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Who has time to spend a long time preparing a meal? Make speed cooking your specialty! Or have the meal waiting for you when you get back from a long day, filling the house with wonderful smells!

The following are useful utensils/appliances to jumpstart your speed cooking, though not mandatory:

  • A crockpot
  • A rice-cooker
  • A George Foreman grill
  • A steamer
  • A cuisinart/food-processor/blender
  • A wok or large frying pan

If you don't have a crockpot, you can use the ideas for the crockpot recipes, but using more liquid, bring everything to a boil, and then turn down the heat and simmer for an hour or two, checking and stirring regularly.

Without a George Foreman grill, substitute a regular indoor, stovetop or outdoor grill. Use the grilling preparation ideas, and just follow directions for the operation of your grill, and make sure to turn your meat as often as necessary until cooked. For QUICK grilling, however, nothing beats the George Foreman grill!

The recipe ideas are flexible in many ways e.g. pasta toppings can go a long way if you add more vegetables and throw in more pasta, for that surprise dinner guest. Mix and match, based on these easy principles, and you will find that cooking isnít such a chore or a bore. Folks tend to have a wide range of salt and spice tolerance, so even the recommended seasonings may be adjusted to taste.  The only rule is that you have to like the taste, so experiment and have fun and no fear of a disaster!

Notes on rice:

For those without a rice-cooker, substitute a medium to large pot. Most short or long grain rice will go by the proportions of 1 cup rice to 2 cups water. Generally, you will bring to a boil, then cover and simmer on very low heat for 20 minutes, or according to the directions on the package. Brown/wild rice will take longer. Once cooked, transfer to another container and cover to keep warm, or serve immediately. The rice may of course be warmed in the microwave for a couple of minutes prior to serving. For an interesting twist to rice, adding a couple of chicken bouillon cubes, or substituting one of the cups of water for canned chicken broth makes for a tasty rice.

For really dressed-up rice (with curries), try adding one tablespoon butter, either chicken broth or salt, a half teaspoon of ground cloves, and 1 tablespoon of turmeric. The result is a tasty and colorful yellow rice that your guests will LOVE, and turmeric is much more readily available than saffron!

The sticky rice dish in the Asian section may also be prepared in a large pot. Just remember to keep warm in a different covered dish, so that the bottom of the pot (and rice) will not burn after the 20 minutes!

Instead of steaming your vegetables, you may also cook them according to instructions on your package in the microwave, or quite simply boil them. Cooking times vary according to the type of vegetable of course. But once drained, it's fun to "dress" green beans (for example) up with slivered almonds, a little butter and salt and pepper to taste.

In short, appliances may be my life helpers, but don't have to rule yours!

To share your quick recipes, email foodie@speedcooking.net. All entries, if included, will be acknowledged!

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