Thursday, January 17, 2013

Cooking in your coffee mug

This was another of those early departure mornings. Have some coffee, walk the dog, lay on the couch for a little bit before the dog wants out again, get lunches ready, get dinner going in the crock pot, and hurry-up-get-dressed-it's-time-to-go! So breakfast must go with me. (If you think I'm going to skip breakfast, you're nuts. I'd be digging into my lunch by nine o'clock.)

Now, I could take two minutes on the way to work to stop for fast food. Or, with some quick packing at home, I can take two minutes to make breakfast when I arrive at work.

One easy breakfast for the office and quick to pack at home: Handful of oatmeal and raisins, dash of cinnamon, and spoon of brown sugar all in a mason jar. At the office, add some water, stir or shake, microwave until oats are cooked.

Another easy breakfast I had never tried before today. Scrambled eggs in a coffee mug. Yes. I was skeptical, but this is for real.

It's another quick-pack: Two eggs, a piece of cheese, a pat or two of butter. At work: crack the eggs into a coffee mug. Throw in the butter. Add two tablespoons of milk or water. Scramble! Microwave for 30-45 seconds. Stir well, break up clumps. Microwave for another 30-45 seconds. Top with cheese, which will melt in about a minute while you wait for the eggs to cool off enough to eat. And, oh my gosh, it worked! And it tasted good! Like real scrambled eggs! I'll probably do this at home for a quick breakfast now.

Notes: I used water because milk is not readily available in the office, even though I feared water would be gross in the eggs, but it didn't even affect the flavor. What the water does do is help the eggs turn out fluffy. Also, I added salt, pepper, and hot sauce to the eggs, because those three things were available in the office kitchenette. Quite delicious.

Did you know microwaving uses a fraction of the energy of any other cooking method? (Besides solar ovens or other really cool alternative green methods. I'm talking about in your average kitchen, OK?) So these eggs in a mug are a green and frugal choice. And they took so little time! And dirtied only two dishes! (Mug and fork.) Perfect when you're cooking for just one or two.

So, what else can we cook in the microwave in a coffee mug?

There's the one-minute brownie, which doesn't have the chewiness of an oven-baked brownie but is more like a dense, puddingy chocolate cake. No, it's a combination of brownie and chocolate souffle. Yes, that describes it pretty well. I have made it a few times, and it is pretty good and makes for a nice treat during the afternoon slump. Making this at the office does require advance preparation, unless you always have cocoa powder and flour and things in your desk drawer. I do not, but maybe I should. Hm. Anyway, here's the recipe:

2 tablespoons each of: cocoa powder, water, and vegetable oil. 4 tablespoons each of sugar and flour. Plus a pinch of salt. 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional. Mix it all well in your coffee mug and microwave 60 to 90 seconds. The center of the "brownie" should be slightly molten. Allow to cool a little bit, then eat with a spoon.  I found that more or less oil in the recipe will make the texture more fudgy or more cakey, respectively.

So now I'm on a coffee mug cooking adventure. What else can we make? There's the obvious hot cereal or soup. But that's hardly exciting. This April 2012 article from the Chicago Tribune has a few microwave-coffee-mug recipes: coffee cake, upside-down cake, quiche, and chilaquiles, none of which I have tried yet, but all of which sound worthy of trying. I think the chilaquiles will be next on my list. Len will love it! (If it turns out well, that is.)

Share with me! What have you microwaved in your coffee mug? (Besides coffee!)

(Linked with Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #62)


  1. Poached eggs! So easy in the microwave and I just love adding yolky goodness to just about everything :)

  2. Great idea to do the cooking in a coffee mug. Do you think this would work using a hotplate? A microwave may be "green" but it destroys all the nutrients in the food, so what's the point? I thought this site was about "real food." Guess I have it confused with another one....

    1. A hot plate might work if you were using your mug like a pot on a stove but probably not for the baking-type recipes; however, I've never tried it. I don't know how hot a hot plate gets. I think you should experiment and report back!

      Also, it's a misconception that microwaves destroy all the nutrients in food. Any cooking method destroys nutrients - how much depends on the amounts of heat, cooking time, and liquid (e.g. steaming is better than boiling). Microwaving exposes food to less heat for a shorter amount of time, meaning fewer vitamins are lost - certainly no more are lost than during any other heating method. But I guess that's why some people go raw.