Pita Pizza

When I am craving pizza I feel like the natural inclination is to just go out and buy a slice of pizza. I guess that explains the 2 trips to Nochs (iconic Cambridge pizza and subs establishment) I made over the course of this week. However, this pizza fix was not enough and I found myself still craving the warming, cheesy goodness of a slice o’ pie. So I decided it was time to make it myself.

I learned a valuable lesson while undertaking this culinary endeavor: know your dining hall staff. I was eating in my friend Magda’s dining hall, and although I dine there so often the staff greets me, we are not close enough yet where I can request food items. So, when I entered the food area super stoked about the idea of making pita pizza, I was devastated to find no pita in sight! At first, I did not know what I would do, but I was so sold on the idea of making pizza that I did what any hungry, determined college student would: I grabbed the next closest thing to pita I could find, which turned out to be flatbread sandwich thins. In the end, it actually turned out pretty good! My mini pizza of feta, red spaghetti sauce, peppers, and broccoli curbed by pizza fix and was cute too.

I was feeling pretty proud of my pizza, and then Magda sat down next to me with the most incredible pita pizza I have ever seen.

Amazing, right? And it tasted even better than it looks!

Strategy for the perfect pita pizza:

1. Spread pasta sauce on pita bread, then add toppings (you can add anything you like, here are a few ideas: grilled chicken, onions, peppers, mushrooms, corn, BBQ sauce, ham, pineapple)

2. Sprinkle on cheese, the more the better! (Magda’s secret is a 3-cheese blend of shredded cheddar, parmesan, and feta)

3. Microwave pita pizza until cheese is melty

4. Carefully move pizza to the panini press for a few minutes (Careful not to close the press to avoid a gooey mess!). The panini step is crucial if you are a fan of a crispy pizza that is sturdy enough to hold all the toppings.

That’s all, now all you have to do is slice and enjoy!

In the dining hall there is no make your own pizza station, but all the ingredients are right there. In fact, if you’re feeling creative this is the meal to make because the sky’s the limit with what you can do!

The Healthy Cookie

Okay, so it’s more like baked oatmeal.

In fact, it was actually my breakfast today because I woke up really wanting to eat something hearty. Not to mention delicious. This treat is also my go-to when I want to eat a cookie but the dining hall isn’t serving them. Plus it’s healthy because it has almost no sugar and is packed with good-for-you nutrients like calcium, and potassium.

The inspiration and recipe originally came from Harvard’s Food Literacy Project (http://www.dining.harvard.edu/flp/about.html). However, I made some adjustments like taking out half the brown sugar and adding some organic peanut butter. The result is has the consistency of an extremely thick oatmeal and taste’s like dessert. So spoil yourself next time you’re in the dining hall and make a healthy cookie!

The Healthy Cookie

1/2 banana

1/4 cup oatmeal

1 tablespoon raisins

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon organic peanut butter

1-2 tablespoons original soy milk

 

Mash banana in a microwavable bowl. Add oats, raisins, brown sugar, peanut butter, and milk. Mix well. Microwave for 30-45 seconds for a raw consistency or microwave for 1 minute if you prefer well-cooked.

Buffalo Chicken Quesadilla

I just could not resist.

When I saw blue cheese in the salad bar of the dining hall, I just knew that I had to make some sort of dish involving buffalo chicken. Partially because buffalo chicken and blue cheese are perfect accompaniments, partially because I love all things hot and spicy-and okay, it might have also been because I really wanted to use the panini maker.

Since I was away for track training in Houston all of spring break I was unable to really make anything beyond a simple PB&J. Pretty much every meal I went out to eat. Not that it was a bad thing to eat out; it’s just by the end of the week I really wanted to make something. On the topic of spring break, let me just say that being in warmth and sunshine has done so much for my level of happiness; and returning to Boston to an equal amount of pleasurable spring weather has given me a bright and positive attitude. Thank you, Vitamin D!

