Substitute Sandwich

The dining center at my school seems to just give up on the weekends. Saturday lunch and dinner is mediocre at best and the dining center only serves food until 2:00 pm on Sunday. My boyfriend was visiting and we didn’t want to go out to lunch, but I also didn’t want to subject him to the weekend food at the dining center. I was browsing Food Gawker and found a Turkey Focaccia Club recipe and decided that was exactly what I wanted for lunch. He agreed that it sounded good, so we left my dorm to go buy groceries.

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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.

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
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.

Cooking With a Kitchen (for the weekend)

I ended up going home this weekend to watch the Super Bowl and I was so glad I did. What a game! I think my family and I were having a collective heart attack for the last five minutes of it. I have no idea how four people managed to be so loud, but the noise we made after the Giants won was unbelievable. And, in case anyone was wondering, my dad did wear his magic green polo. It worked again!

Not only did I get to watch my favorite team win with my family, but I also had a rare luxury: I got to cook in a kitchen. I managed to make chicken nuggets, stove top macaroni and cheese (not the Kraft kind), hashbrown casserole, buffalo chicken dip, taco dip, and pancakes in the two days I was home. It was amazing. I wish I had thought to take pictures of all of the food.

For those with a kitchen, or those who torture themselves by reading recipe after recipe of things they can’t make while sitting in their dorm, I thought I’d include the results for the chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese.

We used this recipe for macaroni and cheese from Hungry Cravings. I had it favorited on food gawker (a great site to find recipes) and I was looking for something that didn’t need to be baked.

This recipe has you begin with the pasta, water, butter, milk, and seasonings all mixed together. You have to stir the pasta constantly once the mixture begins to boil. The whole process took me about fifteen minutes. For about nine minutes it was just me standing in front of the stove and stirring my macaroni. I didn’t mind it, because my boyfriend was working on the chicken nuggets next to me and I just talked to him. If I were making it alone, I might have gotten a little tired of stirring.

Instead of making a roux, this recipe has you cook the pasta with the milk and then leave it unstrained. You just pour the cheese on top afterwards, and it all melts together to be extremely cheesy and creamy. I wasn’t completely sold on this method. I think the texture of the finished product was a little off–maybe it was just the way my cheese melted, but it was a little grainy. Regardless, I ate my whole serving and my boyfriend enjoyed it, so it is definitely worth a try! I may try this recipe again with a higher quality cheese.

We found the recipe for chicken nuggets from 100 Days of Real Food. It was so simple to follow the directions and the end results were delightful. The part that took the longest was simply cutting up the chicken into bite sized pieces. The macaroni and chicken nuggets ended up being done at about the same time.

Unfortunately, as nice as this weekend was, I’m back to cooking without a kitchen. Check back later in the week for a recipe for a quick study break snack!