Halloween is steadily creeping up on the backs of Santa Barbara residents; haunting thrillers and tales forcefully hit the pavement accompanied by candied visions of decadent chocolate and burnt orange pumpkins flaming in the midnight shadows.
The only thing spookier than the massive influx of Halloween puns trying to creep it real during this time of year is the daunting thought of still having the inability to obtain a decent meal without having to trek to the dining commons for dinner.
If you strongly resonate with that statement, remove those wrinkles from your forehead and take a deep breath. I’ve got your back with these easy and efficient home-cooked meals that’ll have your roommates oozing with envy and your parents beaming with pride.
First and foremost, acquiring the skills to utilize a rice cooker is a crucial prerequisite to dining in your apartment; rice can be served as a side dish to each of the following recipes. Rice cookers are readily available from local retailers such as Walmart or even online on Amazonat prices ranging between $15 and $30.
Rice or Quinoa
Materials and Ingredients:
Rice or quinoa
Salt pepper to taste
White rice: 1 cup rice = 1 cup water
Brown rice: 1 cup rice = 2¼ cups water
Quinoa: 1 cup quinoa = 2 cups water
Add your desired amount of rice or quinoa into a strainer and rinse the grains with cold water until everything has been lightly soaked. Dump the contents into the rice cooker bowl and add the proportionate amount of water along with salt and pepper to taste. Add in your own personal seasonings for enhanced flavor, such as garlic powder, lemon, pepper, etc.
Cooking time will vary! The rice will be done when all the water has absorbed. Fluff up your rice/quinoa with a fork once it’s done and enjoy. If you desire that lavish, Gordon Ramsay aesthetic, sprinkle a pinch of dried parsley or dill weed atop your soft bed of grain for garnish before serving.
Lemon Garlic Shrimp
1 lb. raw frozen shrimp
Olive oil or butter
Minced garlic cloves
Salt and pepper
Optional: Hot sauce and crushed red pepper flakes
Begin by defrosting your frozen shrimp in a deep bowl of cold water; allow it to thaw for a few minutes until soft. Peel the shrimp and butterfly it for greater surface volume. Butterflying is a simple technique in which the vein of the shrimp is partially cut into with a knife in order to widen it. Once the shrimp is peeled and deveined, microwave 2 tbsps. of butter. In a separate mixing bowl, combine olive oil or butter, minced garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper and hot sauce with crushed red pepper flakes if desired. Whisk the array of ingredients together with a fork and drizzle over the shrimp.
Tip: For an extra punch of flavor, marinate the shrimp in the fridge for at least half an hour to allow each essence of the sauce to shine through every bite. However, if you’re in a time crunch, this step can be skipped. Cook on a skillet over medium heat until the shrimp is no longer opaque and pink on every surface, which should take two to three minutes per side. Serve with a side of veggies and your grain of choice.
Seared Herb Tilapia with Oven-Roasted Asparagus
Frozen tilapia fillets
Salt and pepper
Dried parsley flakes
Dried oregano flakes
Submerge the tilapia fillets into a bowl of cold water for a few minutes until defrosted. Pat the fish dry with a paper towel and set it onto a flat surface to season. Spoon approximately 1 tbsp. of olive oil per fillet while sprinkling on the dried herbs, salt and pepper; massage in the mixture until the fish is fully coated.
Similar to the shrimp, you can opt for allowing the marinade to cool over the tilapia in the fridge for approximately 30 minutes for enhanced flavor.
Heat on a skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes on each side or until the fillets are white and flaky. Coat the asparagus with the same seasonings used on the tilapia and bake in the oven at 425°F degrees for 12-15 minutes until crispy.
Tip: Don’t overcrowd the pan; evenly space out the asparagus onto the baking sheet for a crunchier result.
Baked Garlic Paprika Chicken Legs with Roasted Brussels Sprouts
1 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper
Preheat your oven to 425°F while prepping the chicken and brussels sprouts. Pat the chicken drumsticks dry for a crispier skin after baking. In a mixing bowl, combine the olive oil along with all the seasonings and herbs, whisking everything together with a fork. Pour the mixture over each drumstick and rub until fully coated.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, place the drumsticks onto the pan, and bake for a total of 35-40 minutes (depending on the heat of your oven). Rinse the brussel sprouts thoroughly and pat dry before adding the same seasonings used on the chicken legs and roast in the oven for 25 minutes until the brussels sprouts are slightly golden and tender with crisp leaves.