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Copyright © 2014 by Rachel Johnson Photos Copyright © 2014 by Rachel Johnson All rights reserved

This book was made possible by Florida State University and the Division for Undergraduate Studies.
































WELCOME TO STUPID GOOD Do you believe chocolate chip cookie dough is meant to be broken into squares? Not if you want to make cool friends. Kraft Foods told you cheese can come from a box… but let me introduce you to my friends gorgonzola and gruyere. If you think ramen is real food, you should read up on that. Seriously, that shit is totally gross. To those who say they cannot, I invite you to shut up and cook. This book was conceived from the discovery that most of my friends are ‘those who say they cannot’. When I moved into my first apartment with my first real kitchen, I spent time with my roommates concocting decadent mac-n-cheeses at 2 AM and made extravagant brunches of blueberry pancakes and bacon the following morning. This cookbook can be seen as the summation of my college food experience, teaching my friends how to cook and sharing my love for food with them. The main things I learned from my friends who can’t and don’t cook is that a recipe must be a) inexpensive and have very few ingredients and b) take less than 30 minutes. Bonus points? The fewer dishes the better. Every recipe you find in this eBook has been tailored for you ”cannots”; few ingredients, no fancy equipment, and takes under an hour to prepare. In addition, each recipe has a photo so you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. And please, if you find you love or hate something, let me know! Cheers to spending time in the kitchen and thank you for inviting me into yours.


Everyday meals for when your mom isn’t around to tell you how special you are.

I am the first person to tell you that relaxing alone is super difficult and honestly, can be super boring. But every once in a while, it is important to spend some quality time with yourself. This time happens for me in the kitchen. Even when I’m just making dinner for myself, it’s my time to be as indulgent or as frozen-dinner as I want to be. Sometimes a peanut butter and jelly sandwich just seems more worth it than making a pile of dirty dishes. The recipes in this section take less than an hour and most make leftovers. With a busy week ahead, it’s always ideal for me to make meals that I can pack up for lunch or just heat up when I get home late. And let’s be honest, every week is a busy week. Might as well be a delicious one!

CHIPOTLE CHICKEN TACOS Makes: 6 tacos | Prep Time: 30 minutes

The benefit of making tacos, or any type of Mexican food for that matter, is leftovers. Your tacos can be transformed into salads! Quesadillas! More tacos! Opportunities only end when the fixings do.

INGREDIENTS For the chicken 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast 1/4 cup sour cream 1 tablespoon Chipotle Tabasco 1 tablespoon ranch dressing mix For the salsa ⅓ cup corn kernels ¼ cup black beans ¼ cup white onion, diced ¼ cup tomatoes, diced ½ of a jalapeno pepper, diced 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped 2 tablespoons lime juice 6 fajita-size corn or flour tortillas

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Rinse chicken and pat dry with a paper towel. Place chicken on an aluminum foil-lined baking dish or cookie sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the juices from the chicken run clear when you cut into it with a knife. 2. While the chicken is cooking: In a bowl, combine corn, black beans, onion, tomatoes, jalapeno, cilantro, and lime juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. 3. In a small bowl, stir together sour cream, ranch dressing mix and Chipotle Tabasco. 4. Shred chicken with two forks when cool enough to handle. Add chipotle-ranch sauce to the chicken. 5. To build the taco, warm your tortillas under the broiler or in the microwave. Add chicken and salsa fresca. Feel free to add other toppings like avocado or cheese! Also, margaritas are certainly acceptable for your fiesta of one.

JALAPENOS If you’d like a milder salsa, remove the seeds from the jalapeno. To avoid burning eyes, run the pepper under water while removing the seeds.

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SPINACH & ARUGULA SALAD WITH TAHINI-LEMON DRESSING Makes: 1 big salad | Prep Time: 10 minutes

Tahini is a sesame seed paste that gives hummus its rich nuttiness. With this recipe, you get a decadent dressing without all the fat of anything cream-based.

INGREDIENTS 1 large handful each spinach and arugula ½ apple, julienned 1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds (pepitas) 1 orange, sliced with peels removed 1 tablespoon dried cranberries For the dressing: 2 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste) 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1 garlic clove 1 teaspoon honey Salt and pepper

1. Prepare the dressing: Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. 2. Assemble your salad with remaining toppings and drizzle with Tahini-Lemon dressing. Have any substitutions or additions to your salad? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter!

HOW TO JULIENNE Having knife skills only comes with practice- Learning how to julienne (cut into thin strips, resembling matchsticks) is just the beginning of your badass kitchen ninja training.


Core the apple and discard. You can peel it if desired, but I like the texture.


Cut the rounded sides off the apple and then cut the apple in half. Slice the apple into thin strips, about 1/4”.


Lay those strips on their flat side and slice again into 1/4” pieces. Ta-dah!

A.B.L.T SANDWICH Makes: 1 Sandwich | Prep Time: 15

B.L.T. = Boring. Lame. Terrible. Okay, not really because B.L.T. is awesome, but let’s talk avocados. The magical avocado is in season almost all year-round but be warned that they are often not ripe the day you buy them.

