Chocolate Mug Cake

I received this recipe from my dear friend, Suzanne, who lives in northern Vermont. Suzanne lives on a farm with llamas, chickens, sheep, goats, and lots of stray cats and dogs. She is an animal lover to the extreme and sometimes she can be quite unorthodox as you can see from the recipe below. I haven’t tried it yet, but since I haven’t added a recipe since my malasadas a few weeks ago, I thought it would be nice to share an untested recipe with you. It looks pretty quick. 

Honestly? Any baked item that doesn’t contain salt tastes rather bland to me, so I’d add some salt here. One quarter teaspoon maybe? 

I know, it doesn’t look that appetizing, does it? (It’s okay, Suzanne doesn’t read my blog.) It’s a slow day for recipes. Sorry. Try it and let me know how it is!


4 tablespoons flour 
4 tablespoons sugar 
2 tablespoons cocoa 
1 egg 
3 tablespoons milk 
3 tablespoons oil 
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional) 
a small splash of vanilla extract 
1 large coffee mug 

Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly.

Pour in the milk and oil and mix well. Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla extract, and mix again. Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts. The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don’t be alarmed! Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired. 

EAT! (this can serve 2 if you want to feel slightly more virtuous). 




Hawaii: Malasadas

My husband and I were married in Hawaii. On the Big Island. He was stationed for six months in Japan at the time. After month three, he flew to Hawaii and met me there. (I had flown from Baltimore.) Hubby was actually born in Hawaii, so he knew his way around. One of the delightful Hawaiian things he introduced me to was Malasadas.

A malasada (or malassada) is a Portuguese confection. Pronounced “Mel-a-sa-dah”. They were first made by inhabitants of São Miguel Island, part of the Azores. Malasadas are made of egg-sized balls of yeast dough that are deep-fried in oil and coated with granulated sugar. A popular variation is where they are hand dropped into the oil and people have to guess what they look like. Traditional malasadas contain neither holes nor fillings, but some varieties of malasadas are filled with flavored cream or other fillings. Traditionally, the reason for making malasadas has been to use up all the lard and sugar in the house, traditionally forbidden during Lent. They are eaten especially on Fat Tuesday – the day before Ash Wednesday. Some families associate them with Mardi Gras. In 1878, Portuguese laborers from the Azores came to Hawaii to work in the plantations. These immigrants brought their traditional foods with them, including a fried dough pastry called the “malasada.” Today there are numerous bakeries in the Hawaiian islands specializing in malasadas. The most notable bakeries are on Oahu, with Leonard’s Bakery and Champion Malasadas in Honolulu at the top of the list. On the Big Island of Hawaii, the Tex Drive In[1] in Honoka’a is popular. The annual Punahou School Carnival is also a popular venue for malasadas.

You’re probably thinking, based on the image, that these are just donuts, right? Well, you’re right, sort of. I mean, every culture has their version of the donut..malasadas are Portugal’s and Hawaii’s. My sister-in-law from Colombia, calls them bunuelos. New Orleans calls them biegnets. While all these items are similar, they do differ in both taste, preparation, and texture.

The first time I tried the malasadas, my new husband and I were sitting at a bar in a mall in Oahu, where we spent a few days. Hubby saw a sign for malasadas in a nearby store and bought some for me to try. My eyes got big and sparkly upon first tasting these little guys. They were so good. So very very good. I told my husband to go and buy a box for me or risk losing me forever. He did, mainly because he liked them a lot too (why kid myself?)

A good recipe for these puppies can be found here. I’ve also heard that you can use store bought Pillsbury buttermilk biscuits, deep fry them, and sprinkle them with sugar. I tried it. They’re okay in a pinch, but don’t think you’ve tasted malasadas if you try it that way. Unfortuately, the best malasadas can only be found in Hawaii. It is, however, worth the trip.


China: Pan Fried Noodles

pan fried noodlesThe first time I tried pan-fried noodles, I was with my Vietnamese friends having Dim Sum in New York’s Chinatown. One of my friends ordered the pan-fried noodles, and I helped myself to a serving, anticipating nothing out of the ordinary. Was I ever wrong. I couldn’t believe how good the dish was. The crispy noodles underneath a mountain of chicken and vegetables. The taste combination was unbelievable. The sauce mixed with the crunchy noodles had such surprising appeal, that the next time I went to a Chinese restaurant, I looked for pan-fried noodles on the menu. Funny thing is, you can’t really find this dish at most Chinese restaurants. Why? I have no idea. The last place I was able to find it was at a Vietnamese restaurant. And yes, I ordered it. And yes, it was fabulous.

