Creative Cooking: Tips & Recipes To Try In Your CA Rental Apartment

Creative Cooking In An Apartment 

Woman smiling in the kitchen as she cooks

The true test of a quality cook isn’t what they can do when they have everything at their disposal. It’s how well they can get deliciously creative when they are limited. Garden apartments are famously spacious, but we understand that it can be difficult to whip up a feast when entertaining. Pots, pans, ingredients, knives, cutting boards, plates— All of these things take up space and can make cooking more of a hassle in your apartment than a pleasure.  

But fear not! By following these helpful tips and trying these recipes, you’ll be cooking like a pro in no time! 

The true test of a quality cook isn’t what they can do when they have everything at their disposal. It’s how well they can get deliciously creative when they are limited. Garden apartments are famously spacious, but we understand that it can be difficult to whip up a feast when entertaining. Pots, pans, ingredients, knives, cutting boards, plates— All of these things take up space and can make cooking more of a hassle in your apartment than a pleasure.  

But fear not! By following these helpful tips and trying these recipes, you’ll be cooking like a pro in no time!

Cooking Tips 101

Utensils necessary for dishing up food

All Garden Communities apartments have kitchens that are fully-loaded. Whether you need to sauté or bake, your oven and stove will do their jobs (with the right kitchen safety, of course). But that’s not all that you need to prepare a great meal.  

TIP #1: Make sure you have these essential items in your kitchen: 

  1. Cutting knives 
  2. Cutting board 
  3. Pots 
  4. Pans/Skillets 
  5. Mixing bowls 
  6. Spatulas 
  7. Serving/mixing spoons 
  8. Baking dish 
  9. Kitchen Towels 
  10. Spices & Herbs

TIP #2: Buy fresh, local ingredients

One recipe made with fresh ingredients will always taste better than if it was made with lesser ones. Local farmers’ markets will often have produce that’s in season for your area, so be sure try recipes with the latest and greatest while it’s at its peak for the year. 

TIP #3: Support your local grocery store  

Buying food closer to your community will save you time and help you to enjoy the cooking process more without wasting time and energy driving all over town to pick up your groceries.  

Here are some grocery stores near each of our Southwest Garden Communities: 


LOS ANGELES COMMUNITIES:

Burbank Gardens

  • Ralph’s Grocery Store 
    Farmer’s Markets:
    • Raw Inspiration (Farmer’s Market)
      14006 Riverside Dr, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

    Encino Palms

    • Trader Joe’s
      Farmer’s Markets:
      • Encino Farmers Market
        17400 Victory Blvd, Van Nuys, CA 91406
      • Tapia Brothers Inc.
        5251 Hayvenhurst Ave, Encino, CA 91436

    Fulton Gardens


    Lassen Village 


    Northridge Gardens 


    Vineland Gardens 


    White Oak Gardens 

    • Trader Joe’s
      Farmer’s Markets: 
      • Encino Farmers Market
        17400 Victory Blvd, Van Nuys, CA 91406
      • Tapia Brothers Inc.
        5251 Hayvenhurst Ave, Encino, CA 91436

    Woodbridge Gardens 

    • Trader Joe’s
      Farmer’s Markets: 

    SAN DIEGO COMMUNITIES: 

    360 Luxury Apartments


    Casa Mira View


    Costa Verde Village

    • Bristol Farms
    • California Keto
      Farmer’s Markets: 
      • UCSD la Jolla Farmers Market
        UCSD Town Square, San Diego, CA 92161

    La Jolla Canyon


    LA Jolla Crossroads Apartments 


    La Regencia


    Lux UTC


    Pacific Bay Club 


    Torrey Gardens

    • Vons
      Farmer’s Markets: 
      • Del Mar Farmers Market
        Civic Center, 1050 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar, CA 92014
      • UCSD la Jolla Farmers Market
        UCSD Town Square, San Diego, CA 92161

    Towers at Costa Verde

    • Bristol Farms
    • California Keto
      Farmer’s Markets: 
      • UCSD la Jolla Farmers Market
        UCSD Town Square, San Diego, CA 92161
      • Del Mar Farmers Market
        Civic Center, 1050 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar, CA 92014

    Villa La Jolla


    IRVINE COMMUNITIES:

    Elements


    Metropolis


    ARIZONA COMMUNITIES:

    Vintage at Scottsdale

    • AJ’s Fine Foods 

    OKAY! Now that you have all your essential kitchen tools and you know where you can get the best ingredients close by, it’s time to get to the fun part—our incredibly creative apartment-friendly recipes! 

    Beautiful Breakfast & Brunch  

    Whether you need a family-friendly dish for a memorable Sunday morning, or you’re inviting the girls over for brunch, these are tried and true recipes with total wow! factor. 

    Overnight Cinnamon Apple Baked French Toast Casserole  

    close-up on an overnight cinnamon apple baked french toast casserole
    Source: Life, Love & Sugar

    Need something to feed a lot of people in the morning without the stress of a messy kitchen? Just prepare this beauty the night before and then pop it in the oven before your guests arrive or your kids wake up. Imagine walking into the kitchen with the sweet smell of apples and cinnamon in the air—this one is a win before they ever even taste it. 

    • Prep Time: 10 minutes 
    • Cook Time: 40 minutes 
    • Total Time: 50 minutes 
    • Yield: 12 
    • Appliance: Oven 

    Breakfast Granola Cups 

    Breakfast Granola Cups with chocolate, peanut butter and granola
    Source: Counts of the Netherworld

    Want an impressive breakfast but don’t want to heat up your apartment by turning on the oven or stove? Then these granola cups are the answer you’ve been looking for! Want to talk about a crowd pleaser? This recipe is vegan, nut-free and gluten-free. 

