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What do you cook in your microwave?

So, I recently joined the 21st century and got a microwave. It's main purpose (ie the reason I got it) is for reheating leftovers and defrosting and warming plates, but maybe there are other things I could use it for?

I bet you've all got some great ideas, so please help a microwave virgin use her new gadget to its full potential....

PS I know from another thread that some of you rave about bacon cooked in the microwave, but British bacon is different from the super-thin American type.

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  1. I use my microwave for everything except meat and baked goods. If you use it to warm plates, make sure you have a cup of water in with the plates. It should be the heat from the water than warms the plates, not the microwave energy. If your plates get hot all by themselves they shouldn't be used in the microwave. I sometimes bring a half cup of water to a boil in the microwave and, with the microwave turned off, put my bread dough in with the hot cup of water to create a proofing oven. Works very well.

    10 Replies
    1. re: todao

      That's a great tip. I currently use my regular oven with just the light turned on which works well but I might give your method a try too. It's too cold in my kitchen overnight at the moment for breadmaking!

      1. re: todao

        I just throw a little water on the plate, shake any excess off and nuke them for 30-40 seconds.

        1. re: todao

          I heat plates one to three times a day in the MW. I just put them in and MW for 30 seconds. No need for water. I've done this for 10 or 15 years.

          1. re: c oliver

            Depends on the composition of the plates. Friend of mine did that with some of my Dansk plates and when I went to wash them they cracked right in half. Not a problem, obviously, if your plates are microwave safe. But if you don't know for sure, better to use the water than ruin good dinnerware.

            1. re: JoanN

              if the plates are microwave safe they shouldn;t heat up......

              1. re: thew

                I don't think that can be true. I bought some Corningware labeled as microwave safe specifically for use in the microwave and I can't take those casseroles out of the oven without potholders. I don't understand the science of this and don't pretend to. I can just tell you what happens to my two microwave safe dishes.

                1. re: JoanN

                  perhaps i was misinformed, but my understanding was that in MW safe dishes only the food gets hot - the food can heat the dish, but the MW ought not

                  1. re: thew

                    Oh. I see. I'd buy that, that it was the food in the dish that was making the dish hot.

              2. re: JoanN

                So if water is added then that takes care of the issue? I didn't know that. My everyday dishes are plain white and I have one that's almost identical that's left from my mother's. It would be about 50 y.o. and if I forget and MW on it, it's get REAL hot. We were staying at someone's house recently and there were a couple of coffee mugs that got really hot even with water in them.

                1. re: c oliver

                  I see to remember that if there is metal in the glaze or finish of the plate, the plate can indeed get very hot. Someone here will know the details of this. Generally, food cooks and heats the vessel.

          2. It's great for oatmeal/porridge in the morning, but make sure you add plenty of milk or water and don't use full power. I use 1/2 cup regular oats, 1 cup milk, and 1/4 cup water, along with whatever I'm flavoring it with (fruit, nuts, squash, etc) and set it for 7 minutes at 70% power. It's not stovetop groats but it works for every day.

            Also, I discovered that it's great for steaming vegetables, I just cut them up and microwave them for 3-5 minutes depending on what it is.

            Another use is to defrost meat, but that's not cooking.

            And if you have some stale bread, wrap it in a paper towel and microwave it for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then toast it briefly, and it's almost as good as new.

            1 Reply
            1. re: AllaSiciliana

              Excellent point about not using full power. Also, don't expect to simply put something in the microwave and cook it until it's done. Microwave energy is more focused than ovens using other types of energy and you'll find that your food cooks more rapidly (higher energy absorption) in some spots than it does in others. The amount of moisture variances in the food will also contribute to that. Cook your food in stages, stirring it several times at each stage until it is completely cooked. Of course, if you're only boiling a cup of water, you don't need to use that method. One caution, however. If you're boiling liquids, remove them when the come to a boil. Microwave energy has the ability to superheat your foods and create steam pockets that will blow and make a mess of the inside of your microwave. Even a cup of boiling water can super heat and blow (as in expand very rapidly) all over the inside of your oven. I've even had the super heated steam blow the microwave door open. That's a real shocker.

            2. Polenta, popcorn (not the bagged stuff with nasty flavorings; real popcorn popped in this: http://www.amazon.com/Presto-04830-Po... ), fish en papillote, steamed vegetables, etc.

              It's also ideal for melting butter or chocolate.

              8 Replies
              1. re: alanbarnes

                Steaming vegetables in the microwave... how does one do that?

                1. re: greedygirl

                  Put cut-up vegetables in a microwave safe dish or bowl. Add some water (depends on the amount of vegetables you are microwaving). Cover with a plate or microwave-safe wrap. Then nuke (amount of time also depends on the vegetable, how large the pieces are, whether you want them very soft or with some kind of bite). You might have to experiment with times, because microwaves have different wattages.

                  1. re: nofunlatte

                    Add some water ...

                    I respectfully disagree. Most veggies have enough water in them to steam them. I have done my veggies in the MW for years with no added water. Less than two minutes are normally needed for one to two servings.

                    1. re: al b. darned

                      I agree with not adding water part. I was never satisfied with steaming vegetables according to the traditional directions which always added water. I found in covered dish that they came out unevenly cooked and partly soggy - yech!

                      I now use microwave steamer bags, and the only water added is from having washed the vegetables, but with something like pre-washed spinach no water at all. This might be most of the trick although I think the venting on the steamer bags is what makes them cook so evenly with no sogginess at all.

                    2. re: nofunlatte

                      I don't add water either.

                      I usually nuke them for 1.5 mins, take it out, stir around, add seasonings, nuke for another 1.5 - 2mins, mix in a pat of butter. Yum.

                      1. re: cutipie721

                        ha ha, I've recently started playing w/ veggies with seasoning instead of waterr, recently cut up bunch of peppers, lil soy sauce = awesome (surprised). I too don't use micro as much as I could so thanks for this thread

                    3. re: greedygirl

                      I fill a dinner size plate with broccoli cook it in the microwave for 4 minutes and it comes out perfect. Another great trick- cook fresh corn in microwave 3 minutes an ear (peeled first).

                      1. re: Alica

                        Just wanted to note that timing is very dependent on the power if the individual MW

                  2. If you heat a mug of water, before you add anything to it, touch the surface with a spoon. If the water has superheated, it will bubble around the spoon, releasing the turbulence. That way, no dangerous geysers when you add tea or instant coffee.

                    Most people use the MW mostly for popcorn, defrosting, melting, and reheating. It does a good job cooking fruits and vegetables, but proteins are trickier and unless you are cooking a large piece of meat, it will cook through without browning. You can buy a MW browning skillet which will allow you to make a hamburger but it still won't get much browning, and the meat will taste steamed .

                    27 Replies
                    1. re: greygarious

                      >>"before you add anything to it, touch the surface with a spoon"<<

                      Ack. No. If the water is superheated and you touch the surface with a spoon, it will erupt, potentially causing serious injury. Better to leave a spoon or a chopstick in the water while it's heating; that will disrupt surface tension and prevent superheating.

                      1. re: alanbarnes

                        Not unless you have a wooden spoon.... if I think the water may be overheated I hold the spoon at the end and stand back. I've never been splashed that way. Or, I pour in my Splenda packet from about 6" above the cup. It bubbles up but does not erupt . I imagine sugar would do the same. Basically, once you get used to your MW you will know when to be careful. For example, I press 222 (2 min 22 sec) for my mug of water. If I realize several minutes later that I pressed 2222, or 555, the surface of the water won't be boiling but I know it has superheated and needs extra caution. Don't want the OP to be needlessly scared of her new appliance!

                        1. re: greygarious

                          Water that's slightly superheated might boil over, making a mess. Water that's extremely superheated can boil explosively, throwing hot stuff quite a way. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Itr2Ja...

                          The odds of tap water getting superheated are pretty slim; the impurities in it give bubbles a surface to form on. And the notion that it's unsafe to boil water in the microwave is just silly. But there's no harm in putting a metal spoon in the oven, and it will prevent any potential problems.

