Posted by: Kelsey Avers | October 18, 2010

OMG Meatloaf!

Alright, I’ve outdone myself this time, I must say. Tonight I truly made what felt like a true meal; which I haven’t been able to do in a while. It wasn’t any of the leftover spaghetti or rice and sausage that I’ve been living off of for the past week because of my busy schedule. I finally got to take advantage of this rainy Sunday and make a nice hot meal. Meatloaf seemed the only way to do it!

I’ve never made meatloaf on my own before, so I was a little hesitant. I haven’t eaten it in at least two years.

There are tons and tons of different recipes that people follow, whether they be “Mom’s Recipe” or just the one recipe they’ve really grown to like. After doing a lot of searching online for many of these recipes and looking through all of the different ingredient lists, I realized I could make this the hard, more expensive way with the Worcester sauce, fancy bread crumbs and all that other stuff that is hard to pronounce, or I could do it the “Sushi Taste on a Ramen Budget Way,” which obviously makes more sense, since I have about 35 bucks in my checking account right now.

I looked into various recipes, took a little bit from each one, and calculated which ingredients would go well together without breaking the bank. And it came out AWESOME.

The ingredient list is perfect for college students or any of us that are on a budget: Besides the Lipton Onion Soup Mix, all of the ingredients are staples that every college student should have in their pantry or fridge. No fancy sauces necessary – these ingredients make their own.

Quick and simple, the STRB way!

My biggest recommendation for this recipe would be to prepare it about 5 hours before making it. Follow all of the preparation ingredients, cover the pan in foil and let it set in the fridge until cooking time. Not only will these leave you with less dishes to do while you’re trying to get your own dinner on the table (or desk, if you eat-read-and-study like me), but it will also allow all of the ingredients to marinate in the meat, which of course, makes it even better!

– 1 package Lipton Onion Soup Mix
– 2 pounds lean ground beef
– 1 large egg
– 2/3 cup milk
– 3 Tablespoons catsup
– 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
– 1 Tablespoon yellow mustard
– Handful of breadcrumbs (this is optional, it tastes great with or without, but the breadcrumbs just add a little “pizzazz”!)

This pan is perfect! Lifts the meatloaf right out of the pan - no scraping necessary.

– Preheat the oven to 350F. (Obviously if you’re making this ahead of time you can skip this step and go back to it once you’re ready to cook).
–  Mix the onion soup mix, ground beef, egg and milk together. (For the sake of making cooking fun, mixing it with your hands is pretty fun! Cold, but fun!)
– Form the combination into a well packed loaf shape in a 13 X 9 X 2 loaf pan. (My pan’s dimensions were a bit different than this, but it worked just fine. Usually all meatloaf pans are pretty standard.)
– Combine the rest of the ingredients and spoon onto the top of the meatloaf. Stab a fork into parts of the top of the meatloaf so some of this sauce can sink into it.
– Bake uncovered, for about an hour. When done, take the meatloaf out of the pan and place on a serving plate. Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing.

The most accurate way of knowing if your meatloaf is ready and the hamburger is cooked all the way is to purchase a meat thermometer, but if you’re like me and don’t have one, do it the old fashioned way:
–> After about 55 minutes of cooking, check and see if the middle is still pink but cutting a small slit in the middle of the loaf. If it is still very slightly pink, you’re probably fine to take it out. When you let it set for 10 minutes, the meat continues to cook throughout the loaf. Doing this also prevents you from drying out the meat.
–> Another way to tell if your meatloaf is cooked thoroughly is by pressing a fork to the top of the loaf. When you press, an indication of a fully cooked meatloaf is if the juices are not running red, but instead run a clearish-brown color. When you press with the fork, the top of the loaf should be firm, also an indication of a fully-cooked meatloaf.

Compliment with your favorite side dishes and enjoy! (In this case, I seasoned green beans with butter and lemon and also included Magic Potatoes on my plate!)

