Ja Rule had foodies in a frenzy this past week as he "announced" his plans to release a microwave cookbook inspired by his two-year stint in prison. In a recent interview on SiriusXM's Food Talk with Geoffrey Zakarian, The Inc. rapper toyed with the idea of capitalizing off his talents in the kitchen, behind bars.
Only time will tell if the project gets lifted off the ground.
"I don't know how this whole cookbook thing got started. I was on a cooking show with Geoff, [Guy Fieri] and Bobby Flay. We were joking around talking about what I ate in prison," he told TMZ Live.
"[...] We definitely get to cook in prison. You get a microwave and a toaster oven ... but the cookbook was a joke that me, Geoff and Guy were making and then all over the media is 'Ja's doing a cookbook.'"
Ja Rule also said HarperCollins, the publishing company responsible for his upcoming memoir, approached him with a deal for a microwave cookbook.
Before you thumb your nose at his latest venture, consider these six simple microwave recipes that might have you rethinking how you throw down in the kitchen.
Hot Artichoke Dip
1/2 c. mayonnaise or salad dressing
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
4 medium green onions, chopped
1 can (14 oz.) artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
Crackers, chips, bread or vegetables for dipping
In an ungreased 1-quart microwaveable casserole dish, mix all ingredients except for dipping choices. Cover tightly. Microwave on medium-high for 4 to 5 minutes until hot, stirring after 2 minutes. Serve with crackers, chips, bread or vegetables.
Butternut Squash Soup
2 lbs. butternut squash, cubed
2 onions, chopped
1 T. butter
4 c. vegetable broth
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 dash ground nutmeg
1 dash ground cloves
1 dash ground cinnamon
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large microwaveable dish combine squash, onions and butter. Cover and microwave on high for 4 minutes. Peel squash. Stir in broth and cook on high for another 20 to 25 minutes, or until squash is tender. Puree squash, onions and broth in a food processor or blender. Add cream, salt and pepper and microwave on high for another 3 or 4 minutes, or until heated through. Flavor with nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon to taste.
1 c. frozen bell pepper and onion stir-fry mix (16 oz.)
1/2 c. chunky salsa
1 can (14.5 oz) stewed tomatoes, undrained
3/4 c. uncooked instant white rice
1/4 lb. cooked kielbasa or Polish sausage, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 c. chopped cooked chicken
In 1-quart microwaveable casserole, combine bell pepper and onion stir-fry mix, salsa and tomatoes. Cover and microwave on high for 3 to 5 minutes-- stirring once or twice-- until mixture boils and bell peppers and onions are crisp-tender. Stir in rice. Cover and microwave on high for 2 minutes, stirring once halfway through cooking. Stir in kielbasa or sausage and chicken. Cover and microwave on high for 2 or 3 minutes-- stirring once or twice-- until meats are thoroughly heated.
8-10 oz. salmon fillet
Garlic Pepper Tabasco sauce
Thin slices of lime
Salt and pepper to taste
Rinse and pat dry salmon fillet. Spread a mixture of mayonnaise spiked with a few drops of Tabasco sauce over fish and lay slices of lime on top. Cover and cook, checking for doneness after 3 1/2 minutes (Fish is a great option for the microwave because it's thin and cooks quickly).
Brownie in a Mug
1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. sugar
2 T. cocoa, unsweetened
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cinnamon
1/4 c. water
2 T. vegetable oil
1 to 2 drops vanilla extract
Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, salt and cinnamon in a microwave-safe mug. Mix well. Add oil, water and vanilla and stir until mixture is smooth and there are no lumps. Place mug in microwave and cook on high for about 1 minute and 40 seconds (experiment with 1 minute, to be safe). Let cool for one minute. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
Microwave Baked Apples with Granola
2 large apples (such as Gala, Braeburn or Fuji)
2 T. raisins or sweetened dried cranberries
2 T. packed brown sugar
4 t. butter, softened
4 crunchy granola bars (any flavor), crushed
Cut apples in half lengthwise. Using spoon, remove and discard cores, making at least 1-inch indentation in each apple half. In microwaveable pie plate, arrange apple halves, cut sides up (if needed, but thin slice off bottoms to keep halves from tipping). Fill each apple half evenly with raisins or cranberries and brown sugar; dot with butter. Cover with microwaveable plastic wrap, folding back one edge 1/4 inch to vent steam. Microwave on high for 5 to 6 minutes or until apples are tender. Top each apple half with granola.
Recipes courtesy of Betty Crocker, AllRecipes.com, SimplyRecipes.com and Oprah.com.
(Photo: Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune/MCT/Landov)