Today is less of a recipe, more of an idea. You can create a totally delicious, satisfying, comforting, and complete meal entirely in the microwave! This would make a great dinner or lunch.
I think the potato has gotten a bad rap. It’s not a starch.It’s a VEGETABLE! It grows in the ground. It has about 120 calories, as much potassium as a banana and more vitamin C than an orange. For realsies.
It’s also a palate for a fantastic meal:
Salsa, black beans, pepper jack and cilantro for a “southwestern” style potato.
Shredded barbecue chicken, green onions and white Vermont cheddar.
Ham, peas, and parmesan for a “carbonara” version
Ricotta, chopped pepperoni, and sauteed spinach- Italian!
What we do for our “baked potato bar” is basically the most crowd pleasing, or so I have found. Read on…
First, each kitchen gets a potato per person and bakes it in the microwave. They wash the potatoes and PIERCE them with a fork a few times. This lets the steam escape so your potato doesn’t burst while cooking.
Microwave the potatoes, arranged in a circle or triangle, with the FAT end of the potato facing out. The microwave will cook the outer edges of the spinning plate faster than whatever is on the inside.
Here is the rule for potato cooking: 4 minutes per potato, add 2 minutes for every additional potato. So, a kitchen of 3 people cooked their potatoes for a total of 8 minutes.
When the timer goes off, wrap potatoes in foil or a clean dish towel. This will allow for “standing time”, which is the time period after the timer goes off when the food finishes cooking by heat conduction.
Next, each kitchen was assigned a different food to microwave and add to the “bar” we set up at my station. Three kitchens cooked bacon.
The general rule of thumb for cooking bacon is 1 minute per slice. If your microwave is old-ish, this will work great. We have new ones that are super wonderful, and they work quicker. I told my kids 1 minute per slices, then subtract two minutes. You can always cook food more, but you can never cook it LESS!
To microwave bacon, get a dinner plate, line with paper towels. Lay out bacon, not overlapping, on towels and cover with more paper towels.
OK, once the bacon cools a bit, crumble it up and put it in a bowl.
Next, one kitchen steamed our broccoli for us. You can easily do this with fresh broccoli, but we used frozen. It is just as nutritious and since we were just steaming and chopping, frozen was perfect.
I had the kids put two tbsp. of water in the bottom and cover the glass bowl with a plate. They microwaved the broccoli for 2 minutes, then if they deemed it not quite warmed through they cooked it another minute.
They chopped up the broccoli so it was “sprinkle-able”.
The last kitchen was the cheese kitchen. I had them place some grated cheddar into one bowl, and in another bowl warm up some cheese “whiz”. It was actually Tostitos cheese sauce. BOTH classes I did this with yesterday got confused and microwaved the shredded cheese, even though I SPECIFICALLY told them to keep them seperate. Should I use my invisibility for good or evil?
This looks better than it was in real life. It was congealed and nasty. One kid ate the leftover chunk on a dare. Remember when we used to dare people to eat strange things? I think that is one of those uniquely high school activities. Bizarre.
Right before they dressed them up, I showed them how to pop open a potato like a flower. The old slice down the middle doesn’t allow for a proper potato meal. It needs to be almost flat, to be a canvas for all of the toppings! You slice it down the middle, then pinch it together underneath, opening up the top! Looks like this:
Anyways, this is what our “bar” looked like.
I put out sour cream, butter, SALT AND PEPPER, and some french fried onion straw things I found in the pantry.
I told the kids that I wanted them to try new combos instead of just eating their potato with butter and cheese. I said I would give a handful of Hershey kisses to the person who’s potato I deemed the prettiest.
Here are some finished works of art.
Winner Winner chicken dinner. Um. Winner winner potato dinner…
I appreciated the dramatic stringing of the cheese that went outside of the potato. “B” thinks outside the box! Go “B”! Hershey Kisses for you!
And is the skin the healthiest part of the potato? Should you all DEFinitely eat the skin? Not necessarily.
Right underneath the skin of all fruits and vegetables there is a concentration of nutrients. So it’s not the skin, necessarily, but the flesh closest to the skin. The skin is a good sources of insoluble fiber (the fiber that “keeps you moving” hehe), so you might as well eat the whole she-bang to ensure you get those nutrients AND the fiber.
The moral of this story is:
1. Potatoes are a VEGETABLE, and ALL fruits and vegetables are GOOD for you and should be eaten with gusto.
2. It takes an hour in the oven to cook a potato, but only 4 minutes in the microwave. Go on with your bad self and cook your bacon, chicken, broccoli, ETC. in that microwave, too! A quickly-put-together and delicious meal!