NCL class photo of high school seniors
NCL class photo of high school seniors

I recently had the pleasure of teaching a “basic” dorm room cooking demonstration to a group of high school seniors as one of the NCL events.  If you have a microwave, panini grill and an electric kettle, you can cook almost anything in your dorm room.  Their feedback on how easy it is to cook these recipes and how delicious it turned out was inspirational.


Microwave, Panini Grill, Electric Kettle, Microwave pasta cooker, mandoline slicer, grater, peeler, cutting board, knife, kitchen scissors, mason jars (various sizes), spatula, tongs, chopsticks, glass measuring cups (various sizes), measuring cups, measuring spoons, glass bowls

Using the panini press


Trader Joe’s seasonal pumpkin pancake mix was a hit with the girls


Pancake mix, eggs, butter, milk, oil spray, maple syrup

Basic pancake recipe:  1 cup flour, 1 TBS sugar, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/4 salt, 1 egg, 1 cup milk Or 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup buttermilk


Preheat a panini grill to 350 and spray the griddle with oil.  Using the recipe from the pancake mix, add the ingredients into a jar, seal tightly and shake until all the ingredients are incorporated, if there are any big lump, break up with a fork.  Once the griddle is hot, pour pancake batter onto the griddle, cook 4-5 minutes on one side and flip and cook the other side 2-3 minutes.  Transfer onto a plate, and cook the rest of the pancakes, serve with syrup.

Choose a panini grill with both a grill and griddle plates
Don’t overcrowd the griddle img_8303Serve immediately with butter and syrup


Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Ingredients: Bread (baguette, ciabatta, rolls, english muffins, bagels, etc), deli sliced or precook meats, cheeses, fruit spreads, dips

Instructions:  Turn the grill on high, spray the grill (top and bottom) with oil, spread condiment (if using) on one side of each slice of bread, place meats, cheeses, and veggies, turn the grill to medium and close the grill, grill for 3-4 minutes.

Sliced sourdough bread, fig spread, prosciutto, swiss cheese, and greens
I wasn’t  surprised that the girls really enjoyed the fig spread in this sandwich, it’s my favorite


Ingredients:  Precooked chicken pieces, taco seasoning, tortillas, shredded cheese

Instructions:  Preheat the grill to high, and spray top and bottom, place one tortilla on the grill, add chicken, a pinch or two of taco seasoning, add shredded cheese.  Close panini grill, Cook 2-3 minutes.  Serve with salsa and guacamole.

Using the electric Kettle

Vegetable rice noodle soup

Ingredients: Vegetable bouillon (1/2 cube), rice noodles, chopped veggies (carrots, bean sprouts, bok choy) and herbs (green onions, cilantro)

Instructions: Heat water in electric kettle to boil, put the bouillon cube and rice noodles into the jar, add hot water to cover, using a spoon or fork,  break up the bouillon cube until it dissolves.  Add the chopped vegetables and herbs and add more water if needed, cover with lid for 2 minutes. Add salt to your taste and additionally you can enhance the flavor with soy or fish sauce, siracha or other hot sauce

You can use any variation of vegetables

You can enhance the flavor with fish sauce and siracha or other hot sauce


Chicken noodle soup

Ingredients:  1/2 chicken bouillon, hot water, precooked chicken pieces, mirepoix (pre-chopped carrots, celery, and onion), parsley, and cooked macaroni pasta

Instructions:  Heat water in the electric kettle to boil.  Place the bullion into a jar and add hot water, mix to dissolve the bullion cube, add chicken, veggies, and cooked pasta and cover with lid for 1-2 minutes, add salt to taste.

Tofu veggie spring roll

Ingredients: rice paper, red lettuce leaf (optional), julienned veggies, tofu (optional), cooked rice noodles

Instructions: soften the rice paper in hot water until it is pliable – 1 minute. Place the rice paper on a flat surface and place one large lettuce leaf with the rib removed, cooked rice noddles, julienned carrots and red bell pepper, sautéed tofu (cooked on the panini press), and cilantro.  Turn the sides of the rice paper in, and starting at the bottom, roll up as you continue to tuck the sides in until you’ve reached the top. Serve with peanut sauce.

