Cheap, Easy Recipes for Your Enjoyment

While spring quarter will, ultimately, be your favorite quarter here at UChicago by the time you’re done, right now it probably feels awful. You just turned in your first major thesis draft. You’re starting to feel a lot of pressure to start job searching. And you’re embarking on your last two courses here at UChicago, feeling like you will FINALLY be that rock star student who manages to read everything.

With all of this mounting pressure, we’d like to remind you to: EAT. Some things can get moved to the back burner for the next few weeks (like, perhaps, cleaning out your closet, catching up with your aunt on the phone, and washing your towels). But, alas, eating is not one of those things you can just stop doing. So, in true MAPHcentral fashion, we want to help you out. Here are a few of our favorite quick, easy recipes so that maybe (at least) once a week (please!) you can throw together a home-cooked meal.

(See the recipes…after the jump!)

My grandma’s go-to “I have to feed the grandchildren quickly” entree: Chicken Milanese


1 packet of boneless, skinless chicken breasts
breadcrumbs (Italian seasoning for better flavor)
mayo (or an egg, whatever you have on hand)
salt & pepper
parmesan cheese (optional)
lemon wedge (optional)

1. Prep your station. Put some mayo (or whipped egg) into a small bowl. Pour breadcrumbs out into plate or larger bowl (sometimes I use a pie dish, which is handy for keeping the breadcrumbs from getting all over). Mix salt and pepper (and parmesan cheese) in with breadcrumbs.

2. Cut the chicken into smaller, thinner pieces (if you want to be really Italian about it, pound it into thin slices, about 1/2″ thick). Depending on the size of the chicken you found, you should be able to get 3 or 4 smaller pieces from each chicken breast.

3. Spread thin layer of mayo onto either side of the chicken (or dunk the chicken in the egg). Then coat both sides of the chicken with the breadcrumb mixture.

4. From here you can use a few different cooking methods for your chicken:

a. If you’re feeling unhealthy, or just want to eat sooner rather than later, put a frying pan with a coat of olive oil on the stove at medium heat. Once the oil’s hot, cook the chicken in the pan for about 4-6 minutes on each side (depending on how thick the pieces are).

b. If you’re in the mood for a healthier option, put the chicken into a glass casserole dish and bake it in the oven at 350 for 20-30 minutes (again, depending on how thick the pieces are). Sometimes I’ll cover it with aluminum foil for the first 15 minutes or so (that way the inside will cook but the outer breading won’t get too dark).

5. Then, if you’re using lemon, squeeze a bit of juice over the chicken and enjoy!


My favorite healthy chocolate snack: Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins


1 box devil’s food cake mix
1 15 oz. can of pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie mix, just regular canned pumpkin)

1. Pour the dry cake mix and the can of pumpkin into a bowl and mix. It will take a while (and your arm will get a really good workout), but the batter should end up being really thick and slightly lumpy.

2. Line your muffin tin cups with cupcake wrappers (or lightly grease) and place a spoonful of batter into each cup. Bake at 400 for 20 min.


Guest Recipe from Jess: Curry!

So I hesitate to call this a recipe, since I have no measurements, just as a warning.


Onion(s), chopped
Garlic, chopped
Ginger, grated
Crushed Tomatoes
Whatever veggies you want to be making a curry with

1. Put enough oil to coat the bottom of the pot you will be using and get this hot.  Add the chopped onion, cook til they get translucent.  Then add the chopped garlic and grate in some fresh ginger.

2. Once those start getting soft, add the spices—I don’t have measurements, but you’ll want a fair amount of salt, and probably more cumin than coriander or turmeric. The cayenne should be to taste, and you can substitute other spicy things if you prefer.  If you use peppers, put those in with the onions at the beginning. There are also premade curry spice blends you can experiment with, if you prefer.

3. Once the spices start to release their aromas, add the crushed tomatoes.  The amount depends on the size of your pot—either two of the small cans or one of the big ones is probably good for a medium-big pot.  Let that simmer, and adjust the spices to taste.

4. When that tastes good, add whatever vegetables you want—I frequently do cauliflower and lentils (cook the lentils ahead of time, and use some of the same spices).  The veggies will release liquid, so you may need to add spices/adjust the flavor balance again, as well as potentially letting it reduce.  Then enjoy!

(Note: If you over-season or over-reduce, you can add some broth to the curry to dilute it a bit, or more of the crushed tomatoes, depending on your preferred consistency. If you made lentils beforehand, any leftover liquid you cooked the lentils in can also be used for this.)


From Maren’s Kitchen: Cranberry Chicken

This is a super simple meal that always seems to work out well and requires very few ingredients and little prep time (and you can serve it to parents with impunity)


boneless chicken breasts
1 can whole berry cranberry sauce
1 8 oz. bottle of French dressing
1/2 envelope of onion soup mix/ onion powder or 1/4 chopped white or yellow onion

1. Line a lasagna pan with foil.

2. Place boneless chicken breasts in pan.

3. Make the sauce–in a separate bowl mix together can of cranberry sauce, French dressing, and onion mix of choice. (Sauce is sufficient for 2-3 chicken breasts.)

4. Pour sauce over the chicken. Bake at 350 for 1 1/2 hours (if it chicken darkens cover with foil)

Also graciously provided by Maren: Swedish Oven Pancake

This pancake recipe makes a light thin puffy pancake and you don’t have to stand over the stove but can leave it alone for half an hour. Plus it can be made with just a few ingredients.


1/2 c milk
2/3 c flour
2 T sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 c butter (for pan)

1. Beat together all ingredients – except butter- until  smooth.

2. Place butter in a 9 inch pan (a pie plate works great) and place in a 400 degree oven until butter melts.

3. Pour batter into melted butter and bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown and puffy. Enjoy!

We hope these are useful! Feel free to post your own cheap/easy recipe in the comments for your fellow MAPHers to enjoy!

