More Microwave Uses

I’ve mentioned before how you can use your microwave for more than reheating leftovers, cooking frozen dinners or warming up your coffee. There’s a reason I call this appliance worth the valuable counter space it takes. It really is very useful in The Bachelor’s Kitchen.

I hate store-bought bread crumbs (except for Panko). To me, it has the texture and taste of sawdust. And with most bread being so loaded with conditioners and preservatives, it goes moldy before it goes stale. And when you need bread crumbs for a recipe, cutting up the bread and toasting it in the oven takes a while. Who has all day to do that?

Make your own breadcrumbs in the microwave.

Well, there is an answer, and it involves that microwave on the counter. Take cut-up bread and spread the pieces out on a microwave-safe plate (glass, ceramic or plastic). Heat on high for one minute and then check. You should be able to crumble the pieces into crumbs once they cool a little. Keep zapping them at one-minute intervals until they begin to turn golden in color.

Has your brown sugar turned into a brick? Put it in a bowl and sprinkle a little water, about a teaspoon, over it. Cover the bowl (waxed paper is great for this) and microwave on low for one-minute intervals. After each shot, toss the sugar. It should take four or five rounds to get it soft.

Who doesn’t like warm syrup on your pancakes or waffles? That bottle won’t fit in the microwave and may not be safe for it anyway. Pour some syrup into a glass measuring cup and heat on high for 15-seconds at a time until good and hot.

Cut butter into pieces then microwave in short bursts.

I can’t count the number of times I haven’t paid enough attention or started early enough making a dish only to realize the recipe calls for softened butter or cream cheese. Well, it’s a microwave to the rescue. Cut the butter or cream cheese into pieces, about a quarter-inch thick, and put the pieces in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat on low in 20-second shots, checking for the degree of softness each time. Don’t overdo it or the butter or cheese will melt and that might not work as well. If you do want melted butter, just continue until it’s all liquid.

It used to be you needed a double boiler to melt chocolate. Now, the microwave does this easily and quickly. Just chop it into pieces, put in a bowl and heat on high for one minute. Stir and repeat until you get it all nice and runny.

Need toasted almonds or pine nuts, but all you have are raw? No problem. Spread them out on a plate and heat in one-minute intervals, tossing or stirring them between each treatment. It should take four or five rounds.

Frozen broccoli vegetable mix ready for the microwave.

A tablespoon of water in a microwave-safe container is all you need to steam vegetables very quickly. Even frozen. Just be sure to cover the dish with a little opening for steam to escape. Microwave on high for three or four minutes. Don’t let them sit in the microwave. Remove and uncover the dish right away or the veggies will get mushy.

Tortillas are finding their way more and more on American tables and are now available in many different sizes and styles in every grocery store. Traditionally, they are warmed on a hot griddle or frying pan on the stove. They have to be warmed to become pliant and tasty. But instead of heating up that pan, just wrap them in a damp paper towel and heat on high in the microwave for 30 seconds to a minute, depending on size and type and quantity.

Many people have long sung the praises of cooking bacon in the microwave. While I’m not that big of a fan, one has to admit that it’s faster, safer (no splattering), and results in less greasy rashers. Wrap the bacon in two double layers of paper towels (there’s a lot of grease to be absorbed) and microwave on high for four to five minutes until tender. They won’t get very crispy unless you let them cool completely.

So, save time, energy and don’t heat up the kitchen. Turn to that microwave on the kitchen counter. It can do a lot of things.