                          1. re: alanbarnes

                            You put metal spoons in the microwave?

                            1. re: the_MU

                              All the time. For the last 35+ years. I learned that it was okay back in the days when the purchase of a microwave oven included an instructional class on how to use the new-fangled thing. The Amana rep specifically noted that spoons aren't a problem.

                              The "no metal" rule is an oversimplification. If you put a spoon in the microwave alongside a cup of water, the water comes to a boil and the spoon stays cool. Replace the spoon with a piece of steel wool, and you get lots of sparks and smoke. Not good.

                              Basically, metal is no problem so long as it doesn't offer points between which arcs of electricity can jump. So something like a spoon or a table knife is fine. A fork is okay, but only if you bury the tines in the food you're heating. And a gold pattern embossed on the side of a mug or a twist-tie that's holding a bag shut will give you a fireworks show.

                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                  i take it your microwave is plastic lined. mine's been known to arc to the sides while roasting...

                                  1. re: Chowrin

                                    My current microwave is lined with stainless steel. But like I said, I've been doing this for most of my life, in dozens of different microwave ovens. And I've never seen any arcing between metal in the oven and its sides.

                                    1. re: alanbarnes

                                      Does anyone know if I can safely put a temperature probe in the microwave (the kind that is made for the oven)? I'd like to try that fish in parchment thing.

                        2. re: greygarious

                          Yep, heating a mug of water in m/w is a good thing. Now, I WILL say that in the summers here in SWFL, when I do NOT want to use my oven because it heats up the house so much while I'm runnning the a/c--baked potatoes in the microwave are really really great...alternatively in summers, I can do them in the crockpot without a problem, 4 or 5 at a time standing on end, and then I have them all week long. But in a pinch, the microwave for one baked potato is fine...and there are only 2 of us right now and we usually split a baker. Works very nicely!!!!

                          1. re: Val

                            Baked potatoes is one of the other reasons I got it. I intend to finish them off in the regular oven though to get a crispy skin.

                            1. re: greedygirl

                              This is what I do. I find that the micro decreases baking time a great deal. Note: poke holes in the potatoes before you nuke.
                              Oh, and as I overlooked recently-if you are doing this with sweet potatoes, they cook through much quicker, and you need to place them on a baking sheet when they go into the oven.
                              They drip juices...a lot.
                              Oh yeah, burnt sweet potato juices in my oven..not good.

                              1. re: greedygirl

                                Been doing that for years, they taste like they've been in a hot oven the entire time. Do the same with sweet potatoes.

                                1. re: greedygirl

                                  I do sweet potatoes. You do have to pierce them otherwise they might explode. They don't have quite the texture of doing them in the oven, so the finishing off in the oven sounds like a great idea if you have the time. This is probably one of those things I should try to do the combination cooking in my convection-microwave, but I haven't gotten around to exploring those possibilities.

                              2. re: greygarious

                                The heating a mug of water thing that people suggest has been puzzling me. Why would you use a microwave to heat water, I was thinking. And then I realised that it's a transatlantic thing - everyone, and I mean everyone, in Britain has a kettle which is presumably not the case in the States.

                                1. re: greedygirl

                                  Exactly--I have no kettle. I used to, but it just got in the way and was a single-use piece of equipment, so when it fell and broke, I never replaced it.

                                  1. re: nofunlatte

                                    Not having a kettle is unthinkable in a British home - I don't know anyone who doesn't have one. It may be a single use piece of equipment, but when you drink lots of tea it's essential, imho.

                                  2. re: greedygirl

                                    It's not the lack of a kettle, which I have. Microwaves heat faster with less electricity, you heat just the amount you need, there's no danger of forgetting (as there is with a non-whistling kettle), and it doesn't add steam and residual heat to a hot-weather house.

                                    1. re: greygarious

                                      My kettle is electric, made by Porsche (I know, but it came free with my oven years ago) and heats water very quickly and efficiently. I do sometimes reheat a cup of tea that's gone cold in the microwave, but it never tastes quite the same.

                                      1. re: greedygirl

                                        Electric kettles are somewhat less useful in the US. Our residential power supplies are usually 110 volts and 15amps, whereas in Britain the power ring is generally 230 volts and 30amps.

                                        So in the UK, you can have a 3000 watt kettle that will bring water to a boil in a hurry. But its power requirements are about double what an outlet in the typical American kitchen can deliver.

                                        I've got an electric kettle, but it's only 1000 watts. It's slower than the stovetop for bringing a quart of water to boil, and slower than the microwave for heating up a mugful.

                                        That said, boiling water is boiling water. While reheating tea or coffee generally causes the quality to deteriorate, beverages made with water boiled in the microwave are indistinguishable from those made with water boiled in an electric kettle or on the hob.

                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                          I have an electric kettle but its minimum is 2 cups so I use the microwave for single mugs of water.

                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                            alanbarnes, thanks for the technical information here (and about microwaving spoons, above).

                                            I'm an American with lots of Chinese friends. The Chinese are like the British about having a tea kettle. But indeed, it takes forever for those little tea kettles to heat up.

                                            When alanbarnes described the difference in available volts/amps that explained a lot, including why the coffee machine in our old restaurant heated the water ever-so-fast (it was commercial and ran on "3-phase" or high-voltage power).

                                            1. re: alanbarnes

                                              Wattage will always be the same, so if in the USA it is 15 AMPs, in the UK it will be 7.5 AMPs. Wattage = Power and for the most part all electrical appliances are the same, a 30 Watt light bulb in the US will be the same in the UK it is the amount of current that it uses (it will be directly proportional to the AC used, that doesn't mean you can use the appliance for both 110/220, although many companies allow that with certain products such as computer.

                                              So a kettle in the UK will use the same power as a kettle in the USA. A good example would be a hair dryer, they usually measure in wattage and voltage, the only thing that will change is the amps that is drawn.
                                              P (power) = Energy (voltage) times Current. It will be the same world wide. and the inverse will be I (current) = P / E I do agree that 220 V is more efficient than what we run here in the USA. Doesn't change Ohms law though. The amount of power going to the kettle will be the same and thus be warmed/heated at the same rate.

                                              1. re: ufisher

                                                Wattage is always the same, but residential electrical systems vary greatly from country to country. In the US, a typical residential electrical outlet can deliver up to 1650 watts (110 x 15). A typical outlet in Britain can deliver more than four times as much power (230 x 30 = 6900).

                                                So 3000 watt kettles are common in the UK. See, eg, http://www.amazon.co.uk/Russell-Hobbs... But just try getting one of those kettles to work in the US. Plug it in, turn it on, and - pop - goes the breaker. The appliance draws more power than the circuit can supply, leading to an overload.

                                                That's why the typical kettle sold in the US is about half the power of the typical kettle sold in the UK. And at half the power, it's gonna take a lot longer to boil water.

                                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                                  Good point, I was looking at it from a different angle, now I understand.

                                                  1. re: ufisher

                                                    I can't argue with the numbers, but my (American) kettle heats up half a liter of water in just over 2 minutes, which is faster than most microwaves.

                                      2. re: greygarious

                                        Superheating is most likely to happen with new pyrex or dishes that still have a super-smooth surface. Over time, they get etched in the dishwasher and this possibility decreases. The thing to watch for is any substance in a new dish that isn't showing any signs of boiling, despite having been in the microwave for awhile. Handle this very carefully---best to let it sit for 5 minutes w/out touching it, then throw something in from a distance.

                                      3. The steaming vegetables suggestion is a good one (also nice when you have to steam multiple vegetables with differening times and you only have 4 burners!) I use mine to melt butter (be careful, doesn't take long!), liquefy honey, melt chocolate, and yes, boil water (read this: http://www.snopes.com/science/microwa...). I use it for oatmeal, although unlike some of the other posters, I do use full power (for about a minute, then I let the oatmeal stand--I like a more solid oatmeal as opposed to a creamy one).