INGREDIENTS 4 strips thick-cut bacon 2 slices whole wheat bread (or any desired on-hand bread) 1 heaping tablespoon mayonnaise 1 teaspoon sriracha 2 romaine heart leaves (if you use iceberg, you’re dead to me) 1/2 avocado, sliced into strips Salt, pepper, and garlic salt to taste

1. Warm a saute pan over medium heat. Place strips of bacon in pan and let cook to desired crispness, about 20 minutes. 2. Remove bacon from pan and turn heat to low. Place bread slices into the pan and toast with remaining bacon grease. Watch the edges- bacon grease gets very hot and can burn easily. 3. In a small bowl, mix together mayo and sriracha. Add more sriracha for a spicier sandwich. 4. Assemble the madness! Stack: Bread, sriracha mayo, bacon, avocado (season with a sprinkle of salt, pepper and garlic salt), lettuce, bread. Thank me later.

AVOCADO TIPS Put your avocados in a brown paper bag to speed up the ripening process- its ready when it gives slightly when you press on the skin. If you put an apple in the bag with the avocado you will find that the avocado ripens even faster!

PIZZA MUFFINS Makes: 8 muffins | Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time: 10 minutes

Pizza is everything. Pizza is perfect. Pizza in a muffin? I know, I hate myself too. If you don’t have any cold pizza from last night, these will do just fine for breakfast

INGREDIENTS 1 package Pillsbury crescent rolls 3/4 cup tomato sauce 8 pepperoni slices 1/2 cup ricotta cheese 1/3 cup shredded Italian style cheese, plus more for topping Italian seasoning Salt and pepper 2 tablespoons butter, melted 1 teaspoon garlic salt

You can also layer spinach, pesto, other cheeses or other favorite pizza toppings! Let me know what your favorite pizza muffin layer is on Facebook or Twitter!

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. 2. Sprinkle flour over a clean counter. Open crescents and carefully unroll dough so that you have one large sheet. Pinch the triangle creases together so that you have one sheet of dough. Sprinkle with flour. 3. With a knife, cut the dough widthwise in half and then lengthwise into four sections so that you get 8 squarish-rectangles (This is a very professional description of shapes). 4. Grease a muffin tin generously with cooking spray. Gently press dough into the muffin tin sections, leaving the square points out of the tin to create crusts. Be sure that the interior is covered with dough so that no metal wall is showing. 5. In a small bowl, mix together ricotta, shredded cheese, salt and pepper. In another small bowl, combine butter and garlic salt. 6. Layer inside the muffin tin: 1/2 tablespoon sauce, 1 pepperoni and 1/2 tablespoon ricotta mixture. Repeat layers until you’ve reached the rim of the tin. Top with a generous pinch of remaining cheese and a pinch of Italian seasoning. Brush butter onto the outer corners of crescent dough. 7. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until cheese is melted and dough is golden brown. Let sit for 10 minutes and enjoy immediately with hungry friends!

BIG GIRL GRILLED CHEESE & SPICY TOMATO QUINOA SOUP Sure, you can stick with the single American slice between Wonder bread with a can of Campbell’s, but why not invite a snuggle buddy over and make them this kicked up classic? Oh yeah, this is ‘Forever Alone Favorites’. Screw sharing.

BIG GIRL GRILLED CHEESE Imagine that a swiss melt meets a grilled cheese, goes to college and then gets a big kid job and makes six figures. This is the embodiment of that sandwich metaphor.


INGREDIENTS 2 tablespoons butter 1 teaspoon sugar 1/2 medium onion, diced ½ cup baby bella mushrooms ½ cup gruyere cheese, shredded Spreadable butter or margarine 2 slices of bread

1. Prepare the caramelized onions. Melt butter in a small saute pan over medium heat. Toss in onions and sugar. The goal of this is to get rich and golden onions so stir often and take your time (about 25 minutes). If you feel as if they are sticking to the pan, add a little water to deglaze. You have caramelized onions once they are soft and brown. Spoon onions into a bowl and set aside. 2. In the same pan, melt a spoonful of butter. Saute mushrooms until soft. 3. Take each slice of bread and spread with butter on both sides. Build sandwich by layering onions, mushrooms and gruyere. Place sandwich in a pan over medium-low heat; a panini press or George Foreman Grill works well, too. Flip the sandwich after 5 minutes or until bread is toasted (If using a grill or press, you can skip the flip). Your sandwich is ready when your cheese is completely melted. Yeah, that took a little while but I dare you to tell me it wasn’t worth it.

BIG GIRL GRILLED CHEESE & SPICY TOMATO QUINOA SOUP SPICY TOMATO & QUINOA SOUP Of all of the things I’ve made for this book, this soup is a chart topper. You can substitute the coconut milk for heavy cream, but I found that the rich, Thai flavors really set this soup apart. Also, sriracha. Yes please. Again, no sharing.


INGREDIENTS 2-28 oz cans whole, peeled tomatoes (I like San Marzano) 6 cloves garlic, peeled Salt and Pepper 1 white onion, diced 4 cups vegetable stock ½ cup quinoa 1-14.5 oz can coconut milk 2 tablespoons sriracha

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Drain tomatoes of any excess juice and place into a 9x13” glass baking dish. Add garlic cloves and season with salt and pepper. Roast the tomatoes for 30 minutes. 2. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat and add diced onions. Saute onions until they are translucent and soft. 3. In a blender or food processor (or use an immersion blender if you’re so lucky!), combine onions with roasted tomatoes and garlic and blend until completely smooth. 4. Return puree into the saucepan and add the vegetable stock. Bring to a boil and add quinoa. Lower heat to medium-low and cover. After about 15 minutes, the quinoa will pop. Add coconut milk and sriracha and heat through. 5. Enjoy with a grilled cheese! This soup freezes fairly well for another rainy day.

