There is more to a successful business meeting than simply turning up on time and sitting around a table. Here, Dr Nigel Oseland, Environmental Psychologist, Workplace Unlimited looks at the simple ways businesses of all sizes can make meetings more of a success.
Be it virtual or in-person, if meetings are unproductive, do we really need them? There is a large amount of evidence and advice in management books about why we meet, which can be summarized as: to share knowledge, to make important decisions, to come up with ideas, to deal with personal matters and to socialize.
These are all crucial activities for a group of people. So, the short answer is yes, we need meetings, we just need to get better at them. We need to prepare for them more thoughtfully. There are five deceptively simple steps to take when setting up a meeting which will lead to a much better outcome:
1. Share Information in Advance
Always share an agenda. When Sharp asked people for the reasons for bad meetings, a third said it was because no information was shared beforehand. How do people know if they should be in the meeting if they don’t know what it’s about? Without an agenda people can find themselves in a meeting for an hour thinking ‘why am I here, I don’t need to be here.’ That’s when they disengage.
2. Limit the Invitations
Many meetings become unproductive because there are too many people invited, or the right people aren’t invited. This becomes even more problematic when it’s a virtual meeting and it’s harder to follow who has joined and who is speaking. Limit the attendees to those who are essential to move a project forward.
Sometimes people are invited to meetings out of courtesy, not necessity. If you are tempted to invite someone purely because of their seniority, instead ask if they would prefer to see the minutes afterwards to review. Then it’s up to them. Some people feel they can’t decline a meeting invitation, even when they suspect the meeting will be a waste of their time. Be a responsible meeting attendee as well as a responsible organizer. If you’re not sure you need to be there, ask for the agenda.
3. Avoid Back-to-Back Meetings
Consider whether you need to start on the hour, and if people will have used the room before you. In organizations that have back-to-back meetings in the same room, the first ten minutes of each meeting will always be wasted because they are spent in a changeover. Avoid this by starting at 15 minutes past the hour.
Often, if you are using Audio Visual or IT equipment, there can be a delay in set up. If you know that you might have delays with IT, make the first 10 minutes of the meeting networking time for the participants while you get organized.
4. Go Shorter
There is a lot of research – for example from Tony Schwartz and the Energy Project – that we can only maintain peak performance for 90 minutes. In Sharp’s survey, most people said they couldn’t concentrate for more than 45 minutes. If you need to have a longer meeting organize a variety of activities and meeting leaders and build in breaks for people to digest what has been said. No-one wants to be in one of those two-hour meetings whereby the end of it we’ve forgotten what was said at the start.
5. Collaborative meetings
As businesses begin adapting to the “New Normal”, it is now the right time to explore and invest in the technology makeover. Create the perfect meeting environment with the exciting range of collaboration display from Sharp. The above five steps are only the start of the conversation. Explore our extensive range of Sharp Collaborative Displays, and then Get In Touch to arrange a demonstration.
There’s a reason this baked feta pasta is an internet sensation! My twist on the very popular dish from Finland, with a salty baked feta, sweet cherry tomatoes, fresh garlic, asparagus and parsley are tossed with al dente rotini pasta to create this easy, creamy, yet delicious dish!
Baked Feta Pasta is the latest trend to go viral all over the internet and you can find tons of videos and pictures on TikTok, Twitter and on your Instagram feed.
This recipe has 8 ingredients — a block of feta cheese, EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), cherry or grape tomatoes, fresh garlic, asparagus, and a short pasta of your choice — and of course, salt and pepper to taste.
Tomatoes – cherry or grape tomatoes work great.
Asparagus – I added it as a veggie to the dish but you can omit if desired. I think next time, I will also add some fresh spinach.
Olive oil – extra virgin olive oil has the best flavour, and I encourage you not to skimp on it.
Salt and pepper – a little goes a long way since the cheese is naturally salty.
Feta cheese – block-style feta is best and will give you the creamiest consistency (but the crumbly kind works too). Greek Feta cheese is slightly creamier and stronger flavour, but Canadian Feta made from cow’s milk also works great — this is the kind my picky son prefers.
Pasta – short pasta (like penne, rigatoni, fusilli, or farfalle) is easier to mix in. I used rotini pasta in my dish.
Parsley – use a generous 1/4 cup or substitute with fresh chopped basil.
Garlic – Add half while baking and the rest as soon as it comes out of the oven.
Baked Feta pasta is a brilliant way to create a creamy pasta sauce. You basically bake a block of feta in a 9″ x 13″ casserole dish together with tomatoes, garlic, EVOO, and a little salt and pepper. When the tomatoes burst and cheese starts melting, you mash the cheese into a creamy pasta sauce, add your pasta, mix together, and you have the perfect pasta dish that can be served as a main dish or an accompaniment to a meal.
My spin on this baked feta pasta is the added asparagus as I wanted to introduce a vegetable into the dish and make it as a main meal without a meat protein in it … and it’s also the only vegetable my son doesn’t mind eating.
Origin of Feta Pasta
The Baked Feta pasta craze was started in 2019 by Tiiu Piret and Liemessa, two bloggers from Finland. Liemessa’s recipe was then adapted in the U.S. which went viral on TikTok and has became a major trend.
The best thing about this baked feta pasta dish is unlike heavy cream-based sauces which can separate, this recipe retains it’s creamy texture. Add a bit of filtered water (or pasta cooking water if you have any left), before reheating in the microwave or stove-top.
How to Make Baked Feta Pasta
This recipe is so easy. You mix everything in one dish! The veggies and cheese sauce bake together in the oven while your pasta boils on the stove, then you combine them together and you have an incredible Baked Feta Pasta dish.
Prepare veggies – in a 9″ x 13″ casserole dish, combine tomatoes, asparagus, 1/3 cup olive oil, half of your minced garlic (two cloves), salt, and pepper. Toss to coat the veggies, then create a space in the centre.
