Posts tagged easy recipe

Ditch the Tostitos, fresh is best

As promised, I’m bringing you a recipe to use those leftovers from my last post: the black beans and corn.  What I didn’t tell you was that this recipe was one of the best things I’ve made all semester.  It’s a simple salsa, but it’s so delicious and the fresh ingredients knock that jar of Tostitos that’s sitting in your cabinet right out of the water.  Homemade salsa is really healthy, as long as you moderate your portions.  Of course it’s traditionally served with chips, but for a healthy alternative, use it over chicken, or in a salad.  Here are some recipes using salsa from Yahoo.  You’ll probably need to go buy some ingredients, but everything is pretty cheap, and you’ll use everything.  

You’ll need:

  • The leftover corn (3/4 cup)
  • The leftover black beans (2/3 cup)
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 avocado (optional)
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro (don’t omit!)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes, but I had lime juice at my place so I used that)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Put the leftover corn and beans together in a large bowl.
  2. Chop all the vegetables except the avocado.  The tomatoes, onion, jalapeno and red pepper.  This is the most tedious part of the process, especially the tomatoes.
  3. Add these ingredients to the bowl and mix everything together.
  4. Chop the fresh cilantro and add that to the bowl.
  5. Add the lime juice, salt and pepper and stir everything thoroughly.
  6. Now, you can be done here if you’d like: it’s delicious just like this. Or, store it in the fridge for at least two hours, and then just before serving, chop the avocado and add that to the salsa. I didn’t include the avocado in the pictures, because I haven’t served the salsa to anyone (other than myself) and have yet to add the avocado; but it does add a great touch.

Serving tip: If using tortilla chips, put them in a pan and place them in a 350 degree oven for a few minutes before serving.  The contrast of cold salsa and warm chips is fantastic., which is why most restaurants do this.

A ridiculously easy recipe, yet one of the tastiest!  It’s a perfect solution if you’re having friends over, or want to store something you can use a snack for a few days.  Enjoy!

The picture step-by-step:

Use the leftover corn and black beans


Chop the vegetables: tomatoes will take you the longest


Keep chopping!


Add all the vegetables together and stir


Chop the fresh cilantro and add that to the bowl


Add the lime juice, salt and pepper to the bowl and stir one more time


Enjoy with warm tortilla chips


Try these other great salsa recipes:

Top 20 salsa recipes from

The Food Network’s salsa collection… pretty self-explanatory


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Meet the world’s easiest cookies

After a meal you spend a little extra money on and a little extra time preparing like my last post, it’s nice to follow up with an easy dessert.  In my continuous search for quick and easy recipes, I have scanned site after site looking for tasty desserts.  There are a LOT of cookie recipes out there, so wading through them is not always a simple task.  My professor recently suggested I check out, a site developed by Stephanie Manley, that replicates great recipes from restaurants that you may otherwise not attempt at home.  It’s a fantastic site, and it’s where I stumbled upon this easy peanut butter cookie recipe.  There are only three (yes you read correctly, three!) ingredients involved, and the execution is just as painless.  One of my roommates is a sucker for anything peanut butter, so she was a happy girl when she came home late from the library the other night to these.  Even better, they took me about 15 minutes, and I already had everything I needed to make them (no budget cooking trumps all).

You’ll need:


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, add all three ingredients and stir thoroughly.  If you have an electric mixer definitely use it.  If not, a large spoon will work, you’ll just have to work extra hard to stir the peanut butter and sugar together (make sure they’re actually mixed, and that the peanut butter isn’t just coated with sugar).
  3. Roll the mixture into one-inch smooth balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  4. If you’d like, make half of the mixture plain peanut butter and the other half with hershey kisses.  Here’s the only tricky part: for the just plain peanut butter cookies, take a fork and gently smash the ball in, overlapping the fork marks so you make a number (#) sign on the cookie.  See the picture for a visual.
  5. For the cookies you want a hershey kiss on, leave them as is and you’re going to put the kiss on when they come out of the oven.
  6. Put cookies in the oven for about 10-12 minutes, or until they’re lightly golden (They’ll harden after they come out, don’t worry if they don’t look quite done just as they come out).
  7. When they come out, lightly place hershey kisses in the center of the cookies you want them on (see picture).  Don’t press down too hard, otherwise you’ll break the cookie.
  8. Let all the cookies cool before serving (or eating).

A little forewarning: these go QUICK.  Grab some before they’re gone!

