Microwave cooking made easy |  Eating & Cooking

Microwave cooking made easy | Eating & Cooking

BERNIE MASON For Lee Montana Newspapers

The extreme heat we’ve experienced this summer is forcing us to look for ways to save on energy bills and keep our homes cooler. Using the microwave to cook meals is one way to do this. Microwave cooking uses 80% less energy than using the traditional oven or stovetop, saving on electricity bills. The microwave can be used for many purposes other than just reheating food or popcorn. In the early 80’s I presented many demonstrations of how to use the microwave and people were amazed at its versatility. It can be used to bake bread or cakes, roast meat, cook casseroles, and make jams and jellies. It’s the best way to cook a white sauce or pudding without worrying about the sauce burning. It’s also a time and energy saver for making baked potatoes. Although the microwave may not brown food like the oven, it’s easy to make it more appetizing. To give bread or cakes a crust-like appearance when microwaved and to preserve freshness, lightly grease the baking pan and sprinkle some sort of crushed crumbs on top for a coating. Sauces such as Worcestershire or ketchup can be used to coat the top of meat. Cakes or quick breads may have uncooked batter in the bottom center. Elevating the dish by placing it on an inverted saucer will help cook it more evenly. Because microwaves can have different wattages, cooking times may vary. Always start with the shortest time specified in the recipe and increase as needed.

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Easy Meatloaf

Meatloaf stays juicier in the microwave, so this recipe doesn’t contain milk or water. If you want to use your own favorite recipe, reduce the liquid by about half. Microwave by time but use a thermometer to test doneness (145 – 155). They should feel firm at the top. If you’re using a round casserole dish for the meatloaf, a ring-shaped dish will cook more evenly. You can create one by placing a pudding mold in the center of the casserole and layering the meatloaf mixture around it.

1½ pounds lean ground beef

1/4 cup fine breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons ketchup, steak, barbecue, or chili sauce (for sprinkling)

Thoroughly mix all the ingredients together except the topping sauce. Decide what shape you want to use for the meatloaf, loaf, round or individual. Spread the meatloaf mixture in the dish. Top with sauce if you like. Microwave on high power 12-18 minutes for round dish, 8-13 minutes for ring dish, 13-18 minutes for loaf and 10-13 minutes for 6 individual meatloafs. Turn halfway through cooking if your microwave doesn’t have a rotating turntable. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes to finish cooking and set. You can also prepare a single serving of meatloaf if you wish. Squeeze some of the meat mixture into a microwave-safe mug. Cover with wax paper and microwave on 70% power (medium-high) for 4 – 5 ½ minutes or until meat is firm, turning mug halfway through cooking. Leave for 2 minutes.

Source: “Basic Microwave.” Microwave Cooking Library, Barbara Methven

Tuna Medley

Save time and energy costs by using your microwave to cook casseroles. Instead of baking lasagna in the oven, use the microwave instead. This tuna casserole includes a variety of veggies, and there’s no need to cook pasta as it includes potato dumplings instead.

½ cup thinly sliced ​​celery

1 (10¾ oz.) cream of mushroom soup

1 (6½ oz.) can tuna, drained

½ pack (5 ounces) frozen green peas

1 teaspoon parsley flakes

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

2 (1½ oz. each) cans potato dumplings, divided

Combine carrots, celery and onion in a 2 liter casserole. Cover; Microwave on high 3 to 4½ minutes or until tender and crispy. Stir in the soup, tuna, peas, soy sauce, and spices. Cover; Microwave 4 to 6 minutes or until fully heated, stirring halfway through cooking. Stir in two-thirds of the potatoes. Microwave 30 to 60 seconds. Scatter over the remaining potatoes and cashew nuts.

Source: “Microwave Meal in 30 Minutes”, Microwave Cooking Library, Barbara Methvan.

bran muffins

Making muffins in the microwave is a huge time saver. A batch of six muffins can be ready in about 5 minutes. Since the microwave removes moisture from the food, it is advisable to use two paper cases in the muffin cups. Since the food will continue to cook after you remove it from the microwave, remove the muffins or quick breads when the top is slightly damp. The muffin cups won’t fill up as much as they do when you bake them in the oven because the bread expands more in the microwave.

4 teaspoons baking powder

Combine the bran cereal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Mix eggs, oil and milk. Pour into the dry ingredients. Stir just until the dry ingredients are moistened. The mixture should appear lumpy. Place 3 tablespoons of batter into each paper-lined microwave muffin pan or ¼ cup into each paper-lined 6 oz. pudding cup or 7 oz. Styrofoam cup. Sprinkle chopped nuts on top. Microwave on Medium-High (70%) until tester inserted near center comes out clean. (Each muffin will take about 30 seconds to 1 minute if you choose to bake individually.) Rotate pan or rearrange muffins halfway through cooking. Take the muffins out of the pan immediately.

Source: “Tappan Microwave Cooking Guide.”

carrot cake

You don’t have to turn on your oven and heat up your kitchen to bake a cake. The microwave does it for you in minutes and it tastes great!

1 cup finely grated carrots

¼ cup finely chopped nuts

Select the dish to be used for baking. A clear glass bowl is preferable so you can check the bottom for doneness. Use a 9″ round or 8″ square. If you choose to serve the cake from the casserole dish, no pan preparation is required. Put all ingredients in the mixing bowl. Blend on low speed, then beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Spread the batter in the prepared casserole dish. Do not fill the bowl more than ¼ to ½ full as it expands as it cooks. Microwave at 50% (medium) 6 minutes, turning ½ turn every 3 minutes. Increase the power to high. Microwave 2 to 6 minutes or until done. Leave on the countertop for 5 to 10 minutes. Cool and cover with cream cheese glaze.

Cream Cheese Frosting: In mixing bowl, combine 1 tablespoon butter or margarine, ½ packet (4 ounce size) room temperature cream cheese, and ½ tablespoon heavy cream. Mix well. Beat in 1¼ to 1½ cups confectioners’ sugar until the consistency spreads.

Source: “Microwave Cooking, Baking and Desserts” by Litton.

Bernie Mason writes the Local Flavor column for the Lee Montana newspaper. She was a counselor in Yellowstone County for 24 years. Mason grew up in Sydney in a family of German and Danish descent.

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