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Cook Up Some Comfort Food

Pre-spring days can be cold and gray, but that doesn’t mean your diet has to be! As a busy collegiette, it’s easy to turn your nose up at the idea of taking time to actually cook – not microwave – your meals. However cooking a delicious meal from scratch is an instant pick-me-up and surprisingly easy to do. It’s especially helpful when you’re trying to watch what you eat.

In regards to seasonal foods, winter can certainly bring some delectable dishes to your dining plans. Flavorful fruits and vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, clementines, kiwis, squash and sweet potatoes, are all in season during the winter months, but can be enjoyed year round. They’re perfect for adding a little color to your diet. Comfort food in the spring? Why not! Her Campus Mizzou found some tasty and easy-to-make cold-weather dishes that are sure to warm you up. Bon appétit!

Broccoli Walnut Pasta
This pasta dish is a fantastic way to get your daily dose of vegetables, as well as some much-needed fatty acids. With a total prep and cook time of 40 minutes, this recipe is totally delicious and doable. Tip: If you want an extra health boost, cook this dish with whole-wheat pasta.

Ingredients

  • Salt for pasta water, plus more to taste
  • 8 ounces pasta shells, penne or fusilli
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds broccoli, cut into small florets (about 1/2-inch across)
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup freshly shredded pecorino, parmesan, or other hard grating cheese, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add approximately 1 teaspoon of salt. Add pasta and cook until tender. Drain pasta.
  2. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, add oil and broccoli. Cook, stirring occasionally, until broccoli turns bright green or about 3 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, if using, and cook, stirring, until fragrant or about 1 minute.
  3. Add 1/2 cup of pasta-cooking water to broccoli. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook until broccoli is tender, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, spread walnuts on a baking sheet or piece of foil and bake until toasted, 5 to 10 minutes. Set aside.
  5. Add drained pasta to broccoli, toss to combine well. Add walnuts and toss to combine. Add cheese and toss to combine. Serve hot and top with more cheese if you like.

Source: http://localfoods.about.com/od/winter/r/BroccoliWalnut.htm

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Sweet Potato Gnocchi
When it’s time for the wonderful feasts of the winter holidays, I always look forward to the mouth-watering sweet potato casserole. It’s warm, sweet and absolutely appetizing. This recipe for sweet potato gnocchi is a new take on the holiday favorite.

Ingredients

  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake sweet potatoes for 30 minutes or until soft to the touch. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
  2. Once the potatoes are cool enough to work with, remove the peels and mash them or press them through a ricer into a large bowl. Blend in the garlic, salt, nutmeg and egg. Mix in the flour a little at a time until you have soft dough. Use more or less flour as needed.
  3. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. While you wait for the water to boil, make the gnocchi. On a floured surface roll the dough out in several long snakes and cut into 1-inch sections. Drop the pieces into the boiling water and allow them to cook until they float to the surface. Remove the floating pieces with a slotted spoon and keep warm in a serving dish. Serve with butter or cream sauce.

Source: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/sweet-potato-gnocchi/Detail.aspx

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Black Bean Quesadilla
When you’re looking for something spicy and savory, Mexican cuisine is always a great go-to choice. The black beans and avocado in this recipe mean you’re getting a nutritional meal that’s protein-packed and full of healthy fats. This dish takes only 15 minutes to make, making it the perfect lunchtime pick-me-up.

Ingredients

  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack or pepper Jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup fresh salsa, divided
  • 4 8-inch whole-wheat tortillas
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil, divided
  • 1 ripe avocado, diced

Directions

  1. Combine beans, cheese and 1/4 cup salsa in a medium bowl. Place tortillas on a work surface. Spread 1/2 cup of the mixture on half of each tortilla. Fold tortillas in half, pressing gently to flatten.
  2. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 2 quesadillas and cook, turning once, until golden on both sides or 2 to 4 minutes total. Transfer to a cutting board and tent with foil to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and quesadillas. Serve the quesadillas with avocado and the remaining salsa.

Source: http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/black_bean_quesadillas.html

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Buffalo Wing Soup
Buffalo chicken wings are definitely staples of sporting events. Bring the game home with this buffalo wing soup. Although this dish requires a slow cooker, it’s something you could easily whip up on a visit home and then freeze for later enjoyment.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups milk
  • 3 cans condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
  • 3 cups shredded, cooked chicken
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup hot pepper sauce

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 4 to 5 hours.

Source: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/buffalo-chicken-wing-soup/

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BBQ Chicken Pizza
One of our favorite meals in Columbia is the BBQ chicken pizza from Flat Branch Pub and Brewing. This adaptation is an excellent way to satisfy your cravings for the restaurant’s gourmet pie.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 pound chicken tenders
  • 2/3 cup barbecue sauce 
  • flour, for dusting surface
  • 1 package pizza dough (We recommend Pillsbury Classic.)
  • 3/4 cup shredded Gouda
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped, fresh cilantro leaves

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken tenders and sauté until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat. When chicken is cool enough to handle, dice it to yield a little more than 1 cup. In a small bowl, toss chicken with 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce. Set aside.
  3. On a floured surface, roll out dough and place on a greased sheet pan. Shape to fill the sheet pan, which should be about 15 inches by 10 inches. Spread remaining barbecue sauce evenly over pizza dough. Sprinkle Gouda, mozzarella, Parmesan, onions and chicken over top. Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese bubbles. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and cut into pieces.

Source: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/sandra-lee/bbq-chicken-pizza-recipe/index.html

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Mozzarella, Tomato and Avocado Salad
For all the veggie-lovers out there, this salad is perfection. It’s bursting with outstanding flavor. Featuring crisp cherry tomatoes, rich avocados, smooth mozzarella cheese, fresh parsley, lemon juice, olive oil and basil, this salad is a welcomed alternative for your standard Caesar.

Ingredients

  • 1 container cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 carton fresh mozzarella cheese pearls, drained
  • 1 avocado, peeled and diced
  • 1/3 cup basil, julienned (I actually used frozen basil I had on hand, and it was great.)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a large bowl combine the tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and parsley. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl whisk the lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper. Pour over tomato mixture. Toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour before serving.
  3. Just before serving stir in the chopped avocado.

Source: http://ashleyscookingadventures.blogspot.com/2011/05/meatless-mondays-mozzarella-tomato-and.html

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Ginger-Carrot Muffins
Rushing off to class can sometimes cause one to forget the most important meal of the day: breakfast. Bake these lovely ginger-carrot muffins for a quick breakfast treat when you’re on-the-go.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup finely shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats, pulsed in the food processor
  • 1/4 cup ground flax
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line (or lightly grease) a jumbo muffin pan with 6 large paper muffin cups and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl beat together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat after each addition until the egg is completely incorporated into the creamed mixture. Add in the shredded carrots, apple sauce, fresh ginger and vanilla. Beat until well-mixed.
  3. Meanwhile, in a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the whole-wheat flour, rolled oats, ground flax, baking soda, ground cinnamon, ground ginger and salt. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are just incorporated.
  4. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pan. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool the muffins in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Source: http://www.mykitchenaddiction.com/2012/02/ginger-carrot-muffins/

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One-Minute Chocolate Cake
When you need your chocolate fix, whip up this easy and relatively healthy one-minute chocolate cake. With oil, this recipe is a reasonable 240 calories. Delicious and diet-friendly!

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 stevia packet (or 1 more tablespoon sugar)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil or vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Combine dry ingredients and mix very well.
  2. Add liquid, stir and then transfer to a little dish. Microwave 30 to 40 seconds.

Source: http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2011/11/06/one-minute-chocolate-cake/

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