Frozen, packaged pasta is boring.
I’m talking about the ones sold in stores that are simply just noodles and sauce; no veggies, meat, anything.
But the “pro” to these packages is that they’re quick to cook, and are extremely simple to add whatever ingredients to them your heart desires (well, and what your fridge is carrying at the time…).

Case in point: Packaged Fettuccine Alfredo.
It’s frozen, it’s boring, and it could use some sprucing up! And that’s just what sausage and spinach can do.

Serving Size: 1
Cook time: 10-20 minutes (varies depends on how you prefer to cook your sausage link(s).

There's no third wheel in this recipe list

– 1/2 package of frozen fettuccine Alfredo (if you want this recipe to serve 2 people, use the entire package, and use your desired amount of spinach and sausage slices.)
– Frozen spinach, thawed and cooked
– Sausage links (amount is based on how many you would like to serve, the kind is based on what kind of sausage you like! I used one link of Sweet Italian Sausage.)

– Begin cooking packaged fettuccine per the directions on the package. In this case, the package called for one tablespoon of water to cook with the pasta bundles and sauce “chips.”
– While your fettucini is cooking, begin cooking your sausage link(s) in whichever way you desire. (Most likely you won’t have a grill in your dorm room, and obviously neither do I, so I either broil my sausage or pan-cook it until fully cooked.)
– Take this opportunity to thaw your spinach, if there is space. If not, don’t worry. You can always do it last minute.
– Once your pasta is fully cooked, lower the heat (if you have an electric stove, it’d be best to remove it from the coils until they cool)
– This is where the fun happens:

–> In the pan where you’ve cooked your pasta, mix in the spinach.
–> In a bowl or on a plate, top your cooked fettuccine Alfredo with your cooked sausage and spinach. Top with a bit of Parmesan cheese. Feel free to add mushrooms, tomatoes, garlic, and anything else you have in your fridge or pantry that can take away that boring, frozen pasta taste and produce a great dish.


Complete this recipe with some garlic bread and a nice salad, and you’ve got gourmet Italian right at home!

Posted by: Kelsey Avers | September 3, 2010


Like the new acronym? Sushi Taste On A Ramen Budget = STOARB, get it?

Anyways, this blog is now on Twitter!
Follow @ramenbudget to see quick saving tips, blog alerts and more!

Posted by: Kelsey Avers | August 29, 2010

Soup recipe: “It Is What It Is” TJ’s Chicken Noodle Soup

Alright, alright. I know I’m not very good lately at the “I promise I will post more!” kinda thing. You try being a senior in college taking 5 classes while moving to a new place and balancing an editor position along with it! Not too easy, and it results in quick dinners that consist of box macaroni and cheese and corn dogs.

But, alas, through my busy schedule, my immune system has found time to get seriously messed up, thus resulting in me being annoyingly ill.

But instead of sitting on my behind all day like I really wanted to, I needed to find a remedy for this horrible throat whatever-it-is that I have. I’m thinking it’s strep, but I’m hoping it’s not. I feel like I’m going to overdose on cough drops and orange juice, but all day what I’ve really wanted is chicken noodle soup…. and not the canned kind.

The perk of my new place is I live about a 5-minute walk away from Trader Joe’s, which is definitely a good thing, but could also be a bad thing according to my wallet.

So I put on a hoodie to cover up my bedhead and walked on over to TJ’s to get ingredients for chicken noodle soup.

As I was walking to the store, I realized that I hadn’t even looked up any sort of recipe. Oh well! Why not just wing it? Put what I want in this thing, and make a serving for two (one for now, one for tomorrow) and put it on my blog! Duh!

It would also give me an opportunity to use my brand new Emerilware Cookware, which I must say, is quite a treat!

So here goes. I like to call this one the “It Is What It Is” TJ’s Chicken Noodle Soup, the name coming from the fact that I just put what I figured could go into small-portioned chicken noodle soup, and because all my ingredients came from Trader Joe’s!:

I would recommend these spoons for this recipe!

Serving size: 2
Cook/Prep Time: 35-40 minutes

Instant chicken flavor!

