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Mug Meals: Delicious Microwave Recipes Paperback – March 31, 2015
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About the Author
Dina Cheney, a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education, is the author of Meatless All Day, Year-Round Slow Cooker, Tasting Club, and Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Salads. She is a regular contributor to Clean Eating and Specialty Food. For more than three years, Dina was the "Taste Test" columnist for Every Day with Rachael Ray. Dina also has written for Parents, Fine Cooking, Prevention.com, Dr. Oz The Good Life, Coastal Living, Cooking Light, The Huffington Post, and more.
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Top Customer Reviews
While making food in a mug can be cool, any container of the right size would probably work just as well, so I don't intend to buy special mugs for these recipes. However, for the few recipes in this book that I do end up making, I will make sure I use containers larger than what is called for (e.g., I will use 18- and 20-ounce mugs or ramekins, instead of 12- and 16-ounce containers), and this is why: The recipe for Warm Peanut Noodles With Scallions lists 10 ingredients, and it says to use a 12-ounce mug, but the recipe calls for 1 and 1/2 cups (12 ounces) of cooked noodles, plus a total of nearly 6 tablespoons of other ingredients, which is an additional 3 ounces. I'm no math wizard, but I'm pretty sure that if I put 15 ounces of food in a 12-ounce container, that will equal a mess in my microwave.
On the minus side, the table of contents says only "Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner," so if you are looking for a particular recipe, you have to page through the book to find it. There are some color photos, but not of every dish. The author uses only kosher salt, but does not say why, so I'm thinking my iodized table salt might work just as well.
Speaking only for myself, too many of the recipes require too many ingredients (about 8 to 12), and quite a few recipes require something to be pre-cooked (noodles boiled in a pan, or ground meat browned in a skillet). Also, some recipes call for mixing dry ingredients in one bowl, wet ingredients in another, then combining them, and then pouring them into a mug. If I have to brown meat in a skillet, boil noodles in a saucepan, toast nuts in an oven or a skillet, and dirty up two mixing bowls and various measuring cups and spoons, I may as well make a dish that serves 4 to 6 people, then just use a mug to heat up leftover portions for myself. Therefore, I probably will copy the 5 or 6 recipes I might like to make (e.g., meatloaf), then pass this book along to the library. For the reasons given, I give this book 2 Stars. Not recommended.
I became interested in this book because it involves more work than throwing four ingredients into a mug and heating it up. While there are a few simpler items included, this is not a book of simple flavor recipes – it is a book of interesting and somewhat complex ingredient meals/desserts that are simple to make. You will need a decently stocked pantry to make all of the recipes. Good news for beginners is that you can buy the items as you go along and you will end up with a well-stocked pantry by the time you have worked your way through the book.
The Introduction explains the premise of the book, gives some background, pantry tips, and even cooking suggestions for some items.
After the introduction, the book is divided into three categories: Breakfast, Lunch/Dinner, and Desserts.
The recipes in the book are fairly evenly divided, which is very good news for those (like myself) who like to make scrumptious breakfasts. So many cookbooks give only a few pages to making omelets, scrambles, and casseroles (albeit with a number of variations listed in fine print.) It was a real pleasure to see recipe after recipe that varied so much in content and flavor. I'm also an individual who likes breakfast for lunch and dinner, so having unusual breakfast meals adds to my use of the cookbook throughout the day.
The Lunch/Dinner section does rely fairly heavily on having certain pre-cooked items ready (e.g., ground meats, quinoa, and rice.) This is true to a lesser extent for breakfasts. The author suggests that you make these ahead of time and keep time in the refrigerator for a number of days. You can also freeze them in the amounts you need for your meals (use a zip-lock bag for easy cleanup) and thaw them overnight in the refrigerator. I really liked that the author explained how to cook each of these needed precooked items (though I generally use a one-to-one ratio for my quinoa.) It makes the recipes easier for someone with beginning cooking skills. A number of the recipes require cheese and unless you wish to shred your own (which I do), buying shredded cheese may work best for you.
The Dessert section is simply gorgeous. So much choice and flavors and best of all, in sizes that won't encourage you to eat seconds of that wonderful sweet thing you made. It's even possible to make one dessert and then share it (which I just might consider doing with my husband.) Just looking at the pictures and reading the ingredients makes me want to cook every single one of them as each looks more delicious than the last.
The cookbook is a keeper for the kitchen shelf. This is one to keep on hand to use all the time. It is so versatile for various cooks who want to make a portion appropriate meal: it is great for the single cook (beginner or advanced) who wants to make a great tasting recipe; for a family who wants to have recipes available for quick meals for an individual who needs their meal sooner rather than later (heading for class, practice, or what have you); and finally, for the cook, who like me, has cooked for a larger family and wants to make dishes for two that still capture the taste and feel of the “old days” while saving time and clean-up.
I received a digital advance reader copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley. I also purchased several copies of the book for myself and other family members.