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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Making The Most of Your Microwave

By Sherrie Norris

The microwave has evolved into a cook’s best friend. While I don’t use mine to do a lot of meals from start to finish, many cooks do, having discovered that it cuts their time in the kitchen by more than half. I didn’t realize, until recently, just how much I do depend on that particular kitchen appliance for a quick warm-up.

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, when everything else seemed to be falling apart at my house, thanks in large part to Covid, not only did the microwave quit, so did the coffee pot and the garbage disposal. And that’s just the beginning! 

I was frantic, until my husband reminded me that we had replacements for the first two in his office that we could move back up the hill until we were out of quarantine. Thank goodness. It would have been difficult to do without those little jewels for another 10  days when we needed convenience the most.

Hopefully, if you’re one who uses your microwave a lot, these tips and recipes will make your life even simpler. I can’t say that I’ve tried all of them, but they were shared by those who have. Hope you enjoy.

Italian Vegetable Tidbits

2 cups thin carrot sticks

2 cups whole fresh green beans

2 cups cauliflower flowerets

¾  cup Italian dressing

Combine all ingredients in oblong baking dish. Microwave on high for 7-9 minutes, or until vegetables are tender, stirring once. Chill before serving.

Microwave Cheesy Chicken

4 boneless chicken breasts

Melted butter

About 1 dozen Ritz crackers

½  cup Parmesan cheese

½  tsp. parsley flakes

Salt and pepper

Melt enough butter to dip chicken in. In another bowl, crush crackers, mix in Parmesan cheese, parsley, salt and pepper. After chicken has been dipped in butter, roll it in crumbs. Place in baking dish. Cover with Saran Wrap and microwave on HIGH for about 19-20 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes more.

Hot Fudge Sauce

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate pieces

½  cup light corn syrup

¼  cup light cream or milk

1 ½ Tbs. butter or margarine

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

Combine chocolate pieces and corn syrup in 1-qt. glass bowl. Microwave, uncovered at medium power level (4-5) for about 4 minutes, or until chocolate is melted and smooth, stirring twice. Gradually add cream or milk, stirring to blend thoroughly. Stir in butter, vanilla and salt. 

Rice Pudding

3 cups milk

½  cup instant rice

1 (3-oz.) pkg. regular vanilla pudding and pie filling

¼  cup raisins

Grated orange peel (optional)

¼ tsp. ground cinnamon or nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a 2-qt. glass bowl or casserole. Cover with wax paper. Microwave at power level 5 for about 15 minutes, or until pudding is thickened, stirring every three minutes. Chill before serving.

Quick and Easy Nachos

Nacho chips

Canned hot dog chili and/or refried beans


Shredded Cheddar cheese

Layer ingredients as listed onto large microwavable plate,(spread chili/beans over chips to cover.) Microwave for 2 to 3 minutes or until cheese is melted. Top with sour cream, shredded tomatoes, lettuce, olives etc.

Excellent side dish for tacos, burritos, etc.

Microwave Bacon

1 package uncooked bacon

Place two paper towels on a microwave-safe dinner plate. 

Arrange four-six slices of bacon on the paper towels, not touching each other. Place additional paper towel on top of the bacon slices and add another layer of bacon.

Microwave on high until crispy, about 4 minutes.  However, microwave ovens greatly vary, so check after 3 minutes. You can always add 1 more minute if needed. 

Remove the plate carefully from the microwave. It could be very hot. Repeat with remaining bacon slices.