Ingredients (because this is such a “do it as you see it” kind of recipe, the amount of chicken, veggies and seasoning can be changed based on how much you like each of the specific ingredients)
– 1 chicken drumstick, cooked

– 1 1/2 cups water (this could change depending on how salty/broth-y you want your soup)
– 1 1/2 cups noodles (I would suggest farfalle or egg noodles)
– 1 tablespoon salted butter
– 1 packet of TJ’s Savory Broth Chicken Flavor packets
– 1/4 cup celery
– 1/4 cup TJ’s shredded carrots
– 1/4 cup onion
– pinch of oregano
– pinch of red pepper flakes
– pinch of salt

– While your chicken and noodles are cooking, combine water, butter, contents of 1 chicken flavor packet, vegetables and spices in a pot. Simmer for 15 minutes or until veggies are tender.
– When noodles and chicken are done, add both to the pot of veggies, water and seasoning.
– Simmer for another 5-10 minutes if needed to get veggies more tender.
– Serve and feel better!

Serving suggestion:
Serve with a slice of lightly buttered bread or roll, and if you’re sick, don’t forget your orange juice!

Posted by: Kelsey Avers | August 5, 2010

August Food Holidays!

Not only is August the month when vacations end (sad) and school begins (eh), it is also the month with a lot of good food focus.

The entire month of August is:
National Brownies at Brunch Month
National Catfish Month
National Panini Month
National Peach Month
National Sandwich Month

Some of the single-day holidays this month are:
August 1: National Raspberry Cream Pie Day
August 2: National Ice Cream Sandwich Day
August 3: National Watermelon Day
August 4: National Lasagne Day (Americanized to Lasagna)
Gracie over at The Red Kitchen Project has an amazing recipe for Vegetarian Four-Cheese Lasagna Rolls that are a must-make during anytime of the year.

August 5: National Waffle Day / National Oyster Day
This Toaster Waffle Sandwich recipe is sure to fulfill your needs on this day.

August 6: National Root Beer Float Day
The best time to try a Root Beer Floatini! (If you are of legal drinking age, of course)

August 7: National Raspberries in Cream Day (Fresh Fruit or Raspberry Ice Cream)
August 8: National Zucchini Day / National Frozen Custard Day
August 9: National Rice Pudding Day
August 10: National Banana Split Day / National S’mores Day
(This should be every day!)

August 11: National Raspberry Tart Day
August 12: Julienne Fries Day
August 13: National Filet Mignon Day
August 14: National Creamsicle Day
August 15: Lemon Meringue Pie Day
August 16: Bratwurst Day / National Rum Day
Rum and Meat? Yum! Check this place out for more than 200 recipes that have rum as a recipe.

August 17: National Vanilla Custard Day
August 18: National Soft Ice Cream Day
August 19: Potato Day / Hot & Spicy Food Day
Potato Day? Perfect excuse to make my side dish, Magic Potatoes 2.0.

August 20: Lemonade Day / National Chocolate Pecan Pie Day
I hate to admit it, but the Lemonade flavored Kool-Aid is pretty deelish!

August 21: National Pecan Torte Day
August 22: National Spumoni Day / Eat a Peach Day
SPUMONI. Yummmmmm.

August 23: National Sponge Cake Day
August 24: National Peach Pie Day
August 25: Whiskey Sour Day
August 26: National Cherry Popsicle Day
August 27: National Pots de Crème Day / Banana Lover’s Day
August 28: National Cherry Turnover Day
August 29: More Herbs, Less Salt Day / Chop Suey Day / Lemon Juice Day
August 30: National Toasted Marshmallow Day
It’s like getting National S’mores Day two times in one month! Just a better excuse to eat fantastic campfire foods.

August 31: Eat Outside Day / National Trail Mix Day
A perfect “holiday” for a road trip and a picnic!

So, did you or are you going to celebrate any of these “holidays?” If so, what kind of recipes will you be utilizing? Comment and let me know!

[Thanks to for the list of August food highlights.]

