Comfort-Cookin'My favorite tool for making cooking easier is the microwave. Most of us have one but likely don’t use it as labor saver. I rarely “cook” with it (although there are a few items I do-more about them in a minute), but I would have a very difficult time without it (added work=increase pain). So here are my tips and suggestions to adding comfort in the kitchen.

  1. Cooking– I have a few recipes I actually do in the microwave entirely. Mostly however I cook my bacon and steam vegetables in it.
    • Bacon: I use a microwave ridged tray which I put a couple of layers of paper towels on, then 3-4 slices of bacon, and then top with another paper towel. The amount of time will depend on the thickness of the bacon and the wattage of your microwave. So, start low the first time and keep adding minutes until done. Unless I am going to crumble bacon for a recipe, I always microwave it. Note: Bacon does not crumble well when microwaved even if pre-cut into small pieces as it tends to stick to the paper towels.
    • Vegetables: These can be heated or steamed in the microwave easily. There is a disposable bag on the market for steaming items (in the baggies, foil, etc. aisle) which I love but a covered casserole works well also (especially for the bigger items (like asparagus and artichokes). Add 1 Tb of water and cook until crisp. For example, asparagus takes 4 minutes in my microwave. Corn on the cob can be simply shucked. Each ear can be wrapped in waxed paper and both ends twisted to close. Place in the microwave in a single layer and cook until just done. My current microwave takes 8 minutes while my old one took 14 minutes.
    • Eggs: I use a hard-boiled (HB) egg cooker which I use to HB my eggs.
    • Sauces: These are easy to do in the microwave, whisking or stirring every 30 – 60 seconds.
  2. Melting or softening:
    • Butter: I cover the measuring cup or dish with a piece of waxed paper in order to prevent splattering. Browned butter is easy in the microwave by putting it in a dish (oven safe to 400 degrees). Stir every couple of minutes and skim off foam. Don’t let burn, so remove it when brown.
    • Chocolate: This is easy to do and as an added bonus it doesn’t usually need constant stirring or worry about burning when melted this way.
    • Crystallized honey can be quickly returned to syrup consistancy
  3. Defrosting:
    • Unthawing those little dabs of items I keep in the freezer that I save when I have more than needed for one recipe such as chopped green chilies or tomato paste. Takes 15 seconds, top.
  4. Warming:
    • Tortillas: If you don’t have a tortilla dish, wrap in damp paper towels.
    • Lemons and lime: Do this before juicing and you get a lot more juice. Cut in half first then microwave for 15-30 seconds.
    • Brandy before flaming
    • Soups: Canned or refrigerated homemade soups
    • Leftovers: I put a piece of wax paper to cover and avoid splattering

As I have said before, anything which makes cooking less demanding helps those of us with persistent pain enjoy cooking more.

Now for some favorite recipes:

[toggle title=”Rum Sweet Potatoes”]

This is a family favorite adapted from a recipe out of some magazine 30+ years ago. I steam my sweet potatoes in the microwave.

Serves 4-6

2 lbs. sweet potatoes peeled and cooked; cut in 1 ½ “ -2” slices.
¼ cup melted butter
2 Tbs. dark (or gold) rum
¼ tsp. salt
1/3 cup brown sugar

Place sliced sweet potatoes in a single layer in a shallow baking dish (where they fit snuggly). Combine remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil in small saucepan (or microwave-remember to cover with some waxed paper). Simmer 5 minutes on stove (2 minutes in microwave) until thick. Pour over sweet potatoes and sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake at 4250 for 15 minutes.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”Lemon-Fudge Ribbon Dessert”]

This recipe made entirely in the microwave is adapted from a recipe in the 1988 Family Circle Microwave Cooking magazine. I always have to double it so everyone gets enough!

Serves 4-6

1 8oz package low fat cream cheese cut into 2 pieces
1 cup sugar
¼ cup of lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs, beaten
1 square (1 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate
Sweetened whipped cream

Microwave cream cheese in medium bowl at HIGH for 1-1/2 minutes to soften. Beat in sugar then add lemon juice, vanilla, and eggs; blend well (I use a whisk).

Microwave at HIGH 2 minutes then whisk (or stir). Microwave an additional 3-5 min. whisking every 2 minutes until smooth and thick.

Microwave chocolate in a small bowl at HIGH 2 minutes or until melted. Blend in ½ cup of lemon pudding. Pour evenly into dessert cups. Divide the remaining lemon pudding evenly amongst the dessert cups over chocolate pudding.

Refrigerate 3-4 hours.

Top with sweetened whipped cream.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”Cube Steak Sandwich with Sauce”]

This has been a favorite recipe for many years. It is adapted from BH&G Jiffy Cooking (1968). The sauce is very fattening but that is what makes it taste so good (and such a comfort food), An added; plus cube steak is an inexpensive meat.

Serves 2-3

½ cup butter
3 Tbs. bottled steak sauce
1 ½ Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 lb. cubed steaks
4-6 slices French or Italian bread, cut diagonally, toasted

Melt butter in large measuring cup that holds 4 cups or larger or use a bowl. Whisk in steak sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Keep warm

Grill cube steak on outdoor or indoor grill (pan) or pan sear.

Drizzle bread slices (2 for each serving) with sauce. Place serving of cube steak(s) on bread. Pour remaining sauce over each serving.[/toggle]

It is soooo good.

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