4 Ideas for a Budget-Friendly Summer BBQ

Oh, July! Tis the season of fireworks, swimming, and backyard barbecues. Just because you’re living in a student apartment doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the most this season has to offer. Northpoint Crossing offers a myriad of amazing amenities including pool and grilling facilities. Take advantage of these attractions and invite your besties over for a little bbq and afternoon swim.

budget friendly bbq

Keep it budget-friendly and grab your mitts with these BBQ ideas:

4 Ideas for a Budget-Friendly Summer BBQ

  1. Basics can be made great with just a little extra.  There is nothing wrong with keeping to the classic yet basic favorites of hot dogs and burgers. However, you can make them a bit more flavorful with the addition of some simple extras to elevate their flavor. Think hot dogs with cheddar stuffed down the center and a wrapping of bacon. Or blue cheese and avocado baked in the center of burger patties.
  2. More is better.  It is always, always better to make more food than less. Even if your guests skip out on seconds (or thirds), you can have them as leftovers. Such easily reheatable leftovers are a college student’s best friend.
  3. Don’t count out cheaper chicken cuts.  You can find a bag of frozen chicken wings, drums, and drumettes for pretty cheap at your local grocery store. The key to turning these budget-friendly items into barbecue hits lies in the thaw. A delicious outcome relies on time and marinade. Start by opening the frozen bag and adding in your favorite marinade recipe. Give the bag a few good shakes to ensure an even coating and then throw it in the refrigerator for 48 hours. Make sure the grill is ready at 300 to 350 degrees Fahrenheit before removing the chicken from the refrigerator and throwing them on.
  4. DIY your marinades.  As far as which marinade you choose, don’t discount your own home recipes. A mouth-watering glaze for your chicken, steaks, and pork chops can be made with common pantry ingredients like stock, balsamic vinegar, and maple syrup. Similarly, creating your own spice rubs is a great way to clean out your pantry and keep cooking costs down.

Finally, the best way to save money is to make sure you’re doing things right the first time. If this is your first time grilling and barbecuing, consider grabbing a simple cooking book or watching an instructional YouTube video.

Best Places to Picnic in College Station

Summer solstice happens this year on Wednesday, June 21. This will be the longest day of the year and, because of it marking midsummer, it’s an event that has been celebrated by hundreds of cultures throughout the ages.

college station picnic

Celebrate it this year by being outdoors and sharing a picnic with your closest friends. Consider the following great College Station locations to flip out a blanket for summer fun:

5 Best Places to Picnic in College Station

  1. Sugarloaf College Station.  Start the summer solstice right from the start with a pre-dawn hike up College Station’s sole ‘mountain’. Then, lay out your picnic blanket and feast your eyes on the brilliant colors at sunrise. Sugarloaf Mountain is also a top pick for sunsets and stargazing.
  2. Brison Park.  Brison Park is a hidden gem in College Station’s Southside Historic District. Despite its smallish size, it is always teeming with songbirds (home to 27 warblers). This paired with its backdrop of old oak trees and gurgling creek make it a great place for an outdoor escape. Plus, it is just a short walk away from Northpoint Crossing.
  3. Lick Creek Park.  The 500-acre park in the Brazos Valley offers a variety of shady paths, bridges, and grassy areas. All of which are perfect for enjoying outdoor refreshments. Lick Creek Park also boasts equestrian and biking trails.
  4. Lake Bryan.  Lake Bryan has a lot of grassy areas for people to hang out at and relax waterside under the shade of oak trees. If you prefer your picnics with hot dogs, hamburgers, and other grillings at center stage, then you’ll appreciate all of the established grilling centers and tables here. And if you’d rather just set up a blanket on the shoreline, have at it!
  5. Research Park.  Honestly, this is probably one of the best aspects of College Station living. Best of all, the park is only two-and-a-half miles away from Northpoint Crossing — a.k.a. a beautiful bike ride away. Established by Texas A&U University in 1982, Research Park has something for everyone, including a ton of great picnic backdrops. Ponds inhabited by a variety of fish and waterfowl dot the landscape. Set up your summer solstice picnic here for some birdwatching with your eats. Or feast at the edge of the onsite 18-hole disc golf course and go golfing after morning mimosas.

College Station is remarkable for having a great number of green places to escape to. Whether you choose to throw out a spread at Lake Bryan, Lick Creek Park, or somewhere else, we hope you enjoy your time outdoors! Let us know of any other secret green spaces you might recommend for others seeking nature escapes.

