Cast iron skillet
We get a lot of questions about what cookware to get and one thing we always recommend is a cast iron skillet. Cheap, dependable and naturally non-stick, a cast iron skillet will quickly become one of the most frequently used pans in your arsenal. Properly cared for it will also outlive you--try doing that with your teflon coated non-stick pan. Our preferred choice is the Lodge Logic 12" pre-seasoned skillet [$27.50]. This American made pan is great for everything from making fried chicken to pancakes to cornbread.
Oven fried chicken wings
Chicken wings are classic American bar food, but if you're like us you want to be able to eat chicken wings while still controlling the remote. It's easier than you think and a deep fat frier isn't required. Grab an extra napkin and [maybe] some celery and join us for hot wings.
Pulled pork (in the oven)
Pulled pork is the litmus test we use for barbecue and is a favorite to serve for large get togethers. Using a smoker is traditional, but buying a large dedicated device isn't necessary to have excellent results. We use a dutch oven which makes this recipe completely apartment friendly. It's so good your guests will be looking for your smoker in the backyard.
KitchenAid stand mixer
You've only got two hands, but a stand mixer is handy enough you'll swear you have an extra set. KitchenAid's iconic stand mixer is a workhorse in our kitchen and while not cheap is well worth the investment. We use it for everything from whipping egg whites, to making juice to kneading bread dough.
Pork shoulder (AKA Boston butt) is an under appreciated cut in American homes and we're out to change that. Pork carnitas is a classic Mexican pulled pork preparation that's unbeliveably delicious. We use carnitas in tacos, quesadillas, salads and if no one's looking all by itself.
Hershey Kiss cookies
Hershey Kiss cookies (AKA peanut butter blossoms) are one of our all time favorite cookies--peanut butter and chocolate are simply meant for each other. We grew up having these mostly around the holidays, but there is no reason why this delicious cookie has to be limited to a few short months. We haven't been to a summer picnic yet where these weren't the first dessert to be finished off.
How to season cast iron pans
We're big fans of cast iron cookware, but it does take a little more maintenance than some other materials. Most importantly you need to season cast iron. Seasoning simply means a patina of carbon which not only protects the pan from rust (which exposed iron will do rapidly), but also gives cast iron a natural non-stick finish. Many pans come pre-seasoned these days, but if you need to re-season or refurbish a rusted pan here's how to do it.
Beat the recession one protein at a time
With the economy in recession a lot of people are cooking at home more frequently. That means more grocery store visits than in years past and as we all know it's easy to go way over budget if you go in unprepared. We've got a series of tips coming up, but we're throwing in one of the biggest money savers in first: rotate your proteins based on the sale at your preferred store. It sounds simple, but grocery stores frequently use one or two proteins as loss leaders to get you into the store. If you plan your meals around what's on sale you will save serious cash. A great side benefit is you won't get into a rut because you'll end up buying different cuts every week.
An enameled cast iron dutch oven is one of our workhorse pans. It's perfect for making pasta sauces, stews, braising meat, deep frying and even some kinds of bread. Le Creuset is the largest brand name in this space, but at north of $200 their pieces are priced a bit more than most consumers (including us!) are willing to spend. Our kitchen sports a 6-Quart Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven [$69.32] and yours should too.
Arguably the most polarizing of herbs, cilantro is the leaf of the coriander plant and has recently seen increased popularity in the US. Cilantro is controversial because a minority percentage of people are unable to taste all of its flavor compounds and claim the herb tastes like soap or metal. Love it or hate it, here's all you need to know about the world's most widely consumed fresh herb.