With the holiday season already upon us, its time to start preparing the meals that coincide with these festivities. I realized that I tend to eat the same items year after year. For Thanksgiving my family has a traditional Thanksgiving meal. For dinner this consists of turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, yams, cranberry sauce etc. For dessert this consists of pumpkin pie, apple pie, and brownies. To surprise my relatives this Thanksgiving I want to make a dessert that is out of the ordinary compared to our usual menu.


The Final Product

I stumbled across a recipe for cookie dough cheesecake last week and decided this would be my next adventure. A test run was necessary first. I definitely do not want to screw up on the big day.

To me the idea sounded amazing but to others the idea fell flat. I was asked questions like how do you expect the cookie not to get hard in the cheesecake when you bake it? What if the cookie dough does not fully bake? How do you expect yourself to accomplish this?

Luckily through the overwhelming array of discouragement, I baked this cheesecake and it has been my biggest hit yet.

 Nicole D’Elia, business junior said, “No offense I didn’t think this was going to taste like real cheesecake, but it does.”


2 packages cream cheese 8 oz. each (any brand will do)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla

2 eggs

3/4 cup prepared or refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough (I used refrigerated, and probably added more than necessary, but who does not appreciate a little extra cookie dough?!)

1 pre-made pie crust or make your own (I used a pre-made one and it turned out just fine)

A little hesitant before beginning I called the Cheesecake Factory for some advice, since they take their cheesecake very seriously.

Sam Hucker, Cheesecake Factory hostess said, “The idea and the effort is the most important part. If you put effort into your recipe your cheesecake should turn out just fine.”

This is by far my favorite recipe yet. It was so simple to complete. The best part about this recipe is that the cheesecake tasted more expensive and more complex than it actually was.

 Chelsea Grice marketing junior said, “You made this?” When I answered yes all she could say was, “Wow.”

So go shock your relatives by offering something different this Thanksgiving! Or you can always go with something pumpkin flavored, which is always a hit.



Moving into PCV this fall quarter I was happy to meet someone as crazy about pumpkin spice as I am. My roommate Ali and I have managed to collect a number of pumpkin themed foods starting with our very first trip to the store.

We wandered around Costco trying to strategize what items would work best to keep us fed. Both living on our own for the first time, we weren’t used to shopping for an empty kitchen.

The Final Product

Somehow we were both lured to a box of pumpkin bread mix. This is where our obsession began.

Jason Lee, a wine and viticulture junior was our taste tester this week.

“They didn’t taste like they came out of box,” says Lee. “I’m impressed by their baking abilities.”

Now every time we stop at a grocery store coffee shop, it has become a necessity that we try the pumpkin flavored products they provide.

So far I have sampled the Pumpkin Spice Lattes at Starbucks, Peet’s Coffee, and Julian’s Cafe in the Cal Poly Kennedy Library. In my opinion nothing compares to Starbucks’ version of this delicious fall treat.

Starbucks Barista, Sherri says that this is the season people look forward to because of the Pumpkin Spice Latte.

“It’s available past christmas, all the way into the new year,” says Sherri.  “It’s very popular during its season.”

Pumpkins are sold throughout fall mainly because of the holiday traditions that accompany this food.

For Halloween pumpkins are sold in vast quantities for carving purposes. Ali and I went to a pumpkin patch here in San Luis Obispo to buy pumpkins to carve. I was curious as to what happens to business after Oct. 31.

Pumpkin Farmer, Bob Adina, says his pumpkin patch stays open through fall.

“People come to buy more pumpkins, not just for Halloween,” says Adina. “During thanksgiving it’s nice to have pumpkins for decoration too.”

This I had to agree with. As I have found there is so much more to pumpkins than just Halloween decoration.