Kid Approved. If I were to ever use the word “Yumo” in describing any kind of food (and I wouldn’t, under any circumstances), it would be for this dish. Little Boy G loves it. Licks the plate clean. He prefers that I use duck instead of chicken, but will eat the chicken, which he usually gets, just fine.

The recipe I use is pretty easy. You will need to buy EGG NOODLES, like the ones in the picture to the left. I get mine at Asian groceries, but they might also sell them in the Asian section of your supermarket.



What you’ll need:

  • 1 Chicken breast cut into bite size pieces (Duck and Turkey will work, too)
  • 1 roll of Egg Noodles
  • Fresh veggies that your little one loves (Broccolli, carrots, celery, bok choy, baby corn, etc.–I wouldn’t recommend sweet bell peppers–they’re too sweet, which doesn’t work well with the savory sauce.)
  • Pollo (Chicken) Seasoning (yes, I use this stuff for everything)
  • Water
  • Corn Starch
  • 2 TBsp Butter

Here’s what you do:

Boil some water.

The Poultry:

Melt butter in a sauce pan. (You don’t HAVE to use butter, but it makes any sauce so much better. If you’d rather not use it, simply use enough olive oil or Pam, or whatever, to cook the poultry and veggies.)

Add the poultry. Cook thoroughly.

Mix half a cup water with some cornstarch and pour it in the sauce pan.

Add two TBsp Pollo seasong to the poultry mixture. Stir well. Taste. It should be savory but not too salty. If it’s too thick add more water and taste again. Add more seasoning if necessary. If it’s too thin add more water/cornstarch mixture, and then taste again. Etc.

Add the vegetables and let simmer.

The Egg Noodles:

Add the egg noodles to the boiling water. Stir to loosen the noodles once they’re soft enough. Cook until soft, about five or seven minutes.

Drain the noodles and let them dry on a few paper towells. Dab the top of the noodles with another paper towell to remove most of the moisture.

In a skillet, heat two TBsps vegetable or canola oil.

Using a wide spatula, gather the noodles and place them in the very hot skillet. Spread them out so they look like a flat disk.

Turn the noodles over when the bottom side turns golden brown. Add a little more oil if you need to–not too much–and fry the other side of the noodles until cruncy, golden brown.

Serve It:

Remove the noodles from the skillet and place on paper towells if you want to remove some of the grease. Then place on a plate and add the poultry/veggie mixture, ensuring that you get a lot of the savory, tasty sauce. Let your little one use chopsticks with dish, and be sure to help them cut the noodles as that might be a little tricky for them.

Yum….er, Delicious!!

UK/US: Chicken Pot Pie

History. The most common type of savory pie found today is the pot pie. A pot pie is some sort of vegetable or meat stew that is baked into a pastry crust. The origins of the name can be traced to medieval times, when the iron alloys in the pot would often leave a metallic taste in food. Therefore, a simple crust was used to line the pot, not to be eaten, but to protect the flavor of the stew. This vestige remained a part of the dish, which continues to be prevalent on menus in northern Europe, especially in the British Isles. 

(Dan Can Cook: Curried Paneer Pot Pie by Dan Castleman Arts | 1/17/06)


I used to love when my mom made chicken pot pies. Of course, “making” them meant popping the frozen ones in the oven and baking them. I suppose Swanson was a girl’s best friend back in the day (before the microwave versions were available).

Kid Approved. I tried giving the microwave versions to Little Boy G. He’d eat some of it, but he’d also pick the peas and carrots out, which really annoyed me. So, while they say revenge is a dish best served cold, I must disagree. My quick and easy recipe includes all the things he loves, chicken, green beans, a savory sauce, and a delicious crust. Whenever I make it, he practically licks the bowl and always asks for more.