                                        1. I have never cooked in a microwave. It is used for reheating only or melting butter or chocolate for baking.

                                          1. My favorite things to cook in the microwave are corn on the cob, artichokes, and potatoes. It's much faster and cleaner. Lately, when I've been making a lot of winter squash soups, I've found it very helpful to able to nuke hard squash for 4-5 minutes so I can slice them open easily.

                                            8 Replies
                                            1. re: PegS

                                              Got rid of mine when I remodeled my kitchen. Never used it enough to justify the energy.
                                              Must admit though, it was excellent for softening peanut butter

                                              1. re: PegS

                                                Yes! Corn on the cob and artichokes-- no more losing flavor to a big pot of boiling water.

                                                1. re: PegS

                                                  Tell me more about the artichokes. I love artichokes....

                                                  1. re: greedygirl

                                                    Put the artichoke, stem down, into a mug or Pyrex measuring cup with some water in the bottom, then cover tightly with plastic wrap and nuke. Again, you have to practice to get a feel of how long it will take, and remember that microwaved food continues to cook on residual heat for a few minutes afterwards, so start conservatively.

                                                    1. re: greygarious

                                                      That's what I was going to share. I don't cook much in the microwave, but I do artichokes. Had one last night. For some reason I put mine in upside down. While it's cooling I melt a little butter and garlic to go with it! I find a decent sized 'choke gets cooked in about 6-7 minutes. But I stop and give the stem a sqeeze and stop when it's soft. THAT'S the reason I cook upside down I guess.

                                                    2. re: greedygirl

                                                      I haven't tried these other methods, but I have done them in a steamer bag which requires no added water. I like this as I hate soggy vegetables.

                                                      I first tried a jumbo artichoke in a large steamer bag. I cut it in half. It took about 10 minutes to steam. Came out fantastic. A large artichoke takes about 8 mins. The main reason I cut i half was because it's easy to press the choke through the bag to be sure it's done.

                                                      Too bad artichokes are so expensive around here. I'd like to do this more often and refine my technique! Could hint about squeezing the stem.

                                                    3. re: PegS

                                                      Corn on the cob is my favorite for microwave cooking because it is quick, easy, and gives better results than stovetop methods, in my experience. After the first time I tried it, I never looked back. I just chuck the unshucked cob in the microwave and cook on high for a couple of minutes (how long you cook depends on the wattage of your oven and how done you like your corn). Unlike Kajikit below, I don't dampen the husk; if the corn is fresh, it has enough moisture to steam on its own. Let it cool for a minute, and shuck. The silk pulls cleanly away from the cob when you shuck after cooking, too - easy peasy.

                                                      I have found that sweet potatoes ("yams") bake well in the microwave. Unlike with russets, baked in the microwave, they come out pretty much just as they do in a regular oven. I don't think I have it anymore, but my former MIL once gave me a "potato bag" for baking potatoes in the microwave, which was simply a small sack made of quilted cotton fabric (they type with a thin batting that you can find at any fabric store). You put your washed and pierced potato in the bag and then microwaved it, and it really did work: the skin came out nicely crisped as it does from a conventional oven, rather than thin and steamed as it usually does in the microwave.

                                                    4. I was astonished by this Sahni recipe for steamed fish. I've been meaning to try more recipes from the book, but haven't been able to get back to it. Still, I'm very encouraged based on my first effort. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6588...


                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                        Similar idea, very different execution. Fish in the microwave, done right, is amazing:


                                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                                          Thanks for that link. I have done fish en papillote many times in the oven and my husband loves it. But given that nothing browns in the oven except for the paper itself, this should work great in the microwave. The trick will be to get the timing right though.

                                                          Funny - Alton Brown declares 131 degrees specifically for done - LOL! But, yes, in general, that's what I cook my fish to - about 130 degrees. I may try sticking the instead read thermometer through the parchment to gage doneness. If the fish is almost there anyway, the loss of steam shouldn't keep it from cooking further.

                                                          Actually, the toughest thing about fish en papillote is getting the darn parchment paper to seal!

                                                          1. re: audreyhtx1

                                                            i use a paper bag and a stapler..... works like a charm

                                                      2. I agree about steaming veggies in the micro. I especially like broccoli fixed this way. I use glass pie plates and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Barbara Kafka writes about doing fish in the micro, but I have never mastered the technique. I also agree about baking the occasional potato in the micro. Nothing beats potatoes baked at high heat in a regular oven, but in a pinch a micro baked potato is handy. If you don't have a rice cooker, then you can cook that in the micro as well. 5 min on high and 15 on med power for white rice. While it doesn't shorten cooking times, it does give foolproof results without having to monitor the rice.

                                                        There is also a technique for cooking eggs. Perhaps another poster will share that. I've forgotten how it is done.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: sueatmo

                                                          Poaching eggs in the microwave is a snap once you figure out how to do it in **your** microwave. Careful measurement and some trial and error are required.

                                                          Put an egg in a ramekin with half a cup of water. Add a few drops of vinegar if the egg isn't terribly fresh. Microwave on half power for 2 minutes, let stand for 2 minutes, and check the consistency.

                                                          If you're really, really lucky it'll be just right the first time. Otherwise, try again, adding or subtracting cooking time. Eventually you'll find the exact amount of time needed for a perfect poached egg.

                                                        2. I use mine basically for heating, melting & veggies & popcorn...years ago, I tried to make a beef roast in a microwave (back in the 80's) and it was the worst thing I ever made...it was just as tough as I don't know what; I actually followed a recipe that came with the microwave and still...so to try to save the thing, I cut it up and braised it on the stove for hours..it was edible but I never cooked meat in a microwave since.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Cherylptw

                                                            That makes sense. You don't want to quick-steam cheap meat with a bunch of connective tissue.

                                                          2. whole potatoes (just poked with a sharp knife, NOT peeled - they dry out.).
                                                            corn on the cob in its husk (wet the husk down first under the tap).
                                                            melting butter for baking.
                                                            making chocolate brownies (melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave and then mix everything else in. But bake in the regular oven!
                                                            frozen vegetables.
                                                            thawing meat.
                                                            Five minute strawberry sauce for pancakes (punnet of fresh strawberries and confectioners sugar to taste.)
                                                            Stewed apple with or without sugar.

                                                            And honestly I think that's about it!

                                                            1. like others, i often do veggies, esp since i like mine well done.

                                                              potatoes, as mentioned, are good -- i nuke em to "cook them," then put in the toaster to crisp the skins.

                                                              i've poached chicken in a dish in chicken broth with great results.

                                                              softening brown sugar helps loads.

                                                              prawn biryani http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Prawn-Bi...

                                                              bunuelos - take tortillas, brush with butter or water, sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar, then nuke for 30-60 seconds until bubbly and crispy

                                                              potato chips - slice potatoes very thin, toss with olive oil; lightly grease a microwave-safe plate and line with chips. nuke for 3-5 min or until crisp, then toss with salt and/or seasoning

                                                              peanut brittle

                                                              baked apples - core and put in dish with apple juice or water, and fill centers with sugar and cinnamon, raisins/nuts optional; nuke til soft!

                                                              1 lb. ground beef or turkey
                                                              1 med. onion, chopped
                                                              1 c. chopped celery
                                                              2 cans (10 3/4 oz.) tomato soup
                                                              1 can (16 oz.) kidney beans, undrained
                                                              1/4 c. water
                                                              1 1/2 to 2 tsp. chili powder
                                                              1 tsp. brown sugar
                                                              1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
                                                              1/2 tsp. salt
                                                              1/2 tsp. pepper
                                                              1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

                                                              Combine meat, onion and celery in 3 quart casserole dish. nuke on high 6 to 9 minutes or until meat is cooked and vegetables are tender. drain fat and break up meat. stir in rest of ingredients and cover. nuke on high 5 minutes and stir again. micro uncovered on 50% for 30 to 35 minutes. stir a couple of times during that last cook.