Cook pasta – while the baked feta is cooking in the oven, start cooking your pasta in a pot of salted water until al dente according to package instructions. Very important: Reserve 1/2 cup hot pasta water.
Add garlic and herbs – remove the baked feta dish from the oven, and add finely chopped parsley and remaining minced garlic. Use the back of a spoon to mash the cheese, and mix with the oil and juices released from the tomatoes.
Add pasta – drain the pasta (no need to rinse the pasta) and add it to the hot cheesy sauce. Mix until all the pasta is coated with the creamy feta sauce. To add an additional creamy texture, pour some of the reserved pasta water, in small amounts, until the desired creaminess is achieved.
Serve this dish a s a main course or as an accompaniment to a meal. Add proteins to the dish, like chicken tenders or shrimp (add during prep and it will cook with the rest of the dish in the oven) or add any veggies you like (such as sweet bell peppers, spinach, rapini, or broccolini). This recipe is so versatile and easy to make, that you can whip it up easily for dinner during the busy work week. Serve this dish with a simple salad, and your family will think that you’ve spent hours in the kitchen making it!
3 cups cherry or grape tomatoes
1-1/2 cup asparagus (ends trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil plus 1 Tbsp to drizzle over cheese
Add 1/3 cup olive oil, tomatoes, asparagus, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1/2 tsp black pepper, and 1/4 tsp salt to a 9″ x 13″ casserole dish.
Toss to combine. Create a space in the centre and place your block of feta in the pan. Drizzle the top with 1 Tbsp olive oil and another sprinkle of black pepper. Bake for 30 minutes (on top rack, or middle tray in a conventional oven) until tomatoes start to rupture.
While the baked feta is cooking in the oven, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add pasta. Cook pasta according to package instructions, stirring a few times to keep the pasta from sticking. Drain pasta (reserving some cooking water if you decide to add it later).
At about 30 minutes, the tomatoes should start to release their juices (crinkly roasted skin is the indicator). Remove from the oven and immediately stir in remaining minced garlic and parsley. Toss to combine.
Using the back of a large spoon to press the cheese into the olive oil and stir until cheese is well incorporated in the dish.
Stir in drained cooked pasta. Add reserved pasta water for a creamier texture, if desired. Serve warm.
Important: Be careful with those tomatoes (the juicy centres will be very hot if you eat them right away).
Remote working does wonders for productivity. It saves you the time and money you’d have spent commuting to the office and gives you extra time to spend with family or catch up on that series you’ve been binging. But while home or remote working can be a wonderful thing, here are 8 things no one tells you:
1. Self-management can be hard
Ensuring you keep on track can be difficult when it’s all down to you. What you don’t want to happen is be unproductive all morning, have your lunch, and then realize you’ve not started that report your manager wants by 2pm. When you’re working from home, time management can be challenging because you don’t have your regular routine or hours to guide you.
The same goes for your development. When you’re in the office, you can overhear useful tips or learn things on the job. You can’t do that as easily when you’re working remotely, so your development is largely in your own hands.
What can you do?
Self-discipline. First make sure your workspace is clear, after all a clear space helps with a clear mind, which leads to great work!
Get into a routine. Get yourself up at a certain time, have regular mealtimes and times for exercise too.
Prioritize work by writing a list and order them with deadlines.
Take charge of your own learning. Identify where your skills may need development and read around it, try online courses or reach out to a colleague who can walk you through it remotely via video conferencing platforms such as Teams, Skype, or Zoom.
2. Distractions and interruptions
Though there are distractions in an office environment, there can be many, many more at home. Noisy neighbours? Children? Housemates? People in and around your home can cause distractions, or worse, interrupt what you’re doing – or even walk in during those all-important video calls!
Working at 100% efficiency can be difficult at home, and there’s some unwritten rule that if you work at home, you should take more than your fair share of the chores, simply because you’re there all the time.
What can you do?
Have a designated workspace and have low-volume music on in the background. This can also help with your productivity!
Make it clear to your family (diplomatically of course) that you do still have to do work when you’re at home, so maybe they can help you out with the chores.
Co-create some family / household rules that work for everyone.
If you live alone, you can have the opposite problem to point 2, so this one comes with a warning. When you work remotely and have no distractions, you can go days without seeing other human beings. Introverts may rejoice (at the beginning), but extroverts could feel lonely right away. When you don’t speak to anyone else, you can feel isolated, alone and stuck in your own head.
What can you do?
Ensure regular contact with colleagues, friends, and family.
The beauty of our modern world is that we have the technology available to see each other face-to-face, even when we’re apart. Group video calls, video conferencing software, it no longer matters whether we’re worlds apart, two hours apart, or indeed hiding from a global pandemic.
Go for walks and runs, just being outside and seeing other smiling faces
can help. Being around nature also has a calming effect, so a walk in the woods or down a nature trail is ideal.
Make your work environment greener. Studies show that people feel less lonely when they’re surrounded by plants, jungle up!
4. Tech and network issues
The dreaded internet outage. A nightmare for any remote worker. When you work at home, being away from an office with an on-site IT department that can quickly fix any issues and minimise downtime is not only frustrating, but also bad for business. Loss of internet can lead to interruptions to shared servers or file sharing drives, disconnect you from emails, and stop your mid-project. Not good. Even worse is when it’s your laptop or computer that breaks and you can’t do anything.
What can you do?
Have a backup plan. A second device like a tablet or laptop could be extremely handy in desperate times.
If your life depends on it and you need the internet immediately, hotspot from your phone. Life saved.
Working remotely can also lead to miscommunication. Interactions are much more straight forward when you can see the person, you can read their body language, and decisions can be made on the fly. Emails and messaging platforms can cause people to misunderstand instructions, or even misinterpret a ‘tone’ in a communication. Unable to overhear conversations about projects in the office, remote workers can also find themselves kept out the loop, which can massively affect morale.
