Microwave Gourmet: Dorm-Living Foodies Rejoice!

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Going back to school is a bittersweet time for me. There’s the excitement of being reunited with old friends, the wide open possibilities of a brand new semester of classes and meeting new roommates. But transitioning from a summer of home-cooked meals or independent living with a Trader Joe’s in walking distance to being back on campus with a dining hall that closes after dinner and nothing but french fries and pizza as alternatives is always a bit daunting. There are only so many granola bars a girl can eat before she starts looking for other options. So this year I’ve become a connoisseur of making it work with what I’ve got — and when I’m back in my tiny dorm room, that means a microwave. Here are some of the best recipes I found to make the most of the microwave gourmet chapter of college kid (or creative and tight on space adult) living.

I am an absolute lover of the morning breakfast sandwich. As a vegetarian, I love the satisfying ways you can mix up what goes between the eggs and bagel to maximize on protein and taste. So when I found a recipe for a breakfast sandwich that cooked up eggs in under two minutes in my microwave, I was curious. This recipe suggests whisking up some eggs (one or two depending on how much you like) in a small bowl, tossing in some spinach leaves, and popping it into the microwave for a minute and a half, keeping an eye on your eggs so that they don’t overflow. They then suggest smearing some herb and garlic cheese on a bagel and putting it all together with some avocado and tomato slices. I honestly cannot think of a better way to start the day. (Recipe found at FoodieCrush: foodiecrush.com/2013/01/microwave-egg-and-vegetable-breakfast-sandwich.)

The next recipe that I found enticing was one that I was shocked to learn could be executed in a microwave — enchiladas! The other exciting thing about this recipe is the way it can be changed up to suit who’s making it. Gluten-free tortillas can be swapped in, chicken can be swapped out for black beans — those with dietary restrictions can be easily and deliciously accommodated. If you pick up some enchilada sauce from your local supermarket and some cooked chicken in a to-go container from your dining hall, this dish is a 10-minute snap. All you have to do from there is mix together the chicken, some cilantro and about a cup of the enchilada sauce, then roll tortillas with filling and shredded cheese and place in a glass pan or tupperware container. Next, spread the remaining enchilada sauce over the top and microwave for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the cheese is melted, the sauce is bubbly, and the enchiladas are heated through. (Recipe found at Flippin Delicious: flippindelicious.com/2014/06/10-minute-gluten-free-enchiladas.html.)

And finally, when you’re rounding out the day and you just want something sweet, but don’t have an oven to make the authentic, just-like-your-mom-made-them chocolate chip cookies, do not despair! If you’ve got a mug and a microwave, you’ve got what you need. Start by melting 1 tablespoon of butter in your mug (be sure not to leave it in for more than 10 or 15 seconds — you want it melted, not boiling). Next, add in 1 tablespoon of granulated white sugar, 1 tablespoon of firmly packed dark brown sugar, 3 drops of vanilla extract and a small pinch of kosher salt. Stir that up, then add in an egg yolk (maybe saving the whites for your breakfast sandwich tomorrow morning…) and after stirring that together add in slightly less than a fourth of a cup of flour. Once that’s all mixed in, add the final and most crucial ingredient — 2 heaping tablespoons of semi-sweet chocolate chips. Cook in the microwave for about 40 to 60 seconds, checking at 40 seconds to see how well it’s cooked. It’ll vary depending on the strength of your microwave, but don’t cook longer than a minute because it will continue cooking as it cools. Final step? Plop in a scoop of ice cream and enjoy, knowing that you’ve beat the system and found yourself an oasis of tasty food in a desert of ramen noodles and easy mac. You are officially a microwave gourmet. (Final recipe found at No. 2 pencil: number-2-pencil.com/2012/03/06/chocolate-chip-cookie-in-cup/.)

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