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These days microwaves have more buttons than a TV show control room, so zapping a plate of leftovers becomes a serious challenge. Not to mention the aftermath of a splatter can create a sticky mess with a huge radius. The appliance can be a real time-saver though, and one that even pros use, so to keep it humming along, we went straight to the source. Here’s what your microwave would say if it could talk:

microwave

“Microwave-safe dishes are always a good idea”
Glass and ceramic dishes that aren’t microwave-safe absorb the machine’s energy instead of letting it pass through to the food, so they can crack or become too hot to touch.

“Close my door gently, please”
Slamming it could blow the internal fuse so the machine won’t turn on. Then you’d have to call a pro to replace the fuse. Bummer.

“Use that popcorn button!”
When you press a button designated for a certain food, such as popcorn or a frozen meal, you activate the machine’s humidity sensor. This adjusts an item’s cooking time based on the amount of steam it releases, leaving you with a perfectly done dish.

“I’m easy to clean. I promise”
If you’ve let spills sit too long, mix 2 tablespoons of lemon juice with 1 cup of water in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat and let boil for three minutes; keep the door closed for five minutes more. The steam makes gunk a cinch to wipe away, and the lemon zaps odors.

“Cover with plastic or a paper towel? It depends”
If you’re cooking something that you want to stay moist—like chicken or veggies—loosely shield the dish with microwave-safe plastic wrap. But use a paper towel for foods that should stay drier or crisp, like pizza or fries.

The microwave is made for more than Easy Mac. Even chefs nuke stuff!

  • Asparagus “Sprinkle with water, salt, and a drizzle of olive oil, then heat on high for 30-second intervals.”—Geoffrey Zakarian, chef at New York City’s The Lambs Club
  • Chocolate chips “Heat on low for a minute or two until melted, then use for chocolate-dipped strawberries.”—Ellie Krieger, author of Small Changes, Big Results
  • Potatoes “I like to ‘power bake’ them whole for about six minutes on high.”—Alex Guarnaschelli, host of Food Network’s Alex’s Day Off

Some content originally appeared in the May 2013 issue of HGTV Magazine.

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