I love using my skillets. It’s easy to throw together a quick meal by throwing meat and veggies in it with some coconut oil and seasoning and cooking it all together. I can also use it to cook some veggies that prepared some other way wouldn’t be nearly as good.
Canned Yams: Canned yams on their own just don’t taste that great. However, draining them, putting them in a skillet with some cinnamon and butter, turning on the heat, mashing the yams, and then stirring them into the butter and cinnamon makes them delicious. When I was dairy-free, I used Smart Balance or Earth Balance’s Coconut Spread to make them instead.
Canned Beets: Canned beets on their own are nasty and taste like dirt. It took a while and some experimenting to figure out how to make them taste good. I get canned julienned beets and put them in a skillet with honey, allspice, and butter. I turn the heat on to low and let them simmer, until the “beet juice” is gone and it appears as if the honey has formed a glaze on the beets. This way they taste really sweet, and the dirt taste is almost completely gone.
Okra: Just heating up okra in the microwave to steam it doesn’t get the job done at all. Okra has this “slime” that’s still there when prepared this way. I prepare cut okra in the skillet without breading of any kind and with some oil and seasoning. To me, the best seasonings to use are salty ones like McCormick’s Grill Mates Roasted Garlic & Herb Seasoning and seasoned salt. I put everything in the skillet, turn on the heat, and stir everything occasionally. When I feel that the slime is nearly non-existent, I will go ahead and remove the okra from the heat. Leaving it in until it gets a little brown and maybe a little blackened isn’t too bad either. It actually gets pretty crunchy at that point and tastes pretty good.
Meats: Baking them in the oven works fine, but it takes longer. Using a skillet saves me from having to wait for the oven to preheat and then having to wait through the longer cooking time. However, using the skillet requires more supervision. It can be easy to overcook the meat if I’m not careful. I try to keep an eye on things and turn from one side to the other when I think it’s ready to flip to keep it from overcooking or burning. I like to add the McCormick’s Grill Mates seasoning mixes, seasoned salt, Lemon & Pepper, and other seasonings as appropriate depending on what type of meat I’m cooking.
Complete Meals: I recently discovered that cooking meat and veggie sides together in the skillet with seasoning and oil makes an awesome-tasting meal. What comes off the meat during cooking also gets mixed into the vegetables, which adds flavor. I’ve cooked a variety of vegetables with meats like hamburger patties, pork chops, chicken breasts, turkey patties, bratwurst, and more. I’ve cooked veggies like potato wedges, okra, squash, stir-fry veggies, other veggie mixes, and pole beans. McCormick’s Grill Mates seasoning mixes work really well for this, and I use Hamburger with the hamburger patties, Mesquite with pork, Montreal Chicken with chicken, and others like the Roasted Garlic & Herb with other meats. Add the oil to the skillet and put your meat in one area and each veggie in its own area. Sprinkle the seasoning over the meat and veggies. Flip the meat as required, adding more seasoning, and occasionally stir the vegetables. Use your own judgment about when to call everything done and serve it. This is a very quick and easy way to make a complete meal, and you don’t have to use a lot of dishes to do it.
I normally use coconut oil to cook foods in my skillet. I save my olive oil for dressing salads and for recipes that call for oil in a liquid state. I have to keep the skillet on a low heat setting when melting the oil. It melts quickly, and it heats up quickly. I once had an accident while heating coconut oil in a stainless steel skillet. It caught fire, which I fortunately was able to use a fire extinguisher to put out. Whether or not that was the proper way to do it, I don’t know, but it got the job done. I then had to clean out the mess in the kitchen and replace my fire extinguisher. The moral is to be very careful heating oils, particularly coconut oil!
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