Pasta without a Pasta Boat

As I mentioned in my Creamy Bow Tie Pasta post, I just recently realized that making pasta in a dorm is completely possible. For some reason, although pasta is my favorite food to eat, it never occurred to me in my 1.5 years in the dorms to just try boiling pasta in the microwave. So I finally tried it today.

It works.

I measured out the water for two servings in my Pasta Boat and found that for one cup of pasta, you need five cups of water. I poured the water and the pasta in a microwave safe bowl and microwaved it on high for 18 minutes.

The pasta came out just as well as it does in the pasta boat. However, the bowl got so hot I had to use a thick sweatshirt of mine as a makeshift pot holder. It was also very hard to drain the pasta without a strainer. I ended up putting my pasta into my Pasta Boat just so I could put the lid on and easily strain it.

From now on, I will continue to use my Pasta Boat. But it is nice to know my recipes can still be made in a dorm for those who don’t have a pasta cooking container.

This time I added Oscar Mayer Deli Fresh Buffalo Style Chicken Breast. For some reason, I cannot find a link to this anywhere on the Oscar Mayer website. Maybe this is like Oscar Mayer’s weird cousin that they’re ashamed of? I’m not sure. I just know that I love anything buffalo chicken, so I decided to try it. The chicken strips are 110 calories for 3 oz and are precooked. I am back to not having a working camera, or else I would show you what they look like. Walmart’s picture looks different than what I am seeing in front of me right now– the edges on mine are bright orange, but the shape of the chicken is the same.

I added the chicken to my cooked mostaccioli and then poured four cheese Alfredo sauce over it. I stirred in some pepper and Cheddar Jack cheese and microwaved for 45 seconds.

The buffalo chicken doesn’t add a huge kick to the pasta unless you have a full piece in every bite. Otherwise, I would say it is worth trying. Is it as good as normal buffalo chicken pasta? No. But does it satisfy a craving for it with little effort? Yup.

For those lucky enough to have a kitchen, here is the recipe that inspired me to pick up buffalo chicken strips in the first place. It is from How Sweet It Is. When I get to visit my boyfriend and use his kitchen, that recipe is almost always what we make. It is the best buffalo chicken pasta we’ve tried so far, and one of the recipes with the least ingredients that I’ve seen, which is always nice for people on a budget.

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Pasta Boat Bow Tie with Creamy Tomato Sauce

I have used my pasta boat six times since my last post about it. Five of the six times were within one week. Having pasta so readily available to me is probably not the most healthy thing. I had opened a jar of Alfredo sauce and just could not bring myself to throw it out. My mom has always been very strict about expiration dates–that sauce should stay in my fridge three to four days, tops. My dad on the other hand has used Miracle Whip months past the best if used by date because he just can’t eat a sandwich without it. I followed my dad’s example and ate it on the fifth day. Not quite as worrisome as months old mayonnaise, but my mom still would not approve. And I’m alive to tell the tale (while on that subject, nothing seems to have come from my possibly toxic bowl either).

Anyway, I thought I’d share how I eat my pasta in my dorm. My dad insisted that I didn’t need dry spices because 1. the jars of sauce are already seasoned and 2. I don’t have a stove, therefore they won’t have time to simmer. I said that I wanted them anyway because my palate is not sophisticated enough to notice the difference pre-simmer and post-simmer. I won.

The process is so simple that pictures really aren’t necessary. I just got a camera back though and I really wanted to take pictures. So here they are!

Pasta Boat Bow Tie with Creamy Tomato Sauce
(makes one generous serving)

What you need:
Pasta boat*
I cup farfalle (bow tie) pasta
1/3 cup red sauce (I use Ragu because it is smooth and what I ate growing up)
1/2 cup Alfredo sauce (I LOVE Classico Four Cheese Alfredo. You can use whatever brand you’d like though)
1/8 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon italian seasoning
1/4-1/2 teaspoon garlic power
salt
pepper
handful of shredded mozzarella cheese (this was a last-minute decision and I forgot to take a picture of it)


My pasta boat!


The pasta was perfectly cooked after 18 minutes in the microwave. It was worth the wait.


Pour the sauces into the bowl. If you enjoy tomato sauce more than Alfredo,  you can switch it up so there is more tomato sauce than Alfredo.


Stir the sauces together until the color is uniform and add the salt, pepper, garlic powder, italian spices, and oregano.


Stir the seasonings in completely and then top with shredded mozzarella. Microwave on high for 45 seconds, stir the cheese into the pasta, and then microwave for another 45 seconds to 1 minute.


The finished product. Absolutely delicious.

