Cal Poly’s Food Media Club

14 Mar

Have a Fiesta! | Tacos and Quesadillas

14 Mar

In this blog:

  • making tacos and quesadillas for dinner
  • why taco tuesday is so great
  • hosting a fiesta party

Everybody Loves Taco Tuesday


Tacos are easily modifiable to anybody's specific tastes. Mine is simple, with just ground beef and cheese.

I had never heard of Taco Tuesday before coming to San Luis Obispo. Every student at Cal Poly and otherwise, seems so obsessed with it! Chino’s, located downtown, has a line out the door every Tuesday just so college kids can get a taste of their delicious one dollar tacos.

Samuel Brown, a fourth year business major said,

“I religiously attend Taco Tuesday every week. Who doesn’t love one dollar tacos?”

Why the obsession? Well, I don’t know, but I love it too! So what better way to spend my night (it’s Monday, but oh well- what day isn’t great for this yummy food!) than to cook homemade tacos. I had to add a quesadilla in there too, because I love them just as much.

Make it a Fiesta!

Since so many people love Taco Tuesday, and since it is such a simple meal to make, why not turn your lonely Taco Tuesday into a fiesta party with a bunch of friends? Have everyone bring one ingredient to make your tacos the best around. Think of the possibilities, tacos don’t have to be simply meat, cheese, and shell (similar to my own), there’s so much more to add: avocados, tomatoes, onions, limes, cilantro, potatoes…

By having everybody bring one cheap ingredient, all the host will have to supply is the kitchen! Hopefully it’s a well-equppied kitchen, unlike mine, but most anything will do. Crisp up some corn tortillas with some oil in a skillet, and lay out warm flour tortillas for the soft taco lovers. Then step back, and watch the mess unfold.

Tacos are, by nature, one of the messiest foods around, because ingredients are just thrown in to the shell and constantly fall out while someone eats it. Keep in mind that if hosting a Taco Tuesday fiesta, cleaning up remnants of many different tacos will be the hardest job of the night. Especially when your stomach is full of taco goodness!

Jessica Lee, a mother of two boys, said “Taco night is the messiest night for my kitchen table. I still find lettuce bits weeks later.”

My Take on Taco Night


The quesadilla I made was loaded with melted cheese and slathered with butter. So much fat, but so yummy!

My tacos were super simple, just the way I like them. I cooked some ground beef in a skillet after adding some garlic salt and paprika, and browned white corn tortillas in another pan. When they were ready, I simply added some cheese to the taco, which melted because everything was so hot.

As for the quesadilla, I just made a half one because the skillet was really small. I added tons of butter (too much, but it made it so much more delicious) and a lot of cheese. It was the perfect combination of a blend of cheeses and a crispy, buttery flour tortilla.

“I love love love quesadillas. I know it’s lame, but that’s all I order at Mexican restaurants,” Emily Barnes, a recent Cal Poly graduate, said.

The tacos and quesadillas were fatty and delicious, and I can’t wait to make them again. Taco night is definitely going to become a regular meal at home!

Life at the Dairy Unit

2 Mar

Check out this virtual collage of pictures, words, audio, and a map about the dairy unit at Cal Poly!


Date Night, Part Deux

28 Feb

In this blog:

  • a second attempt at a date night meal
  • fettuccine with sweet pepper-cayenne sauce recipe
  • using the wrong ingredients… and the wrong amounts

Cayenne, Paprika… What’s the difference?

After my failed attempt at making a meal that could be enjoyed on a romantic date, I decided to try again. This time I set out to make fettuccine with a sweet pepper-cayenne sauce. The recipe had great reviews, and seemed simple to make.

At the grocery store, I checked to make sure I had everything on the list- and there was one thing missing. The cayenne pepper. When I went to the spices aisle, I desperately searched for the ingredient, and finally found it- in a jumbo size container. Not wanting to pay the extra dollars for a ton of cayenne that I would probably barely use, if at all, I figured I could do without it.

