Living in the dorms in college I discovered the wonder of instant mashed potatoes and easy mac. Those were my late night friends when the cafeteria was closed. No...it wasn't the most healthy or scrumptious thing I could eat but it was food, I was a hungry freshman, and I didn't really care.
Now the thought of easy mac turns my stomach a little...it's not as bad as instant Ramen, but it's just not that great. But what do you do when you want Mac & Cheese, but you don't really want (or need) the whole entire pot or pan all to yourself? Pinterest has been full of "[Insert food item here] in a mug" recipes and one of those has been the instant mac and cheese in a mug.
The Original Pin
The original blog this was featured on is no longer available, but I did find re-blogs of it all over. The instructions on each was pretty much the same: "Microwave 1/3 cup pasta (whole grain), 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup 1% milk, and 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese on high for 2 minutes then stir."
Shannon sent us in this pin and her story. "I was hungry and there was almost no food in the house. I remembered this pin and looked it up. I clicked on the link but it gave me no further instructions on how to make it. It just gave me a list of ingredients and to microwave it. Not thinking too much about it I put all the ingredients into a mug and put it in the microwave. It was only in the process of putting it in the microwave did I remember when you're making easy mac that you cook the noodles then make the sauce, but it was too late. The pin didn't say how long to microwave it so I tried for a minute at first. The pasta was barely cooked so tried 2 more minutes. It still wasn't cooked so I thought 5 minutes would do. It did, but just barely."
"It got the job done in that I had something to eat, but my taste buds were not jumping around with joy. It wasn't terrible tasting but I probably would have been better walking to the grocery store 2 minutes away and buying some actual easy mac."
That's just not quite what I picture when I think of mac and cheese. She did say that she used regular pasta, not whole grain, and whole milk instead of 1% (because that's what she had on hand), but from what I've read, that shouldn't have mattered. So I decided to test the ingredients given in the pin and see what happened.
1/4 c. of milk in with the 1/2 c. of water seemed like way too much liquid (especially as one full box of mac and cheese only takes 1/4 cup of milk and this is definitely not a full box worth of mac and cheese), but I stuck to the recipe anyway. I eagerly mixed everything up in my tallest mug, plopped it in the zapper, and came back after the 2 minutes were up to find this:
"Oh well," I thought, "I'm sure the rest that stayed in the cup is fine." So I pulled out the mug and looked in...
Cheesy chunky milk. MMmmmm. And the noodles were hardly cooked at all. I zapped it again (with more mac and cheese volcano action) and the pasta was slightly better, but not great. It was more like Macaroni Al dente cheese soup...with no flavor. I let it sit on the counter thinking maybe it just needed some "soaking time". That didn't help the matter either. The sauce didn't taste good and the noodles weren't cooked. Blech.
So I'm callin' this one busted, done in, popped, and trashed.
|"Pin Busted" stamp created for us by Savannah|
But I was sure that someone somewhere had made mac and cheese in a mug and had a successful lunch, so I turned to Pinterest and found this:
The Original Pin
She says that you need a BIG mug, as in a soup mug, for this to work. That would definitely have helped my cheese volcano problem I had. So I cleaned out the microwave and searched my kitchen. I don't have a soup mug but I do have a glass 2 cup measuring cup, so I decided to give that a try. She also has you zap the noodles in water in the mug before adding the "sauce". This made a lot more sense, so I gave it a try. I didn't have Cheddar-Jack cheese, so I just had to use cheddar, but I figured this would give me an idea if it worked or not. So I followed the instructions carefully and this is what I came out with:
The Pin Win:
That looked WAY better than the first run through. I was excited about it. I stirred it all up good, and took a bite...and it was good. Not raving good, but good. Having the cheddar jack would have probably helped. But...it wasn't bad and it actually did work. No cheese volcano or macaroni soup. So, it can be done! Just not using that first pin. My only real complaint is that 1/3 c. pasta just didn't quite cut it. I think I need to go find a snack to add to my lunch. Hey! I think I have a package of instant mashed potatoes in my cupboard! I guess it's freshman flashback day today!