Photo by Zach Maher

Taylor Steinbeck
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Fear not, young fledglings. Departing the nest may be daunting, but you don’t have to sacrifice good grub for the sake of campus life.

Armed only with a fistful of Plu$ Dollars and your dorm’s super-powered microwave, you can satisfy your stomach — granted you give the high-sodium ramen a pause and check out these 10 tasty tips that will do a tap number on your palate.

Along with scavenging the Internet for some of the best recipes available, we took tips from Cal Poly’s Global Food Tasters (GFT), a club on campus, on a few of their favorite delectable, microwaveable dishes.

1. Instant brownie in a mug

Looking for a post-workout sugar splurge? This winner in a cup, courtesy of food science senior and former GFT treasurer Adam Yee, is sure to sweeten any sour day that storms your way. Exam wasn’t curved? Brownie in a mug. Feeling a bit homesick? Brownie in a mug. Wait-listed for a crucial class? Better go make that brownie in a mug.


  • 2 tbs vegetable oil
  • 2 tbs water
  • Few drops vanilla extract
  • A dash of salt
  • 3 tbs granulated sugar
  • 2 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tbs all purpose flour


– In a 12 oz coffee mug, mix water, oil, salt and vanilla. Whisk well.

– Add cocoa powder, sugar and flour. Whisk well.

– Microwave for 60-75 seconds on highest setting: 60 seconds for a molten bottom, 75 for uniformly done. Might need a few runs to develop a preference.

Enjoy with a spoon and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Careful, brownie will be hot.

2. Ground nut soup

An appetizing alternative for the peanut butter lover, this soup shared by GFT’s former president Rima Akz is an ideal meal for a crisp, blustery evening that SLO’s winters promise to provide.


  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1.5 cups tomato soup or sauce
  • 2-4 tbs peanut butter


– Microwave 2 cups of chicken broth in large microwaveable container for 5-7 minutes on high or until boiling.

– Add 2-4 tbs peanut butter. Stir peanut butter in until dissolved into mixture.

– Reheat for another 1-2 minutes in order to ensure texture consistency.

– Add 1.5 cups tomato soup/sauce and mix thoroughly.

3. Breakfast in a mug

The so-called “most important meal of the day” just became the most effortless meal of the day. In a mere five minutes, your morning brain food can be prepared and eaten — perfect for catching a few more z’s before that snooze-fest of a 7 a.m. class. Instead, you’ll be wide-eyed, ready and full.


  • 1 tbs butter or 1 tbs margarine
  • 1 tbs milk or 1 tbs water
  • 1-2 eggs
  • 1 dash pepper
  • 1 dash salt
  • 1 slice bacon, cooked (optional)
  • shredded cheese (optional)


– Place butter in 12 oz. microwave-safe mug or small bowl.

– Microwave on high 30-45 seconds, or until melted.

– Add egg(s), milk, salt and pepper.

– Stir or whip with a fork.

– Microwave one egg on high 35 to 45 seconds; two eggs 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 minutes, or until eggs begin to set, stirring with fork to break apart halfway through.

– Remove eggs when they are still soft and moist. You may have to play with the time depending on your microwave. Let stand about 2 minutes.

-While eggs are standing, crumble bacon and add to eggs. Eggs will firm up while cooling.

– If desired, sprinkle with shredded cheese during standing time.

Courtesy of

4. Quesadillas

Easy. Cheesy. Beautiful. These quesadillas put CoverGirls to shame. They’re just as tantalizing but make for a far tastier snack. With shredded Mexican cheese goo-ed to perfection, microwaveable quesadillas are slices of heaven.


  • 3/4 cup refried beans
  • 4 8-inch flour tortillas
  • 1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) shredded Mexican cheese blend, divided
  • 1/2 cup taco sauce, divided


– Spread beans evenly over two tortillas. Sprinkle evenly with 3/4 cup cheese, and drizzle with 1/4 cup taco sauce. Top with remaining tortillas.

– Microwave one quesadilla, covered with a paper towel, on a microwave-safe plate on high for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Repeat with remaining quesadilla.

– Cut each into eight wedges; serve with remaining taco sauce, sour cream and cheese.

Courtesy of

5. Soft chicken tacos

Bow chicka wow wow! Did’ja hear? Chicken is the new beef. Satisfy your south-of-the-border cravings with tacos that will have your taste buds going Mariachi in your mouth. Sombreros and all.


