Gathering the Essentials for Quick and Easy Cooking
I've been eating entirely too much junk food. I prefer to eat healthy and to shop at healthy food stores. Between work, family, and friends, time is short. I did my research and I've invested in several small appliances with the specific purpose of making quick, easy and healthier meals. Here's my new collection.
When it comes to easy set and forget cooking, slow cookers are my favorite. I am a fan of stews, soups, and chilis. One of the benefits of slow cooking is that I can purchase inexpensive cuts of beef and then slow cook them from morning till evening and have them be as tender and juicy as the finest cuts of steak. I don't really have any secret recipes, I just use the basics like a few cloves of garlic, a chopped onion, a bit of salt, pepper to taste. I got a 5 quart slow cooker and it makes enough for the immediate meals plus enough to store and freeze for later. The only thing I do is use froze veggies to simplify the prep, and then I add them (still frozen) during the last hour to 90 minutes. This keeps them from turning into mush from cooking too long, and they still take on the flavor and juices of the broth.
For my money, toaster ovens are a much better alternative to firing up the full size oven and heating up the house just for a couple of dinner potatoes or a personal pizza. I also happen to like using my toaster oven for making pizza bagels and reheating last nights dinner. Lately I've been making nachos (low fat cheese of course) and cornbread to go with my turkey chili.
The rice cooker is another brilliant idea for quick and easy cooking. This is a 4 cup cooker from Aroma. It makes 2 cups in about 20 minutes. All there is to it is to add the rice, add water, push the cook button and wait for the beeper to tell you when it's done. The rice comes out fluffy and perfect every single time. I tried using chicken broth instead of water in an effort to make the rice tasty, but it came out fairly bland. I just use plain water now every time and it's fine.
I prefer to grill on the outdoor gas barbecue, but that tends to require a lot of watching, and turning and moving of the foods to keep things from burning. I use this indoor grill to cook chicken wings, steaks, and the occasional burger. The indoor grill has much better temperature control and even heating so it's less work. The one bad thing about the indoor grill is cleaning. It is a pain to clean between the grills especially when using barbecue sauce.