The Daily Gamecock

College Cooking

When second-year psychology student Michael D'Onofrio started suffering severe stomach problems over the summer, becoming a master chef was the furthest thing from his mind. In fact, D'Onofrio, an avid athlete, lost more than 25 pounds in a couple of months because of health issues he blames on his first-year college eating habits.

"I came to college and tried the typical college diet," D'Onofrio said. "Cook-Out, Subway — all that stuff — and I wasn't eating well. This past summer I started having really bad stomach problems, and I just found out recently that my gallbladder is messed up because of that poor diet."

As a result, D'Onofrio was forced to start cooking his own food in order to avoid certain triggers. He attributes his culinary success to his parents, who taught him how to create everything from chocolate chips cookies to traditional Hungarian dishes, but now he is branching out and inventing his own recipes for many well-known classics, as well as his own unique creations.

"My recipes are geared towards a college kid's life," D'Onofrio explained. "Someone who doesn't have that much time on their hands and they want something good and quick to eat."

Here are a few of D'Onofrio's specialties, with step-by-step instructions so you can recreate them yourself.

One Pot College Pasta

Why Michael likes it: "It's a great meal when you just want a quick dinner before a meeting or intramural game. If you're just cooking for one, these leftovers will last you a couple days. It's the perfect, simple meal for the typical college cook."

•1 bag of your favorite pasta (fusilli or penne pasta works best)
•1 tablespoon of butter
•2 teaspoons salt (add more too taste)
•1.5 teaspoons of ground black pepper
•1.5 teaspoons of garlic powder
•1–1.5 teaspoons of dried basil or oregano
•1 cup of green peas (optional)
•grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

1. Cook the pasta using instructions on the package.
2. After the pasta is cooked and drained, return it to the pot.
3. Add butter and stir until the butter is melted.
4. Once butter is melted add salt, pepper, garlic powder, basil/oregano and peas. Stir until combined. (Feel free to use more or less of the spices as per your taste.)
5. Place pasta on a plate and finish with grated Parmesan on top. Enjoy!
Serves 3-4

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Why Michael likes it: "Mashed potatoes are the classic side to any dinner. This recipe simply takes them to the next level. [It's] a great side for a steak, chicken or any protein. As a plus, you can always impress the family and make them on Thanksgiving."

•1.5 pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes
•1/4 cup of milk
•1 tablespoon of sour cream
•1 tablespoon of butter
•1-1.5 teaspoons of salt
•1-1.5 teaspoons of garlic powder
•1 teaspoon ground of black pepper (optional)

1. Peel potatoes and dice them into 1-inch pieces.
2. Place potatoes in a pot and cover them with water. Put a lid on the pot and boil the potatoes until they are fork tender.
3. Mash potatoes adding milk, butter and sour cream as you mash. Near the end of mashing, add salt, garlic powder and black pepper as desired.
4. Serve and enjoy!
Serves 4

The Don Tomato Salad

Why Michael likes it: "Shout-out to my dad who always makes this whenever tomatoes are available. Great snack or side to any pasta dish, simple to make, delicious and good for you."

•3 tomatoes (Romas work best)
•1 small cucumber
•1–1.5 tablespoon of olive oil
•1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
•1 teaspoon of salt
•1–1.5 teaspoon of oregano
•1 teaspoon of black pepper (optional)
•1/2 onion sliced (optional)

1. Dice tomatoes into 1/2-inch to 1-inch pieces. Do the same with the cucumber.
2. Toss tomatoes, cucumber and onion if desired with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, oregano and black pepper if desired.
3. Simple as that — serve it up and enjoy!
Serves 3

Chicken Tacos

Why Michael likes it: "Great chicken dinner. It is simply and absolutely delicious. Perfect thing to make for a date or in a big batch for a dinner party. Feel free to play with the spice depending on your heat tolerance."

•1 teaspoon olive oil
•4 garlic cloves, minced
•2 teaspoons minced of canned chipotle peppers in adobe sauce
•1/2 cup of chopped fresh cilantro
•1/2 cup of orange juice
•1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
•1-1.5 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts
•1 teaspoon of yellow mustard
•1/2 teaspoon of salt
•1/2 teaspoon of black pepper

1. Heat oil in a large skillet on medium heat until it flows easily or shimmers. Add garlic and peppers and stir for 30 seconds. Then add cilantro, orange juice and Worcestershire sauce.
2. Put chicken in the skillet and bring liquid to a simmer. Cover the skillet and cook on medium-low heat for about 12 to 18 minutes, flipping halfway through. (The chicken needs to be cooked to an internal temp of 165 degrees.)
3. Once chicken is cooked, remove from the skillet and use two forks to shred the chicken onto a plate.
4. Continue to simmer the sauce on medium-low heat for another five minutes.
5. Take the sauce off the heat and add the yellow mustard. Then pour the sauce over the chicken and mix well.
6. Put chicken in tortillas and top with whatever suits your fancy. Enjoy!
Serves 5

Mom's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Why Michael likes it: "My mom has basically taught me all I know when it comes to cooking. This recipe does not have many ingredients, but at the same time produces an absolutely delicious cookie. Oh, and it has basically no calories."

•1 cup Canola oil
•3/4 cup of white sugar
•1/2 cup of brown sugar
•2 eggs
•2 teaspoons of vanilla
•2 cups of all-purpose flour
•1 teaspoon of baking soda
•1/2 teaspoon of salt
•2 cups of semisweet chocolate chips
•1 cup of chopped pecans (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. With an electric mixer, or hand mixer, mix the oil, white sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla until fluffy.
3. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients with a whisk.
4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, and add chocolate chips and nuts if desired.
5. Use a tablespoon or teaspoon (depending on how big you want your cookie) to drop cookies on greased cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes.

Yields three to five dozen depending on cookie size