I used to only be able to cook buttered noodles and roasted broccoli. As the only vegetarian in my family, I struggled with finding creative dining options other than pasta, vegetables, and veggie burgers. That being said, my time living in off-campus housing has forced me to expand upon my meager cooking skills. This year my boyfriend (and fellow vegetarian), Joshua Slager ‘23, and I decided that we wanted to start cooking more creative meals and document them for our friends and family to see.

One of the first meals we made together was this butternut squash ravioli with a brown butter lemon sauce and fresh arugula. This dish has become a new staple for me when I want to throw together a quick weeknight dinner. While this is still a glorified version of buttered noodles, I have learned that browned butter can elevate any dish to the next level. Whether you are making chocolate chip cookies or a simple pasta dish, take the extra few minutes to brown your butter, the added flavor it will bring to your dish is completely worth it.

Mexican-inspired cuisine is a great option for vegetarians out there struggling to fulfill their daily protein requirements. This is a fresh taco salad with cherry tomatoes, radish, avocado, crispy tortilla strips, and a black bean and quinoa mixture, topped with a jalapeño and avocado-lime dressing. This salad was refreshing and filling, and best of all, we were able to use the rest of the ingredients to make burritos for lunch throughout the week. While we did not include it on this salad, I highly recommend pickled red onion on any taco, burrito, or taco bowl that you make!

It almost feels wrong including our fresh tomato salad in this article, but I think it is easy to underestimate just how good simple food can taste. This mixture included cherry tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, olive oil, and some simple spices. This likely should not be classified as “cooking” because all you have to do is mix the ingredients together, and you are done. That being said, when paired with some good bread and either burrata or mozzarella cheese, this tomato salad is one of the best meals I have ever eaten.

Yes this is another twist on a simple buttered noodle, but please bear with me. Pictured are sesame-brown butter sesame udon noodles with fresh spinach, and zucchini fritters accompanied by a yogurt dipping sauce. Despite having similar ingredients to our ravioli dish above, this meal contains a different flavor profile. Additionally, it only took about 15 minutes to cook everything making it an ideal meal for our busy F&M schedules.

In addition to cooking for ourselves, we also love cooking for and with others. Most recently we invited Issac Mintz ‘25 and Koa Kaliebe ‘25 to the College Hill Apartments to cook dinner with us. Together, we prepared roasted carrots with farro, chickpeas, roasted pepitas, and herbed creme fraiche. Cooking has transformed from an obligatory, mundane task to something not only enjoyable, but that provides an outlet to express my love and friendship to those around me.

All photos and captions are courtesy of Kyra Caffrey. You can follow along on her culinary journey at @collegehillcooks on Instagram. Senior Kyra Caffrey is a contributing writer and her email is kcaffrey@fandm.edu.