Serves 2

Preheat oven or toaster oven to 425F

  • Two chicken breasts chopped into small, bite size pieces
  • Green Beans, or Peas, or Carrots, or a combo of each
  • 1 tablespoon Pollo (Chicken) seasoning
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1 tablespoon Corn Starch
  • Ready made pie crust
  1. If your chicken is frozen, thaw it. Cook it in the microwave too, if you like, to save time.
  2. Heat a skillet. Mix one tablespoon corn starch with one cup of water. Add one tablespoon Pollo seasoning and pour it in the skillet. Stir until it gets thickened. Taste it and adjust  to your liking.
  3. Cut the chicken into bite size pieces if you haven’t already done so, and add to the skillet. Add the veggies. Let simmer for a bit if the chicken is already cooked, and for a few minutes longer if the chicken is not cooked.
  4. Get your ready made pie crust and cut out a circle and press it into a small, single serving dish–I like to use a ramekin. 
  5. Transfer some of the chicken mixture into the lined ramekin. 
  6. Cut another circle in the pie crust and press the edges with the tines of a fork. Lay it on top of the chicken mixture. 
  7. Bake until the crust is golden brown.

Tip: Stale Buns? Make Croutons!

In a small family like ours (3, hopefully to be 4), we often find ourselves with leftover hamburger and hot dog buns. Generally, we end up having to toss them. Over the weekend, I decided I wanted a salad for lunch and I had a craving for croutons, which I didn’t have. I eyed the hamburger buns on the counter and thought, why not? They’ve got great crust, they’re old, and likely to get older. So I did it–I turned them into croutons. And it was great. Even Little Boy  G remarked, “Someone’s making pizza!” He ate several of them when it was all said and done. Here’s the simple recipe:


*Hamburger or hot dog buns

* Olive Oil

*Italian spices (Basil, Oregano, Rosemary, etc.)

*Romano, Parmesan cheese 



Cut the buns, crust side up, into crouton (bite size) pieces. Place them into a large bowl. Drizzle olive oil over the bread for a good coating. Mix well with your hands, ensuring that each piece has a good coating of olive oil

Add a liberal amount of the spices and cheese. Don’t be shy–this is what will give the croutons their taste. Sprinkle with salt.

Bake in a 425F oven (I use the toaster oven–less energy is used and you don’t have to preheat) until toasty brown.

They’re great for soups and salads—Enjoy!


Italy/US: Spaghetti Pie

I love Italy. Northern, southern, it really doesn’t matter. It’s all good. I spent many months there in the mid-90s and came back home with a fresh interest in Italian food. I stumbled into this recipe not long after I came home, and thought it would be good. So I tried it. It was good and a fun way to serve spaghetti.

Kid Approved. Little Boy G didn’t want any at first (imagine that), but then he tried it and really liked it. I asked him if we should blog it and he said, “yeah.”

The recipe follows:

1 Pie Dish
6 ounces of uncooked spaghetti
1 egg
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound lean ground beef
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 Bag o’ Pepperoni

Cook your spaghetti, drain, and then mix the cooked spaghetti with the egg and the Parmesan cheese.

Take this mixture and press it into your pie dish to form the crust.

Heat your ground beef, adding the spaghetti sauce (to your preference) when the beef is browned. When mixed, transfer the meat&sauce to the pie crust. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese on top, and then layer your pepperonis, just like a pizza. Bake at 425F until brown and bubbly. Enjoy!

Australia: Aussie Meat Pie

meat pieThe first time I had an Aussie Meat Pie was when our Australian friend, Simon, invited us to an Australian charity auction at a pub in Baltimore. There was a drawing at the door for a handful of prizes, and we actually won one of them: a case of Aussie Meat Pies. This was a decade ago and I had never even heard of them before that moment. Simon told us that the meat pies were the best of all the door prizes and that we should consider ourselves very lucky. He was right. There were about twelve of these little delights in miniature pie tins and I must have eaten one a day for the next few days. They are THAT good. One problem is that they are very hard to come by, so you have to make them from scratch. The ones I make have yet to live up to the memory, but it gets me half way there, which is close enough for me and cheaper than flying to Australia.

Origins. According to Wikipedia, an Australian meat pie is a hand-sized meat pie containing largely ground beef, gravy, and sometimes onion, and often consumed as a takeaway food snack. It is considered iconic in
both Australia and neighbouring New Zealand . It was described by former New South Wales Premier Bob Carr in 2003 as Australia’s “national dish”.