What can you do?
Communicate (virtually) face-to-face and avoid email where you can.
Record your meetings so that everyone has something to refer to later.
Keep your communications clear and concise, try to avoid the waffle.
6. Bad health habits
The fridge is right there, the cupboard is fully stocked, when you’re at home it’s much easier to slip into bad eating habits. Conversely, without developing a routine you can forget meals (never!), forget to exercise and not go outside for that all-important vitamin D.
What can you do?
Get into a routine. Have a regular time for exercise, maybe before work to start your day with a rush of feel-good hormones!
Practice healthy eating habits. Instead of reaching for chocolate or crisps (though this is perfectly fine in moderation!) grab some fruit.
Have regular breaks, clear your head, go for a walk.
7. It can be hard to switch off When you’re in the office, it’s easy to differentiate between home and work. Work ends (for most) when you leave the office and you can focus on your personal life, whether that be family and friends or health and wellbeing. Remote workers can struggle with the ‘always at work’ feeling, as they’re forever in their place of work, and the home-work balance can start to blend as the lines blur.
What can you do?
Make sure you have a designated place to work, whether it’s a room or a quiet corner or space you can leave behind when you’ve done your allotted hours.
Be conscious of giving yourself time off – have regular breaks. A routine would help.
8. Impact on company culture
Lastly, working remotely can have a real negative impact on company culture, but only if you let it! You don’t get to experience the micro interactions with colleagues that build friendships and lay the foundations for an immersive company culture.
What can you do?
Use video communication tools! Keep the culture alive.
Hold online competitions and quizzes, engage with your colleagues.
Internal communications can help, having a virtual presence can make you feel part of the wider organization.
This gluten-free coconut custard tart recipe is the perfect combination of coconut macaroons and custard in a bite-size treat. A great Passover and Easter dessert!
This is a traditional Portuguese recipe that I inherited from my mother-in-law. What I love about this Pastéis de Coco recipe is the ingredients are readily available in the supermarket and it’s the easiest dessert to whip up. The coconut adds a nice dimension to the custard and also helps create a beautiful golden brown topping. The end product is a delightful but delicious little pastry, great to bring to parties or to enjoy with your afternoon coffee or tea.
These tarts are a perfect spring time dessert. There is no flour used in this recipe so it’s perfectly okay to serve this dessert during Passover. Be aware, as they bake, the batter puffs up and separates into a crispy toasted coconut topping with a sweet smooth custard underneath. As they cool, the centre collapses slightly creating a nest. How fun would it be to add a dollop of jam or chocolate eggs in the centre for the Easter holiday?
I totally love this dessert as the tops are golden brown and the inside is a soft, custardy goodness that will delight your taste buds.
These dessert tarts are best consumed within a day or two. To be honest, when ever I make these, they don’t last the day. However if you happen to have any left over, make sure you refrigerate them in a seal-tight container for up to 3 days.
I personally like serving these coconut custard tarts a bit warm, so put them in the oven for about 7 minutes at 350°F prior to serving.
Using the regular muffin liners, this recipe will yield approximately 10 – 11 tarts.
By Daniel Troise, Marketing Intern, HA Marketing, SEMCA
Technology has become an integral feature in our household and is something we truly cannot imagine our lives without! According to Rakuten’s 2019 survey, about 27% of Canadians have at least one smart device in their household (with another 38% of them say they plan to purchase smart appliances within the next year) showing that the majority of consumers find these modern assistants helpful when going about their daily tasks and activities. One room in your home that might be lacking upgraded appliances (which also happens to be our most-used space) is the kitchen. We’re here to break down the benefits are of having IoT appliances in your kitchen.
We love being busy in the kitchen whipping up new Pinterest-worthy recipes, but after a long day at work, the last thing we want to do is spend an hour cooking dinner. That’s where smart kitchen appliances come to the rescue. Here at Sharp, we’ve launched a variety of appliances that allow you to cook hands-free (yup, you read that right)!
It’s a fact that smart appliances will save you time – something we’re all needing more of! Juggling work calls, kids’ virtual school sessions, and keeping up with friends can leave us wishing we just had a few more hours in a day to get everything accomplished. An appliance that can help with that is our SuperSteam+ Build-in Wall Oven! It is like having a sous chef by your side with 5 high-performance cooking modes as well as a dedicated mobile app that can enable smart features. The app also includes access to thousands of recipes, so you don’t have to spend time thinking about how to answer the dreaded question of, “What’s for dinner?”
Perfectly Cooked Food Every Time
The final benefit (and perhaps the most important) when cooking with a smart appliance, is perfectly cooked food every time. Say goodbye to overcooked proteins or burned vegetables and hello to devices that work with you to put a 5-star meal on the table. One of our favorite products in our smart kitchen lineup is our Easy Wave Open Built-In Microwave Drawer! This appliance features Wi-Fi connectivity for seamless integration in your smart home. The Sharp Kitchen app features cooking instructions as well as “Microwave Smart Cook” to guide you through the cook and defrost menu items, so your food comes out delicious every time.
Have we convinced you to upgrade that old oven or microwave sitting in your kitchen yet? If so, we would love to hear from you on how these appliances are making your lives simple and better every day!
By Daniel Troise, Marketing Intern, HA Marketing, SEMCA
Working from home for just coming on about a year, my whole workflow and day has changed and I found myself never going hungry as I have now taken the responsibility on stocking the new cafeteria and lunch/break room (yes, it is my kitchen). After constantly running back and forth to my Sharp Carousel Countertop Microwave Oven to prepare quick meals in between meetings and on breaks, I sometimes think back of some common microwave mistakes and mishaps that have happened due to my own negligence or me not knowing proper microwave safety protocols.
