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Microwave Cooking - Part Four - Microwave Meals

Guest Author - Sandy Moyer

Previous articles, Microwave Cooking - Parts One, Two, and Three covered time-saving shortcuts and techniques, microwave defrosting, and cooking vegetables in the microwave. Part Four features cooking tips and recipes for the main course and one-dish meals, plus how to convert conventional recipes to microwave recipes.

Although microwave cooking can't completely replace cooking on a stovetop, baking in a conventional oven, grilling, deep-frying, crock-pot cooking, and other favorite cooking methods, it can save time, save energy, and help keep you cool in Summer. Shorter cooking times and the use of less water than in conventional cooking can preserve nutrients. Microwave cooking also simplifies cleanup... You can often mix, cook, serve and store in the same dish. You might even discover that for some foods, microwave cooking is not only faster, but better!

Sharp Electronics Microwave Oven, Commercial, Programmable Timer, 1000w, Each, Gray
Sharp Electronics Microwave Oven

When cooking in a microwave oven ...

  • Measure carefully and pay careful attention to preparation details when trying a new recipe.
  • Pierce or score foods like whole potatoes, sweet potatoes, other whole vegetables, egg yolks and other foods that are covered with a skin or outer membrane. This prevents pressure build up and bursting. Pierce the skin with a fork or use the tip of a thin knife to score the surface.
  • Watch the food that's cooking through the microwave oven door. As in conventional cooking, hot liquids increase in volume during microwave cooking. Open the door immediately if food is vigorously bubbling and about to boil over.
  • Even special microwave cookware can become very hot due to the transfer of heat from the food inside. Always use potholders when removing food from a microwave oven.
  • Observe the recommended standing times in recipes. Foods can be left inside the microwave oven during this time or removed so the oven can be used to quickly reheat other things.
  • Larger cuts of meat that require a long cooking times will brown lightly. Smaller pieces of meat can be "browned" by brushing with Worcestershire sauce. Brush chicken with butter to encourage browning. Chicken can also be brushed with soy sauce or sprinkled with paprika for added color.
  • Recipes for fried foods and recipes for most foods that are best if crispy should not be cooked in a microwave oven.
  • When doubling a recipe, do not automatically double the time. Increase the cooking time by one half to start. Test the results before adding more cooking time.
  • For best results, when trying a microwave recipe for the first time, always follow the shortest amount of time given and add extra time if needed. Microwave recipes in magazines, newspapers, and on the internet are usually written for 600 to 800 watt ovens. Know the wattage of your microwave oven and make adjustments if necessary. For microwave ovens less than 600 watts, add about 15 seconds for each minute of cooking time. For microwave ovens over 1000 watts, decrease cooking times or use reduced power settings.

Use microwave safe cookware ...

  • Most conventional, oven-proof glass bakeware and cookware is ideal for microwave cooking. Get a few new pieces new of cookware, made and labeled for especially for microwave use.
  • If you are not sure if cookware, bakeware, bowls and dishes is microwave safe, place a piece in a microwave oven; Sit a glass cup containing about 1/2 cup, in the dish. Microwave on high for about 1 minute. If the dish itself remains cool it is safe for use.
  • Waxed paper, parchment paper and white paper towels, and plain white paper plates are also safe for microwaving foods that do not need to be cooked in a container.
  • Do not use Styrofoam cups, plates and bowls, etc. or any plastics that melt at high temperatures. Styrofoam cups and dishes are not intended for cooking and may release harmful chemicals into foods.
  • Unless your microwave oven manual includes directions for using certain types of foil, foil-lined, or metal containers, do not use any foil, metal or metal rimmed cookware, bakeware, or containers in your microwave oven.
  • Watch the food that's cooking through the microwave oven door. Open the door immediately if food is vigorously bubbling and about to boil over.
  • Use a vented lid for soups, sauces and foods with a sauce or high liquid content. This allows steam to escape and helps to prevent the boiling over.
  • Do not cover cakes, fruit cobblers, custards, scrambled eggs and other foods that should have a drier surface.

To convert conventional recipes to microwave recipes....

  • To convert a one-dish meal recipe for use in the microwave, reduce the cooking time by one fourth to one third.
  • Since there is less evaporation reduce the amount of liquid ingredients by about one fourth.
  • You can also look for a microwave recipe with similar main ingredients in similar amounts, and follow the suggested cooking time in that recipe.
  • Some sources also suggest using slightly less seasoning when cooking a conventional recipe in a microwave oven for the first time. Taste food after it's cooked and add additional seasoning if needed.
  • Pasta, rice and dried beans must be conventionally cooked before adding them to a dish that's cooked in a microwave. .
  • As with conventional cooking, don't be afraid to adapt recipes to your own tastes, to experiment and be creative!
  • Try using your microwave oven to cook a favorite dish that you seldom make because it take too much time.


Other factors also affect microwave cooking times...

  • The temperature of the ingredients - Very cold food will need more time to cook. You may have to make adjustments if using a refrigerated food when a recipe calls for that food to be at room temperature.
  • Stirring shortens cooking time and helps food cook evenly. For foods that can be stirred, stir from the hot outer edges to the cooler food in the center.
  • Like stirring, rearranging foods that cannot be stirred, such as whole potatoes, ears of corn, and individual pieces of meat or chicken, shortens cooking time and helps the food cook evenly.
  • Rotating food will also shorten the cooking time and assure more even cooking. If your oven has a carousel this step is usually not necessary.
  • Foods with a higher fat content or higher sugar content heat more quickly. If you substitute low-fat or low-sugar versions or an ingredients, a longer cooking time may be necessary.
  • In microwave cooking, covering serves the same purpose as in conventional cooking. A cover holds in the hot steam, shortens cooking time, keeps food moist and prevents splattering.


Here's main dish microwave recipes + microwave recipes for breakfasts, desserts, etc.

Mozzarella Chicken

Pecan Chicken Breasts

Tropical Chicken Breasts

Honey-Glazed Chicken & Sweet Potatoes

Keilbassa & Scalloped Potatoes

Salmon Ring

Trout Almondine

Seafood Linguine in Garlic Butter

Tasty, Tangy Meat Balls

Meatloaf

Oriental Beef & Broccoli

Spaghetti Sauce

Cheese Sauce

Country Breakfast

Nectarine Pancakes

Butternut Squash & Apples

Berry Cobbler

Apple Crisp

Brownies

Best Ever Chocolate Frosting

Play Dough


See Microwave Cooking Part Two for microwave recipes for vegetable side dishes.


Nordic Ware 12-pc. Graniteware Microwave Cookware Set
Nordic Ware 12-pc. Graniteware Microwave Cookware Set
The attractive cookware is safe to use in the microwave and in a conventional gas or electric oven up to 400°F. (Lids are for microwave and storage use only.) Use it for cooking, reheating and storing. It's easy-to-clean and goes from freezer to microwave to table.


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Microwave Cooking - Part 2 - Cooking Vegetables
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Content copyright © 2014 by Sandy Moyer. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Sandy Moyer. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Allyson Elizabeth DŽAngelo for details.

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