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: Emme

                                                                Emme, could you provide a few more details re: "baked apples - core and put in dish with apple juice or water, and fill centers with sugar and cinnamon, raisins/nuts optional; nuke til soft!" For example, how to keep the filling in the apple and not drain out into the juice?

                                                                Thank you.

                                                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                  If you completely core the apple, you can somewhat decrease the leaking by cutting a half inch from the bottom of the core and using it to plug the hole. The other way is to core from the top with a melon baller, stopping before goint through the bottom. Of course this applies to both oven and microwave baked apples. In apple season, I soften an entire stick of butter, mix in brown sugar, cinnamon, golden raisins, and maple syrup. Then I freeze it in a small rectangular container and when I want to make a baked apple, I cut a "log" from this brick, and stuff it into the cored apple. This is neater and faster than getting out containers of this and that and trying to spoon them into the apple without losing any of it.

                                                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                    sorry... yes much as greygarious says... i use a knife or a melon baller. i'll cut out the top of the core, and then scoop down til almost to the bottom. mix some brown sugar and cinnamon (raisins/nuts depending upon who it's for), and if desired mix with a little unsalted (or i prefer salted for the contrast) butter, then stuff into the core. sit apples, hole up obviously in a microwave safe glass baking dish, then pour in some apple juice or water, and cover if you fear spitting. i nuke at a medium-high power, checking for softness after 5 minutes, and continuing from there.

                                                                    so many variations obviously for the filling -- some people love nutmeg or ginger in there. sometimes i substitute peanut butter for the butter, great served with some plain, lightly sweetened yogurt, or ice cream or yogurt if you prefer. or for breakfast with some steel cut oats... i could keep on going, but will refrain from boring the eyeballs :-)

                                                                    hope this helps!

                                                                2. I think all the basics have been covered.

                                                                  One little sidenote. Use the microwave to disinfect your kitchen sponge. A minute on HIGH in the microwave does the trick.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                    be sure the sponge is *damp* when you MW it, not dry. otherwise there's a chance it will ignite!

                                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                      Two birds with one stone: use the steam generated from the dripping-wet sponge to wipe down the walls and ceiling of the MW with a paper towel.

                                                                  2. Rice pudding is amazingly easy in the microwave- I just take maybe 1 part leftover rice to 3-4 parts milk in a big bowl with some sugar, and nuke on medium heat for long time (10 mins?), checking and stirring periodically. The milk gently boils and the rice breaks down some, creating a soft rich pudding. At the end, while it's still hot, I usually stir in a beaten egg yolk or whole egg very quickly for some added richness. It firms up some while it cools, so I leave it relatively "loose". I find that rice pudding cooked this way stays soft and tender even when refrigerated.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: another_adam

                                                                      That sounds good!

                                                                      For me - I would have to add a few cloves, a cinnamon stick, a few cardamom pods and some crushed saffron threads.

                                                                      Oh yeah - and I like slivered almonds or pistachios and raisins. Probably best to add the almonds at the end though.

                                                                      This is how I dress up store bought rice pudding, but I have done is on the stove top. My husband complains though - he thinks the store bought rice pudding is too sweet and harasses me to make it from scratch but I haven't gotten around to it.

                                                                    2. Here's a link to a Mark Bittman story about microwave cooking with several recipes:

                                                                      Steamed Chocolate Pudding (April 2, 2008)
                                                                      South Indian Eggplant Curry (April 2, 2008)
                                                                      Cauliflower With Tomatoes and Pimentón (April 2, 2008)


                                                                      Have fun!


                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                        Here's another NYT story with a couple of pudding recipes from Barbara Kafka:
                                                                        http://www.nytimes.com/1998/03/04/din... and another with some hows and why from Harold McGee http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/02/din...


                                                                      2. Polenta, risotto, pudding, peanut brittle.

                                                                        1. Barbara Kafka, aka the microwave gourmet has some videos on videujug, here's one for
                                                                          Microwave Shrimp Risotto

                                                                          Also, there are some of her microwave recipes at http://www.bkafka.com/

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Rmis32

                                                                            Fish? Microwave is supposed to be very good for cooking fish dishes.
                                                                            Anyone tried it?

                                                                          2. So funny, my first reaction was "bacon, baked potatoes and popcorn. The End." But then I was reminded - perfectly steamed vegetables, in particular corn, artichokes and broccoli, perfectly poached eggs, fish - particularly great for a quick lunch, and my ever-present cup noodles with sriracha. Oh,and pepperoni chips. (Microwave plate + thinly sliced pepperoni = crispy chips.)

                                                                            Mostly it's still for reheating items or melting/softening butter or neufchatel, but I'd underestimated how often I actually cook with the microwave.

                                                                            1. Spinach is marvelous in the microwave. Pack a large glass bowl, pushing down on the spinach gently to pack in more--right to the top and mounded up above is o.k. No water. Cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for about 5 (I guess that's minutes--it's the number 5 button timer.) Watch it around 4 minutes. It should lose half its volume and be nice and green--sort of just till it collapses but doesn't dwindle down more that half. Check to see if done--not raw, but still nice and succulent. Careful in removing the wrap for the steam. If not done, just put back for 1 more minute. Press down on spinach with a fork to extract water, pour off. It will be in a large lump. Pass a knob of butter over the surface, cut in two and serve (for two people.) Wonderful. You can also partially cook it and add more spinach after 1 1/2 minutes if you are serving more people. Or, do two batches.

                                                                              1. Boiling water for tea and heating milk for hot chocolate.

                                                                                I just learned that microwaving broccoli destroys nearly all of the flavonoid antioxidants in it. One thing you might want to keep out of the microwave.

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: cara_mia

                                                                                  The study you're referring to was deeply flawed. The protocol called for microwaving broccoli for way too long in way too much water. Flavonoids are water-soluble. Any time you boil a vegetable, you're going to lose most of them. But if you steam broccoli rather than boiling it and avoid cooking it until it's mush, very few antioxidants will be lost regardless of cooking method.

                                                                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                    One of my enduring leftovers from my many vegetarian/"health food" years was my commitment to drinking leftover steaming water, whether on the stovetop or in the microwave. That stuff is seriously delicious, and it reclaims a lot of the water-soluble vitamins you lose while cooking, too.

                                                                                2. Many things that I use the micro for have been covered, but I do have two things to add: I use it to soften cream cheese that I then use in my cheesecake recipe. I also use it to soften up brown sugar that is often hard as a rock if I've neglected to store it properly.

                                                                                  1. 1. Poached marinaded fish
                                                                                    2. Baked potatoes or potatoes made into mashed
                                                                                    3. Steamed vegetables, especially artichokes
                                                                                    4. Several quick sauces and thick gravies
                                                                                    5. 3.5 liters of yogurt every week or so
                                                                                    6. Strips of steak for a steak sandwich and burgers for burgers using MW plastic device
                                                                                    7. Boiling water for tea, couscous, and anything else
                                                                                    8. Quick and delicious eggs
                                                                                    9. Oatmeal
                                                                                    10. A couple of pasta sauces

                                                                                    And more.

                                                                                    The MW is a tool in use in my kitchen along with the stovetop and oven.

                                                                                    9 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                      Sam, can you share your egg technique? That's one I've never been able to pull off, though I'm very good at making inedible lumps of rubber.

                                                                                      1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                        Just egg: break into bowl, beat, MW until it rises out of the bowl. This egg can be eaten as is with other breakfast items, as is in an egg sandwich.

                                                                                        Egg with pasta sauce beaten in and then eaten in sandwhich.

                                                                                        Beaten egg MWed on flatter plate, cut into thin strips for topping on all kinds of Asian dishes

                                                                                        Dish for Dana Zsofia the other day: (left over) rice, carrot soup, strips of poached chicken and an egg beaten together

                                                                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                          What wattage is your oven? Mine's an 1200-watter, and at full power it obliterates beaten ones.

                                                                                          1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                            With my 900w microwave I have to keep the power below 50% when cooking eggs.

