Surprising Recipes for the Microwave (Plus Mind-Blowing Microwave Tricks)

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Sure, a microwave is great for reheating leftovers, but did you know your countertop appliance was originally invented as a quick-cooking replacement for the conventional home oven? Research on radiation during World War II resulted in the realization that microwaves could cook food faster than regular ovens. Most microwave recipes are developed for units with 800 to 1,200 watts. The higher the wattage, the faster things will cook, so if your microwave is super powerful, it will cook your food significantly faster. Of course there are definitely a few foods you should never experiment with in the microwave: whole eggs, grapes and raisins, and chocolate-hazelnut spread (the high fat content makes it spark), but there are also many things the microwave does incredibly well. These recipes and tricks will inspire you to use your appliance for more than just reheating.

1. Microwave Mac and Cheese (pictured above)

This one-bowl from-scratch pasta dish is better than the store-bought variety since you don't have to boil the macaroni or cook the cheese sauce separately. Plus, it's ready in less than half an hour. It features a tangy blend of American and Jack cheeses plus Parmesan.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Not interested in spending a half-hour over the stove stirring your risotto? This version is ready with just one stir. Start with an earthy broth containing dried mushrooms, then add fresh mushrooms and Arborio rice. After one stir and some cooking time in the microwave, you'll be ready to serve the easiest, creamiest risotto.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Fish and vegetables are excellent options to cook in the microwave since they steam well. This 15-minute meal is not only easy but it's also healthy. Cook flounder fillets over a layer of shiitake mushrooms. While the fish rests you can quickly cook some snow peas so they stay crisp and bright green.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

This 35-minute dessert turns frozen cherries into something special enough to serve at a party (but quick enough to follow a weeknight dinner). Crisp up the homemade streusel topping of butter, flour, brown sugar, almonds, oats, cinnamon and salt  in the microwave and sprinkle over your cooked cherry mixture.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

These Microwave Tricks From Food Network Kitchens Will Blow Your Mind:

1.  Toasting coconut and nuts: Pop these ingredients in the microwave for 30-second increments, until they reach the desired color (for coconut) or are toasty and fragrant (for nuts).

2.  Foaming milk: No frothing equipment? No problem. Fill a lidded jar halfway with milk, then shake vigorously. Remove the lid, microwave for 30 seconds, pour the milk into your coffee, and scoop the milk foam on top as desired.

3.  Drying herbs: Lay fresh herbs out on a paper towel, with another paper towel on top, and microwave in 30-second increments until the herbs are adequately dry. Transfer to a sealed container and store at room temperature.

4.  Peeling garlic: Microwave a whole head of garlic for 20 seconds and the peels will slip right off the cloves.

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