*I realized recently (read: right now) that I could probably boil pasta without the boat, i would just have a harder time straining it. I haven’t tested this because my bowls are not microwave safe, but I am going to try to get new ones over break to see. It takes 18 minutes for 1 cup of bow tie pasta to cook in the pasta boat, so I would assume it would be the same in any other bowl with the proper amount of water.

My “Chopped” Salad

I’ve mentioned before that there is no room in my mini fridge for one-time use items. That is what makes my recent impulse buy somewhat surprising. I usually try to buy the least expensive items I can, as long as it doesn’t make me skimp on quality too much. I’m also very picky.

And yet I bought goat cheese anyway.

I was trying to think of something interesting to put on top of a salad. I was sick of my usual bagged American blend and ranch dressing. So when my boyfriend picked up a container of goat cheese and said, “this looks kinda classy” I decided to buy it.

I love the show Chopped on Food Network. Enough that I had a dream that I was on the show and got chopped after making a barbecue potato chip encrusted chicken with a spinach salad. My boyfriend will name off ingredients and I have to say how I would put it together if I were on the show: Okay, you have tilapia, rice cereal, cherries, and serrano peppers for a main dish. What would you make?

I’m not sure that we ever really know if what we make up would actually taste good. But we get a lot of entertainment out of it.

Anyway, I see goat cheese used a lot on Food Network, but I’ve never actually tried it.  I decided goat cheese would be my secret ingredient for the night. I put it together in a salad with some other toppings I had on hand. The end result was extremely satisfying and  made me feel like I was in a nice restaurant, not sitting on the floor in my dorm eating from a plastic bowl. And I think a fancy feeling yet extremely easy recipe is something everyone needs once in a while.

My “Chopped” Salad–for two servings
romaine lettuce
1/2 an apple, chopped (I used a pink lady apple)
a handful of pistachios (no shell), chopped
a handful of goat cheese crumbles
raspberry vinaigrette

Mix all the ingredients together and enjoy your fresh, delicious salad.


Sorry for the bad quality of the picture–My camera has been out of battery and I haven’t had a charger with me at school. The salad was so pretty looking, I just had to take a picture with my phone.

Meatless Fridays and Beef Rice

I don’t remember the exact age that I began refraining from eating meat on Fridays during Lent. I don’t remember what my parents used to do before my brother and I were old enough to follow that rule–cook us chicken and order themselves pizza? I don’t even remember ever being taught that a good Catholic never eats meat (unless it was fish, which was completely unlikely in my family) on a Friday during Lent. It was just something I knew. I thought it was the greatest honor the first year I was told to participate. I felt so grown up.

By the time I was in 7th grade, I had started getting bad at remembering. Most of my Friday nights were spent away from home, without my parents to remind me. Two of my best friends were also Catholic, so sometimes one of us would remember and warn the others not to order that chicken taco with sour cream. Usually, though, we would do something like order a pepperoni pizza and then wait until midnight to let anyone–our meat-eating Lutheran friend included–eat a slice.

Knorr Rice Sides Beef flavor was a staple in my group of friends. It was a side dish my parents had always prepared for meals that I hated, like pot roast or roast beef, so I grew to love it as a main dish. I converted my friends, one by one, from resistance (does it actually taste like beef?) to obsession (I’m still not sure what it tastes like*, but it is delicious). We got into legitimate fights over whose bowl had more rice. I brought a bag of the rice with me to every sleepover.

I remember coming home one Saturday morning during Lent and proudly announcing to my parents that I had remembered not to eat meat. I only ate beef rice! I bragged, No real meat in it! My parents informed me that my favorite meal still counted as meat and I shouldn’t eat it on Fridays.

Instead of dealing with the temptation of eating it on Fridays (it still didn’t seem to count in my mind) I decided to give it up for good. And by good, I mean the last thirty-some days of Lent. I ended up giving up my rice for Lent from the ages 13 to 18.

Beef rice has become what I want when I’m sick or on those nights that I wish I had gone to the same school as my best friends from high school, many of whom have stayed the same since those meatless Fridays in junior high.

After so many years of cooking those packets of rice, I am shocked I never noticed the rice has microwave directions. I’ve missed out on my “rice and pasta blend in a savory beef flavored sauce” for the past year and a half of school. But all that ended today.

It tastes just as wonderful made in the microwave as it does from the stove. I found out after I made my steaming plate of deliciousness that the bowl I used was not microwave safe. I’m hoping that is because the bowl gets extremely hot and not because it was releasing some sort of toxin into my beautiful beef rice… but if that were the case, I can assure you it would be worth it.

*According to the Knorr website, the rice tastes like “Rice and pasta blend in a hearty, beef-flavored sauce with onions, garlic, thyme, rosemary, paprika and diced carrots.” I can’t say my palette is refined enough to get all those flavors, but it is refined enough to know that the rice is absolutely delicious.