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Cooking w/microwave

Long story short..in the midst of a move I will be left with a fridge and microwave for about 2 months (like I said...long story). I am an avid cooker...can't stand eatting out. Anyone have any ideas besides sandwiches, salads, soups!!!

Worse comes to worse I might end up in an extended stay that may have a range top.....

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  1. There was an episode of Ham on the Streets that dealt with microwave cookery. http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/show_... I haven't tried any of the recipes though. You can also make a decent creme caramel in the microwave which leads me to believe that you can make many custard based dishes in the microwave, like quiches sans crust or maybe stratas. You can cook pasta in the microwave, though the texture won't be al dente, and you can probably make raw sauces for it like pesto or a frest tomato sauce. Good luck on your microwave cooking.

    1. The microwave is my preferred method for cooking asparagus - put on a plate, drizzle with a little water, cover with plastic wrap, and nuke for a minute or two. And artichokes - wash, wrap with plastic wrap, and zap for 5-7 minutes. But two months of just these veggies would get pretty old.

      How about going to a thrift store or garage sale for an electric skillet or a crockpot or a rice cooker (which is good for more than just rice) or a toaster oven?

      Electric skillet/burner ideas: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/284322

      Crockpot ideas: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/388763

      Rice cooker for more than just rice (cookbook review): http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/ricecook...


      1. Do you have a Trader Joe's near you? When I first moved to LA, all our cookware came two weeks later. We lived on TJ's frozen foods, sushi, and take-out. One thing that's very good is TJs 'Just Grilled Chicken Strips.' It's simply grilled chicken lightly seasoned with salt and pepper and cut into pieces. It comes in a ziploc bag, so you can heat up one portion at a time.

        I would take a portion, heat it for 1.5 minutes, place inside a tortilla with TJs cuban black beans, heat for another minute, and stuff with salsa and whatever other burrito stuff I liked.

        It's not as good as grilling your own meat, but it is MUCH better than the prepackaged Tysons stuff at the big grocery stores.

        1 Reply
        1. re: mojoeater

          I just googled Trader Joe's in Albuquerque (this is where I will be and have NO clue about the area) and they have one in town! I am sooo excited! Definitely have to try your ideas out and let you know how they go! (and how the bf likes them)

        2. I love to cook fish fillets in the microwave. Wrapped in plastic or in a dish, it comes out like steamed fish. Add your favorite seasonings, mine are capers and lemon juice or my backyard Thai herbs (lemon grass, lime leaf, onion chives and basil or mint, hot peppers, garlic). Timing is very quick, start with 1 minute a side or less. First side should be just cooked on the edges and uncooked center. I usually do 30 sec or less increments on the second side.

          Any kind of veggies, too.

          1. If you add a toaster oven, you'll do fine. I have a theory that you can cook almost ANYTHING with a toaster oven and a microwave.

            However - in a microwave, you can do baked potatoes, veggies, etc - anything that doesn't require browning.

            1. I agree that if you can arrange to have a toaster oven (is it already packed or you just don't have one?) you can cook just about anything with your fridge and microwave. My mom used to always cook veggies in the microwave (covered with some water in the dish). If you have a big enough dish and small pasta shapes (i.e., not long noodles) you could get pasta cooked and add jarred sauce or just butter, garlic, and cheese. My dad cooked hot dogs in the microwave, but I wouldn't recommend it for sausages.

              For meats and entrees, the TJ frozen foods suggestion is pretty good. They even have decent frozen rice. Add some canned beans, fresh/frozen veggies and you have a pretty good meal! It's probably not the same as sauteeing and cooking up a meal on your own, but with limited resources, you gotta work with what you have.

              If you really start craving a kitchen to cook in, why not offer to cook dinner for a friend? You bring the ingredients, they open their kitchen to you! And then you might end up with leftovers to warm up in your microwave!

              2 Replies
              1. re: leanneabe

                Actually we will be staying in a temporary living facility on a military base which doesn't allow for hot pots, small grills etc (although I will have to check on the toaster oven thing) As for cooking for a friend - which I receive all my pleasure doing so here at home...this move will place me in Albuquerque where I know NO ONE to cook for.
                Thank you all for all of the responses though! They have totally helped out and are easing my fears of this whole move. (relaxation thru food....what a great way)

                1. re: Sunny2

                  I echo recommendation of Barbara Kafka's book below. It will open your eyes to lots of ways to make full use of your microwave. I use mine regularly to make rice, roast potatoes and cook vegetables.

                  I just got back from 5 days in Albuquerque (we might be moving there a couple of years from now) and was pleasantly surprised at the good selection in local groceries. In addition to TJ, there are also Whole Foods and Costco. And you can eat out at low cost. We sampled all kinds of ethnic foods, from Mexican and New Mexican to Vietnamese and Greek and enjoyed it greatly. Takeout can supply a lot of the foods you can't make at home. Relax, it won't be nearly as bad as you think.

              2. Barbara Kafka's Microwave Gourmet is loaded with ideas, techniques & recipes, a serious cookbook for the microwave...I recall an Indian shrimp dish that's excellent & there's an encyclopedic list of foods & how well (or not) the microwave cooks them...


                1 Reply
                1. re: fauchon

                  yes, this is actually a phenomenally well-written cookbook, for real. all of kafka's books are great, i esp like her "soup as a way of life," "vegetable love," and "roasting" volumes but people are really surprised to find out that she cut thru the snobbery about microwaves and wrote a book about using this appliance for serious cooking. i am saying this as someone who is still very snobby about microwaves, but reading this book taught me to have a little respect.

