and that's all because of your interest. With all my commitments to school and work it's harder for me to find time to blog, but I am in no way losing interest because I love that I can actually help people who are in the same boat as me; even people that I've never met before. Plus seeing a little notification that I have a comment few days makes me all tingly on the inside. :)

Keep on cooking!

Easy Mexican Rice

The school year has officially begun. Which means more campus food and meals on-the-go. Hopefully I will still find a sufficient amount of time to cook. Yesterday my roommate Nicole made a delicious meal that we've been eating for leftovers ever since. She got the recipe from our friend Amanda, who is also a fan of my blog. I'm hoping she'll give more great suggestions in the future.

1/2 onion, chopped
1 chili pepper, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 can of black beans
3 cups of white rice

(makes about 6 servings)

Sauté the onion in a pan over medium heat. When the onions are caramelized, stir in the chili pepper (take the seeds out if you don't want it to be super spicy; you can also use red pepper flakes if you don't have a chili pepper), tomato and black beans. Then add 2 cups of water and the white rice. Continue stirring and let simmer until the rice is fully cooked.

Today when Nicole prepared dinner for us (I love coming home to dinner already made for me! I told her she makes a good housewife.) she showed me how to make this meal even better. She said to add some pepper jack cheese, salsa, guacamole, and broken up tortilla chips. It was almost too delicious to be considered a real meal. But it's good for you; and cheap! Rice is ridiculously inexpensive. You can definitely just skip the toppings you don't have and still have a solid meal. I also think adding raisins would make it perfect, but Nicole has an aversion to raisins so I've yet to try it.

Splash of Heaven

Ever make fruit salad and a few weeks later after sitting in the back of your fridge you are left with a mushy mess? Well that's what happened to Nicole (my roommate!) and I. And from it came one of the best drinks we've ever had. Literally. It was THAT good. The fruit gives it a really fresh flavor. I can't really describe it to you. You just need to make it.

1/3 cup fruit salad (ours was strawberry, pineapple, cantaloupe, watermelon and orange)
2 shots (16oz) of Smirnoff Melon
splash of fruit juice (the juice that gathers at the bottom of your fruit salad)
splash of tonic water

Put the fruit in the bottom of your glass and add juice, vodka and tonic. Use the back of a spoon to squish the fruit as much as you can. Stir and add ice. For a weaker drink, add more tonic.

Cheese on Toast My Way

Yesterday I was listening to the lovely song Merry Happy by Kate Nash and started thinking about cheese on toast. I looked it up on Wiki, knowing it was a British tradition but knowing else about it. The Wiki page told me that there were many different ways of doing cheese on toast. I searched for some recipes but didn't come up with much that interested me. Then suddenly I remembered a meal I used to make myself all the time when I was younger. I don't know how I forgot about it; it's so good. I think I may have heard the recipe on Zoom once.

1 slice of bread (or 1 bagel, I normally do it on bagels when they are on hand)
1/2 sliced apple
enough cheddar cheese to cover the apples 
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon 

Lay the slices of apple on the bread. Cover them with cheese. Combine cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl and then sprinkle on top of the cheese. Toast in a toaster oven until the cheese is melted.

Egg Tomato Sauce on Toast

I had seen this recipe on multiple blogs. It didn't sound that exciting to me, but hey, all I needed was a couple eggs, some of the sauce from my fridge, and I was even lucky enough to have Italian bread donated by my parents. 

This meal didn't blow my mind the same way that Egg in a Tomato did. But it was still pretty good. And simple.

2 eggs
1 1/2 cups of tomato sauce
2 slices of bread

Heat the tomato sauce in a small saucepan. Go ahead and throw in some spices if it's just plain tomato sauce. (Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, basil, garlic powder, to name a few.) Then, drop two eggs into the sauce and make sure the heat is on low. Cover up the egg white with sauce so that you can only see the yolks. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the egg whites are no longer clear and runny but the yolks are still soft. Place on bread and enjoy!

When I made this recipe from memory after seeing it on an array of other blogs, I thought I'd be a little more creative. You know, give the people an inventive version. That's what I normally try to do, anyway. Well, my creativity kind of failed. I just added a couple extra spices to sauce that had already been spiced, and I made garlic bread by adding some butter and garlic powder to my toast. I would not recommend this. The first slice I ate I could mostly only taste garlic. And you know me, I'm obsessed with garlic. But this just was unpleasant. The second slice tasted more like I assume it's supposed to. I also added some Parmesan cheese, and this didn't do a whole lot for my taste buds either. For this meal, I'd suggest sticking to the recipe.