Here’s a step-by-step:

Mix together all the ingredients:

Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet:

Make # sign indents on the cookies you want to be just plain peanut butter and leave the rest as it:

When they come out of the oven, let them cool then gently place the Hershey kiss in the center:

Let them cool, then serve:

Looking for other easy desserts?  Check out these sites:, the name says it all

Another all-in-the-name,

The easy cookie collection from Cooks.Com

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Spring is sprung! (At least on my calendar)

Storrs, CT, is dying for spring.  Girls are wearing sandals every chance they get and guys are sporting shorts, declaring it’s not too chilly to bear some leg.  In hopes of flowers and a few rays of sun, I brought spring into my kitchen last night with my favorite fruit: the  strawberry.  Inspired by a blog post I read by Connecticut food writer, Leeanne Griffin, I went with a spring salad.  My dish was a bit different: it features another favorite in this apartment, tortellini.  The combination of the two ingredients may sound a bit unconventional, but trust me, they work really well together, and it’s a versatile dish.  We had it for dinner last night, but it’s great for lunch too.  The best part about it is the honey  poppy seed dressing, a recipe I made up using a bunch of different ingredients, and you can store for later use on a regular green salad or over fruit.  This recipe is really quick and easy once you get all the ingredients together.  Hello, spring!

You’ll need:

  • One package of tortellini pasta (usually found cooled at the store)
  • Strawberries, about 5 of them
  • Scallions, chopped small
  • Half of a lemon

For the Honey poppy seed dressing:

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. poppy seeds
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • dash of black pepper
  • If you have some lying around, or want to spend the cash, add some sliced almonds to the list.  I left them out this time, but they do add a nice touch.

If you don’t have all these ingredients, and don’t want to spend the money or time making the dressing (if you get the chance to sometime, TRY IT!), then all you have to do is eliminate everything except the oil (use olive oil instead though), and the sugar and poppy seeds.  Don’t worry, poppy seeds aren’t too expensive if you buy them in a little can on sale.  I think I spent about $1 at Big Y on a tiny little can.


  1. Prepare the tortellini as directed on the package.  Keep an eye on them, they usually cook pretty fast.
  2. While those are cooking, take the time to chop the strawberries and scallions.  Remember to cut both ingredients into small pieces.
  3. Prepare the poppy seed dressing.  Add all the ingredients listed above together and stir throughly with a fork or whisk (make sure that honey thins out).  Stick the dressing in the fridge until everything else is ready.
  4. Once the tortellini are done, strain them and put them into another bowl.  Make sure not to use a spoon with claws or tongs of any sort when moving them, they’re fragile.  Put the bowl of tortellini into the fridge for a while and let them cool (this salad is best served cold).
  5. Once you’ve waited for the tortellini to cool completely, toss in the strawberries and scallions (and almonds) and squeeze the fresh lemon over the bowl.  Then drizzle the dressing over the salad and mix everything together, but do NOT over mix.  This is one thing I learned the hard way.  The strawberries easily get spread out and mushy, and the pasta turns completely pink instead of maintaining that nice white contrast.  If it helps, stir everything together and then put the strawberries in and stir a little bit more.  

And that’s all you need to do for your spring-time salad fix!  Remember to use the dressing over regular greens for a tasty side dish if you have leftovers.  This salad would also work well served with grilled chicken (are you getting the barbecue by the lake image too?).  

Poppy seed problem?  I know I haven’t used poppy seeds in any of my previous recipes, so here’s a tip on what to do with those leftover seeds: lemon poppy seed muffins! A delicious quick fix!  All you have to do is buy a box of lemon cake mix, add 2 tbsp. of poppy seeds and bake the cake as directed in muffin tins.  A perfect breakfast solution for the rest of the spring semester! 

Here’s a visual guide for the salad:

Cook the tortellini:

Chop up the strawberries and scallions:

Prepare the dressing using all the listed ingredients:

Strain the tortellini and toss everything together:

Check out these other spring time salad recipes:

A springtime tossed salad from

A bunch of different spring salads to try from

Had to get my Food Network fix: A spring goddess salad from Sunny Anderson

For different twists on the poppy seed dressing recipe, browse through’s collection, there are a TON!

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The weekend recovery begins: Monday breakfast

You had the hangover breakfast yesterday (bacon egg and cheese sandwich, chocolate milk, the works) and now it’s time to detox from all the weekend’s not-so-healthy consumption of beer and 2 a.m. pizza.  Detoxing for me includes good food (fruits, veggies and protein), a tough workout, then bed early.  The best way to start detox day is a nutritious breakfast, and here’s my favorite fix: a yogurt and fruit parfait.  This recipe is very flexible; plus it works for breakfast, a snack, or even a healthy dessert.  It’s low budget and extremely easy, so check out the recipe below and start detoxing!