Kid Approved. I made some the other night for Little Boy G. I had a craving for some mussels, so that’s what I prepared for myself. When I was making the meat pie, LBG asked me what it was and I told him. He said, “I don’t want it!” I said, “Oh, it’s not for you. It’s for Daddy. You and I are having mussels.” He looked over at the bag of mussels and responded sweetly and quietly, “Mama? Can I have the meat pie instead?” 🙂 So I reluctantly agreed and made one for him, too. He LOVED it. First he said he only wanted to eat the crust, but when I looked at his plate, the meat was gone too. And then those words: “May I have some more, please?” Hah! He even asked for the same dish the next night for dinner. VICTORY. (As an aside…he took one look at the large bowl of mussels in front of me at the dinner table and said, “Mama, you’re going to get a little bit heavy if you eat all that.” I laughed and told him I’d take my chances. They were sublime.)

What hamburgers are to the US, Aussie Meat Pies are to Australians…

My version follows…

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/4-1/2 cup ketchup (to your taste)
  • Onion flakes
  • Salt/pepper
  • 1 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 prepared pie shell, 8-inch
  • (4) 8″ individual mini pie tins
  • 2 Pre-made pie crusts

Preheat oven to 425F (a toaster oven is easier and quicker and uses less energy!)

Prepare the pie tins with the pie crust, and bake for about 10 minutes.

Brown the beef in a medium size skillet. Add the ketchup to your taste, it shouldn’t be too overpowering. Add the Worcestershire sauce and the onion flakes. Add the milk. Mix completely and then taste. It shouldn’t be too salty, but it should have a little flavor.

Transfer the beef mixture to a food processor or blender. Blizt until smooth. Fill each crust in the pie tin with a serving of the beef and cover the top with a circle of pie crust. Slice the top of the pie crust so it can breath. It should look like a little two-crust apple pie.

Bake on 425 until browned. Serve with ketchup and your choice of veggies. Enjoy!

The UK: Fish n’ Chips

fish n chipsWhen I was very young, my mother would talk fondly about the Fish n’ Chips that she had while my father was stationed in England. She loved how they served them wrapped in British newspaper (with a plain paper liner). They now sadly serve them in Styrofoam. Hardly something you’d remember fondly. At any rate, I went to London in 1997 on business–I arrived there from Paris the day after Princess Diana’s funeral. I’ll never forget all the flowers stacked along the fence of Kensington Palace and the immense throng of people who had come to pay their respects.

Anyway , I looked for a place where I could buy some fish n’ chips, since I’d never had them in London before. Strangely, I couldn’t find an establishment to sell me any. They all looked at me like I was crazy. I finally got lucky and stumbled into a vendor at Hyde Park who did, in fact, sell Fish n’ Chips. I sat on a park bench in front of Serpentine Lake and ate my first real British fish n’ chips. It’s a nice memory for me now.

Kid Approved. I tried the recipe on Little Boy G the other day. He protested as usual when I told him what we were having for dinner. I told him that if he didn’t like it, he didn’t have to eat it. The good news is, he not only ate it, he asked, very sweetly, for more.

Fish n’ Chips are great for anyone, especially kids…just don’t try to
keep them as leftovers unless you like your fish soggy.

History. According to Wikipedia, Fish and Chips (sometimes written “fish ‘n’ chips”), a popular take-away food with British origins, consists of deep-fried fish (traditionally Cod) in batter or breadcrumbs with deep-fried chipped (slab-cut) potatoes. It became a cheap food popular among the working classes with the rapid development of trawl fishing in the North Sea in the second half of the nineteenth century. The covering of the fish may vary: bread crumbs or the traditional flour-based batter. In the UK, batter comes as the standard coating, with breadcrumb-coated fish unavailable in many outlets.

Here is my (beer batter) recipe:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups beer
  • Your choice of white fish (Cod, Flounder, Haddock, Tilapia, etc.)
  • Frozen French Fries (the Chips)
  • Vegetable Oil

Heat oil in a good size pot for deep frying the fish.

In a small mixing bowl, add the flour and the egg. Stir in 1 cup beer (you can add more than one cup to obtain your desired texture). You’ll propably have some beer left over. Hmm, what to do? What to do??? Go ahead and drink it. It’s just not right to waste these days.

Cut the fish into bite sized pieces and then sprinkle them with salt. Then dip the pieces of the fish into the batter, covering both sides. Using tongs, lower the fish (3 or 4) into the hot oil (be careful–it will spatter), and cook until golden brown.

Prepare the French Fries in any manner that you choose. You can also use the beer batter for veggies, too. Enjoy!

