How to make a four-course meal in your dorm room

Scott Powell

Of all the marvelous machinery introduced in the 20th century — personal computers, the internet, digital watches — the microwave oven is by far the most impactful. How did we live without it? Did we cook our hot pockets over a fire?

Although pretentious traditionalists and some members of the vintage-obsessed “it sounds better on vinyl” crowd may still hold that conventional ovens are superior, the microwave is the clear king of household cooking mechanisms. So what if it doesn’t cook your food all the way through? So what if it causes one half of your TV dinner to stay frozen solid while it zaps the other half into pure charcoal? Try heating up a Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwich in a black kettle, and then we’ll talk.

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Of course, there are those who argue that, majestic as it is, there are still some things that you simply cannot cook in a microwave.

But never underestimate the power of the internet to shut these dissenters up.

Although pretentious traditionalists and some members of the vintage-obsessed “it sounds better on vinyl” crowd may still hold that conventional ovens are superior, the microwave is the clear king of household cooking mechanisms.”

If you’re looking for a quick but fancy-enough-for-your-very-strained-college-lifestyle holiday feast, here are some recipes for a complete four-course meal that can be prepared and cooked right in your dorm room microwave.

First course: Campbell’s chicken noodle soup

This first recipe is relatively simple, as long as you have a can opener. If not, that’s totally fine too! As long as your teeth are sharp enough, you can always just bite the top of the can off. Just make sure you have plenty of Band-Aids on hand and some good dental insurance. If worse comes to worst though, you could also simply buy a can with a tab-pull opener.

Ingredients: 

  • Campbell’s chicken noodle soup can
  • Water

Instructions: 

  1. Prepare the Campbell’s chicken noodle soup according to the instructions on the Campbell’s can.

Second course: Cobb salad for one

This recipe comes to us courtesy of our friends over at One Dish Kitchen, whom we’ve never actually met and are really acquaintances at best. The wonderful thing about this recipe is the fact that we’re making it in 2019, when grocery stores have started selling pre-boiled, peeled and packaged hard-boiled eggs to save you all the grueling work of pouring water into a pot and putting it on a stove.

Of course, if you really feel like roughin’ it and hard-boiling your eggs yourself, you can always do so in your handy dandy microwave. Just put your egg into a microwave-safe bowl, pour water over it and cook it on high for 12 minutes. Then wait about seven days for the bowl that’s just been in the microwave for 12 minutes to cool down enough that it can be safely handled, take it out and voila!

Ingredients:

  • Salad greens
  • Blue cheese crumbles
  • Bacon (pre-cooked) (Hell, save yourself even more work and get it pre-crumbled too. Like I said, you’re lucky to be making this in 2019.)
  • Hard-boiled egg
  • Tomatoes
  • Chicken
  • Avocados

Instructions:

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  1. Dice up egg and avocado.
  2. Crumble bacon if you decided to be a cheapo and save 50 cents by not buying the pre-crumbled brand.
  3. Get a big bowl.
  4. Combine eggs, avocado, bacon and all other ingredients into the big bowl.
  5. Mix together ingredients, and top with your favorite salad dressing.

The wonderful thing about this recipe is the fact that we’re making it in 2019, when grocery stores have started selling pre-boiled, pre-peeled and pre-packaged hard-boiled eggs to save you all the grueling work of pouring water into a pot and putting it on a stove.

Third course: Chicken parmesan

Of all the courses in this microwavable meal, this one is probably the most likely to kill you. Cooking chicken is a dangerous enough game in and of itself, but try it in a microwave and it’s essentially the culinary equivalent of Russian roulette. So proceed with caution. If you’re really chicken about your chicken, you can always use pre-cooked, pre-breaded chicken fingers in lieu of the real, raw deal — but I reserve the right to call you a square for doing so.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup cornflake crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2/3 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Instructions:

  1. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the tomato sauce, Italian seasoning and garlic powder. Cover and microwave on high for two minutes, then stir. Cook at 50% power for three to five minutes or until the mixture simmers, stirring once. Set aside.
  2. In a bowl, combine the crumbs, Parmesan cheese and parsley. Dip the chicken into egg, then roll in the crumb mixture. Place in a lightly greased shallow 3 quart microwave-safe dish. Cover and microwave on high for 10-12 minutes, rotating a half turn after five minutes.
  3. Pour tomato mixture over chicken and sprinkle with mozzarella. Cook, uncovered, at 50% power for three to five minutes or until meat juices run clear.

The original recipe can be found at https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/microwave-chicken-parmesan/. 

Dessert: Chocolate mug cake

Is mug cake really cake? Is mug cake even food? Or is mug cake just hot chocolate for super-gluttons? All the stuff never really cooks or stabilizes; it just poofs up a bit before slowly and sadly sinking into itself. It’s like a metaphor for itself.

At first, it’s amazing and fantastic: a shot of sugar-heroine straight to the tongue. But as you go along eating, it slowly dawns on you that you’re literally just eating cancerous Betty Crocker sugar powder mixed with some water, and maybe this isn’t such a good idea, and you should stop before you get a stomach ache. Then you look down and the mug is empty, and it’s too late. Oh well. But it’s finals week. You’ve worked hard all semester, and you’ve earned the right to celebrate by making yourself feel like garbage!

Ingredients:

  • 6 tbsp chocolate cake mix (see note)
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce

Instructions:

  • In a microwave-safe mug, add cake mix, water and applesauce. Mix with a mini whisk until batter is smooth. If using chocolate chips, add and stir 1 tablespoon into the batter. Sprinkle remaining over the top of the batter.
  • Cook in the microwave at full power for one minute. Allow cake to cool a few minutes before eating.

The original recipe can be found at https://kirbiecravings.com/3-ingredient-chocolate-cake-mix-mug-cake/. 

Scott Powell can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @scottysseus.