Earthling's Handbook
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The Earthling's Cookbook

an assortment of quick, easy, inexpensive recipes

collected by 'Becca Stallings and Dan Efran

Here are instructions for making some of the foods we enjoy in our everyday life. They reflect our basic approach to cooking: combine ingredients that you tend to have on hand, be flexible about details, minimize the amount of cookware used, and depend on recipes that can be whipped up in a relatively short time. Measurements are very approximate, unless otherwise noted; if we say, "1/2 lb. pasta," we mean you can guess at one-sixth of a three-pound box. Seasonings are very approximate, because we make things to suit our tastes (which may be different from yours) and we rarely measure. When in doubt, use less seasoning; you can always add more later.


This is an easy way to get your vegetables, and it reheats well in a microwave. To make 3 main-dish servings, you will need:

Bring water to a boil.

Add pasta. Depending on your choice of veggies, add them now or wait a few minutes. Frozen vegetables take longer to cook than fresh ones. Denser vegetables like broccoli and carrots take longer than softer ones like zucchini or peas.

Boil for at least 7 minutes. Fish out a piece of pasta and bite it to see if it's done. If not, keep cooking until it is.

Drain off the water.

Divide food onto plates. Season each portion with salad dressing and fried onions.


This is our version of a traditional Chinese way to use up leftovers! To make 2 main-dish servings, you will need:

Heat oil in skillet.

Add onion, black pepper, and additions and stir until lightly browned.

Add rice. Cold cooked rice tends to clump together; it's easier to work with if you crumble it in your hands over the pan.

Cook and stir for a minute or so, until rice is warmed.

Sprinkle rice with soy sauce and ginger.

Break egg over rice and quickly mix it in, so that rice is thoroughly coated.

Reduce heat to medium. Stir occasionally until egg is completely cooked, at least 2 minutes.


This recipe will save you a lot of money compared to buying prepared sauce, and it's healthier. The best way to make a good sauce is to season it by taste! Use a quantity of tomato puree approximately equal to the amount of sauce you want, add seasonings gradually, and sample it frequently. You will need:

Heat the oil. Add the onion and stir until lightly browned.

Add the garlic and optional ingredients. Stir until onions are transparent.

Add tomato puree, oregano, basil, salt, pepper, and wine. Mix thoroughly. Keep at medium-high heat until it begins to bubble.

Reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, stirring occasionally (watch out for bursting bubbles, which can scald you!) for at least 10 minutes. Make sure sauce doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot. Cook at least until throughly heated. Flavor improves the longer it cooks, up to about 45 minutes.

If you've made more sauce than you need for one meal, pour the rest into glass jar(s), close lids tightly, and refrigerate immediately. It will keep for 3-6 weeks. If you make a really large batch, you can freeze some (in a plastic container), but the consistency will be a little different after thawing.


This is our basic "mexican food" recipe. The recipe is very flexible -- add or subtract anything you like, or change the proportions. This re-heats very well. To make at least four servings, you need:

If you're cooking the rice, start that now. You can also use refrigerated leftover rice.

Dice the onion.

Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and stir occasionally, until lightly browned.

Meanwhile, open cans and drain liquid. Put beans into colander and rinse thoroughly. (This prevents them from giving you gas.)

Add the beans to the pan. Stir more frequently until beans are hot.

Add garlic, chili powder, and other seasonings; mix well.

Meanwhile, dice the bell pepper and any other vegetables and the cheese.

Add the vegetables and corn and keep stirring.

When everything looks cooked -- the vegetables not overcooked -- add the cheese. Stir until it melts.

Add tomato or salsa. Stir until it's hot.

Add the rice, if it's cold and there's room in the pan. Mix until it's hot. (Or, heat it separately and serve the beans over the rice.)



This is a quick, easy way to make several days' worth of lunches to take to work or school. Of course, you could eat this at home instead. To make 4 main-dish servings, you will need:

Open cans and drain liquid. Put beans into colander and rinse thoroughly. (This prevents them from giving you gas.)

Evenly distribute all ingredients except chips among the boxes, putting cheese on the top. Close tightly and refrigerate.