4 Soup Recipes to Fall for This Season

The autumn days are getting shorter and colder… a combination that’s ideal for a fresh, hot bowl of homemade soup. Soups are an amazing feel-good food ideal for just about any time of the day or night.

fall-soup-recipes

Pulling an all-nighter on your next exam? Stay warm and satisfy your taste buds with one (or more) of these yummy and stomach-filling soup recipes:

4 Sweet, Salty, and Savory Soup Recipes

  • Autumn Carrot & Sweet Potato Soup.  This soup contains all the best ingredients of a fall harvest: carrots, apples, sweet potatoes, and honey. But the special sauce is with a touch of curry powder that gives the soup a full-bodied fall flavor. Check out this Once Upon a Chef recipe.
  • Savory Pumpkin Soup.  Get your serving of gourds with this savory soup. A fresh sugar pumpkin and butternut squash form the base of it, but it’s the topping of dried cranberries and roasted pistachios that pulls it all together. Check out The Organic Kitchen recipe. Bonus points for using the gutted pumpkin as a holiday decoration.
  • Kimchi & Vegetable Soup.  Kimchi is a fermented cabbage dish that’s incredibly healthy. It contains key bacteria and probiotics that aids the digestion process and improves your body’s ability to ward off infections. Kimchi can also help boost your metabolism to increase weight loss and keep your hair and skin healthy and radiant. Enjoy this super food along with other power vegetables in this Bon Appetit recipeOnly take note of the last suggestion and add the chilled Kimchi at the end for best effects.
  • Wild Turkey Barley Soup.  You might have noticed a lack of meat in the aforementioned choices. Well, this wild turkey soup is sure to satisfy all of your meat cravings. Turkey-based soups are extremely popular during the fall thanks to it being the favorite of the hunting season and the quintessential dish of Thanksgiving. This means there are a variety of recipes, but we favor this one by Jabberwocky StewIt’ll take more effort than the other soups on our list, but it is oh so worth it.

Put Your Soups on Repeat

Soups are likewise great for their re-cookability. Simply pour excess soup into air-tight zip bags or plastic containers and then stuff them into the freezer. When you’re ready for round two, simply take out the frozen fare and reheat it in a lidded pot. Tip: Add a 1/4 cup of water to prevent the bottom from burning.

Subscribe to our blog to stay in touch and learn about other great soup recipes that’ll keep you happy and full this fall!

Best Coffee Shops in College Station

Major midterm assignments are coming due and finals are just around the corner. Which means you’re likely to have some long study hour sessions in your near future. Studying in your apartment works, but sometimes it isn’t the most conducive place to retaining information. Maybe you have a roommate that loves metal music or you just need a change of scenery. Whatever the case, heading to one of the city’s coffee shops may be just what you need to get focused and stay on task.

best coffee shops in college station

Here’s our quick look at some of our favorite places to grab an americano:

Best Coffee Shops for Study Dates in Aggieland

  • Sweet Eugene’s House of Java at 1702 George Bush E.  What we love most about this coffeehouse is its cozy environment with a no-rush vibe. The ideal environment for students needing to cram with caffeine. Sweet Eugene’s interior boasts plenty of tables, plush sofas, and all the quirky decor needed to gather inspiration. More importantly, they’re open Monday thru Thursdays 6 a.m. to 1 a.m., Friday and Saturday 6 a.m. to 2 a.m., and Sunday 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. AND offer free Wi-Fi every one of those hours. So grab yourself a cup of coffee and a panini and get down to work.
  • 1541 Pastries and Coffee at 1808 Brothers Blvd.  If you need sugar to concentrate, then 1541 Pastries and Coffee is going to be your favorite place in the city. This little cafe is best known for the quality of its coffee and pastries. The staff at 1541 are extremely knowledgeable about coffee beans and coffee processing. They also know how to make the creamiest, most delicious cappuccino in the city. Their macaroons and other sweet treats are also a must-try. However, their interior is somewhat limited, so get here early and with study partners to snag the best spots.
  • Minuti Coffee at Northpoint Crossing.  A downstairs coffee shop is one of bigger perks of living at the Northpoint Crossing residence hall. Here, you’ll enjoy quality Italian coffee with your Wi-Fi and you’ll barely need to step outdoors to get it! Minuti Coffee boasts a modern-esque aesthetic with chandeliers, matching upholstery, and fresh paintings lining the walls. And, naturally, there’s the complimentary Wi-Fi that’s key for getting your school work done.

