Sunday, December 4, 2011

The College Gastronome is moving!

Be sure to check out my new blog, Shauna E's Easy Eats!

Same format, and I'll still be answering all your food questions and positing simple, delicious, and cost-effective recipes.

Check me out!



Sunday, August 21, 2011

Peaches Part Deux

Last night I attempted to make my very first chowder. We had lobster meat from Land and Sea that was just begging to be paired with white wine, potatoes, corn, and a creamy, thick broth. My only experience with chowder as a kid was heating my father's can of Campbell's condensed clam chowder-- and boy, did it stink!

That being said, the chowder was a disaster. Okay, maybe I'm being overly critical, but it was a far cry from the thick, steamy masterpiece I was envisioning in my head. My fiance was a doll and ate two bowls in an effort to convince me it was a good first try. I was unconvinced.

The star of the night really ended up being the peach-blueberry crisp I threw together while the chowder was simmering. It uses fresh, in-season peaches and blueberries and several items you probably already have in your pantry. Lovely on its own but definitely a 10 when you pair it with vanilla ice cream.

Peach-Blueberry Crisp
Serves 4 (or 2 dessert-hungry people)

2 firm peaches
1 1/2c fresh blueberries
2 tsp candied ginger, grated*

2/3c rolled oats
2/3c white flour
1/4c brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4c vegetable oil
1/2c chopped nuts (optional)

(*Candied ginger can be substituted for fresh or dried ginger mixed with a little white sugar)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Slice peaches down the seam and twist. Remove the pit and any pit pieces. Slice peach into 8 slices, or dice if you want a more homogenized crisp.

Mix the blueberries, peaches, and grated candied ginger in a bowl. Coat the bottom of a shallow baking dish with oil or butter spray and arrange into even layers.

In another bowl, mix together the oats, flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Add oil and stir to coat. Gently fold in the nuts.

Spread the mixture evenly on top of the fruits and bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until the top is dry and golden brown.

Serve warm with ice cream.

Simple, delicious, done!

What's your favorite dessert?

XOXO, Shauna aka the college gastronome

Quick and Dirty with TCG

1) What the heck is candied ginger?!

Candied ginger is slices of ginger that have been dried and rolled in sugar. The texture is almost like marzipan and it is great to use in many different desserts and drinks. You can find candied ginger in the international foods aisle of your megamart, usually with the Asian spices/noodles. A small box will run you $1.50 for about 1 ounce.

Candied ginger is also great to eat on it's own. Careful though, it's spicy! I like to suck on it sometimes; it aids in easing an upset stomach.

Don't worry if you can't find it! Merely mix dried or fresh ginger with a little white sugar.

2) The grocery store was out of peaches, or it's the off season. What should I do?

This recipe is great with any and all types of fruit. You could substitute plums for the peaches, or raspberries for the blueberries. If you're dead-set on recreating this dessert in it's entirety, simply use frozen peaches and blueberries. Frozen fruits are picked at their peak of ripeness, then quick frozen to maintain their texture. If you do substitute fresh for frozen, be sure to thaw them out first. You can do this by either running the frozen goodies under warm water, or arrange on a plate at room temperature for 1 hour.

Questions? Comment below.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Peachy Keen

My fiance is a bit of a picky eater. Oh, I've watched him eat escargot and steak tartar, but put most fruits or veggies in front of him and watch his mouth bolt itself shut!

That being said, my local chain grocery store had the most incredible fuzzy peaches on sale this week. Firm, sweet and ready to eat, I decided to grill them in the hopes of tricking my beloved into putting something healthy in his mouth. Paired with vanilla ice cream or pound cake (we had both), this amazingly simple dessert is the perfect end to any long summer day.

Simply Grilled Peaches
(Serves 2 or 4 depending on serving size)

2 firm-to-touch peaches
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Vanilla ice cream, pound cake, or whipped cream

Preheat a grill, grill-pan, or griddle to 350 or medium.

Carefully halve each peach along the seam and remove any pits inside.
Brush lightly with the oil and lay cut-side down on the hot grill.
Cook for 5 minutes or until the flesh is charred.
Tent the pan with aluminum foil and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, or until the outside of the peach is warm and soft.
Remove peaches from the grill and lightly sprinkle with brown sugar.
Allow brown sugar to melt into the peaches while you plate the ice cream or other accompaniments.
Enjoy! :)
Yields 1 peach or 1/2 peach per serving.

Simple, delicious, done!