                2. You can make a meatloaf in the microwave. I was in the same boat and really wanted something warm and hearty so I just followed the microwaveable directions on cooking a meatloaf. (its on the back of the Lipton Onion Soup mix packets)
                  It came out pretty good, but the bottom was a bit burnt.

                  1. Pressman, Thelma. 1989. 365 Quick & Easy Microwave Recipes.New York: Harper & Row.

                    Recipes for soups, chowders, meats, fish, pasta, rice, vegetables, baked potato, breakfast, desserts. You can do everything with a MW.

                    1. I make stews all the time in my micro..Actually, I think they taste better and take less time and you use less fat.

                      Here's a good one:

                      Hungarian Goulash

                      1 tbsp. butter or vegetable oil
                      2 garlic cloves minced
                      2 cups chopped onions
                      2 pounds boneless beef, pork or veal cut into 1 inch pieces
                      2 tbsp. all purpose flour
                      2 cups beef broth (I use one cup beef broth and 1 cup red wine)
                      2 tbsp. tomato paste
                      2 tbsp. paprika (preferably Hungarian)
                      1/2 tsp salt
                      1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
                      2 tsp caraway seeds, (optional) I don't add to mine

                      In a 3-quart casserole combine the butter, garlic and onions. Cook on HIGH for 3 - 5 minutes, or until the onions are tender, stirring once.
                      Meanwhile, in a large bowl toss the meat cubes with flour to coat. Add the meat to the onions. Cover tightly and cook on HIGH for 10 minutes, or until little or no pink colour remains, stirring after 5 minutes to move the less cooked pieces to the outside.
                      Stir in the remaining ingredients. Cover again and cook on HIGH for 7 - 10 minutes, or until boiling. stir. Cover again and cook on MEDIUM for 40 - 60 minutes, or until the meat is tender, stirring once or twice. Let stand, covered for 10 minutes.
                      Goulash with Mushrooms: During standing time cook 1 pound mushrooms, sliced. Stir into the goulash before serving.

                      Goulash with Red and Green Peppers: During standing time, combine 1 sweet red and 1 green pepper, cut into strips in a small microwaveproof dish. Cover tightly and cook on HIGH 3 - 5 minutes. Garnish the stew with peppers before serving. (I always add the peppers about 1/2 through cooking time myself..)

                      1. WIth microwave cooking, one brilliant moment for me was utilizing the different power settings of the microwave....what a difference it can make! :)

                        As other have mentioned, vegetables and fish steam beautifully in the microwave. So do frozen dumplings.

                        Other great bases to think about for your meals are:
                        1.Couscous (flavor with different spices, like curry blend, dried fruits, nuts, fresh herbs..)
                        2. Rice noodles (one of my favorite meals is peanut noodles!)

                        Both only require boiling water to be added and a cover.

                        For dessert, try microwaving apples for faux baked apples. :)

                        Good luck! And let us know how things are working out for you.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: 4Snisl

                          I just started microwaving ripe plantains for dessert. Not as nice as the pan fried ones, but still pretty good.

                        2. I think you can make pretty decent rice in a microwave. I tried it after seeing this recipe for basmati rice in the Gourmet cookbook. I have tried other types of rice as well - I think other types work better if you cover them after only a few minutes instead of waiting for "steam holes" to appear.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: LauraB

                            You know, when you're ready for breakfast, you can also do decent scrambled eggs in the microwave. Just be careful not to nuke them too long, try 30%, and keep watching them.

                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                Put some sliced onions in the bottom of a little pyrex dish and do the scrambled egg on top, then you don't get it sticking to the dish!

                                Quick cook oatmeal is easy in the microwave, I include the raisns before cooking. About 1 min 30 secs, you need to watch it carefully the first few times until you know your microwave. It boils over. I've done the steel cut type also, but its more of a PITA.

                                1. re: mlgb

                                  Oh, yeah - how could I forget about oatmeal? Microwave oatmeal is a breakfast staple in our house.

                                  No need for quick-cooking oats, either. Regular oatmeal takes about 3 minutes! To make a smallish portion of oatmeal, I use 1/4 cup oatmeal, a tiny handful of dried fruit (blueberries are my favorite), and 1/2 cup water. Yum!


                            1. re: LauraB

                              Buy a plastic MW rice pot. Works perfectly. For me, 2 cups rice, three of water; 28 minutes at 40% (although you have to experiment to find what works for you).

                            2. I add my enthusiastic endorement to the chorus of recommendations for Barbara Kafka's magnificent "Microwave Gourmet." Everyone should have this book in their kitchen, and every chocoholic should make her steamed chocolate pudding recipe in it -- incredible!

                              1. Go to Target, K-Mart or the like and buy a single electric burner, the one I bought was Aroma electric range. It was $19.99. Sealed Euro-type burner. I had managed to shatter my 5 burner cooktop and it took more than a month to get it replaced. I bought a slower cooker, it is in my laundry room gathering dust, i guess I can use it for parties. i did buy a deep fryer 'cause I've wanted on a got a great deal at Amazon and i do use it. But there was nothing I could not do with that burner. By a fluke i had bought an electric kettle just before Christmas. Returned my friend's elec. skillet I borrowed but i could use any pan i owned and my cooking angst was taken care of.