cooking · HOW TO · Microwave

Baking tips: how to soften butter

microwaving-butter
Betcha didn’t think Christmas cookie baking could be improved with your microwave.

This weekend, the ladies in my family attempted to start a tradition of Christmas cookie baking.

Baking Christmas cookies takes a lot of planning and shopping and measuring and mixing and of course, baking (which includes cooling and sometimes rotating, if your oven lacks convection).

My soon-to-be sister-in-law chose to make these Russian Tea Cakes for the first time ever. The recipe calls for a cup of softened butter, but because we were making 6 dozen instead of 4 dozen, we needed a cup and a half of softened butter (that’s a lot). And although I am  horrible baker, she asked me a question I could actually answer:

“How do you get butter to soften without melting it?”

Because of our early morning start, the butter I brought to my mom’s was still refrigerator-hard. So we needed to intercede.

Perhaps your experience with softening butter in the microwave involves you — nose pressed up against the glass — nuking the flavorful fat ingredient in short intervals and praying it doesn’t melt.

Softening gone wrong
Softening gone wrong

But that’s not how it’s supposed to be at all.

Soften a stick of butter by microwaving it for a minute at 10% power.
Soften a stick of butter by microwaving it for a minute at 10% power.

 

To soften our cup and a half of butter, we microwaved each stick for a minute a piece at 10% power.

Based on your microwave, you might want to amp up to 20% and adjust the time or even use the defrost setting (which is 30% power).

Later, we also adjusted our microwave power to soften cream cheese for Peanut Butter Balls (which are amazing, by the way).

Microwave power levels can also come in handy for reheating foods, I’ve found. Foods like pizza and French fries revive less soggier when microwaved longer at lower power.

Try it out!

cooking · Microwave

Today is the last day to safely eat Thanksgiving leftovers

Because leftovers only remain safe to eat for four days, you’re going to want to eat up all your turkey, stuffing and gravy by Monday.

(The importance of Thanksgiving leftovers as immortalized in pop culture by  Friends Moistmaker episode)

Ideally, you should freeze all leftovers as soon as possible, but if you throw the rest in freezer-safe bags or containers, it will be good to eat for another six months.

Actually, food technically remains safe to eat forever if it’s frozen, it just loses flavor and moisture.

The USDA wrote these guidelines for safely reheating stored leftovers:

  • When reheating leftovers, be sure they reach 165° F. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the food. Reheat sauces, soups and gravies by bringing them to a rolling boil. Cover leftovers to reheat. This retains moisture and ensures that food will heat all the way through.
  • Thaw frozen leftovers safely in the refrigerator, cold water or the microwave oven. When thawing leftovers in a microwave, continue to heat it until it reaches 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer.
  • Any leftover “leftovers” thawed by the cold water method or in the microwave should be reheated to 165 °F before refreezing.
  • In a real hurry? It is safe to reheat frozen leftovers without thawing, either in a saucepan or microwave (in the case of a soup or stew) or in the oven or microwave (for example, casseroles and combination meals). Reheating will take longer than if the food is thawed first, but it is safe to do when time is short.

I don’t know about you, but I certainly never knew to reheat my sauces to a full boil…oops.
Make sure to occasionally stir foods when microwaving them, because foods won’t heat evenly (especially if you don’t have a turntable) and cold spots will develop in which bacteria hasn’t been properly killed.

About Warners' Stellian · customer service · Microwave

Sure we offer free delivery, but our crews are ‘priceless’

When you think of customer service, you immediately might picture your salesperson helping secure available rebates or choose the perfect appliance for a tricky space.

And you’d be right.

But our delivery and install crews also deserve much credit for our stellar reputation for customer service. We offer free delivery and freestanding installation in the metro for orders $499 and up, but you get way more than you pay for.

Some purchases are routine replacements with nothing special in terms of selection or installation, but I love the emails from customers who’ve experienced our expertise in more complicated situations (especially when they come with photos).

Here’s a recent email that Susie sent to her salesperson at our Apple Valley appliance store:


I had to take a moment out to again thank you for all your help.  It seemed so hopeless when we started to replace the Jenn-Air microwave, but with your help I was encouraged.  I never dreamed it would turn out so well. These fellows were priceless.

Quickly they assessed the situation and made a few modifications and soon we were in business.

Unless you had seen the Jenn-Air in place you would think the KitchenAid was made to order.  I’m so thrilled we could use the old trim plate.