GROCERY SHOPPING FOR ONE IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE AS SAD AS YOU MAY THINK AVOID THE RUSH HOUR Any week day from 5-7 PM, all day Saturday and Sunday nights are pretty much bumper to bumper shopping cart traffic. Unless you’re ready for that chick who has 30 items in the 10 and under line, stick to the off hours.

TREAT YOURSELF I get it- grocery shopping is totally stressful. The best way to prepare yourself for the coupon clippers and middle of aisle assholes is to let yourself indulge in a little something. The more ice cream is on sale, the better.

DON’T GO HUNGRY Make sure you grab a snack if you’re absolutely famished before hitting the grocery store. You will almost certainly come home and realize all the dumb stuff you bought when you were in your hunger black out. A hungry wallet is not a happy wallet.

MAKE A LIST If you know what you want before you even get to the store, you will think twice about splurge items. If you’re not a list oriented person, just jot down on your phone ‘Sandwich Fixings’ or ‘Things to Eat for Breakfast’- just to give yourself some guidelines.

STAY OUT OF THE MIDDLE Typically the middle aisles are full of junk, preservatives and carbs. Yeah, I know that sounds like everything you want in life but I promise, carrots and hummus (not found in the middle) will hold you better than a Pop Tart until dinnertime. Stick to the fresh fruits and deli items!

READ THE LABEL Just because yogurt is ‘nonfat’, doesn’t mean it won’t have the same amount of sugar as a candy bar. Watch your sugar, sodium and carb amounts- you might be surprised to know that your orange juice is essentially flavored syrup water.


So you got dumped or bombed an interview? Cheese is there to get you through. Cheese is the ultimate comfort food. No matter what form, it makes everything better. Got broken up with? Pizza it is. Failed a test? You deserve a slice of cheesecake. Drunk? Make a pot of Mac ‘n’ cheese and sober up, you hot mess! Without fail, your friend cheese is always there when you’re reminded of how many loans await you in the ‘real world’. You can melt it into creamy pastas, fold it into decadent desserts, or simply accompany it with a cracker. You don’t need to involve calorie-heavy cheeses in your everyday routine, but it is something to enjoy on occasion. Like failure, we can all learn from our mistakes every once in a while, just as long as cheese is there to soften the blow.

BAKED GOAT CHEESE DIP Makes: About 1 cup of dip | Cook Time: 20 minutes

Don’t knock goat cheese by the animal it comes from. Sure, they can totally scream a good Taylor Swift song or two but the cheese they make is creamy, salty and super decadent. Don’t knock it until you try it!

INGREDIENTS 1 8-oz log of goat cheese, broken into chunks 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 tablespoon honey 1 teaspoon thyme or rosemary (dried or fresh) Salt and pepper, to taste

This dip doesn’t keep well, so be sure to eat it all the day of. I’m sure this won’t be an issue, but just a fair warning.

1. Coat a small, oven-safe baking dish with cooking spray. Make sure it’s cute because that’s what you’ll be serving it in. Add goat cheese chunks, leaving about 1/4” from the top. 2. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and drizzle with olive oil, honey, thyme, salt and pepper (to taste). 3. Serve with crackers, pretzels or slices of a baguette. Enjoy!

BRIE AND BLACKBERRY BITES Makes: About 20 | Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 10 minutes

This perfect little puff pastry treat is the ideal snack to make for a get together. Beware, their mere presence might induce gossip.

INGREDIENTS 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed and slightly rolled out 1 egg 1 tablespoon water 1 wedge of brie Blackberry jam 2 pints blackberries, rinsed and patted dry

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Using a 1.5” circle cookie cutter (how convenient! A short shot glass makes for the perfect cookie cutter!), cut out as many puff pastry circles as you can. Beat the egg and water together and lightly brush the tops of the circles with the egg mixture. 2. Place circles on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 7 minutes. 3. Remove the rind from the brie and cube cheese into small, ¼” squares. Quickly take the sheet of puff pastry out of the oven and press cheese cubes into the middles. Finish baking for 3 minutes or until golden brown and cheese is slightly melted. 4. While the bites are still hot, spoon a small amount (about ¼ teaspoon) of blackberry jam onto the tops of the bites. Press a blackberry into the top and serve to hungry friends!


Mailing labels attached to toothpicks are super fun and your guests will appreciate the gesture.

Be sure to include

KNIVES FOR HARD CHEESES cutting with crackers is cheese blasphemy and all who disrespect the cheese shall be punished.

THE BASICS Sharp white cheddar Wedge of brie Blue cheese crumbles Bunches of crisp, red grapes Apple slices Hard salami slices

Cheese plates are not just for fancy grown-ups (or else, the grown-ups we refuse to be). Spreads of cheese, cured Italian meats and dried fruits... trust me, goat cheese drizzled with honey is totally worth sacrificing this week’s gas bill for. I’ve included two ideasone for a more limited budget, and one for when it’s payday.

THE PAYDAY PLATE Goat cheese log, drizzled with honey Gruyere Roquefort wedge Prosciutto Apricot preserves Pear slices



should be thin and relatively neutral tasting. Multigrain, sesame or other seeded varieties are good go-to’s.

