Ah, dorm life. Being wedged in a room the size of a closet for years at a time is one of the Western world's most notorious rites of passage. But with necessity being the mother of invention, the constraints of dormitory life have also resulted in some astonishing bursts of creativity.
Most of these have to do with preparing food without conventional kitchen equipment. After all, the dining hall closes pretty early. What's a hungry college kid to do with nothing but a coffee maker and time?
Innovate, that's what. In that spirit, here are 13 of the most delicious, most outlandish, and most fun things you can make with a coffee maker. Coffee is not one of them.
We realize that this one is hardly mind blowing, but let us ease into our subject, okay?
Just throw a few tea bags in the basket where you'd usually put coffee. Hit brew and you're off to the races.
2. Hot Dogs
Here's where things get interesting. Dump a package of hot dogs in your coffee pot, fill the machine with 8 cups of water, and hit brew.
Half an hour later, you'll have a coffee carafe full of tasty boiled hot dogs. That's something we bet you thought you'd never see.
Oh, just remember to wash your coffee pot thoroughly before you use it for actual coffee again. We have tasted hot-dog coffee, and it is not something that we recommend.
3. Ramen Noodle Soup
This is the most college meal ever. Throw a package of deliciously affordable ramen noodles in your coffee pot. Fill the machine with the recommended amount of water (which is usually about a cup, if we're remembering right, which we should be considering that we have consumed approximately 70 billion packages of ramen in our lives).
Don't forget the flavor pouch. Brew up that ramen in just minutes.
4. Scrambled Eggs
Yep, we said scrambled eggs. Before you look at us like we're crazy, consider that the burner on your coffee pot is basically a tiny hot plate. You can use it as the world's smallest range top to prepare the world's loneliest breakfast.
You'll need a tiny one-egg frying pan to really do this right. Otherwise, you'll never get the egg bits off the burner.
5. Soft-Boiled Eggs
If you prefer your eggs soft-boiled rather than scrambled, well, you can do that with your coffee maker too. Pay attention, because this recipe does require a bit of doing.
Start by filling the coffee pot reservoir with 3 cups of water. Run it through a whole brew cycle. Then pour the heated water straight from the carafe back into the reservoir to run it through a second cycle. The water will come out even hotter.
Now you can add up to three eggs. Leave them in the super-hot bath for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on how hard you want the yolk to be. Enjoy!
6. Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Remember what we said about the coffee pot burner basically being a miniature hot plate? What's the most-cooked meal on dormitory hot plates, do you think?
If you guessed grilled cheese sandwiches, you're probably correct. (We don't actually know, because no one has done the study. But it's got to be grilled cheese, right?)
Spray down that burner with cooking oil. Butter both sides of two slices of cheap white bread. Throw one or two slices of American cheese in the middle, and put that baby on the hot plate.
That's how you make a proper grilled cheese.
7. Instant Oatmeal
A lot of these recipes are for breakfast food. That's either because coffee machines are designed for the morning or because we associate them so strongly with breakfast that our imaginations won't allow us to go too far afield as we come up with recipes.
Anyway, whatever the reason, the fact is that you can make instant oatmeal in the coffee pot pretty easily too. Just pour the water in the reservoir, put the oatmeal in the carafe, leave the basket empty, and brew away. Minutes later, you've got breakfast.
8. Steamed Vegetables
Coffee makers double as really effective steamers. That basket where you usually put coffee grounds is perfect for steaming a serving or two of vegetables.
Start by chopping up your veggies. We like broccoli or carrots. If you haven't tried dipping steamed carrots in ketchup, by the way, you're not really living. We know what it sounds like, but let your taste buds be your guide.
Anyway, fill the reservoir with as much water as your machine will take. Put the chopped veggies in the basket. Brew. If the vegetables are still a little al dente for your taste after one brew cycle, just leave them there for another. They'll soften up.
9. Boiled Vegetables
Some folks turn up their noses at steamed vegetables. They want those suckers tender as mud.
If that sounds like your preference, just put chopped vegetables directly in the carafe before filling it with scalding water with a brew cycle.
10. Mashed Potatoes
You can use the technique we discovered for our previous item on this list to make some pretty killer mashed potatoes, too.
To make the boiling process a little faster, cut potatoes into small chunks. Make sure they're all roughly the same size or they won't cook evenly.
Boil the heck out of them in the coffee pot. Once the potatoes are soft enough to get mashed, drain the water and put them in a separate bowl. Don't try to mash the taters in your coffee pot unless you like broken coffee pots.
The potatoes should mash pretty easily. If they're a little tough, repeat the cooking process until they're tender. Finish by stirring in butter, salt, and pepper.
You can probably make gravy in the coffee pot, too, come to think of it, but that's one we haven't tried yet.
We'll let you decide whether you'd rather use a pre-made pancake mix or make your own from scratch. Either way, mix the batter according to the directions on the box (or your grandmother's recipe, depending).
This one could get pretty messy. That's why we like to place a layer of nonstick foil on the hot plate. That makes cleaning up a breeze.
Anyway, pour a dollop of batter on the heated foil and watch it turn into a delicious, fluffy pancake. Now that's breakfast done right.
12. Hot Chocolate
Cream and chocolate chips make the best cold-weather drink you can imagine. This recipe is about as simple as it is delicious.
Just fill the coffee pot halfway with heavy cream. That's the good stuff. Pour in a bag of your favorite chocolate chips. That's right: the whole bag.
Then pour two cups of water in the reservoir and brew. The heated water will melt the chips. You'll have to do quite a lot of stirring at first, but pretty soon you'll have an amazing pot of hot chocolate.
13. Poached Chicken
This one really will blow your mind. You can prepare delicious chicken breasts in a coffee maker.
Start by measuring your cooking water. You want the level to cover the whole bottom of the pot, but not to totally submerge your chicken. That's usually a little less than half an inch of water at the bottom of the carafe.
Measure that and pour it in the reservoir. That's going to do a lot of the cooking. Now it's time to add the chicken. Most coffee pots are only big enough to handle one or two chicken breasts at a time. You want as much contact with the bottom of the glass as possible, so don't overstuff the carafe.
Just lay down your raw chicken and add maybe a tablespoon of butter. You can adjust based on your preferences.
Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and whatever herbs you have on hand. Then hit brew. Leave the chicken cooking for at least 15 minutes on this side. Stir occasionally. Then flip the chicken and give it another 15 minutes on the burner.
That's all it takes! You'll never use your stove again.