                                                                                            1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                              Well, yeah. Are their any microwaves that don't have different power level options? I reheat RARE meat in mine and keep it RARE.

                                                                                            2. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                              I don't know. I'm too lazy to pull it out of its nesst to check.

                                                                                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                Ha ha, that's fine - I wouldn't expect it.

                                                                                                You can lower the power in them, but I think those settings really just cycle the magnetron on and off at preset intervals, so I'm not sure doing 70% power on a 1000-watt model is really the same as a 700. But it's worth trying mine on a lower setting to see if I can make it work.

                                                                                                1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                                  I don't know jack about magnetrons but I DO know what works for me.

                                                                                                  1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                                    You're right that they just cycle on and off, but that allows some conductive heating to go on. At full power, my eggs cook unevenly. Reducing the power allows the moderately-cooked parts to heat up the uncooked parts while the power is off, allowing more even results. Some trial and error is required, though.

                                                                                        2. Candy! Use mw to melt a brick of white almond bark, pour it over crushed peppermints (like candy canes) spread on a cookie sheet. When it's cool, break it into smaller pieces and store it in a covered container. Or mix fruity cereal and mini marhsmallows into the melted bark and drop like cookies on sheet to cool. Or pour melted chocolate bark over peanuts etc. etc. Or find a mw recipe and make peanut brittle, or fudge. (There are tons of used microwave cookbooks around.) Hint: Stir bark every minute or two because it doesn't appear to break down as it melts.

                                                                                          Portabellas. Remove the stem, scrape out the gills with a spoon, and wipe off with dry paper towel. Spread butter over top and bottom. Nuke 1-2 minutes per side (until juices run - fresher ports take longer) then season with salt and pepper. Add your choice of toppings.

                                                                                          Scrambled eggs. Stir 1-2 eggs with a spoonful of water or milk and put in a small pyrex dish. Nuke 1-2 minutes until "fluffy." Comes out like a souffle.

                                                                                          Nachos. Arrange tortilla chips in a single layer on a plate, top with salsa and shredded cheddar. Nuke 45-60 seconds, or until cheese melts.

                                                                                          Have fun!

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. I occasionally melt butter or chocolate in there. Mostly, however, I use it for the timer.

                                                                                            1. Trader Joe's frozen mashed potatoes

                                                                                              Trader Joe's chicken shu mai

                                                                                              1. Brownie in a mug! I was very skeptical, but was desperate for something sweet one night and tried it. It was fabulous! There are tons of recipes on Google. I added chocolate chips and walnuts.

                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: kasden

                                                                                                  Wow what a brilliant idea. I will definitely be trying this!

                                                                                                    1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                      You could make a mix by combining all the dry ingredients and store it in your pantry. When you wanted a brownie fix, put some in a cup add the melted butter, water and vanilla and 90 seconds later.....

                                                                                                      I was surprised not to see any egg in the recipe though.

                                                                                                2. The only thing we actually cook in the microwave is fish as an alternative to traditional poaching. Everything else, foodwise, is defrosting or reheating - maybe gets used for this a couple of times a week. I think we find it marginally more useful than the toastie maker which I know is somewhere in one of the cupboards.

                                                                                                  When we remodelled the kitchen, we bought one of the expensive built-in ones. It's since broken. We havnt bothered to get it fixed. We did buy another very cheap one instead - Mrs H uses it for heating one of the pads you use for relief from back pain.

                                                                                                  1. poached chicken and fish. anything that requires moist heat can work. veggies are a delicious snap. precooking potatoes for french fries instead of a double fry will cut the oiliness

                                                                                                    1. Clams. Put them on a deep microwave plate (one with a big lip to catch the broth), start on high. As soon as you hear or see the shell pop open, take that one out and keep going for the rest. Unlike steaming in a big bowl, you have a lot of control as to how cooked it is (and it steams solely in its own juices).

                                                                                                      I use this for clam pizza (which I make New Haven style, but use fresh clams, not the stuff in a jar). If I shuck the clams for pizza, too much liquid. By giving them a headstart, I can drain (and save) much of the juice, chop and top the pizza. They come out cooked through but not dried out.

                                                                                                      1. I use my mikey for just about everything from reheating to drying flowers, Jams, pasta, rice, beets, you name it. Seldom to a meat ish from scratch in the microwave, though, fur only do one when we are having company and then I need my mikey free for veggies. At the end of the cooking session, the damp dishcloth goes in the mikey for 30 secons to a minute, so I know it is super clean for wiping down the countertops. Have no interest in spendin more time in the kitchen tha I need to, so my mikey an pressure cooker are great time-savers. Saving for an induction cooktop, then I'll feel I have entered the 21st century.

                                                                                                        My mother remembers that her granny would not have that new- fangled electricity in her house because she did not trust it. I think some folk have the same distrust of mikeys and other appliances..

                                                                                                        1. I don't. Haven't owned one in years. There ugly and they seem weird to me. My friends are shocked and subsequently I'm shocked by their reaction.

                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: AnyaTika

                                                                                                            get a convection oven. so much cheaper than the big 'un.

                                                                                                          2. Chicken, fish, veggies, melting chocolate, softening/melting butter, etc, etc.

                                                                                                            One favorite: potatoes for smashed or salad. I cut the potatoes into cubes and nuke covered for 8 - 10 minutes. No added water needed. I smash the potatoes right in the same bowl. kSame w/potato salad. After nuking, I mix all the other ingredients in the same bowl.

                                                                                                            "Not Your Mother's Microwave Cookbook" (http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-r...) is a pretty good place to start.

                                                                                                            1. The BBC Good Food magazine had a brilliant recipe for meringues in the MW. They are terrific fun to make with kids because you put in a small ball of "dough" and they puff up before your eyes into meringues! Takes some trial and error to get the timing right, but when you do they are great.

                                                                                                              1. my newest use is to cook potatoes (that's not new) and then toss them on the grill. this works especially well with yukon golds. i generally halve them, coat with olive oil, add salt and pepper, and nuke until just done. then when i pull the protein off the grill, i throw the potatoes on cut side down while the meat rests for a few. the potatoes get nice grill marks, and a crispish side, and taste like a slightly smokey baked potato

                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: thew

                                                                                                                  I start potatoes in the microwave, then finish in the oven. Cuts down on time in a big way. Although I have to say, I almost put the micro on fire nuking sweet potatoes! I jabbed a couple holes in the sweet potatoes to release the steam, and wrapped them in a terry towel. The juice ran out like sugary sap, and burned the towel to the point that it had a big hole and was smoldering!
                                                                                                                  I was about 30 seconds shy of flames!

                                                                                                                  1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                    works well in the toaster oven too as a crisper...

                                                                                                                2. Cook corn in its husks. Less mess, crispier. Look up easy instructions on internet.

                                                                                                                  1. Perhaps surprisingly, nuts toast very well in the microwave. Nuke at full power and stir every 20-30 seconds until they're almost to your liking. They continue to cook a little after you take them out. Watch out, though, the container seems to get very hot for some reason.

                                                                                                                    1. I don't have one here, but when one is nearby I use it to heat (not superheat!) water for tea, melt butter, heat some leftovers, heat soup. I don't really use it to cook anything! Though once as an experiment I put in muffin batter in a teacup and microwaved it - the muffin actually sort of cooked and was edible! Didn't have quite as nice a crust as it would have in the oven, but I was surprised.

                                                                                                                      1. Spaghetti squash. Major time saver. I nuke the squash halves for about 7-8 minutes (cut side down, covered w/saran wrap). Let them rest/cool for a few minutes while I heat a pan w/butter and minced garlic, Then scrape the strands out in pan, and toss.

                                                                                                                        I've cooked rice in the microwave as well. Found a recipe outlining that technique when looking for a mangoes and sticky rice recipe. Works great esp when I'm cooking a small single serving size for myself and don't want to break out the rice cooker.