  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound of cooked chicken
  • Cooking spray
  • 12 (6-inch) white corn tortillas
  • 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced green cabbage
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese (such as Tillamook)


– Get cooked chicken a Campus Dining venue

– Combine first four ingredients in a small bowl; rub spice mixture over chicken.

– Heat tortillas according to package directions. Divide chicken evenly among tortillas; top each tortilla with 2 tbs cabbage and 1 tsp cheese. Serve with sour cream, if desired.

Courtesy of Cooking Light

6. Butterbeer

October will soon be upon us, and what better way to say hello to everyone’s favorite haunted holiday than with glasses of rich, toasty butterbeer? For the wizard within us all, this treat exported from the world of “Harry Potter” is sure to be a Halloween hit. Mischief managed.


  • 1 cup (8 oz) club soda or cream soda
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) butterscotch syrup (ice cream topping)
  • 1/2 tbs butter


– Measure butterscotch and butter into a 2 cup (16 oz) glass. Microwave on high for 1 to 1-1/2 minutes, or until syrup is bubbly and butter is completely incorporated.

– Stir and cool for 30 seconds, then slowly mix in club soda. Mixture will fizz quite a bit.

– Serve in two coffee mugs or small glasses; it’s a perfectly warm Hogwarts treat for two!

Courtesy of

7. Bacon

To many, bacon is not solely a food item, it’s a way of life — and it is not to be taken lightly. Treat your bacon the way you’d like to be treated with this recipe that will have your mouth watering and your meat sizzling. Oink, oink, indeed.

Directions: Use a plate, put a paper towel sheet on the plate, lay out the bacon strips (don’t let them overlap), take another paper towel and place it on top of bacon. Microwave on high for 2 to 3 minutes.

8. Macaroni and cheese

There’s nothing quite like a bowl of macaroni and cheese to soothe the soul. This recipe doesn’t include the touch of a loving mother, but it is as close to family as a college kid can manage. After all, there’s no place like home, right?


  • 1 cup elbow macaroni
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 tbs all-purpose flour
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese


– Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and reserve. 

– In a microwave-safe bowl, combine milk, flour and salt and pepper to taste; whisk or beat until smooth. Add butter and cheese; microwave on high for 5 minutes and whisk until smooth. Microwave for an additional 4 to 5 minutes and whisk or beat until smooth and no lumps remain.

– Add cooked pasta to mixture; stir and serve.

Courtesy of

9. Risotto

A dependable go-to side, risotto can easily be scraped into a tupperware container and brought along to class when you are tight on time. Simple, savory, scrumptious.


  • 3 tbs butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese


– In a 3-quart, microwave-safe casserole dish combine butter, garlic and onion. Place dish in microwave and cook on high for 3 minutes.

– Place vegetable broth in a microwave-safe dish. Heat in microwave until the broth is hot but not boiling (approximately 2 minutes).

– Stir the rice and broth into the casserole dish with the onion, butter and garlic mixture. Cover the dish tightly and cook on high for 6 minutes.

– Cook on high for 10 minutes more. Most of the liquid should boil off. Stir the cheese into the rice and serve.

Courtesy of

10. Fate bi Laban

Weary of oh-so-typical snacks that leave a belly bored? Munch on this: Fate bi Laban is a middle eastern dip that pairs with pita chips just like Marshall and Lily in “How I Met Your Mother” — perfectly. This recipe is a tad more advanced than the others, but the yum factor is greatly worth the effort. Plus, earn some international cred by fixing up an appetizer a little more exotic than your basic nachos.


  • 1 canned Garbanzo Beans (15 oz)
  • 2-4 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp dried mint
  • 1/2 tsp salt


– Drain and rinse a can of garbanzo beans with warm water, and place into a microwave-safe bowl and cover.

– Heat garbanzo beans for 5 minutes on high.

– Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and dried mint to the greek yogurt. Grind desirable amount of garlic cloves and add to yogurt, and mix the product.

– Remove warm garbanzo beans from microwave, separating water from bean.

– Add beans to completed greek yogurt mix.

– Add the water set aside from garbanzo beans to the mixture until you reach your desired thickness.

Additional toppings include: roasted pine nuts and green onions.

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