MINI MOCHA CHEESECAKES Makes: 12 mini cheesecakes | Prep Time: 30 minutes | Cook Time: 35-45 minutes

Cheesecake isn’t as daunting as everyone believes it to be, especially in mini versions. Try these cakes with a mocha spin and you’ll be sure to have everyone hating on your instagram feed.

INGREDIENTS For the ganache 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream 2 tablespoons corn syrup 1 teaspoon vanilla extract For the crust 1 (16-ounce) package oreo cookies 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted For the filling: 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder 1 tablespoon hot water 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature 1 cup sugar 3 large eggs 1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

1. To make the ganache, chop chocolate into small pieces and place in a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until slightly simmering. Pour cream over the chocolate and stir until completely melted. Stir in the corn syrup and vanilla. Let it cool for 20 minutes. 2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place cookies in a food processor and grind to coarse crumbs. (You can always use a good ol’ fashioned ziploc and pound with a heavy object). Pour in melted butter and stir. Grease a muffin tin with cooking spray and press the cookie mixture into the bottoms of each hole, making a 1/3 inch crust. 3. To make the filling, combine espresso powder with the water in a small bowl. In a large bowl or stand mixer, combine cream cheese, sugar, salt, and espresso and beat together on medium-high speed. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour the cream cheese mixture evenly over the crusts, leaving room at the top for the ganache. 4. Bake the cakes for 35-45 minutes or until they resist a wiggle when you move the oven rack. Cool for 20 minutes. 5. Pour an even layer of ganache on top of the cheesecakes, covering the cheesecake. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours and serve to the hungry beasts (AKA Your friends).

DREAMY WHITE MAC ‘N’ CHEESE WITH CRISPY PROSCIUTTO Makes: 10 servings | Prep Time: 30 minutes | Cook Time: 25 minutes

I totally admit, this sounds so labor intensive and fancy but I swear it is one of the most amazing dishes I’ve ever made. Nothing can destroy you when you have crispy prosciutto topping a glorious mountain of creamy mac.

INGREDIENTS For the mac 1 14.5-oz box medium shell pasta Cheese sauce (recipe below) 8 ounces prosciutto 1/2 cup gorgonzola cheese, crumbled 1/2 cup italian seasoned panko breadcrumbs For the cheese sauce 4 cups milk 2 cups heavy cream 1 chicken bouillon cube 2 cloves garlic, crushed 1 teaspoon salt 6 tablespoons butter 9 tablespoons flour 1-1/2 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese 1-1/2 cups grated monterey jack cheese 1-1/2 cups grated asiago cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a large 9x13” dish. 2. In a saute pan over medium-high heat, cook slices of prosciutto until crispy (like bacon!). 3. Cook pasta according to package directions and make cheese sauce (recipe below). Add drained pasta to the cheese sauce and gently stir to combine. Pour into dish and sprinkle gorgonzola and panko breadcrumbs over the top. 4. Place the dish into the oven to bake for about 25 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and gooey, and the breadcrumb topping is golden and crispy. 5. Serve immediately. Be forewarned, making this will be one of the best decisions you might make all year. Perhaps your life, even.


1. Add milk, cream, bouillon, garlic, salt and pepper into a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stir to combine and then turn off heat. 2. While the milk is coming to a simmer, place a large pot over medium-low heat, and add the butter. Once melted, add in the flour by the tablespoon, and stir to combine to form the “roux”, or thickener, for the sauce. Allow to cook for about 1 minute to cook out the raw flour taste. 3. Next, slowly pour the hot milk mixture into the roux, quickly whisking to avoid lumps from forming. You are making what is called a bechamel. 4. Allow the mixture to come to a simmer for about 2-3 minutes, whisking occasionally, to thicken the sauce. 5. Turn the heat off and add the grated cheeses into the cream sauce and stir until melted.

DINNERS THAT WILL GET YOU LAID What to make when you want to impress someone so much, you will be naked by dessert. I would not suggest cooking for a first date if you’re a total newbie to cooking, but I would definitely suggest these dinners for a date when you know you want to get lucky after. They are simple and easy, yet impressive and delicious. You want your date to think you know what you’re doing in the kitchen (among other rooms of the house), and you can be sure that these recipes have been proven effective. The first time I made dinner for my boyfriend, I asked him if there was anything he wouldn’t eat. He responded with “squash” by the time zucchini was already in the pan. He tried it out of politeness, but now we’re cooking up asparagus and broccoli on the daily. If you want to get to know someone better, I believe cooking for and with them is the best way- even if it’s just yellow squash.

CHICKEN PARMESAN WITH CREAMY TOMATO SAUCE Makes: 4 servings | Cook time: 35 minutes

A quick, homemade tomato sauce that doesn’t come from a jar? Crazy, right? This not-so-boring chicken parm will have your date swooning over the presentation and flavor.

