Residence hall food gets microwave creative


State Hornet features writer Jessica Scharff makes a mug brownie in her kitchen. These brownies are easy to make and can be done in a microwave. Mug brownies can be enjoyed with whipped cream or ice cream and can be ready in three minutes.

Kaitlin Bruce

Living without a full-size kitchen can make mealtime a challenge for students living in the residence halls.

Communal microwaves and mini-fridges require recipes with a quick cooking time and a short ingredient list.

Restrictions to Dining Commons hours for students in the residence halls and the high cost of ordering takeout can leave students with little to no chance of fulfilling a craving when it comes at strange hours in the day.

Yet, thanks to the microwave, those with no access to an oven, as well as those who risk burning down the house each time they turn on the stove, can satisfy cravings fast while staying on a budget.

When it comes to midnight cravings, or cravings in general, four things come to mind: dessert, pizza, Chinese and Mexican food.

Dessert is one of those cravings that cannot be denied. Trying to avoid a longing for chocolate can lead to eating an entire bag of potato chips while remaining unfulfilled. Next time a craving for a sweet treat strikes, try this two-minute brownie recipe from

Mug Brownie

Start to finish: 3 minutes

Servings: 1

4 tablespoons flour

4 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons water

Dash of salt

Mix flour, sugar, cocoa and salt together in your mug. Add oil and water and briskly stir until free of lumps. Microwave mug for roughly one minute. Depending on the wattage of your microwave, you may want to add another 10-20 seconds to your cook time. The brownie should be slightly wet in the center.

Allow brownie to cool for several minutes before enjoying. Try adding a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream for an extra-indulgent experience.

Chinese food is another favorite among college students, but restricted selections at the Dining Commons and pricey restaurant menus can limit choices. This chicken teriyaki recipe from is a tasty and easy recipe to make at home. Serve over rice to complete the dish.

Microwave Chicken Teriyaki

Start to finish: 10 minutes

Servings: 1

¼ cup soy sauce

2 packets of ketchup

1 tablespoon garlic powder

3 individual packets of white sugar

1 skinless, boneless chicken breast half – cut into strips

Stir together soy sauce, ketchup, garlic powder and sugar in a bowl. Toss chicken in sauce until coated and place on a microwave-safe plate.

Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 5-8 minutes. Chicken should be opaque in the center and show no signs of pink.

Serve over rice. The Trader Joe’s brand microwaveable rice comes in two-serving packets and is steamed to near perfection in three minutes. While nothing compares to home-cooked rice, Trader Joe’s’ version is one of the best microwaveable options.

While ordering a pizza or going out for a slice isn’t quite as costly as other takeout options, this pizza bagel recipe from can calm a craving when the pizzerias are closed or when funds are tight.

Microwave Pizza Bagel

1 bagel

2 tablespoons marinara sauce

2 tablespoons shredded mozzarella cheese

8 slices pepperoni (optional)

Cut bagel in half and place cut-side-up on microwave safe plate.

Spread each half with one tablespoon of pizza sauce then sprinkle with one tablespoon of cheese. Add four slices of pepperoni to each side.

Microwave one minute and 30 seconds until cheese has melted.

Cheesy Mexican Bean Dip

Mexican food is a staple food dish for many Californians and Sac State students. This cheesy bean dip is quick to prepare and even better to share with friends and roommates.

Start to Finish: 10 minutes

Servings: 4

1 8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 can refried beans

1 cup salsa

tortilla chips

Spread the cream cheese in a shallow, microwaveable dish. A glass pie plate works great for this.

Next, spread roughly half the can of refried beans on top. Sprinkle cheddar cheese over the top of the beans. Repeat.

Microwave 4-5 minutes or until the cheddar cheese is melted. Top with salsa and serve with tortilla chips.

Living in residence halls does not mean denying cravings. Each of these dishes is fast, affordable and can be cooked in the microwave from the comfort of a residence hall home. 

Jessica Scharff can be contacted at [email protected]