Alaina and Food

A have received a few comments wanted to know a little more about me. So, here I go.

Say hola to low quality laptop picture!

My name is Alaina, and I am 19 years old. I actually turn 20 on Friday, and I hate that. I don't want to grow up. At all. Ever. But I digress.

I know this isn't an "About Me" page, so I won't bore you with that. However, I will bore you with this: my relationship with food and what I hope to accomplish with this blog.

I have been on a diet since I was in the first grade. I have felt fat, ugly, and an outsider since I started preschool. In retrospect, I can't believe how I survived with all of these negative feelings, but I did. And so did a million other girls. It's such a hard time growing up.

Needless to say, I haven't had the best relationship with food. I ate when I was happy. I ate when I was sad. I ate when I was stressed. I just ate. An I ate everything. Anything from salad, to pasta, to cookies.

My parens tried to help me. My Mom and I joined WeightWatchers (twice), bought healthy cookbooks, got a gym membership, even went to a doctor, but all of these attempts fell short of expectations (and cost a LOT of money).

Even though they tried to help, they never tried to stop my eating habits. Now, I'm sure some of you don't think that that was the right thing to do. As parents, aren't they supposed to guide you into the right decisions, to health? I used to think that. I resented that for a long time, actually. However, now that I am older, I think they did the perfect thing.

I learned a lot about food, through eating it and through researching it during my diets. I learned what I liked, what I didn't like, and how to experiment. Since my Mother is a downright awful cook (Sorry, momma. You know I love you anyways), I started teaching myself how to cook. I fell in love with it. I respect food and the power that it has over me, and the emotions it can induce when people eat it. Food is a special thing.

Now, as a college student who lives off campus with no meal plan, I was thrust into a world of cooking for myself. I bought some cookbooks, stocked my pantry, acquired about 200 too many kitchen gadgets, and just cooked.

Slowly but surely, I am learning how to cook and cook well. It's so much easier to cook healthy when you don't have others making your food and when you are the one who goes grocery shopping (and it's so much easier to learn how to cook when you are a part of a welcoming and loving food blog community). I have been learning the magic, deliciousness, and frugalness of fresh veggies and fruits and I have explored the local natural food shoppe for cheap, high-quality spices.

I am learning to love food for not only how it makes me feel emotionally, but how it makes me physically. Food shouldn't be a crutch for happiness, and it's taken me 20 years to figure that out.

I would absolutely love to someday write a healthy cookbook for college students. As a current student myself, I know what it's like to be living off of less than $10 a week, and little to no time to cook anything more extravagant than toast, let alone something that is healthy. I can't find any cookbook like that, so I want to fill that gap. Hopefully someday that dream becomes a reality.

Phew. I hope your still with me! That was longwinded, and maybe a little sporadic in thought, but I hope that helps you get to know me a little better and where I'm coming from.

Thank you for listening. Honestly.



English Muffin Pizzas

Now before I start this post, I have to share a little something with you. I read a lot of food blogs. A lot. Instead of going on Facebook when I'm procrastinating, I explore the food blogosphere. It's sad, I know, but it's what I do. However, there is one little pet peeve I have when I'm looking though said food blogs...

I absolutely drives me NUTS when I see a recipe that is so obvious, it should even be a recipe. For example, I saw a recipe for a peanut butter banana. You take a banana and swipe some peanut butter. I literally just stared at it, my mouth open. Seriously?!

I hope that doesn't make me seem crazy or anything... But anywho. This post is a little hypocritical. It's so darn easy, and doesn't really "require" anything. I literally just looked in my fridge to see what was about to go bad, acquired some English muffins, and popped them in the over. BOOM. Personal mini pizzas!

These are some yummy whole wheat English muffins. Yay for healthiness! I was making these little beauties with my boyfriend, so we used four muffins in total. Saw those babies in half and place them on a baking sheet.

I LOVE mushrooms. It almost breaks my heart when I hear someone say they don't like them. But I digress... These have been in my fridge for about one day too long... so I sauteed them in a little bit of olive oil.

When I make spaghetti, I don't like dumping the whole can of sauce into it... So I usually have a half-empty can of tomato sauce laying around. Spoon that on your muffins.

Decorate! Well... decorate isn't really the right word. Assemble would probably be more correct. Put anything you want on them! Veggies, meat, cheese... anything. These are basically 100% suited to your taste. Pop them into a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is gooey.


I'm not going to put a recipe because that seems a little pointless. English muffins + toppings = easy, yummy dinner. Customize ahoy!

If you try it out, make sure to tell me what you put on your pizza!



Vegetable and Beef Stew

I used to think that there was nothing better for you when you were sick than soup. After my boyfriend and I found this little beauty (and altered it quite a bit), I found out I was so wrong. Stew! Stew is where it's at. It's like a soup on steroids! Served with a side spinach salad and some freshly baked corn bread (Jiffy mix, all the way), it's a delicious, cheap meal.

Hello there canned corn!

Looking in my sad excuse for a pantry, I realized I wanted to start to utilize some of my canned goods. For some strange reason, I have 5 cans of corn. Well, I better start getting rid of them!

When I was chopping up my garlic, I went a little knife happy and sliced my finger. Even though it's about the size and deepness of a paper cut, I still cried like a baby for over 10 minutes. No shame.

I have a confession to make. I love cornbread. My obsession started back in the day when my parents bought Boston Market on Sundays. We would always get extra corn bread, two pieces a person. It was moist and absolutely delicious. Though I want to make cornbread from scratch eventually, Jiffy mix will work just fine as a substitute.

