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Note: The times will vary depending on the wattage of your microwave; these uses are based on a 1,000-watt microwave. Always use microwave-safe plates and cups.

Turn Your Kitchen into a Coffee House

You can get a gorgeous layer of velvety-smooth foam atop your cappuccino without any special gadgets, says J. Kenji López-Alt, author of The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science. Just vigorously shake a half-cup of milk in a sealed microwave-safe, pint-size container until it thickens and creates a rich foam, then microwave it for 15 to 20 seconds to stabilize it. For best results, use 2-percent, 1-percent or skim milk; higher-fat milk doesn't work as well, and this is one case where nut or soy milk is no substitute for the real deal.