Become a Microwave Master Chef
By Bridget Kulla
Cooking is probably the last thing on your mind. But before you dial the corner pizza place or trudge down the hill to the dining hall, consider how cooking for yourself can actually save you time – and money. All you need is a microwave, a few utensils and an empty stomach.
What You’ll Need to Get Started:
- Can opener
- Chef’s knife
- Cutting board
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Mixing bowls
- Microwave-safe casserole dish
- Oven mitt
You’ll be able to cook an unexpected variety of recipes with just the basics.
Dinner at the Press of a Button
If your experience cooking in a microwave begins and ends with popcorn and frozen pizza, you’re missing out. Microwave cooking is fast, requires little work, and even most students living on campus have access to a microwave. It takes less time than ordering Chinese to be delivered and is quicker than making your way to the dining hall. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to make a quick and healthy meal.
Microwave Cooking Tips
With a few adjustments, you can cook nearly anything in a microwave that you can make in a conventional oven, although you won’t be able to grill, toast or brown food. In general, meats, vegetables and fruits take six minutes per pound to cook at high power in the microwave. Since different microwaves work at different strengths—especially in dorm rooms that are competing for electricity with all the hair dryers, computers and stereos in the building, pay close attention while you cook. You don’t want to set off the fire alarm with your burnt popcorn at two in the morning. Before popping something in the microwave, make sure the container is microwave safe. Melted plastic or heating a metal dish will ruin your microwave.
You can make everything from nachos to frittatas in the microwave. None of the recipes here take more than 10 minutes to cook. With these recipes, you’ll be enjoying a hot meal before you’d be able to find a seat in the cafeteria or collect cash from your roommates to pay the delivery person. If you’re craving a home-cooked meal, try these recipes:
Potatoes work well in the microwave. To make this a meal, add your own toppings – like sour cream, bacon bits, cheese or salsa.
- 2 baking potatoes
Scrub the potatoes and prick them a few times with a fork. Place the potatoes on a plate and microwave on high for five minutes. Turn over and microwave for another five minutes or until potatoes are soft. Let rest for a few minutes before eating.
Don’t forget your veggies. Mom would be proud.
- ½ a head of cauliflower (you can also use the precut cauliflower sold in bags if your grocery store has them)
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ½ tablespoon mustard
- ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
Place cauliflower in a casserole dish and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave five to six minutes or until tender. While the cauliflower is cooking, mix together mayonnaise and mustard. Once the cauliflower has cooked, pour the mayonnaise mixture over it and sprinkle shredded cheese on top. Microwave for one minute or until cheese melts.
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- ¾ cup bread crumbs
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup spaghetti sauce
Coat the bottom of a casserole dish with one tablespoon of oil. In a bowl, beat eggs and water together. In another bowl, mix bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Dip the chicken in the egg mixture and turn to coat. Next put chicken in the bread crumb mixture and toss to cover evenly. Once both pieces of chicken are covered in bread crumbs, place them in the oiled dish and drizzle with the other tablespoon of oil. Always wash your hands after you touch raw chicken.
Microwave for about two minutes, turn chicken over and microwave for another two minutes. Pour spaghetti sauce over the chicken and heat for another four minutes. With a fork, prick the chicken and check if it looks cooked all the way through. If not, put it back in the microwave. Spread cheese on top of the cooked chicken and microwave until the cheese is melted.
You may not want to give up the cafeteria or delivery altogether, but cooking a tasty meal yourself is quick and cheap. Cooking for yourself will give you more time to tackle less-appetizing tasks, like your chemistry assignment. Impress your friends by showing them you can do more with a microwave than make popcorn.
Share your microwave recipes in the comments below!