College,  Stories

OCC: Off-Campus Cooks – When college kids go culinary

Written by Pauline Balmas

It’s a typical Monday afternoon. Students hurriedly make their way into the Caf, ID cards in hand, desperate to satisfy their ravenous appetites as they grab lunch between a mess of classes. Whether they have less than ten minutes or a full hour, most students take advantage of the plethora of food options the Caf has to offer.

Yet, as much as Biola students love eating their fill in the Caf, sometimes the simple fact remains that there really is nothing like a home-cooked meal. To some students, “cooking” is a term limited to Easy Mac or Top Ramen. However, preparing a simple-yet-tasty meal does not have to be daunting.

Most students living off campus no longer frequent the Caf, but instead venture bravely to the local grocery store. There’s nothing like strolling down the aisles at Stater Bros. and having an array of meats, veggies and produce readily available. Whether following a recipe, or concocting some delicacy on a whim, creating a meal can be a relaxing and interesting experiment.


Katie Whittaker, a senior, has found cooking much easier since moving out of the dorms and into a house with several other girls. “I love cooking, and me and my housemates are always trying out new things,” she says. “Cooking essentially always brings back a little piece of home, and when we do make meals together we usually call them ‘family dinners.’ It really is a great way to come together and show your hospitality for one another.” One of Katie’s favorite recipes is for easy-to-make cookies.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp baking powder
¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients, except chocolate chips. Blend until dough is wet and sticky, then mix in the chocolate chips. Using your fingers, form 1 ½ inch balls and place onto an ungreased, parchment-lined cookie sheet. Cookies will spread during baking, so leave enough space for expansion. Bake for 9 minutes. Let the cookies sit for about 30 seconds to 1 minute before removing from cookie sheet. Place cookies on a wire rack to cool. Makes approximately one dozen small cookies.


Junior Jamie Bartlett, who lives in the off-campus apartments, still has a meal plan, but appreciates the times when she can cook from the comfort of her own kitchen. “For me, cooking is a way to express my creative juices, both literally and figuratively,” she says. “I enjoy it so much because it’s like an art form, where the possibilities are endless.” One of her favorite recipes is chocolate chip pumpkin bread — a perfect treat for the holiday season.

Chocolate Pumpkin Bread

Check out the video for this meal – Click here!

1 ½ cup brown sugar
½ cup butter, softened
1 ¾ cup pureed pumpkin
3 eggs
3–4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups chocolate chips (or substitute butterscotch chips)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a mixer, cream the brown sugar and butter together on medium high speed until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in pumpkin and eggs, and mix until smooth. In a separate bowl, combine all the dry ingredients except the chocolate chips. Mix 3 cups of the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, then add as much of the fourth cup as necessary to achieve the proper consistency (moist, but thick enough to stand a spoon in). Stir in the chocolate chips. Pour or spoon the batter into greased muffin tins or a bread pan. Bake on the center rack, 20-25 minutes for muffins or 50 minutes to 1 hour for a loaf, or until a toothpick poked into the center comes out clean.


Off-campus senior Janet Wi cooks because it allows her to pursue her passion for food while also being health conscious. “I like to say that some people eat to live, but I live to eat,” she says. “So for food lovers, it’s essential to know how to cook. Also, you can control what goes into your food and eliminate a lot of the bad oils, fats and salts that are in a lot of prepared foods.”

Feta Cheese Turkey Burgers
2 handfuls of ground turkey
½ cup feta cheese
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp garlic pepper
Ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
Balsamic vinegar

Knead together ground turkey, feta cheese and spices (as with dough), then form into patties. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Place patties into the pan and cook for about 10–12 minutes, turning halfway through. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.


Contrary to what some students may believe, diving into the culinary realm is far from difficult. Food Network shows, the Internet or even old cookbooks can serve as valuable resources for finding recipes. Whether cooking alone or with friends, creating a meal is a great way to save money, express creativity, develop a new skill and relieve the stress of college life.

Grocery stores to check out:
● Best Way
● Value + Warehouse
● Northgate
● Korean Super 1 Market
● Trader Joe’s
● Fresh and Easy
● Costco
● Vons
● Stater Bros.
● Albertsons
● Ralphs

WEB Only:


Senior Danielle Calbeck lives off campus and enjoys the freedom of cooking exactly what she wants, when she wants. “My mom is big into cooking and her amazing food inspires me to accomplish the same,” she says. “You don’t always know what’s in the food you’re eating, so knowing the ingredients is also a plus to cooking on your own.”

Butternut Squash Soup (courtesy of

Check out the video for this meal – click here!

1 (3-pound) butternut squash
Extra-virgin olive oil, for roasting, plus 2 tablespoons
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2 shallots, chopped
1-quart low-sodium chicken stock
2 teaspoons curry powder (mild or spicy)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cut the squash in half through the stem and remove the seeds. Drizzle the cut edges with oil, season with salt and pepper, and put it, cut side down, on a baking sheet. Roast until very soft, about 1 hour. Remove the squash from the oven, turn the halves over and let them stand until cool enough to handle. Scoop the flesh from the shell, into a bowl and discard the shell. In a large saucepan with a lid, heat the 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the squash flesh, chicken stock, and curry powder and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the squash is broken down, about 10 minutes. Cool the squash mixture for about 5 minutes before adding it to a blender. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth, transferring the puree to a clean saucepan as you work. Season the soup with salt and pepper, to taste, and simmer a few minutes over medium heat to combine the flavors.

Also from Janet Wi:

Pesto Sandwich Wrap:

1 flour tortilla
Pesto sauce
Pinch of garlic powder
3–4 medium-sized mushrooms
Handful of lettuce (Fresh ‘n Easy Rocket Mix recommended)
6 slices deli turkey
Feta cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread pesto sauce lightly over half the tortilla. Spread sliced mushrooms & layer turkey on top. Sprinkle with a dash of garlic powder and put in the oven for about a minute, or until warm. Fill the rest of the tortilla with lettuce and top off with as much feta cheese as desired.

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