Hogan Hacks: Breaking the monotony of college dining

Jordan Miller | Staff Photographer

By Evan Penrod and Salena Moran | Staff Writers

There are hacks for nearly every aspect of your life — laundry, studying, Starbucks and, yes, even the Hogan Dining Center. These hacks are alternative meals that students can create by combining several types of food from the different stations available at Towers.

These meals are perfect for students wanting to deviate from their normal food options or wishing to explore different possibilities. With tips from other students, as well as our own experiences, we have provided a few delicious spins on traditional Towers favorites that will spice up any mealtime.

Breakfast Sandwiches

This idea is courtesy of Sarah Doyle, a senior physical therapy major. While these sandwiches can be bought for a meal swipe at the market, students do not have the ability to add what they want, nor do they have many options for sides. This is a very quick sandwich to make if you’re on the go, and it fills you up for the morning ahead.

1. Choose either a bagel or English muffin and toast to your liking.
2. Go to the omelet station and request an egg over easy or scrambled eggs with cheese.
3. Go to the main line and choose bacon, sausage or other meat available.
4. Assemble the sandwich by placing the eggs and meat on the bagel or english muffin.

Pittsburger Salad or Sandwich

Anything topped with fries must be Pittsburgh-inspired, and this recipe is no exception. If you are trying to steer clear of bread, the salad is the perfect option for a lighter dinner that won’t make you feel as guilty as you would eating a big plate of pizza or a bowl of pasta. On the other hand, the sandwich is a bit heartier and more substantial. With the addition of the panini press, the sandwich possibilities are limitless.


1. Head to the salad station and load a plate with greens of your choice.
2. Top the salad with cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, shredded cheddar cheese, bacon bits and shredded carrots. These toppings are suggestions. Feel free to include whatever suits your tastes.
3. Top your salad with the fries and cover in ranch. The dressing is optional, but ranch fits the best.


1. Go to the sandwich station and choose any kind of bread.
2. Fill with anything you like. Turkey, cheese, lettuce and tomato are recommended.
3. Top the sandwich with fries. [Optional: Use the panini press.]

Jordan Miller | Staff Photographer
Jordan Miller | Staff Photographer

Chili Cheese Fries

This dish requires exactly what’s in its title. However, certain days of the week have different soup specials, so be on the lookout. When Towers features Chili, you are set to create this recipe. [Note: The recipe may also require a fork.]

1. Head to the fry station and choose any type. Crinkle cut and waffle fries are the best, but work with what’s on offer.
2. Go to the soup station and scoop half a ladle full of chili. Drain the excess juice off the side to prevent soggy fries. Pour into the small bowls provided.
3. Go to the salad station and grab a few tong-fulls of shredded cheddar cheese.
4. At your table, sprinkle some cheese over the plate of fries.
5. Take the chili — preferably chunks of tomato, pepper, beans and meat — and spoon over the fries and cheese.
6. Top with remaining cheese, and wait for it to melt. Enjoy!

Jordan Miller | Staff Photography
Jordan Miller | Staff Photography

Grilled Cheese on the Panini Press

This recipe is courtesy of junior psychology major Calli Palmer. Calli puts her own spin on sandwiches at Towers, so it is unsurprising that she found a way to make grilled cheese whenever she likes. This is a perfect treat in combination with tomato or tomato basil soup after a chilly day on the Bluff.

1. Go to the sandwich station and choose a hearty bread.
2. Ask for any combination of cheese you like.
3. Take the sandwich to a station that has butter available and spread a thin layer on both sides of the sandwich that you will eventually place in the panini press. [Note: You may skip this step and simply spray the panini press so the cheese does not stick.]
4. Put your sandwich into the panini press for a few seconds or until the cheese melts and the bread is crispy.

Soft Pita Chips Glazed with Honey and Sugar

This is a delicious treat that closely resembles the Spanish dessert sopapillas. This treat is not overwhelmingly sweet and definitely varies up the options of cakes, cookies and ice cream found in Towers.

1. Get some soft pita chips from the Vegetarian station. [Note: The pita chips used in this recipe are the smaller, fluffier chips, not the thin, seasoned chips. Also, the pitas are best fresh and warm.]
2. Head to the coffee/tea station and drizzle the soft pitas with honey. Be aware that this station may not have honey all the time. You could also try the caramel or chocolate sauce from the ice cream bar if you’re not into honey.
3. Take a sugar packet from this section and lightly sprinkle a bit on top.

Evan Penrod and Salena Moran| Staff Writers
Evan Penrod and Salena Moran| Staff Writers

Ice Cream Sandwich

This simple dessert treat is very easy to make and quite delicious, depending on the cookies available.

1. Collect two cookies from the dessert section. Chocolate chip and M&M cookies tend to work the best.
2. Optional step: If the cookies are a bit hard, take them to the conveyor belt toaster, and turn the dial to the highest conveyor speed. Remember, you just want to warm the cookie as quickly as possible. [DISCLAIMER: Please do not create a mess for the Parkhurst staff. If this step seems too difficult, dangerous or terribly messy in any way, refrain from doing it.]
3. Head over to the soft-serve ice cream machine, and choose any ice cream to put in your sandwich.
4. Put desired amount of ice cream onto the bottom cookie, and close off by putting the second cookie on top.
5. Optional step: Roll the ice cream portion of the sandwich in chocolate chips, sprinkles or any other toppings found at the toppings bar.

Root Beer Floats and Banana Splits

These recipes are just as easy as they sound and add a unique twist — no pun intended — to the traditional ice cream students love.

Root Beer Floats

1. Fill a cup with ice cream from the soft serve dispenser.
2. Fill the remaining space with Root Beer from the drink station.

Banana Splits

1. Take a banana from the fruit section, peel it, cut in half and place in a bowl.
2. Fill the bowl full of ice cream of your choice.
3. Top with chocolate, caramel or strawberry sauce and anything else you would like.

Note: The Duke is not responsible for any messes or mishaps that may occur. Please be courteous to the Parkhurst staff and keep any areas mess free.