MUG MEALS by Leslie Bilderback

PUBLISHER: St. Martin's Griffin, 9/2015
GENRE: Cookbook/Quick Cooking
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: C

FROM PUBLISHER: Here are over 100 mouthwatering, lightning-fast, easy microwave recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. Whip up a mugful of Huevos Rancheros to start off your day, then lunch on a steaming cup of French Onion Soup or Pork Chops and Apple Sauce. Serve dinner to your whole family in mugs stuffed with Poached Salmon with Dill, Pasta Puttanesca, or Candied Sweet Potatoes--and finish things off right with a decadent Pumpkin Cheesecake. The options are endless, and you can't beat the clean-up!

Mug Meals makes a wonderful gift, college cookbook, or addition to your collection of mug cake recipes. The ease and convenience of these single-serving recipes are perfect for busy families, singles, teens, college students, and seniors who want to whip up easy food using fresh ingredients or even leftovers.



THINGS I'VE MADE


MINESTRONE


This soup has macaroni, carrot, onion, beans, oregano, basil, and tomatoes in it. I doubled the recipe to make two servings and made it in a 2qt. pot instead of two jumbo mugs. I used celery flakes in place of fresh celery, tomato paste in place of tomatoes, since I don't like them, and I used onion in place of scallions. I used half the amount of dried oregano and way less basil. I sprinkled dried chives on top for color.

This is a decent recipe and worth making again. Though I used less basil, salt, and oregano it was still a little too much for my liking so I'll use a little less next time. I undercooked the elbow macaroni and boiled the mixture together at the end for five minutes, so the macaroni was cooked for fifteen minutes total.




APPLE CINNAMON OATMEAL


This is a really good, basic recipe. Just butter, oats, milk, apple, sugar, and cinnamon. I made this in a bowl, not mug, then transferred it to a 5 oz. ramekin and sprinkled chopped lightly toasted pecans on top. I used white sugar in place of brown, quick oats in place of old fashioned, a few dashes of cinnamon instead of 1/4 teaspoon, which is beyond too much, and added a large pinch of salt before microwaving because salt is extremely necessary when cooking oats. I cooked this for the full amount of time, 2 1/2 minutes, but it was overcooked. It makes a small serving but it's enough because it's more like a dessert.

Edit: I've made this a few times since, cooked it 2 minutes and it was perfect.



MACARONI AND CHEESE


This made a huge serving of mac and cheese, using 1c. cooked pasta*. I used mild cheddar cheese in place of white cheddar and a pinch of ground mustard in place of Dijon. I cooked my pasta in a pot, not in a huge mug in the microwave. After taking my cooked elbow mac out of the pot with a slotted spoon, I cooked 3/4c. frozen broccoli in the same water, then added that to the macaroni that was in a bowl. I discarded the water and made the sauce in the pot, then added the macaroni and broccoli to it and cooked it together for a few minutes.

It tastes very good but the sauce was loose because it had no flour in it like a proper cheese sauce does. Adding broccoli to this was an option so I used it. I'll definitely continue to make this but I'll add about a 1/2 teaspoon to the butter before adding milk. The recipe has us add 1/4t. salt but that would be way too much. I only needed a pinch because the pasta was cooked in salted water and the cheese was salty.

*My Barilla elbow macaroni tripled in volume, so 1/2c. uncooked turned into 1 1/2c. cooked.



ALBÓNDIGAS



This Mexican soup uses raw Italian sausage instead of meatballs, carrot, celery, potatoes, cumin, oregano, and onion. I omitted diced zucchini, a diced chile, and diced tomatoes. I used some tomato paste in place of tomatoes. I made this in a 2qt. pot instead of two jumbo mugs in the microwave. The flavoring is off in this but it's edible. The Italian flavoring clashes with the cumin or something. I wouldn't make this again.



CHEESY TWO-EGG OMLET


Boy, was this easy to make. I used two jumbo eggs, milk, butter, dried chives in place of scallions, left out the thyme, used half the amount of shredded cheese, salt, pepper, and cooked it for 2 minutes. As you can see the chives rose to the top. It was a little undercooked on the bottom so I put it in the microwave upside down on a plate for 20 seconds. It still wasn't cooked so I gave it another 20 seconds and it was cooked through on the bottom but the sides were very tough but the inside was moist. I'll experiment with this so that it's not overcooked again. I'll also use a smaller bowl. You'll need one with a 1 1/2 c. capacity. The photo on the bottom is the cooked egg upside down on a plate.