Haley Johnson, a third year graphic communications major said, “It’s hard to cook on a tight budget. If there’s something I can skip in a recipe, I do.”

red bell pepper

Without the red bell pepper, the dish would've been a flop- especially without that cayenne!

Well, I got home and realized that cayenne was pretty important, seeing as how it’s included in the title. It’s supposed to provide the spice to complement the sweet red bell peppers. I figured that the paprika I had in the cupboard would do just fine, and it did, for the most part.

The dish turned out well, better than I expected, but there wasn’t much flavor to it. The sour cream and chicken broth definitely seemed to cancel out most of the flavor of any spice in it, but it was still a pretty good dish. The bell peppers definitely helped add a lot of oomph.

How much is 1/2 cup again?

So, I messed up by not putting cayenne pepper in the dish. But, of course, that wasn’t all. I made the recipe for two, which calls for 1/2 cup of sour cream. But, I’m not too great at converting cups to ounces. So when I bought a small container of sour cream that was 8 ounces, I didn’t really know how much I was buying.

When it was time to add the sour cream to my sauteed peppers and garlic, I didn’t really have time to think about what I was doing, because I was afraid the peppers would start to burn. I attempted to dish out 1/2 cup from a measuring cup, but it didn’t work out too well. So I just ended up putting the whole container of sour cream into the skillet.

Sam Rusko, a fourth year nutrition major said,

“I don’t necessarily measure ingredients exactly, I just kind of see ‘what’s right’ for the dish. It usually works pretty well.”

After I looked up the conversion, I realized that I doubled the amount of sour cream that was supposed to be added (at least it was low-fat!). I also added a little too much chicken broth, so it ended up kind of evening out. But again, it cancelled out the spicy flavor that the dish should’ve had. Oh well, I’ll just need a third attempt at cooking a meal for two!

The Date Aspect

pasta dish for two

I added a little too many peppers, but this dish turned out to be one of the better date meals I've had.

Despite my two mistakes in cooking the dish, it was still a delicious meal, and was a nice complement to a romantic evening. Paired with some garlic bread and a funny movie, it was a great evening at home.

Stephan Carter, a first year business major said “I would love to stay home and cook for someone. It would save me a ton of money and I could actually get to know my date.”

Cooking at home for a date, while sometimes can go awry, is still fun and a lot cheaper than going out someplace. I saved upwards of $20 by purchasing ingredients, rather than made meals from a restaurant. Cooking is a great conversation topic, too- especially if you mess up!

SLOcal Ingredients | Cooking with Locally Grown Foods

23 Feb

In this blog:

  • my first time at  farmer’s market
  • locally grown products to die for
  • making a spinach salad

My Experience at Farmer’s Market

SLO Farmer's Market

Even on a rainy night, vendors and customers still showed up to the local farmer's market in SLO.

Last week I went to SLO’s downtown farmer’s market for the first time since WOW week of my freshman year. Even though it was a rainy night, local farmers still came out to show off their locally made produce. It was a lot of fun to actually be able to talk with the farmers at their stands, rather than walk through an insanely busy crowd like I did last year, when every single WOW group was in attendance.

Even though there weren’t too many booths, I walked up and down a couple times to find the best deals, learn where the products were grown, and decide what I was going to make for this week. I decided on a simple spinach salad, using products that I bought at the farmer’s market!

I didn’t realize how fun going to farmer’s market was, not to mention cheap! Sam Cantwell, a third year biology major said

“I never miss farmer’s market! I love getting fresh fruit for such a cheap price.”

After walking around for a while, I ended up buying fresh spinach, HUGE avocados, and a couple tomatoes to put in my salad.

Getting a Little off Track

These vendors were passionate about their business, and it was a popular stand at the farmer's market.

Of course, I didn’t just buy things I needed for my salad. I couldn’t resist buying honey roasted almonds, and lemon honey ones as well. As I was taking pictures for my post, the people selling the nuts asked if it was for a class. When I told them I was taking pictures for my blog, they made sure I got a bunch of different ones from different angles. “It’s good advertising,” the farmer said, as he explained that the almonds are grown and produced in Bakersfield, CA. After sampling all six variations, I can say that all were delicious.

