Love to Cook?! Join Small Kitchen College in the Slow Cooker Challenge!

Calling all foodies!  Our friends over at Small Kitchen College and Naptime Chef are hosting a Slow Cooker Challenge!

The week will kick off Monday, January 16th on BGSK/SKC and The Naptime Chef with an announcement of the challenge and a big giveaway of slow cookers from Delonghi and Breville. To link back to the contests on facebook, twitter or in your slow cooker post on your website, please use one of these two url’s: http://college.biggirlssmallkitchen.com/?p=5343 and/or http://www.thenaptimechef.com/?p=6745. They will be choosing a winner from each of our sites, so people can enter on either.

On Wednesday, January 18th from 12pm – 1pm, both will be hosting a live twitter chat along with Food52, The Daily Meal, Punchfork, Foodily, OXO Good Grips and more. They will be using hash tag #slowcooker. Tune in to talk all things slow cookin’! During the Twitter event and throughout the day they will be offering a bonus giveaway of amazing OXO Good Grip tools that are essential for slow-cooking valued at over $150!

On Thursday, January 19th both will be slow-cookin’ all day on Facebook you can enter to win a second prize-pack of OXO Good Grips kitchen tools by uploading photographs of your slow-cooked meals to The Naptime Chef fanpage, Small Kitchen College fanpage or Big Girls, Small Kitchen fanpage.

Good luck to all!


SKC: Everything Gingerbread

The following post is from our friends at Small Kitchen College.

I have grown up constructing gingerbread houses during Christmas season. Every year, come early December, a family-wide building contest ensues.  We each make a gingerbread house to be displayed in various locations. This year, I brought my festive skills to college. Surprisingly, gingerbread house construction really does enhance your knowledge of material strength, following instructions and consequences of sugar overload.

There are a few different approaches to constructing a gingerbread house: some people use graham crackers (lame), others bake the gingerbread from scratch (overachieving and ripe for disaster) and the rest of us construct our gingerbread homes from store bought kits. When buying a kit, ensure that it comes with an easy tray with divots to hold the walls in place. I also suggest investing in an extra tub of icing to use for decorating and candy placement.

Gingerbread houses are a fun and relaxing study break during finals.  They can also serve as an unusual holiday potluck contribution.

Happy holidays!

Zoë McKinnell is a senior at Brown who keeps reading and trying new recipes instead of studying for her many finals. Oops!

Small Kitchen College is a guide to cooking, eating, drinking, and living on and off campus, with recipes, tips, and tales generated by college students across the country. If it’s campus food, we’ve got it here.


SKC: How to Cook without a Recipe

The following post is from our friends at Small Kitchen College.

My mom is an accountant. All day at work she stares at spreadsheets, calculating numbers and making sure everything is in order. If one number is wrong, then she risks drawing incorrect conclusions. Because of her job’s strong emphasis on numerical accuracy, for a long time she avoided the kitchen. As an accountant, she had this idea in her head that anytime she cooked from a recipe she had to follow it to a T. This meant dirtying multiple measuring containers, buying the exact listed ingredients and avoiding any recipes with complicated directions or unfamiliar items. As a result, simple foods like chicken fingers, hot dogs and tacos dominated the family menu.

Then my mom had an epiphany. After stopping her channel surfing on the Food Network one day, she stumbled upon cooking shows that appealed to her busy-mom lifestyle. From watching the channel and reading recipes in magazines she started challenging herself in the kitchen. While at first she viewed recipes as strict sets of directions, she gradually began to embrace her creativity. No longer did she view recipes as firm rules, but rather as guidelines to suit one’s tastes. As she spent more time in the kitchen, recipes became a method of teaching about possible substitutions and changes to suit one’s palate.

Of course, sometimes drifting from the recipe too far can cause problems, but cooking is all about experimenting and learning from mistakes. For many, the fear of being in the kitchen comes from a fear of failure. Like my mom and her job, college students are just as obsessed, if not more, with numbers. From GPAs to financial aid and potential starting salaries to graduate school admissions rates, these figures represent measurements of college life. Yet, we all know that these measurements are never perfect. As my mom has taught me both in the kitchen and in life, you do not need a precise recipe in order to cook a good meal; rather, all you need is a few guidelines to point you in the right direction.

