The Microwave Miracle Of Cooking In Mugs : The Salt Didn't have time to pack a lunch? Tired of eating out? Why not cook up something in the office? All you need is a microwave, mug and basic ingredients for scrambled eggs, mac and cheese or a brownie.
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The Microwave Miracle Of Cooking In Mugs

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The Microwave Miracle Of Cooking In Mugs

The Microwave Miracle Of Cooking In Mugs

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OK, for most of us the microwave oven is a shortcut in the kitchen. Our colleague David Greene views the microwave as a serious culinary tool. He talked about this with Joe Yonan, author of the Cooking for One column at The Washington Post.



So Joe, thanks for coming by and doing this with us.


GREENE: Can I tell you how, like why we called you here and how this all got started?

YONAN: Yes, I'm curious.

GREENE: OK, it's a little embarrassing. So I've been making scrambled eggs in a mug in the morning. I get here really early. It's like the middle of the night and I just - I wanted some eggs. And one of our colleagues said, you know, you can scramble eggs in a microwave. And I've been enamored by this.


GREENE: So I just literally - cracking it on our conference table, put it in the mug, And then I add a little bit of shredded cheese, a little bit of milk, and I kind of whip it up. And I just pop it in the microwave.

YONAN: All right.


GREENE: And so I'm yanking this thing out. I mean check it out.

YONAN: Oh, my God.

GREENE: Joe, just describe that to...

YONAN: Oh wow, OK. It's like totally puffed up and it looks absolutely beautiful.

GREENE: Is this the first time you've seen this?

YONAN: Actually it is.

GREENE: See that. It's the shape of a cupcake.

YONAN: It's like a little egg souffle.

Egg souffle


YONAN: You want a taste?

Yeah. Yeah, I do.


YONAN: Ooh, it's really, really, really hot.


YONAN: OK, I'm going to do this very carefully 'cause it's nuclear. You know, it's not bad.

GREENE: Not bad.

YONAN: Not bad.

GREENE: So nuclear...


GREENE: Do things get dangerously hot in a microwave?

YONAN: They do.


YONAN: They get really, really hot. Because it's more than just getting heat from the surface that they're in contact with, like a pan like they would on the stove. They're heating from the inside out, basically. Like all their molecules are all excited and the whole thing is kind of exploding inside. So you have to be careful too. I mean it's a good thing you used a big mug.

'Cause I think if you did a small mug, I could imagine some accidents happening - foaming over the top, that kind of thing.

GREENE: We don't want that.


GREENE: Alright, so you brought us some suggestions. We wanted to expand our menu of office cooking.

YONAN: You know, I was thinking about this mug thing. The mug gauntlet was laid down in front of me. And so I picked it up and decided to do a mac and cheese.

GREENE: Oh, cool. This is going to be lunch for me for the next, like, three weeks.

YONAN: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

GREENE: That's awesome.

YONAN: So with the mac and cheese, it's a half a cup of dry macaroni pasta.

GREENE: You're just pouring them in the mug there.

YONAN: Just getting it right in the mug.


YONAN: And equal amounts of water, you know. And then we're going to nuke that.



YONAN: I don't know if we can see in here. But it's boiling over a little bit, yeah. But that's OK.

GREENE: You're going to ruin our microwave, Joe?

YONAN: No. No. No. Worst things have happened in this microwave. I...


GREENE: You can tell sort of?

YONAN: I would guess.


YONAN: So now I'm going to just add a little stuff to make a little sauce.


YONAN: Basically a few tablespoons of milk.

GREENE: Pour in some milk, alright.

YONAN: Got a quarter cup of grated sharp cheddar cheese.

GREENE: Perfect.

YONAN: And we've got dried mushrooms. So you just take a couple of the stems and you just crumble them up.

GREENE: What else are you putting in here?

YONAN: That's a little - a couple of tablespoons of salsa. And now - and I know this sounds kind of crazy - but I've got a teaspoon of flour.


YONAN: And the reason that I think that you have flour in your office pantry is because you're also going to make the brownie in a mug, that's happening after this. And that also calls for flour.

