Tuesday Reviews-Day: 250 Best Meals in a Mug

mealsinamug_cover

What do you first think of when you hear the term “mug recipe”? Probably one of the hundreds of mug cake, mug brownie, or mug cookie recipes floating around the Internet and seen often on Pinterest.

Not that there’s anything wrong with them–I’ve been known to whip up a quickie mug cake when a craving strikes–but there is so much more that can fill those mugs, and Camilla V. Saulsbury has compiled some tasty ones in 250 Best Meals in a Mug (Robert Rose Publishing).

While we mostly use our microwave to steam vegetables or do some last-minute defrosting, I certainly wouldn’t want to be without it when the need arises. Furthermore, being able to prepare meals (or parts of meals) without heating up the kitchen is always a nice option to have. The week we spent trying recipes out from 250 Best Meals in a Mug was a refreshing change of pace for our dinner and lunch duties.

Each of the recipes is for a single serving. This makes customizing meals for differing tastes supremely easy. It also came in handy when we needed lunches one day after going out the night before and has none of our usual planned leftovers to use. Each recipe also includes strategies for prepping ahead, so if you have even less time than the few minutes most of the recipes take to prepare (or want to grab-and-go for breakfast or lunch), you have that option. For most of the meals we either combined two mug recipes or served one mug meal with a non-mug side dish. Another thing this book is great for is portion size–making one serving at a time is a great way to keep from going back for seconds!

A word about the mugs in question: yours may be too small for the majority of the recipes–most of mine were! Recipes call for 12-16oz mugs most often, some for a minimum of 16 ounces (2 cups). This is as much to prevent boil-overs as for strict capacity reasons, but you don’t have to go out and buy a new stable of mugs just to cook from this book. Any microwave-safe container–be it the reusable plastic-ware used for leftovers or even bowls or Pyrex measuring cups–will work just fine (though some will require covering, so a level edge is certainly best.

the "Baked" Banana Oatmeal  (p 32) was a nice change from my usual instant or overnight oats!
the “Baked” Banana Oatmeal (p 32) was a nice change from my usual instant or overnight oats!
The Pumpkin Sage Soup (p35, see recipe below) paired perfectly with a grilled cheese sandwich.
The Pumpkin Sage Soup (p35, see recipe below) paired perfectly with a grilled cheese sandwich.

Pumpkin Sage Soup

  • 16-oz (500 mL) mug

3/4 cup ready-to-use chicken or vegetable broth
2/3 cup pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
1/4 tsp dried rubbed sage
3 Tbsp half-and-half (10%) cream or milk
salt and ground black pepper

1. In the mug, stir broth, pumpkin and sage until blended. Microwave on High for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 minutes (checking at 1 1/2) or until hot but not boiling.

2. Stir in cream. Microwave on High for 30 to 60 seconds (checking at 30) or until hot but not boiling. Season to taste with salt and pepper. [We added dried chives and some toasted pepitas as a garnish.]

Irish Brown Bread (p96)
Irish Brown Bread (p96)

I made two versions of the Irish Brown Bread–one with wheat flour, one with my alternate flour–and we were surprised to find that the gluten-free version was better than the traditional. Of course it didn’t brown the way a baked bread would, but for a quick accompaniment to corned beef it did it’s duty quite well.

Italian Meatball Stew (p146) uses frozen meatballs, ready-made sauce, and canned mixed vegetables. You could easily make your staples ahead of time if needed.
Italian Meatball Stew (p146) uses frozen meatballs, ready-made sauce, and canned mixed vegetables. You could easily make your staples ahead of time if needed.
Chile Rellenos Mug Casserole (p173) skips the frying but not the flavor.
Chile Rellenos Mug Casserole (p173) skips the frying but not the flavor.
The Mug Meatloaf (p190) resembles a large meatball more than anything, but was surprisingly filling.
The Mug Meatloaf (p190) resembles a large meatball more than anything, but was surprisingly filling.
We paired the Barbecue Chinese Chicken Lettuce Wraps (p208) with the Sesame Noodles (p50)--probably the best version of sesame noodles I've had to date!
We paired the Barbecue Chinese Chicken Lettuce Wraps (p208) with the Sesame Noodles (p237)–probably the best version of sesame noodles I’ve had to date!
Another great lunch option, the Loaded Quinoa Taco Mug (p248) went great with some blue corn tortilla chips.
Another great lunch option, the Loaded Quinoa Taco Mug (p248) went great with some blue corn tortilla chips.
There are snacks included in the book, as well, like this Jalapeno Popper Dip (p.260) that our friends gobbled up at a weekend get together--good thing I made a double batch!
There are snacks included in the book, as well, like this Jalapeno Popper Dip (p.260) that our friends gobbled up at a weekend get together–good thing I made a double batch!
And of course we tried a dessert! Todd was especially interested in the Bananas Faster Foster (p.292)--maybe not quite as good as the inspiration, but for a quick version is went well over ice cream.
And of course we tried a dessert! Todd was especially interested in the Bananas Faster Foster (p.292)–maybe not quite as good as the inspiration, but for a quick version is went well over ice cream.

About the only things I wasn’t 100% thrilled with was the use of convenience products. In the realm of quick and easy it certainly makes sense, and most of them aren’t heavily processed, but if you prefer the  benefits of fresh, whole foods over pre-packaged, some prep work would be called for to make these meals fit that mode. Things like prepping your own veggies instead of using canned blends, preparing your own stock, making your own meatballs in bulk and then freezing them, cooking a bunch of chicken breasts or thighs and then portioning for later use, that sort of thing. Certainly not enough to make me think twice about using or recommending this book!

Not only would certain recipes from 250 Best Meals in a Mug make excellent meals for when we travel, being able to make inventive meals with minimal clean-up will come in quite handy for our upcoming move and the kitchen renovation we’re planning afterwards!

I received a copy of the cookbook for purpose of review. No other compensation has been received and all opinions expressed are my own.

Share Your Opinion Here!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.