Observer staff recipes for the #QuarantineCooking recipe exchange

Sarah Parr, Director of Business Operations

Remember when chain emails talked about curses and boasted 12 fonts and 14 colors? I guess that changes when email is one of the few connections you have left with people. 

By now, you or someone you know has probably received a chain email encouraging them to participate in a good old-fashioned recipe exchange, since people have run out of things to do on earth while social distancing (or as the email puts it more delicately, “experimenting in our kitchens to help pass the time”). 

I don’t know who started it or when, but I do know that I have received it from two different people (one of which is The Observer’s very own Arts and Entertainment editor, Yvonne Pan), and my mom received it from three. It just goes to show that our world is actually quite small and full of quick and easy recipes, which is kind of cool to think about—you get to e-meet strangers with whom you have a mutual friend and swap a recipe. 

In honor of that, I thought it would be fun to share a few of the easy recipes that some of The Observer staff have shared in the spirit of this. Try them out for yourself and show us what you ended up with! Tag us on social media @cwruobserver and use #QuarantineCooking (Google this hashtag for even more recipes).

The original email is below the recipes.

Director of Business Operations Sarah Parr’s Oreo Balls:

I made these for Sigma Tau Delta’s bake sale earlier this semester, and they were a luxurious hit! Because I’m lazy, I use simple ratios only. (Everything is either the whole package/unit, or eyeballed because it doesn’t totally matter, and I trust you’ll be able to figure it out.)


  1. Oreos (I use the family pack)
  2. Cream cheese (whole 8-ounce bar)
  3. Chocolate chips (whole 12-ounce bag)
  4. Butter (not the whole stick, just some)


  1. Food processor
  2. Bowl
  3. Baking sheet
  4. Parchment paper
  5. Fork
  6. Hands
  7. Refrigerator 
  8. Microwave


  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Blend Oreos and dump the crumbs into a bowl. Add cream cheese into the bowl and combine (I squish using my hands) until it’s homogenous and glorious. 
  2. Next, pick up a little of the mixture and roll it in your hands until it’s like an inch in diameter? Do what feels right. Repeat and lay each 1/2 inch or so apart on the baking sheet. When all balls are formed, pop them into the fridge for 30 minutes, or until the balls are firm. 
  3. After you take them out, combine the chocolate chips and butter into a microwave-safe bowl and melt in the microwave for increments of 30 seconds, stirring in between until a homogenous chocolate dip forms. 
  4. Coat each ball with the chocolate by rolling the balls in the chocolate with a fork. Repeat until all balls are coated in chocolate, putting them back on the parchment paper. Pop the sheet back in the fridge for 1 hour or until the chocolate is set. 
  5. Optional: Decorate the balls with sprinkles or nuts, or anything else you can think of.

Jeanie Rebescher’s (Staff Columnist Emerson McGinnis’ grandmother) spaghetti sauce and meatballs:

Spaghetti sauce (vegan)–combine the following in a large pot:

  1. 1 large can tomato puree 
  2. 1 small can tomato paste 
  3. Fill tomato paste can with water and pour that in as well
  4. 1/2 to 1 teaspoon sugar (or until the sharp sour bite of the tomato has abated)
  5. 1/2 to 1 teaspoon oregano (or to taste)
  6. 1 to 2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
  7. 1 to 2 teaspoons basil (or to taste)
  8. 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or to taste)
  9. 1/2 to 1 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
  10. 1 to 2 cloves minced garlic
  11. Whole onion, peeled, with 2 whole cloves stuck in it (if you don’t have whole cloves, just sprinkle in some ground cloves or ground nutmeg, not a lot)
  12. Bay leaf
  13. Cover it with a lid and simmer (for at least 3 hours, up to 6).  Keep adding water and stirring every so often to thin it out.
  14. You can double this recipe as much as the pot will hold! (You don’t need to add in more onion if you do.)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. 1 pound thawed ground beef
  3. 1 egg
  4. Breadcrumbs
  5. 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  6. 2/3 teaspoon basil
  7. 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 
  8. 1 teaspoon salt
  9. 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Mix it all together (I use my hands), sprinkling in enough breadcrumbs that the mixture holds a ball shape well and isn’t wet, nor is it crumbly. 

Shape into palm-sized balls, stick on a baking sheet with parchment paper into the oven at 350 F for 10 to 15 minutes, then put into the sauce for the last 30 minutes or so, before you serve the pasta. Sausage can also be put in the sauce with the meatballs, as can short ribs (as long as they’re cooked first). 

Tip: You can freeze leftover pasta sauce and thaw it out in the morning for dinner at night.

Staff Reporter Masha Goykhberg shares a Russian-Jewish comfort food that’s been passed down to her by her dad called “сгущёнка” (sgoo-shon-ka). It tastes a lot like dulce de leche.


1 can of Carnation condensed milk. Any type of condensed milk will work, but you have to ensure that there are no air bubbles that can expand when heated and rupture the can (shake the can and check if the milk is sloshing around).


  1. Put the can in a pot of water. Tip: My dad and I will sometimes use a pot with handles and a lid with a knob so that we can attach the lid to the pot handles with rubber bands, in case the can explodes. However, this has never happened and it’ll be fine if you don’t secure it. 
  2. Heat the water until boiling.
  3. Reduce heat until simmering for 3-4 hours.
  4. Remove the pot from the stove and let it cool to room temperature (3-4 hours). I usually wait overnight just to be safe.
  5. Done! Get a regular can opener and open that baby up. It can be good on graham crackers, in pies and, if you melt it, as a coffee sweetener! But the real way of eating it is dipping your fingers directly into the can along with a loved one until you’ve eaten way too much … The perfect quarantine snack.


Going back to old times with a recipe exchange! As the world is social distancing right now, many of us are experimenting in our kitchens to help pass the time. So you have been invited to be a part of a #QuarantineCooking recipe exchange! Yay!

Please send a recipe to the person whose name is in position #1 (even if you don’t know them) and it should be something quick, easy and without rare ingredients. Actually, the best one is the one you know in your head and can type right now. Don’t agonize over it … It is the recipe you make when you are short on time.

After you’ve sent your recipe to the person in position #1 below (and only to that person), copy this email into a new email, move my name to the top and put your name in position #2. Only my and your name should show when you send your email. Send to 20 friends via BCC.

If you cannot do this within 5 days, let me know so it will be fair to those participating. You should receive 36 recipes. It’s fun to see where they come from! Seldom does anyone drop out because we all need new ideas. The turnaround is fast, as there are only 2 names on the list and you only have to do this once.

  1. Yvonne Pan –
  2. Sarah Parr –

In the meantime, stay safe, stay healthy and STAY HOME. Happy #QuarantineCooking!