INGREDIENTS ¼ cup pancetta, cubed (Italian-style baconit is amazing) 1 clove garlic, minced 1-28 oz. can whole tomatoes ½ tsp oregano ¼ teaspoon thyme ¼ teaspoon rosemary ½ teaspoon salt ¼ cup red wine ¼ cup heavy cream 2 chicken breasts, sliced in half lengthwise ¾ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded ¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated Parsley, for garnish

1. In a large skillet, cook pancetta until slightly crisp over medium heat. Add garlic and stir until fragrant. Add whole can of tomatoes, crushing with your hands into smaller pieces. Add seasonings and wine. Cover with lid and cook for 20 minutes. 2. Turn heat down slightly. Add cream and stir. Gently press chicken into the sauce, cover skillet with the lid and cook for another 15 minutes. 3. Turn your oven on to broil. Remove the lid, top chicken breasts with cheese and broil for 5-6 minutes or until cheese is melted and slightly brown. 4. Plate chicken with a parsley garnish and serve with pasta and fresh vegetables such as steamed broccoli. Don’t forget the wine!



QUINOA CAKES & ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS Makes: About 8 patties | Prep Time: 15

These elegant, savory patties are the perfect alternative to the sports bar date night. Wait, who is going to a sports bar for date night?

INGREDIENTS For the brussels sprouts 1 cup brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half 2 tablespoons olive oil Salt & Pepper For the quinoa cakes 1/2 cup quinoa, cooked and cooled 1 large egg Salt & pepper 1/4 cup white onion, diced 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese 1 cloves garlic, minced 1/3 cup bread crumbs, plus more if needed 2 tablespoons olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. To trim brussels sprouts, cut bottom stalk off (about ¼”) and then slice lengthwise in half. Dress with olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes, or until soft and slightly golden around the edges. 2. In a medium bowl, combine quinoa, eggs, salt & pepper, onion, parmesan, garlic, green onions (if desired) and bread crumbs. Let sit for 5 minutes. 3. Take a small handful, about ¼ cup, of mixture into the palm of your hand. Flatten by pressing gently until you get a patty about 1/2 inch thick. 4. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat and add 4 patties. Cook for 7 to 10 minutes on each side or until the bottoms are deeply browned. Remove from skillet and let cool on a wire rack while you cook the remaining patties. 5. To serve, stack 3 patties and serve with a side of dipping sauce and roasted brussels sprouts.

AIOLI Stir together 3 tablespoons mayo, 2 cloves finely minced garlic, 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon salt until you get a runny, dippable, garlicky and delicious sauce. Add more lemon juice if sauce seems too thick. This sauce is good for everythingfrench fries, eggs, roasted vegetables, quinoa cakes... see what I did there?


Even if you’re a little wary about making fish for dinner, the great thing about tilapia is that it is super cheap, has a mild flavor, and is a healthy alternative to other meats.

BAKED TILAPIA WITH LEMON AND ASPARAGUS Serves: 2 | Prep Time: 5 minutes | Cook Time: 15 minutes

Fish is impressive and romantic- if you want to stay on a budget but appear like you know what you’re doing, try cooking your fish in a parchment paper packet. It’s like unwrapping a present for dinner! Serve with rice or another side.

INGREDIENTS 2 tilapia filets ½ pound asparagus, edges trimmed 1 lemon, zested and juiced 4 tablespoons butter, divided Dry white wine (such as Chardonnay) 2 cloves garlic, minced Salt & Pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. 2. Using the diagram below, cut 2 sheets of parchment paper in a heart shape and fold in half (diagram below). Arrange on a baking sheet. Place tilapia on one side of the heart and top each fillet with half of the asparagus, 2 tablespoons butter, a splash of white wine, ½ of the lemon juice and zest, garlic, and salt and pepper. 3. Fold over the heart. Starting at the rounded top, fold over ¼” of the paper towards you in order to seal the fish inside. When you get to the bottom of the heart, fold the opposite way (the bottom of the fish packet) in order to secure the fold. 4. Bake fish packets for 15 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before opening the packet as the wine has created steam that could burn you; not ideal before date night. 5. Serve with rice and a glass of wine. Enjoy!

EN PAPILLOTE The French made up this fancy name to describe something ‘baked in parchment’. How original, right? Be sure to use parchment paper and avoid using waxed paper or aluminum foil.

PARSLEY PESTO Makes: 2 cups | Prep time: 10 minutes

Large quantities of basil can get kind of pricey, so try parsley instead! This dinner is super cheap and tastes much fresher than the store-bought options.

INGREDIENTS 2 cups Italian parsley ¼ cup slivered almonds 1 clove garlic 1 tablespoon lemon juice ¼ cup parmesan cheese ⅓ cup olive oil Salt & Pepper, to taste

1. In a blender or food processor, combine parsley, almonds, garlic, lemon juice, and parmesan cheese and blend until smooth. 2. With the blender still on, slowly stream in olive oil. Feel free to adjust more or less olive oil to reach a desired consistency. 3. Toss with hot pasta and serve with fresh bread and extra parmesan cheese. If you’re feeling extra fancy, you can lightly toast extra almonds over medium heat until fragrant to garnish this pasta.

