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Cooking 101


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Nine Layer Dip

This party standard is one of the meals we eat year round because it's easy to whip up when "Mom doesn't feel like cooking," or when I'm cooking for myself. Put the dip in a bowl, pop the bowl in the microwave and the main course is done in minutes. Add carrot and celery sticks with sliced jicama on the side and dinner for one is served.

If you make this for the big football game, put everything together the night before. Make two or three separate batches of dip and you can microwave them just before the game or at half-time.

Cooking for One or Two

1 cup refried beans
1/8 tsp. chili powder
2 tbsp. chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped cooked chicken
1/3 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped olives
1/8 cup grated string cheese
1/4 cup salsa
1/4 cup sour cream

Cooking for Three or Four

1 - 16 oz. can refried beans
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped cooked chicken
2/3 cup grated cheddar cheese
3/4 cup chopped olives
1/4 cup grated mozzarella
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 cup sour cream

Layer first seven ingredients in a microwave safe bowl. Spread the beans evenly over the bottom of the bowl, sprinkle chili powder over the beans, then layer the onions, chicken, cheddar cheese, and olives. Sprinkle the mozzarella over the olives to top off the dip.

Place the bowl in the center of your microwave. Microwaves cook at different speeds, but to gauge cooking time the first time you make this dip, use the oven pre-set timing to reheat a large plate of leftovers. The dip will be done when the cheese is melted and the beans are bubbling around the edges.

Remove the hot dip from the microwave, using a hot pad if the dish is warm. Top the dip with salsa and sour cream.

Serve warm with corn chips.

Microwave Safe Bowls

One of the challenges of cooking smaller meals is finding smaller serving and baking dishes. Fortunately, manufacturers are beginning to address this.

CorningWare's French White line has small ramekins (custard cups), 16 oz. and 24 oz. dishes that work in both microwave and conventional ovens. They are also dishwasher safe, which is a big bonus.

Chantal also offers bakeware, especially pie dishes, which are perfect for small batches. Their heart shaped pie dishes are also great for serving a special dessert after a romantic Valentine's Day dinner.