Jessi's Guac

I'm pretty sure this is the best guacamole I have tasted, made by my favorite cousin Jessi. The only issue is that her directions were pretty loose and since I have never made guacamole before, mine didn't come out as good. But with the help of some of Tom's family, we ripped it off alright. Here's her recipe, she's even got some good cooking techniques in there: 

3 avocados
1/2 a tomato (diced)
1/2 a yellow onion (diced with a bit of extra mincing)
3 cloves garlic (crushed)
1/2 a lime
coarse salt (kosher or sea)
cayenne pepper (we didn't have any, so I used jalapeño)

(makes a good-sized bowl full)

Halve and scoop out the avocados. Discard pits. Roughly squish the avocados, but only slightly at this point. 

Since these measurements are kind of vague, continue testing the guac throughout to get the desired taste. Squeeze the half lime over the avocados and stir in. If you have an extra juicy lime, go easy and taste it before you squeeze the whole thing in. (The lime helps the guac not go brown as fast, so this is a good thing to do straight-away.) Add a bit of salt; just a good sprinkling. You'll be adding more later. Crush the garlic. To do this, first finely mince the three cloves. Sprinkle with coarse salt, and use the side of your knife to scrape the mixture across your cutting board. Combine into a pile again. Continue scraping and piling until you have a nice cohesive paste. Add to avocados and stir in. Dice the tomatoes and onion. Stir into the guac. Add a bit more salt and some of the cayenne (or jalapeño! I used about 1/3 of one).If you overdo these, you can add more of the other ingredients, particularly tomato and lime, to undo it, but it's not as good. Be careful. If you still have any big chunks, break them up. You should have a good somewhat-smooth but still chunky texture. 

There's actually a funny story that comes with these jalapeños. Tom's father's friend invited us to come over and take some of their veggies from their garden. So 6 of us piled into his dad's Hummer and stopped off at this person's house. They had a good sized garden. We took tons of cherry tomatoes and jalapeños. The police drove by while we were there, thankfully his dad knew the cops. The person who's garden we were picking from had a neighbor that called the police on us who thought we were stealing!

Huevos Rancheros

Here's another great egg recipe. This meal makes for an energizing way to pick yourself up on those why-am-I-up-at-this-ungodly-hour mornings. With a great combo of protein (Egg: the complete protein! whoohoo for paying attention during Nutrition 130!) and some healthy veggies (and some delicious cheese which is pretty much a necessity in my life) you should hopefully be able to stay awake during your first class. Some coffee would help too.

3 eggs
1 tortilla wrap
1/3 bell pepper, chopped
1/3 tomato OR 1 heaping tbsp salsa
1/3 yellow onion
1 slice of American cheese (or whatever type you prefer)

Scramble your eggs and add a splash of milk before pouring them into the pan. You can either saute your veggies in a pan, or mix them into the scrambled eggs depending on how cooked you would like them. I personally like adding salsa to mine because it gives it a little more of the Spanish flavor. When the eggs are cooked, put them on the tortilla and add your cheese immediately so it has the chance to melt. Roll up your tortilla and enjoy!

Jessi's Guac

I'm pretty sure this is the best guacamole I have tasted, made by my favorite cousin Jessi. The only issue is that her directions were pretty loose and since I have never made guacamole before, mine didn't come out as good. But with the help of some of Tom's family, we ripped it off alright. Here's her recipe, she's even got some good cooking techniques in there: 

3 avocados
1/2 a tomato (diced)
1/2 a yellow onion (diced with a bit of extra mincing)
3 cloves garlic (crushed)
1/2 a lime
coarse salt (kosher or sea)
cayenne pepper (we didn't have any, so I used jalapeño)

(makes a good-sized bowl full)

Halve and scoop out the avocados. Discard pits. Roughly squish the avocados, but only slightly at this point. 
(Tom's example)

Since these measurements are kind of vague, continue testing the guac throughout to get the desired taste. Squeeze the half lime over the avocados and stir in. If you have an extra juicy lime, go easy and taste it before you squeeze the whole thing in. (The lime helps the guac not go brown as fast, so this is a good thing to do straight-away.) Add a bit of salt; just a good sprinkling. You'll be adding more later. Crush the garlic. To do this, first finely mince the three cloves. Sprinkle with coarse salt, and use the side of your knife to scrape the mixture across your cutting board. Combine into a pile again. Continue scraping and piling until you have a nice cohesive paste. Add to avocados and stir in. Dice the tomatoes and onion. Stir into the guac. Add a bit more salt and some of the cayenne (or jalapeño! I used about 1/3 of one).If you overdo these, you can add more of the other ingredients, particularly tomato and lime, to undo it, but it's not as good. Be careful. If you still have any big chunks, break them up. You should have a good somewhat-smooth but still chunky texture.  