GREENE: Nice, versatile.


YONAN: So this I would say may be - let's try 30 seconds and see.


GREENE: OK. So is this healthier than like the boxes of macaroni and cheese that you buy at the grocery store which have the powdered cheese?

YONAN: Oh, yeah. Because who knows what - I haven't looked at that label in quite a while. But I bet you there's stuff on there that you wouldn't recognize.

GREENE: That powdered cheese can't be good.

YONAN: Right. Right.

GREENE: OK, and this is the real stuff so...

YONAN: This is like cheese.


GREENE: We've got macaroni and cheese here. Wow.

YONAN: So see, now this is...

GREENE: Look at that.

YONAN: It's actually kind of gorgeous.

GREENE: It's kind of gorgeous. Can I take a taste?

YONAN: Absolutely.

GREENE: Oh, that's really good.

YONAN: Yeah. When I was experimenting with this, I had already eaten a big breakfast and I was playing around with this. And I ate the whole thing. I was like, wow, that's pretty good.

GREENE: Mm-hmm, not bad.

YONAN: So that's macaroni and cheese in a mug.

GREENE: And now dessert.

YONAN: Alright. So dessert...

GREENE: So we've got another mug.

YONAN: So we've got another mug. We're going to do a tablespoon of butter. This is a - you're going to think I've gone off the rails again.


YONAN: This is a tablespoon of almond butter and then a little vanilla and a little milk. This is going to go in to melt the butter. I think the key, as in a lot of cooking, look at it. See what's happening. So go for...

GREENE: If something is spilling, if something is exploding...

YONAN: Right.

GREENE: It's something that's burning.

YONAN: Burning.

GREENE: Probably a bad thing.

YONAN: Probably a bad thing. Stop.



YONAN: And then we're putting in a couple of tablespoons of flour.

GREENE: Which we had from the mac and cheese recipe.

YONAN: Which we had from the mac and cheese recipe.


YONAN: A little sugar.


This is the cocoa - unsweetened cocoa. And there's a little bit of instant espresso in there too.

That you ground up perfectly.

YONAN: No, it's instant. You can find it in Italian markets. Well, actually a lot of stores have it.

GREENE: You throw a little bit of that in there, too?

YONAN: And it kind of makes the chocolate even deeper. So, I just stir it up with my fork.


YONAN: We're going to do a minute.

If you want another shortcut - that's another thing I'm realizing, is you could do like a trail mix.

GREENE: That would add kind of nutty...

YONAN: Like a little chewy in there...

GREENE: ...nutty-chewy thing going on.

YONAN: And people tend to have that kind of stuff around.

GREENE: Totally.

YONAN: You know what you could do? You could take a granola bar and crush it up and put it in the bottom of the mug.

GREENE: And have a crust on the bottom?

YONAN: And you might be able to get a crust.


GREENE: I'm liking it.

YONAN: Alright.

GREENE: Do we have a brownie?

YONAN: I think we've got a brownie.


YONAN: I'm just going to put the...

GREENE: The almonds?

YONAN: The almond slivers on top. Now try that.

GREENE: OK. Oh, it's totally a brownie.

YONAN: It's like a fudgy brownie, not a cake brownie.

GREENE: It's a fudgy brownie but it's a - yeah, I mean it's - oh my, God. It's fantastic.

YONAN: It's pretty good, huh?

GREENE: Yeah, that was just delicious. Seriously, if I ate this dessert in a restaurant it would be one of those desserts (unintelligible) oh, it's so good.

YONAN: Right. Right. Right, it's chocolate.


GREENE: Joe, thank you for coming by. Microwave cooking with Joe Yonan.

YONAN: Sure. Oh, my God.

GREENE: We really appreciate it.

YONAN: I don't want a bad rap.


STEVE INSKEEP: David Greene, of course, talking with Washington Post food and travel editor Joe Yonan. You can find their microwave recipes at


INSKEEP: Always made fresh morning after morning. It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

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