You’ll need:

  • Yogurt: I buy them by the small containers at the grocery store for a variety, and they’re really cheap (Around $0.50!) My favorite brand is Yoplait low-fat thick and creamy, or the Yoplait Whips work good too.  They have a ton of different flavors, and my favorite for this parfait is french vanilla.  You can also buy large tubs of yogurt, too.
  • Fruit: I used strawberries today (4 of them), but in the summer blueberries and raspberries are good options.  Blackberries and bananas are also great choices.  Feel free to use multiple fruits too!
  • Granola: I buy boxes of granola bars (around $2 for a box of 8; any flavor with oats and honey works best) then cut them up since it’s a quick alternative to making my own.  But if you want to try making your own, check out this recipe from The Food Network’s Alton Brown.  Just be careful not to burn it!
  • Cinnamon powder (you’ll only need a few sprinkles if it, so it may not be worth buying if you don’t already have it)


  1. Chop up the fruit you’re using if it has to be chopped (strawberries, bananas) into very small pieces: see the picture below.
  2. Cut the granola bar into small pieces.  It’s a little tough to cut, since the bars are usually sticky.
  3. In a glass cup (seeing the layers through the side looks pretty 🙂 plus it helps in measuring), add the first layer of yogurt.  Each layer of yogurt should be about 3/4 of an inch, but it’s not really that important how tall the layers are, just as long as you use all of the ingredients and the layer are somewhat even.
  4. On top of the yogurt, add the fruit: this layer will be shorter than the yogurt since you probably have less of it; it should around 1/2 inch.
  5. On top of the fruit, add the chopped granola.  You don’t need to cover all the fruit with the granola, too much is overpowering.
  6. Sprinkle cinnamon powder over all three layers; again, not too much.  When you’re eating the parfait, you’ll want to stir the layers around so the cinnamon gets spread out.
  7. Repeat steps 3-6 until you’re out of ingredients and the glass is full.  I usually use a medium size glass (see the picture) for a personal serving.  But if you’re really hungry or serving people for a full breakfast, feel free to use a taller glass.
  8. For a special touch (when serving others), add a fresh mint leaf for decoration on top.

Your ingredients:

Chop the fruit into small pieces:

The layers should be even, but don’t be too concerned about making them perfect.  You’re going to stir it up when eating it anyway:

And there you have your Monday detox breakfast (or breakfast any day for that matter).  Almost too easy, right?  Enjoy!

The parfait recipe is pretty standard, but here are some other good ones to test:

A yummy twist: raspberry chocolate parfait from the Food Network’s Warren Brown

A parfait collection from check out the cool decorations and different types of fruits

Don’t have time to prepare it? Try these parfaits to go, Daily Delights from Yoplait

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Who said leftovers had to be the worst part?

I hate leftovers.  Hate, hate hate.  But when you’re living on a low budget and don’t have time to create a show-stopper every night, you occasionally do have to turn to them, and in this case, it’s actually a pretty great alternative.  Since i make the bruschetta recipe that I shared with you in my last post so often, I figured I’d follow up with a way to use the leftover bruschetta for lunch or dinner the next day.  It’s an easy open-faced chicken and bruschetta sandwich, and it’s almost as good as eating it fresh!

You’ll need:

  • The leftover bruschetta
  • If you have leftover french baguette (a decent sized chunk), then you’re all set; otherwise you might want to go buy some (it’s cheap!) or use another type of bread you have in your kitchen.
  • Shredded mozzarella or parmesan cheese (you probably have this leftover as well): about a tablespoon or two
  • Grilled chicken breast.  I usually have a lot of leftover chicken, which is why this recipe works out perfectly, but if you don’t you’ll need one boneless breast
  • Black pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • olive oil


  1. If you don’t have leftover chicken that’s been prepared already, you’ll need to either grill or saute it in a pan, and using Italian or Balsamic dressing would be your best bet.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
  3. Slice the chunk of baguette in half and lightly coat each side with olive oil.
  4. Sprinkle garlic salt and black pepper over each piece.
  5. Layer on the shredded cheese, covering the entire surface of each piece, but don’t over-do it, otherwise the bread will take longer to crisp
  6. Place the two slices of bread on a baking sheet separately (see picture below) in the oven for about 15-17 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the edges are a crispy golden brown.
  7. When the bread is done, take it out and give it a minute to cool before adding the toppings.
  8. First layer on the bruschetta (you can add it to one side or both sides of the bread, depending on how hungry you are).
  9. Then add your sliced grilled chicken: thin slices work the best, since it’s already a pretty hefty sandwich. 
  10. If you’d like top it off with some black pepper or parsley, but not too much, since the bruschetta already has a lot of spices in it.

And that’s all!  If you already have all the leftovers, it’s a zero-cost meal.  Enjoying the sandwich with a salad makes for a healthy option: you’ve got your greens and protein covered.  Not too mention it’s delicious and will keep you full for the rest of the day.  Enjoy!

Here’s a picture step by step:

The short and sweet ingredients list:

Slice the baguette evenly:

Brush with olive oil and sprinkle black pepper and garlic salt, then add the shredded cheese:

Throw the bread in the oven at 375 for about 15-17 minutes:

When it’s out, give it a few minutes then add the bruschetta topping and grilled chicken (sorry this picture is blurry!)

Now you’re ready to serve, here’s the finished product:

Looking for some other recipes to incorporate leftovers into?  Check out these great resources: just like it sounds, tons of great leftover recipes

A leftover recipes index from

One of my favorite websites that shares recipes using leftovers to save time (perfect!)

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