Fast Fancy Finals Food: Pesto Pasta Salad

Every year as finals roll around I find that I have to sacrifice delicious food to get my study on! So, I have developed some fast but fancy finals food that takes less time but I still love eating! This pesto pasta salad tastes like summer- which is just the delicious motivation I needed to get through finals.


  • Pasta
  • Pesto
  • Craisins
  • Goat Cheese, Mozzarella, Parmesan


Pick a pasta, and make it as directed. Strain pasta and then put it back in the pot. Mix in pesto (mine defrosted from when I made it last summer- ingredients below), a handful of craisins, crumbled goat cheese, and mozzarella. Stir pasta until cheese is melted, and pour it in the bowl (sprinkle parmesan to taste).

Pesto Ingredients:

  • 4 cups fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 2-4 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Enjoy- And Good luck with finals!!


No-Chicken Chicken Nuggets – Seitan (Wheat Meat)

Gluten warning! (If you are gluten intolerant, please do not try this recipe out; seitan is definitely not gluten free).

So, Seitan – also known as wheat meat. Seitan is basically wheat gluten (the protein that makes bread chewy). In itself, it is pretty flavorless, but it is definitely good for when you want something that has a bite to it. Seitan might also be where vegetarian/vegan food get a bad reputation (along with tofu, which I also thoroughly enjoy). The wrong brand of gluten sometimes has an off flavor, the texture might be really strange, and it might not be worth the hassle. This wheat meat, however, is very light but packs a lot of protein and also a lot of B-vitamins due to the nutritional yeast. What is this nutritional yeast? (I buy both of these in bulk online – pretty affordable). Nutritional yeast is a bit different from, although the same species, as Baker’s yeast and Brewer’s yeast. This yeast has been deactivated. It contains a lot of B vitamins – especially B12 (which is a little hard to get from plants). This gives the nuggets that savoriness and adds a nice complexity to the taste. The recipe below is for approximately 70 nuggets and only 3 ingredients (maybe 4 if you include flour for coating). You can make these as big as you want, flavor them however you want, and cook them any way you want.

Basic seitan


2 cups of vital wheat gluten/gluten flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill (I’m not endorsed by them), but I found that their final product does not have that off flavor I was talking about). You can also add a little bit of this to your next bread and it’ll come out even better!

1/2 cup of nutritional yeast

about 1.5 cup of vegetable broth (I do this through bouillon, but you can definitely use your own or use different types of vegetable stock)

(Flavor these however you like; you can add poultry seasoning, soy sauce, vegan worcestershire sauce, etc…)

-You will also need an addition 6 cups of stock to cook the nuggets in. You can also change the flavor of the stock to change the taste of your seitan. This basic recipe will be delicious regardless. *Heat this while you are making the nuggets!


All you have to do is mix the dry (the vital wheat gluten and the nutritional yeast) and then add the stock. Form a dough and break off little balls (a little smaller than golf ball size). The dough should not be very wet, but should still be a little tacky. Very easy!!

Drop these into simmering vegetable stock (again, flavored as you would like) and simmer for 30 minutes. In this time, they will expand a little. At the end of 30 minutes, drain.

While this is simmering, preheat the oven to 350F.


When these are drained, coat them with some seasoned flour or bread crumbs. When all coated, place onto a lined baking sheet and then bake for 30 minutes. If you are going to coat these with sauce, I would recommend flour. If you are going to eat as is, I would recommend bread crumbs).

When finished baking, you can coat these with sauce. If you want to save some for the future, this would be the time to put them into a ziploc or a plastic container and freeze them. I baked mine with flour and then coated it with some honey barbecue sauce, and they were awesome! These are great anytime!


This recipe is highly versatile, and you can treat these as you would any other type of nugget. If you want something a little sinful, you can even fry these!

Mug Cake in a Microwave

The thing about living by myself is that I find it hard to control portions when baking for one. When I freeze batter, I forget about it. When I make a full recipe, I never finish it despite gifting some to friends. When I halve recipes, it’s still too much for me. So I absolutely love microwave recipes! This mug cake recipe is one of my all-time favorites because all the ingredients are pantry staples and the recipe is so versatile– add your favorite fruits/chocolates/nuts to the batter and top with any frostings.

Ingredients (adapted from Averie Cooks):
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons coconut sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Add all ingredients in a bowl and mix until just combined. Pour batter into a greased mug about 1/3 to 1/2 of the way (depending on the size of your mug).
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Microwave on high for 60-90 seconds. Keep a close eye while the mug cake is in the microwave to make sure it fully cooks and doesn’t overflow.
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I topped my mug cake with a simple Nutella cream cheese frosting. So delicious and satisfied my craving in one go, no leftovers to worry about!
Processed with VSCOcam with a6 presetHappy baking!

Sautéed Zucchini?


You don’t like zucchini? I didn’t either. But zucchini is one of those vegetables that you can do anything with and you can find something that will make you happy.

IMG_7126     One of the things you can do is add herbs to help the taste. I tried frying this zucchini with…wait for it…mint! And it tasted great!

IMG_7127     All you need is some mint leaves, salt and pepper to taste. This is a great and quick addition to any pasta dinner that needs some more life/nutrients. Make a lot in one go and leave the rest in the fridge for the week.


Mint Zucchini

1 large zucchini

5 mint leaves

Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Pour a thin layer of olive oil and mint leaves into a large skillet and heat on medium. While this heats up, chop up the zucchini into thin round slices. When the oil is hot, add in the zucchini. Add salt and pepper to your preference. Check the zucchini bottoms for browning, and flip to get the other sides cooked. Serve warm. If you want, you can leave of the mint.