Fill each sandwich bag with chips.

At lunchtime, loosen lid and microwave container for about 1 minute. Use chips to scoop up the other food.


Becca learned to make this cake at Girl Scout Camp Wah-Shah-SheExternal Link! in Osage County, Oklahoma. You can use any combination of cake mix flavor and pie filling flavor. White cake with alternating blobs of cherry and blueberry makes a nice patriotic dessert. Yellow cake mix with blueberry results in some distressing shades of greenish gray, ideal for Halloween! You will need:

Grease and flour pan. Preheat oven to 375F.

Combine cake mix, egg, and oil. Add water in tiny quantities until mixture is just thin enough that you can spread it in the pan; it should be thicker than ordinary cake batter. Make sure it covers the bottom of the pan and is a bit higher along the sides.

With spoon, scoop pie filling into a number of blobs on top of the batter. Use spoon to mix pie filling partially into batter, making swirly designs.

Bake for maximum amount of time directed on cake mix box. Use poking device to check if cake is done all the way through; if not, continue baking and check every 5 minutes.


These can be frozen and reheated in a microwave or toaster oven. To make 10, you will need:

Drain and rinse beans in colander. Put kidney beans into bowl and mash with fork. You may mash the black beans or not, as you prefer.

Dice onion and bell pepper. Brown with garlic in oil in skillet. Meanwhile, grate cheese.

Mix beans, onion mixture, and seasonings in bowl. If you are going to eat some burritos right away, scoop enough filling for each burrito into skillet and heat it before the next step.

Sprinkle cheese in a line across center of one tortilla, ending about 1 inch from each edge. Scoop some filling over cheese and distribute evenly. Fold ends of tortilla over filling. Fold one side up, then roll. Repeat with each tortilla.

Wrap each burrito in waxed paper. Put several together in a bag. Close the zipper most of the way. Press air out of the bag, then use your mouth to suck out as much air as you can before closing the zipper. (This prevents frost from forming inside the bag and making your food soggy.)

Reheat a burrito by removing from waxed paper and microwaving on a plate for 1-2 minutes or heating on pan or foil in toaster oven at 350F for 7-10 minutes (keep an eye on it!).


These can be frozen and reheated in a microwave or toaster oven. To make 10, you will need:

Drain sweet potatoes and mash in the bowl. Drain off any pockets of liquid that appear as you're mashing.

Dice onion and brown it in oil in skillet. Meanwhile, grate cheese.

Assemble and store burritos, following directions for Bean Burritos above.


Excellent over rice with a side dish of snow peas or broccoli. To make 4 main-dish servings, you will need:

Mix soy sauce, sherry, and seasonings in the bowl. Slice tofu 1/2 inch thick and put into sauce to marinate. (Do this up to 24 hours in advance for stronger flavor.)

Gently remove tofu slices from sauce. Lay tofu in skillet. Place over medium heat until it begins to sizzle.

Flip tofu with spatula. Let it cook on the other side for about 30 seconds.

Pour sauce over tofu. (Be sure to scrape out any spices that have settled to the bottom.) Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and cover skillet. Simmer, flipping tofu occasionally, until your rice is done, or at least 10 minutes. If sauce is boiling away and you can't set the heat any lower, add a little more sherry.


This reheats well in a microwave. To make 3 main-dish servings, you will need:

Put rice, broth, and water in the pot. Bring to a boil.

Add vegetables, herbs, and pepper. Bring to a boil again.

Reduce heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally. After about 5 minutes, taste some of the liquid and adjust seasoning as necessary.

When most of the liquid is absorbed, sample some rice to see if it's cooked. If not, add 1/4 cup water and continue simmering.

Optional: When serving the food, layer it with thin slices of mozzarella or similar cheese. Let stand a moment, then stir to mix in the melted cheese.


This is good over rice, with a side dish of cauliflower. To make 4 main-dish servings, you will need:

Preheat oven to 350F.

Slice onion and pepper into thin strips. Brown them lightly in oil in the skillet.

Slice tofu 1/2 inch thick.