 Pumpkin Flavor Collection

  1. Pumpkin Bread Mix
  2. Pumpkin Spice Latte’s from all coffee shops
  3. Pumpkin Spice Eggo Waffles
  4. Pumpkin Spice Cookie Mix
  5. Pumpkin Ice Cream
  6. Pumpkin Pie

Continuing my mania with pumpkin spice I decided that I should invest in some pumpkin spice spice. However, a tiny jar is a big expense. So I looked up a recipe to make pumpkin spice spice.

All recipes seemed relatively easy we went with this recipe.

Pumpkin Spice Spice:

Cinnamon, 1/4 tsp

Ground ginger, 1 tsp

Nutmeg, 1/2 tsp

I hope you enjoy some pumpkin spice this fall!

Music is inspiring! Listening to my ipod on shuffle one morning inspired my next cooking adventure. Jack Johnson’s “Banana Pancakes,” sounded through the speakers of my ihome and instantly both me and my roommate Ali knew that’s what we would cook next.

The Final Product

Our friend Justin had a Costco sized bag of pancake mix, so all we had to buy was the bananas and milk.

The pancake mix instructions were simple, simply measure out the amount of mix depending on the amount of pancakes needed and add water. We decided to add milk instead of water. I also added more milk than the directions instructed because I like my pancakes thinner than how the first one turned out.

To spice up the recipe we added cinnamon to the batter. The last minute final ingredients were chocolate chips.

Justin thought Ali and I were crazy for combining these flavors. However, others thought our idea was unique.

 Nick Kammerer, Electrician says, “They look bomb!”

After a week straight of eating Cheerios it was nice to add variety to the choices for breakfast. Pancakes are surprisingly easy to make. They are also convenient to feed to many people.

 Since this was not a recipe I researched, I decided to leave the steps I took.


1) Mix pancake batter according to directions on box

  1. Heat medium sized pan on medium heat
  2. Add a small slice of butter to the pan
  3. Stir butter around the pan
  4. Pour a spoonful of batter into pan
  5. Cut banana into thin round slices
  6. Add banana on top of batter poured on pan(add as many slices to liking)
  7. Add chocolate chips on batter(add as many chips to liking)
  8. Flip pancake with spatula when bubble rise from the batter
  9. Wait about a minute or so, or until golden brown on bottom
  10. Take of pan and serve
  11. Add whatever topping to pancakes as desired


Justin was pleasantly surprised by the outcome and said they ended up being delicious we of course agreed.

Rachel Birch, Hair Stylist and chef happened to be doing my hair and asked if I enjoy cooking for myself now that I moved. She also gave me some recipes for future experimentation. I asked her what she thought about chocolate chip banana pancakes, she says, “Ooh that sounds really good.”

At the end of our breakfast I was curious on how breakfast restaurants like Denny’s always get their pancakes to look perfect.

Jan, a Denny’s employee shared the secret of their breakfast with me.

 “Denny’s has a specific recipe,” says Jan. “That I don’t have the right to share with you, but if you are allergic to something I can let you know if that’s in it.”

So unfortunately I did not get to know the whole secret to perfect pancake making. Personally I believe our pancakes taste better anyway.

Photos by H Endres, Oct 23, 2011

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Living as a tight for money college student, many would agree that it is important to get the most out of your money. Neglecting what is already in your fridge is an easy way to waste food and money. I took a look in my fridge this week and tried to figure out what I could make with what I already had available.

I found BBQ sauce from my first meal’s BBQ. I still had some boneless skinless chicken breast which we had frozen.

The Final Product

Then I thought of one of my favorite meals. BBQ chicken pizza is what I decided to conquer this week.

I looked up an easy recipe for BBQ chicken pizza and added a few improvisations of my own.

Mike Swift, general manager of Woodstock’s Pizza in downtown SLO took some time to give me advice for my next pizza venture.

“It’s all about trial and error,” said Swift. “Experimenting is key.”

He suggested that I get a pizza stone for the oven which works for BBQs too. Cooking on a ceramic pizza stone gives the an effect that is equivalent to a slate brick oven.

