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Meals in mugs |

Meals in mugs

Every year in the United States consumers spend millions on cooking implements. The latest in ceramic, copper, steel and cast-iron pots, pans and skillets can be found at department stores, specialty shops and on home shopping channels. And some can cost as much as a day’s pay or more.

Microwave Poached Egg has a nice, round shape thanks to cooking it in a coffee cup.

Coffee Cup Chilaquiles combine egg, cheese and tortilla chips and can be prepared in about a minute in the microwave.

Pecan Pie in individual portions is easy to make in the microwave oven.

But lurking deep within cupboards across the country is a versatile piece of cookware that has long been a staple at yard sales and thrift stores — the coffee mug.

The concept isn’t new, but over the last few years it has blossomed into a movement of sorts. With the demands of life, something as simple as putting a few ingredients into a mug and microwaving it into a flavorful hot meal is quite a boon for busy people.

Mug meals can be cooked anywhere there’s a microwave. It’s a quick option at work, but it’s best to consider how your creation may smell. Stinking up the office can make some co-workers a bit testy.

Many hotels and motels offer microwaves, so budget-minded travelers can easily prepare cost-effective on-the-road food with just a little planning.

In her book, Mug Meals (St. Martin’s, $22.99), Leslie Bilderback points out that microwave mug cooking can be a good way to ease kids into cooking without open flames. Because it is real cooking and not merely reheating, it teaches real-life techniques. And it can teach caution when using sharp utensils and handling a hot mug.

For people focusing on portion size, Bilderback says, mug-size meals can emphasize flavor over quantity and demonstrate that a single portion can be satisfying.

And for the cook with limited equipment, the simple recipes are designed to provide whole-food meals that require basic utensils, and a mug or cup.

Many microwave mug recipes don’t have to be made exclusively in a mug though. Any microwave-safe dish that fits in your microwave oven will work — everything from a bowl to a recycled plastic container.

If using a mug, look for those made of porcelain, ceramic, terracotta or Pyrex. Don’t use any made with materials containing lead or decorated with metallic like gold or silver.

Cinzia Trenchi, the author of Mug Cakes: Sweet and Savory Recipes (White Star Publishers, $16.95), points out that mug cooking is a good way to try out new recipes.

Cooking time is greatly reduced in the smaller portions but if several mugs are microwaved at the same time, it will probably take longer.

Some foods react better to microwave cooking. For example, in preparations with vegetables it is recommended they be cooked in liquid so they don’t dry out.

Follow the recipe closely, Trenchi says, and pay attention to cooking and cooling times. Seconds either way can make or break the dish. Always keep a close eye on the mug as the recipe is cooking. Wattage is also a factor, lower wattage microwaves will take a little longer to cook.

Start with ingredients you already have. There’s no need to make a special trip to the store. Try something simple first, like breakfast.

A simple poached egg can be done just right in the microwave. Cooking time will vary due to egg size and microwave wattage, but playing with cooking times can eventually lead to an almost perfect egg.

This recipe works best with a mug or bowl deep enough to completely submerge the egg in water. A small bowl or ramekin will work just as well, if it is deep enough. Some recipes call for covering the mug with a saucer, but in our experience this was not necessary.

Microwave Poached Egg

1 egg


Fill a mug halfway with water. Crack an egg and let it slide slowly down into the mug. Make sure there’s enough water to cover the egg.

Cover the mug with a saucer, if desired. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Check the egg, if the white is still translucent it isn’t quite done. Continue to microwave in 15 second bursts until the egg is cooked to your liking. For firm yolks, it may take up to 1 minute 30 seconds total cooking time. Remove the egg with a slotted spoon.

Recipe adapted from Katie B. of Housewife

If you want breakfast with an international flare, try chilaquiles, a traditional Mexican dish made with eggs, salsa, cheese and tortilla chips. It can be personalized with the addition of things like beef or chicken, refried beans and avocado slices.

Coffee Cup Chilaquiles

1 egg

1 tablespoon milk

Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon shredded cheddar cheese

5 tortilla chips, divided use

1 tablespoon salsa

Sour cream, queso fresco or chopped green onion, optional garnish

Beat egg and milk with a fork in a coffee cup, adding salt and pepper to taste. Add cheddar; stir to coat. Break 3 or 4 tortilla chips into small pieces to fit in the cup; stir into the mixture. Add salsa.

Microwave on 100 percent power until done, about 70 seconds. Garnish with remaining tortilla chips, sour cream, queso fresco and green onion, if desired.

Recipe adapted from

For a light lunch or snack, a microwave mug pizza works well. It can be as simple as cheese and pepperoni, or pumped up a notch by adding extras such as onion, mushrooms or olives.

This recipe is surprisingly good, but it makes enough dough for two small pizzas if you prefer a thinner crust.

Mug Pizza

4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 pinches baking powder

Pinch baking soda

Pinch salt

3 tablespoons milk

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon marinara sauce

1 generous tablespoon shredded mozzarella cheese

5 mini pepperoni OR a few regular pepperoni cut into small pieces

1/2 teaspoon dried basil or oregano or Italian seasoning blend

Mix the flour, baking power, baking soda and salt together in a microwaveable mug or ramekin. Add in the milk and oil. Mix together. There might be some lumps but that’s OK. Flatten into the bottom of the mug or ramekin.

Spoon on the marinara sauce and spread it around the surface of the batter. Sprinkle on cheese, pepperoni and dried herbs.

Microwave for 70 to 80 seconds or until it rises up and toppings are bubbling. (Cooking time is based on a 1200-watt microwave.)

Recipe adapted from

Mug microwaving is perfect for baking. From mini pies to cakes, the sky is the limit.

Normal size pecan pies are a bit of a chore, but mug-size versions like the one below can be fast, easy and delicious.

Pecan Pies

1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons maple syrup, honey or golden syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch salt

1 egg

1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

4 tablespoons coarsely crushed cookies such as graham crackers, gingersnaps or shortbread

Pecan halves for decorating

Whipped cream, for garnish, optional

In a small bowl, whisk together the butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, vanilla and salt. Whisk in egg and then add pecans.

Divide the crushed cookies among 2 (12-ounce) microwavable mugs.

Divide the pecan mixture between the mugs. One at a time, microwave each mug for 90 seconds, checking every 30 seconds, or until mixture thickens.

The mixture will rise and bubble as it cooks, so it is important to use a large mug and check it frequently. The mix will thicken and appear jelly-like, but it will set as it cools. (Cooking time is based on a 1200-watt microwave). Repeat with remaining mug.

Cool. Garnish with pecan halves and serve with whipped cream, if desired.

Cooking time will vary greatly depending on the microwave wattage, and the width and depth of the mug.

Makes 2 pies.

Recipe inspired by a recipe at

Food on 06/21/2017

Category: Skillets  Tags: ,  Comments off
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