The 14 East COVID Cookbook: Recipes From The Pande...

The 14 East COVID Cookbook: Recipes From The Pandemic

A collection of recipes we found, made and relied on to keep us fed in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The widespread shutdowns of businesses and other communal spaces during the initial lockdown of the coronavirus pandemic changed life as we knew it. Government bodies across the United States recommended that everyone limit contact with others to prevent COVID spread. More employees worked virtually, schools conducted remote learning and people were spending much more time at home.

With more time on our hands and fewer options for entertainment, many people got creative and learned new hobbies. Some people turned to crafty hobbies like crocheting or sewing, other people read books or binged shows and likely even more people scrolled through their TikTok explore pages.

What did the staff members of 14 East do? Cook, bake and mix drinks. Or, at least some of us did. I volunteered to write this introduction because the most complicated recipe I attempted during COVID was boiling pasta, which admittedly isn’t the most interesting contribution for a cookbook.

Luckily, I can assure you that the following recipes that are included in this cookbook are much more interesting and savory than spaghetti with marinara sauce!

In our 14 East COVID Cookbook, you will find nine unique recipes sourced from our friendly staff. Entries include familiar throwbacks like dalgona coffee, eternal classics like ham and swiss sliders and even exclusive original concoctions like the “Hot Girl Tummy Issues” drink.

Read on to find delicious recipes for snacks, drinks, dishes and desserts staff members have made during the pandemic.

Lily Lowndes, Director of Development


Dalgona (Whipped) Coffee

Eiman Navaid, Senior Associate Editor

When I saw this recipe was trending, it gave me deja vu because my mom taught me this recipe back in high school – before the COVID days. Dalgona coffee has actually been a trend and preference in South and East Asia long before it started trending in quarantine. Since I was stuck in Pakistan during the pandemic, I didn’t have access to my usual coffee either, so my aunt gave me all of her instant coffee to use to be able to make this recipe, which she loved too! My entire family and I  loved making this and watched how it was trending while reminiscing on how we have been drinking this for years.

Dalgona (Whipped) Coffee


2 tablespoons hot water

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons instant coffee

1 cup milk of your choice


Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whip with an electric mixer until fully whipped. Add your milk to a cup and then scoop out the dalgona mixture at the top. Enjoy!

Source: While Eiman’s family has been making dalgona coffee for years, this specific recipe is from Jessica Hylton at Jessica In The Kitchen

White Negroni for a Virtual Cocktail Hour

Ava O’Malley, Associate editor

I was living at home in Ohio from March to August of 2020. During this time, my mom and I took a virtual bartending class on MasterClass to beat the quarantine boredom. We would make our white negronis, which are a sweeter and less bitter version of the classic negroni, sit on the back porch during sunset, Zoom call with my grandma and lament about the pandemic chaos. Even though I still enjoy this drink outside of the initial lockdown, it will always remind me of chilly spring 2020 evenings in my childhood home’s backyard.

White Negroni for a Virtual Cocktail Hour


1.5 oz gin

1.5 oz Lillet blanc

1.5 oz dry vermouth


Combine gin, Lillet and vermouth in a cocktail shaker with ice and stir with a bar spoon until the outside of the shaker feels cold. Strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice, garnish with a twist of lemon peel, and enjoy! Tip: Gently fold your lemon twist to release the oils within the peel and wipe the rim of your glass with it. This ensures a citrus scent with each sip.

Source: This recipe from Ava’s virtual bartending class and Chris Morocco at bon appétit.

Kentucky Mule

Grace Del Vecchio, Editor-In-Chief

I spent all of quarantine in 2020 crowded together with my aunt, uncle, five cousins and their two dogs. We were all working and in school which meant that there were always upwards of five Zoom meetings all happening at once. Needless to say, it was chaotic. Despite this, there are moments from those first months of pandemic-ridden uncertainty that I remember fondly, and most of those memories involve food and drink, particularly those moments in the evenings when we would log off our screens and recap our days together. My uncle would finish teaching his classes and would walk into the living room where I could usually be found in an online class or meeting. He would point at me and say, “Kentucky mule?”

Kentucky Mule


1.5 ounces bourbon or rye whiskey (about a standard shot glass)

0.5-1.0 ounce lime juice (fresh is best)


Ginger beer

Lime wheel/wedge garnish


Pour the whiskey into a glass, then add the lime juice. Add ice. Then, pour the ginger beer until the drink reaches the top of the glass. Add a lime wheel or wedge as a garnish. This cocktail is best served in a copper mule mug, but a glass works as well.