After thinking back to the scare, or sometimes laughter, of times where I either put something in the microwave that I was not supposed to I decided that compiling a list of 10 things you should never put in the microwave for our readers would be the perfect way to increase your awareness. Through these tips, I highly recommend you keep them in the back of your head and maybe even think about the things you keep in your kitchen. Personally, I am always using the microwave and have made many efforts to only use microwave-safe products.
There is nothing I love more than a lazy night on the couch with your favorite movie on and some yummy Chinese food. In fact, it is taking everything to not jump off my keyboard, put sweatpants on, and use the remote to stream my favorite movie. At least I know have plans for tonight, right?
When idealizing my favorite night, one of my favorite foods to order is noodles and sometimes I can eat a bit more than the traditional serving size so I make sure to get more than one, and sometimes save the rest for later (perhaps while I am blogging).
One thing I always do as soon I as I prepare to save it for later is to transfer it out of the traditional take-out containers. Most of the time, the handle that is being used is made from metal and according to “Clark” can easily start a fire.
As you probably know by now between some of my past articles and personal interests, I am a huge movie buff and love nothing more than just to grab a bowl of popcorn and kick back, relax, and enjoy a film. What is even cooler is that all Sharp Microwave Ovens and Microwave Drawers come with a convenient Popcorn Preset tuned for Optimal Popping Results.
Throughout society, we have always learned that you just place a bag of popcorn in a microwave and then poof, you are good to go. However, after reading “Money Talk News” I have come to find out that not all popcorn bags are deemed safe and suitable for a microwave. It is extremely important to check the box or individually bag of popcorn and look for the appropriate messaging that ensures you can place it in the microwave. Otherwise, it may be just a brown paper bag and could potentially catch on fire.
If you have not seen the running trend throughout this article, but we can conclude that placing a medal in the microwave is an absolute no due to the potential harm it can cause to your microwave, your kitchen or home, and most importantly, you! When preparing to place foods in the microwave, we tend to use silverware to mix up or transfer them to microwave-safe containers. Coming to mind after reading this informative article from “The Takeout“, is me mixing the spaghetti when I heat the leftovers up.
While it is totally normal to mix it, it is very important that you do not leave the spoon, fork, knives, or any utensil in the bowl or container when it comes time to prep. This sounds easier than it is, but you may be surprised how easy leaving it can be. Overall, just make sure that you double-check whenever preparing something in the microwave, and most importantly, enjoy your meal!
This item interfering with a microwave oven hits a little too close to home for me. Every day for as long as I could remember during elementary school, my mother would pack me lunch in a brown paper bag. Therefore, I always knew where they were. Another thing you should know about this story is that I love nachos.
One time after school, I really wanted nachos, so I placed a bunch of chips in a brown paper bag and placed it in the microwave. While they were not in there for long, once my mother saw that I placed them in the microwave, she ran and took them out. At that point, I learned that brown paper bags have no place in the microwave.
After reflecting upon this story and a bit more research I have come to learn from “Life Hacker” and the “US Department of Agriculture” that placing brown paper bags could cause it to flame and emit toxic fumes due to the intense heart interacting with the materials. Bottom line, if you don’t want to burn your house on fire keep brown paper bags and microwaves separate.
I think many, if not most people I know have questioned whether Styrofoam containers are microwave-safe and if they are deemed okay to safely place in the microwave. Almost every time I go out to eat, and when I was a waiter, anytime I interacted with leftovers or wrapped up food that was not finished I always brought them home in Styrofoam containers. The important thing to take away is no, it is not okay to use them to reheat or prepare food in a microwave.
According to “Interesting Engineering” Styrofoam contains plastic, which is a big no-no for a microwave, but also contains toxic chemicals in the container. When melted or heated, the release of these chemicals can go into your food or beverage and infect it. I’m not sure about you, but personally, I feel a bit more comfortable just transferring everything to a microwave-safe dish.
After coming home to quarantine, I have made the realization after two days that my father is addicted to travel coffee mugs and loves to purchase one at every destination we go to, or any time they are on the end-cap at the store. In fact, we now have two shelves above the coffee machine dedicated to these travel mugs.
This article from the Huff Post taught me that whether you think so or not, travel mugs are not deemed microwave safe due to the stainless steel. It will not be effective due to the stainless steel blocking the heat, therefore causing the microwave not to work. In fact, there is a chance it could damage your microwave.
And by the way, I made sure to text my dad to tell him before writing this.
Everyone has a process when it comes to wrapping up leftovers after dinner. If you are a member of my house, you will quickly learn that we just pull out the aluminum foil and quickly place it over the plate we are trying to save for later. While this is a great concept to use over microwave-safe plates, however, it is very important that you do not place it in the microwave as it could be extremely harmful.
Don’t believe me? Take it from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), who deem it as potentially dangerous. The reflection causes the heat not to warm the food and shield it from getting warm, while in the meantime the heat could potentially spark causing a fire. Instead, always inspect the food and make sure there are no small pieces in the microwave or on the plate before you press the button on the microwave.
Seasonal and Celebratory Paper Plates
This tip came from someone on my immediate workgroup team and I had no idea this could even cause an issue until they told me. Ever buy those paper plates that are designed for the season at the supermarket or local dollar store? I am talking about the ones that say, ‘Happy Birthday’ or ‘Class of 2021’ and everything in between. While these festive plates really help ring in the celebration with you and your loved ones, adding to the aesthetic of the event, it is important that you steer away from putting these types of plates in the microwave.
To increase durability and keep them low cost, some of the plated contain aluminum or metal that is not deemed microwave safe. While you may think that you are simply just reheating your food, placing plates like these (where you are not 100% sure of the materials used) can cause severe damage to your microwave or even start an unsafe fire. Personally, I still buy the plates, but make sure to transfer all the foods in microwave-safe plates/containers before reheating them.
