A note to incoming freshmen: Life outside the parental womb is complicated. You might be used to home-cooked meals, rent-free housing, structure and supervision, but all that is about to change as you take your first baby steps into the real world. Luckily, your first year in college is made easy for you, as two essential factors of adulthood — living on your own and finding yourself three square meals a day — are taken care of by dorms and dining halls.
You might have heard horror stories about rubbery chicken and slimy lasagna, but in reality dorm food isn’t all that bad. But if you find yourself getting sick of dorm fare before the school year ends, here are three recipes that can be made with just the microwave in your dorm room and some basic food items you can find at any grocery store.
Note that most of these recipes require a microwaveable bowl (with lid) and a separate serving dish.
QUICK DORM RICE BOWLS
by Mary Collette Rogers, everydaygoodeating.com
This recipe will make a quick, delicious meal that is so easy it just might follow you from the dorms to your first apartment. All you need is a big, microwave-safe bowl and lid, a big serving bowl, a spoon and some frozen veggies and rice.
1 bag frozen peas
1 bag frozen brown rice
1 cooked chicken breast from a deli or a couple portions of chicken from a leftover rotisserie chicken, cut or torn into small pieces
2-4 spoonfuls San-J Spicy Peanut Sauce, to taste
Microwave peas in microwavable dish, as directed on the package, then remove to the serving bowl.
Microwave rice in the big glass dish, as directed on the package.
Combine the cooked peas with cooked rice in the big glass dish. Stir in chicken and sauce to taste. Microwave one to two minutes; stir and taste. If not hot enough, microwave another one or two minutes. Enjoy!
Almost any frozen vegetables will work, Collette Rogers says, including green beans, chopped spinach, brocolli or cauliflower. Same goes for sauce and protein: Any type of Asian stir-fry sauce or pre-cooked meat will do.
SILENCE OF THE LAMBS SHEPHERD’S PIE
by Marta Holmberg, peta2.com, co-author of PETA’s Vegan College Cookbook: 275 Easy, Cheap, and Delicious Recipes to Keep You Vegan at School
Of course, in college you might discover Peter Singer and become a vegetarian. Or you might be swayed by vegetarianism’s angry cousin, veganism, and take your dietary respect of animals one step further. Never fear, for peta2’s Marta Holmberg has just the recipe to help you out.
2 servings of instant potatoes (some instant potatoes may not be vegan)
1 (12-ounce) package veggie burger crumbles (try Boca)
1 (14-ounce) can mixed veggies (peas and carrots), drained
1 (8.75-ounce) can of corn, drained
3 tbsp. vegetarian vegetable broth
Salt and pepper, to taste
Microwave the instant mashed potatoes in a microwave-safe bowl according to the directions on the package. Set aside in serving bowl.
Microwave the veggie burger crumbles in bowl for a minute or two. Mix the veggies, crumbles and veggie broth in the bowl. Top with mashed potatoes, sprinkle on salt and pepper, and nuke for another minute, or until hot. Makes four servings.
VEGETABLE CRYSTAL ROLLS
by Chris Clarke, www.doortodoororganics.com
Feel like making something fancy? This recipe involves lots of fresh in gredients and a couple more involved steps, but sometimes you have to work for the great things in life (this lesson applies to your schoolwork, freshmen). This is vegetarian, and even vegan if you want it to be, so you don’t have to worry about extra meat going bad in your fridge.
1 cup cucumber, cut into 2-inch strips
1 cup carrot, cut into 2-inch strips
1 cup red cabbage, shredded
Note: Instead of dicing the vegetables yourself, look for bags of pre-sliced produce that can substitute
6 leaves green butter lettuce (any type can substitute)
4 ounces basil leaves
4 ounces mint leaves
1 bunch cilantro
6 sheets rice paper
1 jar peanut sauce (for dipping)
Heat water in the electric teapot and pour into a bowl large enough to hold a single sheet of the rice paper.
The water shouldn’t be boiling, but hot. If the water’s too hot, the rice paper will fold in on itself and become unusable. Dip about one-third of the rice paper into the bowl and rotate the paper until the whole thing is soft and pliable. (Visit bit.ly/ricepaper for a good explanation of this.) Place the softened rice paper on a flat surface.
Take a leaf of lettuce and put it in the middle of the wrapper. Place a bunch of the carrots in the middle of the roll. Put some of the cabbage next to the carrots, and place some cucumber, cilantro sprigs, mint leaves and basil on top of the vegetables.
Roll up like a burrito as tight as you can. Refrigerate or eat immediately. Serve with peanut sauce.
You can only have knives with three-inch blades in the dorms, so if you do want to chop your vegetables, make sure you have acceptable equipment. Visit housing.colorado.edu or ask your residential advisor.