Carbonara alla Sarah

Last semester I had two foreign exchange roommates from Italy, which by itself was pretty awesome. Only trumped by the fact that my two Italian roommates happened to be two amazing Italian cooks. One dish that they made time and time again for lunch was Spaghetti ala Carbonara. This dish is probably one of the easiest pasta dishes I have come across while still full of flavor.



3 eggs-beaten

½ cup parmesan


4 slices of bacon

1 clove of garlic

Salt and pepper

Pinch of Lawry’s seasoning salt.

Olive oil

1 table-spoon heave cream



First bring 4 cups of salted water to a boil in a 5 quart pot over high heat. Adding a little drizzle of olive oil to make sure the pasta doesn’t stick.

While the pasta is cooking grab a medium bowl and beat your eggs, heavy cream, garlic and parmesan together until creamy adding a little pepper and Lawry’s to taste and set aside.

Place a medium pan over medium heat and cook the bacon until crispy, making sure to drain the fat from the pan when finished. Place the bacon on a paper towel covered plate to drain the fat until cooled and then chop into bite size pieces.

Once pasta is tender, drain the water and pour the pasta into the pan you used to cook the bacon on low heat. Pour the egg mixture over immediately, while the pasta is still hot, and stir until the egg mixture thickens. Once the egg sauce is cooked and coating the pasta remove to a medium bowl and sprinkle your chopped bacon over the top with some extra parmesan and serve.


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Artichoke and mushroom stuffed tomatoes with parmesan

One of my favorite appetizers to make for family or friends is stuffed tomatoes. They have that bitter acidity from the tomatoes shell with a sweet and creamy filling topped with salty parmesan. For this dish, I usually make the filling in a food processor, but if you don’t have one you can always just chop or blend all the filling ingredients together.

You will need:


½ cup of artichoke hearts- canned or in glass container

½ cup breadcrumbs

½ cup Parmesan cheese

½ cup of white mushrooms

2 cloves of garlic

Salt and pepper

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

6 vine ripened tomatoes- halved and gutted


Total cost: $15


The first thing you want to do is preheat your oven to 400 degrees to make sure your oven is hot and ready when it is time to start baking your tomatoes. Next, take your tomatoes from the fridge and rinse them off before slicing them into halves vertically. Make sure to try to get the halves as even as possible, and then scoop out the seeds and insides with a spoon, leaving just the shell. Next, grab your baking sheet and line it with aluminum foil. Drizzle some olive oil on the foil-lined pan, making sure to coat the entire sheet.

Now it is time to make the filling, which is very easy. You simply need to put the breadcrumbs, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, garlic, salt, pepper, parmesan and olive oil into the food processor and pulse until smooth and creamy. Once the filling is at the right consistency grab a spoon and start filling your tomato shells. Once all the tomatoes are stuffed and placed on the baking sheet sprinkle a little more parmesan cheese over the top with a drizzle of olive oil. This will ensure that the cheese gets nice and golden brown when it melts over the top of the tomatoes.

Finally, place your stuffed tomatoes into the 400 degree oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Then share this delicious treat with your friends, or enjoy snacking on it while studying for a big exam!

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Loaded Nachos

For some unknown reason it seems restaurants are always lacking in the nacho department. They are either not made with real cheese or, God forbid, the restaurant doesn’t have guacamole and then the nachos are inedible, at least to me. So I decided to make loaded nachos with all my favorite things including real cheese and tons of guacamole.

Ingredients for this delicacy include:

1 bag of tortilla chips

1 jar of salsa

1 jar of pico de’gallo

guacamole recipe is on my previous post titled: Taco Time

1 lb ground beef

1 packet of McCormick taco seasoning

1 white onions diced

1 garlic clove- minced

7-8 cherry tomatoes diced

3 green onions diced

1 bag of  the 4 Mexican cheese blend

Total price: $20

Serving size 5-6 people

First pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees and put your chips in an oven safe dish. Then sprinkle cheese, green onion, onion, and garlic all over the chips. Do not use all of the garlic and onion mixture because you want to save some to put on raw as well. Bake chips for ten minutes or until the cheese has melted all the way.

While the cheese is melting start browning your ground beef. Put a pound of meat in a skillet over medium heat, stirring every few minutes until all the meat has browned. One cooked through drain the fat, add ¾ cup of water and your taco seasoning and mix evenly until all the meat has been coated.

Take your chips out of the oven and pour the salsa, pico de’gallo, the rest of your garlic and onion mixture, and fresh chopped tomatoes on top. Sprinkle on some more cheese and then pour you’re hot meat evenly onto the chips to melt the cheese you just sprinkled on. Last but not least, spoon on your guacamole for the finishing touch and you have my version of loaded nachos.

Disclaimer: These will get messy, so don’t be afraid to grab a fork or just have a napkin handy! Enjoy!