                                                                                                                        And as others have noted, scrambled eggs are good in the microwave. Can have a breakfast burrito in minutes w/minimal cleanup. Win-win.

                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: tamagoji

                                                                                                                          i do spag squash too... except i do it whole, just jab a couple of times with a knife to create a couple of holes..

                                                                                                                          1. re: Emme

                                                                                                                            Hmmm - I may have to try this method. It would be a lot easier to leave it whole.

                                                                                                                        2. eggs (when i'm short on time) and steamed veggies. and i think that's it actually!

                                                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: jamieeats

                                                                                                                            My mother used to make scrambled eggs in the microwave. I think you have to keep stopping and stirring but it makes a decent scrambled egg as I recall.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                              I have regretted for years not buying an attractive pottery "Microwave omelet maker" I saw at an arts fair. It had four or five "sides" and the directions said to zap for X minutes, turn to the next side, zap again, repeat... I just couldn't make myself purchase the thing, and have always regretted it. Anybody got one? Ever heard of it?

                                                                                                                              1. re: sancan

                                                                                                                                IMO, an omelette is perhaps the easiest thing to make. Period. And certainly easier than scrambled or fried eggs. So I can't even imagine owning anything called an "omelet maker."

                                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                  I like my omelets very tender, and have found that I get tough eggs in the microwave. Have you managed an omelet that wasn't either runny or tough? Would love to know the secret.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: sancan

                                                                                                                                    Sorry, I didn't connect the dots :) I don't use a MW for that. I was talking about stovetop and not wanting or needing a special piece of equipment for omelette making. +1 tender.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                      You know, now that you say it, I totally agree. But that silly pot was just so darn cute. All these years later, and I still remember it, and wonder if somebody is making perfect omelettes in their zapper. ;-)

                                                                                                                                      1. re: sancan

                                                                                                                                        :) It's a sickness but in the grand scheme of things relatively benign.

                                                                                                                          2. I don't cook a lot in my microwave but I use it for a lot of things.

                                                                                                                            Soften a stick of butter - 12 seconds on level 3 then turn stick over and another 12 seconds on 3.

                                                                                                                            Melt chocolate - 30 seconds at a time on level 6. keep doing it until it jiggles when the bowl is moved then stir.

                                                                                                                            Heat up my milk for mashed potatoes - 60 seconds on level 7

                                                                                                                            Steam veggies - of course (already described)

                                                                                                                            Warm up left overs - I don't usually use full power for this usually level 8

                                                                                                                            To clean a microwave - Put a damp sponge in the microwave and nuke it for 2 minutes then let it sit in there without power for 2 minutes then take the sponge and wipe out the microwave. Everything will come right off.

                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                            1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                              When making stuffed cabbage, instead of boiling the cabbage you can nuke it in the MW and peel off the layers. One less pot to wash.

                                                                                                                            2. Our old microwave, an above-the-stove job, gave up the ghost a few years ago. We haven't missed it.
                                                                                                                              We are remodeling the kitchen this month and next (outside contractors) and saw no need to include a microwave.

                                                                                                                              14 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: steve h.

                                                                                                                                of course one can live w/out a MW. one can also live without indoor plumbing.

                                                                                                                                1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                  I always thought indoor plumbing was indispensable. MW? Not so much. I can heat water, poach fish, warm leftovers, melt butter, so on without one.
                                                                                                                                  At the end of the day, a microwave is a meaningless kitchen gadget looking for some kind of cooking cred. Lots of folk have 'em, lots of folk use 'em, no one seriously cooks with them. I banished the MW from the new kitchen because it just wasn't that useful. It doesn't bring anything new to the table. Indoor plumbing, on the other hand, is pretty cool.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: steve h.

                                                                                                                                    with my convection oven, using the microwave and oven, I can roast a slab of meat in about a quarter of the time that it takes in the conventional oven.

                                                                                                                                    If that's not "REAL" cooking, I bloomin' well don't want to know what REAL cooking be!

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                                                      I have a (rather pricey) MW convection that's the cat's meow :)

                                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                        likely a topic for another board, but which one? mine's on the way out, and i'd love to know what you've got that's the cat's meow!

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Emme


                                                                                                                                          BTW, I paid at least $200 less than the price they show. Not at home so can't check the invoice. And I don't have it over the range but rather on a pantry shelf adjacent to the range.

                                                                                                                                          I was considering a wall oven (double) and a cooktop. It would have involved moving plumbing, losing cabinet space etc. Thanks to good advice from alanbarnes, I instead got an induction/convection range and the MW/convection oven. I have the equivalent of a cooktop, double ovens and a MW. It's been a year and I love it. And even for just plain MWing, it's so big and you can disable the revolving thingy so really large things can be reheated there.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: steve h.

                                                                                                                                      i have "seriously" cooked with one. reread this entire thread. MW are great for cooking veggies, and anything that you can steam of poach. I prep potatoes for mashed, or for grilling.

                                                                                                                                      i happen to find my MW "pretty cool"

                                                                                                                                      i've lived w/out indoor plumbing. is it my preference? nope.but I can poop, pee, and wash without..... I've lived in parts of the world where there was no toilet paper. IS it my preference? again - nope. they are not indispensable in any way shape or form. in fact for most of human history most people lived without indoor plumbing. so it is hardly indispensable.but they sure make life easier and better. as does the microwave.

                                                                                                                                      i've known people who live with only a hotplate. they can melt butter, poach fish, pop popcorn, warm leftovers. but i'm not getting rid of my stove or oven either any time soon.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                        Deb and I lived in South Korea with a tiny bar fridge and a two-burner hot plate.
                                                                                                                                        Indoor plumbing is good.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: steve h.

                                                                                                                                          i think you missed my point. indoor plumbing is great. so is the microwave. neither is indispensable.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                            If I had to give up one: indoor plumbing, microwave oven, I would jettison the microwave oven. It's simply no contest.
                                                                                                                                            For me, the microwave oven is simply not a compelling kitchen appliance. Others disagree. So be it.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: steve h.

                                                                                                                                              i agree. i would jettison the MW before the indoor plumbing. but that wasnt really the point i was making either. and i suspect you know that.

                                                                                                                                              it's all fine and good that you don't want to use the MW. don't. it's ok w/me. but you not wanting to use it is a very different statement than the original one i responded to:
                                                                                                                                              "....a microwave is a meaningless kitchen gadget looking for some kind of cooking cred. Lots of folk have 'em, lots of folk use 'em, no one seriously cooks with them...."

                                                                                                                                              i have no issue when you speak for yourself. i strenuously disagree when you speak for the rest of us. I have and will continue to "seriously cook" with the MW. I do not find it meaningless at all, i find it quite useful for a variety of tasks.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: steve h.

                                                                                                                                        I've cooked in an old CCC cabin before. no indoor plumbing. Bit of a pain, but not too bad. I've also cooked more than three days hike from civilization. Also not too bad, if you don't plan on needing soap.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                                                          Gotta love that indoor plumbing stuff.
                                                                                                                                          A hot shower is really good.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: steve h.

                                                                                                                                          Everyone is entitled to their opinion, of course. But one of the most wonderful things about a microwave is that they don't heat up the kitchen like a stove top or oven does. And the time savings is awesome. And frankly, some things like steaming, come out way better than stovetop with way less water. Very meaningful to me.

                                                                                                                                          Here is the hot climate I really appreciate any appliance that doesn't heat the kitchen.

                                                                                                                                          This goes double for an RV where space is very limited, and using the stovetop is usually a hassle.

                                                                                                                                    3. Hi everyone,

                                                                                                                                      Don't recall if this was mentioned so I'll chime in.

                                                                                                                                      I use my microwave to bring heavy cream to just barely boiling when I'm making ganache.

                                                                                                                                      Dump the chocolate into the very hot cream, set it aside for maybe three minutes, then stir - stir - stir until the ganache comes together. Takes a minute or three. Depends on how much ganache you're making.