To my surprise it was something I thought could be very manageable. I happened to go to a couple of grocery stores this week so I grabbed ingredients as I remembered them.


From Food 4 Less

2 piece chicken $4

2 jars Sweet Baby Ray’s Sauce $2

(both of which we already had in our fridge)

From Albertson’s

1 can Pilsbury Pizza Dough

1 bundle cilantro

Trader Joe’s

1 package shredded mozzarella cheese

Borrowed from the Neighbor’s

1/2 of one red onion


First thawed the chicken in the kitchen sink with warm water, next I sautéed the chicken in a pan coated with olive oil. When I assumed they were done I took a piece out set it on a plate and cut into the middle. To my surprise the chicken was completely raw in the middle. My roommate Ali suggested that I cut the chicken into strips and throw it back in the pan to cook longer.

When the chicken was halfway done I preheated the oven to the directions of the Pilsbury pizza dough directions. After that I added the BBQ sauce. I decided not to go with the recipe and put on as much as I thought was necessary. Needless to say there ended up being a lot of BBQ sauce.

I cut the chicken into smaller bite size pieces and added a layer of chicken to the sauce. My friend Justin cut up a half a cup of cilantro and I cut up a half an onion. Both added to the next layer of the pizza. Finally on top I added the cheese.

The bake time on the instructions said only 6-10 minutes. However, this was not enough time. The outside crust looked perfect but the bottom was too soft. We put the pizza in for 5 more minutes.

Still it was not good enough. We decided that the reason why the pizza was not cooking properly was because of the cookie sheet it was on. We took the pizza off of the cookie sheet and placed it on a large piece of foil. We let it cook for 5 for minutes. Although it wasn’t as crisp as we would have liked I was impatient and took the pizza out.

Taylor Westrup a nutrition freshman was one of the first to try the final product.

“I was a bit suspicious but the pizza was delicious,” said Westrup.

Waiting for the the results was the most difficult part of the whole process. So overall cooking pizza at home was an easy meal. I also realized at the end of cooking that I did take the easy way out, since I did not make or toss homemade pizza dough.

Paul Brown a business fiance junior has experience making pizza as he was a former Domino’s employee.

“Tossing dough is difficult,” says Brown. “It’s really a hard task to learn.”

After a rather challenging but successful attempt at BBQing my friend Justin gave me advice on what I could try next time to make the meal better.

The Final Product

A couple days later he invited my roommates and I over for tacos. As it was around dinner time my roommate Ali and I headed over to Justin’s for the feast. He was cooking up the most important ingredient, the meat. So when we showed up he immediately put Ali and I to work. He tried teaching us how to cut fixings like avocado, jalapenos, lettuce onions and more. Which is a difficult task to learn if you don’t have previous experience.

The ingredients might not have looked perfect but, we did manage to get the job done. The cutting was harder and took longer than I had expected. However, their are a few easy tips to make it easier for amateurs like myself to accomplish.

Onions are a staple in most meals. Justin added them to the meat for flavor. They could also be used as an additional topping. When handed the onion I sort of stared at it like it was an essay prompt. Thinking I should know what to do, but how the heck do I start?! Justin guided me as best as he could but, for future use I looked up a Youtube video later on how to properly cut onions.

If you are into spicy food, then you would definitely agree with adding some jalapenos to tacos. Ali was in charge of dicing the jalapenos. Much like myself she was confused on how to get started on cutting them. Luckily Justin’s roommate Kevin explained to Ali an easy way to cut them. Since I missed this lesson, I looked up another video later on how to dice jalapenos.

No one knew exactly how to cut lettuce so Justin took a guess.

Justin Machado, 20 and an Agriculture Business major said his experience cooking in PCV has been nice so far. The only hindrance is that the kitchen is small so it’s hard to fit a lot of people in at once.

After trying the meal I asked how he got his recipe.

“I called my sister she gave me some ideas and then I just threw shit together,” said Machado.

