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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Chapel Hill chapter.

This morning, I submitted the last final exam of my freshman year of college, and I still can’t believe the year has ended. Like most people, I’ve tried to find different hobbies to keep myself occupied during quarantine, but now that I don’t even have assignments to keep me busy, I’m desperate to find fun and affordable things to do while in isolation. 

I’ve always loved cooking and baking, but I haven’t been able to do either since starting college, apart from a few microwaved dinners here and there. As I’ve been rewatching The Great British Baking Show on Netflix, I’ve been inspired to start baking. I figured now is as good a time as any to learn some new recipes. Here are a few of the summer recipes that I’m most excited to try!

Lemon Bars!!

Lemon bars will forever be one of my favorite desserts, no questions asked. There’s something about the mix of tart lemony goodness and sweet shortbread crust that I find irresistible. With the weather getting warmer, now is a perfect time to make a batch of these citrusy snacks. Since lemon custard can be a little tricky to make, I tried to find an easy recipe with few ingredients, and this one delivered.

Chicken Souvlaki

I love Mediterranean food more than just about anything, and I can’t see that ever changing. Now that it’s hard for me to go to my favorite locally owned Greek restaurant, I want to try recreating my favorite menu item, which is chicken souvlaki. Seasoned to perfection and served on a kabob alongside pita and tzatziki, chicken souvlaki is a great summer meal. This recipe from The Novice Chef promises easy and delicious chicken souvlaki cooked with ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen.

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

In keeping with my obsession with Mediterranean food, I’m super excited to try this recipe for Mediterannean-inspired pasta salad. The beauty of this recipe is that it gives you the flexibility to add or substitute ingredients based on taste and/or availability. Full of fresh vegetables and feta, this recipe is a great option for any lunch or midday snack.

Raspberry Mango Smoothie

I love smoothies, but I always struggle to find recipes without pineapple, to which I’m unfortunately allergic. Not only does this recipe exclude my unfortunate allergen, but it includes my two favorite fruits, raspberries and mango. Nothing says summer like a delicious smoothie made with in-season fruits, and I can’t wait to try this sunny smoothie.

Pesto Pizza

I might have moved out of my dorm for a few months, but my college palate hasn’t changed, which means I still crave pizza on the daily. This pizza recipe is very similar to my go-to pizza order, so I figured I might as well save money while learning to cook healthy food at home by trying it out. Topped with goat cheese, tomatoes and arugula, this pizza is a fresh and heavenly way to start the summer off right.

Quarantine might make this summer look different from usual, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing, which is why I’ve decided to trade in my summer meals of quesadillas and bean burritos for healthy and yummy variations of my favorite foods. Have a great summer, and bon appetit!  

A first-year at UNC-Chapel Hill, Isabelle is double majoring in Advertising and Public Relations and Dramatic Arts. In her free time, she enjoys reading, painting and watching Derry Girls.