Edit: I've made this quite a few times and I usually cook the egg for 90 seconds, run a fork around the egg to loosen it from the bowl, flip it over and microwave it another 30 seconds or so.




CORNCAKE


Not good, folks. I microwaved this in a 3 cup bowl, not two jumbo mugs. It's extremely dense and tastes like nothing more than cornmeal with a little onion flavor from dried chives, which I used instead of scallions. The bottom had a raw area and there were pockets of raw egg inside. The corn just falls out of it too when you cut into it. I was able to eat most of it but I wouldn't make again. You have to use several bowls to make this too.


OKLAHOMA CHEESE GRITS


These were surprisingly good. They don't taste like corn or egg at all, just cheese and chives. I made mine in the bowl I eat cereal in, 1 1/2 c. capacity. You use a small amount of quick cooking grits (corn meal made from hominy for Quaker® brand) and water, microwave a short time, let the mixture sit, microwave again, add in egg, cheese, flavorings, and microwave until risen and firm.

My complaints- After the grits had sat for ten minutes we were to microwave it another two minutes before adding in the other stuff. We weren't told to stir that mixture after it had sat ten minutes. My final product had quite a few large lumps in it that I think may have been avoided had I stirred the grits/water mixture before adding in the other things. After adding in the eggs and cheese the center of mine was raw on top so I stirred the mixture together and microwaved another thirty seconds, then it was fine. I had to add about three tablespoons more water to the mixture after they cooked because the mixture was too thick. I'll have to experiment with the timing next time so I can get it just right. These tasted good and I'll continue to make these.


BEAN SOUP


This recipe is called Split Peas and Ham. You're supposed to mash up a drained and rinsed can of split peas, add some water to thin it slightly, ham, salt, pepper, onion, and garlic. I used part of a can of navy beans and some drained canned white meat chicken instead. I also added broccoli and used a 14.5 oz. can of low sodium chicken broth plus 1/2 c. of water to make two large servings.

No surprise that this need much more flavor. Onion and garlic are base flavors. You need more seasonings than those to create a flavorful broth. I added some celery but this desperately needed more flavor. I added a little bit of canned chipotle in adobe sauce and that helped some but this still needs some work. Next time I'll use more broccoli, use half a can of mashed beans and just put the rest in the soup and try to find some way to add more flavor to this. It wasn't bad at all the way I made it.


ORECCHIETTE ALFREDO


This was extremely good. I used spiral pasta instead of orecchiette (ear-shaped pasta). The sauce is made with cream (I used half and half) and parmesan cheese, that's it. I added raw broccoli and carrot, which I cooked in the water with the pasta, and 1/2 cup canned chicken. I didn't add any salt at all (the recipe called for 1/4 teaspoon!) because of the salty parm. This was very simple to make and tastes great and I'll continue to make this.



MY THOUGHTS: These are pretty simple recipes that require you to either cook rice or pasta in the microwave, and chop some vegetables. Easy. The recipes are severely lacking in flavor but it's easy to experiment with your own seasonings. Most recipes use just scallions and garlic for seasoning. I tried to use the ingredients called for but I don't like tomatoes so I had to use tomato paste in place of it. I didn't want to buy celery just to use probably less than two stalks total so I used my handy celery flakes. Most of these recipes use scallions but I prefer to use onion since I almost always have onion on hand, or dried chives.

I'm disappointed that no recipes use lentils, which are a legume and are cooked basically like you cook raw rice. I'm disappointed too that only one recipe uses barley.

Most of these recipes would have you use two jumbo mugs to make one large mug-full of soup. I don't like that method, I like to have plenty of room to mix things around, so I chose to use a 2 quart pot for most things I made because I doubled some recipes. The method used to cook pasta is silly. You boil it a few minutes in a 'jumbo' mug, let it sit a half hour, then boil it again for a few minutes. It's quicker to boil pasta on the stove in a pot.

This cookbook is alright for giving you ideas but to make the recipes exactly as they're written, they're not good. Most things I made turned out but I had to doctor them up and make some changes.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


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