With the impending stress of finals and inevitable cheer of the holidays looming just a couple days ahead of of us, the staff at the Red and Blue thought we would team up together for one big final project (of the semester, of course).
On a special episode of Cooking With Nina, staff members Emma, Xochitl, Emmit, Hannah, Jacob Zarate and Jacob Tashjian all took to their kitchens and crafted a holiday dish for Nina, the resident Master Chef.
Well, Tashjian took a different approach.
Read below for notes from the new cooks on the block, their recipes, and Nina's final rankings!
The one thing I have seen on my TikTok "For You Page" consistently for the past month are these DIY hot chocolate bombs. I took it as a sign, and I am so glad I did. Not only did they turn out very aesthetically pleasing and delicious, but making them was such a therapeutic process that I definitely needed. It took my mind off of impending finals week by requiring a lot of focus on melting chocolate without burning it, keeping the shells in one piece and ensuring the outsides looked pretty for the camera.
The hot chocolate bombs were pretty simply to make, and you could definitely follow along to the video below. Just in case, here is the recipe I roughly followed. It is not a true kitchen experience if you do not deviate from the rules a few times, right?
Heyo, it’s me, Jacob Tashjian, and I’m here to inform you, the wonderful readers at home, how to create a rendition of a turkey that would bring tears to the eyes of Michelangelo and leave Da Vinci in a cold sweat. Before I unveil to you the secrets of drawing, you’re going to need a couple of household items. First thing’s first, you need a canvas of sorts, I personally used a piece of paper so I could deliver my masterpiece to the masses like a holy scribe bringing down the ancient texts in the days of yore, in a scroll. Also so I could fit it in my backpack. You also need a writing and coloring utensil of somesort, I used a pencil and a brown colored pencil but if you so boldly choose, the pen is also an option. Lastly, you’re gonna need a hand. Any hand will do but preferably one with five fingers, if not then I’m sorry but you cannot continue any further by legal means. With these tools in possession, you may now begin the artistic process of drawing a hand turkey.
Place your free hand onto the center of your canvas
With your other hand, draw an outline of your hand and then remove your free hand from the canvas
Draw two dots to represent eyes where your thumb is outlined
At the bottom of your hand outline, draw some little legs for your turkey, but remember if your turkey skipped leg day or not
Color in your turkey
Sign your name onto this illustrious piece of art and congratulations.
You drew a hand turkey, you can put it on your fridge. You could also frame it, please don’t though.
When it comes to the holidays, one of my favorite things to make is sugar cookies. They have been a tradition for my family to bake every year. Sugar cookies are not only easy to make, but they are fun to design. You can either make your sugar cookies homemade or from the classic Betty Crocker box recipe. I followed the Betty Crocker recipe. First thing first, make sure you preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Here is what you will need:
1 box package of Betty Crocker holiday sugar cookie mix
⅓ melted butter
½ vegetable oil
2 tablespoons of flour
You want to mix all these ingredients together in a bowl. Once mixed together you want to put the ball of dough on a cutting board, which needs to be covered in a thin layer of flour. Then roll out the dough. Once the dough is rolled out use your cookie cut outs to make shapes. Then put the cookies in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Once the cookies are done let them cool on a cooling rack. Once the cookies are cool you can design them with your frosting. I prefer buying the Betty Crocker frosting, white though. It is easier to simply buy white frosting and then use food coloring to dye the white whatever color you need. If you have different frosting tips then I recommend using those too to make fun designs. All in all the designing process is up to you so have fun with it.
I am not a baker, so when I had to make a holiday item I panicked. I went through several possible options and ended up going with one of my favorite desserts: cheesecake. Cheesecake by itself isn’t festive however so I turned to the internet to find my filling. Luckily, the internet had just what I was looking for with a gingerbread cheesecake recipe that didn’t seem too difficult.
And, okay, it was a little difficult but baking leaves a lot of room for error, which was a good thing because I made a. . . few mistakes.
Important information to remember (especially for non bakers)
Wait for all the cold ingredient to get to room temperature, or the filling gets lumpy (I learned from experience)
Spices can be eyeballed
Remember to buy all the ingredients (I forgot sour cream, whoops!)
