The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Keeping it simple: quick and easy recipes with flavor

Nicole Michels | Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Cereal. Fried eggs. Food from a box, with directions. Until I interned in Washington, D.C. last summer, my cooking repertoire consisted entirely of dishes I did not need to actually cook. My family always ate fabulously cooked meals created by my mom, which made learning to cook for myself seem quite daunting. So, I didn’t.

Matters were complicated by my preference for relatively healthy meals, which were notoriously more difficult to make and more costly. After eating depressing, pre-made microwave meals, fried eggs and cereal during my first week in D.C., I decided to spend my Saturday morning scouring the internet for recipes that would meet three criteria: healthy, relatively easy to make, with common ingredients between them.

I may have set off the fire alarm four times, dumped six burned creations into the trash and ordered food several times, but at the end of my summer I was able to walk away with a list of delicious recipes I could confidently craft. 

Two weeks after I returned home to Chicago, I made my two favorite meals for my dinner with my family. Though cooking for five is much more arduous than cooking for one, I laid a well-executed dinner out on the table.  And even though our familiarity with my mom’s cooking means collectively we can be culinary snobs, my family heaped praises upon me. 

And I don’t think they were kidding. Maybe. Regardless, take heart, wannabe-chefs. Even the most inept among you will be able to struggle through these recipes.


Green Beans with Mustard, Shallots, Bacon


1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed … or one 16-ounce package frozen

2 slices lean bacon

¼ shallots, sliced or ¼ cup sliced green onions

2 teaspoons brown or grainy mustard

 salt and pepper, to taste


1.  In a large saucepan, boil 1/2 cup of water and add green beans. Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes or until beans are crisp-tender. Drain into a colander, rinse beans under cold water and set aside (if using frozen beans, cook according to package directions.)

2.  In a medium skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Drain bacon on paper towels, then crumble pieces and set aside.

3.  Add shallots to bacon drippings then raise heat to medium-high and cook until tender. Turn heat to low then stir in the mustard, salt and pepper. Add green beans and toss until evenly coated.

4.  Serve in a platter sprinkled with crumbled bacon.


Garlic Shrimp with Noodles – 4 servings


1 tablespoon vegetable oil

3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

2/3 cup shredded carrot

2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

salt and pepper to taste


1.  In a wok or medium sized skillet, heat oil to medium-high heat.

2.  Add garlic and stir-fry for one minute then add shrimp and stir-fry for another minute.

3.  Add shredded carrot and stir-fry for two to three minutes or until shrimp is pink and cooked through.

4.  Stir in cilantro, add salt and pepper to taste and then serve over cooked noodles (optional).


Contact Nicole Michels at [email protected]