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Food TPiB: Mug It Edition

Yesterday I talked about cooking with a waffle iron, today were using a mug and a microwave. My source of inspiration: Mug It by Pam McElroy from Zest Books. I can also do this kind of cooking, and it’s a great teen activity. If I can do it, a teen can. And The Teen, The Bestie and I tested it out for you.

mugit3All you need to make this work is a mug (and in some cases a mason jar), ingredients and a microwave. It’s quick and easy. Some of the recipes are even healthy. In fact, Mug It! have a lot of salads in a jar. I liked this because I want to balance healthy eating habits with fun things like waffle cooking. The pictures from inside the book below come directly from the Zest Books website.

mugit4 mugit6

We tried out a variety of the recipes. We began with a cake in a mug, because of course that’s where you would begin. Cake!


This was yummy. In fact, I lost my cake to Thing 2 who was only going to take a bite and then she ate the entire thing.

We next tried macaroni and cheese in a mug. The Teen and I are very fond of mac & cheese and I was excited to learn you could cook it in a mug.


For our version we used gluten free pasta and once we figured out how to cook the noodles correctly it worked really well.

Cooking in a mug is actually really popular. I frequently see posts on Buzzfeed and in my FB feed. Having a recipe book was nice. And I liked this one because it has color pictures, which is a must in my cookbook requirements. If you don’t have pictures of the recipes and they aren’t in full color that is a deal breaker for me.

In addition to doing a fun Iron Chef/Chopped type program with mug cooking, adapting the post from yesterday, this book would also make a great gift. Let’s be real, a lot of teens spend some time in the home alone and they have to cook for themselves. And I would have loved to have had this when I was a college student living in the dorms. If you are going to do a series of food programs, I would do something like this:

What days would you add? A post-apocalyptic survival cooking camp would also be fun. Remember, it can be a long running series or it could be a weeklong event – which would be fun for Spring Break. Teens come every day, learn about nutrition and cooking, and they get to eat! I may not be a fan of cooking, but I do love to eat!

Additional Resources

Cooking Programs for Teens

Food Based TPiBs

TPiB: Sprinkles – Things to Make and Do with Sprinkles, inspired by the book Sprinkles! by Jackie Alpers

Last year for Christmas, The Mr. and I bought the girls this big box thing of sprinkles.  I’m not going to lie, it really just appealed to my organizational nature – I am a librarian after all. We used the sprinkles exactly twice.  Once to make cookies.  And a second time when the Tween had an ice cream sundae party at school, I volunteered to bring the sprinkles.  So I needed the book Sprinkles! Recipes and Ideas for Rainbowlicious Desserts by Jackie Alpers.  And honestly, I had no idea all the various things I could do with sprinkles.  My kids look at this book basically every day, not an exaggeration.  But to be honest, it is very colorful and inviting and full of awesome ideas.

The Tween’s Top 5 Recipes:
1. Homemade Pop Tarts (page 45)
2. Hot Chocolate Stir Stick (page 55)
3. Rainbow Layer Cake (which you see on the cover, page 75)
4. Holiday Cake Pops (page 81)
5. Brownie Bites (page 85)

And flipping through this book, I came up with a few fun programming/party ideas. It always amazes me how you can find the best ideas in the most unlikeliest of places.

Sprinkle Words/Letters

Glitter Initial Instructions at DesignMom

As a book lover, I love words.  And as a mom, I can tell you that tweens and teens are all about their names.  My tween has a ton of craft projects she has done where she has ended up with her initial or her name on her wall.  Or the name of a show she loves.  Or the title of a book.  So why not make (or buy) sugar cookies and let teens use the sprinkles to make word (or initial) cookies that mean something to them.  They’ll want to Instagram them of course.  If you do an end of year book discussion group where everyone shares their favorite titles, this would be a fun way to provide snacks and get teens talking about books.  Or you could do a variation of this using glue and confetti/glitter (and something for a backdrop like paper, picture frames, wooden or foam initials which you can purchase at most craft stores at minimal cost, etc.) and just eat cookies.

Doctor Who Sonic Screwdrivers

What you need: Pretzel Rods, Frosting, Green and Blue Sprinkles
Dip pretzel tip in frosting.  Coat in sprinkles.  Voila – a sonic screwdriver.  Or, for Harry Potter fans, a wand. Or for the non-geeks, just tasty, cool looking pretzels.

Fairy Bread Sandwiches

I recently spent the entire day making a fairy garden with my kids, inspired by the book Return to Me by Justina Chen.  And yes, there is a severed Barbie head on a stick in my fairy garden.  I would love to have a book discussion group for this book, make fairy gardens, and then eat fairy sandwiches.  I also talk fairy themed parties in the post on Tiny Food Party!  There is so much fairy themed fun you can have, and some of it is very dark 🙂

Hot Chocolate Stir Sicks

This is the tween’s favorite book in the whole shebang, and this is one of her favorite projects out of it.  To make this stir sticks, which are a version of chocolate covered marshmallows, you need marshmallows, chocolate, some type of stick and sprinkles.  You melt the chocolate (can be done in a crock pot or microwave), dip the marshmallow in the chocolate, and then coat in sprinkles.  You can also make mini ones using mini-marshmallows.  So I am envisioning having a holiday program where teens come and make their own chocolate stir sticks which you package to give as gifts (wrap in plastic wrap and tie with ribbon).  Then, at another station, they could use stamps, markers, etc. to make their own wrapping paper or gift bags.  Then at another station they can either pick out a discarded book or an older ARC that you have lying around.  Also, it would probably be a good idea to include individual envelopes of instant hot chocolate.  They can put a thing of hot chocolate mix, the stir stick and the book in their gift bag and they can give the gift of reading to someone.  Or you could take the packages and donate them to a local shelter or charity organization.  Or you can do a white elephant exchange at a book discussion group.  Want to take this to the next level? Make a Sharpie mug to complete the package.

