Aug 3, 2009

Multi-use Microwave

by Ellen Wilson

Use your microwave for more than TV dinners.

We all know that the microwave is great for reheating leftovers or making popcorn for a late night snack, but there are multiple ways your microwave can be used to decrease meal prep time. Just remember to always use microwaveable dishes. No metal or aluminum foil should ever be put in the microwave.

(All of the following suggestions are just general times. Your microwave will cook differently so you will need to do some trial and error to determine exact times. A good general rule is to check for doneness every 30 seconds to a minute, depending on the overall cook time.)
  • Use the microwave for any vegetable you would steam on the stove. Put the vegetable in a bowl with a bit of water (generally a few tablespoons). Cover and cook.

    • Fresh Vegetables:
      • Broccoli: 3-4 minutes on high
      • Asparagus: 2 minutes on high
      • Potatoes or beets: 4 minutes on high (be sure to prick several times with a fork)
      • Spinach: 1-2 on high
      • Cauliflower: 5 minutes on high

    • Frozen Vegetables: Follow directions on packaging.

  • Cooking squash is also much faster in the microwave.

    • Acorn squash: Cut squash in half lengthwise. Remove seeds. Place cut-side down in a baking dish with a little water. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave ten minutes. You can then turn the two sides back over, fill the middle with brown sugar and butter, cook for another 2 minutes and enjoy the delicious fall taste.

    • Spaghetti squash: Pierce with a knife in 5 places. Microwave on a paper towel for ten to twelve minutes. Be sure to rotate squash during this time. The squash will be done when the skin gives slightly when pressed. Cut squash in half lengthwise, discard seeds, and eat with Parmesan, olive oil, pepper, or spaghetti sauce.

  • For a quick breakfast, microwave some eggs in a bowl. Although not quite as good on the stove, it's fast and healthy. Add eggs, salt and pepper in a microwaveable bowl and cook for 30 second bursts and stir in between. Or if you don't stir, you get a great solid egg for breakfast sandwiches.

  • Decrystallize honey by nuking on medium power for 30 seconds to a minute.

  • To get more juice from lemons and limes, you can microwave for 20 seconds before squeezing.

  • Toasting nuts in the microwave can cut down loads of baking time. Spread nuts out on a plate in a single layer and heat on high for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring every minute. They will continue to toast for about a minute after removal so don't bit into them too quickly.
  • Use the microwave to disinfect sponges.  Make sure they are damp because they are a fire hazard if dry.

  • The microwave can also disinfect plastic cutting boards. Cut a lemon in half; rub the board with the lemon and then heat for 1 minute.

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