Finals food that doesn’t come from a vending machine

    The quarter is winding down, and I’m sure the last thing on your mind is healthy eating. Gym time has been replaced by study time, and when you’re up until three studying for econ, a big ‘ol bag of white cheddar popcorn seems way more appealing that carrot and celery sticks. But rather than relying on Easy Mac and Hot Pockets to get you through these next few weeks, why not set aside an hour or two to whip up some tasty, home-cooked alternatives? It’s not like you’re really going to be studying every waking hour of Reading Week, and while these options may not be any healthier, they’ll taste a whole lot better.

    You can’t make mac and cheese this good in your hot pot. Photo by jspatchwork, licensed under the Creative Commons.

    Easy Mac no more
    Maybe it’s just my aversion to powdered flavoring agents, but the whole concept of Easy Mac kind of freaks me out. Or maybe it’s that I find stirring a huge pot of creamy, melted cheese therapeutic. Whatever the case, I prefer making my own macaroni and cheese. Here’s how:

    1. Heat water for the pasta and preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
    2. In separate, medium-sized pot, finely chop one onion and sauté it in olive oil over medium-high heat.
    3. Once the onions are translucent, add five tablespoons of butter and allow it to melt. Then add five tablespoons of flour and whisk until the mixture has combined and is golden-brown. This should take three to four minutes.
    4. Next, add three cups of milk; whole milk gives you the richest sauce. Turn the heat up to high and whisk the mixture until the milk bubbles slightly.
    5. By now, the milk mixture should have thickened. Reduce to low heat and stir in two cups of shredded cheddar cheese, one cup of grated parmesan cheese, a quarter teaspoon of paprika (if you have it), salt and pepper. Stir until the cheese has melted.
    6. Stir in your cooked, drained pasta (I prefer rotini or shells for this dish) until it’s coated.
    7. Pour the mixture into a baking dish and lightly cover with Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs and a handful of parmesan cheese. Place the dish into the oven and bake for about twenty minutes (the top should be golden brown).
    8. Remove from the oven, allow the mac and cheese to cool slightly, and then go at it.

    Ooey and gooey, this homemade mac and cheese will knock Easy Mac out of the park!

    A faux-Hot Pocket that even Doctor Evil would be proud of
    Don’t get me wrong, a Hot Pocket can be damn good at 2 a.m., but sometimes it’s fun to see if you can outdo the supermarket variety… especially when you’re desperately trying to distract yourself from studying. And if you really want to get distracted, gather some friends and have a Hot Pocket party! Store-bought pizza dough is the only required item: toppings are up to you. Stick with pepperoni and cheese or experiment with sundried tomatoes and artichoke hearts!

    1. Start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees.
    2. Roll out your pizza dough until it is approximately eight inches in diameter and about one-third of an inch thick.
    3. Place your fillings, including cheese, in the middle of the dough. The cheese will keep your pocket intact while it bakes. Don’t overfill it, though, or your dough will tear.
    4. Once filled, brush the perimeter of the pizza dough with olive oil. Then roll your dough like you would a burrito or a sandwich wrap.
    5. With the folded edges on the bottom, place your pocket on a greased baking sheet. Brush the pocket’s exterior will olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
    6. Place in the oven for approximately 20 to 25 minutes, or until the pizza dough is golden brown and crispy.

    After you take one bite of your creation, you’ll never want to go back to the actual kind!

    When it’s time for a nightcap….

    What’s in your hot cocoa? Photo by r.s.m.b. Sees, licensed under the Creative Commons.

    For those of you who are thrilled by sneaking shots in Core, try a slightly spiked drink to sip while you bore yourself to tears with all of your readings. While it’s hard to beat traditional hot chocolate, a little kick makes it that much better.

    1. First, grate about three-quarters of a chocolate bar. I prefer dark chocolate for its intensity.
    2. Next, heat 10 ounces of milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Keep an eye on your milk so that it doesn’t boil over.
    3. Once the milk is heated through, whisk in the grated chocolate. Then stir in one shot of kahlua (or more if you’re really looking to get your drank on).
    4. Pour into a mug and top with a big swirl of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cocoa.

    I promise this drink will make your reading seem a whole lot easier.

    So whether you’re looking to waste time or just fill up your stomach for a long night of studying, why not give the vending machine the night off and make your own finals survival foods? At least you’ll have something to show for all that time you’ve wasted…


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