WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BASIC MICROWAVE TIPS?

1. For quicker, tastier outdoor barbecuing, start your food in the microwave and finish on the grill. Cook meats 3-4 minutes per pound at 100% power in your microwave. Immediately place on the grill to finish. Regular grill time will be reduced by at least half. Remember to place food onto the grill IMMEDIATELY. Do not let food cool off as this will not allow proper internal temperatures to be reached to deplete bacteria.

2. To peel onions more easily, place them in a covered container and microwave for 1-2 minutes at 100% power. This will also help remove the "hot" flavor from the onions you wish to serve uncooked. For example, slices you may wish to use on hamburgers.

3. Freshen chips and crackers by microwaving 2 cups for 1 minute at 100% power, uncovered.

4. Dry or crisp older bread for croutons. Microwave 4 cups for 5-7 minutes at 100% power, stirring several times.

5. To make ice cream easier to scoop, soften by microwaving for 30 seconds at 100% power. For a special treat, place a scoop of ice cream on "yesterday's pie." Heat for 10-15 seconds. The pie will be "fresh and warm" and the ice cream will not be melted.

6. Fresh vegetables may be blanched in the microwave. Prepare the vegetables as desired (whole, chopped, etc.) and place in microwave casserole. Microwave on High power (100%) for 3-4 minutes per pound, covered, stirring or rearranging halfway through the time. Plunge immediately into ice cold water to cool. Drain, pack and freeze. Microwaved vegetables are HEALTHIER! More nutrients, especially Vitamin C, are retained when microwaved than when conventionally blanched or cooked.

7. Soften one stick of refrigerated butter or margarine by heating for 30 seconds at 100% power. To melt butter, heat for 1 minute at 100% power. Clarify butter by melting 6-8 ounces in a 2 cup microwave-safe container on Low power (30%) for 2-3 minutes or until completely melted. Let stand for 3-4 minutes, remove the foam and slowly pour off the yellow oil or clarified butter. Remember higher wattage ovens may need shorter cooking times than these.