Next I saw freshly squeezed juice is interesting flavors. After trying samples of a couple different ones, I had to choose Pomegranate Cider over the other choices of Apple Cider, Pomegranate Pear, and others. It was a tough choice!

fresh fruit at Farmers

These fresh fruits, grown in Arroyo Grande, were too appealing to pass up!

When I passed the fresh fruit stand, I just couldn’t resist either. After tasting a blueberry, I bought a small basket for $4.00, which even though was on the expensive side for fruit, was well worth it. The vendor explained to us that since blueberries are out of season right now, the price is a little high, but once summer comes around it’ll go down to $3 or even $2 dollars.

Ashely Johnson, a first year communications major, said “The fruit gets expensive in the winter time, which sucks since it’s still so good. I still try to buy it when I have the money.”

Making the Salad

When I finally got home, I had the makings of a great salad, so I got to work. The best part about salads are that they are easy to make. I washed the spinach and tomatoes, and then chopped the avocados and tomatoes. I added some grilled chicken, apples and black beans to make it an all-around healthy meal.

It was refreshing to know that I was helping out local farmers by buying from the local market. The salad tasted great- the vegetables were just ripe and the spinach was fresh. I encourage everyone to buy from their local farmer’s market for a great experience, and a great meal!

Joe Gonzalez, who is a huge fan of the SLO farmer’s market and never misses one, said “Buying from local farms promotes agriculture and sustainability, and is cheap and convenient. Do it often!”

Getting Started with Cooking | A Guide Map

16 Feb

If you want to learn to cook, but have no idea where to start, follow this map. From restaurants that inspire meal ideas, to the best places to buy cookware, this will get you well on your way to being a cooking pro!

Success at 16 | Brandini Toffee’s Leah Post

15 Feb

Leah Post is a second year business major who started a multi-million dollar toffee company with her friend when she was just in high school. Learn more by listening below.

*Disclaimer: not all sound was gathered on site*

Party Time | Cooking for a Big Group

14 Feb

In this blog:

  • making spaghetti for a big group
  • hosting a dinner party
  • how to properly cook spaghetti

Become a Confident Party Host

spaghetti noodles

Spaghetti is a simple, cheap dish that is perfect for parties- you're going to need a lot of noodles, though!

At least once in life, everyone must cook for a dinner party– whether it be a more formal event with family, or even just a group of friends coming over to watch a weekly sitcom. In any situation like this, it’s important to know not only how to cook, but what to cook.

Forget about making an elaborate meal, because it is way to complicated. In addition to cooking dinner, remember that when hosting a party, entertaining the guests is a must as well. So what should you make that requires little effort, but is a meal that turns out great and everybody will enjoy? It’s simple- spaghetti.

Christina Gallo, a stay at home mom and avid cook, said

“If I ever have a lot of people over, I try to cook a pasta dish because it doesn’t require much attention, so I can still talk to everyone.”

Spaghetti is a favorite with everyone, because of its simple, yet delicious taste. Anyone can make it- but if you are looking to make a meal that will blow everyone away, it’s important to know how to properly cook the pasta.

Cooking Spaghetti the Right Way

Yes, spaghetti is an easy dish to make, but many people don’t know how to properly cook it. Sure, it turns out alright if it isn’t cooked to perfection, but following these directions will really add some oomph to the dish.

1. It’s important to add enough water to the pot, especially when cooking for a large group. The more water, the easier it will boil once the pasta is added.

boiling water

Make sure there is a lot of water in the pot to cook the pasta correctly.

2. Before boiling the water, add some salt. There isn’t a specific amount to add, so you kind of have to ballpark it. But don’t be afraid of it, because it can really add a lot of flavor to the pasta. Just don’t go overboard!

