Recipes for yum: cheap, quick and tasty college meals

Breakfast in a cup, microwave eggs, cheese and bacon, make the grade in dorm cooking.
Breakfast in a cup, microwave eggs, cheese and bacon, make the grade in dorm cooking.


Whether it’s a tiny first kitchen, a dorm room or just restocking time, these basics make cooking easier and more flavorful:

—In the cupboard: Good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar, sea salt and black pepper, garlic, dried pasta, couscous, marinara sauce, lemons, peanut butter, and chicken or vegetable broth.
Cooking teacher Michelle Stern recommends Trader Joe’s Savory Broth, a reduced-sodium, gluten-free, liquid concentrate that comes in tiny metallic packets.
Add one pouch to one cup hot water, she says, and you’ve got flavorful broth.


—In the Mini-Fridge: Milk, butter, yogurt, eggs and cheese.

—On the Window Sill: Fresh herbs, such as basil or parsley.

—Don’t Forget: A microwaveable bowl and mug, a small cutting board, utensils and a small, sharp knife.

—Don’t Bother: Leave microwaveable popcorn behind.

They’re expensive and contain chemicals, says Stern. Instead, buy popcorn kernels in bulk.

Pour 1/4 cup or so into a brown paper lunch bag, fold the top down a couple of times and microwave for about two minutes, or until the popping slows.



Makes 12

1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cornmeal
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, or your favorite herb or dried spice

1. In a bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking soda and salt. Stir in sour cream. Mix just until a soft dough forms, but don’t overmix.
2. Pat dough into 1/2-inch thickness. Cut into rounds. Place on a microwave baking sheet. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with thyme. Microwave at high power for about 11/2 minutes or until done. Let rest for 3 to 4 minutes.
3. Split into halves and serve with sliced ham and cheese, sausage patties or eggs.

— Gigi Gaggero, Kids Culinary Adventures

Per serving: 150 calories, 8 g total fat, 5 g saturated fat, 20 mg cholesterol, 380 mg sodium, 17 g carbohydrates, 3 g protein.


Serves 1

You will need to adjust the timing to your microwave oven’s specifics. Unlike most microwaved eggs, these come out fluffy and light.

2-3 teaspoons butter
1 tablespoon milk or water
1 or 2 eggs
Salt, pepper to taste
Shredded cheese

1. Place the butter in a 12-ounce microwave-safe mug or small bowl. Microwave on high for 20 to 40 seconds, or until melted and sizzling.
2. Add the milk, eggs, salt and pepper, and whisk with a fork. If you’re using one egg, microwave it on high about 35-45 seconds, or until it just begins to set, stopping halfway through to give it a quick stir with a fork. For two eggs, it may take 1 to 2 minutes.
3. Remove eggs from microwave when they are still soft and moist in the center. Sprinkle with cheese and let sit for a minute or two to set.

— Adapted from “Dorm Room Recipes” (Quick Study Cooking)


Serves 8

8 cups chicken stock
Salt and white pepper
1/3 cup Italian pastina, orzo or other tiny pasta
2 eggs
Juice of 1 to 2 lemons
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley or chives

1. In a rice cooker, bring the chicken stock to a boil. Add the pastina and simmer until tender.
2. Meanwhile, beat the eggs together. Add the lemon juice, beating constantly.
3. Add a ladleful of the soup to the egg mixture and beat well. Then pour this back into the pan slowly, still beating constantly. Switch the rice cooker to the warm setting and cook the soup gently, stirring all the time, until it thickens. Serve with a sprinkling of parsley or chives.
— Michelle Stern,

Per serving: 70 calories, 1.5 g total fat,

0.5 g saturated fat, 55 mg cholesterol, 810 mg sodium, 11 g carbohydrates, 0 g fiber, 2 g sugars, 4 g protein.

This salad, from the new “Student Cookbook: Great Grub for the Hungry and the Broke,” is infinitely adaptable. Vary the vegetables, pasta type and dressing to suit your tastes.

Chicken breasts, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces
Thin egg noodles, fusilli or other pasta, cooked and drained
1 bunch fresh chives, chopped
Assorted vegetables, such as red peppers, carrots and snow peas, thinly sliced
1 small bunch watercress or arugula, stemmed
Sesame seeds, lightly toasted in a dry skillet
Sesame or Bang Bang Dressing (recipes below)

Toss the chicken, cooked pasta, chives, vegetables and watercress with the dressing of your choice. Serve hot or cold, garnished with toasted sesame seeds and chives.

Sesame Dressing

2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar

Whisk the dressing ingredients together, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.