How to make the most of your microwave
When you hungrily pull the leftover enchiladas from the fridge or the fancy gourmet frozen dinner from the freezer, there is no question that reheating foods in the microwave is the easiest way to get them to the table – fast!
For leftovers: Place food in a microwave-safe container and cover with a lid or sheet of plastic (do not let plastic touch the food). Vent the plastic by using a knife to cut slits in the top and reheat. Cooked ground meats, fruits, vegetables, casseroles and grains can be cooked on HIGH. Thick cuts of meat, eggs, and cheese-dishes are best cooked on MEDIUM.
For frozen dinners: Read the package directions and make sure the container is microwave-safe and follow directions.
Cook ground meats in the microwave
If your stovetop is on the blink or you need an alternative heat source to cook ground beef, lamb, pork or poultry, simply crumble ground meat in a microwave-safe dish and cover, venting the lid or plastic wrap (don't let plastic wrap touch the food). Cook on HIGH for 3 to 4 minutes, stir and continue to cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until cooked through.
Cook meat, poultry and fish in the microwave
Cuts of meat, poultry and fish can be deliciously cooked in the microwave. For best (and safest) results, have a meat thermometer handy.
- Beef, veal and lamb steaks, roasts, and chops should be cooked to 145 degrees F while pork should be cooked to 160 degrees F. Cook thicker cuts of meat on medium power to ensure even cooking.
- Poultry needs to be cooked to 165 degrees F. Cook on medium power.
- Fish should be cooked to 145 degrees F. Cook on medium to high power depending on the thickness of the fish.
Cook, covered, in a microwave-safe container with the lid vented. If using plastic wrap, do not let it touch the food. Cooking times will vary depending on your microwave's wattage.
Before checking the internal temperature with a food thermometer, let the food stand for 5 to 10 minutes, since the food will continue to cook even after it is out of the microwave.
Toast nuts in the microwave
Particularly helpful in keeping the heat out of the kitchen in the summer, you can toast nuts in the microwave by placing them in a single layer in a microwave-safe dish and cooking, uncovered, on HIGH for 30 seconds to 1 minute, stir, and cook in 30 second intervals until they are fragrant.
Steam vegetables in the microwave
Place vegetables in a microwave-safe container with a tablespoon or two of water. Cover and vent lid or plastic wrap (do not let plastic touch food), and cook on HIGH for 1 to 3 minutes, depending on the amount of vegetables in your container, or until just tender. Remove and let stand for a few minutes since vegetables will continue to cook after exiting microwave.
Bake winter squash and potatoes in the microwave
To cook winter squash, potatoes, and sweet potatoes, prick them all over with a fork or sharp knife and place in a microwave dish. Cook on HIGH uncovered for 4 to 5 minutes or until outside easily gives when pressed. Let stand for a few minutes.
Melt chocolate chips in the microwave
Place chocolate chips or chopped chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat on medium-high power for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Stir and continue to heat at 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until chocolate is melted and smooth.