Basically what became second nature for him, became a delicious meal for us. His cooking even lured people into his room. Paul, a friend joining us for dinner said he could smell the food when getting off the elevator. Everyone passing his door said it smelled really good. One girl even walked in and yelled feed me!

Justin got his ingredients at a most popular spot to grocery shop, Food 4 Less.

Justin Machado cooking in PCV






sour cream


hot sauce

All for about $20

Except for the ground beef which he brought from home. The beef was raised on his family dairy.

Kevin Yost, 20, and business major, was one of the first to give his opinion on dinner.

“Best taco I’ve ever had,” said Yost. “Seriously, they were great tacos.”

Taco Tuesday is now a set tradition at Justin’s.

Cooking in Poly Canyon Village is more difficult than I thought. My roommates and I are all transfers who live in PCV. We decided it would be fun to cook a family dinner every Sunday night. As it turns out we all have limited cooking experience, so we are sort of winging it. We got the idea to BBQ when we saw that there was an outdoor grill at the bottom of our building. While deciding on our menu we realized that we weren’t allowed certain supplies to even BBQ in the first place. We are not allowed to have charcoal, lighters or lighter fluid in our rooms.

I went down to our building’s office and asked if it would be possible to BBQ. At first they weren’t really sure of the rules regarding the BBQ, however they did say we were allowed to use the BBQ if we did not remove the coal. We also had to let the Community Advisors know when we were going to use it when the time came.

Sunday came along and we decided to BBQ chicken and corn on the grill. We also wanted to make a fruit salad on the side. Food 4 Less was our chosen destination for grocery shopping.

The Final Product

We bought:

6 boneless skinless chicken breasts $13 dollars

3 corn $.99 x2

1 Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce $1 x2

To feed six people the meal cost about $3 each.

Jamie, a clerk at Food 4 Less says, “We are the cheapest store in SLO. You don’t need a card you just come in and shop.”

We then added :

1 pineapple $4

2 cartons strawberries $4

1 watermelon $3

This fruit salad fed all six of us and lasted for several more servings after the BBQ, so it was a good investment.

The cooking was quite an experience. None of my roommates had ever BBQed so I decided to find recipes online. When this confused me enough I called my little brother for reassurance as he is the BBQ master of my family. He told me a simple way to grill so it made me feel a little better about the task ahead.

Since we had already bought our ingredients and it was about dinner time we had figured it was about time to start up the grill. I walked downstairs and told our Community Advisors that we were planning on using the grill. It was a different group of students working at the desk at that time. I asked if they could provide us with a lighter since we weren’t allowed to have one. They told us we would need to provide our own charcoal, lighter and lighter fluid.

Shannon Casey, a CA in Huasna said that we are allowed to have these supplies if we keep them in the Aliso main office. “Cooking happens quite a bit in PCV,” she said. “It’s always interesting to see what food caused a fire alarm to go off.”

Now knowing we could get our final supplies, we had to run to the store, buy the last amenities and hurry back to start dinner!

Never leave a fire unattended

We decided it would be smart to get the coals going and then run up to grab the food to grill. We set the coals on fire and walked back to our room. We then realized it probably looked bad that we set a fire and left it alone. So we started running up the stairs and down the hallway to our room, grabbing the food as quickly as possible. Then on the way back we decided it looked even worse that we lit a fire and ran away from it! However, we made it safely back to our grill without causing any damage to anything.

I started grilling as my brother advised me and although I was nervous the whole time, the meal turned out surprisingly eatable and even enjoyable.

Students would walk by saying it smelled good. I would get excited by this and tell them it was my first time bbqing! So I asked if they wanted to try the finished product. Usually this was followed by a polite no.

One of the more willing residents actually said yes to my offer. Kevin Shibley, 20, and an electrical engineering major said, “If you had not told me I would have not known it was your first time bbqing.”  When asked for advice for next time, Shibley said, “I think if you wanted to play around more with the seasoning you could have. Good assortment of fruit and the corn turned out well.”

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