For more hints on the best places to go and things to do in College Station, subscribe to our blog. You can also contact us for questions you might have about your new hometown.

How To Make Quesadillas

Do you know how to make quesadillas? We think you should! They’re gooey, crunchy, and just all around tasty. They’re the perfect college food. AND they’re crazy versatile too! You can make them as healthy or as fattening as your little heart desires.

how to make quesadillas

How to Make Quesadillas

Our favorite thing about quesadillas (besides the melted cheese) is how easy they are to make – in about 15-20 minutes you can have a delicious meal. Here are some tips on making a 🔥 quesadilla:

Use Soft Cheeses

Cheese meltedness is directly related to delicousness so use a softer, shredded cheese – they get gooier. Remember: too much cheese is not a thing.

Add Herbs & Spices

Want to feel like Queen Bey in the kitchen? You can completely change the quesadilla game by throwing different herbs and spices in the mix. Serve it up with an ice cold glass of #lemonade

Pre-cook Ingredients

If you don’t cook your meats before throwing them in, you will get salmonella and die. This should be a no-brainer, but it’s better to be safe than dead, y’all.

Heat Oil/Butter

A dry pan leads to a burnt tortilla, which leads to hanger. Only you can prevent hanger by heating oil or butter in the pan before you do anything else. Don’t use too much, though, or your quesadilla will be soggier than your pillow after listening to Adele.

Toast Tortilla

Before you add the innards of your masterpiece, toast the tortilla in the pan. Toast it on both sides for extra crunch! Side note: Have your mom send you this Cuisinart Griddler and your quesadilla (and burger game) will be on point!

Cheese First

After you’ve toasted your tortilla, add your cheese first. It’ll melt and wrap the rest of your ingredients in a delightful, gooey cradle.

Top It Off

Toppings are essential to a perfect quesadilla. Throw some guac, sour cream, and salsa on top and you’ve got yourself a party! And, unlike Chipotle, guac isn’t extra.

Instant Ramen Upgrades

We’ll be honest, we weren’t the healthiest of college students. We pretty much subsisted on instant ramen, popcorn and candy bars offered free from the bookstore. But we’ve learned a LOT about nutrition since then. No item was consumed more than instant noodles, especially after a Friday night out with friends. While ramen is tasty, it’s not exactly the most nutritious. So we thought we would share what we’ve learned post-college about upgrading instant ramen to a meal your mom would actually approve of.

five ways upgrade instant ramen

Basic: Add protein

If you start with adding protein, you’ll make it a more filling and healthier meal. Not an expert in the kitchen? Make this even easier by buying pre-cooked grilled chicken in the frozen or deli section.

Basic: Add veggies

Adding veggies to ramen is just basic. But usually the idea of dicing up a carrot or chopping an onion is too, too much after a long day at class. Did you know frozen veggies are just as healthy as fresh? We love peas and corn because they’re affordable. Just throw in a handful or two while you’re boiling the noodles. If you’re just not that into frozen, you can also get pre-chopped veggies from the fresh produce section.

Level Up: Add spice

While chicken and beef ramen are pretty comforting flavors, sometimes you need a little junk in the trunk. The easiest way to do that is add a little hot sauce. This shouldn’t be a problem for the average Texan! But ramen calls for something other than Tabasco. We suggest Green Dragon from Trader Joe’s or classic Sriracha!

Level Up: Add greens

Cabbage, kale, spinach, and green onions have all been successfully tried and approved for ramen upgrades. Cabbage makes it chow mein, spinach makes it egg-drop-ish, and so on. The greener and leafier the better! They’re full of magnesium, folate, and potassium. All vitals for great energy, mental health, and memory.

Expert: Make it a salad

Ramen can Whenever we have a craving for crunchy and savory salad, we head on over to Pinterest, our go-to source for recipes. There are TONS of recipes there, from strawberry+spinach+ramen to avocado+fava beans+ramen.

Six Microwaveable Desserts for Late Night Snacks

microwavable desserts

Have you heard of mug cakes? I’m a recent convert because it makes the perfect dessert for one person. Usually it just requires the ability to stir with a spoon or fork! Most of the recipes take just a few minutes. If you have a little bit of flour, sugar, and an egg on hand, you’re ready to go.

So, to satisfy those late night cravings for cookies in a cup, here are six of our favorite recipes for you to try!

