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Too Busy to Cook? Learn the Easy Approach to Food

Too Busy to Cook? Learn the Easy Approach to Food

By Sophia Khan and Ellen Bass

What kind of working gal or overwhelmed student has the time to prepare a complicated dinner with 50 ingredients? Seriously, who can summon up the energy to whip up a fabulous gourmet meal on a budget after working all day? These are the questions that plagued me when I first had the idea to write a cookbook that catered to real people with real lives who still wanted to eat really delicious food. I had arrived at a veritable point of no return after months of eating mac ’n cheese out of the box during my senior year of college, and I began to imagine a different way of approaching the kitchen.

I teamed up with my aunt, an award-winning pediatrician and mother of four who has always been our family’s go-to-gourmet. She taught me everything I know, from overcoming my incapacitating fear of knives to whipping up the perfect béchamel sauce. United in our gastronomical quest, we spent many happy hours brainstorming the kind of cookbook that would appeal to busy folks on a budget, and we came up with Students Go Gourmet: Simple Gourmet for Every Day. Easy, affordable, delicious, and nutritious—these are the hallmarks of our approach.

So instead of settling for boring, high-sodium meals out of frozen boxes, try your hand at easy recipes that could skyrocket your cuisine to gourmet, boost your health, and please your taste buds all at once, like our New Orleans Spicy White Bean Dip. This quick and tasty tribute to the Bayou takes about a minute to make: just toss the ingredients (including high-protein, high-fiber, low-fat cannellini beans) into a food processor and hit blend! If your sweet tooth aches like mine does, our Thyme Truffles might be just the cure. Witness for yourself how fast and foolproof these handmade delicacies are on our instructional DVD (along with over 13 other recipes).

Let’s be honest: few people have the time to run to the grocery store more than once a week. In light of that reality for so many working gals, busy moms, and broke students, one of our main goals is to eliminate the number of times you have to run to the grocery store. The Well Stocked Student’s Kitchen teaches you how to stock your pantry and kitchen shelves with things like fresh basil, which you can have on hand for making pesto (which is great on toast, in pasta, with grits, with fresh vegetables, with chicken and fish, and the list goes on!), a delicious Caprese salad (fresh tomatoes, creamy mozzarella, a drizzle of olive oil), or a light pizza. One of my favorite pantry staples is fig jam. Now you may be wondering the following things: what on earth is fig jam, who on earth would use fig jam, and where on earth would I find it? It’s basically fig preserve, very similar to the taste and consistency of the gooey filling of dried Turkish figs, boasting a tart, sweet, earthy, rich flavor. Fig jam pops up in our crowd-pleasing Fig & Gorgonzola Bites as well at least 6 other recipes.

I find the most efficient item for any kitchen (only $15 to $30 bucks!) is a small food processor that will churn out tasty dips and spreads for you in less than a minute. My go-to potluck dish is a delicious Honey Cashew Spread (see recipe below)—smoky, rich, crunchy, sweet, with a secret ingredient that might stump even the savviest of gourmands. Like the New Orleans White Bean Dip, it’s as simple as loading all the ingredients into your food processor and blending. That’s the epitome of dorm-room gourmet. Our style of low-maintenance culinary design has stuck with me through grad school and into the working world, and it’s guaranteed to save your wallet and palate from the overpriced and the ordinary.

Complementary recipes, blogs, and more information about Students Go Gourmet and where to purchase it can be found on our website:

Honey Cashew Spread
2 cups of cashew nuts (if salted, do not add any extra salt, if not then add 1 teaspoon Kosher salt)
1Ž2  cup olive oil
4 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons cumin
4 teaspoons garlic paste
1Ž2 teaspoon ground black pepper (or 1 teaspoon, depending on how much of a kick you want)

Mix all ingredients in a food processor for 10 to 20 seconds, then add the olive oil in a slow stream to the food processor while it is running. Let the processor run for about 1 minute. Tip: you have nonstick cooking spray around, spray the measuring spoon before you add the honey, and the honey will slide off the spoon with ease.