There's actually a funny story that comes with these jalapeños. Tom's father's friend invited us to come over and take some of their veggies from their garden. So 6 of us piled into his dad's Hummer and stopped off at this person's house. They had a good sized garden. We took tons of cherry tomatoes and jalapeños. The police drove by while we were there, thankfully his dad knew the cops. The person who's garden we were picking from had a neighbor that called the police on us who thought we were stealing!

Dill Veggie Dip

I received this recipe courtesy of my mom, who said she found it from the book Eating Right!: A Realistic Approach to a Healthy Life Style. I love this recipe because the yogurt makes it healthier than many other veggie dips, and it also encourages me to eat raw veggies more often! My favorite pairing is with baby carrots.

1 cup low-fat plain yogurt
1/2 cup mayo
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp dill
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt (optional)

(makes 1 1/2 cups of dip)

Blend thoroughly with a wire whisk. Refrigerate overnight before serving for the best taste.

English Muffin Pizzas

This is a classic in my household. Nothing brings me out of a deep late afternoon slumber like the smells of these in the oven.

1 English muffin
1 tbsp tomato sauce
1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
drizzle of olive oil
dash of oregano

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Drizzle each half of the English muffin with a little bit of oil, then top with tomato sauce, cheese, and a sprinkle of oregano. Cook for about 10 minutes, making sure they do not burn.

Homemade Potato Chips

Do you have extra potatoes lying around and not sure what to do with them? Well, when my potatoes start growing extra limbs I always feel the need to make lots of potato recipes. This is my favorite potato themed late-night snack. It's quite simple.

2-3 medium potatoes (this usually fills a baking sheet)
1/8 cup butter
salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Slice the potatoes thinly. (The thinner the's just difficult to do. Tom found some weird gadget in his house that we used to make the wavy chips. I honestly have no idea what it was supposed to be used for or what it was called.) Line a baking sheet with tin foil and place the slices as a single layer on the sheet. Using one of those handy pastry brushes (try a real paintbrush if you don't have one! Just make sure it's clean...), paint both sides of the potato slices. Top with however much salt you like and bake for about 10-15 minutes until golden brown and (hopefully) crispy.

I sprinkled a little bit of garlic powder on some of the chips and I really liked the taste. Some people also like pepper on their chips. Try to experiment and find out ways to copy your favorite potato chip flavors.

Just be sure to watch out for your chips during the last few minutes of cooking. I didn't check enough and mine came out a little burnt. Nice and crispy though!

Free Shipping...What??

Thanks to my little brother I have discovered Amazon's dirty little secret.

If you have an email address that ends with .edu, you can get free two-day shipping for a year! All you have to do is click this link and it'll bring you to the place where you can sign up for an Amazon student account.

Ah, just in time for textbook shopping. And being a UMass student I do NOT buy my books from the evil textbook annex that wants all of my money with only a 10% return.


Egg in a Tomato

I found this recipe from a fellow UMass student, who found it from another blog, and this blog has mouthwatering pictures of what I did not capture very well.
I tried this recipe on a whim because I needed something light to eat before dance class. It ended up being way tastier than I expected. Like, I-kind-of-want-to-eat-this-every-day good. 

1 medium-large tomato
1 egg
a little bit of shredded cheese to top (I used Monterrey jack because that's all I have, but it would be excellent with cheddar)
few sprigs of fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. (I did 450 because I was in a rush.) Hollow out the innards of the tomato. Crack an egg in the tomato, being careful not to break the yolk. Put the tomato on a baking pan or ramekin and cook for about 25 minutes, checking regularly with a fork to be sure that the egg whites solidify but being careful not to overcook your yolk. (You want it to still be runny when you go to eat it, a mistake I made by confusing the juices from the tomato with uncooked egg white.) Immediately after you take it out of the oven, sprinkle the cheese on top of the egg and top with fresh basil and salt and pepper to taste.

Try this recipe, now! You'll be glad you did.