Posted by: Kelsey Avers | June 25, 2010

Gas vs. Electric – Tips to know when switching ranges

Red coils might be your only option

The differences between cooking on a gas-powered stove and an electric rage may be obvious to some people, but as for college students who are used to cooking Top Ramen on a constant basis, they might not be so apparent.
This post will help you readers to know the difference. During college you might be moving from place to place every few months or every year or so, and not all stoves/ovens are going to be powered the same, to the dismay of some. There are many things to take into consideration if you’re moving from gas-powered to electric, or vice versa.

Temperature lag time (patience is key)
A common beginner-on-electric mistake is with these kind of stoves is not waiting long enough for the element, as it is called, to heat up. On a gas stove, once you turn the flame off, the temperature will go down a lot quicker than it would on an electric stove. If you’re cooking on an electric stove and the item(s) you’re cooking can’t be left on slow-decreasing heat, be sure to remove the pot or pan from the range as soon as you turn off the heat; this might result in some burned food that won’t taste very good. On a gas stove, it is usually okay to leave the pot or pan on the range, as the temperature will decrease quicker once the flame is turned off.
If you need fast temperature changes, you can set one burner to hot (high) and another to medium, and move the pan when necessary. This is good to remember when you’re recipe calls for a boil-to-simmer transition in quick timing.

Electric stoves can ruin your favorite pots and pans
This “danger” goes hand-in-hand with the tip above. Because the heat on an electric stove doesn’t cool as quickly as a gas stove, it’s important not to let your pots and pans, especially your favorite ones, sit on the hot coils. This could result in a perfectly good pot being ruined.

Don’t turn on the wrong burner!
When I was younger I lived in an apartment with an electric range. I can’t tell you how many times I wasn’t paying attention to which burner I was turning on, only to come back to the stove 10 minutes later and wonder why my water wasn’t boiling. This was because I actually turned on the one in front of it or next to it. With an electric stove, be sure to pay more attention to which burner you’re turning on. You don’t have a visual of a flame like you do with a gas stove, and with electric ranges it takes quite a few minutes before the heat coils turn red.

Steady oven heat
A plus side to electric stoves is that they maintain a more steady heat than gas ovens. While this isn’t a big deal for most foods, it’s a plus for bakers because this means better heat for sensitive items like soufflés.

Power outages might stop your dinner party
This one is pretty obvious. If the power goes out, so does your electric stove. With a gas range, this won’t happen, unless, of course, you forget to pay your gas bill and that gets shut off.

Become familiar with your electric stove’s settings
Without the convenience of just looking at how big a flame is, you need to get familiar with your stoves low, medium and high temperatures, and what those settings really mean with your particular stove. Usually, on an electric range, temperatures are numbered 1 – 10 (5 being medium, of course). Sticking with a medium temperature is likely the best decision unless you’re boiling something. This way it doesn’t heat up too quickly.

Pick the right pan
It would be in your best interest, when cooking on an electric stove, to stick with flat-bottomed pans that make full contact with the heated element. Size is also important: Be sure to match the size of the pan to the burner you are using, so heat is evenly distributed.

What kind of stove/oven do you have? What are some tips that you would offer to those cooking on a gas or electric range?
Comment, and let us know!

Posted by: Kelsey Avers | May 19, 2010

Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere

Hey readers!

First off, I wanted to thank everyone that reads my blog for all of your awesome feedback, comments and views!

This blog was originally a class project where I was to create assigned posts, photography, videos and other multimedia projects. Well, once the class ended last week, I felt kind of lost! I went home that night and cooked myself some homemade potato chips, and soon enough I felt the instant urge to grab my camera are start taking pictures of the cooking process and results. For my entrepreneurship class I had to form a business of my own and present it to a panel, and what do ya know, I based my business right on this blog and all that I try to offer through it.

That’s when I realized how much help this blog has been to me, and I decided I really want to continue posting!
But I regret to inform you that I will be taking a small break of just a week (maybe a week and a couple of days). I just got done with finals after taking 5 classes (ugh!), and I just need a break from it all before I begin 4 summer classes (yes, I know I’m crazy!). But have no fear, I will be back.