Bethany Imondi, a junior studying Government and English at Georgetown University, credits her mom and her no-recipe approach for inspiring her to get creative inside and oustide the kitchen. Read more…

**Recipe**

No Recipe Lo Mein
1-6 servings, depending on amount of pasta and vegetables used

This is not meant to be a recipe, but rather a guideline for how to create a hearty, healthy meal.Adjusting the quantity of ingredients makes it easy to prepare this dish for one, or big enough to feed a crowd. This dish also can be tailored to suit carnivores and vegetarians alike.

Ingredients
Long cut pasta, such as spaghetti or linguine
Assorted Vegetables, such as peppers, scallions, mushrooms, shredded cabbage
Choice of protein, if desired
Any neutral oil (vegetable, canola, etc.)
Garlic, if desired
Ginger, dried or fresh (depending on what you have on hand), if desired

For the sauce:
Soy Sauce
Hoisin Sauce
Water
Hot Sauce, if desired

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Once it reaches a rapid boil, liberally salt the water and add your choice of pasta. Cook according to package directions.

While the water comes to a boil, begin to prep the vegetables and/or meat. Chop vegetables into bite-size pieces and set aside. If desired, cut up your choice of protein on a clean cutting board into slightly larger pieces.

Prepare the sauce using equal amounts of soy sauce, hoisin and water. If desired, add hot sauce to taste.

Once done chopping and the pasta has been added to the boiling water, heat oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium high heat. When the oil ripples, add the meat and stir-fry until cooked through (or no longer pink). Push the meat aside, and if desired grate in a few cloves of garlic and/or fresh ginger. If using dried ginger, add to taste.

Add in the veggies and stir fry everything together for a couple of minutes. Allow the ingredients to continue cooking as you drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the skillet, then pour sauce over mixture. Turn off the heat, and toss everything together to allow the sauce to absorb into the pasta.

Small Kitchen College is a guide to cooking, eating, drinking, and living on and off campus, with recipes, tips, and tales generated by college students across the country. If it’s campus food, we’ve got it here.


SKC: How to Make Pesto

The following post is from our friends at Small Kitchen College.

I love spreadsdips, and sauces! No, but I mean, REALLY LOVE. You can pretty much put them with anything and the deliciousness never seizes. Here in Florence, Italy I have come to understand that spreads, dips, and sauces are a staple anywhere you go and with whatever you choose to eat. In the Tuscan part of Italy the bread is not salted, so it is expected to add a little bit more flavor with cheese, olive oil and vinegar, jam, or pesto. And, let me tell you, there is A LOT of pesto. All of it is yummy and really easy to make. So when you need a quick and easy snack on the go, it’s super convenient to just grab a slice of Tuscan bread and dip/spread pesto all over it! But the best part is, pesto is a fantastic way to bring the Italian Tuscan countryside to the States! Here’s how.

Candice Allouch is a junior at American University but abroad in Florence, Italy during the fall semester where she learns (and loves) to cook with the wonderful ingredients that Europe lends.

**Recipe**

Original Tuscan Pesto (adapted from a local Tuscan recipe)
Makes one bowl of pesto (good for 4 people)

Note: You can add the pesto to pasta or just spread it on bread or crackers. If you decide to make pesto pasta, remember to retain some of the water that you cooked the pasta in to keep the pesto less dry and “slimier” (in a good way).

Ingredients

2 big bunches of fresh basil leaves
A handful of pine nuts (or walnuts or almonds if you can’t find pine nuts)
1 or 2 garlic cloves
A pinch of salt and pepper
1 cup of olive oil

You can be really awesome and combine all the ingredients except the olive oil with a mortar and pestle or you can combine by chopping. The fineness of your pesto is up to you. You can chop it very fine (or put it through a food processor, NOT a blender) or roughly, and you will get a different texture. Figure out which you prefer and chop according to your taste.

Put the freshly chopped ingredients in a small bowl and cover with the oil straight away. Drizzling the oil over the ingredients right away will stop the basil from going oxidizing and turning black.

You can store your pesto in the fridge and eat it as a spread/dip or you can mix it into your pasta dish once the pasta is cooked in salted boiling water.

Small Kitchen College is a guide to cooking, eating, drinking, and living on and off campus, with recipes, tips, and tales generated by college students across the country. If it’s campus food, we’ve got it here.


SKC: 10 Best Ways to Liven Up Your Kitchen (For Under $10)

The following post is from our friends at Small Kitchen College.  Enjoy!