Pigs in a Blanket

Now I realize I can't really give you a recipe for this because it's on the back of the crescent roll package, but I just thought I'd throw it out there as an idea for a meal. I always seem to somehow forget that these things exist.
I wanted to do something a little more creative with them than just American cheese, but got too lazy. I was thinking this would be good with chili stuffed inside. I also would like to try it with different types of cheese. Try your own versions of pigs in a blanket and tell me how it goes!

Cran-Ras Salad

My mom makes this salad on special occasions and I'm a big fan; and I don't usually eat salad (hence why I haven't put any salads up yet). For this one you need:

raspberry vinaigrette dressing
fresh spinach
romaine lettuce
feta cheese

You technically can go without either the spinach or the lettuce. Sprinkle a little feta cheese (or bleu cheese) over your salad and top with some craisins. For some extra excitement, top with walnuts or almonds. This is also good with red onions.

Eggs Barbacoa

Lately I've been on a Mexican food kick. Here's my latest concoction, coming from this blog. I modified it a bit to make it quicker.

1 tortilla (recipe calls for corn but I generally use flour)
1 egg
about a handful of chopped onions
1/4 cup of grated cheese (I used monteray jack)
1/4 cup refried beans
a couple spoonfuls of salsa

Poach the egg by bringing a small pan to a boil, then reducing the heat until it is just barely boiling. Crack the egg into a bowl being careful not to let it break, then gently drop it in the boiling water. Let the egg boil for about 2-3 minutes. (I cooked mine for about 5 and it wasn't very runny.) Meanwhile, warm the beans and microwave the tortilla for about 40 seconds to get it soft. Put all the ingredients in the tortilla, roll it up and enjoy!

I liked this recipe because it was a little different than a basic burrito. I think it would have been exceptional if my egg hadn't cooked so much.

Basic Money Saving Tips

Now I'm not here to tell you how to grocery shop. I'm going to assume you're a big boy/girl now and you at least have the ability to locate, drive to, and buy things at a grocery store.

But I will admit the first time grocery shopping for more than just some munchies can make you feel a little small and lost. Who knew there were so many types of cooking oil? And why the hell isn't Kraft mac & cheese with all the other macaroni in the pasta aisle? How do I scan my pineapple in the self-checkout line?

Hopefully I can help make things easier for you. Definitely leave me comments if you have more questions on things I didn't cover.

I am a girl who is obsessed with bargains. I generally will not buy any clothing unless it's under $20. I get a hard time because I will sometimes deny myself fries because I don't want to spend the extra $1 at Wendy's. So when I started grocery shopping for myself I had no problem with searching for the best prices on everything. But I know most people aren't like this. Most people will buy the brands they know and the food they're used to having. Now there is no problem with this. I'm just letting you know that there are some tricks that can save you lots of money in the long run. And you know you're going to start needing to save money as soon as you start throwing ragers every weekend.

1. Milk. Who thought milk was so damn expensive? I was blown away I discovered that Stop N' Shop sells it for about $5 a gallon. I guess our calcium will have to suffer. Wrong. They say everything is more expensive at convenient stores. Well, this is true. Except for milk at Cumbies. If you can spare your love for whole milk you can make a killing here. For some strange reason, 1% is cheaper than all the other types. It's less than $3 a gallon here. Luckily for me, there's a Cumberland Farms right down the street from me, nestled between a liquor store and a pizza-by-the-slice. Things like that make me love Amherst.

2. Store brand vs. name brand. Oprah once taught me a wise tip. (At least, I think it was Oprah. It must have been; all great wisdom comes from that lovable black menopausal woman.) There is some law that dictates that whoever produces pharmaceuticals has to make a cheaper brand (hence CVS brand). The secret? It's the same stuff. Yes you are paying double the price for Advil as opposed to ibuprofen, but getting the same ingredients that work just as well. Now I never buy brand name medication, ever. Now, I know this may not be true for food. I've had some cardboard-y Honey-Ohs, and I wouldn't recommend fake Kraft mac & cheese. But there is something to be said about generic brands. A lot of times you can buy things that are just as good for much less. (I am actually a HUGE advocate for Wal Mart's cola.) It's really up to you to experiment with what generic products are up to par. But do not be afraid of them. One tip though. Check the prices of everything because sometimes with sales, store brands are not the cheapest brand. Do a little math on your cell phone.    