Anyways, back to the important stuff: the food. The quesadilla is super easy to make. It is packed with flavor and perfect for adding some variation to your meal. It takes some wait time (I would say about 5 minutes), but that allows you to wander around the food counters, or if you’re me go chat it up with the HUDS dining hall staff.

 

Buffalo Chicken Quesadilla

1-2 tortillas (depending on how famished you are)

Grilled Chicken

Frank’s Hot Sauce

Sprinkle of blue cheese (exact amount depends on how much you like the flavor of blue cheese)

Shredded mozzarella/cheddar (to make the quesadilla cheesier without the overpowering  the flavor that blue cheese has)

Diced red onion

Diced tomatoes

Ranch Dressing (optional, but totally delicious)

Amounts of specific ingredients can be altered according to taste preference. For example, I douse my grilled chicken in about 4 tablespoons of hot sauce, and use about a 1/4 cup of tomato, an 1/8 cup of onion, and 1/2 cup of cheeses to make my buffalo chicken quesadilla. The assembly of the quesadilla itself is pretty simple. First, chop chicken and mix it with Frank’s hot sauce. Next, sprinkle half of the cheese on a tortilla. Add the chopped chicken, onion, tomatoes, and the other half of the cheese. Top off with other tortilla (or fold tortilla over if you’re only using 1 tortilla). Set into panini press and wait until cheese is nice and melted. Enjoy dipping into salsa or ranch dressing.

Banana Wrap

I love peanut butter.

Peanut butter and jelly. Peanut butter in brownies. Peanut butter by the spoonful. I just can’t get enough of the stuff.

So when it comes time to have a snack, it’s only natural for me to grab my jar of PB and chow down. Sometimes; however, I want to feel slightly more nutritious have a little fruit with my peanut butter. That is when I know it’s Banana Wrap time.

I actually have to thank UC San Diego for this recipe idea. Back when I was contemplating running track at UCSD, I visited the campus and the athletes there brought me to a cafe on campus. They recommended a lunch called the Banana Wrap and needless to say, once I tried it I only wanted more. Here is a look at the beautiful creation:

Doesn't it just look incredibly refreshing and enticing?

This wrap is a great snack in between lunch and dinner; it has all the stuff I need to get through a long track practice without getting hungry. The wrap is also made with simple, easy to find ingredients. I recommend more peanut butter; then again I will always recommend that for any recipe. And you may not use the whole banana or apple, it all depends on your preferred fruit-to-peanut butter ratio.

Banana Wrap

1 ripe banana

1 apple

1 tortilla/wrap bread

2 tbsp peanut butter

1 tbsp sunflower seeds

1 tbsp raisins

1 tbsp honey

Directions: Slice banana and apple (the smaller the pieces, the easier it will be to wrap it all up). Spread peanut butter onto tortilla or wrap bread, and then add apple, banana, sunflower seeks, and raisins. Drizzle the honey, then wrap it on up!

Low Fat Blueberry Scones

“Oh my gosh, they’re like fluffy clouds of blueberry goodness.”

Those are the exact words my friend Magda strung together to describe the amazing goodie we had just created. Yep, we made blueberry scones.

Here is Magda holding the fruits of our baking labor:

So, it has been impossible for me to post anything the last couple of days; namely because it has been an onslaught of midterms and the like. I barely had time to have meals, let alone be creative (there were plenty of PB&Js involved) Needless to say when the opportunity to study with a group in an apartment arose I jumped on the chance to work somewhere with a kitchen. Study break time is baking time. It is the perfect de-stressor and you make delicious treats in the process! Scones are Magda and I’s favorite baked good so it only made sense that we would make them. The low fat recipe is adapted from one that we found on Allrecipes and we decided to change it based on things we had taken from the dining hall (namely frozen blueberries)

Blueberry Scones

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cup flour (can use half white flour, half whole wheat if you’d like)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1 cup blueberries (frozen or fresh)
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda. Cut in butter until mixture resembles crumbs (I used 2 knives for this process). Add blueberries and yogurt, stir until moist. Form scones into preferred shape on baking sheet. Bake 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Waiting for these to cool is torture, they just look so yummy!