If you ever meet me, in the first five minutes you will come to learn that I love all things pasta, and everything related to it. Being my favorite meal of all time, especially with a red sauce, knowing the ins and out of how to prepare it is second-hand knowledge at this point. I would love to share it with you!
Here is a huge, and messy tip! Whenever you have a sauce that you want to heat up that you made the night before or want to prepare some red sauce to compensate with some freshly boiled pasta, PUT A LID ON IT! According to the Huff Post, placing the red sauce in the microwave without a lid can get really messy, causing it to get everywhere due to the ingredients.
Instead, make sure that when the sauce is alone that you have a microwave-safe lid on it.
This one may come as quite strange; therefore, it is the perfect way to wrap up this list of things you can’t place in the microwave. If you can’t think about what it is, I guess you are sort of right because the answer is nothing.
According to “The Spruce”, one of the worst things to place in your microwave is actually nothing at all. When microwaves turn and are being used, the heat has no place to be absorbed. While the heat is typically absorbed by the food would have nowhere to go, potentially causing an explosion.
You may be thinking, “what kind of person may turn on their microwave with nothing inside of it”, it can be a common mistake to turn it on and forgot to put something in it, or you may think about trying it out as soon as you get it and want to see if it works.
By Jena Branco, Marketing Coordinator, Brand & Marketing Communications, SECL
This Anytime Chocolate Mug Cake is moist and chocolatey. Made in the microwave and ready in minutes, this easy treat is perfect for all chocolate lovers …anytime you have a craving!
Sometimes you crave a piece of chocolate cake. Am I right? This easy mug cake recipe is perfect for when you want just a little cake, and don’t want to bake a whole cake! It’s easy to whip up, is ready in less than five minutes, and has a warm and moist texture. I’ve tried a few microwave cakes before, and most turned out dry or lack in flavour, but once you’ve tried this one … you won’t be disappointed …. I promise!
What I love about this recipe is that I have all the ingredients in my pantry most of the time. It’s specifically created to be made in a mug (or in a ramekin), in the microwave, without eggs. Eggs are traditionally used in cakes to act as a binding agent to hold its texture/shape, but in the case of a mug cake you don’t have to worry that. Some people mix all the ingredients in the mug which makes for one less dish to wash, however I prefer to mix all my ingredients in a mixing bowl and pour the mixture into my mug or ramekin.
Please note that ALL microwaves are different and will yield different results — it can overcook the mug cake if you aren’t careful. I’m using the Sharp 24″ IoT Microwave Drawer (SMD2489ESC) which is 950 watts, cooking at 100% power for 70 seconds. Knowing this information, it may help you better judge how long to cook yours for and at what power.
Do I Need a Special Mug?
This is a good question .. and the answer is YES and NO. You want a mug that’s big enough to hold the cake once it’s cooked (and to prevent from spilling over the top), so you want to have at least a 12 ounce mug. If you want to split the recipe in half (sometimes I’m feeling a bit generous and I share with the hubby), it’s ok to use a ramekin or a small coffee mug. One more tidbit, try not to use a mug that is tall and skinny as you will end up with an unevenly cooked finished product. The most important factor in all of this, is to ensure your mug is microwave safe.
So anytime you have a craving for chocolate cake … go start mixing, and you’ll satisfy our craving in less than 5 minutes!
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp. milk (or a non-dairy milk of your choice)
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional, but encouraged)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (however, I like to use coconut oil)
1 tablespoon hazelnut chocolate spread (Nutella) or mini chocolate chips
In a medium bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together
Whisk in the milk and oil until all ingredients are combined, and all clumps are gone.
Pour batter into a microwave-safe mug or ramekin
Add hazelnut chocolate spread in the middle of the batter or mini chocolate chips. Push slightly into the batter
Place mug (or ramekin) into the microwave (hint: place a paper towel under the mug, this is to catch any batter if your mug cake overflows).
Microwave mug cake for 70 seconds on high.
If you’re splitting the recipe in half and putting batter in two separate ramekins, it’s important to know that you can only put one ramekin into the microwave at a time. Cook for 60 seconds on high.
Carefully remove from the microwave and serve immediately.
Top with whipped cream, a small scoop of ice cream, or sprinkle some icing sugar over top, if desired. Enjoy!
By Gina Greco, Senior Brand Marketing Specialist, SEMCA
This is your complete guide to installing a Sharp Over-the-Range Microwave Oven. Whether you have just purchased a microwave, are redesigning your kitchen, or are still in the process of deciding what microwave is right for you, this guide will provide you with helpful step-by-step installation instructions. For more details regarding our Sharp Over-the-Range Microwave Oven (R1874TY), make sure to visit our website for more detailed information.
In this guide, you’ll learn how to
Prep the designated area
Connect the electric
Install a hood exhaust duct
Connect the ventilation system
Properly mount the appliance.
Install your microwave
Please read all the instructions before starting the installation process.
For more information or to view detailed diagrams that correspond with the installation process, please consult Over-the-Range Microwave Owen Installation Instructions by Sharp.
Where Do You Want to Install Your Over-the-Range Microwave?
You likely have a specific spot in mind for your microwave – such as over your range. Before starting the installation process, you should confirm that your wall construction and counter/cabinet/kitchen space fits the requirements.
Here is a list of the exact requirements needed for a Sharp Over-the-Range Microwave.
The microwave must be mounted on a flat wall that is:
66 inches or more above the floor
30 inches or more above the range/cooking surface
2 inches or more above the backsplash
The space for the microwave must be:
12 inches in depth
30 inches in width
5 inches in height
The microwave must be mounted on a wall that is a minimum of 2-inch x 4-inch wood studding and 3/8-inch or more — thick drywall or plaster/lath.
The wall must be capable of supporting 110 lbs.