VARIATIONS ON PESTO Basil and parsley aren’t the only herbs that have real estate on pesto. Try these other varieties to find your favorites. Spread on anything and everything. Sun Dried Tomato








WITH ROASTED BROCCOLI AND CAULIFLOWER Serves: 2 | Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook time: 30 minutes

Steak is just one of those dinners that just seems to charm the pants right off. It says, “Hey, I spent some money on you and want you to eat a well balanced meal because I care about your nutrition.” Or something like that…

INGREDIENTS For the steak 2 8-oz steaks (ribeye or NY strip works best) 3 cloves garlic, crushed 3 tablespoons olive oil Salt & pepper For the vegetables ½ white onion, sliced into half moons 2 tablespoons butter 1 tsp sugar 1 cup cauliflower, broken into bite size pieces 1 cup broccoli, broken into bite size pieces Olive oil, Salt & Pepper 1 clove garlic, crushed 1 tablespoon lemon juice 2 tablespoons tahini

1. Melt butter in a saute pan over medium-low heat. Add onions and sugar. (Instructions on caramelizing onions in Big Girl Grilled Cheese) 2. In a ziploc, combine steaks, 2 tablespoons of garlic, olive oil and salt and pepper. Set on the counter for 20 minutes. 3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Toss cauliflower and broccoli with olive oil (about 3 tablespoons) and Salt & Pepper. Spread out on a baking sheet and roast for 25-30 minutes, or until softened and golden brown. 4. Preheat oven to 425°F. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a saute pan over medium high heat. Wet your fingers with water and flick a small amount onto the pan; if it spatters back, the pan is hot enough. Lay the steaks onto the pan gently and quickly- be careful because you will get a lot of noise and steam. Sear each side for 3-5 minutes, but only flip it once. Move steaks to the oven and bake for 5-8 minutes. 5. In a small bowl, combine garlic, lemon juice and tahini. Arrange the caramelized onions within the broccoli and cauliflower in a serving dish. Drizzle with tahini dressing and serve with steak. Enjoy!

DRUNK OFF DESSERT Sweets so easy, your lady tequila can even help you. If you’ve been in the liquor store lately (and I know you were there last night), you might find that flavors like cheesecake, red velvet and pink lemonade are lining the shelves. These bottles of liquid nonsense should never have left the shame cave they came from. I get things like blueberry beer or even caramel Bailey’s Irish Cream, but how the hell can you infuse a sugar cookie into vodka? You don’t. The idea isn’t that these desserts should be consumed with alcohol or even have alcohol in them. The idea is that these desserts are so easy to make, you could whip them up with a margarita in your hand. A glass of pinot or a shot of whisky works just as well. When you get creative with desserts, the better they seem to turn out. So go ahead, that gin and tonic was right when it told you those cookies need more chocolate chips.

While baking, it does make a difference to make sure all of your ingredients are at


(unless stated otherwise) to allow even baking.

CHEESECAKE BROWNIES Makes: 9 squares | Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 45 minutes

To many, cheesecake seems like an impossible endeavor but these decadent brownies take only a few ingredients and put store-bought to shame.

INGREDIENTS For brownies: 1 brownie mix (Go Ghirardelli, I promise you will not regret) 1/3 cup vegetable oil 1/3 cup water 1 egg, room temperature For topping: 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened to room temperature* 1 egg, room temperature 1/3 cup sugar 2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 325°F and spray a 9×9” glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. 2. Mix together brownie mix with oil, water and egg. Pour into baking dish. 3. Using a hand-mixer, whip together cream cheese, egg, sugar and vanilla. Dollop on top of the brownie batter. 4. Using a toothpick, swirl the cream cheese mixture into the brownie batter, creating a marbled effect. It doesn’t have to be completely blended, you should be able to see the swirls! 5. Bake for 45 minutes or until the top cracks (it will settle back down when cooling) and the brownie looks cooked through on the sides 6. Cool for 20 minutes and cut into squares. Good luck getting your friends to keep their hands off of them...

SOFTEN BUTTER, FAST! Setting out butter or cream cheese to come to room temperature will help your ingredients come together better. If you don’t have the hour or two it takes to soften, here are a few tips to speed up the process:

• Cut into cubes to soften in about 30 minutes • Place butter into a small microwave-safe dish. Slowly microwave on the defrost setting in the wrapper, 5 seconds on each side until soft • Put butter into a sealed ziploc bag and place in bowl of warm (not hot!) water for 10 minutes

BERRY PIE BARS Makes: 12 squares | Prep Time: 20 minutes | Cook Time: 35-45

Fresh and summery, these bars are perfect for potlucks and get togethers! Don’t tell your girlfriends how much butter is in them, that’s our secret. Take note that these need to cool for almost an hour before serving, or you can scoop it out immediately and serve with ice cream.

INGREDIENTS Crust and topping 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 3/4 cups sugar 1 1/2 sticks cold, unsalted butter- cut into 1/2 inch cubes Berry Filling 2 large eggs 1 cups sugar 1/2 cup sour cream 1/2 cup flour Zest of 1/2 lemon 1 cup frozen blackberries, thawed and drained 1 cup frozen blueberries, thawed and drained

1. Preheat oven to 350° and grease a 9x9 inch baking dish. 2. Combine flour and sugar in a large bowl. Using a fork (you can use a food processor or pastry cutter if you’re fancy like that), ‘cut’ the butter into the flour mixture. You want a crumbly mixuse your hands if you get impatient. (This is the best way, TBH) 3. Estimate half of the flour mixture and set aside to use for the topping. Press remaining mixture into bottom of the dish, forming a crust. Pre-bake this crust for 12-15 minutes. 4. For the filling, whisk eggs in a large bowl. Add sugar, sour cream, flour, and lemon zest, mixing well after each addition. Gently fold in the berries with a spoon or rubber spatula. 5. Spoon the berry mixture over the crust and sprinkle the remaining flour mixture evenly over the filling. Bake 35-45 minutes or until filling is bubbling and the top crust is golden brown. 6. Cool for 45 minutes and then cut into squares.