Source: This recipe is a classic cocktail, but this specific recipe is from Grace’s kitchen.

Hot Girl Tummy Issues

Billie Rollason, Staff Writer

In December of 2020, I turned 21 and started trying out different fruity alcoholic drinks. I was then diagnosed with a stomach disease in early 2021. I soon realized that the fruity syrups and additives in some cocktails were not helping my cause. I’m not a huge drinker by any means but wanted a go-to drink I could make at home with family during quarantine. Something that I knew my stomach could tolerate. The pairing of a sweet passion tea, and some Sprite to ease the belly with a splash of liquor has been what works for me! Take this with a grain of salt, though, stomachs can be so finicky … and this is not medical advice. Just one hot girl with tummy issues, to another.

“Hot Girl Tummy Issues” Drink


Tazo Iced Passion Tea (2oz)

Sprite (2oz)

1 shot of whichever liquor suits your stomach best… or drink virgin! – Over Ice!


I’d first recommend if you do indeed have tummy issues, that before drinking any amount of alcohol to coat your stomach in something like yogurt or smoothie, followed by a couple of bottles of water or a Gatorade! Once that’s handled; Grab your favorite glass, passion tea, light soda, and liquor of choice. First, add a few ice cubes to your cup. Pour in 2 ounces of both tea and sprite. Add in your shot, stir lightly, drink responsibly and enjoy! 

Source: This original (and iconic) cocktail is a Billie Rollason original.


Blistered Tomato & Ricotta Toast

Grace Vaughn, Staff Writer

Cooking became my new hobby during the pandemic, and as a beginner, I gravitated toward any recipe that was foolproof. Ricotta toast quickly became my go-to lunch in between remote classes. It’s not only simple but also super versatile! You can get creative with the toppings. I featured the blistered tomato version, but TikTok users have experimented with anything from eggs to fresh berries. Plus, with the U.S. avocado supply up in the air, it may be time for you to embrace a new type of toast.

Blistered Tomato & Ricotta Toast


1 slice of your favorite bread (I prefer sourdough)

2 tablespoons of ricotta cheese

5 cherry or grape tomatoes

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic

Salt & pepper to taste


Heat half of your oil in a pan over medium heat and add minced garlic. Once the garlic is golden, toss in your tomatoes, add salt and pepper and sauté for about 5 minutes. While that’s cooking, stick your toast in the toaster oven. Make sure it’s crunchy. Spread ricotta evenly on toast and place blistered tomatoes on top. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and enjoy!

Source: This recipe is from Zaynab Issa on TikTok.

Herby Focaccia Bread

Maureen Dunne, Associate Editor

I made this recipe a lot last winter to stave off the cold and clean the fridge of any suspicious vegetables. When the world began to open up again little by little, for Easters or Thanksgivings with family, I was out the door with a big pan of this fresh focaccia for everyone to share.

Herby Focaccia Bread

12 to 24 hours of wait time 


1 3/4 cups warm water 

1 package active dry yeast

1 tablespoon sugar 

5 cups flour (and a little more for kneading) 

1 tablespoon Kosher salt (and a couple pinches of sea salt)

1 cup olive oil (but more, realistically) 

Cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced 

Fresh garlic, slivered 

Thyme (or whatever fresh herbs you have at the back of your fridge or dried ones hiding in the spice rack)

Parmesan cheese, grated  


In a small bowl, feed the yeast the warm water and sugar (yum). Stir vigorously for a minute. Cover with a dish towel and let sit in a warm spot, until bubbly, for about 15 minutes. In a larger bowl (or stand mixer, if you have one) combine your Kosher salt, flour and HALF of the olive oil, finishing with the yeast mixture. Mix it until it’s smooth for about 5 minutes. Knead by hand once or twice. Oil your pan (I recommend a 9×13, or something a little larger) with the remaining olive oil, and place the dough in. Coat the dough with olive oil, then cover with saran wrap and let sit in a warm spot for an hour until it has doubled in size.

Once the dough has expanded, punch it down and spread it out to fit the pan. It’s okay if there are air bubbles or it doesn’t quite stretch to the edges. Sprinkle salt and any remaining olive oil on top, then cover in saran wrap and place in the fridge for anywhere from 12 to 24 hours. This fridge step is optional, but it enhances the flavor! Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Remove the focaccia from the fridge and poke holes through the dough with your fingertips, creating a rippled surface. Liberally dust the dough with sea salt, pepper, thyme and other herbs. Slap down a layer of cherry tomato wheels and garlic clove slivers in the pockets of dough. Spread some more olive oil on the toppings, then finish off with a shower of grated parmesan. (None of these toppings are mandatory, but they are delicious). Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the corners are crispy and the dough golden brown.

