3 Recipes for Students Who No Longer Burn Pasta

So you’re a fully grown adult and maybe you’ve gotten the hang of this whole cooking thing. Good to hear. Let me share with you, three single-serving recipes for you to try out when your feeling spunky and want to  change your cooking experience.

Ricotta Stuffed Chicken with Spinach and Mushrooms 

Total time: 35-40 minutes

Difficulty: 4/5 

This. Is. Bomb. Here’s what you’ll need: 

  • 1 boneless skinless chicken breast 

  • ¼ cup ricotta cheese 

  • 1 small clove of garlic, minced

  • 2 cremini mushrooms, finely diced 

  • ¼ cup raw spinach, chopped 

  • 1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese 

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 

  • Salt and pepper to taste 

Preheat your oven to 375 ⁰ F and line a cookie sheet or roasting pan with parchment paper. Put it aside.

You’re then going to prepare your ~mise en place~. That’s a fancy way to say you’re going to get all of your ingredients prepped and ready to go. Mince your garlic, dice your mushrooms, chop your spinach, and put the ricotta in a bowl. You’re also going to want to pound out your chicken with a meat mallet (mmm alliteration) or a rolling pin until it’s a 1\2 inch thick. Put it on your parchment lined sheet. 

In a medium sized skillet, heat your olive oil over medium heat. Add your mushrooms and garlic and cook for 3-5 minutes until golden brown. If your garlic is browning too quickly, turn the heat down because burnt garlic tastes downright nasty. Add the spinach and cook until wilted. Season with salt and pepper, then add the mushroom-garlic-spinach mixture to the ricotta that’s hanging out in the bowl. Add the parmesan cheese as well. Mix. Taste it. If it doesn’t taste salty enough, add more salt. Ricotta can take a lot of salt because it’s so fatty! Let salt be your friend! 

Now head on over to your lonely chicken breast and show it some love by salting and peppering both sides of it. Put the ricotta mixture in the middle of the chicken and roll the breast around it. It should look like a meat cannelloni. Sounds good, I know. Secure this with a toothpick or skewer. 

Rub the outside of the whole thing with olive oil and place it on the middle rack of your preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165⁰ F (use a meat thermometer). Once done, take that baby out and let it rest for 3-5 minutes. 

I recommend serving this with any sort of veggie/salad/grain/potato combo. Or you can eat it by itself. Do whatever you want. I’m not the boss of you. 

Dijon Crusted Pork Tenderloin 

Total time: 25-30 minutes 

Difficulty: 3/5 

Three words: nom nom nom. Here’s what you’ll need: 

  • ½ of a pork tenderloin

    • PRO TIP: buy your pork tenderloins, cut them into single serving portions, and freeze them

  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard (for the love of God please do not use yellow mustard) 

  • ¼ tsp dried thyme 

  • ¼ tsp dried rosemary 

  • 1\2 tsp honey or maple syrup 

  • Salt and pepper to taste 

Preheat your oven to 375⁰ F and line a cookie sheet or roasting pan with parchment paper. The parchment is important because if you don’t use it, the maple syrup/honey on the pork with burn onto your pan. I don’t think you want that. 

Liberally season your tenderloin with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, mix the mustard, thyme, rosemary, and honey/maple syrup. Rub half of this mixture all over the pork. Put the pork in the oven. 

After 10 minutes, use a spoon or pastry brush to add the rest of the mustard mixture to your pork. Let it cook for another 10 minutes or until it reaches 160⁰ F. After taking it out of the oven, let it rest for at least 5 minutes. Fun fact: it’s completely okay for your pork to be slightly pink in the middle. This is the way to cook it unless you like pork that’s dried out and overcooked.

Loaded Sweet Potato with Smoky Black Beans and Guacamole 

Total time: 15 minutes

Difficulty: 2/5 

This hearty potato masterpiece is satisfying to vegetarians and meat eaters alike. Here’s what you’ll need: 

  • 1 medium sized sweet potato 

  • ¼ cup of black beans 

  • 1/3 of a white onion, diced 

  • 1 small clove of garlic, minced

  • ½ of a ripe avocado 

  • Juice of half a lime

  • 1 tbsp barbecue sauce 

  • ¼ tsp chili powder 

  • 3 tbsp water 

  • 1 tsp olive oil

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Recommended toppings can include any combination of: 

    • Diced tomatoes 

    • Corn 

    • Cheddar cheese 

    • Cilantro 

    • Salsa

    • Sour cream

    • Hot sauce 

In a small pot over medium-low heat, heat your olive oil. Once hot, add your onion and garlic. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the black beans, chili powder, BBQ sauce, water, and salt and pepper to taste. Let this cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the beans start to dry out, you can add a little bit more water and turn down the heat. 

I’m going to say something controversial but brave. You should “bake” your sweet potato in the microwave. You don’t have a free hour for our sweet potatoes to bake in the oven! That would be nonsensical and self-sabotage! You’re hungry NOW and need to be at the library (or pre) in 30 minutes! So take your potato and prick holes in it with a fork (about 3-5 fork stabs all over will be good). This will allow the air to escape your potato so it doesn’t literally explode in your microwave. 

Put your potato in the microwave and cook it for 5 minutes. Once those 5 minutes are up, flip it and cook it for another 5. 

While your potato is cooking, make your guacamole. Mash your half avocado and add the lime juice as well as salt and pepper to taste. 

If you’re adding additional toppings, like you should, make sure those are ready to go. Everything should be coming together at around the same time. 

Cut your cooked potato in half. I’m a lazy baby so I scoop out the inside and put it in a bowl because I don’t want to be dealing with the skin while I’m eating. Add the black beans, guacamole, and the rest of your toppings. Enjoy!  

So there you have it, folks. Enjoy your new culinary power.