                                                                                                                                      A caveat... Watch very, very closely so it doesn't boil over. The moment it starts to rise up in the container is the time to get that door open!

                                                                                                                                      I use a Pyrex measure.


                                                                                                                                      1. I too find baked potatoes do better if I poke holes in them with a fork first; we like them mealy, not steamy. I also finish them in the oven, even though I don't like crispy potato skin. Careful about "sanitizing" kitchen towels. I do it with a towel I know is basically clean, but was reading that tests reveal that this method does not result in germ-free towels. I freeze my breakfast muffins and find that they reheat very well in the MW, if allowed to rest. A small skewer in water is just good insurance against boilover. I will never struggle to cut a hard squash again; I just poke a few holes in the squash and zap it. Helps to turn it over halfway through, and let it rest a bit to equalize temp. Haven't mastered it, but I'm told you can even "fry" an egg if you use a toothpick to poke a few holes in the yolk. I make Snowflake Pudding for a quick breakfast, with an egg, ricotta, sweetener, some dairy, and water. Quick hot milk for insomniacs. Newbies to microwaving should be aware that some things high in fat heat up much faster than items without fat. By the way, I use cheap paper plates (sometimes have to turn them upside down to the asborbent side) instead of paper towels for bacon, pepperoni chips, salami chips, etc.

                                                                                                                                        1. I use it mainly for leftovers, defrosting, and warming bowls. As far as actual cooking goes, it's a good way to bring something to room temperature, if unevenness doesn't matter. It's the easiest way to heat a liquid for adding to a recipe. If a finish dish comes out slightly lukewarm or undercooked, a little bit of time in the microwave can help.

                                                                                                                                          1. I'm not real big on cooking in my microwave. Still, I wouldn't be without one.

                                                                                                                                            It's great for reheating. Melts chocolate without the need for water that can cause the chocolate to seize (but do it on half power and watch carefully to prevent burning). It can "bake" a large potato in 8 minutes and then the chili I top it with for one more minute for a quick meal.

                                                                                                                                            Mostly -- and this is *invaluable* at my house -- it acts as an insulated food safe to store baked goods, thawing meats and proofing dough away from my dogs.

                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                            1. re: rainey

                                                                                                                                              I do a lot of the above but also use the microwave for "frying" pappadums, emping and prawn crackers.

                                                                                                                                            2. need a cooked potato fast : take a THICK clean MOSTLY COTTON FIBER washcloth soak it with water. & wrap your medium sized potato folding all ends under the potato so it will have the thicker folds of the washcloth under the potato.
                                                                                                                                              <@ thick soaked washcloth will weigh almost the same as your potato.( this is why it works so perfectly the water is trapped under and next to the potato.)

                                                                                                                                              ***place the potato in the center of a plate and place the plate in the center of the micro..
                                                                                                                                              COOK ON HIGH 6 MIN.****

                                                                                                                                              .>>> if the micro does not rotate the plate for you, rotate the plate yourself each 90 seconds> {clockwise at 15min increments } <<<

                                                                                                                                              >>end result a perfectly steamed potato!!

                                                                                                                                              ......major note...a washcloth that has too much detergents or perfumes will make the potato taste like the fragrance.....so it should be soaked in warm water and vinegar 10 min. and rinsed well to remove all the fragrance prior to use.

                                                                                                                                              **IMPORTANT NOTE****CLEARLY FOR THE DUMMIES***!!!!!DO NOT USE SALT or OIL on the WASHCLOTH OR the POTATO PRIOR to COOKING !!! NO COOKING TIME LONGER THAN 9 MINS!!!!!!! IT IS a FIRE RISK to the WASHCLOTH.!!!!!

                                                                                                                                              *** note....... a thin wash cloth will not hold enough water so if you have to use one you will have to add hot water to the washcloth mid cycle. ..or use a bowl instead of a plate same set up just add 3Tblsp. water to the bowl, it will wick the extra water needed and >>>>cover the bowl with ANOTHER BOWL upside down to trap heated air. AGAIN A PERFECTLY STEAMED POTATO!!!!

                                                                                                                                              APPROXIMATED TIME 6 -8 MINS. FOR NEWER MICROS
                                                                                                                                              & LARGER POTATOES SHOULD BE COVERED TO ENSURE NO DRY SPOTS **
                                                                                                                                              "IF YOU ARE COOKING LONGER THAN 9 MINS CONSECUTIVELY>>>your.micro.sucks>> &>>.OTHER METHODS OF COOKING SHOULD BE USED. "

                                                                                                                                              **CORN ON THE COB CAN BE COOKED THIS WAY ALSO { TOWEL MUST WRAP ENTIRELY AROUND COB} LEAVE IN HUSK AND SOAK CORN IN WATER 30 MINS. PRIOR TO COOKING FOR SWEETER FLAVOR.

                                                                                                                                              !!SWEET POTATO, LOOSES IT'S SWEETNESS WHEN STEAMED. GOOD IF THAT IS HOW YOU LIKE'EM :)

                                                                                                                                              i use correll dishes and bowls iin the micro, i bought from wallmart.
                                                                                                                                              neat tip on the deeper bowls i save the black folgers coffee lids from their red plactic containers these lids are a perfect airtight fit.

                                                                                                                                              i use the inverted bowls all the time to steam food, it works better than the specialized micro cookware i have purchased before.

                                                                                                                                              1. This is an extremely fascinating thread!

                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                1. re: jvanderh

                                                                                                                                                  Those who do it--why do you put plastic wrap over the food to steam it?

                                                                                                                                                  I just put a plate on top. Reusable, no waste, and me, I'm nervous about putting plastic wrap at high temperatures right up next to food. No specific evidence about what detrimental chemical reactions might occur (does anyone know? NOT just off-the-cuff "oh, it's fine" but specific information?)

                                                                                                                                                2. I don't like reheating leftovers in the microwave - they get cold too quickly. I prefer to reheat leftovers in a nonstick skillet.

                                                                                                                                                  I do use my microwave to heat up the milk for my coffee. It is so good.

                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Snorkelvik

                                                                                                                                                    why would it get colder at a different rate? i don;t see it.

                                                                                                                                                  2. If I can't cooK it without a microwave, I don't cook it. I find them tacky and I, personally, can live without one. My friends are shocked and freaked out at my leftover reheating: tin fool over simmering water or the oven. How passe of me.

                                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: AnyaTika

                                                                                                                                                      I think anyone can live without one. I'm surprised that the lack of a particular kitchen tool would inspire shock and freaking out among your friends. But tacky? How does an appliance get tacky status?!? :)

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                        An appliance can attain a quite tacky status
                                                                                                                                                        when it's sold on TV for $19.95.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: FoodFuser

                                                                                                                                                          Isn't that in two easy payments? Plus s&h, of course.

                                                                                                                                                    2. To be honest I dont use it for any food. I do tho use it to steralize kitchen cloths!

                                                                                                                                                      1. Naysayers of microwaves are the modern incarnation
                                                                                                                                                        of misguided Cassandra's in aboriginal nations,
                                                                                                                                                        who, when seeing this new thing called an "iron pot"
                                                                                                                                                        said "Cook with that thing I shall surely not."

                                                                                                                                                        Those engineers at Amana who invented the microwave
                                                                                                                                                        should receive our respect for the gift that they gave.

                                                                                                                                                        It's a really neat tool for it's best applications
                                                                                                                                                        and in threads like these we share how we use it
                                                                                                                                                        despite some's dislike and offhand deprecations.

                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: FoodFuser

                                                                                                                                                          We're not misguided. At least I don't think so.

                                                                                                                                                          We tried 'em, we used them and we moved on.
                                                                                                                                                          It may be a wonderful device for some and that's a good thing.

                                                                                                                                                          I'm currently trying to score a Soviet-era portable nuclear reactor to replace the diesel engine on my sailboat. I'm banking on refueling every 20 years or so in Libya (buy one rod, get a second one for free).

                                                                                                                                                          "Adventure is out there!"

