College Cookbook Part 3

Sat May 30 2020

Woah, I'm making part three!! They say good things come in threes-- unless it's a Disney franchise. This continues my last post and goes over some easy-to-prepared and palatable foods that I have cooked.

1 Pork Chops

When done right, pork chops are probably the best meat you can cook -- I enjoy pork chops more than steak. I start by seasoning the chops in a rub consisting of salt, pepper, garlic, onion powder, paprika, cayenne powder.

seasoning for pork chops
seasoning for pork chops

After I sear one side in butter on medium heat, I flipped it and added my marinade sauce consisting of honey, brown sugar, dijon mustard, and balsamic vinegar.

pork chops cooking
pork chops cooking

Using a thermometer, I cook it to just 150 degrees to keep them juicy. This is important because overcooking pork chops can quickly dry them out.

final pork chops on a plate
final pork chops on a plate

2 French Onion Soup

Not everyone is a fan of french onion soup; however, if you are, this is an easy soup to make. You start by sauteing onions in salt, and pepper, sugar, and olive oil until they just begin to brown. Yep, that's right: sugar. Not all recipes call for it, but adding sugar will help the onions carmelize.

browning onions on the stove
browning onions on the stove

Combine the onions and some chicken broth in a crockpot and cook on low for about 4-6 hours. To flavor the soup, I usually add minced garlic and a small amount of soy sauce. Don't cook too long because the onions will get mushy.

When serving this soup, just add some shredded cheese and pepper to the top. If you're like me and are out of shredded cheese, just hack some chunks of cheese on top of it.

onion soup topped with pepper
onion soup topped with pepper

3 Casserole

This is a dish that I wish I started making earlier. It is straightforward to make, cheap, and tastes delicious. I was first inspired to make this after watching Charlie Berens video on mid-western "hot-dishes."

This hot dish is straightforward: meat + vegetable + creamy soup + crunchy thing on top = hot dish. I've experimented with this dish a lot; for vegetables, I find that green beans, corn, and carrots work pretty well together. For meat, you can use just about anything but, I usually stick to either ground meat or chicken. You can do tater-tots, french onions, frosted flakes, or crushed up roman noodles for toppings. Personally, I really enjoy the frosted flakes and tater-tots on the casserole. You can add some flavor to the vegetables by adding minced garlic, pepper, salt, and onion powder

browning meat
browning meat

When browning the meat in general, it is essential to keep the meat in larger chunks until almost finished cooking. This will lock in the juiciness and gives it a good texture. After browning is nearly done cooking, break up the meat and de-glaze the pan with either soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, or red wine. This step will add some flavor to the meat and help brown it.

Casserole preparation
Casserole preparation

Combine the meat and vegetables in the casserole pan and then top with toppings a starch. Cover with aluminum foil and cook in the oven for about 50 minutes at 375. Remove the aluminum and bake for an additional 10 minutes until the top starts to get brown.

Casserole Roman on top
Casserole Roman on top
frosted flakes and french onion
frosted flakes and french onion

And there you have it: the infamous hot dish. Depending on what you put on it, it is pretty healthy and only costs about $5-6 to make.

4 Home Fries

I love homefries! I haven't made them a lot since I gravitate towards making one-dish meals, but this creates a fantastic side dish.

To make homefries, you wash and dice potatoes and then coat them in seasoning and oil before frying in a pan Pretty self-explanatory.

For my seasoning, I typically use salt, pepper, garlic, onion powder, and paprika. But, you can experiment with this and add other spices like mustard powder and chili powder.

home fries
home fries

If you fry the homefries with some eggs and cheese, it makes a great breakfast.

home fries cooking in eggs
home fries cooking in eggs
left over home fries in eggs and cheese
left over home fries in eggs and cheese

5 Other Posts

Be sure to check out my two previous "college cookbook posts": part 1, part 2. I hope that this series helps other people to learn how to cook dishes without using a recipe. Although using recipes can produce predictable results, cooking is about trying new spices and finding a flavor pallet that you enjoy. Cooking is also looking into your cabinets' depths and the back of your freezer and figuring out what you can throw together in 15 minutes.