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Nutritious and Delicious: The 5 Best Dorm Cooking Recipes

Photo by Tim Matthews on Unsplash

The cafeteria at Point Loma Nazarene University is a mix of good and bad experiences, but for those brave enough to do it on their own, delightful meals can be made from the comfort of your own dorm without the journey or the risks that come with the caf. 

In addition to the communal kitchen areas, PLNU’s appliance policy, according to the “What-to-Bring list” on the university “Campus Living” webpage, allows for students to have small appliances, including a mini-fridge, microwave, coffee maker, tea kettle, blender and rice cooker. With these tools, most  students are capable of taking charge of their own nourishment.

Pro Tip: check that dishware is microwave safe and stick to PLNU guidelines to ensure that everyone remains safe and to minimize accidents. These recipes are intended to be customized, meaning that not all ingredients are necessary.  Substitutions and experimentation are an encouraged part of the  process. Cooking is a time to be bold and take control of what fuels people through all the ups and downs of life. Be mindful of how the food that nourishes the body connects to the soul through the experience of making a meal for yourself.

BREAKFAST, the suggested most important meal of the day:

Other than the basic and boring oatmeal, fruit and coffee or tea you have had too many times in your college career, breakfast is a great time to have fun and start the day off on the right foot. This breakfast burrito recipe is simple enough to throw together in the morning or prepare in advance to grab and go for those early classes.

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 tablespoons of uncooked bulk breakfast sausage meat of choice
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons (30 ml) grated cheese, or more
  • 1 tortilla wrap of choice

Directions:

  1. Place the sausage in the microwave safe bowl and break up into small chunks.
  2. Cover with a microwave safe lid or plate. Microwave on high for 1 minute and 30 seconds.
  3. Push the sausage to the sides of the bowl. Crack the eggs and place into the well between the sausage. Tip: pierce the egg yolks to prevent them from potentially popping when microwaving. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
  4. Cover again and microwave on high for 1 minute, or until the whites are set. If needed, continue microwaving in 15-30 second intervals until cooked to your preference.
  5. Sprinkle the cheese on top. Microwave uncovered for about 15 seconds or until the cheese is melted.
  6. Lay out the tortilla and place the egg/sausage mix in the tortilla(s) and extra cheese if desired.
  7. Microwave uncovered for about 15 seconds or until the cheese is melted.
  8. Roll into a burrito or fold in half for a breakfast taco. Or you can roll the burrito after all the ingredients are in and microwave the burrito.
  9. Optional: refrigerate and reheat in the morning for a quick breakfast.

LUNCH, anything goes: 

Pushing aside the smoothies, salads and sandwiches, macaroni and cheese is a classic lunch time meal to avoid that midday slump. Noodles and cheese have an iconic reputation for being a perfect comfort food combination to bring joy to any day. Culinary-inclined people have made it as easy as possible to make this cheesy macaroni anywhere, anytime, with practically anything. From “Gemma’s Bigger Bolder Baking,” this “mug mac n cheese” recipe is perfect to experiment with ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup pasta
  • 3/4 cup water, cold
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 4 tablespoons grated cheddar cheese
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. In a large microwavable mug or large bowl add in the macaroni and the water. Pro Tip: Use a mug large enough to hold the water as it boils and bubbles.
  2. Microwave for roughly 3 minutes and 30 seconds. You want the pasta to be fully cooked.
  3. Pour out the remaining water.
  4. Stir in the milk, cornstarch and shredded cheese and microwave for a final 60 seconds to create your sauce. Stir well, season with salt and pepper.

DINNER, the meal you eat while watching Netflix:

Any student looking to share or impress can turn to this microwave mushroom risotto that is as appetizing as it is elegant. It is more advanced than the other recipes listed, but the results are worth it. Do not be afraid to make mistakes or make changes to make this recipe right for you. This creamy dinner is great for sharing, but keep in mind that leftovers will not give the same luxurious impression.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms
  • 3 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 large shallot, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 4 ounces cremini mushrooms
  • 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

