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
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.

A Lesson in Patience

I’m not the most patient person. If I get to lunch craving pasta and the line in front of the pasta station is too long, I just find something else to eat. When I’m waiting for friends to arrive, I pace back and forth and check the door every two minutes. And sometimes, when it comes to cooking, I try to take shortcuts. This sandwich needs homemade cranberry mustard? I’ll just buy it, and that will mean I get to eat my sandwich five minutes sooner!

When I found this pizza crackers recipe on pinterest, I thought it was perfect. I love every single ingredient involved. It looked as easy as could be. If you can follow directions, and are patient, your pizza crackers should come out looking like this:


(Photo courtesy of Picky Palate)

Instead, because I was impatient, mine came out looking like this:

I didn’t want to wait for my cream cheese to soften, so I stuck it in the microwave. What came out was closer to the consistency to sour cream than it was to cream cheese. When I added the shredded cheese to my warm cream cheese, the mozzarella melted.

I thought it wouldn’t make much of a difference, but it did. The cracker sandwiches still tasted good, but the consistency was off. And there was something strange about eating a warm cream cheese pizza sandwich.

Learn from my mistakes. Just let the sour cream soften by taking it out of the fridge ten or fifteen minutes before you start assembling your crackers.

Pepperoni “Pizza-wiches”

I didn’t want to make a whole batch, so I used half the amount of cream cheese and just guessed how much sauce, pepperoni, and cheese to put in. The official recipe from Picky Palate is as follows:

8 ounces softened cream cheese
20 pepperonis, quartered
20-30 whole pepperonis
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup pizza or pasta sauce
1 box Town House Crackers (Target only had Ritz when I went, so I used those instead and they worked well)


My cream cheese, post-microwave


Pour the pizza sauce into the cream cheese. This step made my mixture even runnier, but if you follow the recipe your mixture should look more solid.


Add in the pepperonis


And the cheese


Spread mixture onto a cracker, top with a pepperoni (and cheese, if you like cheese as much as me) and enjoy!

 

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!

My Good Luck Charm for Super Bowl Sunday

January 6, 2008. The New York Giants were set to play against Tampa Bay at noon. My dad wanted to stay home from 11:15 mass so he could watch the game from the beginning. My mom didn’t think watching a … Continue reading