                                                                                                                                                        2. I pretty much just use mine to reheat things, and only if it's just been cooked and it cooled off because I had to run the dog out or something like that. Going from fridge to microwaved never seems good. But the exchange student I had last year had never seen one before and went off with the possibilities. Whole egg? yes! Things in foil? yes! etc...

                                                                                                                                                          1. OK - I'll add my list since I just added one more thing. I have been inspired by years of living in a RV where kitchen appliances are extremely limited. We have a microwave/convection oven, and a small gas stove top that is a bit of a hassle to use. I have come to believe that if you need to steam or boil something, most can be done in the microwave and usually with a lot less water and quicker than on the stove top.

                                                                                                                                                            So - beyond the usual reheat leftovers which is our primary application.

                                                                                                                                                            1. Steam Vegetables in Steamer Bags.

                                                                                                                                                            I cook most of my vegetables this way, from spinach to artichokes. Great for green beans, broccoli, asparagus. Really all veggies. And I particularly like to do spinach this way because it cooks so evenly and you get it to the soft but still bright green stage. The ziploc steamer bags are specially designed to vent steam and you don't have to add water to the veggies either! Veggies come out perfectly evenly cooked, not at all wet or soggy and the guides on the bags are very good on the timing. I usually season after steaming.

                                                                                                                                                            SCJohnson acts like these aren't really reusable - something about lingering food odors. But the fact is that if used to cook just washed veggies, they can be rinsed and reused several times before the seal finally gives out. There are a bunch of interesting recipes on their web site worth checking out for using these bags.

                                                                                                                                                            2. Steam Corn in it's Own Husk.

                                                                                                                                                            This is a fantastic way to do corn on the cob and we have been doing it this way for years. No dish or wrap needed! Trim the ends of the corn cob, and pull off about half of the covering - leaving several or the thinner husk leaves to cover the corn. Microwave about 2 mins per ear then leave in husk until cool enough to handle. When you finish peeling the husk off, the silk comes off very easily, and you are ready to go! The corn this way is SO delicious we don't bother doing it any other way. Just adjust the time to your taste, we like ours barely cooked.

                                                                                                                                                            3. Cook Pasta in my Fasta Pasta.

                                                                                                                                                            Living the the RV motivated me to find try out the Fasta Pasta cooker because boiling pasta on the stove top was a real hassle, especially if you already had a pan of sauce on the stovetop (no room). Now I won't do it any other way, even though we live in a house with a "real" kitchen for part of the year. It's just so much more convenient and faster than dealing with a big pot of boiling water and the pasta comes out just as good. It's easy to do really small servings too. The convenience and time savings comes from - using much less water and not having to wait for the water to boil. The reviews on Amazon don't lie. Add a pinch of salt though - that is not included in the instructions and essential for the taste IMO. Experiment with the times to get the pasta to the exact texture that meets your preference. I have done penne, farfalle, linguine, rotini, shells of various sizes, and lasagna noodles. Works for all of it.

                                                                                                                                                            4. Poaching Eggs.

                                                                                                                                                            This is the new one that I just finally tried today. Use a small microwave safe bowl or cup. Pour in 1/3 cup of water and 1/8 teaspoon of white vinegar. Drop in the egg, make sure the yolk is submerged in the water, pierce the yolk a couple (or more?) times with a toothpick. Microwave 50 seconds (time depends on microwave). If white is opaque it's done. Remove with slotted spoon.

                                                                                                                                                            Overall I am extremely pleased with this technique. The texture is very good - not rubbery at all. The yolk a little firm for my taste but exactly how my husband likes it. It's so easy and minimal cleanup that I am willing to live with a not runny yolk. The yolk is not hard boiled - just oozing slightly in the yolk's center. We'll be eating more poached eggs in our house.

                                                                                                                                                            5. Humm-dinner.

                                                                                                                                                            That's what my mother-in-law called it. Hummingbird nectar for your feeder. The water to sugar ratio should be 4:1. I usually do 1 cup water plus 1/4 cup white sugar in a pyrex glass measuring cup. Stir. Microwave for 3 mins. Carefully remove - it's hot! And wait a bit and then stir again. You have to BE CAREFUL with this last bit because water can get superheated in a microwave and bubble over or even explode if you try to stir it right away. I always see mine boiling vigorously, so I haven't encountered this problem.

                                                                                                                                                            I could probably microwave less than 3 mins. That time was for my mother-in-laws older less powerful microwave. It's just habit for me.

                                                                                                                                                            6. Reheating Tamales in their Husk.

                                                                                                                                                            I learn to wrap two together in a wet paper towel, microwave for about 2 mins, and let sit and steam for another minute or two. Careful handling - these get hot!

                                                                                                                                                            7. Winter Squash cut in half and covered with microwave safe wrap does great, but I don't remember the specifics as I don't do it very often. We do spaghetti squash now and again.

                                                                                                                                                            OOOH! Almost forgot!

                                                                                                                                                            8. Steaming Facecloth.

                                                                                                                                                            My husband got this idea from a Japanese restaurant that brought out steaming face/hand towels to it's customers when we sat at the table. I'm sure they just kept clean towels in a steamer.

                                                                                                                                                            My husband wets a washcloth. He might put a little noxema or astringent on it. Heat in the microwave (sorry, I'm not sure how long - not that long). And then we have a steaming face towel to wipe our faces each morning. We do this every day! He won't let a morning go by without his "face towel".

                                                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: audreyhtx1

                                                                                                                                                                Is the fasta-pasta plastic? I was intrigued, but even Harold McGee warns against waving in plastic due to leaching of undesirable chemicals into your food. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/02/din... Is there a way to achieve the same results in a glass container? Is it the shape of the container that's important or is there something else magical about the fasta pasta? They address this plastic issue on their website, but I'd still prefer to use glass... http://www.fastapastacooker.com/faqs/

                                                                                                                                                                McGee also suggests the microwave for POPCORN FLAVORED WITH SPICES, NON-ERUPTING POLENTA, and HOT FOAMED MILK FOR COFFEE.

                                                                                                                                                                I notice Jaffrey has a recipe for microwave cashew peanuts in World Vegetarian, this month's cookbook of the month. I was all set to try it but the particular grocery store I went to didn't have raw cashews. I'll have to hit up another grocery.

                                                                                                                                                                I'm going to try those poached eggs!

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                  I saw a plain one in Kam Man yesterday - it's a hard-ish plastic - was not really tempted to buy it (no English labeling so the only instructions I could read were the number of minutes for one or two portions).

                                                                                                                                                              2. Poppadums come out brilliantly with 1 minute per in our 1000 watt oven - no frying necessary. Do them one by one.

                                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                  I use it for making bread. I heat up a cup of coffee, drink coffee then put the bowl (covered in plastic wrap) with my dough for rising into the microwave. It is warm and steamy (but not too hot), perfect for the rising stage of breadmaking.

                                                                                                                                                                  I used to do this in the oven, but I kept forgetting I had something in the oven and then I'd turn the oven on to preheat . . .ruined dough, melted plastic wrap, smoke and a horrible smell. With it in the microwave, that can never happen because you have to open the door before using it.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                    Wow--never would of thought of papads in the microwave! Will certainly give it a try, thanks1

                                                                                                                                                                  2. Oh my gosh, I cook way more in my microwave than I realized. My newish microwave (about a year old) inexplicably stopped working last week. It has been a full week and a day that I have been without--it is due back from repair tomorrow, I think. I feel like I have been preparing meals with one arm tied behind my back.

                                                                                                                                                                    I don't do full meals ever in the microwave, but pretty much every meal I make relies on the microwave for some component or another...cooking corn in the cob, steaming vegetables, melting butter, finishing off things like a grilled cheese sandwish that is the perfect level of grilled on the outside but the cheese isn't quite melted enough, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                    I also often cook large quantities of items so I can reheat later, i.e., make a double recipe of meatloaf or quiche, etc., so I can simply reheat to accompany a second meal later in the week. Sigh. It has been one very long week.