If your space fulfills all the above requirements, you can officially start the installation process.
Preparing to Install Your Over-the-Range Microwave
Now that you’ve determined your space can fit and support an over-the-range microwave, you need to prep the area. Prepping the area is very important. It is the foundation for your appliance and includes preparing the wall, connecting the electric, and installing the hood exhaust duct.
The following instructions are very detailed but easy to accomplish. We recommend that if you do not feel confident in your ability to connect the electricity or feel that the electric in its current state does not meet local or national standards, please contact a certified professional.
Prepping the Space to Mount Your Microwave
The first thing you will need to do is identify where the studs are in your wall. You can do this with a stud finder tool or by using a hammer to tap across the surface of the wall lightly. Continue tapping until you hear a solid sound — that means you have found the stud. For tips on finding a stud, watch this video.
The unit should be attached to a minimum of a 2-inch x 4-inch wall stud. Find the center of the stud. This can be done by probing the wall with a small nail to identify the stud’s edges. Place a pencil mark halfway between the edges to identify the center.
Tip: the center of adjacent studs will normally be 16 inches – 24 inches to either side of this mark.
Grounding Your Microwave
Before tackling any of the electrical tasks, please make sure your appliance is grounded. In an electrical short circuit, grounding reduces the risk of electric shock by providing an escape wire for the electric current. You must confirm this before moving forward. Your appliance should be plugged into a wall socket that is properly installed and grounded in accordance with national and local code requirements.
Warning: improper use of the grounding plug can result in a risk of electric shock.
Your microwave is equipped with a 3-prong grounding plug. Do not, under any circumstances, cut or remove the grounding pin from the plug.
Connect your power supply cord to the separate 120 Volt AC, 60 Hz, 20 Amp, or more branch circuit, single grounded receptacle. This should be located inside the cabinet directly above the mounting location.
Installing the Hood Exhaust Duct
Is your hood vented to the outside? If so, a hood exhaust duct is required.
Tip: all ductwork must be metal; you cannot use plastic.
To start this process, you will need to confirm that all connections are secure. Please read the following:
Exhaust Connection: The hood exhaust is designed to connect to a standard 31/4-inch x 10-inch rectangular duct. If a round duct is required, a rectangular-to-round adapter must be used.
Rear Exhaust: If you are using rear or horizontal exhaust, you will need to align the exhaust with the studs’ space.
Maximum Duct Length: To achieve satisfactory air movement, you should not exceed a total duct length of 140 feet whether you are using a 3 1/4-inch x 10 inch rectangular or 6-inch diameter round duct.
If possible, a straight duct is best. Elbow, adapters, wall, and roof caps create additional airflow resistance. If you are unable to have a straight duct, you will need to calculate the total length, add the equivalent lengths of all transitions and adaptors, plus the length of all straight duct sections. Doing this will allow you to calculate airflow resistance. This should total less than 140 feet.
How to Install Your Over-the-Range Microwave
Now that you have prepped the space for your new appliance, it is time to start the installation process. The installation process includes unboxing your microwave, connecting the ventilation, mounting the scale plate, and finally, mounting your microwave. In order to complete this installation, you will need the following tools:
½-inch, 5/8-inch, and 3/32-inch drill bits
1-1/2-inch wood bit or metal hole cutter (if a metal cabinet is used)
Saw to cut exhaust opening (if needed)
Protective drop cloth for product and range
You will also use the items listed below, which are included in the appliance you purchased.
Preparing Your Microwave
Unbox your microwave. Fully inspect the unit to confirm there are not any dents, scratches, or cracks. Open the microwave to confirm that there is not a misaligned or bent door, damaged door seal, or broken/loose door hinge. It should be in pristine condition. If it is not, contact the retailer you purchased the microwave from or contact a Sharp authorized service center. You do not want to install a previously damaged microwave. This could cause various problems, from an inability to function to inflicting damage on the surrounding surfaces.
If the unit you purchased has a mounting plate: rest the oven on its side. Remove the two screws that secure the mounting plate to the rear side of the microwave. Remove the mounting plate. The two screws can be discarded.
Connecting the Ventilation System to Your Microwave
Your microwave can attach to three different types of hood ventilation systems:
Recirculating: non-vented, ductless operations
Horizontal exhaust: outside ventilation
Vertical exhaust: outside ventilation
Follow the directions below based on the type of ventilation system you will be using.
If you have a recirculating system, that means that it is non-vented and ductless. These units are typically preassembled for recirculating and require no further installation. See owner’s manual for care, filter maintenance, and additional information.
If you have a horizontal exhaust, this means you are working with outside ventilation. Follow these instructions:
1. Remove the screws from the fan cover bracket. You need to save these screws.
2. Remove the fan cover bracket.
3. Carefully lift the hood fan unit and slip the wire out of the cavity. Do not stretch, pull, or overextend these wires, as it could cause damage.
4. Rotate the hood fan unit 180° so that the fan blade openings face the back of the microwave. You will need to lift the wire over the hood fan unit into the microwave.
5. Replace the hood fan unit with the microwave. Be careful not to pinch the wire.
6. Place the wire back into the cavity.
7. Replace the fan cover bracket. You will need to confirm that the fan blades are visible through the rear opening in the microwave. This must be done before moving forward.
8. Attach the fan cover bracket to the microwave with the screws you removed in step 1. The hood should not be rotated for horizontal exhaust operation.
9. Attach the exhaust damper assembly to the mounting plate’s back by sliding it into the slits.
10. Use screws to tighten into place.
If you have a vertical exhaust, this means you are working with outside ventilation. Follow these instructions:
1. Remove the screws from the fan cover bracket. You need to save these screws.
2. Remove the fan cover bracket.
3.Carefully lift the hood fan unit and slip the wire out of the cavity. Do not stretch, pull, or overextend these wires, as it could cause damage.
