You might think your coffee maker is a one-trick pony — does anything smell more wonderful than a freshly brewed pot of coffee? But let's think about this for a moment. That appliance heats water to about 200 F and comes equipped with a hot plate to keep it at about 165 F. Whether you're traveling, living in a dorm room or just like the idea of a kitchen tool doing more than one thing, you're going to love knowing all the things your coffee maker can do besides brew coffee.
Instant soup, especially those packets of ramen, is perfect for preparing with a coffee maker. Break up the noodles and then pour the entire contents, including seasoning mix, into the coffee carafe. Now pour water through the machine as if you were making coffee. Let it set on the hot plate for a few minutes, and you're good to go.
You're going to think I'm nuts, but stick with me here. You really can make minipancakes on a coffee maker's hot plate. First, line the burner with foil (optional, but foil will keep it clean), and let it heat up. Now pour a small amount of batter right onto the foil. Flip it over when the edges begin to turn brown and the surface develops small bubbles. Amazing, no?
MAKE GRILLED CHEESE
Refer back to the pancakes above. You can use this same method to make grilled cheese sandwiches. Just let the burner with foil reach its maximum heat and then place your buttered cheese sandwich right on top. Once it's golden brown, give it a flip to grill the other side. Yum!
This is such a great idea, especially if you're traveling and holed up in a hotel room. Place the oatmeal, cinnamon and/or raisins — however you like it — into the carafe. Run the right amount of water (according to your recipe or the label on a packet of instant oatmeal) through the coffee maker. Give it a stir and then let the oatmeal "cook" accordingly. There you go: instant breakfast!
Carefully, place a couple of eggs in the coffee carafe. Proceed as if you are brewing a pot of coffee; just leave out the coffee. Make sure you use enough water to cover the eggs completely. Allow the eggs to remain in the hot water on the warming plate for 10 minutes or so, or until the eggs are cooked to your idea of perfection.
BOIL CORN ON THE COB
Break the fresh corn into pieces small enough to fit into the carafe. Run a full tank of water, and let it sit on the hot plate until the corn is tender! Pour out the water, and use tongs to remove the small cobs. Who knew, right?
MAKE MINI CUPCAKES
I laughed out loud when I read about this idea. Maybe I scoffed. But then I tried it. This is adorable, if not super clever. You can actually bake mini cupcakes on a coffee maker's hot plate! I used a small metal measuring cup and small saucepan to pull this off. Fill the "cupcake tin" (measuring cup) about halfway, place on the coffee maker's hot plate (that you've allowed to warm up to its maximum heat), and invert the saucepan over it to create a tiny oven. Keep your eye on it because it won't take too long to make a tasty, tiny cupcake. Truly, if I were still in college, this would be my favorite dorm room trick.
Whether you have a hankering for fondue or need to dip a few strawberries in chocolate, your coffee maker wants to help out. Place the chocolate or items to be melted into the carafe, and put it in place. The coffee maker's hot plate will melt the chocolate and keep it at the right consistency for hours. Perfect for dipping marshmallows, fruit and other things I'm sure you've already thought of!
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at EverydayCheapskate.com, "Ask Mary a Question." This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of Debt-Proof Living, a personal finance member website and the author of the book Debt-Proof Living, Revell 2014. To find out more about Mary visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
Photo credit: kaboompics at Pixabay