3. Cook the noodles until they are al dente (literally meaning to the tooth), or when the noodle is soft, but not too soggy. A good (and fun!) way to check if the pasta is ready, is to throw a noodle against a wall. If it sticks, it’s ready.

4. After pasta is drained, place it in a large bowl and add olive oil. This step is very important, because once the noodles have sat for even a couple minutes, they will stick to each other and it will be difficult to scoop out individual portions. You don’t need too much olive oil, just enough to keep the noodles moist.

Nicolas Wright, a first year computer science major, said “I had no idea there was a right way to cook spaghetti. Maybe I’ll try it out and see if it’s better.”

The Result that Rakes in the Compliments

a bowl of my finished spaghetti

I added some parmesan cheese on top of the spaghetti to give the dish even more flavor.

When I made spaghetti for a group of seven friends, I was relieved that it was as easy as everyone says it is. I didn’t miss a single second of the show that everyone had gathered for, and the pasta turned out great.

The pot might’ve boiled over once… but I blame it on the size of the pots in the kitchen. We don’t have anything big enough for that many people, but I managed. I followed the steps to cook the noodles the right way (and I even threw some spaghetti against the wall), and I had a lot of fun.

I got a ton of compliments from my friends too. The pasta was salted well, and the olive oil that I added to the pasta to keep it from sticking added a lot of flavor too. Everyone loved it.

Laura Hoffinger, a third year kinesiology major said “She did a really good job. It makes me want to try cooking it, too.”

Good Morning | Breakfast Time

7 Feb

In this blog:

  • simple breakfast recipe- peanut butter and banana french toast
  • finding time for breakfast
  • what to eat for breakfast to keep the body fueled for the day

Protein, Potassium, and Preservatives

Everyone always says that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It gets your body started and keeps it running throughout the day. This week I tried to pick healthy food for my meal, and decided on peanut butter and banana french toast. Eating sugary foods during breakfast won’t help the body at all, it’ll just crash and burn later. Try to pick foods with protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates. These nutrients will really jumpstart the system. For this breakfast recipe, the main ingredients were peanut butter, banana, and bread.


Bananas should be a part of everyone's diet because it has major health benefits for the body.

Peanut butter is a good source of protein and contains some fiber, which gives the body energy and regulates blood cholesterol levels. Bananas contain potassium, which keeps the heart healthy, as well as bones and other vital parts of the body’s system.

My one drawback to this meal, though, was my choice of bread. I used cheap white bread, which contains a lot of preservatives. If the preservatives aren’t natural ones, they can cause a lot of problems for the body. Not only does white bread contain preservatives, but it contains barely any nutrients. Instead of white bread, choose a wheat bread or multi-grain with natural preservatives.

Stacy Mercado, a second year business major said, “I try to eat breakfasts that are healthy, but I don’t cook much. Worst case I’ll grab some fruit before I go to class.”

The Recipe

This twist on traditional french toast is easy to make and delicious.

This simple recipe might have been one of the best things I’ve made yet. It shows me that cooking doesn’t have to include hours of preparation just for a meal that’s eaten in less than 15 minutes.

It took less than 5 minutes to prepare, and another 2-3 minutes to cook. I love both peanut butter and bananas, so it was the perfect recipe for me. The peanut butter oozed out of the sandwich, and it tasted great.

Karissa Jones, a fourth year child development major said,

“I love simple meals that look like they took a long time to make- especially if they taste yummy.” – Karissa Jones

This is definitely something I would make again, especially because it is so quick. I struggle finding time for breakfast with my busy schedule because I assume that breakfast foods take a while to make. This recipe is really the opposite. If someone is pressed for time in the morning because of work or school, this is something they should make. If they are running out the door, try just taking some fruit to go or a whole-wheat english muffin- you get the nutrients you need in less than a minute.

Tyler Church, a first year psychology major said “I never find time for breakfast but it really hurts me later in the day. I need to start just getting something to go before my class.”

A Fresh Perspective

31 Jan

Vodpod videos no longer available.