Have you fallen into the ‘college kid decor’ trap? You know the kind. Bob Marley posters, a counter filled with Keystone Light cans, poorly strung Christmas lights or empty pizza boxes laying around after a hungry midnight study session?  Of course you haven’t! Just checking.

Maintaining a beautiful kitchen on a less than beautiful budget can be seen as impossible. But with a few simple steps, any kitchen can be brought to life, and for under ten dollars! With these tips, you can transform your college kitchen into your own little piece of design heaven acting as the perfect backdrop for your college cooking and entertaining.

**10 best ways to brighten up your kitchen for under 10 dollars**

1. Chalkboard Paint. The perfect way to add a little interest to any corner of your kitchen. Jot down recipe notes, menus, a to-do list, or even encourage your visitors to create little doodles to act as an ever changing piece of art. If you want to get really crazy, paint a couple of your cabinets and chalk it up with cool designs or text for a little something different. A whole chalkboard wall? Yes please.

2. Vintage plates. Mismatching vintage plates from thrift stores and garage sales are a cheap and fantastic way to serve all of your delicious cooking. Nothing is sweeter than different types of floral and feminine plates to make any meal feel like a tiny tea party…even if it’s ramen and you’re eating it in between study sessions. Head over to your local thrift store and search through the dinnerware section for some beautiful gems that will usually cost around 50 cents to two dollars each. Read Jen’s posthere to gain thrifting expertise before you go!

3. Pretty Placemats. Even if you have the teeniest of tables, adding a pop of color with placemats is an excellent way to liven up your kitchen area. Get eclectic and find a print or texture that contrasts with the rest of your kitchen so your visitors (or even you, especially on those early 8am class days) will automatically be drawn to the table. If you are looking for a bargain (which, duh, you are) Urban Outfitters’ $3 doilly placemats are just one of the many cheap and delightful ‘mats out there. So, switch them up every couple of months and have fun with it! Oh yeah, and they protect your table from heat damage and any other messes. Whatever. We’re in it for the pretty, right?

4. Dress up your fridge. Being in college does not mean you are too old to still appreciate fun magnets. In fact, embrace it because you are still getting grades and test scores, so don’t hesitate to display them on the fridge like you’re your own proud mother! Is that embarrassing? It might be. Either way, get in on the wonderful realm of magnets! They are a cute way of sprucing up your otherwise dull refrigerator plus they can hold up anything your heart desires. Fun postcards, love letters, business cards, magazine clippings, you name it.

(This magnet idea from Curbly is a fab DIY project. Do you have any orphaned chunky earrings laying around? Or perhaps a broken brooch that is way too beautiful to get rid of? Turn it into a magnet! Totally affordable and easy, plus it puts all of those lonely baubles to good use.)

5. Fresh flowers. There is nothing like picking up some fresh flowers, putting them in a vase and plopping them on your kitchen counter or table to liven up the day. Whether it’s the intoxicating scent of whichever flowers you chose, or the bright sensational colors of the petals and stems colliding together, having fresh flowers on hand is definitely worth the small investment. If you are on a tight budget and can’t keep replenishing them every couple of days, good quality fake flowers from Michaels or A.C Moore get the job done as well.

6. Vintage bottles. Quirky old bottles are always floating around in every crevice of thrift stores and flea markets, just dying for you to pick them up. Do not let these gems go unnoticed because they have so much to offer you, especially in the kitchen. Line up different sized vintage bottles on a shelf or on a windowsill or place dainty flowers in each one to create a different type of floral arrangement. Whatever you do, keep them near a window because the way the light hits the different types of glass is really the best part. Wine bottles you’ve emptied yourself also count, so long as they’re attractive.

7. Beautiful Soap. Basic products that have pretty packaging are one of the best way to liven up your everyday life. Hands must be washed, let’s be real. Soap needs to serve its purpose but why can’t it be beautiful at the same time? There are so many great brands out there like Mrs. Meyers and Methodthat offer affordable and wonderful smelling scents that will make your kitchen feel a little bit fancy (and eco friendly!). But hey, don’t feel bad if you buy soap that’s a bit pricey just because you fall in love with the packaging. When the soap runs out, just re-fill it with the cheap stuff. No one will ever know.

8. Fruit. Did you know food can also serve as decor? Fruit is the best way to throw some color into your kitchen look without spending too much money, and decor you can eat is something we all can get behind. It benefits you in more ways than one. When you aren’t using them, put your lemons in a bowl and place it on your counter. Mix apples and bananas in a basket on your kitchen table. Just remember to eat them too! No one wants a smelly old orange lurking around in the name of interior design.