Just because you’re in college doesn’t mean you have to eat poorly! Keep the essentials of the food pyramid in your diet whenever you can – and if zucchini doesn’t do it for you, try broccoli or cauliflower instead.

Simply Decadent – Chocolate Mousse

After a long day at school, for maybe thirty minutes, I would stare at my cabinet debating between making a meal or using that box of mac and cheese and then end up eating the mac and cheese anyway. The reality is that there are days when you just don’t want to cook, let alone make a dessert. Sometimes you just want something simple and delicious. If you’re like me, you’ll also want something chocolatey.

This chocolate mousse is made up of three components (the chocolate custard, the whipped egg whites, and the whipped cream)

You will need:

Chocolate custard:

3 oz of chocolate (any chocolate you like, I used 1 oz of 72% cocoa and 2 oz of milk chocolate) chopped

1/4 cup of heavy cream (can use milk, but add 1 tbsp of butter at the end)

2 tbsp granulated sugar

A pinch of salt

1 egg yolk (save the egg white)

Whipped Egg White (*RAW EGG ALERT: omit this step if you don’t want raw eggs – double the whipped cream):

1 egg white (save from the custard)

Whipped cream:

1/4 cup of heavy cream

2 tbsp of granulated sugar

1/4 tsp of vanilla

Although this dish has three parts, it really only has about 6 ingredients.

Chocolate Custard

For the chocolate custard, you will need to combine the heavy cream and sugar in a small saucepot and heat over a medium-low heat until the cream is steaming a little. While that is happening, put the egg yolk into a bowl.

When the cream is steaming, slowly pour the milk into the egg while whisking vigorously. When the egg and cream are mixed, pour the mixture back into the saucepot and heat until slightly thickened.


Once thickened, add the chocolate and salt. When the chocolate has been fully incorporated, place into a large bowl and set aside. If you didn’t have heavy cream, this is when you mix in the butter.

Whipped Egg White 

Using a mixer or a whisk, beat the egg white until stiff peaks form.

Whipped Cream

In another bowl, whip the cream and sugar until stiff peaks form. Mix in the vanilla.


For the egg white and cream, I whipped them in a mug using a whisk and a making a motion as you would with a plastic toy propeller.


When done, fold the whipped cream into the custard to lighten it up. Once that is incorporated, fold in the egg whites. If you didn’t use the egg whites, divide the whipped cream into two and incorporate in two steps. This is to prevent all the air from leaving.

Pour into glassware of your choice. I used a couple of martini glasses and added blackberries to the top of the mousse. Serve chilled.

All in all, this dessert takes maybe 20 minutes from start to finish – a quick dessert that tastes like you spent hours.

And in the Morning… “We’re Making Waffles!”

This past week Carmen and I met at my parents’ house in Massachusetts and offered to make brunch for my parents and their neighbor. So we pulled out my mom’s old waffle iron and played with this Belgium Waffle recipe we found at “Taste Of Home.” After figuring out the finesse of the waffle iron, we made some very tasty waffles with a bunch of different toppings (fresh fruit, chocolate chips, homemade raspberry jam whipped cream, and cookie butter). Check out the recipes! (photos by the wonderful Carmen)

Waffle Ingredients (we doubled the recipe):

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 eggs, separated 
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1) In a bowl, combine flour, sugar and baking powder. In another bowl, lightly beat egg yolks. Add milk, butter and vanilla; mix well. Stir into dry ingredients just until combined. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; fold into batter.
2) Bake in a preheated waffle iron according to manufacturer’s directions until golden brown. Serve with strawberries or syrup. Yields about 10 waffles (about 4-1/2 inches).


Homemade raspberry jam whipped cream ingredients:

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons (ish) of raspberry jam (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon of confectioners sugar (to taste)


Mix sugar and jam into the whipping cream. Once it is thoroughly mixed, whip the cream until it reaches stiff peaks. I got this idea from a friend of mine and it is delicious; the jam makes a great flavor but the whipped cream isn’t too sweet!


Peanut Butter & Jelly Cookies

Peanut butter & jelly is always a winning combo, even in cookies! These are my go-to cookies to make because they’re basically foolproof. If you’re not a fan of jelly, the batter is still a nice peanut butter-y base for any other add-ins– chocolate, nuts, marshmallows, etc!

Ingredients (adapted from SORTED):
7 tablespoons softened or melted butter
1 cup coconut sugar
1 3/4 cup flour (I used 3/4 parts white whole wheat flour and 1/4 part all purpose flour)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
~3 tablespoons peanut butter (to your liking, basically)
Your favorite jelly

Preheat the over to 350 degrees. First, cream the butter and sugar together. Once combined, add one egg. Mix evenly and add the other egg. Mix again!
Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset(Note: I halved the recipe for myself, so the batter looks like a small amount in these photos)

Next, mix the flour, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl. Add the dry ingredients in increments to the batter. Once the dry ingredients and batter are just combined, stir in the peanut butter. The batter may start to get really sticky and hard to mix but don’t be afraid to use your hands at this point 🙂
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Then cover the batter and place in refrigerator for 30 minutes MINIMUM (if left up to overnight, let the batter sit for ~15 minutes to warm up before assembling and baking). This makes it easier to handle the batter and prevents the cookies from expanding too much while in the oven.

After 30 minutes, form ~1 inch scoops of batter and place on parchment-lined baking pan. Make an indent in the center of the cookie with your finger, and scoop jelly into the well. Bake cookies for 12 minutes.
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I love how soft and chewy these cookies come out, with just the perfect golden crunchy crust!

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