basic recipes

(Flickr/Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine) 

Balancing school, work and extracurriculars doesn’t usually leave much room for trying new recipes or perfecting recipes you might already know.  Affording lots of ingredients for complex or traditional recipes may be unrealistic for students. Here are some comparatively quick fixes with ingredients you may have at home:

tomato egg 2

(Flickr/Choo Yut Shing)

Tomato Egg

Tomato Egg is a Chinese recipe, and it typically uses more ingredients for a specific desired texture and taste, like rice wine. Although my alteration of the recipe does not have the same depth in taste, it’s still a pretty tasty dish. Best served with rice or even on toast, it’s hearty and healthy, with lots of vitamins from the tomatoes and protein from eggs.

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

You’ll Need:

  • Two whole tomatoes

  • Four eggs

  • ½ Tbs Oil (vegetable, olive or canola all acceptable)

  • Salt & Pepper

  • Sugar 

  • Optional: Ketchup

Prep: 

Get a plate or cutting board and cut tomatoes into sixths. 

Cooking: 

  1. Get a flat bottomed pan, place it on the stove and turn it on high. Wait two minutes then pour about half a tablespoon of oil into your pan. Pick up the pan and swirl the oil around so it’s at the bottom of the pan. 

  2. Crack the eggs one by one into the pan, turning the heat down to medium as you use a spatula or chopsticks to mix and scramble the eggs together. When it looks about half cooked, approximately four minutes on the stove, dump the eggs onto a plate.

  3. With the same pan and stove heat setting on, put the tomatoes into the pan, pressing down on the tomatoes to soften them a bit. Flip them a few times in the pan and cook for about two minutes.

  4. Dump the eggs back into the pan, then turn the heat to medium high. Continue pressing into the tomatoes while folding and scrambling the tomato chunks and egg together.

  5. After it looks like everything is completely cooked, or after about four minutes on the stove, turn the heat off. Taste to see if it’s sweet enough. If not, put in a spoonful of sugar and mix the sugar in. If still not sweet enough, squeeze a bit of ketchup in, but not too much or the coloring will be too red. Once taste is established, pour the completed dish back onto the original plate. 

  6. Enjoy hot over hot rice, toast or by itself.

spinach soup

(Flickr/Choo Yut Shing)

Spinach Soup

You may be wondering, why spinach soup? Well, everyone should have a soup recipe to fall back on. This soup is great for warming you up on the inside and out because of the addition of ginger. It’s only three ingredients and the recipe is flexible if you only want to make large or small quantities. It goes great with heavy meals to wash everything down, or as an appetizer. 

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

You’ll need:

  • Box of spinach

  • Vegetable, chicken or similar kind of broth

  • One ½ inch piece of fresh ginger

  • Salt

Prep: 

Peel and cut ginger into small rounds.

Open tub of spinach and pick out bad leaves. Look for rotting or similar unappealing decay.

Pour broth into pot, set heat on high and wait for it to boil.

Cooking:

  1. Once the pot of broth boils, put in the ginger rounds and then take handfuls of spinach and put it all into the pot. The pot will look like it will overflow. If it does, just let it boil for a couple minutes until the spinach has shrunk so that there is more space for additional spinach to be added. 

  2. Once all the spinach is deposited into the pot, turn heat to medium low, close the lid and let it simmer for ten to fifteen more minutes. 

  3. Taste the soup. If it doesn’t have much flavor, sprinkle in some salt — just be aware that spinach doesn’t have an extremely strong taste. When the taste is properly adjusted, scoop up the soup and enjoy. For those who dislike ginger or are not used to it in their food, avoid eating ginger rounds. 

stir fry

(Flickr/Alpha)

Unconventional Pasta Stir-fry

For my unconventional pasta stir-fry recipe, I have to thank my mom for the inspiration. I remember she was always stir-frying penne pasta with Spam and eggs for my brother and I to take for lunch in elementary school. Fortunately for me, I have enough cooking capabilities to make alterations to the recipe to suit my taste, and you can too.

Frozen vegetables are definitely an underrated kitchen staple, since the prices are relatively consistent and the quality is great. The only problem most people run into is making sure you make time to properly defrost before cooking. 

An additional note about this recipe is that if you have other spices or seasonings you want to add, feel free to add them. I don’t typically experiment with a wide variety of spices, but instead use a lot of garlic powder and soy sauce. 

Active Prep: 10 minutes

Passive Prep: 1 hour

Cooking time: 20 minutes

A hearty mix of pasta, vegetables and convenient meat for when you have a bunch of odds and ends you’re unsure how to use up.

You’ll need:

  • 2 ½ Tbsp of Oil (I personally use olive oil)

  • Can of Spam

  • Two eggs

  • Bag of pasta (I recommend penne or other tubular pasta)

  • Bag of frozen mixed vegetables (or your choice of frozen vegetables) OR variety of fresh vegetables in various stages of not quite rotten, but past window of nice ripeness

  • Soy sauce

  • Salt and pepper

Prep: 

Defrost your frozen vegetables and place them in a bowl of cold water for at least an hour before cooking.

If using fresh vegetables, wash and cut the decayed parts off. 

Shake Spam out of its container then cut into desired shapes.

Cooking: 

  1. Boil water in a large pot. Throw in some salt, and when the water is boiling, dump pasta in. Read the exact directions on your box of pasta for desired consistency.

  2. In a large pan on high heat, pour the oil into the pan, swirling it around. After about two minutes, dump in the Spam as you lower the heat to medium. Be careful of oil splatter.

  3. After about two minutes, flip the Spam over.

  4. Add in your vegetables to the pan with Spam, then start mixing up the vegetables and Spam. After every toss, wait about 30 seconds to let everything get some cooking time before continuing. Do this until all the vegetables and Spam are mostly cooked, or about 5 to 6 minutes. Dump out the vegetable-Spam mix into a bowl and set aside.

  5. Pasta should be about ready. Strain the pasta over the sink, let sit for about a minute.

  6. In the previously used pan, pour the second ½ Tbsp of oil into it. Wait about two minutes, then dump the pasta in.

  7. Crack the two eggs into the pasta. Mix and scramble up the noodles and egg for about 2 minutes.

  8. Take the bowl of vegetable-Spam mix and dump it into the pan with noodles. Continue mixing and tossing until egg and rest of vegetable-Spam mix are fully cooked, or about 3 to 4 minutes. 

  9. Turn heat off and taste. If not seasoned enough, add salt and pepper and mix. If not enough, pour about a spoonful of soy sauce into the pasta and mix again, adding more until desired taste is achieved. 

  10. Pour onto a large plate or into large bowl, eat immediately. If desired, eat with hot sauce or chopped green onions. 

 Try your hand at making these recipes, but also know they’re made to be your own — that’s the best part of cooking.