4. Rotate the hood fan unit 90° so that the fan blade openings are facing the top of the oven.
5. Place the hood fan unit into the oven. Be careful not to pinch the lead wire between the inner bracket and the hood fan unit. Put the lead wire into the wire box.
6. Attach the fan cover bracket to the unit with the screws you removed in step 1. The hood should not be rotated for vertical exhaust operation.
7. Attach the exhaust damper assembly to the fan cover by sliding it into the slits.
8. Use screws to tighten into place.
Microwave Installation – Mounting Scale Plate
Before installing your microwave mounting scale plate, please confirm that your space meets all the requirements listed in the “Where Do You Want to Install Your Over-the-Range Microwave?” section above.
First, use wood screws to attach the mounting plate to the stud(s). Next, use toggle bolts to attach the mounting plate through the holes and attach the toggle nuts.
It would be best if you positioned the mounting plate with the toggle bolts attached to the wall. Insert toggle nuts and bolts through the holes in the wall with the toggle nuts closed. Use the wood screws to attach the mounting plate to the stud(s).
Tip: Before insertion, be sure you leave a space more than the wall’s thickness between the Mounting Plate and the end of each of the toggle nuts (in the closed position). If you do not leave enough space, the toggle nut will not open on the other side of the wall. Once a toggle nut opens, it cannot be withdrawn from the hole; therefore, make sure all of the toggles are in the correct position before insertion.
Align the mounting plate carefully and hold it in position while tightening toggle bolts. Pull toggle bolt toward you and turn clockwise to tighten.
Microwave Installation – Mounting Oven to the Wall
For this final step, two people are recommended to attach the microwave to the mounting plate.
1. Carefully place the microwave on top of the range.
Tip: It is recommended that you place a piece of cardboard or a towel/drop cloth between the two units to prevent scratching or damage.
2. Slide the unit toward the back of the range until it stops. Align the lower back edge of the microwave with the mounting plate, then thread the power supply cord through the hole made in the bottom of the top cabinet.
3. Hang the oven on the lower edge of the mounting plate, then rotate the unit upward. Take care that the power cord can clear the edge of the hole as the oven is rotated upward.
Tip: In the case of a non-recessed bottom in the top cabinet, the hole for the cord may need to be enlarged.
4. Tighten the two-unit mounting screws located in the grease filter openings. Next, you will need to install the grease filters by fitting them into the opening. Push back and up into place.
5. Use the screws and washers provided to attach the unit to the top cabinet.
6. Make a bundle of the power supply cord and place it inside the cabinet.
7. Remove all packing material from the microwave.
8. Plug in the power cord.
Start Using Your New Over-the-Range Microwave
Congratulations — you’ve successfully completed the over-the-range microwave installation process! We recommend that all new users read the operations manual before using it. We hope you love your new microwave!
By Jena Branco, Marketing Coordinator, Brand & Marketing Communications, SECL
This Gluten-free and Vegan Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese is healthy and delicious. It’s so easy to make and oh so creamy … but sssshhhhh, don’t tell your family there’s no dairy in it!
What I love about this Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese recipe is that it combines two of my favourite comfort foods: pasta and cream sauce! Butternut squash isn’t only the colour of cheddar cheese, but makes a super creamy sauce when it’s cooked and blended. Although I’m not lactose intolerance, I’m finding these days my body doesn’t seem to react too fairly when I consume dairy products, so my search for an amazing creamy sauce (without the cheese) was on!
After trying a few recipes I found on the internet, I decided to create my own (inspired by a combination of 2-3 recipes). As I’ve written many times, my son is the pickiest of eaters — if he knew butternut squash is a “vegetable”, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t touch this dish again. Luckily for me, he couldn’t tell the difference! My butternut squash creamy sauce isn’t too strong in flavour or spice and by making this vegan version of mac and cheese , it is a great way to sneak in some healthy veggies and make this traditional dish more nutritious.
What You’ll Need in this Recipe:
Pasta – You can use any type of pasta you like; whole wheat, gluten free or regular. However, I used Brown Rice pasta in the shape of shells as a gluten-free option.
Butternut Squash – Try to buy a medium sized butternut squash for this recipe. If you buy a really large squash, you can freeze the rest in a tightly sealed freezer bag up to 3 months. They also sell pre-cubed butternut squash in the produce aisle, if you don’t want to peel and cut your own. Or, you can buy the cubed frozen butternut squash in the freezer aisle.
Plant Based Milk – I usually have almond or cashew milk around but you can use any kind of plant based milk you like, just make sure it’s plain and unsweetened.
Nutritional Yeast – There are quite a few spices in this recipe but the most important is nutritional yeast. It’s what gives the butternut squash mac and cheese its’ cheesy flavour without adding any dairy. It’s usually sold in the natural food section of your grocery store, or in the spice aisle at Whole Foods, but in my case, I had to order it from Amazon as the two grocery stores I went to were completely sold out.
Almond Flour (optional) – I use almond flour (toasted in the oven for 5 – 10 minutes) — instead of breadcrumbs — for a true gluten-free recipe.
How to Make Gluten-Free Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese
This recipe is really easy to make and there are only a few steps:
You start by washing the outside of the Butternut Squash before cutting in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds, brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roasted squash always has tons of flavour, so this is how I like to cook mine. I used the Superheated Steam Oven at 400°F in the Supersteam Roast function for 20 to 25 minutes, however if using a conventional oven, roast at 400°F for 25 to 30 minutes.
Add the roasted butternut squash by scooping out the insides into a high powered food processor or blender along with almond milk, spices and the nutritional yeast. Blend until it’s silky smooth.
Cook your favourite pasta according to package directions (usually, adding pasta to a pot with lightly salted water, bring water to a boil and simmer until tender), drain and then pour the butternut squash cream sauce and mix together. And … serve and eat!
