Not Your Average College Food

Blackberry Brie Bites

Brie is awesome. Its ooey-gooey creaminess makes us melt with delight as we spread it on crackers at dinner parties. But it can be spread on much more than crackers. For a light snack in the Spring or Summer, try making these blackberry brie bites. It’s the perfect combination of a burst of fruit and cheese, wrapped in a buttery, flaky blanket.

These are perfect crowd-pleasers for parties, meetings, or just for fun. They are literally bite-sized so they won’t make a mess but enough to impress your friends and leave them wanting more. Of course, they’re best served warm, right after you take them out of the oven. If they do get cold, you can simply warm them up in the microwave and get the same taste.

I spontaneously made these after school one day because I had leftover brie and wanted to bake it in with puff pastry. These are actually very similar to the Cuban Guava Pastries I made last year, which were made using guava paste and cream cheese. There are soo many variations of puff pastry+fruit+cheese. Next time, I’ll try using other fruits like figs and maybe add some honey!

 

BLACKBERRY BRIE BITES
(makes 16)

Ingredients
1 pkg puff pastry, thawed
1 quart blackberries
5 oz brie cheese, cut into cubes
3-4 tbsps blackberry jam
1 egg, for egg wash

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Cut the thawed puff pastry into equal squares.

Place a cube of brie in the middle of a square, spoon 1/4 teaspoon of jam onto it, and place blackberry on top. Fold two opposite corners into the middle and pinch corners together. Then, pinch the other two corners to meet in the middle so all 4 corners come together. Repeat for each square.

Beat the egg until mixed. Brush egg wash on the outer parts of puff pastry surface.

Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Ricotta Pancakes with Strawberry Compote

Breakfast, Fruit, Vegetarian | March 21, 2015 | By

Last week I bought my first-ever tub of ricotta cheese. Although I can’t say I’m a die-hard fan of cheese, I do always have various selections of cheese (mozzarella, parmesan, and a shredded cheese mix) stocked in my fridge. I’m not too familiar with ricotta but I’ve browsed through countless recipes for sweets and desserts that use this famous Italian cheese.


So why did I suddenly decide to purchase ricotta? Well, to make the fluffiest pancakes ever. It’s no secret that I’m a fan of pancakes but it’s about time I take a break from my favorite Greek yogurt pancakes and try something new. Greek yogurt pancakes are thick and chewy, but ricotta pancakes are quite different. They’re melt-in-your-mouth pillows of brunch-y happiness that make you wonder why you don’t have pancakes every day. Seriously, they’re SO fluffy.

 

Since I wanted to incorporate some fruit, I made my own strawberry compote by heating up strawberries in a small pot until they broke down into the consistency of a chunky sauce. The tanginess of the strawberries was undeniably satisfying and paired beautifully with the ricotta pancakes. It was my first time making a fruit compote and mine was probably one of the most simplified versions: just fruit and water. The best part was…not having to add extra sugar :)

RICOTTA PANCAKES WITH STRAWBERRY COMPOTE
(makes 10-12)

Ingredients
3 cups fresh strawberries, de-stemmed and chopped in halves
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups milk
3 large eggs, separated into whites and yolk
1/2 cup fresh ricotta cheese

Directions
Heat up chopped strawberries in a small pot on medium-low. Add water. Stir occasionally as they begin to sizzle and add more water for a thinner sauce.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.

In a separate large bowl whisk together the egg yolks, milk, and ricotta.

Slowly mix in the dry ingredients into the bowl with wet ingredients.

Beat egg whites using a hand or stand mixer until stiff peaks form. Fold into the pancake batter.

Heat a pan to medium-high. Spoon 1/4 cup batter at a time onto the pan. When the pancake starts bubbling, flip and cook until both sides are golden brown.

Serve with warm strawberry compote and/or maple syrup.

adapted from Food and Wine 

Chicken and Spinach Quesadillas

4 Ingredients or less, Dinner, Lunch | September 2, 2013 | By

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Orientation week has been crazy with moving in, helping freshmen move in, seeing everyone after an entire summer, and running around campus performing various errands. This year, I’m living in a 4-person suite with my 3 closest friends Margaret, Ting, and Jeana. We were soo excited to move into our awesome suite which has 4 single rooms, 2 bathrooms, a common room, and a kitchen! The kitchen is small but has a full refrigerator, 2 stoves, and our own microwave and toaster oven. Since we don’t have a conventional oven, our options for cooking and baking is a bit limited. Here is what our kitchen looks like!

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For the past week, we’ve been eating out almost every meal at restaurants that we’ve missed over the summer. Today we went grocery shopping so that we could finally make a home-cooked meal. For dinner, I made chicken and spinach quesadillas, a combination I’ve never tried before. One problem though was that the only type of chicken I could find was sliced chicken prepared as cold cuts. I searched in 2 grocery stores, but nowhere was there to be found pre-made chunks of chicken! Taking a leap of faith, I used the cold cuts which actually turned out to be pretty good.

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I realized that one of the hardest parts of cooking in college is getting all the ingredients. You start out with nothing and have to go shopping for so many items that it takes multiple trips to get enough ingredients. Quesadillas are on the easier side and are great for lunch and dinner considering there is little to no cutting involved and all the ingredients are pre-prepared. They are definitely a good meal for college students with limited resources or cooking ability to make. For healthier quesadillas, use whole wheat tortillas instead of flour tortillas!

Hooray for my first home-made college meal! 😀

CHICKEN AND SPINACH QUESADILLAS
serves 1

Ingredients
Olive oil
1 whole wheat flour tortilla
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup spinach
2 slices of cold cut chicken (use chunks of chicken breast if possible)

Directions

Heat a frying pan to medium heat. Add 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil and spread it around with a spatula.

Place tortilla in frying pan and flip several times, with 15 seconds in between each flip. Once air pockets begin to form, flatten them with the spatula to let out the air. Sprinkle shredded cheese on one side of the tortilla.

Reduce the heat to low. Top cheese with spinach leaves. Break the cold cut chicken into small pieces and place on top of spinach.

Using the spatula, fold one side of the tortilla on top of the side with filling. Press down on the quesadilla with spatula to flatten and keep in place. Flip over the quesadilla. It should be ready when it is browned.

Cut in half and serve with guacamole (see Amazing Guacamole recipe).