Archive | July, 2011

This is where it gets a little ridiculous…

31 Jul

Okay, so it probably seems like I have been seriously slacking off on this blog this summer, even though I promised to write.  Truth is, I’ve pretty much abandoned all attempts of cooking in the dorm, beyond toast/bagels.  Tonight though, I wasn’t feeling very well & was really needing some chicken noodle soup (like the kind from Hosses’).  After laying around for a bit, I finally felt well enough to go to Walmart.  I knew I wasn’t gonna find any Hosses soup with those delicious homemade noodles, but I figured I could improvise.

Well.  Improvising apparently became the theme for tonight.  I settled with a box meal of Homestyle Bakes, which is about as close as I could come to satisfying my sick-food craving.  Well, I got home & those darn people at Banquet haven’t upgraded to the pull-top cans of stew yet & of course I don’t have a can opener.  I have like…nothing.

So, I improvised.

Hah. I sent a picture to Ryan & he called it “ghetto.”  But hey, it worked, even though it took a little effort. And so did making the “biscuits” topping.  I only have tiny plastic cereal bowls & plastic picnic spoons to mix with, with no measuring cups to measure out the 1/2 cup of water… so I figured this could get a little interesting…

But hey I figured it out!  To measure, I just used a some bottled water that was labeled in oz & drank what I figured was roughly a little over “three-quarters…” my equivalent to “half a cup.”  Whatever. It worked.

Even though it all took significant amounts of work & got a little silly along the way, I finally, at 9:14 at night (yeah, I’m on central time), managed to get a delicious home-cooked (sort of) sick food dinner.

WE ARE…off to finally eat & watch SHARK WEEK!

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Dorm Cooking: Toasted Egg & Cheese Sandwich

11 Jul

Cooking in a dorm room, by default, complicates very simple meals.  For example, an egg & cheese sandwich…something pretty basic that might not, under normal circumstances, have ever been featured on this blog.  I take for granted the simplicity of cooking this meal pretty regularly at home.  Egg & cheese sandwiches are delicious, and there are so many options to explore, but for the purposes of this post, we’re focusing on how to do it, dorm-style.

First off, I am lucky enough to have had my mom send me our GT Xpress Cooker, which although heavily criticized for cooking at home, is actually an awesome tool to have in the dorm.  This thing can do a lot of cooking tasks, like cook eggs, obviously (great for omelets actually), muffins/cakes & even chicken (although from experience you should use it next to an open window to avoid setting of smoke detectors!).

So, since I have the old version, my cooker is broken into two half-circle wells, which work quite well for cooking a perfect over-easyor fried egg.  I added some butter to the well & let it melt, then cracked my egg right in & sprinkled with salt & pepper.

 

Close the lid and wait appx. 3 minutes and you have yourself a perfectly cooked egg!  That in itself is a pretty good dorm meal (and better than cooking eggs in the microwave…ew.)

I also utilized my panini press to finish off the sandwich by laying buttered bread, topped with cheese and then the egg on the panini press.  Close the lid and wait appx. another 3 minutes and voila! A delicious, hot egg sandwich is ready for you to take to work or class in less than 10 minutes!

Yummy egg sandwich!

WE ARE…hopefully helping all you dorm kids get a break from campus dining!

Toast w/o a toaster!

8 Jul

Okay, so I realize that my life would be a lot easier if I would just buy some pots/pans, but I am too cheap to spend the money for the next month & a half of living here.  So, I will just continue to get creative with my meals & see how it goes!

Now this seems like a no-brainer to me, but I mentioned it to someone here and they thought it was a great idea… instead of putting bread in a toaster, just make it on your panini press (or the oven really, but if you can’t leave it unattended like here, it defeats the purpose of a quick breakfast!)

Well I made some yummy toast today & topped it with apple butter I got at the local farmers market yesterday! It was delicious, and I definitely prefer supporting the local economy more than big bad Walmart, which is unfortunately my grocery store here (honestly, it’s fine for everything else, but I think I can sometimes get better deals at Giant or even Wegman’s for groceries — not to mention things are more fresh at real grocery stores).

Well, I’m off to work where I can count on at least one meal to add some variety to my diet (or not… they’ll probably serve chicken…)

WE ARE…hoping this rain clears up so I don’t have to walk up the hill in a downpour.

Zesty Italian Chicken & Veggie Pouch

6 Jul

After a few weeks of trying to get by solely on peanut butter sandwiches, yogurt, and grilled cheese as my entire diet outside of when I’m at work, I was seriously dying for a home-cooked meal.  Being housed in a dorm for the summer, however, has it’s limitations.  The building fortunately has a “kitchenette” with an oven and stove, but unfortunately, I have no pots and pans to cook in!  Actually, up until last week, I only has a much-overused panini press to cook my meals on, and I swear if I had to eat another sandwich last week, I would have screamed!

This is when I decided that it was time to get creative.  It was actually those ladies in the Reynolds Wrap commercials that came to my rescue! I didn’t need pots and pans to cook a delicious meal, if I just got a roll of heavy duty foil!  So after some careful planning, I went to the store to get some ingredients that I could use up in the next few days and make multiple different meals from, all in an aluminum foil pouch!

Since I’m probably missing out on all sorts of vitamins and minerals with this “living on grilled cheese” diet of mine for the last few weeks, I was actually craving vegetables.  Seriously. I just wanted something healthy.  For this no pots and pans meal, I used only three main ingredients:

  • 1 chicken breast
  • 1 package of Bird’s Eye Steamfresh veggies (Baby Potato variety – but pick what you like)
  • 1 packet of Grill Mates Zesty Italian marinade

The trick to living in a dorm this summer, other than not having proper cooking tools, is that I also do not have a microwave, or a freezer, which means I can’t enjoy favorite simple “meals” that I usually do at home/school, like the Bird’s Eye veggie steamers.These are seriously great things on their own and with a microwave, but I had to improvise.  Instead of following the package directions, I just cut open the bag & sprinkled just a little mix of the dry marinade inside, then closed the bag and shook it to coat my veggies.

I put the seasoned veggies and trimmed/seasoned chicken (plus a little salt & pepper for flavor) onto a piece of aluminum foil and folded into a pouch.  You can find the instructions for how to fold the foil, here.  Just make sure you use a piece of foil that is big enough to allow for a little air pocket around your food.  This helps with heat circulation.

I cooked my chicken pouch in the oven for approximately 35 minutes at 450 degrees F.  This oven is kind of temperamental, so you may want to check on your chicken a little early if you decide to do this recipe at home.  The Reynolds Wrap website recommends about 20 minutes at the same temperature for a similar recipe.

Finally, I was able to enjoy a simple meal that tasted home-cooked, even while living in a dorm!  Another huge bonus was using things that were relatively cheap to begin with & could be used over.  A pack of chicken breasts was around $5.30 for 3 chicken breasts, which I was able to use later in the week, the Zesty seasoning packet was about $1.00, but I have more than half of that left to use another time, and the Steamfresh Veggies were only around $2.00.  Being able to cook a delicious, and healthy meal for one person can sometimes be challenging, but if you get creative, you might be able to find new ways to use common products. And, if you cook in aluminum foil, “clean up is a breeze.”

The Reynolds Wrap website has some great recipe ideas for food that can be cooked in this style! Definitely be sure to check it out!

WE ARE… thankful for cheesy Reynolds Wrap advertising for easy cooking ideas!