Best basic mug brownie

Verdict: I defy anyone to find a simpler and more convenient brownie recipe than this three-minute, three-ingredient cup of joy.

1. Crack an egg into a wide, short mug  (I like to use a glass one so I can see what’s going on). Whisk until smooth.
2. Add two heaped tablespoons of good quality hot cocoa mix (mine was Double Chocolate Ghirardelli). Add half to one tablespoon of oil (depending on how moist you want it), and an optional tiny pinch of salt to bring out the flavour. Mix until smooth.
3. The mixture should now fill just under half the mug (it’s important that the mug isn’t too full, as the mixture may rise while “baking”). Microwave for 1-1.5 minutes.

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Cucumber, tomato, and red onion fish salad

Based on a Hungry Girl recipe.

Chop cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and (not too much) red onion into small cubes. Add one single-serve (or double-serve, if using as an entree) packet of flaked salmon or tuna (the dry kind works, but the ones packed with a bit of oil may make things a little tastier), and about one tablespoon each of dijon mustard and light mayonnaise. Mix well and serve.

Verdict: Refreshing and delicious, especially in small portions.

Parmesan roasted zucchini sticks

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Rinse one large zucchini, or a small zucchini and small summer squash, and pat dry. Cut into sticks of about 1/2-1cm thick.

For firm, crisp zucchini sticks, use only the outside (the part adjacent to the skin, and not the pulpy, seeded middle). Alternatively, put the crisp sticks into one mixing bowl, and the softer seeded ones in another to bake separately.

In the mixing bowl(s), coat the sticks with some cooking spray, a fair amount of pepper, and lots of grated parmesan. Spray a baking tray with more cooking spray and load ’em up. (I like to put the firmer sticks on one side and the seeded ones on the other, as they may need slightly different cooking times.)

Bake for about 12 mins. Remove from oven and use a soft spatula to move and turn the sticks so they aren’t sticking to the tray. Add more parmesan if necessary. Bake for another 6 mins or until the firm sticks are beginning to brown. The seeded sticks will also make a soft, smushy, and delicious side.

Verdict: Tasty! Tray may need some cleanup if the parmesan burns, though.

“Neutral” beef and spinach noodles

Cook spelt spaghetti (or your preferred noodles) according to package directions. Salt the pasta water plentifully. When done, drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, slice a small steak into thin strips and marinate with salt and pepper.
Put a pan on high heat and spray generously with cooking spray. Stir fry the beef, turning often, until mostly cooked. Add bagged spinach* or arugula and mix until wilted, and then add the cooked noodles, stirring so that they absorb the juices from the beef.  Optional: crumble (or melt in!) soft or grated cheese for more flavour.

*I’ve found I much prefer arugula in this recipe, because wilted spinach sometimes gives me a weird after-texture due to the oxalic acid.

Three-minute bread pudding

Whisk 1.5 cups of milk, 1 tablespoon sugar, and one egg together until all the sugar is dissolved. Tear about 2 slices of any kind of bread into a wide-brimmed mug or bowl. Pour egg mixture over, and push bread down to make sure it all gets soaked. Optional: stir in chocolate chips or dried fruit, and sprinkle cinnamon on top.

Microwave for 1min, then check to see if all the liquid has been absorbed. If not, stir, microwave for another 30s, and check again. Repeat until all liquid is absorbed.

Verdict: Fair.