XOXO Shauna, aka the College Gastronome.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Rainy Afternoon Beef Stew

It stormed all afternoon today, an odd occurrence for end of March in the Sunshine State. Also, my fiancé is sick and I didn’t feel like messing with a lot of pots and pans to make dinner tonight. Rain makes me feel sluggish, lazy and also makes me crave the comfort foods of my childhood. Therefor, I made a big steamy pot of stew for dinner, and paired it with a lovely loaf of Cuban bread (soft and chewy with a nice crust) and some salted cream butter.

I love making soups and stews because all you really need is one large pot, a knife and a cutting board.

I went to our local meat market and found the most beautiful cuts of stew beef. Stew beef is chunks of the tougher parts of the cow, such as the leg, shoulder, and butt, that become super tender and buttery when you slow cook them. In the supermarket, this cut of meat may also be called chuck, and beef for stew. Most supermarkets will have it already shrink-packaged and cut into bite-sized chunks, but if you are unsure, definitely ask your butcher! And remember: If there's no butcher, don't buy from there!

Rainy Afternoon Beef Stew
Serves 6-8

You will need:
1 to 2 pounds stew beef
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons flour
1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons oil (I used olive but vegetable would be fine as well)
3 cups cold water
1 package Beef Stew seasoning pack (optional)
5 cups vegetables such as mushrooms, celery, carrots, potatoes, and onion, cut into quarters.
Wash and cut all the vegetables into quarters. Make sure the stew beef is cut into small cubes and not huge chunks.

Heat a large soup pot with the oil.

Salt and pepper the beef, then dredge in the flour. Add the garlic and sauté until soft, about 1 minute. Add the flour-coated beef to the hot pot, and sauté until all sides are brown.

Add the 3 cups of water, and seasoning pack (if using) and stir, paying careful attention to anything sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Bring to a boil, then drop the heat and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour (you will add the veggies later).

Add the vegetables, stir and cook for another 45 minutes or until veggies are tender.

Serve with buttered bread or crackers. Leftovers will store refrigerated for 1 week, frozen indefinitely.

Simple, delicious, done!

What is your favorite meal on a rainy day?


Shauna AKA, The College Gastronome

Quick and Dirty Q&A with TCG

Why do I need to dredge the beef in flour? Doesn't that seem like an unnecessary extra step?

Dredging the beef in flour and sauteing it in a little fat (oil) helps to create a mini roux that thickens the stew later when the water is added. Skipping this step would cause you to have more of a brothy soup than a thick, rich stew.

Why should/shouldn't I use a packet of beef stew seasoning?

I am a huge advocate of short cuts that will make things tastier. A beef seasoning packet will add so much extra flavor to your meal. They contain salt, pepper, dried herbs, garlic, beef seasoning and also cornstarch for a little extra thickness. If you want to omit this, the stew will taste just as good but I definitely recommend adding extra salt and pepper, and maybe even a little garlic and onion powder as well.

Questions? Comment below! XOXO

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Pizza for dessert???

In an epic combination of creativity and "inspiration", this happened:

Much thanks to Nicole Miller over at Evict These Words for the excellent night. Recipe to follow and new posts to begin next Sunday!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

You Can Fondue It!

I love my boyfriend Jeff. I also happen to love cheese fondue. So when he suggested last Halloween that we stay in and cook, a tradition was born!

Fondue is one of the simplest meals anyone can add to their catalog. What's great about it is that most people consider this Swiss classic something terribly elegant and difficult to master when in reality it takes no more than 20 minutes to prepare and is essentially a few tricks to throwing cheese in a pot of broth!

There are literally hundreds of fondue recipes available but our absolute favorite is this classic cheddar cheese fondue. Simple, delicious, done!

Classic Cheddar Cheese Fondue

Serves two

A note about hardware:

It is not necessary to own a special fondue pot for this recipe, but it helps. You can find an electric fondue set for under 30 dollars at Target, Walmart or Kmart. The set will include a metal pot with handles, detachable power cord with adjustable temperature settings, color coordinated fondue forks, and a plastic fork rest that you will more than likely never use. Avoid buying a set that is not electric--these sets usually require the use of Sterno which causes burnt cheese and an uneven distribution of heat. If you don't want to spend the money, place a deep metal bowl(about 2 quarts) atop a pot of water with about two inches of water.

What you need:

4 ounces of light beer, with about 2 additional tbsp in reserve
1 tsp garlic
mustard powder
2 cups cheddar cheese (sharp or mild variety is fine)
1-3 tsp all purpose flour
Worcester sauce
Fresh black pepper

Bakery bread, fresh veggies, Granny Smith apples

In a shallow bowl, toss the cheese with 1 tsp of flour to coat. Use more if required until the cheese has an ashy look to it. Set the cheese aside.

