After three glorious months of having a hot and homely dinner placed on the table in front of you, returning to Exeter and having to cook for yourself can be quite the struggle. Coming up with ideas other than your staple pesto pasta is often the toughest part, especially when you may be fragile from the night before, or running out of pennies. Luckily for you, I’ve done some research and compiled a list of six essential recipes for some decent meals in these times of need.
1. For when you’re feeling homesick
The easy roast dinner: serves 4
Home = two words: Roast and Dinner. If you find yourself shuddering at the state of your messy halls or grimy student house and longing for some home comforts, then get the oven on, get some friends involved, and make yourself a nice Sunday roast. The recipe below is a student-friendly version, so it may not quite live up to the standards of your family roast (everyone does think theirs is the best), but it’s cheaper, quicker and easier, and will provide you with that homely happiness you’re looking for.
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees
2. Chop up all the vegetables and potatoes and put aside
3. Take the string off the chicken and places the lemon, halved, into the cavity
4. Rub butter over the chicken and then season well with salt, pepper and whatever herbs you can find in the cupboard
5.Place everything into a large roasting tray, drizzle it all with oil and add more seasoning
6.Cook in the oven for about an hour and half, moving things around every so often, and spooning the juices over the chicken
7.Once all is golden and crispy, you’re most likely done, but double check the chicken is cooked by piercing a thigh and making sure the juice runs clear
8. For the gravy, follow the instructions on the pot of granules. For extra flavour, pour in the residual juices from the roasting tray.
-Three large potatoes
-A few carrots, or whatever vegetables you fancy
-50g of butter
-Chicken gravy granules
2. For the hangover
Tomato pasta bake recipe: serves 2
Those times when you awake with regret and remorse seeping through your veins, not to mention the alcohol, there is but one thing to remember: pasta makes everything better. That in mind, the answer to all your morning-after problems is undoubtedly a warm and filling pasta bake. This recipe uses tomato sauce and a lot of bacon, but it’s pretty adaptable, so throw in whatever you fancy.
1. Preheat the grill
2. Chop up onion, garlic and bacon and gently fry them in some oil in a large pot for ten minutes
3. Blend your tins of tomatoes and add them to the same pot
4. Add the butter, sugar and lots of basil to the mix, and leave on a medium heat so that it reduces to a thick sauce
5. Put the pasta on, cooking it for the minimum recommended time on the packet
6. Once both your pasta and your sauce are done, mix them together in a baking dish and grate cheddar over the top
7. Place the dish into the grill for about ten minutes or until the cheese has gone golden and crispy.
-170g of fusilli or penne
-A garlic clove
-Five rashes of bacon
-Two tins of chopped tomatoes
-A tablespoon of olive oil
-A teaspoon of brown sugar
-A teaspoon of butter
-Lots of cheddar
3. For when you’re trying to be healthy (but can’t stop craving carbs)
Pitta Pizzas: serves 1
Potentially the most simple yet effective meal ever to have been created is a pizza from some pitta bread. All you need is some wholemeal pitta (there’s the healthy bit), some tomato purée (also not terrible), mozzarella (we’ll just breeze over this one), whatever toppings you fancy – and you’re done: a reasonably healthy meal that won’t leave you feeling empty of a soul.
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
2. Squeeze over a decent amount of tomato puree onto your pittas and spread it evenly
3. Throw on grated mozzarella and then place on your toppings
4. Place in the oven and bake for ten to fifteen minutes
-Toppings of your choice
4. For when you have no time
Chicken fajitas: serves 1
Chicken fajitas are undeniably quick. Chop some veg, chop some chicken, throw it all in the pan for about ten minutes and your meal is complete. Don’t bother buying the ready to go fajita sets as they’re overpriced and unnecessary- you can get a pack of wraps for 90p in Tesco and large jars of salsa which are just as cheap.
1. Heat some oil in a large frying pan
2. Chop up all your chicken, onion and peppers
3. Throw them into a pan and fry on high heat
4. Add salsa to the mix
5. After ten minutes it should all be cooked, so pop it all into your wraps with a dollop of sour cream and enjoy.
-1 chicken breast
-Half an onion
-Sour cream (if desired)
-Table spoon of oil
5. For when you’re suffering from deadline stress
Brownies: makes 20
When essays and assignments are taking over your life and all you want to do is curl up in a ball and be six again, the solution is brownies. And lots of them. The recipe below will make 20 squares – to be shared or not to be shared – and they might just help you rediscover the will to live.
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
2. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl
3. Pour the mixture in a greased baking tray
4. Bake at 180 degrees for 25 minutes
5. Allow for them to cool and cut into square slices
-400g caster sugar
-225g plain flour
-225g unsalted butter
-70g cocoa powder
-Half a teaspoon of baking powder
-A pinch of salt
6. For when you have no money left
Chilli con carne: serves 4
When it’s nearing the end of term, it’s cold, wet and rainy, and your student loan has slipped away from you, turn to a chilli con carne for a cheap yet comforting meal. The amount of chili this recipe makes serves four, so freeze what you don’t use and you’ll thank yourself later – especially as the grand total cost of each portion comes in at around £1.30.
1. Chop up all the onion, garlic and peppers and fry them gently for ten minutes until soft, adding the chili powder five minutes in
2. Turn up the heat and add the minced meat. Stir it so that it breaks up and all parts of the meat are browning
3. Make the beef stock by adding 300ml of boiling water to the stock cube, and then pour this into the mince mixture along with the tin of chopped tomatoes
4. Stir well and turn down the heat. Let the mixture bubble for about 20 minutes or until it’s beginning to look thick
5. Drain the tin of kidney beans and throw them in, turning up the heat a little. Add seasoning as required and let it cook for a further ten minutes
-Serve with long grained rice or a baked potato.
-500g minced beef
-2 cloves of garlic
-A tablespoon of chili powder
-400g tin of chopped tomatoes
-400g tin of red kidney beans
-1 beef stock cube