Meat and Fish* and Tater (Tot) Pie

tater totsThis recipe is an interesting use of Tater Tots I found in a book called, This is Delicious–What is it?, by Robert Meyers-Lussier. His recipe was more involved and time consuming than I like, so I modified it to a great extent to appeal to both my son and to me.

When I was first making it, it was in the oven and Little Boy G said, “I don’t want it!” I told him that if he didn’t like it,  I would make him something else (since it was, after all, an experiement). He protested, but I insisted that he at least try it before he hated it. He reluctantly agreed.

Kid Approved. When I placed it in front of him, he inspected it thoroughly, and finally tested it by taking one small bite. (I, of course, pretended not to notice). Wonder of wonders, he nodded his head in approval, saying, “It’s good, mama!” I gave myself a high five when he wasn’t looking…and then, the coup de grace: He uttered the rarely heard phrase, “May I have some more, please?”

Good as a left over.I gave this dish to my son the next day, for lunch. He wasn’t at all happy about it and cried all the whole way to school. Go figure. I hoped against hope that he would ultimately like it. When I asked him if he did, he said, yes, and that he “ate it all gone.” So, there you have it. Another small victory for mama.

But…it is better the first time around, so you should give it a try. While it might not work as a left over for your little ones, you never know. And that suspense is what makes parenting so fun and worthwhile, huh??

  • 1 lb ground hamburger
  • 1 can Cheese Soup
  • Spices of your choice (I use oregano, salt, pepper, minced onion, garlic salt)
  • Frozen Tater Tots (I prefer the Crowns, because they’re smaller, and therefore crunchier)
  • *Gold Fish crackers

Pre-Heat oven to 425F

Brown meat until thoroughly cooked.
Drain the fat.
Add the can of cheese soup. Mix thoroughly.

Add the spices. Taste. Add more if necessary.

Get your glass container and line the bottom with one layer of Tater

Cover the Tots with the beef mixture.

Add another layer of Tots on top of the mixture. Bake in oven for about
20-30 minutes until the Tots are nice and browned.

Serve with Gold Fish crackers (this addition was my son’s idea, as was the name of the dish). You can also add a veggie if you like–my son doesn’t like his veggies and main courses mixed yet, so I leave those, for now, on the side. Enjoy!

Pho: Vietnamese Soup

Vietnam flagThe first time I had pho, I was at a Vietnamese restaurant in Virginia with my then boyfriend, Chris, and his family. Chris, who is Vietnamese, told me that Pho is a soup eaten everyday in Vietnam, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I found that intriguing, so I ordered some for lunch that day. He told me to order the large portion (ha ha ha, very funny, Chris). It was enormous and could easily have fed a village. If you go to a Vietnamese restaurant, order the Pho. Just be sure to choose the small version.

Kid Approved. Little Boy G never liked soup until he tried Pho. What else is there to say?

My take. Here is my (very) simplified recipe:

· Several packets of Goya Pollo (chicken) seasoning (if you prefer beef, go with a good beef flavored seasoning. Trader Joe’s has a good one. OR, just use oxtail stock, like the Vietnamese do. If you have the time, it’s worth it!)

· Thinly sliced flank steak (ask the grocer to do it, or buy it ready made at Asian markets)

· Half a Package Angel Hair Pasta or Vermicelli

· Fresh Cilantro

· Fresh Basil

· Spring Onions

· 1 Jalapeño

· Bean Sprouts

Prep. Fill a large pot with water, and heat to boiling. Add the Pollo seasoning…probably three or four packets? Carefully season to your own preference. (If you have an Asian market nearby, you can purchase Pho seasoning cubes, instead. You’ll need to add salt, however, based on my experience.) Add the pasta. Boil until tender. Add the meat. Boil until it loses its pink color.

Serve. Once the soup is done, serve your child some (Include enough noodles and meat to keep him busy and satisfied). My son never ate soup until he tried Pho. And now, he LOVES it and will actually attempt to eat other soups as well (not much success in finishing them yet).

Adults Only. Now for your part…for your serving, you can add the basil, the cilantro, sliced jalepeno peppers, and the bean sprouts. A pinch of lime is also good and customary, as is hoisin sauce.

TIP: Let your child have both a spoon and chopsticks for this meal. Chopsticks are such a novelty to them, that they are distracted enough to eat whatever is in front of them.

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