When we sent our kids off to college, they lived in dorms and ate in the cafeteria. But soon, some of them found their way into their first apartments. With their tiny kitchens and equally tiny budgets, they needed some suggestions for cheap, easy, quick, yet delicious meals. We turned to our friend Katie Workman for recipes to offer any college kid or young adult. Katie’s best selling cookbook, The Mom 100 Cookbook: 100 Recipes Every Mom Needs in Her Back Pocket is full of great suggestions for our kids and we can’t wait to read her new book Dinner Solved!: 100 Ingenious Recipes That Make the Whole Family Happy, Including You!
Love the title.
Five (cheap) recipes for first apartment cooking from The Mom 100 Cookbook (and also found on The Mom 100):
1. Simple Fresh Mozzarella Pasta Casserole – a handful of ingredients turns into an amazing casserole. This is the greatest first dish to make when you have your first dinner party, and you don’t want the pressure of a complicated meal, but you do want a lot of compliments.
1 package (16 ounces) dried pasta, such as ziti, penne, cavatelli, bow ties, or any chunky fun shape
1 jar (24 to 26 ounces) vodka sauce or 3 cups tomato sauce or any other pasta sauce you may have
1 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add salt and let the water return to a boil. Add the pasta and cook it until almost al dente (follow the package directions but stop a minute or two before the pasta is completely tender). Drain the pasta.
3. Return the pasta to the pot and add the vodka sauce. Mix it all up, stir in the mozzarella, then spoon the mixture into a 3-quart baking dish and sprinkle the Parmesan on top, if desired.
Bake the casserole until the top is a bit brown and everything is bubbly, 20 to 30 minutes.
2. English Muffin Pizzas — because all you need is a toaster and a craving — try these for breakfast.
Looking for something fresh and healthy? You can use all kinds of different vegetables in this salad, whatever is cheap and in season. Make a big batch of this very pretty and very economical salad on a Sunday and you have lunches to all week-long.
4. Fork in the Road Simplest Vegetable Soup – Soup is the single most brilliant way to use up what you have in your fridge. And it’s hard to screw up soup. Those are just two of the reasons I love it.
5. Holy Guacamole – a bag of chips and salsa is fine….a bag of chips and this guacamole is a party.
Makes about 2 cups; serves 4 to 6
2 ripe avocados, preferably Hass
1/3 cup minced onion
1 medium-size ripe tomato, cored, seeded, and chopped (about 2/3 cup)
Kosher or coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/2 to 1 teaspoon chopped seeded jalapeño pepper (optional)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
Lots of tortilla chips, for serving
1. Cut the avocados in half, remove the pits, and use a knife to cut the avocado flesh into chunks right in the skin, cutting one direction and then crosswise in a grid like fashion. Use a spoon to scoop out all of the flesh into a medium-size bowl.
2. Add the onion, tomato, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Use a fork or a potato masher to combine the ingredients and mush up the avocado, leaving it as chunky or as blended as you like. Stir in the lime juice, then adjust the seasonings.
Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, an activist in hunger issues, and the author of the beloved Mom 100 Cookbook.
Published in 2012, The Mom 100 Cookbook: 100 Recipes Every Mom Needs in Her Back Pocket was Katie’s first book. It was nominated for an IACP award and selected by Cooking Light as one of the best 100 books of the past 25 years. This summer (August 2015), she follows up with Dinner Solved!: 100 Ingenious Recipes That Make the Whole Family Happy, Including You!
Photo Credit: Todd Coleman