6 thoughts on “Cheap, Easy Recipes for Your Enjoyment

  1. Bill

    This one is a breeze if you are, say, in the midst of a jillion pages of reading and writing. It’s a once-a-weeker at my house. I’m including notes on how I make it vegetarian.

    Chicken Caesar Wraps

    3/4 cup mayonnaise (I use low-fat olive oil mayo because I am pudgy)
    1 clove garlic minced (I use a heaping teaspoon of pre-chopped garlic because I am lazy)
    4 anchovy fillets (leave these out if you’re a non-pescatarian veggie)
    large pinch paprika (I use hot Hungarian)
    1/2 cup chopped celery
    2 scallions chopped
    juice of a lemon
    3 T. grated Parmesan
    salt and pepper to taste
    flour tortillas
    heart of romaine lettuce leaves
    breaded chicken patties (I use MorningStar fake chix patties)

    Mix mayo, garlic, anchovies (if using) paprika, cheese, celery, scallions, lemon juice and salt & pepper in a mixing bowl. If using cooked or veggie chicken patties, saute them in a bit of olive oil until they’re crispy. It makes everything yummier. Spread Caesar mayo on tortillas, place romaine leaves on tortilla, fill leaves with chix tenders. Roll up and enjoy!

  2. Marybeth Southard

    I just bought some devil’s food cake mix and pumpkin – I’m psyched for these muffins.

    Here’s a super easy (and not-at-all healthy) dessert that just sounds delicious – dump cake.

    1 can cherry pie filling
    1 can crushed pineapple
    1 cup coconut
    1 box yellow cake mix
    1 stick (or more) melted butter

    Dump cherry filling in (9 x 13) baking pan. Spread evenly. Dump crushed pineapple and spread evenly. Add a layer of coconut. Spread cake mix evenly. Pour melted butter over top. Bake at 350 degrees until it starts to brown (about 30 min). Add another small layer of coconut and bake for another 10 minutes (ish) until it looks toasted.

    Serve warm – over some vanilla ice cream is best 🙂

  3. Victoria

    Everything so far sounds awesome!

    Here is my “I’m really busy but want good food” go to. Serve alone, with pasta, rice, lentils, quinoa, as a side, or however else your heart desires! If you roast a lot of things you can eat leftovers in different ways and therefore have more meals at the ready.

    Oven-Roasted Vegetables:

    -Olive Oil
    -Whole Garlic Cloves (unpeeled)
    -Assorted vegetables (root vegetables work particularly well-think all colors of potatoes, those big bunches of organic multi-colored carrots with the leaves still attached that they had at TI, parsnips, also leeks, sweet onions, beets, whatever-the more colorful the better!)

    Step 1: Preheat oven to 400

    Step 2: Wash all the vegetables and cut into large hunks that are about equal in volume so things cook at about the same time.

    Tip: if your carrots are small-ish don’t peel them and just cook them whole. Leeks should be cut in half lengthwise and rinsed thoroughly)

    Step 3: Make a small slice into the skin of your garlic cloves

    Step 4: Throw everything on a cookie sheet, sprinkle liberally with olive oil and salt and pepper and other herbs if you’re feeling fancy.

    Step 5: Cook until done (30-40 minutes, or until caramelized and a fork inserts easily)-if something gets done quicker just pull that off and keep cooking the rest. Go with your gut-it’ll be great!

    Step 6: Enjoy! Garlic cloves can be peeled and eaten little by little w/ the other vegetables…or just eat them whole if you’re a garlic fiend. No judgement!

  4. Kristin T

    From a philosopher’s recipe file…

    Quick, easy, and vegan:

    1 can black beans
    1/2 can diced tomato (or 1 fresh tomato if you aren’t in Chicago)
    1/2 bell pepper
    1/2 onion
    Cumin – as much as you can bear (I seriously use like ~1 TB)
    limes, hot sauce, fresh onion for serving
    splash water (or a can of broth for black bean soup)

    Fry onion, pepper, AND CUMIN in olive oil 2-3m. Add beans and water or broth, simmer ’til they look good (20-30 min). Mash half of them up with your potato masher or a spoon if it feels right to you. Eat with hot sauce, avocado, tortillas (or rice for extra protein!).

  5. benjamins

    The “Classic” Funbowl:

    1 cup rice
    1 can black beans or refried beans. Use most any bean from can, but refried black is best.
    1 to 2 avocado
    1 small onion
    a sense of adventure
    optional garlic

    while boiling the rice, chop up onion and fry in oil in pan. Add optional garlic according to preference.

    when rice is approaching ideal softness in the water, add beans to frying onions to warm them.

    take out finished rice and strain. Take heat off rice and onions.

    Isolate different elements of the meal into different sections of the bowl: the rice, onion and beans can all be combined together, but that should at least leave the crushed avocado on one side of the bowl. It is also possible to split the bowl into thirds, with rice in one section, beans and onion in the other, and avocado comprising the third section.

    Eat the food, mixing the different elements of the dish together in whatever combination is the most Fun for you, the individual eater.

  6. Bill

    A refreshing summer treat — homemade creamsicles!

    You need:

    some OJ
    milk (I like Silk Very Vanilla cause it is sah-WEET!)
    popsicle molds

    I usually mix three parts OJ with two parts soy milk. Add a dash of vanilla if you’re using regular milk or unflavored soy milk. (If you use a yummy vanilla soy milk you can leave out the vanilla flavoring.) Fill up your popsicle molds. Pop in the freezer. Wait.

    Deeeeee-lish! And no high fructose corn syrup or crappy chemical garbage.

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