Next, slice the bread, apples, and vegetables into bite sized pieces and either arrange in bowls or on a platter. You will want to soak the apples in a bath of lemon water to prevent browning due to oxidation.

Pre-heat the fondue pot to 375. If using the double boiler method, heat the pot on medium. Add the beer and allow to come to a light boil. Add the garlic and stir together. If you are like me and love garlic, you can use more. It will only add to the flavor. Add about 5 dashes of the ground mustard powder.

Begin to slowly add the cheese, a small handful at a time. The best way to stir at this point is in a figure-8 motion with a fork. This allows the cheese to become better incorporated into the broth without gumming up. Its also fun to pull the cheese out of the pot with a little artistic flair--c'mon, who doesn't like showing off! Continue to add the cheese until the texture is between thick and thin. The best way to test the texture is to see if it coats the back of the fork. If it runs off, add more cheese. If it sticks but is very thick, add a tablespoon more of the beer until the desired consistency occurs.

Add 5 dashes of the Worcester sauce and about 5 turns of fresh black better. Drop the heat to warm and serve, not forgetting to drain the apples and pat them dry.

Bon Appetit my cheesy friends!


Shauna, aka The College Gastronome

Quick and Dirty Q&A with TCG

1)I really don't like beer, or I'm under 18,19,21 or whatever the legal age to purchase beer is in my home state. Does that mean fondue is lost to me?

No; if you dislike the taste of beer, or aren't able to get a hold of any, a few substitutions are available. Chicken or vegetable broth from a can work wonderful. Bouillon dissolved in water is good as well. Milk can be used but try to avoid using whole varieties--it tends to make the mixture much thicker than it is supposed to be. You can use the same amount as the beer (4 ounces) but be sure to have some liquid on reserve to combat thickness.

2)You mention vegetables, but none specific. What are the best to use?

My staples for fresh veggies with fondue are celery, baby carrots, and broccoli. Really, you can use any vegetable from leeks, radishes, or cauliflower. The important aspect here is that the vegetables are fresh, free from blemish, and have a good crunch.

3)Why is there flour on the cheese? Won't it taste terrible?

The flour acts as a thickening agent for the cheese. It also prevents the cheese from hardening into clumps when cooking. If you don't flour your cheese it will end up sticking everywhere and will lack the velvety texture it needs to be delicious.

Questions? Comment below XOXO

Monday, October 26, 2009


I love marinated foods!

Asparagus and potatoes rubbed with olive oil and rosemary, chicken covered in lemon pepper, lamb in tamarind sauce or steak in delicious!

Marinades are a great way to add flavor and tenderness to any cut of meat. There are infinite varieties one could purchase at any megamart but why? These imitations of the real thing are normally over-prices at around $2.50 a bottle and are loaded with copious amounts of unnecessary sugar and sodium! Making a marinade from scratch takes nothing more than ingredients one already has at home. Salt, pepper, oil, and some sort of acidic like lemon juice or vinegar are the foundations for any good marinade.

Anyways, I got onto this tangent because tonight my sister and I craved salad and what goes great with a salad?

Marinated chili-lime steak!

Before you begin, a few tips on how to buy steak:

The best kind of steak for this recipe is sirloin. Other cuts used could be round or filet. Make sure whichever you pick is free from sour odors. It should either smell like nothing, or faintly like blood.

Also, the meat should be a deep red color with no brown or grey throughout it. Choose packages that are free from tears, warping, and dirt. If you are unsure of what sirloin looks like, you can choose what some stores will label it as “fajita meat” or “meat for stir-fry”. These packages will be already sliced into thin strips and are more convenient for people who are afraid of knives!

And of course, if all else fails, walk up to your butcher counter and ask your local meat man for help (tehe, meat man!). No butcher= no dice. I don’t shop in stores that don’t have their own meat department and neither should you!

Okay, onto the salad!

Chili-Lime Steak Salad

Serves 2

10 ounces sirloin or round steak
2 tsp oil(any variety is fine, I prefer vegetable for its mild flavor)
1/4 cup lime juice (fresh is always best but those little lime-shaped juice containers are O.K. too)
black pepper
chili powder

Cayenne pepper (can be omitted if you don’t like heat)
garlic salt
onion powder

In a shallow baking dish(non-metal) lay the steak(or steak strips) fat and cover with oil. Gently massage the oil into either side of the meat to form a sticky coating. Top with lime juice and repeat. Sprinkle on spices from above to taste. For example, I love pepper, so I tend to use a lot more pepper than salt. Also, go very gingerly on the cayenne pepper—a sprinkle will do you just fine!

