Studying for Finals and Desserts

All my friends from home are already done with finals, done with their sophomore year of college. While they’re all hanging out together and having fun, I’ve been studying and writing essays. Luckily, I will be done with all my classes by Thursday. I just have to get through six more pages of an essay and one test.

Rice Krispie treats have been helping me get through the preparation. My parents brought me a variety pack of candy from Costco this year instead of sending me a finals care package as they have in previous semesters. Unfortunately, I’ve gotten sick of the super sweet and sugary candies in the pack.

As I went to put the candy in my snack drawer, I realized I had all the ingredients necessary to make Rice Krispie treats. Score. While they are still sugary, they are a break from my usual Skittles or Starbursts.

The ingredients

 


Put the marshmallows into a bowl with 1/3 a stick of butter. Microwave on high for 2 minutes.


Add generous spoonfuls of peanut butter and microwave for another 45 seconds.


Stir the mixture until it is smooth. If it is still lumpy, put it back in the microwave for 30 seconds.


Add two to three cups of Rice Krispies into the bowl and stir.


Once the Rice Krispies are evenly covered with the peanut butter and marshmallow mixture, press it onto a paper plate or whatever you have on hand that will work.


The finished product!

It is quick, delicious, and simple. I tried to melt some chocolate chips to drizzle over my treats, but I didn’t have anything other than plastic bowls. The bowl and chocolate melted into each other, so my Rice Krispie treats will have to stay undrizzled.

I have no problem with that. Peanut butter, Rice Krispies, and marshmallows are a wonderful mixture.

 

Other No-cook Dessert Ideas:
1. Oreo Cheesecake Bites
2. Confetti Popcorn Bars
3. Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries

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The Battle of the Microwave Meals

I’ve mentioned before that my mini fridge’s freezer does not actually keep things frozen for long at all. This, combined with the fact that the dining center is not open for dinner on Sunday, has been frustrating for me all semester. I had been using my built-in dining dollars at the dorm’s convenience store for dinner on most Sundays, but that ran out less than halfway through my second semester.

So I’m always looking for new things to eat on Sunday nights. I don’t like having to pay for delivery or having to walk downtown to get something. While I am always pretty lazy, my Sundays are almost immeasurably lazy. Which is why microwave meals are perfect for me.

Except for the fact that a lot of them suck.

When I was shopping at CVS the other day, I got the idea to pick a few microwavable meals, not only to feed myself, but also to rate for this blog. None of them have to be refrigerated or kept frozen. So the contenders for best microwave meals are Bowl Appetit Garlic Parmesan Pasta, Barilla Mezze Penne all Marinara, and Simply Asian Spicy Kung Pao Noodle Bowl.

You may be wondering what the method was in choosing those three. It was a very simple selection process: 1. They were all next to each other on the shelf and 2.  I had never tried any of them before.

I started with the Bowl Appetit. I’ve tried this brand’s Three-cheese Rotini, and while it is not the greatest meal ever, it is slightly better than Easy Mac for me (I had an unfortunate incident last year where my roommate’s hair somehow found its way into my bowl of Easy Mac, and for some reason I haven’t been able to enjoy Easy Mac since then. She didn’t shower very often).

Anyway, while I didn’t have too high of standards, I was expecting this one to be good.

It is not very appetizing when you first take it out of the packaging or before you microwave it for 5 minutes.

Or right after you microwave it.

But it looks a little better once you’ve let it set for a few minutes. To be fair, the lighting in the two pictures is different. You can still see how much better the sauce is consistency-wise though in the second picture.

Ratings:
Taste: 2/5– This pasta was just not very good at all. While it didn’t necessarily taste gross, it didn’t really taste like anything. Even after I added some garlic powder to try to give it some sort of taste, it still wasn’t worth eating. I ended up giving up on it and throwing it out halfway through. If you’re going to get a Bowl Appetit, I would recommend the Three-cheese Rotini instead.

Price: 4/5– It was $1.99 for this, the cheapest of all the contenders. While it is not as inexpensive as Ramen or Easy Mac, it is still a cheap option for lunch or dinner.

Ease: 3/5– All you do is fill the bowl with water to a certain line and then microwave it for 5 minutes. Once you’ve taken it out of the microwave, you have to let it sit for two or three minutes so the sauce thickens. I thought this one would be the easiest, but that was before I tried the Barilla.

I’ve had Barilla sauce and pasta before, so I already trusted the brand. I just wasn’t sure that this would be any easier than making my own pasta in the microwave. I was wrong. It was so much easier.

All you do is lift the film to the dotted line and then put it in the microwave for one minute.

The noodles must be already cooked and the microwave time is just to heat up the sauce. I don’t know that for certain though, because I didn’t peek under the film to check it out.

The sauce tray conveniently pops out so you can cover your pasta with the sauce easily.

The finished product.

Ratings:

Taste: 4/5– The sauce is exactly what you would expect from a jar of Barilla marinara, but the pasta was a little al dente for my liking. I still enjoyed the meal though, and the serving was perfect. I thought it would be a little too big, but in the end I was full without hating myself for eating too much.

Price: 3.5/5– I paid $3.19 for this, which is more than it would have been to make one serving from pasta and sauce I already had. However, for lunch at the office or something of that sort, the convenience and taste make the price absolutely worth it.

Ease: 5/5– I was most worried about this one taking awhile to cook. I didn’t think to check the instructions before leaving the store, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that all I had to do was pull back film and put it in the microwave for a minute. The whole thing didn’t even take me three minutes. If that isn’t easy, I don’t know what is.

