Donna Evans, Food Columnist
If you're looking for a new cooking method, forget about cooking in cast iron. Cast iron cookware has been around for hundreds, and perhaps even thousands of years. So what's the appeal of cast iron? The appeal to some may be the rustic look of this cookware - it is indeed something from the past and is often passed down from generation to generation. Some love this cookware because it is easy to use and can go from stove top to oven. And some people love cast iron because it heats up quickly and very little oil is needed when cooking.
Even if you don't partake in alcoholic beverages, you'll find having a bottle of rum in the kitchen cupboard comes in quite handy. Rum adds a flavorful addition to many recipes. Just remember it has to be the "real" thing. There is no cooking rum or substitute that works as well as the real stuff.
Harvest season has kicked into full gear for many backyard gardeners. Even the smallest of gardens seems to go from a cucumber or two to bursting with bushels full of produce. Some people can, make salsa or freeze vegetables. But the greatest joy of having vegetables in your backyard is going out, picking a few beans or tomatoes off the vine and enjoying them in your next meal. When you have tons of green beans and dozens of cherry tomatoes, what do you do? Toss them all together, add a light dressing and it turns into a flavorful summer salad.
Summer is the ideal time to grill. But there are times when heating up the grill, cleaning the grate and standing over a hot grill do not seem to fit into the typical busy summer day. A bag of boneless, skinless chicken breasts always comes in handy when thinking about a quick meal, especially if you are using a slow cooker. Simply place a few chicken breasts into the cooker, add some chicken broth and a few seasonings and in a few hours dinner is ready.
For an easy and fast homemade cookie, nothing beats taking a cake mix, adding a couple of ingredients, throwing it all in the oven, and pulling out extremely moist and delicious cookies. Cake mix cookies can be made with as few as three ingredients - the cake mix, eggs and oil. It really doesn't get much easier than that. The fun thing about cake mix cookies is you can use any type of cake mix, and flavor it with chocolate chips, nuts, sprinkles or dried fruit.
Fruit is one of the easiest foods to grill, yet seems to be something people never think about putting on the grill. When you grill fruit, the water evaporates and the sugars are concentrated. The sugars on the surface of the fruit that touch the grill get caramelized, creating a sweet, delicious and healthy treat. Almost any fruit can be grilled; large fruits like peaches, bananas, pineapples, pears and watermelon can be sliced and placed directly on the grill. Smaller fruits, like strawberries and blueberries, need to be placed onto skewers or in a grill basket.
There are times when things don't come together as planned. That was what happened with this week's attempt at trying new recipes. What was originally going to be a column about spring rolls didn't quite work out. The first problem arose when someone walked out of the house without her grocery list. But the basic items - green onions, peppers, mushrooms, spring roll wrappers - were easy enough to remember.
The great thing about strawberries is they go well with pretty much everything. Throw them in your breakfast cereal in the morning or on your bowl of ice cream at night and on just about everything in between. For years I've been making a Strawberry-Spinach Salad with a Balsamic Dressing. That is a great salad, but it does take a bit of prep time and it was time to expand my horizons. A simple combination of ingredients in my refrigerator turned into a quick and easy-to-throw-together salad. Adding leftover chicken breasts turned it into a very simple salad, but elegant meal.
In case, you haven't noticed, avocados have been plentiful in area stores. California avocados start popping up in stores in May, reach peak season in July, and then start winding down in September. Avocados are one of those mysterious foods that you think should be a vegetable. It is actually a fruit, and for those people who like trivia, it's not just any fruit, it's actually a berry.
Meatloaf has always been one of my favorite dishes. It is an old standby and one of those recipes where the leftovers tend to be better than when the first dish pops out of the oven. I have a tried-and-true recipe that I have used for many, many years. Recently I received several meatloaf recipes in my email and decided it was time to get out of my rut.