FOLD! Because berries can pop easily, delicately incorporate the berries by bringing the bottom batter to the top with a spatula.

STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE ICE CREAM SANDWICHES Makes: 6 sandwiches | Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time: 10 minutes

You can get decent strawberries year-around, but they are exceptional in the summer. Bring back dreams of homework-less summertime with this fresh dessert.

INGREDIENTS For the shortcake 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons Bisquick baking mix ¼ cup milk 2 tablespoons sugar 1 tablespoon butter, melted For the filling 1 cup strawberries, sliced 2 tablespoons sugar 1 pint vanilla ice cream, slightly softened*

1. Preheat oven to 425° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 2. In a medium bowl, mix together all shortcake ingredients. Dough will be sticky and have lumps. Be sure not to overmix. 3. Using a spoon, drop 6 equal sections of dough onto the parchment paper. Don’t worry about them being super perfect- they will bake up into mountains of golden goodness. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool completely 4. To assemble, slice a cooled shortcake in half, widthwise. Layer strawberries and a generous scoop of ice cream. Use the top half of the shortcake to press the sandwich together. Enjoy immediately!

ICE CREAM TIPS Take the ice cream out of the freezer when you put the shortcakes in the oven. In order to handle the ice cream, you need it soft but not melted. If you’d like to make these and store for later, freeze the shortcakes for 5 minutes, build the sandwich and then wrap with plastic wrap. Freeze overnight but let thaw for 10 minutes before serving.

VANILLA CAKE MIX COOKIE WITH LEMON GLAZE FOR THE GLAZE In a small bowl, combine: 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon lemon zest & about ¼ cup powdered sugar



CAKE MIX COOKIES Makes: About a dozen cookies | Prep

Any cake mix can turn into any type of cookie. Seriously. This recipe works across the board, with all brands so feel free to mix and match types!

INGREDIENTS 1 boxed cake mix, any flavor or brand ⅓ cup water ⅓ cup oil 1 egg

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. 2. Mix all ingredients together until just combined. Dough will be slightly sticky, but make sure all cake mix has been incorporated. Using a spoon, drop balls of dough onto a parchmentlined baking sheet. Bake for 7-10 minutes or until golden brown. If you are working with chocolate, press on the tops for doneness. It is cooked through when it isn’t mushy to the touch.

BANANAS FOSTER DONUTS Makes: 5 donuts | Prep Time: 30 minutes

Donuts are the new cupcake. Yes, I’ve said it. This donut is so damn decadent, you need a fork. Yes dammit, you need a fork.

INGREDIENTS For the sauce ¼ cup (½ stick) butter 1/3 cup brown sugar ¼ cup heavy cream ¼ cup rum 2 bananas For the donuts: 5 Pillsbury Grands! biscuits Vegetable oil Like nuts in your bananas foster? Feel free to add chopped pecans or walnuts into the sauce before serving.

1. Preheat a medium saute pan over medium heat. Butter can burn quickly, so be sure to place butter in pan after it has gotten hot. After the butter has melted, add brown sugar and heavy cream. Let simmer for 10 minutes. 2. Add rum. This step is optional, but gives the sauce a much more developed flavor. Tilt your pan slightly and put the lighter next to the rum to light it on fire. The flame should die down in about 30 seconds. Yo, unless you have fire. You don’t want fire. 3. Add bananas and turn down the heat. Cook through for 10 minutes. 4. Fill a small pot with vegetable oil until the depth of the oil is about an inch thick. Let oil get hot over medium-low heat. It is ready when you flick a small amount of water into the oil and it sputters back. 5. Using a tall shot glass, cut a donut hole out of the middle of the biscuit. A plastic soda cap works well too! Just be sure to leave about an inch around. Place 1 biscuit at a time into the oil. Be sure to include the donut holes!


These snacks are made for gossipin’, and that’s just what they’ll [make] you do I love cooking for my girlfriends, because I love the “OMG Rachel this is soooo good!”. Yeah, that was a totally bitchy confession, but cooking for my friends is my passion. Watching conversation bloom over homemade treats is so worth the hour it took to make them. Since I announced my cookbook endeavor, people have come to me with their food stories and have posted recipes on my Facebook timeline. I really love when I get to talk about food with my friends. These recipes are for the times when we all get together, drink wine and scream about anything and everything. They’re in small portions (so you won’t have to worry about too many plates) and are the perfect hold over before you head out to the best AYCD deal. Cheers to friends and tasty treats!

BLANCHING TOMATOES Bring pot of water to boil and prepare a bath of ice water in the sink. Place tomatoes in boiling water for 1 minute and then immediately transfer to ice bath. Skins should be easy to pull off!

CROSTINI PARTY Serves: About 4 hungry girls | Prep time: 20 minutes

Do you love carbs? I’m sure your friends do too. Host a crostini party with these three topping recipes and invite your friends to bring along their favorite toppings for toasty, Italian baguettes.

BASIC CROSTINI • 1 loaf crusty Italian baguette, sliced into 1/2” thick slices • Olive oil 1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place slices of bread onto a baking sheet in one layer. Drizzle both sides of bread slices with olive oil. 2. Bake bread slices for 4 minutes. Flip slices and bake for 5 minutes, or until golden brown. If desired, rub a clove of garlic on the bread for extra flavor. 3. These babies are ready for toppings!