Finally, I tried the Simply Asia. I had never tried anything from this brand or any spicy kung pao noodles before. It looked good enough though, so I decided to go for it.

The contents. I didn’t realize there would be a fork with it, which was nice. The bowl was also good quality and would be nice to have if you were taking this to work.

This is another one that does not look entirely appetizing before it is cooked.

The finished product looks much better, and other than the vegetables, looks pretty similar to the picture on the packaging.

Ratings:

Taste: 3.5/5– This was definitely spicy for me, but that is also coming from the girl who can barely eat medium salsa. So for all I know, to other people this would not be too spicy. I enjoyed it, but didn’t end up eating it all. After about half of the bowl I got bored with the taste.

Price: 3/5– This cost $3.69. While that is still cheaper than a lot of lunch options, it was the most expensive of the three.

Ease: 3/5– The whole process took about 5 minutes. There was a lot of stuff to take out of different packets, though. It was the least easy of the three to make, but the taste made it a lot better than the Bowl Appetit.

 

Overall, the winner was Barilla for me. Although it was more expensive than the Bowl Appetit, it was absolutely delicious. I could see myself bringing this into work this summer for lunch.

 

Making Potato Chips in the Microwave

Microwaved Potato Chips is another idea that I’ve seen all over blogs, Pinterest, and Food Gawker. This is a recipe that is harder for college students, simply because most of us don’t keep potatoes in our dorm. However, if you plan to make your own chips ahead of time, it is the simplest recipe to make. You can season the chips however you want and it will only take about 10 minutes total, with 3-5 minutes cooking time in the microwave.

If you’re planning on having an end of the year party in your dorm, or if you and your friends are going crazy with all the studying and need a fun break, making your own potato chips is a great idea. Here are some dorm friendly dips you can make to serve with your creations or just as another dish:

1. Bacon Cheddar Chipotle Dip
2. Asiago Sun-Dried Tomato Dip
3. Creamy Salsa Dip
4. Lipton Onion Dip (the easiest dip ever)
5. Velveeta Cheese Dip

Enjoy! I haven’t personally tried the microwave potato chips because I haven’t gone to a real grocery store in awhile, but I’ve heard good things about them.

Finals Care Packages

One of the best gifts you can give a college student is a care package during stressful times. And what week is more stressful than the week before finals?

While a care package during finals week is greatly appreciated, a care package the week before can be even more helpful to students. The week before finals is packed with long-term projects being due, last minute readings, and a general feeling of panic for most students. You still have homework, readings, and projects, but you also have to fit in reviewing for your upcoming tests.

While some of my friends are experiencing finals right now (good luck Iowa State friends!) my finals are not for another week. There can still be time to give your favorite college student a care package, depending on where they go to school.

If you don’t know what to put into a homemade care package, or if you don’t have time to go out and buy all the supplies, here are some good online options.

1. For Brownie Lovers: Fat Witch Bakery
$17.95-$63.00

My freshman year of college, my mom bought me an 8 pack of their Fat Witch Brownies. They were absolutely delicious. So good that I bought some for my boyfriend a few weeks later, which he enjoyed. Though I may have eaten a few of his when I visited him. You can choose a variety pack or just stick to their original brownies. With 11 different types of brownies, you can find something for almost any sweet tooth.

2. Good Selection: Hip Kits
$19.97-$49.97

I haven’t personally used this website, but I have heard good things about it. There are tons of different options– healthy, candy-filled, exam themed, spirit packs. The website also has an entire list of toys and trinkets you can add to the care packages to help customize them. If I had found this website in time for my boyfriend to get his before finals, I definitely would’ve gotten him the Brain and Grain.

3. Exam Themed: Box-O-Box
$49.99

While this package is a bit pricey, it has a lot of unique and helpful items for students cramming for exams. Not only is there candy, tea, baked goods, and other snacks, but it also includes pens, highlighters, a blue book, and other finals necessities. Started by college students who were sick of traditional care packages, Box-O-Box has been praised by many news organizations for interesting and quality boxes.

4. For Chocolate Lovers: Edible Arrangements Chocolate Covered Fruit
$15.00-$68.00

It was my best friend’s dream in high school to get an edible arrangement for her grad party. I have no idea what started the idea, or why she was so attached to it, but every time we watched the commercial, she was transfixed. Unfortunately her mom did not see the value in paying for fruit shaped into flower arrangements. While sending a college student a full edible arrangement is not the most practical thing, you can definitely send them some chocolate covered strawberries or apples. (Mom, if you’re reading this, take note). They are sweet but much more interesting than just plain old chocolate. Plus, we can pretend that we’re eating healthy– strawberries are still healthy even if they’re covered in chocolate, right?

 

Single Serving Puppy Chow

Last semester, I tweeted “Puppy chow and How I Met Your Mother on Netflix are the only things getting me through dead week right now. #Ihaveaproblem #somuchpuppychow.” My cousin from New Jersey read that tweet and thought I was legitimately eating food … Continue reading

Easy Breakfast Ideas

I love breakfast foods.

It is nearly impossible for me to eat just one bowl of cereal at a time. I cannot get enough of bacon, egg, and cheese bagels or scrambled eggs with salsa and cheese. Hashbrown casserole is the greatest thing my school’s dining center has to offer.

However, my love for breakfast food often conflicts with my love for sleeping in. I am very serious about my sleep. Not once in my college career have I pulled an all-nighter. The least sleep I’ve ever gotten since I’ve been in college is probably 6 hours. I do everything possible to not have to stay up late on school nights.

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