Six Microwavable Desserts for Late Night Snacks

1. Chocolate Chip Cookie by Sweetest Kitchen

You can never go wrong with the Old Faithful of cookies. Warm, gooey chocolate chips is never not satisfying. It’s the taste of childhood!

Suggested Netflix Pairing: Fuller House

2. Snickerdoodle by Inner Drive

This recipe is a great alternative to the standard snickerdoodle. Plus it’s WAY easier to make than a batch of cookies. Bonus: It’s paleo!

Suggested Netflix Pairing: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

3. Brownie by Simply Recipes

Brownies are the ultimate comfort dessert. They’re the perfect treat to fight off a cold, dreary day. Top it off with a giant scoop of ice cream, and you can eat your feelings until the sun goes down.

Suggested Netflix Pairing: House of Cards

4. Peanut Butter Cookie by Kirbie Cravings

Peanut butter cookie + ice cream + open window + warm breeze = the perfect Spring day. Smell the freedom in the air!

Suggested Netflix Pairing: Orange is the New Black

5. Matcha Cookie by Kirbie Cravings

Matcha! Matcha! Matcha! Jan Brady might not be a fan, but you’ll be in a state of zen with this cookie. Bonus: You’ll be on trend!

Suggested Netflix Pairing: Grace & Frankie

6. Butterbeer Cake by Living Locurto

You’re in college now so you’re pretty sure your Hogwarts letter isn’t coming. You’ll be ok though because you have one thing that Harry can’t use in his dorm: a microwave.

Suggested Netflix Pairing: Sense8

Basic Cooking Skills for College Students

basic cooking skills college students

Ah, college. When most students learn the art of takeout. But sometimes you just want to eat something other than bourbon chicken or tacos and the miles that separate you from mom’s spaghetti are never so long than when you need a pot of comfort food. To help our College Station students out, here are three basic cooking skills that will help you become the Jamie Oliver of Northpoint Crossing.

Read a Recipe

Just like math, cooking has it’s own language, and knowing what t (teaspoon) vs. T (tablespoon) means can be the difference between just salted enough and ruined cookies. Reading a recipe can be made even more difficult because each blog, site, or pin has it’s own way of writing. But here are some basic tips to get you started.

Start by reading the entire recipe from start to finish. Check to see if any ingredients are split (this ALWAYS gets me!) between two steps, and look at the order of ingredients. Most recipes will list them as they appear in the recipe from start to finish. For example, a garnish will always be last. Next, search any terms you don’t know. Then pay attention to the preparation method listed after the ingredient. “1 medium onion, chopped” means the onion needs to be cleaned, peeled, and chopped before being added to the pot. For even more tips, Joy the Baker has a great article on reading recipes.

Chop & Mince

It’s virtually impossible to find a recipe that doesn’t include chopping or mincing. Imagine a salad made up of a head of lettuce, an entire carrot, and a whole tomato. Does that sound appetizing? Now think about a perfectly chopped salad. Much better! That’s the difference knife skills can make.

So what’s the difference between dicing, chopping, and mincing? Chopping is cutting an ingredient into evenly sized pieces about 1/4 to 1/2 inch in size (the size of your thumbnail). This is great for ingredients like onions and peppers. Mincing is cutting an ingredient into very tiny pieces, as small as you can get them. This is used mostly for herbs and garlic. This video from Cooking Light is super helpful if you are a more visual type of learner.

Marinate

Taking the time to marinate your meat is a must if you want a meal with flavor. Marinating is soaking your meat in an acidic liquid so that the meat soaks up the flavors of the sauce. If you can drink it, you can probably marinade with it. I’ve used beer, Dr. Pepper, Coke, root beer and salad dressing.

You can pick up a prepared marinade at any grocer, but to really master this skill, start mixing up your own seasoning sauces with what you have in your pantry. It usually takes 20-60 minutes to marinade, and you can let it sit in your fridge while you prep the rest of your meal.

Need inspiration? Take coconut milk, pineapple juice, a little bit of salt, brown sugar, and rum and you’ll have pina colada flavored chicken. Oil, lime, hot sauce, brown sugar and a bit of allspice make a great Caribbean Jerk chicken. This guide on Pinterest even has the times you’ll need.

Call Your Mother

When in doubt, pick up the phone and text yo mama (or dad if he’s the culinary captain of the family). Better yet, call. They’ll love to hear your voice and you can ask for advice as you cook. If you can’t reach your parent, use YouTube. It’s saved me more times than I can count!