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.​​

Peyton Stotelmyre / Daily Nexus

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 Amazon​at prices ranging​​ between $15​​ and $30.​

Rice or Quinoa

Materials and Ingredients:
Rice​ ​cooker
Measuring​ cup
Rice or quinoa
Salt​ ​pepper​ ​to​ ​taste

Rice/Water​ ​Ratios:
White​ rice: 1 ​cup​ ​rice = 1​ ​cup​ ​water
Brown ​rice: 1​ ​​cup​ ​rice = ​2​​¼​ ​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.​ r​aw​ ​frozen​ ​shrimp
Olive​ ​oil or butter
Minced​ ​garlic​ ​cloves
Lemon​ ​juice
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
Olive​ ​oil
Salt​ ​and​ ​pepper
Dried​ ​parsley​ ​flakes
Dried​ ​oregano​ ​flakes
Dried ​thyme​

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

Chicken​ ​drumsticks
1​ ​tbsp.​ ​olive​ ​oil
Garlic​ ​powder
Smoked​ ​paprika
Salt​ ​and​ ​pepper
Brussels ​ sprouts​

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.​