Frugal Microwave Cooking

Microwave cooking can save you time and energy all year long. But it is especially nice in summer because it enables you to cook hot meals without heating up your home.

Microwave heat is produced only within the food, so the microwave oven stays cool and your house does, too, saving you money on your air conditioning bill!

In general, the microwave oven uses only one- fourth of the energy used by a conventional oven.

In order to get the most from using your microwave oven, remember these tips:

1. Covering most foods will speed up cooking.

2. Use round or oval dishes, instead of square or rectangle, for more even cooking.

3. If you are cooking two foods at the same time, choose foods that take about the same amount of time to cook.

4. Heating continues after food is removed from the microwave oven, so allow time for this additional cooking.

5. Arrange chicken pieces so that the thicker, meatier portions are toward the outside of the dish and the thin, bony parts are toward the center.

6. Foods containing sugar and fats cook faster.

Many of your family's favorite recipes can be converted to a microwave recipe.

To figure microwave cooking time, start with one- fourth of the conventional time.

Always undercook--if more time is needed, you can always add another minute or two.

Use less liquid because there is not as much evaporation.

It may help to find a recipe that is similar to yours that is written especially for microwave ovens and use it as a guide.

SWISS STEAK

3 tbsp. flour 1 lb. beef round steak, 3/4 inch thick 3 tbsp. dry onion soup mix - shake mix before measuring 1 tbsp. brown sugar 3 tbsp. water 1 tsp. prepared mustard 1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce

Sprinkle half of flour on one side of meat; pound in with rolling pin or meat mallet. Turn meat and sprinkle with remaining flour; pound with rolling pin. Cut into 4 serving size pieces.

Arrange in 8 inch round microwave baking dish.

In small bowl, combine all remaining ingredients, b lend well. Pour over meat. Cover tightly with microwave safe plastic wrap. Microwave on medium for 12 to 17 minutes or until meat is almost tender. Let stand tightly covered for 10 minutes. Serves 4 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Steamed Veggies

Vegetable (green beans,carrots, broccoli, whatever) Small amount of water (about 1/4 to 1/2 cup)

Put veggies and water in a microwave-safe container and cover with microwave-safe plastic wrap,loosely, so steam can escape.

Cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute at time, until done to desired tenderness.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Microwave Raspberry Cake

1/2 cup butter 2/3 cup granulated sugar 1/2 cup seedless raspberry preserves 1/4 cup sour cream 2 eggs 1 1/2 cups flour 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon salt

Cream butter and sugar in large bowl. Mix in preserves. Blend well. Add sour cream and eggs. Beat well. Blend together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add gradually to first mixture, beating well.

Pour batter into greased 8-inch round microwave-safe dish. Microwave on full power for 4 to 5 minutes or until top springs back when pressed with finger.

Cool. Frost with Raspberry Frosting.

Raspberry Frosting

2 tablespoons butter 2 cups powdered sugar, divided 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/4 cup seedless raspberry preserves

Combine butter, 1 cup powdered sugar, vanilla extract and preserves. Blend well. Add remaining 1 cup powdered sugar and stir until smooth. Spread on cake. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Cyndi Roberts is the editor of the "1 Frugal Friend 2 Another" bi-weekly newsletter and founder of the website of the same name. Visit http://www.cynroberts.com to find creative tips, articles, and a free e-cooking book. Subscribe to the newsletter and receive the free e-course "Taming the Monster Grocery Bill".

In The News:

Soothing Winter Soup Recipes  The Wall Street Journal
Recipes to Celebrate Black History Month  The Wall Street Journal
Pea and mint paratha recipe  Telegraph.co.uk
Tartiflette Recipe - NYT Cooking  The New York Times

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