For the mean time, please comment and let me know what kind of stuff you would like to see me posting, whether it’s recipes, food facts, saving tips, ANYTHING! What do YOU want to read??? I’m not on a strict assignment-deal anymore, so your feedback is appreciated at its highest right now!!!!

Posted by: Kelsey Avers | May 9, 2010

Culinary students heat things up at SFSU

The Vista Room at San Francisco State University is an on-campus restaurant that provides student-made, full course meals to students, professors and faculty on campus.
Behind the scenes, the restaurant doubles as a hands-on lab for students majoring, or just simply interested in, hospitality management and dietetics. Meals are prepared, produced and served by students enrolled in food service management classes.

With a simple phone call, anyone on campus can call The Vista Room to make a reservation for a fine dining experience that provides California cuisine and includes vegetarian dishes.

Watch the video below to see what students are learning and what restaurant managers are teaching at this facility.

The menu that was provided during services that are featured in this video was delicious! I thank the staff and students at The Vista Room for their interviews and participation in my final project for this class.


Cauliflower Soup
(with bay shrimp and lobster meat)
Baby Spinach Salad with Grapefruit, Orange Segments and Avocado
(served with citrus walnut vinaigrette dressing)

Roasted Shoulder Lamb with Herb Stuffing
(Merlot rosemary garlic sauce, Boulangere potatoes, French green beans and shallot)

Cornmeal Crusted Mississippi Catfish

(with creole remoulade sauce, crushed sweet potatoes with honey cinnamon and creamed collard greens)


Vegetable Lasagna with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Baileys and Banana Bread Pudding
(served with maple walnut ice cream)
Selected Fresh Fruit

Location: Burk Hall, 4th Floor, Room 401

Service: Monday through Friday, 11:45 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
Seating is between 11:45 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
Meal service is until 1:30 p.m.

Individual tickets are $15.00.
Contact the following departments to purchase:
Consumer Family Studies/Dietetics Department, Burk Hall 329, phone: (415) 405-3530
Hospitality and Tourism Management Department

Posted by: Kelsey Avers | May 6, 2010

Amazing Recipe #9: Baked Ziti

In my hometown of San Clemente, CA (in Orange County), there’s a small, local Italian restaurant called Sonny’s Pizza & Pasta. Since I was just a small little thing, I have enjoyed many pasta and pizza dishes at this small, fabulous place. One of my absolutely favorite dishes is the Baked Ziti, which comes straight from the kitchen and onto the table in front of me with the cheese still bubbling and sizzling. Just writing about it is making my stomach talk!

Unfortunately, I’m not exactly close to Orange County right now, and so I decided I was going to make my own version of Sonny’s wonderful dish, with ingredients affordable to us college students.

Feel free to increase or decrease the ingredients consistently with one another. The specific recipe below feeds about 3-4 people with decent-sized portions, so it’s a great dinner to make for you and your roomies, if you’re the sharing type!

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35-40 minutes

– 2 cups pasta noodle (you can also use Rigatoni or Penne noodles)
– 2 cups spaghetti sauce (why use the stuff in a jar when you should be using one of my first posted recipes, Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter)
– 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
– 2 cups mozzarella cheese
– OPTIONAL: 1/2 pound ground hamburger/sausage of your choice

– Begin cooking the noodles
– If you’re using meat, start browning/cooking the meat
– Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Farenheit
– Spray a metal or glass baking/casserole dish with cooking spray
– In the baking dish, layer the ingredients as follows: noodles, meat, sauce, cheese
– Repeat above layering process, top with parmesan cheese
– Bake 35-40 minutes or until the cheese on top is golden brown

Posted by: Kelsey Avers | May 5, 2010

Big history for a small blue box

We grew up on Kraft Macaroni Cheese, and as most of us began to live on our own once college began, we tried many different variations of this cheesy dish; some were amazing, and some were just a really bad idea.

But either way, Kraft Mac & Cheese Dinners (in all it’s sizes and flavors) has come a long way. Click the photo below to see a time line that will highlight some of the product’s top moments.

Click the photo to view time line

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