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Chicken Parmesan

One of my earliest memories from my childhood is sitting on the kitchen counter watching my parents cook. I remember being enamored with all the different spices and aromas that wafted out of the pots and pans on the stove into my nostrils. Usually before my parents were done cooking, my nose would be halfway down the pan and my parents had to drag me away for fear of burning myself. Because this is such a fond memory of mine, this spring break I went home and I decided to help with the cooking instead of just watching my parents. One of the easiest and most delicious types of food to make is Italian, so we decided to make a delectable Chicken Parmesan that could easily be replicated for college students on a budget.


First you will:

1 jar of tomato sauce, whichever u prefer

1 lb of boneless, skinless, chicken breasts

4 cups of olive oil

1 package of mozzarella cheese slices

3 eggs, beaten

Tablespoon of milk

Breadcrumbs, enough to fill a medium bowl

1 box of pasta

Flour, enough to fill a medium bowl

Before you start assembling your chicken, be sure to put two pots and two pans on the stove. In one pot put about 4 cups of water, a little drizzle of olive oil, some salt, and bring to a boil. In the next pot put your jar of tomato sauce over medium to low heat to warm. In the first pan add your 4 cups of olive oil over high heat to fry the chicken. In the last pan put a drizzle of olive oil over low heat to keep all your chicken warm while the rest cooks and to help melt the cheese topping.

Next grab three medium size bowls and put them out in front of you like an assembly line. In one bowl add your flour, in the second add your well-beaten eggs and milk, and in the third your breadcrumbs.

After taking your chicken out of its packaging, wash it thoroughly, cut off any excess fat, then dip it in each bowl in order, making sure to coat both sides evenly. Then put into your hot pan filled with hot oil. Let the chicken sit for about ten minutes or until golden brown, depending on the thickness, then flip. Once flipped, top the chicken with one slice of cheese and wait till the other side browns up. Once both sides are golden and crispy transfer to the pan on low heat until ready to serve.

While the chicken is browning add your pasta to the boiling pot of water and cook for about 8 minutes or until tender.

Once your pasta is cooked, your sauce is hot, and your chicken is golden brown and topped with the melted cheese, transfer to separate serving dishes and enjoy a classic homemade Italian dinner.

This dish also goes great paired with my homemade Caesar Salad featured earlier in my blog, which is exactly what my family and I had with it this past Friday!

Remember, this dish isn’t just simple, it’s affordable too!

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Spinach Basil Pasta Salad

The other day I went to lunch with a friend at a little place near the Arizona State University campus, called Pita Jungle. While you would expect the food to be mainly pitas, they also have an array of healthy dishes ranging from pastas to salads. One salad in particular, the spinach pasta salad, was so delicious I could not resist recreating it at home for myself. This dish can be made easily with ingredients you have on hand in the fridge. Also, don’t be afraid to substitute any vegetables or add more.

This salad is great for a quick snack before class or if you’re in the mood for an easy dinner. It’s simple, inexpensive and if you fall in love with it like I did you will want to make it over and over!

Ingredients for salad-

3 white mushrooms- diced

1 yellow or orange pepper-diced

2 cups of baby spinach

2 cups rigatoni pasta

1 tomato- sliced

Ingredients for dressing-

1 clove garlic

2 cups fresh basil leaves

1 tbs lemon juice

5 tbs olive oil

Total Price $15.00

The first thing I suggest doing is cooking your pasta. In a medium saucepan add 4 cups of water, a tsp of olive oil, some salt and bring to a boil. Once the water boils add in your rigatoni and cook for about 6-8 minutes until tender.

While you wait for the pasta to cook, start preparing your dressing in order to utilize your time. In a food processor add your garlic, basil, lemon juice and olive oil and puree until bright green and smooth. This dressing is like a pesto but simplified to only give you the great herb taste with none of the nutty crunch.

Once your pasta is tender you can start assembling your salad. Start by placing your baby spinach on a big plate. Then add your pasta and assorted veggies, thus making sure each bite has a little bit of everything in it. Once your salad is assembled, drizzle some lemon and lime juice over the top and add your basil dressing. The lemon and lime juice will give the salad a bit of bite while the basil will keep it light and fresh.

Then enjoy this delightfully delicious tangy salad that has a little bit of everything.

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Taco Time

One dish my parents used to make for me almost every week was tacos. Growing up in Southern California, it is hard not to love Mexican food and eat it every chance I got. So I decided to re-create my childhood favorite for a college student on a budget. All ingredients come from Safeway Super Market.


1 package of hard taco shells
8 Cherry Tomatoes- diced
1 head of lettuce- shredded
1 white onion- diced
1 bag of four cheese Mexican blend (or any type of cheese you would like)
1 package of McCormick’s taco seasoning
¾ cup of water
1lb of lean ground beef
2 avocados
1 clove of garlic- minced
1 shallot-minced
1 teaspoon- Lawry’s seasoning salt
1 teaspoon- garlic powder
1 teaspoon- onion powder
1 teaspoon- pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salsa- any brand you like

Total cost- $25 dollars

Since the beef cooks quickly, I prefer to prepare the toppings first and put them in separate bowls buffet-style. This is so each person can add as much or as little of whatever topping they like. First, put the cheese in one bowl and put the tomatoes, lettuce and onions in another bowl, together or separate. Then put your salsa into another bowl.