My mouth is watering as I look at this picture. YUM! And if you make the mix (takes a whole 3 minutes, tops) and put them in the oven when you add in your corn, when the corn bread is done, your meal is done! Convenient, eh? My cornbread took about 20 minutes to bake, so it lined up quite nicely.

A simple salad is nice, if you're feeling particularly rambunctious. We had an abundance of spinach in the fridge, so we used that up, but any leafy green would be just as yummy.

Ignore the green bean sticking out. We tried to add some green beans, but they were gross. But anyways, here is the finished dish! The meat is juicy, the vegetables infused with chili powder, and the broth is slightly thick and delicious. I am really proud of this baby, and hopefully you try it out sometime when the fam is sick, but would be repulsed if you served them one more bowl of chicken noodle soup.

Vegetable and Beef Stew

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 pound beef stewing meat (cubed)
  • 1 tablespoon (or more to taste) chili powder
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • one 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (with juice)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups corn kernels (or 2 cans)
In a large pot, heat up your olive oil (medium-high heat). Add your meat and brown on all sides,stirring often, making sure it is thoroughly cooked.

Reduce your heat to medium and add your chili powder, garlic, and your chopped onion. Cook until the onion softens (about 8-10 minutes).

Add your tomatoes, salt, and pepper (if you wish), and cook on low for about 30 minutes. Add your corn and cook for about 20 minutes more.


And as a little something extra, here is my handsome boyfriend. Go ahead and judge.


Chicken & Dumplings!

Much like every other person on my campus, I am sick. I called my Mom, and of course, she suggested a Snuggie and some chicken noodle soup. So, I scoured my pitiful pantry and found no chicken noodle soup. Pathetic, no? Thankfully, I have about a months worth of frozen chicken in my freezer. I searched the internet for about an hour to no avail, but then I stumbled upon this fabulous little chicken & dumplings recipe. If you haven't been to MommieCooks, you need to go there right now! Make sure to come back though, okay?

Stuffy and runny nose in tow, I embarked on my journey to sooth my aches.

I got together some old carrots and celery from the bottom of my crisper. I forgot how long they have been in there... is that bad? Either way, I needed to get rid of them.

Choppity chop chop. On a side note, I absolutely LOVE my Paula Deen knife set! I found them on sale at walmart for about &17 dollars. It can with a large chef's knife, a smaller knife, and a parring knife. Amazing!

After chopping my carrots and celery, I cut up a small vidalia onion and a clove of garlic (for good measure).

Then, I made my dumplings. It was the first time I made any type of dough, and even though I used almost all of my flour as it was so sticky, it turned out really well! Then, I used a water bottle as a make-shift rolling pin, and rolled it out. I cut it into (mostly) squares with a pizze cutter sprayed with Pam.

Yes, I am new at this. I got so excited that things were going so well, I forgot to take pictures! Note to self: work on that.

After adding everything to the pot, I realized that... well... I need a bigger pot. But that is beside the point.

It was absolutely DELICIOUS! It was super simple to make, even for a college student on a college student budget. I think foods for the soul, a la chicken noodle soup and the like, don't need to be made with a bajillion ingredients and spices. It's old school. I shared this with my boyfriend, plus I had enough leftover for lunch today AND lunch tomorrow!

I highly suggest you try this recipe out, especially if you have the sniffles.

Chicken and Dumpling Soup


2 Cups Flour (or more as needed to make the dough less sticky)

1 tsp Salt

1/2 tsp Baking Powder

3/4 Cup Ice Water

4 Cups Chicken Stock

3 Carrots, Chopped

2 Stalks Celery, Chopped

1/2 tsp Celery Salt

2 Cloves Garlic, Minced

1/2 tsp Basil

1/2 tsp Oregano

2 Large Chicken Breasts, thawed and cubed

1/2 Cup Half & Half


It's dough time! Mix together your flour, salt and baking powder. Slowly start to add in your ice water while you are kneading the dough. Add enough water (I used the full amount) to form a nice ball. Knead it for about 5 more minutes, and then set it aside.

In a large pot, add your chicken stock, chicken, carrots, garlic, celery, basil, oregano, and celery salt. Put it on medium heat. Stir to incorporate, and let the chicken cook thoroughly. When the chicken is cooked, remove it and set it aside.

Back to the dough! Grab a rolling pin (or a water bottle/any round cylindrical thing you have handy) and dust it with flour. Roll it out about 1/4" thick. Using a pizza cutter or a knife, cute them into to squares. Drop them into the broth and let them cook. You'll know when they are done, because the will float to the top!

You can either shred up your chicken or leave it chunks, and add it back into the broth. Lastly, grad your half & half and add it in, stirring.


p.s. Does anyone have any tips on food photography or editing? My kitchen is super small with minimal natural light, and I'm not sure what to do. Any and all tips would be greatly appreciated!


Recipe printed with permission by MommieCooks.


First Ever Post!


My name is Alaina, and I am starting a new chapter in my life... the whole 'adult' thing. I am living on my own this year while attending university. My kitchen is about three feet long, bursting with supplies, gadgets and appliances. I am easily two heads taller than my refrigerator, and only two burners on my stove work (if I'm lucky). I think it's due time to learn how to chop an onion, cook chicken, and maybe even use my waffle iron.

I invite you to join to me in my attempts to cook, grow up, and learn. Any and all advice is welcomed, and encouraged!



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