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.
But that’s not how it’s supposed to be at all.
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.
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.
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).
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
Despite my personality, I managed to be one of the most popular girls in my dorm’s wing during my freshman year of college.
A microwave. But this was no ordinary microwave, which every Megan, Katie and Laura owned. My microwave had a toaster built in.
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.
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.
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.