Donna Evans, Food Columnist
Are you looking for a simple, yet thoughtful gift? Tired of crowded stores and high price tags? There is an alternative. Food is always an appropriate gift, and when presented in a glass jar decorated with bows and ribbons, it is quite a festive present. With a little bit of time and a dab of creativity you can put together a gift that truly conveys the holiday spirit.
It's always fun to thumb through cookbooks and cooking magazines or browse online to view new recipes. But some of us have cookbooks, three-ring binders and recipe card files that have been around for years - even decades - or handed down from generation to generation. These tried-and-true recipes are in dog-eared books, folders full of newspaper clippings, and of course, a box full of handwritten recipe cards.
There are times when leftovers are great. But other times, not so much. For large families, leftovers are not much of an issue. But when it is a household consisting of just one or two individuals, leftovers seem to be a frequent happening. After four days of eating spaghetti, it's not necessarily a good thing. Some dishes can be frozen and reheated. But there are quite a few meals that lose flavor after being frozen for a few weeks (or months).
Shrimp is one of those ingredients that cooks quickly, can be used in a large variety of dishes and can be prepared in any number of ways so there is a dish that will please everyone. So what's the catch? Shrimp is very easy to overcook; and when it is overcooked, instead of tender and juicy morsels, they become rubbery and tough. These small crustaceans cook quickly, which is one of the reasons they are often overcooked. There are several things to keep in mind to make sure your shrimp are cooked to perfection.
With the calendar page pushing past Sept. 21, it is officially fall. Some people love fall - the crisp days, beautiful fall colors, lack of bugs and numerous fall events. For others, it is a time of dread with cooler temperatures and shorter days. No matter if you love or hate the fall season, one of the benefits of fall is the abundance of Minnesota grown apples.
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.