Next, grab your avocados and cut them in half. Spoon out the inside of the avocado into a bowl, and grab a potato masher (or you can use a fork). Mash the avocados then add in your minced garlic, shallots, lemon juice, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and Lawry’s seasoning salt. Mix all those ingredients together and you have some killer guacamole to put on your tacos.

Once all your toppings are put in separate bowls, warm a large skillet over medium heat. Add your ground beef and break it up with a spatula when the heat rises. Once the meat has browned, drain the fat out of your skillet, add ¾ cup of water and taco seasoning. Mix the seasoning into the ground beef and turn off the heat.

Grab your taco shells, add your meat, and start throwing on your toppings for an amazing Mexican dinner that is easy and cheap to make. This dish serves 2-3 people comfortably with room for seconds. Enjoy!

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Homemade Caesar Salad with Avocado

One of my all time favorite dishes to make is caesar salad with avocado. It’s quick, easy and delicious. This caesar salad isn’t just pre-packaged dressing and lettuce, but dressing made from scratch. One of the reason’s why I love this dish is because its perfect for a college student on the go. You can make it in minutes and it will still be just as delicious as any other salad but ten times better. Plus it costs literally nothing to make.

Most of the ingredients many college students will have in their fridge, but some are a little more obscure. For this dish you will need:

1/4 teaspoon of dried mustard

1 tablespoon lemon Juice

1 tablespoon anchovy paste

5 tablespoons of olive oil

1 teaspoon of worcestershire sauce

2 colves of garlic-minced

1 bag of lettuce- preferably romaine

1/2 cup of parmesan

fresh ground pepper

1 small avocado-diced

1/4 cup croutons

Total price- $15.00 but the more ingredients you already have the cheaper it is, and most of the ingredients you can over and over again to make multiple dishes.


To make the dressing the first thing you want to do is get out a small mixing bowl and in the olive oil, lemon juice and worcestershire sauce. Mixing as you go. Second you want to add in your dried mustard, anchovy paste and garlic. Remember the more garlic the better, this dish is meant to keep the vampires away. After all your ingredients for the dressing are mixed together, put the bowl aside and grab a bigger bowl.


In the bigger bowl add your lettuce, pre-washed, and your avocado. Grab some tongs and toss away. Once your avocado has been evenly distributed through your lettuce, pour on your dressing. Make sure to pour on a little at a time, tossing the salad as you go, so every bite has a little bit of dressing on it.

Now sprinkle on some parmesan cheese, throw on some croutons, and grind a little fresh black pepper over the top. Then enjoy  your have a delicious homemade Caesar salad.

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Cooking on a college students budget. Pasta time.

I think the most important staple to any college students pantry should be pasta. It’s easy to make, since most people know how to boil water, and tastes divine. So for my first blog post I decided to make a dish that is simple, affordable and delicious, pasta with basil lemon cream sauce.

Pasta with Basil Lemon Butter Cream Sauce

Ingredients and prices from Safeway supermarket-

3 cups of water- free

2 garlic cloves peeled and chopped- 2 bulbs for 99 cents

2 green onions- 1 package is $1.19

1 shallot peeled and chopped- $1.15 for 1 ounce

3/4 cup of basil- $2.09 for .66 ounces

1 tablespoon of lemon- $1.00 for 4 ounces

1 pinch of salt and pepper- salt is $1.09  for 26 ounces, pepper is $2.19 for 2.65 ounces

pasta – as much as you think you can eat- 1 package $1.66

6 grape tomatoes (optional)- 1 huge package $2.19

1/2 cup parmesan cheese- to sprinkle on top-  $3.29 for 6 ounces

1 tablespoon of olive oil- buy one get on free $10 dollar bottle of star light olive oil

2 cups of heavy whipping cream- $2.89 for .18 fluid ounce

3/4 cup of flour- depending on thickness add more or less- $3.89 for a 5 pound sack

2 tablespoons of butter- $3.50 for 16 ounces


The first thing you need to is get out all your ingredients and cooking supplies. You will need a 6 ounce pot, a saucepan, whisk, cutting board, knife, spoon and colander. After all your supplies and ingredients are on the counter start by filling up your pot with water and putting it on the stove. While heating up add  in the salt and olive oil and bring to a boil.

While the water is boiling chop up your shallots, green onions, garlic and basil.

Add your pasta to the boiling water and your  veggies to a saute pan with a lil olive oil.

Let the veggies brown for a 2-3 minutes before adding in your cream, butter, lemon. While that sauté’s for a little check the pasta, which should be about done.

Make sure the pasta is to your liking before draining it in the colander. I prefer mine to be a little on the softer side. After the pasta is drained add your flour to your cream sauce and whisk until all the flour is dissolved into the sauce.

When sauce is thick add some salt and pepper and poor into a bowl with the pasta. Throw on some tomatoes for a hint of bright color and some parmesan cheese for a hint of rich salty goodness and your done. One simple, affordable, homemade meal that most everyone will enjoy.

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