9. Mason jars. No kitchen is complete without a bunch of rustic yet adorable mason jars. They are all of the rage right now and for good reason. These wonderful jars offer you so many different benefits. Whether you want to infuse vodka with lemon slices, store homemade tomato sauce or spraypaint gold and use as a vase for your fresh flowers, the possibilities are endless! Head over to design site likeDesign*SpongeDecor8 and Pinterest for inspiration.

10. Dish towels. Similar to place mats, dish towels are a functional yet fantastic way to add color and beauty to your kitchen. There are so many interesting dish towels out there that won’t make your wallet sad. My college (Savannah College of Art & Design) has a working class studio that designs truly wonderful home decor items like these $10 kitchen towels. Stocking up on a bunch of adorable dish towels and switching them up every week will encourage you to do your laundry more often. Hey, that’s my motivation. I get to use a new dish towel that week! Is this growing up? Oh man.

Sarah Cunningham writes about food for Small Kitchen College. She’s a senior at SCAD, where she studies fashion and spends too much money on thrift store knick knacks & tries her best to experiment successfully in the kitchen.

Small Kitchen College is a guide to cooking, eating, drinking, and living on and off campus, with recipes, tips, and tales generated by college students across the country. If it’s campus food, we’ve got it here.

SKC: One Pot Meal – Mac and Cheese!

The following post is from our friends at Small Kitchen College (SKC)!  College Lifestyles is excited about our partnership with SKC and will bring you their yummy(!) articles on a bi-weekly basis!

Mac and Cheese from Small Kitchen College

Earlier last week I had one of those days. My heart felt broken, my eyes could not stay awake and no amount of caffeine could break me from my slump. As the day went on, the jingle of a popular blue box of macaroni and cheese came into my head. With the words, ” I’ve got the blues” playing in my head, I began craving a rich, indulgent cure for my heartache. Rather than succumbing to the blue box, I searched through my food blogs to find a recipe that would distract me long enough in the kitchen. Once I stumbled upon White on Rice Couple’s One Pot, Stove Top Macaroni and Cheese I knew I had found a remedy.

Because the recipe requires constant attention, it was just the thing I needed to help clear my focus. Not only does it use only one pot, but also the lack of baking means it can be enjoyed on even the hottest summer days. The recipe is also flexible enough so that it can be prepared with various combinations of cheeses. Despite the popular slogan of that specific macaroni and cheese box, making the dish from scratch on the stovetop is an easy, satisfying prescription for the blues.

Bethany Imondi, a junior studying Government and English at Georgetown University and a self-proclaimed carbohydrate queen, shuns the Atkins Diet for all its suffering. Read more…

**Recipe**

One Pot, Stove Top Macaroni and Cheese
Adapted from White on Rice Couple
Serves 2-3

I used whole grain shell pasta for this recipe, but you can easily substitute any type of large elbow macaroni.

Ingredients

2 cups large elbow or shell macaroni, uncooked
1 tablespoon butter
¼ onion, diced
2 cups of low fat milk
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup of grated cheese, any one or combination (cheddar, pepper jack, mozzarella, swiss, gruyere)

Place raw macaroni in colander and quickly rinse under water. Let drain.

In a medium saucepan, about 2 quart, melt butter over medium heat and add diced onion. Sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes.

Add milk, raw, rinsed macaroni, salt and pepper.

On medium heat, slowly bring mixture to a simmer, stirring the macaroni frequently. Stirring will separate the pasta and keep them from sticking to one another. Do not leave the stove; leaving the mixture unattended could result in an over-boiled mess.

Once mixture comes to a simmer, immediately turn heat down between medium and low. Too-high heat will evaporate the milk too quickly.

Continue to stir the mixture frequently for about 15-20 minutes, or until milk has been fully absorbed and pasta is cooked al dente. Judge to taste. If pasta is not fully cooked after this time, add a little more milk or water to the mixture. Liquid amount will depend on how much longer pasta needs to cook.

When milk has nearly evaporated and thickened, stir in cheese.

Turn off the heat and allow cheese to melt into the mixture. Add additional salt to taste. Before serving, stir one final time to mix everything together.

Small Kitchen College is a guide to cooking, eating, drinking, and living on and off campus, with recipes, tips, and tales generated by college students across the country. If it’s campus food, we’ve got it here.