Meet my steamer basket.
I use this thing at least once a week. Steaming is probably my favorite cooking method for basic, unadorned vegetables (except for grilling, of course, but my husband doesn't like to stand out in the snow every day). Forget boiling and microwaving. Steamed vegetables taste ten times better (in my opinion), plus they're quick and easy.
My mom actually had two steamer baskets when I was growing up, which is probably why I'm such a fan. I even used mine to cook some pork ribs the other day (they were okay), and I think it might even work for Chinese steamed buns or wontons (maybe). Anyway, if you're sick of eating watery, overcooked vegetables, or if you've got this weird looking metal contraption buried in the back of your kitchen cabinet and don't know what to do with it, today's your lucky day. (If you don't have a steamer basket, they're usually about $6 to $7. Kroger has them half off through tomorrow for $3.50.)
My favorite vegetables for steaming are carrots, broccoli, and green beans. (Cauliflower works too, but it's currently banned from our house for reasons of taste.)
Start by rinsing, peeling/trimming, and cutting your vegetable of choice into bite-size pieces. Place your steamer basket into a saucepan that is big enough to hold all the vegetables (make sure the saucepan has a tightly fitting lid).
Fill the pan with just enough cold water that you can see it starting to come up through the holes in the basket. Add your vegetables, replace the lid, and set on the stove over high heat. After the water comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-high. Check the vegetables after about five minutes, then every 2-3 minutes after that. Vegetables are done when they are bright in color and easily pierced with a dinner fork. (You can also rinse a piece in cold water and do a taste test.)
That's it. You're done. On weeknights, I often just serve the veggies right out of the saucepan with a dot of butter. Just make sure to remove the saucepan lid or vent it, as the vegetables will keep cooking otherwise (I have, sadly, ruined some perfectly good broccoli that way). You can also drain your vegetables and add sauces, glazes, and other delicious toppings, as I did with these freshly steamed carrots.
Glazed Carrots (adapted from The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cook Book)
4-5 large carrots, cut in bite-size pieces, steamed
1 T. butter
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
dash ground nutmeg
dash salt (optional)
In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients. Cook, stirring constantly, until sugar is melted and carrots are glazed.