For many summer interns (and 20-somethings in general), “cooking dinner” is often defined as adding hot water to instant noodles or maybe popping a frozen pizza into the oven.
Believe it or not, it is possible to cook healthy, even gourmet, meals for yourself or a huge group house for not too much money. Last week I discussed “cooking on the cheap” with Laura Kumin, the mother of two 20-something college graduates and creator of the blog MotherWouldKnow.
During our chat (full transcript), Laura shared a number of meal ideas and recipes. Here are a few:
* Stuffed vegetables : “[S]tuff them with meat or vegetables and rice, or all three. If you hollow out peppers, tomatoes or portobello mushrooms they work great, also zucchini. For topping on the stuffed vegetable, I like panko (a Japanese-style bread crumb that you can buy in most groceries and is very crunchy) mixed with parmesan cheese and drizzled with butter or olive oil.”
* Shish kebabs: “You can feed a bunch of people with just a little meat because you cut it into small cubes, marinate it and give each person 1-2 skewers. I prefer to do the meat separately from most of the veggies, because they cook at different rates. . . . They are best on a grill — a hibachi is fine, but you can do them in the stove or on a cooktop grill too.”
(Many more recipes, including some from Twitter, after the jump.)
* Summer salads: “Pasta, rice or couscous all work well as a salad ‘base’ — add veggies and nuts (especially toasted) and even dried fruit and you’ve got a delicious & beautiful, filling salad.”
* Cheap lunch ideas: “Cold cooked veggies are delicious (ratatouille or similar recipes that have a sauce to keep the vegetables moist). You can mix the veggies with a small amount of rice or pasta. . . . Bring pita to work, with hummus and cut up cucumbers and peppers in a separate bag. Put the sandwich together at work and it won’t get soggy. Falafel is also easy to make from a mix and the individual pieces travel well and can be reheated.”
* Potluck appetizer: “Presentation is everything. I do a dried tomato and basil spread over goat cheese that is easy but quite elegant. And putting melon balls on skewers, alternating with dates (or fresh mozzarella balls alternated with cherry tomatoes) is another easy, elegant dish.”
* Pasta and veggies: “In summer, look for fresh [vegetables] if you have a grocery or farmer’s market, cut them into small pieces/thinly slice and sautee (fry) them in olive oil. Then add pasta and a bit of the water (just a small amount) from the pasta pot.” Top off with olives and parmesan cheese.
And then a lot of readers shared favorite recipes via Twitter:
@beckyheartsfood: cold brown rice salad w/ shredded chx & napa cabbage, green onions drizzled w/ sesame oil/dark soy sauce/ginger/garlic/sesame seeds
@northga_news: combine 1c. rice, chicken breasts, and a jar of salsa in a pan; cook over med. heat about 30 min; top with shredded cheese.
@rachaeldickson: This is easy but soo good — sliced chicken breast cooked with tomato, mushrooms and garlic.
@jessebardo: Tortellini, pesto, cherry tomatoes, onions, peas, pinch of cayenne pepper- cold/amazing
@danielahn31: Ramen noodles and 2 eggs. #NeverGraduate
@dcmetrogirl: Ground turkey or beef, elbow macaroni, tomato sauce. You can top with salsa, hot sauce, or cheese.
@floridagirlindc: Leftover french bread diced & toasted in olive oil. Add tomatoes, cook down. Top w parm & bake for 20 mins on 300.
@packersgirl: open-faced tomato sandwich w/ lite mayo and a little salt. My fav!
@monicahesse: Cream cheese on Wheat Thins. Because I am from the Midwest. And a little white trashy.
@bonniebenwick: Ripe tomato, salt, over the sink?
@mybellemeshell: Best snack recipe is the childhood favorite: celery, raisins, and peanut butter
@ec2011: casserole: pasta, jar of tomato sauce, cooked sausage, topped with mozzarella cheese and baked in the oven
@replyallcomic: Frozen pizza (on sale) + topping that turns you on to make gourmet cuisine! Try fake crab meat and smoked salmon.
@keanerino: Kale pieces + olive oil + 200 degree oven till crispy, then a little salt.
@keanerino:Vanilla ice cream + Nutella + strawberries + milkshake maker.
@replyallcomic: Ready-made salad + whatever is on sale in the frozen food aisle that floats ur boat ( buy whatever is on sale).
@allylopez: Mini cheesecakes: Nilla wafer crumb bottom + mix cream cheese, sugar, eggs, & vanilla ‘til fluffy & top w/ cherry filling!
@j_ricecakes: Quinoa + Golden Raisins + Curry Powder. Healthy and flavorful!
@jessicachu: HUMMUS with anything