If so desired, you could put it in a baking dish and bake it in the oven at 350°F for about 15 minutes to get a nice crust on top.
Optional: Set a rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Spread almond flour on parchment or silicone lined baking sheet and toast for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until toasted and fragrant. Then sprinkle a tablespoon or two on top of your mac and cheese prior to serving!
2 cups of Brown Rice pasta
1 medium sized butternut squash
1 cup plain, unsweetened almond milk (you can add an extra 1/2 cup if it’s too thick)
Wash butternut squash, cut it in half length wise, and cook for 20-25 minutes in the bottom tray of oven.
Scoop out butternut squash and add to a blender along with the almond milk, nutritional yeast and all the spices. Blend until creamy, about 1 minute.
Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and add back to the pot. Pour butternut squash sauce over the top and mix until combined. You can turn the stove heat on, if you need to warm it up. Serve and eat!
If so desired, you could put it in a baking dish and bake it in the oven at 350°F for about 15 minutes to get a nice crust on top.
Optional: Preheat Superheated Steam Oven at 350°F in the Convection Bake function. Spread almond flour on parchment or silicone lined baking sheet and toast for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until toasted and fragrant. Then sprinkle a tablespoon or two on top of your mac and cheese prior to serving! Topping off with some chopped basil and red pepper flakes makes this dish look too good to eat!
By Gina Greco, Senior Brand Marketing Specialist, SEMCA
Since the start of the new year, many resolutions have been made to develop a better lifestyle. As if making it to a workout class or finding a treadmill in your new gym wasn’t hard enough, now cooking a meal full of nutrients is thrown into the mix.
At Sharp, we try to cook with the most beneficial appliances and ingredients to keep our lifestyles moving in the right direction. An abundance of research gathered about the benefits of cooking with a superheated steam oven has helped guide us through our cooking journey.
Your first steam oven purchase can be quite an investment; there’s no denying that. Through this article, we hope to give you a better understanding of what a superheated steam oven is and if it is the right choice for your lifestyle.
What is Superheated Steam?
You may be asking yourself what superheated steam is, what exactly are the steam oven benefits, and why it has become more of a trend over the past few years. Superheated steam is steam put in contact with additional heat, making the steam temperature rise with pressure.
In a recent study published in the Korean Journal for Food Science of Animal Resources, superheated steam food samples scored the highest “among the sensory characteristics, tenderness score, juiciness score, and overall acceptability score.” After extensive research, our team has also gathered that “steamed vegetables maintained a better texture quality than boiled vegetables” and that “steamed sweet potatoes had an increase in antioxidant activity.”
How a Superheated Steam Oven Works
Believe it or not, a superheated steam oven works much as a convection oven does. A notable benefit over the traditional oven found in most of our homes, a superheated steam oven has proven to be cleaner. The Sharp SuperSteam+ Built-in Oven (SSC2489DS) is a hybrid convection oven that uses heat and water to cook. It has 5 high-performance cooking modes, including Steam, Steam Bake, Convection Bake, Super Steam Grill, and Super Steam Roast. The combination of superheated steam and conventional, radiant heat in cooking modes means that your food will be crispy and browned on the outside, moist and delicious on the inside.
In the aforementioned Korean Journal of Food Science, researchers found that “moisture content and lightness value were higher in superheated steam cooked chicken steak than that of boiling, grilling, and microwave cooking.” And a three-in-one combination wall oven like the Sharp SuperSteam+ Built-in Wall Oven offers versatility. You have the option to cook with superheated steam at browning temperatures, radiant heat, and convection or with gentle and regular steam.
The Sharp SuperSteam+™ Built-in Oven uses a Hybrid Convection System that circulates the hot air, steam, and super steam through a damper duct system. Heat is delivered through the upper and back of the oven, as well as the top of the oven. Unlike conventional radiant ovens, convection ovens have a fan that continuously circulates air through the oven cavity. When hot air is blown onto food, the food tends to cook more quickly as opposed to merely surrounding it.
How to Cook in a Superheated Steam Oven
Cooking with superheated steam has never been easier than it is today. The Sharp SuperSteam+ Built-In Wall Oven has a Smart Cook feature that offers built-in recipes and pre-set cook options, which take the guesswork out of cooking. There are healthy menu categories and easy controls accessible through the touchscreen. You can also connect to your home network to enable remote control operation of common features, like preheating, and receive push notifications to your mobile phone. Use the app to access 43 additional recipes found with step-by-step instructions on how to prepare and cook in your SuperSteam+™ Built-In Wall Oven!
The SuperSteam+ app also keeps you connected with our Spotlight section – your source for Helpful Hints, Inspired Innovations, and new manual cook recipes from our vibrant, online community at Simply Better Living. With additional recipes and tips available online, everyone can get started cooking with superheated steam right away. Sharp’s steam oven’s benefits go beyond versatile cooking options. The oven’s interface gives you expert guidance to make mindful and delicious meals you will love. Our Smart Cook feature offers built-in recipes and pre-set cook options that take the guesswork out of cooking while the Manual settings put you in control of the oven.
What Can You Do with Your Sharp SuperSteam+ App?
Preheat your oven remotely!
Access more menus via the app.
App provides cook times and temperatures for some of your favorite foods.
Enjoy Smart Recipes with full-colour, step-by-step instructions.
Save your favorite and most frequently used foods for quick and easy access.
Keep up to date with all things that Sharp under the Spotlight section and access great recipes, ideas, and tips!
Push notifications to your mobile device to let you know when your oven has finished preheating and when your food is ready.
Pinterest has also become a valuable resource for many aspiring cooks. It offers various superheated steam oven recipes that will make cooking in your new oven a breeze. To find more superheated steam oven recipes, check out the “Recipes” tab on our blog. Please share your favorite recipes with us in the comments down below.