After you rub all the spices in and the meat is thoroughly seasoned, cover and allow absorption at room temperature for 20 minutes. Do not worry about your meat spoiling—this is not chicken or pork and steak cooks much better when at room temperature.

Pre-heat your grill, grill-pan or sauté pan to 350 degrees F. Spray with cooking spray or lightly coat with oil to prevent sticking. Add meat to the pan and be careful to avoid touching or overlaps. You may need to do this in two batches if you are using a grill/sauté pan.

Okay, now here’s where it may get dicey. I LOVE my meat medium-rare to medium. My sister and roommate (the same person btw) will only eat steak if it’s super well done, no pink at ALL. If your new to steak, or new to cooking, you’re probably like her.

So, a simple guide to temperatures of steak:

Invest in a meat thermometer. You can find an analog for less than 5 dollars at Wal-Mart and a good Taylor digital one runs about 15 or 20. Go in sideways and take the temperature from the middle:

Rare 125º

Medium-Rare 130º

Medium 140º

Medium Well 155º

Well 160º

Remove the meat from the grill and cover with aluminum foil for 5 minutes. This will allow the meat to rest and the juices to redistribute. If using whole steak or steaks, slice into strips.


Combine romaine lettuce, chopped cherry tomatoes, canned corn, canned beans, and any other fresh veggies in a bowl and toss with your favorite dressing. I used ranch and my sister used Italian. If you’re feeling ambitious you can make your own lime vinaigrette by combining olive oil, salt, pepper, honey and lime juice in a bowl. Then, portion salad out onto two plates. Top with 4 ounces or a half a cup of steak, and any toppings you desire. Some ideas are cheddar or chunks of queso fresco cheese, mini-quesadillas, scallions, cilantro, or strips of of baked tortillas. I used olives but only because I think they are the world’s most perfect food!



College Gastronome, Q&A session!

1) Man, I'm a dirty hippie who hates red meat, does that mean this recipe is out for me?

No. Some good substitutions for this recipe would be pork, or chicken, or even a mild fish like tilapia. Shrimp also works really well, especially if you leave the tails on! Keep in mind that though you still want to marinade for at least 20 minutes, you will want to out your baking dish in the fridge to prevent rapid spoilage/bacteria goblins.

2) Why can't I use metal to marinade my meat?

Coated non-stick metal pans work fine for this but I would really avoid any metal pan that could rust. Acid on a rusty pan equals nasty tasting meat. Plus metal tends to hold old flavors for longer than neutral hardware like porcelain and plastic. Don't ask me why...

3) Shauna, don't you know that we're in an economic crisis and I can't afford to buy $10 worth of spices for one meal!?

Spices like garlic salt, onion powder, cayenne pepper, and chili powder are staples in my home. I use these things everyday on pasta, tuna salad, pizza and more! I strongly recommend making the investment now because these ingredients basically last until the Apocalypse. If you don't want to make the leap, or simply can't then there are a few options.

  • Dollar stores or discount shops often have these seasonings for 1/3 the cost of the regular megamart. The problem is the texture or the flavor of the spices are not great quality and you will notice a difference.
  • You could buy fresh garlic and fresh chili peppers or jalepenos for this recipe. These items tend to be even cheaper than the knock-off dollar store brand (a head of garlic usually costs less than 60 cents a bulb and fresh peppers are even cheaper if you only buy a few). This will however create more work for yourself in the end because you will have to dice and chop these items pretty fine before incorporating them into the marinade. If you do go this route (and it is a good one, fresh is always a wonderful place to start) please wear gloves. Garlic tends to make fingers smelly for weeks and pepper juice will burn like hell if you get it in your pores, or worse, eyes.
  • My last option for this recipe is to purchase a 99 cent packet of taco seasoning. You can use one or two teaspoons of this powdered mix and it will taste nearly the same. There is a lot of sodium still but it is way better than using store-bought marinades and if you're careful you can stretch it over a few recipes.
4. Why shouldn't I buy meat from places where there's no butcher? It's cheaper there!

The reason those meats that don't come from a butcher's counter are cheaper is because they are pre-packed and most likely frozen then thawed out. The flavor is not fresh, and could be likened to something like cardboard or gym socks. Besides, there's a certain magic in learning new things from your butcher. Sometimes you can get special recommendations from them about how to cook a certain cut of meat, and they will break packages for you and also trim the fat off most cuts if you ask real nice. It's a nice person-to-person relationship that you just miss out on if do it the other way!

Questions? Send me a comment!