    • Prep Time: 10 minutes
    • Resting Time: 1 hour
    • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes 
    • Yield: 8
    • Appliance: Freezer

    Blackberry & Goat Cheese Grilled Cheese 

    Blackberry & Goat Cheese Grilled Cheese
    source: Saralee Bread

    It’s time to take grilled cheese to the next level. After all, cooking creatively means putting delightful twists on classic favorites. No picky eater can resist the sweet taste of blackberries, creamy goat cheese and warm, crunchy toast. Put them all together and you have a sandwich for a successful brunch. Pair this with a carafe of mimosa and your guests will be talking about the get together at your apartment for months! 

    • Time: 11-20 minutes 
    • Serves: 2 
    • Appliance: Stove

    Amazing Apartment-Friendly Appetizers 

    The best thing about “appetizers” is that they are great additions to parties, but they also can be a meal for a couple, or a snack for a family. Try these creative, apartment-friendly recipes that are as beautiful as they are delicious.  

    Butternut Squash and Cranberry Quinoa Salad 

    Butternut Squash and Cranberry Quinoa Salad
    Source: Little Broken

    Want the flavors of fall without the heaviness of traditional recipes? Then this is the dish for you! Plus, it can be made year-round. 

    • Prep Time: 15 minutes 
    • Cook Time: 25 minutes 
    • Total Time: 40 minutes
    • Yield: 4-6 
    • Appliance: Oven 

    Strawberry Bruschetta With Honey Whipped Goat Cheese 

    Strawberry Bruschetta With Honey Whipped Goat Cheese
    Source: Simply Scratch

    Not only is this recipe a gorgeous one, but it just might give Italians a run for their money. Take classic bruschetta to the next level of deliciousness with a California-twist. Strawberries and goat cheese? Yes, please! No one will believe how simple this vegetarian appetizer is to make. 

    • Prep time: 20 minutes 
    • Cook time: 5 minutes 
    • Total time: 25 minutes 
    • Appliance: Stove 

    Taco Stuffed Avocados 

    Source: House of Yumm

    If there are two things Californians love its tacos and avocados…but taco stuffed avocados? This low-carb crowd pleaser just might become a standard every game day. You’ll have people begging for the recipe! 

    • Prep time: 5 minutes 
    • Cook time: 15 minutes 
    • Yield: 6 
    • Appliance: Stove 

    Delectable Dinners  

    Dinner. It’s the one time that everyone in the family get’s to sit down together and enjoy a home-cooked meal. You want to know you’re making something that everyone will enjoy. We’ve got you covered. These recipes aren’t just super easy to make in an apartment, but they are downright delicious, too! 

    Red Curry Coconut Chicken 

    Red Curry Coconut Chicken
    Source: Carlsbad Cravings

    This super fast meal is a must try those who need a great meal and fast. Ready in 30 minutes, you can start as soon as you get home from work. The smell of Thai spices will have everyone’s mouth watering! 

    • Prep time: 18 minutes 
    • Cook time: 12 minutes 
    • Yield: 4-6 
    • Appliance: Stove 

    Sausage & White Bean Gnocchi 

    Sausage & White Bean Gnocchi
    Source: Chelsea’s Messy Apron

    If you’re looking for an apartment-friendly recipe that covers are your basic food groups, then look no further than this Italian dish. It’s so savory no one will believe that you only need one skillet it to make it! 

    • Total time: 30 minutes 
    • Yield: 4 
    • Appliance: Stove & Oven 

    Vegetarian Lemon, Ricotta, Pasta & Spinach 

    Source: The Clever Meal

    What’s better than a dish that’s vegetarian? One that’s super fast to make and out of this world delicious. Whether you’re vegetarian or not, this is a dinner worth serving up in your rental apartment! 

    • Time: 15 minutes 
    • Yield: 3 
    • Appliance: Stove 

    “You Made This?!” Desserts 

    Desserts are the most fun part of a meal, and making them should be fun, too! You don’t need to be a Cake Boss or a fondant master to make show-stopping, mouth-watering goodies. These are what will turn your Garden apartment kitchen into a culinary sweet. 

    Granny’s Monkey Bread 

    Close up of a full loaf of Monkey Bread
    Source: Self-Proclaimed Foodie

    A favorite among kids and adults alike, monkey bread is a cinnamon-lover’s dream. If you’re looking for an activity to do with your kids for a holiday or just because this is one they can certainly help with.  

    • Prep time: 15 minutes 
    • Cook time: 30 minutes
    • Total time: 45 minutes
    • Yield: 12
    • Appliance: Oven 

    Easy Blueberry Pie Bars 

    Blueberry Bars cut on a glass plate out of the oven
    Source: Laughing Spatula

    When pie meets cookie you have a dessert that’s in a league of its own. These bars are the apartment-friendly creative solution to satisfying everyone at your next get together. 

    • Prep time: 15 minutes 
    • Cook time: 1 hour 
    • Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes 
    • Yield: 12
    • Appliance: Oven 

    Chocolate Chip Banana “Ice Cream” Cups 

    Chocolate Chip Banana “Ice Cream” Cups
    Source: Clean Food Crush

    Here in California, things can heat up, which is why we love these “ice cream” cups! Health will adore these banana-based desserts, and kids will be asking for more. If you love to use the community fitness center, be sure to have these in the freezer for a cool potassium boost after your workout.  

    • Time: 1-2 hours 
    • Yield: 6
    • Appliance: Freezer 

    Your garden apartment isn’t just a rental—it’s your home. From making memories in the kitchen to getting out on the town, your community affords you the best of everything.