I’ve written about quesadillas before- the five-minute, 3-ingredient kind.  These (from Guy Fieri) are a little more labor intensive, but they’re totally worth it.  They’re loaded with cumin-dusted summer veggies (tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapenos, corn, and red onions!) and oozing gooey cheese, with a super smoky chipotle sour cream on the side.  The recipe calls for grilling the corn but you can put the shucked corn under the broiler for about 10 minutes, turning halfway, and still get a nice char on the kernels. (more…)


This recipe was inspired by my half-full jar of tahini in the fridge, begging to not be turned into hummus yet another time.  After looking through every single recipe in my Middle Eastern cookbook and not finding anything besides hummus and baba ghanouj variants, I almost gave up.  I started thumbing through Rachael Ray’s Big Orange Book, uninterested in the pasta dishes and casseroles.  Blah.  Then all of a sudden, I was in the burger section!  Oooh, I thought.  I don’t have a real grill, but I have a George Foreman grill.  I kept flipping, more and more interested by the second.  And then I saw it: falafel burgers.  I scanned the ingredients list, and lo and behold: tahini!!  A tahini dipping sauce!  My mind was made up. (more…)

These quesadillas are so simple to make that it’s kind of embarrassing.  Tortillas, refried beans, and cheese, folded up and tossed on a George Foreman grill until crispy.  That’s it!  This is a perfect meal to make when I get home late or am so tired that I can’t even keep my eyes open long enough to chop up ingredients.  Of course, you could make these more elaborate if you had time and ingredients: chopped tomatoes, mushrooms, corn, onions, cilantro, the sky’s the limit.  If you don’t have a George Foreman grill or sandwich press, you could simply cook the quesadillas in a skillet. (more…)

In keeping with my bread-making ambitions, this week I made whole wheat pita bread along with some hummus.  I haven’t really baked too much with whole wheat flour before, but I bought a bag a few weeks ago to try out some new bread recipes.  I must say, I absolutely love the texture and bite that it gives to these pita breads!  They are much more flavorful and fresher than store-bought whole wheat pita breads.  Granted, it took me almost three hours to make them- but the recipe made a lot (8 large pitas) which will mean I get to freeze some.

The hummus recipe is pretty basic, but it is the best I have ever made.  Ever.  I attribute it to using tahini, instead of just olive oil as I have previously done.  I think this is definitely a case where the cost of a bottle of tahini is worth it, especially considering it still cost me less to make this recipe than buying a container of hummus at the store.

Hummus (Epicurious)

Ingredients Cost
3 garlic cloves, minced and mashed with 1/2 tsp. salt $0.10
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained $0.76
1/3 c. tahini, well-stirred $1.89
2 T. fresh lemon juice $0.79
2 T. olive oil pantry
1 tsp. cumin pantry
3 T. water
Total cost (4 servings) $3.54
Cost per serving $0.89

In a food processor blend together garlic paste, chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, oil, and cumin, scraping down side, until smooth. Add water, salt and pepper to taste and pulse until just combined.

Whole Wheat Pita Bread (Epicurious)

Ingredients Cost
2 1/2 tsp. yeast $0.30
1 tsp. honey pantry
1 1/4 c. warm water pantry
2 c. flour pantry
1 c. whole wheat flour pantry
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil pantry
1 tsp. salt pantry
Total cost (8 servings) $0.30
Cost per serving $0.04

Stir together yeast, honey, and 1/2 cup warm water in a large bowl, then let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. While yeast mixture stands, stir together flours in another bowl. Whisk 1/2 cup flour mixture into yeast mixture until smooth, then cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk and bubbly, about 45 minutes. Stir in oil, salt, remaining 3/4 cup warm water, and remaining 2 1/2 cups flour mixture until a dough forms.

Turn out dough onto a floured surface and knead, working in just enough additional flour to keep dough from sticking, until dough is smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes. Form dough into a ball and put in an oiled large bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise in draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Punch down dough and cut into 8 pieces. Form each piece into a ball. Flatten 1 ball, then roll out into a 6 1/2- to 7-inch round on floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Make 7 more rounds in same manner, arranging them on baking sheets. Loosely cover pitas with 2 clean kitchen towels (not terry cloth) and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

Set oven rack in lower third of oven and remove other racks. Preheat oven to 500°F.

Transfer 4 pitas, 1 at a time, directly onto oven rack. Bake until just puffed and pale golden, about 2 minutes. Turn over with tongs and bake 1 minute more. Cool pitas on a cooling rack.

Beans are the chubby grad’s best friend: they are cheap, chock full of protein and fiber, and easy to cook (just open a can…no, I am not a purist who uses dried beans).  I found this recipe for black bean soup in my Healthy College Cookbook when I was looking for a mid-week dinner that I could prepare in 30 minutes or less.  It is shockingly delicious, considering how basic the ingredients are and how easy it was to make.  Putting half of the soup in the blender gives the broth a nice brown color, while still maintaining some of the beans for added texture.  Serve it with a dollop of low fat sour cream to make it extra rich! 

Ingredients   Cost
1 T. oil   pantry
1 medium onion, chopped   $0.15
3 garlic cloves, minced $0.10
2 15-oz. cans black beans $1.60
3 1/2 c. water
1 c. chopped green pepper   $0.70
salt and pepper to taste pantry
sour cream for topping $0.50
                                                Total cost (4 servings) $3.05
                                                Cost per serving $0.76

Heat the oil in a medium pot and sauté garlic, onions, and green pepper until soft.  Add the beans and water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove pot from burner and let cool briefly.  Transfer half of the soup to a blender or food processor.  Once smooth, return to soup pot and heat to serving temperature.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve with sour cream on top.