While the University of Dallas is filled with independent thinkers, independent cookers may be slightly more scarce. But a little inspiration and a few ingredients in the kitchen can go a long way. Allow me to introduce to you what I like to call my “four-ingredient miracle meals.” Yes, with only four ingredients, you can make an exceptionally satisfying lunch or dinner. I have not one but two of these culinary masterpieces to propose that you attempt, and I hope that you are as impressed with the results as I have been. If you do not spend much time in the kitchen, I encourage you to get in there and try one of these simple recipes, which are nearly impossible to spoil.
Cheesy Pesto Chicken
Three or four chicken breasts, raw or thawed
½ cup pesto
Two large tomatoes
Shredded cheese (mozzarella or a blend of your preference)
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a 9×13 glass baking dish, layer the chicken breasts side-by-side. Next, generously slather pesto on each one. Slice the tomatoes thickly and layer the slices evenly on top of the pesto. Finally, sprinkle copious amounts of cheese onto the chicken breasts. I underestimated the appropriate amount of cheese the first time I made this, so I recommend being more generous with the cheese than your instinct dictates, up to two cups. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool for five minutes, and serve warm and delicious. Serves one person per chicken breast. Pairs well with cooked broccoli or green beans, or on spaghetti or rice.
Sweet Potato Power-House
Medium to large sweet potatoes (one per person)
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Stab each sweet potato several times with a fork, rub with olive oil and sea salt, and place on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until soft all the way through.
During the last 10 minutes that your sweet potato is baking, cook your bacon in a frying pan. About three slices per person is a good amount for this recipe, but it never hurts to add a few extra slices if you are a real bacon lover. When browned to your liking, set the bacon aside. At this point, your sweet potatoes should be ready.
Pouring out most of the bacon fat into a metal can or other safe container, then use the same pan to fry your egg over medium heat. Finally, cut an avocado in half, remove the pit, and slice vertically while still in the skin.
Place your sweet potato on a plate, cut in half, remove the skin if you wish (I don’t) and place the just-fried egg right on top of it, followed by the avocado and bacon slices. Repeat for each serving. To cleanly remove the avocado slices, scoop out of the peel with a spoon. Use half of an avocado per serving. Serve with a knife and fork, and salt and pepper.
Though I discovered this recipe last year, while I was stretching my culinary creativity on a strict Paleo diet, it has remained one of my favorites even now as I consume gluten and dairy again. Add the ingredients to your next shopping list or wow your family with one of these recipes over Christmas break. For all you underclassmen eagerly awaiting kitchens of your own: if you suggest one of these recipes to an upperclassman friend or sibling, you could inspire them to invite you over to try it out with them. Remember, good food always tastes better when shared with good people.