Science: Make Rock Candy

There is recipe for making rock candy in a jar that is epically cool.  It takes a bit of time, it says the rock candy will grow over two weeks, but I can’t help but think how cool it would be for Tweens to come into the library periodically over that two-week period and watch the rock candy crystallize and grow.  You’ll want to keep it at well staffed desk, mainly because it has to be kept in a jar of water for the 2 weeks.  Make bookmarks with the recipe on one side (properly cited, of course) and a list of other fun hands on science and craft books on the other so patrons can duplicate the experiment at home.

As part of Quirk Books Week, Quirk Books has generously donated a prize package for one lucky winner that will include 2 of the above cookbooks, a copy of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, the first book of the Lovecraft Middle School series, and a copy of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars. I’ve tried to give you as many ways as possible to enter so pick the one (or ones) that work best for you and do the Rafflecopter thingy below.  The giveaway closes on Saturday, December 14th and is open to U.S. Residents.  The books will be sent to you from Quirk Books and they are worth it.

Take 5: “Quirk”-y Cookbooks (Quirk Books Week)

This week is Quirk Books Week so we are all about Quirk Books.  This week all came about actually because I was browsing their website one day while starving and they have all these cool cookbooks. I sat there drooling on my keyboard.  Seriously, the L key now sticks.  So when the books came in the mail, my 2 girls were ecstatic.  They have looked through them several times and marked tons of things they want us to try.  So these Quirk cookbooks all get a multi-generational thumbs up.  They also all have the one thing I really care a lot about in cookbooks: colored pictures, not for every recipe necessarily, but they are all attractive and colorful.  That is important to me, I’m shallow that way.  Today I am going to give you an overview of the books and then the next 4 days I will outline some programming and party ideas for 4 of the books.

Marshmallow Madness by Shauna Sever

Here’s what I knew to do with marshmallows before this book: 1) put them in hot cocoa, 2) use them in S’mores, and 3) use them in Rice Krispie treats.  Here’s some things I learned after reading this book: 1) you can make your own marshmallows, 2) you can make them in a lot of fun shapes, and 3) you can make them in a lot of fun flavors.  You can even make chocolate filled marshmallows! And cocktail themed marshmallows! Also, if you make me the S’mores cupcakes that are in the book we can be best friends forever.  

On a Stick: 80 Party-Perfect Recipes by Matt Armendariz

Corn dogs and skewers and fair food . . . oh my! And by oh my, I mean oh my yum! This book is exactly what you think it is: a bunch of food recipes that involve putting food on a stick.  But it is more than corn dogs (which, by the way, I adore) . . . There are sweet potato wedges,cake pops, candy apples, popcorn balls and more.  Sometimes the stick is food itself, such as the chocolate-tipped peppermint sticks, but most of the time the stick is just a vehicle for getting the food from the plate to your mouth – and I’m okay with that.  I was amazed by the creative recipes they put together.

Pops: Icy Treats for Everyone by Krystina Castella

When we were kids, my brother and I used to like to pour Kool Aid into ice cube trays with some tooth picks. Voila! We had our own ice pops.  We thought we were pretty cool like that.  This book proves we were totally amateurs.  There are recipes for healthy energy pops, fruit juice pops, soda fountain pops, coffee and tea pops, cream and pudding pops and – yes – cocktail pops.  Some of them are all layered and stripy looking, so take that Martha Stewart.

Sprinkles: Recipes and Ideas for Rainbowlicious Desserts by Jackie Alpers

I am not exaggerating when I share that last year for Christmas we got the girls this small suitcase thing of sprinkles for Christmas.  So I needed this book, needed it I tell you! Because all I could figure out to do with them was to make cookies.  The first thing you need to know is that this is not just a book about sprinkles.  For example, it had a doughnut recipe in it so that you can make your own doughnuts – with sprinkles, of course.  Really, it’s a book of recipes for foods that are made more fun and festive with sprinkles.  The recipes include things like Gingersnap Cookie Butter, Rainbow Layer Cake and French Toast.  But it *does* also have some fun things you can do with sprinkles, like making party spoons that you can dip into a warm drink and stir or making festive rimmed glasses.  The Tween says this is her favorite of the 5 books.

Tiny Food Party: Bite-Size Recipes for Miniature Meals by Teri Lyn Fisher and Jenny Park

Everything about this title is epic: Tiny. Food. Party.  How can you not want to do this? If you don’t, you have a coldness in your heart that can only be rivaled by the pre-Christmas singing in Whoville Grinch; you know, when his heart was 3 sizes to small.  So this is obviously a bunch of tiny food recipes and ideas.  There are tiny Pop Tarts people! You can make your own tiny Pop Tarts.  Miniature meat loaves. L’il Hostess Cupcakes.  And they have outlined some great party themes for you and put the recipes into fun menu categories for: a Tiny Picnic, a Tiny Vegetarian Food Party, a Tiny Comfort Food Party (great for taking over to a newly dumped friend’s house), and a Tiny Fiesta Food Party (great for multicultural days).  Basically, this is the best recipe book ever.

As part of Quirk Books Week, Quirk Books has generously donated a prize package for one lucky winner that will include 2 of the above cookbooks, a copy of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, the first book of the Lovecraft Middle School series, and a copy of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars. I’ve tried to give you as many ways as possible to enter so pick the one (or ones) that work best for you and do the Rafflecopter thingy below.  The giveaway closes on Saturday, December 14th and is open to U.S. Residents.  The books will be sent to you from Quirk Books and they are worth it.