• 2 plum tomatoes, blanched, de-seeded and chopped • 10 basil leaves, sliced into thin strips (chiffonade) • 1 tablespoons olive oil • 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar • Salt & pepper • Parmesan cheese Combine all ingredients and let stand for 15 minutes. Top crostini with spoonfuls of bruschetta and garnish with parmesan cheese.


1 generous smear of cream cheese + 1 spoonful parsley-almond pesto (Find the Parsley-Almond Pesto Recipe here or find pre made pesto in your grocery store)

SHARP CHEDDAR AND APPLE 1 slice sharp cheddar cheese + 1 thinly sliced apple + 1 drizzle honey

GREEK VEGGIE DIP Makes: About 2 cups | Prep Time: 12 minutes

This dip is fresh, tangy and super satisfying. Most creamy dips can bring on the calories, but plain greek yogurt allows for (somewhat) guilt-free snacking.

INGREDIENTS 5.3 oz plain greek yogurt (Chobani’s individual cup size) 8 oz feta cheese 3 lemon juice 1 tablespoon fresh dill, plus more for garnish 1 clove garlic Salt & pepper, to taste 1 roma tomato, chopped 1 small cucumber, de-seeded and cubed

1. In a medium bowl, whip together greek yogurt, 6 oz feta cheese (reserve 2 oz for topping), lemon juice, garlic powder and salt & pepper. 2. Spoon half of the yogurt mixture into your serving dish. Layer half of the tomato, cucumber and olives. Repeat layers with the rest of the ingredients. Top with the rest of the feta cheese and dill. Enjoy with pita, pretzel thins, or crackers!

BEER BATTERED ASPARAGUS Serves: 3-4 hungry drunks | Prep time: 30

You won’t even know you’re eating your veggies when they are drenched in beer and flour and then deep fried... oh wait...

INGREDIENTS Vegetable oil for deep frying 1 pound asparagus 1 cup beer 1 cup flour 1 tsp baking powder 1 tablespoon lemon zest 1 teaspoon garlic powder 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon pepper

1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, pour enough oil to come up about two inches from the bottom of the pan. 2. Trim bottoms of asparagus by chopping off about 1” from the bottom. 3. In a shallow dish, combine flour, lemon zest, garlic powder, salt and pepper. While whisking, slowly pour in beer and whisk until smooth. 4. Dip asparagus into the batter and let excess batter drip back into the dish. Carefully drop asparagus into the oil and let fry until golden brown. If you don’t hear any frying noises, or if the asparagus immediately sinks to the bottom, turn up the heat slightly. Do not add more asparagus until it is frying at the right temperature. Also, the more asparagus you add, the temperature of the oil will become lower, so only fry 4-5 at the same time. 5. Remove asparagus with tongs. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and allow asparagus to drip excess oil onto the towel. Keep asparagus in a warm oven to keep them hot while you work. 6. Serve with Lemon-Garlic Aioli as found in Little Quinoa Cakes. See if you can wait long enough for them to cool down.

POPCORN WITH LEMON AND PARMESAN Serves: 1 | Prep Time: 5 minutes

I think a lot of people really forget about popcorn until they get to the movies and mindlessly pay exorbitant prices for a bag of butter. Skip that BS and pop your own bag; it makes for a super delicious and very low calorie snack.

INGREDIENTS 1 mini bag of plain microwave popcorn 2 tablespoons olive oil Zest from 1 lemon 3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese 1 teaspoon garlic salt Cracked fresh pepper

1. In a medium bowl, combine zest, cheese, garlic salt, and pepper. 2. Pop popcorn according to microwave directions. When the bag is finished popping, immediately open bag, drizzle in the olive oil, pour into the bowl and toss with seasonings. 3. Toss popcorn with a spatula or place another bowl upside down on top and shake to coat popcorn with seasoning. Enjoy with a chick flick and your best friends.

SUN DRIED TOMATO HUMMUS Makes: 2 cups | Prep time: 10 minutes

Hummus is traditionally made with garbanzo beans, but white beans (or cannellini beans) are slightly milder, letting the sun dried tomatoes take center stage.

INGREDIENTS 1-15.5 oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained 1 tablespoon tahini 1 clove garlic Âź cup lemon juice â…“ cup jarred sun dried tomatoes, packed in oil Parsley to garnish

1. In a food processor or blender, blend all ingredients together for 6 minutes or until silky smooth. If needed, use the sun dried tomato oil to thin out your hummus. 2. Garnish with additional sun dried tomatoes and parsley. Serve with pita chips or crackers.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to thank‌ MY MOTHER, SUSAN, for chocolate chip cookies EMILY, for knowing when to get out of the kitchen DAVID, for eating anything and everything ANNE STAGG, for being an incredible advisor ISABELLA, for letting me teach you how to cook MY FRIENDS, for letting me feed them ADOBE, for cleaning the floor FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY

Stupid Good: A Shut Up and Cook Book  

'Stupid Good' is a free eCookbook for 20-somethings who burn Ramen Noodles. For those who say they cannot, I invite you to shut up and cook.

Stupid Good: A Shut Up and Cook Book  

'Stupid Good' is a free eCookbook for 20-somethings who burn Ramen Noodles. For those who say they cannot, I invite you to shut up and cook.