Source: This recipe is adapted from Anne Burrell at the Food Network and Caroline Fidanza and Amerlia Nierenberg at New York Times Cooking.


Vegan Chickpea Tikka Masala

Mariah Hernandez, Staff Writer

During COVID I started making this recipe nonstop. It’s super easy to make and tastes so flavorful. If you worked during the height of COVID like me, you know how difficult some days could be. I began making it mainly last year when Florida COVID cases were high and I didn’t want to go out to eat. Having an easy meal to make was a priority. I made the meal for my family of four and also for myself to eat multiple nights. 

Vegan Chickpea Tikka Masala


1 container of Maya Kaimal Vegan Tikka Masala

15 oz can of chickpeas

1 bag of white rice (I prefer sticky rice)

Drizzle extra virgin olive oil (to prevent sticking to pan)


This recipe is so simple and requires little effort on your part. All you do is put some olive oil in a pan, and then add your chickpeas and cook them until they start turning light brown. Then add your vegan tikka masala and let that simmer for 10 to 15 mins. Once that is done, serve over your rice. If you’re someone who loves to cook but is not necessarily good at it, this is the recipe for you. Most of the work is already done for you, and the recipe is on the back of the tikka masala jar. If you’re not a fan of chickpeas this could also be done with tofu, broccoli, cauliflower or any other protein or vegetable. The meal will give you multiple nights of leftovers and tastes just as good the second, third and fourth time around. Having a meal planned out helps if you don’t have time (or the energy) to make dinner each night and also will prevent you from spending too much money ordering in Uber Eats.

Source: This recipe is adapted from Maya Kaimal at

Ham and Swiss Sliders

Sadie Fisher, Social Media Editor

What is usually an appetizer or snack during sporting events turned into a comfort meal during the pandemic. My mental health took a bad turn during the pandemic, which meant that I often found cooking to be a major chore. I craved these sliders for a few weeks before finally garnering the energy to make them and when I did make them, it was well worth it. They lasted me for about a week since I was the only person eating food made for a dozen people, but for a time where cooking was rare, they were a great week-long meal.

Ham and Swiss Sliders


12 count Hawaiian sweet rolls, sliced in half lengthwise

1 lb. sliced deli ham

1 pkg. sliced swiss cheese (12 slices)

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

1 Tbsp. poppy seeds

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp. brown sugar

2 tsp. dried minced onion

2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 9×13 baking pan. Slice Hawaiian rolls in half. Take the top half of the rolls and set them aside. Place the bottom half of the rolls in the pan. Take half of the ham and place an even layer on the bottom half of the rolls. Evenly layer all the swiss cheese on top of ham. Layer the rest of the ham on top. Place the top half of the Hawaiian rolls back on top and set aside. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter. Add poppy seeds, Dijon mustard, brown sugar, dried minced onion, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper and stir until well mixed. Evenly pour or brush the butter mixture over Hawaiian roll sliders (you can omit some of the mixture if you want slightly crispier sliders). Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes. Enjoy!

Source: This recipe is from April King at Modern Meal Makeover.


St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake

Bridget Killian, Multimedia Editor

This recipe is a little slice of my hometown St. Louis because you can’t find it anywhere else in the U.S. Coming to Chicago, I made this dessert all the time to have a piece of home with me. When quarantine happened in March 2020, this dessert became a comfort food because it’s easy to make and simply delicious. I definitely recommend baking it yourself rather than buying from a store in St. Louis. There is nothing quite like made from scratch desserts. Especially when they’re a hometown specialty.

St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake


1/2 cup of butter (softened or melted)

1 pack of yellow cake mix (can sub. for yellow pound cake)

4 eggs

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

1 package of cream cheese

4 cups of powdered sugar


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl mix butter, cake mix, 2 eggs and 1 tsp of vanilla together (manually mix for better texture) then pat into a cake pan to form the bottom layer. In a separate bowl mix cream cheese, 2 eggs and tsp of vanilla (again manually for better texture) while slowly adding in the powdered sugar then pour over the bottom layer in the cake pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top after it’s done baking. Let sit covered on the countertop overnight for best taste and texture.

Source: This recipe adapted from an allrecipes member at allrecipes.



Header Image and Art by Bridget Killian