3. Coffee. This may seem like a no-brainer, but I'm gonna say it anyway. Buying a coffee at Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts every day is a big weight on your budget. If you as much of a coffee addict as I am, I understand your pain. But you really need to make your own coffee. Not only are you paying for the coffee, but you're paying for labor, the cup, and ultimately the BMW's that the managers drive. The biggest killer? Iced coffee. Ever think about it? Why is it more expensive? Is it because you're paying for ice? I'm gonna let you in on something: ice is made from water, water is free. The only reason I can think of for iced coffee to cost more is BECAUSE THEY CAN. You are getting less coffee. I don't care if the iced cup looks about twice the size of the hot cup. There is usually so much ice in there that you are probably getting about half the coffee for the higher price. And iced coffee is not complicated for you to make at home. Just add ice! Lots of it, because the hot coffee WILL melt it. So you like mocha? Buy some chocolate syrup and put it in your coffee, that's all it is. Same with caramel. Think about how much you spend on a coffee per day, and then multiply it by how many days in a month, and you'll realize how much that $2 really turns into.

4. The Dollar Store is a beautiful thing; especially when it comes to household supplies. Hell, they even have $1 cases for your iPod! If you've never been to one, I suggest you try it out. I'm not saying you buy their underwear, but there are some perfectly good items you can get for only $1! (Just be careful, not all dollar stores are really dollar stores. Go to ones that say "yes, everything is really $1!") You can even buy food there. They have massive sized bottles of soda and fruit punch that make great mixers. There's only one thing you have to be careful of. Sometimes you might think, "omg this bottle of minced garlic is only one dollar!". But then you go to the grocery store and realize you could have gotten a much bigger bottle for only a few cents more. Don't be fooled into thinking that just because things are a dollar that it's a better deal than the real thing. 

5. Sales. In my eyes, there are two types of sales at the grocery store. There's the kind where you HAVE to buy two to get the third one free, and then there's the kind where you can really just buy two of something to get them for a dollar each when the sign says 10/$10. This is very tricky. I don't like to buy too much of something if it's going to go bad and I know I won't use it all. The way that I found the difference is if you look closely at the little sign and when it says, "Buy two get one free (savings $.50 each)" it means you will save $.50 on each individual item. If it doesn't say how much you save per item, then you probably have to buy the two to get one free.

6. Cards. If your grocery store has a card you can sign up for, chances are it's free. And you'll save a hell of a lot more money if you use your card than if you don't have one.

7. Deli vs. packaged. When I first went grocery shopping, I bought all my lunch meats and cheese from the deli, since that's the way my family always did it. I never really ate the kind that comes in a container. Upon further investigation, I discovered that you can often find better deals on the packaged meat. A lot of times there will be 2 for 1 sales and you can get a package of ham and a package of turkey. Some brands have other meats such as bologna or salami. But the only way to decipher which way is really cheaper is to do a little ol' fashioned math. On anything you buy it will always say how much is in what you are buying. Say you buy a 1/4 lb of American cheese. There are 16 oz in one lb. So if you've got a package that costs less and it's got 4oz of cheese or more then you're golden. Math is important here because the deli usually lists their produce by the pound, where a lot of packaged brands list it by ounce. For me, I buy Land O'Lakes cheese at the deli and get my meats from the packaged section.

8. Coupons. Of course coupons are great. However, I don't get a paper that has them (so when I go home I usually snag them from my parents). But, a lot of stores have coupons hidden throughout the store. My eye has been trained to immediately go to anything sticking out of an aisle or flashing red lights. They have coupon dispensers now that you can use immediately, but they usually last a few weeks too.

9. Self checkout? I'm sure a lot of people haven't used this new-fangled self-checkout contraption they have in stores now-adays. I certainly wouldn't recommend it to everyone. However, you are a technologically advanced college student so I think you are ready for this. What I love about self-checkout is that if something isn't what I thought it cost, then I can stop and ask for assistance to take it off my bill. If someone else is scanning my items, chances are that I'm in la-la land and won't realize when the bag of grapes I picked out cost me $7. Yes, it can be kind of embarrassing to ask for help, but they've got them programmed now so that you can just press a button for assistance and don't need to go screaming through the store for an employee to assist you. Lately I've even had managers bagging my items for me. One tricky part about self-checkout is that you have to weigh your own produce. So anything without a bar code on it, you will need to press the button for "produce lookup" and find your item in the computer. Usually this works out pretty well. And finally, another plus about the self-checkout line is that if you're in a bad mood, there's no need to interact with anyone.