Tofu Marinade – 2 tbs soy sauce, a dash of rice wine vinegar, a pinch of sugar, a pinch of salt, a dash of toasted sesame oil, five dashes of fish sauce.

Peanut sauce – 2 TBS peanut butter, 1 TBS hot water, 1 tsp rice wine vinegar, 1 tsp soy sauce, 1/4-1/2 tsp of sugar, 3-5 dashes of fish sauce, 1 squirt of siracusa (optional)

Soften the rice paper round in hot water until it is pliable - 1 minute. Add in layers, one large lettuce leaf with the rib removed, julienned carrots and red bell pepper, sauteed marinated tofu (cooked on the panini press), and cilantro. Marinade - 2 tbs soy sauce, a dash of rice wine vinegar, a pinch of sugar, a pinch of salt, a dash of toasted sesame oil, five dashes of fish sauce. Turn the sides in and roll up

Tofu veggie spring rolls with peanut sauce

Using the microwave pasta cooker 

Spaghetti with red sauce

Ingredients: Spaghetti pasta, jarred pasta sauce, parmesan cheese, basil, olive oil, salt

Instructions:  Put a portion of pasta into the chamber of the pasta cooker and cover with water, cook according to the package instructions of the pasta cooker in your microwave, remove and taste for doneness, drain the pasta, add sauce, cheese and basil, a little drizzle of olive oil and salt to taste.

Put a portion of pasta into the chamber and cover with water

The time guide is shown on the box of the microwave paster cooker

The time guide is shown on the box of this Lekue microwave pasta cooker, whichever brand you choose, be sure it is BPA free

One portion of pasta can take 10-12 minutes in my microwave (I have a small microwave).

Drain the pasta water, take care as the steam is very hot

Be careful when draining the pasta water, steam can burn

Add any sauce you like, and serve in the container if you like
You can eat it right out of the container of the pasta cooker
Plate it and serve
Plate it and serve

Ravioli’s in Pesto sauce

Ingredients:  One package of fresh ravioli, prepared pesto sauce, parmesan, basil, olive oil, salt

Instructions:  Put one serving of fresh ravioli or pasta of your choice into the pasta cooker, cover with water and cook for the time instructed on the pasta cooker box (the fresh Trader Joe’s cheese raviolis took only 5 minutes).  Drain the pasta water and mix 3-4 Tbs of prepared pesto sauce ,salt to taste, sprinkle with grated parmesan and / or basil.  You can eat it out of the pasta cooker or plate it and serve.

Using the Microwave

Rice Bowls

Ingredients: Frozen rice, 1 can black beans, 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa, sliced veggies, 1 avocado, 1 lime, salt, pepper, shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, salsa

Instructions:  Cook rice according to package instructions. Into a bowl, add cooked rice, drained and rinsed black beans, cooked quinoa, sliced veggies, shredded lettuce, cubed avocado, lime juice, shredded cheese and top with salsa.  Mix and eat.

Options:  Trader Joe’s white or brown rice, black or garbanzo beans, cooked quinoa, sliced veggies, precooked protein, premade sauces.  You can make endless combinations of rice or bean bowls, be creative!img_8332

Recipe for microwave cooked Quinoa – 1 cup of quinoa into a microwave safe bowl, rinse quinoa and drain.  Add 2 cups of water, place a plate over the bowl and cook in the microwave for 6 minutes, stir and cook 2 more minutes, let sit 5-10 minutes, with the plate covering the bowl, all of the water should be absorbed.  The plate may be hot, handle with care.


Chocolate cakes in a mug – the group’s favorite recipe!

Ingredients:  1 stick of room-temperature butter, cubed, 1 cup of chocolate chips, 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 4 eggs

Instructions:  Melt the butter and chocolate together in a glass bowl for 60 seconds in the microwave.  In another bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and eggs. Mix in the melted chocolate mixture. Divide the batter among 4 large or 6 medium coffee cups.  Microwave for 50 seconds to 2 minutes on high.  Let cool for 30 seconds.


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