Microwave steamer

There comes a moment in every person’s life when they feel like they finally have it all figured out. Even for a split second, nirvana is achieved. For me, it was when I discovered microwave steamers over the summer.

This breakthrough opened all sorts of doors that I didn’t even know existed in the culinary world. I thought that the Crock-Pot was the king of the kitchen, but this plastic tub makes it extremely easy and convenient to cook all sorts of vegetables, chicken and even fish.

If I had known about microwave steamers when I was living in the dorms on campus, my range of different dishes would have varied greatly. Even though the dining halls offer a myriad of delicious and healthy options, if you’re anything like me, you’ll just end up eating pasta or Chick-fil-A five times a week.

You may think that your options in the dorms are limited to microwave macaroni and cheese, ramen, and popcorn, but that’s because steamers aren’t as popular as they should be. With the same amount of time and effort, you can easily steam some carrots, green beans and edamame.

If you aren’t feeling creative, though, many steamers come with a handy little cookbook with tons of recipes that are so easy a UVA student could figure it out.

Shrimp and rice

An example of a recipe that you can easily make in a microwave cooker is shrimp and rice. All it takes is 1/2 pound of shrimp, a cup of instant rice, some chicken stock, garlic and other spices to your liking. Put the rice, stock and garlic in the bottom with the shrimp on the tray, and season it. All it takes is 4 minutes in the microwave and 4 minutes to cool, and you have an easy dinner ready to go.

Chicken Alfredo

Another super easy meal is chicken Alfredo. With two boneless chicken breasts, a cup of half and half, some butter, garlic, a cup of parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper to your liking, you can have cooked chicken in 5 minutes. Unfortunately, you can’t cook pasta in the steamer, but the chicken goes great over it.

Edamame

As for the edamame I mentioned earlier, put 1/4 cup of water and a tablespoon of soy sauce in the basin of the steamer. Place 10 ounces of edamame and sprinkle some salt on the tray. Cook it in the microwave for 5 minutes and you have an easy snack.

Chicken and dumplings

Now as you know, we’re in the South, so it’d be a shame if I didn’t include an appropriate recipe. First, cut 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts into cubes. In place of water, put 1/2 cup of chicken broth in the bottom. Put the tray on top with the chicken and a pack of frozen vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and microwave for 5 minutes. Put everything from the steamer in a bowl and empty the broth. Now, add a can of cream of chicken soup and 1/2 cup of milk to the chicken and put it back in the steamer. In another bowl, combine a cup of baking powder, 1/2 cup of milk and 1/2 tablespoon of thyme. Mix and spoon into the steamer with the chicken. Microwave for 5 minutes for a delicious meal.

I used to think that being able to cook was some gift that some have and others don’t, but as I’ve been experimenting in the kitchen, I’ve realized that it’s super simple and not nearly as scary as I played it up to be in my mind. The bottom line, though, is that microwaves steamers are simple and convenient.

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