When the rest of the editorial staff challenged me to cook with only a microwave for an entire day, I was a bit peeved. I had just bought bags of fresh produce — squashes, peppers, tomatoes, spinach, sweet potatoes — and had been looking forward to roasting, sautéing, frying, broiling … not nuking. I like to cook to avoid my problems (you should try it sometime) and this week I was stressed to no end. You know how it goes: everything (boys, school, work, your hard drive crashing) hits the fan at once. I just wanted to lock myself in my kitchen, put on some Usher and cook.
But I love a good challenge, and I firmly believe in playing by the rules, of which there were only a few. I couldn’t use anything to cook food except for a microwave. I was allowed to eat food in its raw state (bread was okay, toast wasn’t; apples were fine, baked apples were out of the question). And of course, I had to log everything.
I quickly realized that microwave cooking is definitely still cooking. While I looked up recipes in lecture, multitasking as per usual, I was shocked by what I could make without using an oven or stove. These microwave-only recipes made me feel officially inspired.
I had originally planned to make turkey chili for dinner, but couldn’t figure out a way to do so in the microwave. I replanned my menu for the day, forgoing my normal breakfast of eggs and toast and deciding that nuking leftover stuffed peppers for lunch was probably cheating.
Breakfast: Oatmeal with fresh fruit
I had leftover oats from cookies I made a few weeks ago, so I threw them in the microwave with some water and then mixed them with blueberries and bananas. Things I learned: (1) oatmeal will explode all over your microwave if you don’t put it in a big enough bowl, and (2) I still hate the taste and texture of oatmeal. I fixed the first issue with a bunch of paper towels and the second one by adding some chocolate chips to my breakfast.
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Lunch: Squash à la microwave
I really wanted to make this spaghetti squash recipe, but all I had was butternut squash (woe is me). I figured a squash is a squash, though, so I followed the same instructions for cooking it in the microwave and topped it with pepper and Parmesan cheese. It was surprisingly awesome, and I’d cook this again.
Dinner: Microwaveable soup and vegetables
No one said I couldn’t eat prepackaged stuff. This was a simple, easy dinner, and instead of spending two hours stirring chili, I worked on a paper that’s been looming over my head for a week. Kind of a blessing in disguise.
Dessert: Chocolate chip cookie in a mug
I’ve always wanted to do one of those mug desserts and when I saw that this recipe only took six minutes, I couldn’t resist. Freshly baked cookies are one of my favorite things on this earth. I had all the ingredients on hand and really did have a warm, gooey chocolate chip cookie in six minutes. Magic? Maybe.
Snacks: Tea, pretzels, apple and peanut butter, carrots and hummus
Throughout the day, I snacked on things that didn’t need to be cooked, which was easy enough.
I still love cooking. But utilizing your microwave is a great way to cook food quickly and easily, leaving more time for, y’know, studying and working and all the other things that college requires … like binge-watching “Orange Is the New Black” with your roommates.