Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Food

May 6, 2014

Lee Ward: Great meals and more in a 16-ounce mug: 5/6/14

ASHLAND — I recently wrote about a cookbook that offered recipes for desserts made in a mug in the microwave. I asked the author if she was thinking about a cookbook of entrees made in a mug, and she said she was.

Meanwhile, I discovered a book titled “250 Best Meals in a Mug” by Camilla V. Saulsbury.

The idea of making a meal in a mug appeals to me. As a widow, I don’t want to go to a lot of trouble — I won’t — to make myself dinner. This book is full of easy meals for one.

These meals also are fast, especially if you put in a little time prepping your ingredients the night before.

There’s no law that says you have to make one mug of food, either. This also is a good idea for couples and for families on different schedules.

Like most cookbooks, there is an introductory section giving you information you need to know to pull it off, mainly how to use your microwave (most of us just use it to heat up leftovers; it’s good to know how to change to power level) and what you need in your pantry.

Chapters include “Super-Fast, Cheap and Easy Recipes with Four Ingredients (or Less),” a category that has great appeal to me; “Breakfast;” “Meat, Poultry and Seafood Main Dishes” and, of course, “Desserts.”

Here are some sample recipes that look especially good to me. They should be prepared in a 16-ounce mug.

MUG FRITTATA

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons green onions

2 tablespoons nonfat or reduced-fat cottage cheese

2 teaspoons freshly grated Parmesan chees

Salt and pepper

In the mug, whisk eggs until blended. Whisk in green onions, cottage cheese and Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir with a fork and microwave for another 30 seconds and stir again. Microwave for 60 to 90 seconds or until eggs are just set.

I like this recipe because it’s fast, easy and tasty. Here are some variations:

Add 1 tablespoon ready-to-eat bacon bits with the eggs.

Add 2 tablespoons diced cooked smoked sausage with eggs.

Omit green onions and Parmesan; add 1 tablespoon basil pesto to eggs.

Greek version: Add 1⁄2 teaspoon dried dillweed or 1⁄4 teaspoon oregano to eggs; replace Parmesan with 1 tablespoon feta cheese and add 2 tablespoons chopped, roasted red bell peppers with the green onions.

NOTE: You can mix it up the night before and cover it; put it in the refrigerator and microwave it in the morning.

CREAMY TOMATO  SOUP

3⁄4 cup marinara sauce

1⁄4 cup ready-to-use chicken broth, vegetable broth or water

1⁄4 cup milk or half-and-half

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

In the mug, stir marinara sauce and broth until blended. Microwave on high for one to two minutes or until hot but not boiling.

Stir in milk and microwave for 30 to 60 seconds or until hot but not boiling. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with Parmesan.

MUG ENCHILADA

1⁄2 cup red or green enchilada sauce (taco sauce, picante sauce or thin salsa may be substituted)

2 6-inch corn tortillas, quartered

1⁄2 cup canned seasoned chili beans, drained (but not rinsed)

1⁄2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese

Accompaniments: chopped green onions, chopped fresh cilantro, sour cream, salsa, ripe olives.

Put sauce in a small plate or saucer. Dip one of the tortilla quarters in the sauce, coating both sides. Shake off excess and place in the mug. Top with 2 tablespoons beans. Dip another tortilla quarter and place in mug, topping with cheese. Repeat layers, finishing with cheese. Drizzle with remaining sauce.

Microwave on high for 11⁄2 to 21⁄2 minutes or until cheese is melted and layers are heated through. Let stand for 1 minute. Serve with any of the listed accompaniments.

TIP: Replace beans with an equal amount of diced, cooked chicken. Toss chicken with additional sauce before using.

THANKSGIVING

IN A MUG

1 can (5 ounces) water-packed chunk chicken, drained and flaked

2⁄3 cup dry herbed cornbread stuffing mix

1⁄2 cup drained, canned mixed vegetables

1 tablespoon dried cranberries

1 tablespoon water

Salt and pepper

Accompaniments: prepared turkey or chicken gravy, chopped fresh parsley

In the mug, combine chicken, stuffing mix, vegetables, cranberries and water.

Microwave on high for 11⁄2 to 21⁄2 minutes or until stuffing feels dry and mixture is hot. Cover with a small plate or saucer and let stand for one minute.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with any of the suggested accompaniments, as desired.

NOTE: Use deli chicken or turkey in place of the canned chicken. To increase the flavor, use chicken broth instead of water and add a little thyme or poultry seasoning.

PEPPERONI PIZZA BREAD

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1⁄4 teaspoon baking powder

2 tablespoons beaten egg

2 tablespoons cottage cheese

1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon chopped pepperoni

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon thick marinara

In the mug, combine flour and baking powder. Stir in egg, cottage cheese, Parmesan,  pepperoni and oil until blended. Gently stir in marinara sauce until swirled throughout batter.

Microwave on high for 11⁄2 to 21⁄2 minutes or until center is just set. Let cool slightly or entirely in mug. Eat directly from mug or gently remove onto small plate.

NOTE: One small egg can be used in place of the 2 tablespoons of beaten egg. Otherwise, beat egg in separate container and measure out 2 tablespoons for the mug; cover and store the remaining egg for future use, but it should be used within two days.

SPICY THAI

PEANUT DIP

1 teaspoon packed brown sugar

1⁄2 teaspoon Thai curry paste (red, green or yellow)

11⁄2 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon soy sauce

3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

2 teaspoons lime juice

Accompaniments: red bell pepper strips, carrot sticks, celery sticks, pita wedges.

Combine first four ingredients in mug and microwave for 45 to 60 seconds, checking at 45.

Stir in peanut butter and lime juice until blended and smooth. Serve warm or let cool to room temperature. Serve with any of suggested accompaniments.

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While I don’t claim to be an expert cook, I do like to cook and love to eat. Readers are encouraged to send questions about food and cooking; I’ll try to find the answers. Also, if you’re looking for a specific recipe, send your request, or if you can offer a recipe to someone looking for something specific, please send email to lward@dailyindependent.com.

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