Easy Campus Cooking: Microwave Recipes

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It’s six o’clock, and you are STARVING.  You just got out of your 4:30 class (kills you every time), and you head to the dining hall to pick up a to-go plate of your usual:  chicken, vegetables and rice.  Can you say dry, soggy and dry again?  You try to put aside your expectations and convince yourself that it might be better today than it was the last five days.  On top of that, you have an obscene amount of organic chemistry homework to start, meaning there is no chance of even sitting down to eat…

BUT WAIT.  There’s still hope!  And it rests in… your microwave?

Believe it or not, microwave cooking can be both easy and rewarding.  Heating foods in the microwave keeps in many of the nutrients that would otherwise leave the foods (i.e. vegetables) through other cooking methods.  There is less dishware required as well, which means less washing when you are done.  Microwaves are also “greener” to use than toaster ovens or regular ovens, because they use less energy.  So you can feel good about cooking your own food and saving the environment, all in one!

The best thing about a microwave (especially in college) is that everyone has one!  And even if you don’t, some room near you is bound to.  So make some new friends in your hall, look up some recipes, and get ready for the desire for a full kitchen (darn you 2000 Comm Ave, with your fancy dishwashers!) to dissolve away.  There are more meals out there to be made in a microwave than you would think!

Here are a few that I tried out myself:

1.     Mini Pizzas

A microwave classic that proves you don’t have to spend big bucks on eight tons of Bagel Bites every month.  This recipe took me all of five minutes to make, and my personal taste-testers (a.k.a. my roommates) gave it two very enthusiastic thumbs up.  I also made it even healthier by using 12-grain bread, artichoke hearts, and mushrooms.

Ingredients:
1 pack of English muffins (package of 6)
1 small jar of pizza sauce
8 oz package of shredded mozzarella
1 small bag of pepperoni slices

Directions:
Pour sauce onto muffins.  Place four pepperoni slices on each muffin.  Put large amounts of cheese on top.  Microwave for two minutes, or until cheese melts.

My ingredients:                                                 My finished product:

2.     Scrambled Eggs

Even I was skeptical at first, but it turns out that making scrambled eggs in the microwave is not only easy, but also requires very little clean up when you’re done.  I mixed the ingredients (plus a little mozzarella cheese, and a pinch of salt and pepper, although not shown) in about a minute, and two minutes in the microwave later, voila, scrambled eggs as if they were made in a pan.  Who knew that college breakfasts could be this fast and simple?

Ingredients:
2-3 eggs
Splash of milk
A centimeter (or less) of butter (this is not required—you could easily make it without!)
Pinch of salt and pepper

Directions:
Whisk eggs briskly in a bowl.  Add milk first, mixing it in with the eggs.  Add butter (if you want), and add the salt and pepper last.  Mix together until even, then microwave on high for two minutes, or until no liquid exists.

Note:  If you see the eggs blowing up like a balloon in the microwave, don’t worry! This happens.

My ingredients:                                                 My finished product:

3.     Fruit Cobbler

Fruit + Microwave + Love = Happiness.  And I got a C in math…  But really, this dish could not have been healthier or tasted any better.  Although I used pears from a can, I also used fresh mangos, plums, and oranges to give it an extra fruity “oomph.”  The granola I sprinkled on top was natural, made with almonds, and packed with tons of fiber.  Basically, I would pick this any day for breakfast, dessert, or whatever.

Ingredients:
1 lb. canned sliced peaches, drained
2 cups canned pear halves
1/3 cup orange juice
1 ½ cups low fat granola cereal
 
Directions:
Place all fruit in a shallow microwaveable bowl.  Top with granola.  Microwave on high for 3 minutes.  Let stand for 2 minutes and serve.

Note:  Adding a little honey and sugar on top at the end is a great way to sweeten it up even more!  Also, the sugar and peaches are missing from the picture.

My ingredients:                                                 My finished product:

4.     Sweet and Sour Microwave Chicken

Okay, now this one definitely scared me the most as far as possible food-borne illnesses are concerned (shout out to salmonella), but since the recipe said to cook it until there was no pink in the middle, I took a chance and went for it.  And you know what?  It actually turned out pretty good.  Even my cynical taste-testers were surprised how yummy and juicy the chicken came out to be.

Ingredients:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
8 oz can of pineapple chunks, drained (but keep the juice!)
2 Tbsp. water
2 Tbsp. orange marmalade
1 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. cornstarch
¼ cup ketchup
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. sugar
¼ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
½ cup halved green grapes
 
Directions:
Cut chicken into 1” pieces and combine with pineapple chunks in a 9” square glass baking dish.  Combine pineapple juice, water marmalade, cornstarch, ketchup, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper into a microwaveable measuring cup, and mix well to blend.  Microwave on high for 3-4 minutes, or until the mixture thickens, stirring once during cooking.  Pour over the chicken and pineapple in the baking dish.  Cover with microwave safe wax paper or a paper towel.  Microwave on high for 4-8 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink in the center, turning the dish once during the cooking time (if the microwave does not have a turntable).  Sprinkle the grapes over the chicken and microwave on high for 1 more minute.  Let stand for three minutes until serving.
 

Note:  Don’t judge a book by its cover!  It is more appetizing than it first looks.  Trust me, I wouldn’t give you the recipe for an awful dish!

My ingredients:                                                 My finished product:

Sources:
http://www.123easyaspie.com/recipes/937/Mini+Pizzas
http://busycooks.about.com/od/chickenbreastrecipes/r/swtsrmicrochick.htm
http://www2.mealsforyou.com/cgi-bin/recipe?id.10974
http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/04/microwave-or-toaster-oven-whic-is-the-greener-kitchen-gadget.php

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