Pincidents: Dining hall blandness meets DIY optimism

Hayley Glatter, Copy Chief

I got tired of dining hall food faster than life moves according to Ferris Bueller (aka “pretty fast”). It’s not that the food is terrible, but after a while, it all just starts to blend together. So, in the off chance that nuCuisine rejects my completely realistic suggestion to hire Rachael Ray as our executive chef, I turned to Pinterest to find some yum-o ways to eat Northwestern dining hall staples. It turns out that there are a ton of simple ways to spice up (pun absolutely intended) your bland food with a couple of items you may not even know your dining hall has on hand.

Pasta primavera

I developed a strong dislike for canned pasta at a young age. When I was eight years old, the only items in my school’s vending machines were Campbell’s Soup and Chef Boyardee pasta. Now back in 2002, all any of my friends were talking about were their collections of state coins. I had to jump on that bandwagon ASAP to avoid being relegated to the lowest rung on the proverbial elementary school jungle gym, so I started hunting for quarters everywhere. I built up my collection until I had every released quarter except one: Mississippi. I looked everywhere and came up empty until one day, someone got a Mississippi quarter as change from the Chef Boyardee vending machine. Naturally, I started buying up Chef Boyardee like my life depended on it. I didn’t actually eat the pasta, though, because my mom packed me a lunch. That is, until she found out I was just buying Chef Boyardee to get a quarter. Then my mom, in an effort to teach small me some sort of lesson, stopped packing me a lunch, forcing me to eat a lot of Chef Boyardee. Needless to say, I grew to hate the pasta.

Now, that was a very roundabout way of expressing my strong aversion to pasta that comes out of a can. As a result, I am usually somewhat skeptical when confronted with a pasta option in the dining hall. That being said, there are ways to make yourself a pasta dish without the sauce and with some healthy vegetables. I made my own pasta primavera through Pinterest, and it was really delicious. I started with plain noodles from the pasta station and then headed to the salad bar. You can add any vegetables to your dish, and I chose carrots and broccoli. Then, top the pasta with the olive oil near the salad dressing, parmesan cheese from the pizza area, salt and pepper. It’s seriously delicious and healthier than almost all of the cream sauces the dining hall serves. To utilize a pop culture reference that went out of style in mid-2011: #winning (but actually this should never ever come back).

Root beer float

I ate ice cream every day for the first three weeks of school last year. My parental units were gone, I was the master of my own domain and I wanted to eat ice cream for lunch. So I did. But then, like most people with a relatively short attention span, I got bored. The regular cycle of chocolate, vanilla and an unidentifiable fruit flavor got old, and I began to search for new ways to eat my favorite dessert. The Pinterest idea to make a dining hall root beer float is one of those things that now seems so obvious that I cannot believe I didn’t think of it sooner. All the ingredients are at your fingertips: the soft serve machine, the soda machine and the spoon to stir it all together. So fill up your favorite plastic cup with some vanilla ice cream and douse it with root beer because that ice cream wants to float.

Ice cream cookie sandwich

I have stolen a lot of cookies from the dining hall. They just taste really good. Especially the soft chocolate chip cookies, which are my personal favorite. To make another innovative dining hall dessert, take two of your favorite cookies and scoop some ice cream between them to make a sandwich. It’s like your favorite ice cream truck treat any time you want. Even though it’s cold outside, this dessert will have you dancing like Taylor Swift at the Grammys.

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