Kitchen Gadgets: The Microwave!

I love kitchen gadgets. I have an Amazon wish list full of kitchen gadgets, from an immersion cooker to a strawberry huller. Today, I want go back to the original kitchen gadget: the microwave.

According to Wikipedia, the first idea for using wavelengths in cooking emerged in the 1930s. Westinghouse used vacuum tubes placed in radio transmitters to cook foods in minutes at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. It wasn’t until the 1940s, however, that the microwave (as we know it) was developed. The credit goes to Percy Spencer, who worked with radar technology during World War II. When he noticed that a candy bar in his pocket had melted as he stood in front of an active radar, he decided to experiment with food and wavelengths.

His employer, Raytheon Corporation, produced the first microwave oven (called a Radarange) in 1954. Unfortunately, it was too expensive and large for most homes: it wasn’t until 1967 that the counter-top microwave was first introduced. When it hit the market, however, it took the world by storm.

Microwaves are rumored make food less healthy: some say the radiation kills the nutrients in the food. According to a 2014 article in CNN, however, steaming your food in the microwave is one of the healthiest ways to cook it. Catherine Adams Hutt, a registered dietician and certified food scientist, states that whenever you subject food to cooking it looses nutrients. To retain the most nutrients, you should use heat for as short a period of time as possible, and with a minimal amount of liquid. A microwave does exactly this! Granted, you can still overcook the food and cook away the nutrients. To prevent this, Hutt advises covering the food tightly to create an efficient steamer. The article also details which foods cook well in a microwave.

I normally use the microwave to reheat things, not cook them from scratch. But Pinterest has been giving me some ideas about using a mug and a microwave to create single-serving dishes. I’ll admit not all of these are healthy, but they are tasty!

Recipes

I’m going to start with breakfast: during the week, this is often an overlooked meal. I found two egg-based mug recipes that are not only delicious, but easy.

First up is a Mug Strata. The recipe writer calls it a mug quiche, but quiche is more like a custard. Stratas, on the other hand, use bread to soak up the egg and puff up when baking. This recipe is delicious and versatile: you can add any kind of veggies, herbs, or cheese. The bread soaks in the egg mixture really well, and the herbs really add. This will be going into my recipe box for sure! I’d love to mix in goat cheese next time . . .

Mug Strata

A savory egg and bread bake with cheeeeeese!

Next up for breakfast is Mug French Toast! I love French toast: it’s my favorite breakfast food. I had my doubts about making it in a mug in the microwave. I took the chance, though, and it paid off. The egg mixture really cooks well and, as you work out the exact cooking time, it becomes easier and easier. This recipe may not be quite as versatile as the strata one, but it does leave room for creativity. My only cautionary note is to use butter or margarine to coat the mug before mixing in the egg and bread. You can use flavored coffee creamer to make different variations.

French Toast, from a mug!

Just needs syrup!

These entree recipes are great for a quickie lunch or dinner:

This Spinach Lasagna recipe uses fresh lasagna noodles. I couldn’t find any when I went shopping so, instead, I used fresh linguine and layered it with the spinach and ricotta. It was really good; I think you could easily add in some variations (mushrooms, onions, etc.) to make it yours.

Spinach Ricotta Pasta Mug

A cup of fresh pasta, fresh spinach, ricotta, and cheeeeeese!

Next up is Meatloaf in a Mug. I really didn’t think this one would work, but I was pleasantly surprised! The recipe itself is very simple. You could easily use a family recipe as long as you use the correct proportions in the mug. It would also be easy to make extra portions and freeze it for the future.

Meatloaf in a mug

This is hot, delicious, and fully-cooked meatloaf.

Last up is Pizza Bread in a Mug! You have to watch the video for this one: it’s awesome—almost as awesome as the Pizza Bread. I used refrigerator biscuits for the bread dough. Mini pepperoni on top added extra numminess.

Deep dish pizza in a mug

It took me three times to get this shot . . . ’cause I would eat it.

Last—but certainly not least—is dessert! I made three classics: a brownie, a cookie, and a bread pudding.

Brownies are one of my favorite desserts: when they’re warm, they’re rich and perfect. This recipe was nice and chocolaty without being too sweet or overpowering. Adding peanut butter chips made it really decadent. Next time, I’ll definitely add vanilla ice cream.

Brownie in a Mug

This brownie has peanut butter chips, making it nice and rich.

My biggest weakness is cookies. I often tell people for whom I do favors that they can pay me back in cookies. Being able to throw together a favorite go-to food was awesome.

Peanut butter chip cookie in a mug

I forgot that I didn’t have any chocolate chips, but I did have peanut butter chips. It looks bland but tastes great.

My last dessert is Bread Pudding. This is similar to the French toast recipe, and is great with ice cream. You could also use a bit of jam for some added fruity flavor.

Bread pudding in a mug

I only have one word: NOMMMMM!

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