We are very happy with the new unit and truly appreciate all you did to make it possible. Thanks again,  –Susie & Jack

Appliance Design · cooking · Innovative Features · Microwave · Ovens · Things I Want

Microwave with Pizza Oven = Best Grad Gift Ever

Despite my personality, I managed to be one of the most popular girls in my dorm’s wing during my freshman year of college.

How?

A microwave. But this was no ordinary microwave, which every Megan, Katie and Laura owned. My microwave had a toaster built in.

Just another perk of being appliance retail royalty. (And my very first Warners' Stellian purchase; I've since given it away, unfortunately)

And toasters, as you may our may not know, belong in the can’t-have-in-a-dorm-room category. So you can imagine my novelty among the carb-happy set.

LG since discontinued that microwave, clearly to make room for a countertop appliance that would change college life forever.

A microwave that can support the other thing besides ramen that college students eat: pizza.

The LG LCSP1110ST includes a 1400-watt pizza oven below its microwave cavity capable of baking the frozen staple as well as other nutritious goods like frozen french fries and cookies.

And the LCSP1110 is really just a countertop microwave in its essence, so your treat-making should operate sans censure.

Can you say best graduation gift ever?

Don’t worry about trusting your grad with an oven, either. This LG microwave’s AUTO PIZZA function takes all the thinking guesswork out:

Four pizza bake functions are preset in the oven. The AUTO PIZZA feature automatically selects the best cooking method and time for various pizza types. The cooking guide shows which AUTO PIZZA function is recommended for the the pizza you are cooking.

A regular-crust frozen pizza bakes in only 15 minutes in the pizza oven. That’s faster than delivery, or even taking the stairs down to the dining hall.

Anyone who says you can’t buy friends didn’t dangle the right carrot, er, pizza. And this one’s a steal in my opinion at $200.

Budget-wise · Dishwashers · Dryer · Events · Microwave · Ranges · Refrigerator · Washer

Cyber Monday appliance deals on kitchen packages, refrigerators, washers and more

Note: this post refers to the 2010 sale prices. see my posts tagged Cyber Monday for current postings about Cyber Monday deals.

Click for more deals
Click for more deals

I don’t usually get this sales-y, but we’re offering our best Cyber Monday 2010 appliance discounts ever this year.

Seriously, Warners’ Stellian has great deals on refrigerators, washers and dryers, dishwashers, stoves and ranges and microwaves, as well as kitchen packages.

Click for more deals
Click for more deals

Our Cyber Monday Sale is two days only (while quantities last), with some deals ending today.

And remember, we deliver for free to the Twin Cities metro on orders $499 and up and ship for free nationwide on appliance orders $1,999 and over.

Appliance Design · Design · Friday Links Roundup · Kitchen Design · Product Roundup

Kitchen appliance colors 2010

You won’t see color appliances outside white and black in many kitchens, but gee, isn’t it fun to look at pictures to get kitchen color ideas?

I’d pledge my firstborn Le Creuset to someone who could actually produce a photo with this combination of kitchen appliance colors, but for some Friday fun, I assembled a roundup of fall-inspired colored appliances.

Viking Colored Microwave

This little (Viking Pumpkin Colored Microwave) guy’s so festive, I’d like to carve him up and put it on my doorstep.

No, you can’t panel a microwave — and yes, lots of people ask — but Viking Appliances does let you choose among a bunch of colors:

Viking appliance colors
Red Wine never looked so good. (Actually, red wine looks good to me on a regular basis, but it’s still a very attractive range.)

Viking iconic pro-style ranges aren’t the only choice for cooking in colors.

Bertazzoni, an Italian cooking appliance-maker, uses the same paint as car-maker Ferrari to paint its appliances.

(What is it with appliances mixing with automotive design?).

In fact, one of its ranges is even called Ferrari Red.

This Bertazzoni colored range in Wine just seems so cold-weather inspired.

>> See other Bertazzoni range colors

Perhaps Plum is more of a winter color…but I couldn’t resist including a big purple refrigerator.

Back to Viking: Doesn’t your dream kitchen include a built-in colored refrigerator…in plum?

Those not in the high-end appliance market shouldn’t feel left out.

There’s always seasonal dishwasher magnets.

cooking · HOW TO · Microwave

What’s microwave safe? HOW TO: test microwave cookware

I CAN BE MICROWAVD?

Today’s HOW TO tip is a quick, but useful one.

If you’re unsure whether you cookware or dishes are microwave-safe, put them in the microwave with a cup of water next to it and nuke it for 1 minute.

If the cookware or dishes become hot and the water stays cool, don’t use them. Simple as that.

(Just so you know, baby bottles and baby food jars should never be microwaved.)

Happy Friday!