Pour a little barbecue sauce into bottom of baking pan.

Lay tofu in pan, making sure there is sauce under it. Top with onion, pepper, and more sauce. If you have more tofu than fits in the bottom of the pan, make a second layer. Pour remaining sauce on top.

Pour juice into barbecue sauce bottle. Put lid back on, shake it, and pour contents into baking pan.

Bake for about 15 minutes or until sauce is bubbly.


To make 6 main-dish servings, you will need:

Drain peas and mash them in the bowl.

Brown half of the onions, half of the garlic, and all of the curry powder in oil.

Add the peas. Cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until lightly browned. Transfer mixture back to bowl and cover to keep warm.

Brown remaining onion and garlic in oil.

Add peanut butter, salt, cumin, and coriander. Mix thoroughly.

When peanut butter has melted, add tomatoes. Stir until heated.

Slice pitas in half crosswise and lightly toast them.

Fill each half-pita with some green mixture, some red mixture, and some yogurt.


A breakfast sandwich. You can make several servings at once. Per serving, you need:

Cook the tater tots according to the package.

When the tater tots are done, smash them with a fork, breaking each one up into a few pieces.

Heat the oil. Scramble the eggs with the seasonings.

When the eggs are nearly done, add the shredded potato and mix well. Keep scrambling until hot.

Stuff hot mixture into pitas and serve.


This tastes like a dessert but is loaded with Vitamin A, plus significant fiber and iron! To make 1 snack serving, you will need:

Scoop pumpkin into bowl. (Store excess pumpkin in containers with tight-fitting lids and refrigerate. It will keep for about a week.)

Top with spices, butter, and sweetener.

Microwave for about 1 minute or until hot.

Stir thoroughly and enjoy!


We love broccoli but aren't so crazy about the typical broccoli casserole, so Becca came up with this recipe. To make 4 main-dish servings, you will need:

Chop broccoli, onion, and mushrooms. Grate cheese.

Preheat oven to 325F.

Grease baking pan and press rice into the bottom.

Cook broccoli, onion, and mushrooms with a little oil in skillet, over medium heat, about 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix soup, milk, cheese, and pepper in mixing bowl.

Pour a little soup mixture over rice. Then add vegetables and pour remaining sauce over top.

Bake, uncovered, 25 minutes.


To make about 2 cups (for use as a chip dip, salad topping, or condiment), you will need:

Wash avocado(s) and cut horizontally all the way around, plunging the knife straight in until it touches the pit.

Split apart halves of avocado. Slide knife blade gently between avocado flesh and skin to loosen it. Turn skin inside-out to empty avocado flesh into bowl, remove pit(s), then scrape skin carefully with tip of knife until all flesh is removed.

Mash avocado with fork.

Add salsa, yogurt, and lime juice and mix thoroughly.


This is a great way to use up apples that are too old to eat raw. Try it alone or as a topping for ice cream, yogurt, pancakes, oatmeal, or cold cereal. To make 3-4 dessert servings, you will need:

Remove cores from apples and dice into approximately 1/4-inch cubes.

Melt butter in skillet. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add brown sugar and spices and stir until sugar dissolves.

Add apples. Stir until thoroughly coated. Cook, covered, stirring frequently, 5 minutes or until apples are tender. If sugar starts burning, lower heat.


Here's a way to clear your sinuses and get some protein when you're too sick to eat much. It's also a good appetizer for a Chinese-style meal. To make 2 servings, you will need:

Place broth over high heat. Stir in all other ingredients except eggs. Mentally prepare for next step.

When soup comes to a full boil, place fork in hand, then pick up egg. Break egg into soup and immediately break yolk with fork and begin stirring vigorously. Meanwhile, use other hand to turn down heat. (If using an electric stove, you may need to move the pot off the burner for a moment to prevent boiling over.)

Wait until egg is completely cooked (about 30 seconds), then turn off heat. Let stand about 1 minute before pouring into bowls.

Copyright ©1999-2003 by Daniel S. Efran and Becca Stallings.
Last update: 2003-03-07
Maintained by Dan Efran -