Marquette Wire

Gourmet dining from Walgreens

Creating five-course meal with drugstore groceries

Tomato+soup%2C+mozzarella+sticks%2C+deviled+eggs%2C+cheesecake%2C+meatloaf+and+pasta+crafted+from+ordinary+ingredients+found+at+Walgreens.
Tomato soup, mozzarella sticks, deviled eggs, cheesecake, meatloaf and pasta crafted from ordinary ingredients found at Walgreens.

Tomato soup, mozzarella sticks, deviled eggs, cheesecake, meatloaf and pasta crafted from ordinary ingredients found at Walgreens.

Photo by Nathan Desutter nathan.desutter@marquette.edu

Photo by Nathan Desutter nathan.desutter@marquette.edu

Tomato soup, mozzarella sticks, deviled eggs, cheesecake, meatloaf and pasta crafted from ordinary ingredients found at Walgreens.

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Gourmet food and college don’t mix. Most of my dinners are a scrapped together, consistently average spread catered more towards efficiency than delectability.

As a passionate viewer of Food Network, I’m one of those people who thinks they’re a chef every time they make something that doesn’t involve a microwave. I enjoy going all out in the kitchen every now and again, or at least trying.

I wanted to see if crafting a full, five course, gourmet meal with ingredients strictly from the only feasible grocery option on campus,  the Walgreens on 16th and Wisconsin, was possible.

From available ingredients, this is the menu: tomato soup, spaghetti carbonara, meatloaf, deviled eggs, mozzarella sticks and cheesecake.

It isn’t quite a traditional five course meal. I couldn’t find any chicken and there was no way on this planet I was buying fish from Walgreens, so meatloaf it was.

Overall, besides the horrible bank account hemorrhage (the total was $84.84 at Walgreens), this was a huge success. The food looked and tasted delicious, but I don’t recommend trying to fry things in your apartment without a fryer.

Here are the best and worst dishes from my experiment.

I.

The instructions said to throw the soup ingredients it in a big pot, stir and keep covered.

Surprisingly, the soup was amazing. The best tomato soup I’ve ever had.

II.

Second best was the meatloaf; the addition of bread crumbs would put my mom to shame.

This dish is simple, so I thought I’d step it up a little. I put the parmesan crouton bread crumbs from the mozzarella sticks into the meat mixture.

 

III.

The pasta and cheesecake tied for third due to them turning out as expected, but I’m not complaining, unless I count how long making the cheesecake kept me up.

To make spaghetti carbonara, I started by boiling the noodles. Easy.

The real thing I worried about in this recipe was “tempering” an egg. A quick Google search and I learned that means adding an egg to a hot mixture and praying to every deity possible that they will not scramble.

If you do it right, it forms a creamy sauce. I nailed it.

The crust of the cheesecake contained 15 blended graham crackers and melted butter. This ended up being more problematic than anticipated since they don’t blend.

To compensate, I cranked up my Nutribullet and it subsequently started smoking. The graham powder was a very hot, but it blended and I added the butter and pressed it down into the bottom of a cheesecake pan.

I unwrapped the insanely priced four packets of Philadelphia cream cheese and tossed them in with the rest of ingredients.

The hardest part of a cheesecake is the six hour baking process, between assembly, baking and waiting for the final product to cool.

IV.

In fourth place were the deviled eggs. This was also the site of the first disaster. Walgreens eggs don’t come from the elite, steroid-pumped chickens whose shells can only be cracked by pure diamond, or Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Instead, any small disturbance can crack them beyond repair. During the hard-boiling process, the innards began to leak and the eggs looked like veiny, deformed igneous rocks.

I shrugged my shoulders, let them go and eventually they boiled.

Or, so I thought. They weren’t all the way hard boiled, instead the yolk was still liquefied.

Take two. This time no problems in sight and I soon had some beautiful deviled eggs.

They weren’t bad, but I added too much mustard.

V.

The mozzarella stick recipe called for bread crumbs, which Walgreens doesn’t sell. Using my best Bobby Flay impersonation, I bought some croutons and blended them up for extra flavor. I mixed that with some parmesan cheese, coated the sticks and put them in the freezer to prep for frying.

Once the eggs, meatloaf, soup, pasta and cheesecake were all perfectly constructed and in their rightful place, it seemed like everything was done and I was out of the clear.

I almost forgot the seemingly benign mozzarella sticks in the freezer.

I’d never deep fried anything before, but I knew I had to heat up vegetable oil. I cranked up the stove all the way and waited for the oil to get hot.

When I looked over from the couch, the kitchen was smoking. I sprinted over, turned on the fan, bolted the window open, removed the oil from the heat and started fanning the air with a towel.

Smokey the Bear would be ashamed. The kitchen was hardly visible.

I bravely ventured into the smoke-infested and attempted to fry my mozzarella sticks. I dumped one in the oil, and it immediately turned black. I’ve never seen anything burn so fast in my life.

I pulled it out, slowly backed away and waited a good five minutes before trying again. Eventually, it cooled down enough to achieve a beautiful golden brown.

The results

Dinner began at 1 a.m. because of the stupid, six-hour pampering escapade of preparing the cheesecake.

I expertly plated all the dishes, lit a candle, set the silverware and enjoyed my romantic dinner for one.

Lastly, the mozzarella sticks were underdone and the cheese was still a bit cold in the middle. I’m sorry Applebee’s, I let you down.

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