6 Super Simple Meals for New College Cooks Part I: Pressed Spinach and Feta Grilled Cheese, & Chipotle Chicken
It’s that time of year when young adults stuff minivans and U-Hauls to the brim with their college gear and head back to their secondary homes. Some go to dorms where food will be prepared for them. Others have graduated to apartment living, where obtaining food is now up to them, and usually shows up at their door in a flat, white box, delivered by a guy whose name tag reads “Guido”, but whose real name is Bob and is a struggling Econ. major with an unhealthy crush on Lady Gaga.
However, dinner doesn’t have to go down that way.
While we wouldn’t expect busy students to be cooking fussy four-course meals, providing them with a few rough and ready entrée recipes might turn out to be a wonderful parting gift on their way out the door.
I’ll be posting six simple meals on my blog: two per day for three days (3 x 2 = 6 . . . just gearing your kids up to re-enter the math zone.) All are fantastic tasting, have limited ingredients, are relatively inexpensive, and your last name doesn’t have to be Flay to be able to cook them.
Each of the three posts will contain a new, easy recipe as well as a link to a simple yet delicious recipe I’ve shared over the last few months.
Share these with your kids.
Share them with your friends with kids.
Heck, share them with anyone you know who has a mouth.
Maybe even share them with Guido-Bob.
Only, share them with him in a “strictly business” email, otherwise he may start crushin’ on you.
You’ve been warned.
Are you ready?
Pressed Spinach and Feta Grilled Cheese
What a flavorful mouthful this one is!
First, you’ve got the crunch of the ciabatta, and then the tang of the Feta, the earthiness of the spinach, and a hint of spicy pepper flakes that all start shouting, “Opa!” and begin doing the Greek handkerchief dance on your tongue.
There’s a lot of love going on in each bite.
What’s more, it’s loaded with spinach, and the sandwich is cooked in a hot, dry pan without caloric oil or butter, yet tastes out of this world! I don’t get it. Frankly, it’s a culinary mystery.
I found this recipe on a site focusing on good taste and low cost. The total cost per serving here is estimated at $1.70. Not too shabby, eh?
This recipe was actually created for folks who don’t have a panini press. I do happen to have one on a basement storage shelf no doubt stashed next to the George Foreman grill and the Diablo grilled cheese making contraption that is as virginal as the day it was given to us. But instead of dragging the panini press out, I tried the suggested “heavy water-filled pot” smashed cooking method from the recipe, and I’m happy to say that it worked like a charm! I would suggest though, that if you like this sandwich and find yourself making it repeatedly, putting a panini press on your Christmas list would make cooking this meal that much faster.
Here’s how you make it.
Recipe courtesy of: budgetbytes.com
- ½ Tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic
- ¼ lb. frozen cut spinach
- Pinch of salt & pepper
- 2 ciabatta rolls
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 oz. feta cheese
- pinch red pepper flakes
Mince the garlic and add it to a skillet with the olive oil.
Cook over medium-low heat for 1-2 minutes, or until it begins to soften.
New cooks, if you don’t have one of these babies below, go get one at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, or put this on your Christmas list as well. It’s called a garlic press, and it will make your life so much easier. You don’t even have to peel the garlic, which completely rocks! You put the garlic clove in the little cup, flip the top plunger thingy back over it, squeeze, and the press spits minced garlic out of its bottom. It’s a must have! Fresh garlic is so much tastier than the chopped stuff you can buy in a jar.
Add the frozen spinach to the garlic, turn the heat up to medium, and cook for about 5 minutes, or until heated through and most of the excess moisture has evaporated away. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
Cut the rolls in half.
Add about ¼ cup of shredded mozzarella and ½ oz. of feta to the bottom half of each roll.
Divide the cooked spinach between the two sandwiches, then top with a pinch of red pepper flakes, plus ¼ cup more shredded mozzarella on each.
Place the top half of the ciabatta roll on the sandwiches and transfer them to a large non-stick skillet. Fill a large pot with water to create weight, then place the pot on top of the sandwiches to press them down like a panini press.
Turn the heat on to medium-low and cook until the sandwiches are crispy on the bottom – about 3 minutes. Carefully flip the sandwiches, place the weighted pot back on top, and cook until crispy on the other side and the cheese is melted. Serve warm.
We’re talking ooey, gooey goodness, folks . . .
. . . um, minus one bite. Yum!
Here’s the printable version.
Pressed Spinach and Feta Grilled Cheese
Mince the garlic and add it to a skillet with the olive oil. Cook over medium-low heat for 1-2 minutes, or until it begins to soften. Add the frozen spinach, turn the heat up to medium, and cook for about 5 minutes, or until heated through and most of the excess moisture has evaporated away. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
Cut the rolls in half. Add about ¼ cup of shredded mozzarella and ½ oz. of feta to the bottom half of each roll. Divide the cooked spinach between the two sandwiches, then top with a pinch of red pepper flakes, plus ¼ more shredded mozzarella on each.
Place the top half of the ciabatta roll on the sandwiches and transfer them to a large non-stick skillet. Fill a large pot with a few inches of water to create weight, then place the pot on top of the sandwiches to press them down like a panini press. Turn the heat on to medium-low and cook until the sandwiches are crispy on the bottom. Carefully flip the sandwiches, place the weighted pot back on top, and cook until crispy on the other side and the cheese is melted. Serve warm.
And now, for the second simple recipe, I’m linking you back to one of my all-time favorite easy entrées.
I’ve been making this dish for a looooong time. And that’s because it’s so simple, juicy, and full of delicious smoky flavor.
There are basically two easy prep steps:
1. You marinate the chicken in a super simple mayo/chipotle sauce overnight, or for a few hours.
2. And then you coat the chicken with bread crumbs.
After that’s done, you pop it in the oven and take it out a while later looking to all the world like a culinary genius.
Trust me, you’ll not soon forget the flavor or succulence of this chicken and will find yourself making it for a looooong time to come as well!
If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a blender, and if you don’t have a blender, buy one.
How else are you going to make smoothies and margaritas?
Click HERE for the detailed recipe.
And don’t forget to pass these recipes on to all of the fellow mouth owners you know!