Elevating Classic University Cuisine: A Challenging Tale of Three Recipes

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I’ve always loved to cook. There’s something special about anticipating the outcome of a new recipe, the culmination of hours of mixing, measuring, and waiting by the oven until the timer goes off and delicious scents fill your kitchen. If there’s one thing living through the COVID-19 pandemic has given me, it’s the time to entertain myself with new recipes – some good, some bad, but all memorable experiences. However, as a university student, I don’t always have time to cook all my meals from scratch, and I often find myself relying on anything quick, easy, and preferably microwavable. Some of my favorite quick and simple staples are blueberry Eggo waffles, maple brown sugar instant oatmeal, and Annie’s mac and cheese. You’ll likely find me consuming at least one of these items every day! While I love these classic university foods, I find my inner-chef longing to spice them up a bit. This week, I challenged myself to take my three favorite easy university meals and make them “gourmet.” 

What makes something gourmet? The answer will likely change depending on who you ask. For me, my criteria is simple: enhanced effort, flavor, and overall presentation. So, stocked with a box of blueberry Eggo waffles, instant oatmeal packets, Annie’s mac and cheese, and my “gourmet” criteria, I got to work! 

Blueberry Eggo French Toast 

My adventure started with breakfast! My love for Eggo waffles has only grown since I first tried them as a kid. They’re easy to make, taste delicious, and you can top them with just about anything. My roommate introduced me to blueberry Eggos at the beginning of this year, and I’ve been obsessed with them since. Why not make them even better? 


1 egg 

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 ½ cups milk 

2 tablespoons cinnamon 

½ teaspoon nutmeg 

2 blueberry Eggo waffles 

1 tablespoon butter


Insert frozen waffles into a toaster and toast until lightly golden (toasting them beforehand is crucial). While the waffles toast, add the vanilla, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, and egg into a bowl, and whisk to combine. Place a frying pan on the stove and heat on medium-high heat. Once the waffles are slightly toasted, dip into your French toast mixture and let sit for a minute. Add butter to the preheated frying pan and place in waffles. Cook for around 2 minutes per side (or until slightly brown and toasted) and then remove from the pan, and top with your favorite toppings (I added butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, blueberries and maple syrup). These French toast Eggos are super easy to make and, in my opinion, deliciously gourmet!

Maple Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal Muffins 

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Next on my list of gourmet experiments was a yummy afternoon snack. Maple brown sugar oatmeal packets are a staple in my everyday diet – something I can eat both first thing in the morning and as a midnight snack. As I pondered what to do with these, an idea suddenly popped in my head: muffins! 


2 packets instant oatmeal

⅜ cup flour 

⅛ teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon brown sugar 

½ tablespoon cinnamon 

½ tablespoon nutmeg 

1 egg

Splash of milk (for consistency)

½ teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon of melted butter 

A handful of blueberries 


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and then add the wet ingredients. Pour the batter into a muffin tin. This recipe should make about 3-4 muffins. Bake for 15 minutes and enjoy them warm with a pad of butter and a cup of tea! 

Annie’s Mac and Carbonara 

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Out of all my recipes, I was definitely the most apprehensive about trying this one out. Carbonara is notoriously difficult to make, and as I learned after my first attempt at this recipe, if the pan gets too hot, you end up with scrambled egg pasta! Despite the failure of my first attempt, I carried on – and I’m so glad I did! This recipe definitely takes the already delicious Annie’s mac and cheese to the next level. If you’re ever feeling adventurous in the kitchen, I definitely recommend trying this out!


1 box of Annie’s mac and cheese pasta 

3 egg yolks 

¾ cup grated parmesan 

2 tablespoons of Annie’s mac and cheese powder 

1 tablespoon butter

5 scrunches of freshly cracked pepper

½ cup reserved pasta water 


Place a pot filled with water over high heat and let it reach a boil. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook until just before it reaches al dente, draining and reserving about a cup of hot pasta water. In a bowl, combine the three egg yolks, freshly grated parmesan, and two tablespoons of the mac and cheese powder from the box. Whisk until combined and then slowly incorporate about half of the warm pasta water. In a frying pan over medium-high heat, add butter and let it melt. Next, add the reserved pasta to the pan and toss in the butter. Remove the pan from the heat and stir the pasta a bit more. While shaking the pan vigorously, add the egg and cheese mixture to the pasta. Make sure to constantly shake the pan and stir the pasta so the sauce emulsifies (if you don’t, you’ll end up with scrambled eggs like I did the first time I made this). Add additional pasta water if needed. Once the sauce is thick and creamy, serve the pasta and top with pepper and extra parmesan. Enjoy! 

These three recipes were so much fun to make, adding a gourmet dimension to foods I’ve never considered to be fancy before. I highly recommend trying to spice up your everyday quick and easy meals once in a while – you’ll definitely end up with a funny story and some delicious food! So listen to your inner-chef and get cooking!

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