The best part about these scones is that they are super tasty despite the fact they are not as sugary and buttery as your average run-of-the-mill scone (not that there is anything wrong with sugar or butter!). Plus, if you’re like Magda and me you will eat the whole batch over the course of a study session. Just a friendly warning, they are that good!

Perfect anytime snack, the recipe can make 8-10 smallish scones but we went for 7 jumbo scones.

Chicken Veggie Panini

 

You know those days you walk into the dining hall and see nothing that looks appetizing?

 

Yeah, it was one of those days, and there were not enough tater tots in the world to satisfy me. So it was time for one of my go-to lunchtime creations: the panini.

Image

I seriously do believe that panini presses are one on the greatest inventions to come into the cooking world. Melty cheese makes everything better. And you don’t have to be making a sandwich to even utilize it! 

 

Today; however, was a sandwich sorta day. And since I was feeling the junk food consumed over the weekend, I figured I would make this sandwich chocked full of healthy fresh veggies, available right in the salad bar! Here are some ingredient ideas for a delicious and colorful chicken panini:

Bread slices (I used pita bread)

Grilled Chicken 

Provolone Cheese (for the obvious reason: melty goodness)

Tomato

Onion

Mixed Greens, spinach, or any leafy green lettucs

Corn 

Cucumber slices

Avocado (if available, I never find it in the dining hall but being a CA girl sometimes I cannot help buying an avocado at the store-trust me, it’s worth it)

Hummus 

 

Assembly:

While the panini press is heating up, spread hummus on the pita slices. Add cheese to each side of the pita, and then pile on the sliced tomato, onion, corn, and meat. Stick the sandwich in the press, and while it’s doing its thing feel free to prepare the fresh vegetables that you will add. Once the cheese it nice and melted, the panini is ready for removal from its lovely place of creation. Once on your plate, add any vegetables onto the sandwich that you’d like. (I add the lettuce and cucumber after pressing because I like them crisp in contrast to the warmth from the chicken and cheese). 

Slice, Serve, Enjoy!

The beauty of this recipe is that it takes no time at all, and you can put in whatever ingredients you feel like! Experimenting with different spreads (like mustard or BBQ or salad dressing) is a really quick way to add flavor. This recipe is a great way to have a healthy and delicious meal.

The Breakfast Sandwich

Midterm Day: the perfect day for a power breakfast. Any given day I will eat something different in the dining hall; from a muffin and yogurt parfait to peanut butter and banana toast, I can never guess what I am going to crave any given morning. One thing is for certain I love having eggs on a test day. Maybe I think eggs will make me smarter? Or maybe I know eggs will keep me full long enough to get through the 90 minute exam without needing a snack.

Regardless, I LOVE breakfast sandwiches. They have everything essential to start the day off right and the taste delicious.

 

Yeah, I know yum!—wish you could have one right now? Luckily they are quite easy: just take a couple ingredients and 5 minutes and you are well on your way to awesomeness (and acing your next exam)!

Ingredients:

2 Hard-boiled eggs

2 slices bread (I used sandwich thins, but English Muffins are my usual go-to and hold the sandwich better)

Ham Slices (optional, but adds more protein! Turkey works as well)

Tomato

Cheese (I like pepper jack or cheddar, but any cheese will do!

 

There are two methods for making this egg sandwich, and it depends on what your supplies are looking like. I will describe both the Panini Press Method and the Toaster Method.

Panini Press: If you’re lucky enough to have access to a hot and ready Panini press this method is quite simple: peel and slice your hard-boiled eggs and layer them with the cheese, tomato and ham between the bread slices, then press it and wait until your cheese is nice and melted.

Toaster: If you do not like the idea of using the Panini press or it’s not heating up quickly, the Toaster method is the way to ensure your sandwich is still warm. Just toast your bread slices, butter them and assemble the ingredients. The warmth of the bread and hard boiled eggs will ensure that the cheese still melts, which is truly makes the sandwich (at least to me—cheese makes everything better).

 

Enjoy!