It tastes kinda funny before it gets baked but that’s normal. Also probably don’t eat the batter because raw eggs are included in the recipe.
If the top of the cheesecake souffles, the eggs are overcooked (Sorry eggs!)
IMPORTANT! Use a springform pan and then put that pan in a water bath so it doesn’t get burnt. I did not do this and so the cheesecake ended up looking a little too cakey and not enough cheesy, and it was also bordering on black, which isn’t the most appetizing.
While I made a lot of definitely avoidable mistakes it still came out tasting pretty good. So if I can do it so can anyone at home just follow the recipe and read ALL the instructions, and also don’t copy what I did. Complete all of those and you should be doing great. And remember, when in doubt just add some whip cream!
Here's the original recipe!
-1 box of brownie mix (Betty Crocker)
-½ cup of oil
-¼ cup of water
-preheat oven to 350 degrees
-pour in brownie mix, oil, water, and eggs into a bowl and stir until they are evenly distributed
-grease the 9x13in. pan then pour the mix
-bake for 28 minutes or until ready
-study for finals while you are waiting
-take them out to cool off once they are ready to come out
-enjoy with a glass of milk. Unless you’re lactose intolerant. Then you probably shouldn’t.
Pro tip #1: Try taking them out a minute before the timer goes off to see if they are ready. You don’t want to make the same mistake I did and make cement instead of brownies.
Pro tip #2: Wear oven mitts, trust me on this one.
Hack #1: If you want to add a little crunch to the brownies, leave the egg shells in. Just kidding, don’t be gross. Use walnuts instead. Unless, of course, you are allergic to nuts.
Hack #2: If you are feeling particularly festive, try adding some frosting and sprinkles to give some love and life to your brownies.
Cornbread has been a delicacy enjoyed in our family during the holidays for years, so when I heard we were doing a holiday competition this was the first thing to jump to mind. It only took me about fifteen minutes to make and gave us cornbread for almost a week, so if you’re a beginning baker and don’t necessarily want to make a dessert I would recommend going for this.
First preheat your oven to around 350 degrees, then gather your ingredients. To keep it simple, grab two boxes of corn muffin mix, two eggs, a can of condensed milk, and a can of sweet corn. Grab a large bowl and pour both boxes into it, then grab another small bowl and crack both of your eggs into it. Mix them up and pour into the bowl of corn muffin mix. Pour the condensed milk and sweet corn in as well, then use a whisk or mixer to properly mix them all together. Once properly mixed, pour your new batter into a container that is big enough for the liquid and is comparable with the oven. Heat until the top of the cornbread browns, then poke a stick within the bread. If less than solid bits stick to the piece, then it requires more time in the oven.
Once nothing else comes out, remove and enjoy it with the rest of your family!
Final Notes From Chef Nina:
As you saw in the video, most of my Red and Blue team made tasty food, with the exception of Jacob Tashjian. Here is my final wrap up and I guess you can call it an awards ceremony.
In first place is Emma Farris. Her chocolate bombs were so amazing and I would love to have them every single day of winter. In second place is Emmit Boyer’s cornbread. I am a sucker for cornbread and it did exceptionally well for my standards because it was the only food item that was not dessert. In third place is Hannah Chuhlantseff’s cookies. They were very delicious but very chewy at the same time which I am usually not used to for sugar cookies. Fourth is Xochitl Noriego’s gingerbread cheesecake. I was unable to cut a slice of it because the crust was rock-solid so I had to take a spoonful from the center. It tasted great, I just wish I could have gotten a bite of the crust. In fifth place is Jacob Zarate’s brownies. He is in last place of the food portion because even though they looked good and the center was soft, they were exceptionally crunchy and overbaked. Technically Jacob Tashjian’s beautiful turkey art comes in last place because it was not food. Though, his turkey won first place in my heart, but it was a food competition. I would like to thank my squad for making great food. I would definitely eat every single item again.
To see Nina's reaction to our dishes, check out the video library the Red and Blue's homepage!
And with that Panthers, us at the Red and Blue wish you good luck on finals, happy Thanksgiving, and merry Christmas! Thank you so much for a wonderful first semester. We'll see you VERY soon on the Red and Blue!