  1. Stir together the dried porcini and 1 cup of the chicken broth in a microwave-safe 2-cup or larger measuring cup. Microwave, uncovered, on high until the broth is hot but not boiling. Let sit for 5 minutes. Remove the porcini pieces from the liquid with a slotted spoon, squeezing out excess moisture in the process. Chop the porcini roughly. Reserve the chopped porcini and the porcini broth separately.
  2. Place the shallots, garlic, cremini and shiitake mushrooms, 2 tablespoons of the butter and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a microwave-safe 8-by-8-by-2-inch baking dish. Pro Tip: cover tightly with 2 pieces of plastic wrap; make a small slit in the center with the tip of a paring knife to vent excess steam. Microwave on high until all the vegetables have softened. If needed, stir and microwave again, covered, in 30-second increments.
  3. Add the rice to the baking dish, and stir to coat the grains. Add the 1 1/2 cups of the remaining chicken broth, reserved porcini broth (leaving the sediment at the bottom of the cup) and chopped porcini, thyme and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and microwave on high for 8 minutes. Stir the risotto, and add the remaining 1 cup chicken broth. Cover and microwave on high until the rice is cooked but with the faintest bite in the center. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, parmesan and parsley, and stir vigorously until creamy. At this stage, the risotto should be thick but pourable from a spoon. Let sit, covered, for 2 minutes to rest and come together. Serve immediately with a sprinkling of grated parmesan on top.

GLUTEN-FREE DINNER, people who are gluten free get a lot of hate, but really I respect them for going against the grain:

The on-campus gluten-free options are slim to none, so students must either hope that there is a friendly option being served or take initiative to make their own meals. However, “Healthy Nibbles” by Lisa Lin makes cooking fun and gratifying for all, even those with dietary restrictions. Her specialty includes Asian and Asian-inspired dishes including vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free. This recipe draws on her specialty to give dorm-living some spice with this egg fried rice in a mug.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cooked jasmine rice (can be prepared in the microwave, on a stove, or in a traditional rice cooker)
  • 2 tablespoons frozen peas
  • 2 tablespoons chopped red pepper
  • 1/2 stalk of green onion, sliced
  • Small pinch of mung bean sprouts
  • Small pinch of shredded purple cabbage
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon five-spice powder

Directions:

  1. Place the rice into a large mug. Lay the peas, red pepper, green onion, mung bean sprouts and cabbage on top. Cover the mug with plastic wrap. Using a knife, puncture one or two small holes through the film. Microwave on high for 1 minute 15 seconds.
  2. Beat the egg and mix in the seasonings (soy sauce, sesame oil, onion powder and five-spice powder). Pour the egg mixture into the mug, and stir with the vegetables and rice
  3. Cover the mug with cling film again, and microwave for 1 minute and 15 seconds to 1 minute and 30 seconds. Take the mug out of the microwave, and give everything a good stir. Let the fried rice stand for a minute to finish cooking. Use a fork to fluff up the rice and serve.

VEGAN DINNER, for the self-made herbivores:

This recipe calls for a pot and stove, but creative students can easily replicate this recipe in their dorm room with a large bowl and boiling water from a kettle or in a rice cooker.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 package instant ramen noodles
  • 1/2 cup plant-based milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 1/2 tablespoon sriracha
  • 1 cup vegan cheese shreds
  • 1 teaspoon fresh parsley

Directions:

  1. In a small pot (can be substituted with an open lid rice cooker), add water and bring to a boil. Add salt, garlic powder, and dijon. Stir to combine.
  2. Add the instant noodles. Stir and let simmer according to package instructions for about 2-4 minutes until most of the water is absorbed and the noodles are al dente.
  3. Add milk, paprika, lemon juice, tahini, nutritional yeast, sriracha and vegan cheese shreds. Stir until combined and the cheese is melted. Serve immediately.
  4. Optional: top with more sriracha and chopped fresh parsley before you dig in.In a small pot (can be substituted with an open lid rice cooker), add water and bring to a boil. Add salt, garlic powder, and dijon. Stir to combine.
  5. Add the instant noodles. Stir and let simmer according to package instructions for about 2-4 minutes until most of the water is absorbed and the noodles are al dente.
  6. Add milk, paprika, lemon juice, tahini, nutritional yeast, sriracha and vegan cheese shreds. Stir until combined and the cheese is melted. Serve immediately.
  7. Optional: top with more sriracha and chopped fresh parsley before you dig in.
  • easpoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 1/2 tablespoon sriracha
  • 1 cup vegan cheese shreds
  • 1 teaspoon fresh parsley

Directions:

  1. In a small pot (can be substituted with an open lid rice cooker), add water and bring to a boil. Add salt, garlic powder, and dijon. Stir to combine.
  2. Add the instant noodles. Stir and let simmer according to package instructions for about 2-4 minutes until most of the water is absorbed and the noodles are al dente.
  3. Add milk, paprika, lemon juice, tahini, nutritional yeast, sriracha and vegan cheese shreds. Stir until combined and the cheese is melted. Serve immediately.
  4. Optional: top with more sriracha and chopped fresh parsley before you dig in.

Written By: Rachel Grace Heckle

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