Donna Evans, Food Columnist
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.
With spring finally making its arrival, it's definitely time to break out the grill. Remember, that grill has been sitting in a garage (or perhaps outside in the elements) for several months. For safety's sake and to extend the life of your grill, slow down and take a few minutes to prepare before slapping on that steak or burger. • Make a quick inspection of the grill. Look for any rust spots, cracked or broken parts. If necessary, replace parts or if it's bad enough, replace the entire grill. • If using a gas grill, check the hoses looking for any tears or holes.
One of the easiest ways to prepare a meal is to stop at the deli and pick up a rotisserie chicken. Heat up a vegetable, throw a roll in the oven to warm up and you have a meal for your family. Not a bad way to go. But since I had a whole chicken in the freezer, I started thinking, why can't I make a rotisserie chicken at home? A friend said this is impossible unless you have the right equipment - that being the rotisserie where the chicken is constantly turned to expose all sides of it to the heating element.
Growing up, baked potatoes were just that - potatoes thrown in an oven, baked and served with a bit of butter, salt and pepper and maybe some sour cream. Potatoes were quite common when I was growing up - easy to cook and they didn't take a lot of prep time. They were the perfect side dish when you didn't have time or energy to put a lot of thought into what should go with the main dish.
The last few weeks of bitter cold have driven a lot of us to eat soups, stews and heavier type meals. Maybe it is wishful thinking, but it sure seems like the worst of winter, especially those 20-below-zero days, are behind us.
Even though the recipes can be quite simple, stuffed chicken breasts make an elegant dish and are great for gatherings as well as for every night family dinners. What sets these recipes apart from a lot of dishes is the variety of ingredients used in the stuffing. Recipes I've seen use everything from smoked salmon and cream cheese to wild rice to pineapple and Spam in the stuffing. Granted, I know very few people who would use Spam, but it points out the endless possibilities!