Easy summer cooking

Well, July is over half over, we’ve had rain, wind, flooding in many places and recently a hurricane named Elsa. Thankfully, she didn’t come anywhere near us, but I think some of the ten inches of rain we received might have had a little of her signature on it. So far, our nights are staying in the mid 70s and the days haven’t yet 100º and over!
My kitchen is back to being only mine, no more workers for six to eight hours per day! Thursday, my contractor came out and replaced all of the pulls on the cabinet doors and drawers. That afternoon, I started placing my pot-holders and cup towels where they belonged, and first thing Friday morning, I started working on getting my silverware in its drawer. Now, I have the job of doing the rest of the drawers.
My computer is down, I can’t even get it to turn on, so have come to our local library to get this column done, so without my files and recipes, some of it is pretty much off the top of my head. Luckily, I found part of an older column and several loose recipes,
With all the hot weather we’re having, everyone needs to have a few one-dish recipes to rely on. Dig out the cookbook that came with your slow-cooker or crock pot and find a recipe that sounds good. Put it on to cook early in the morning and by supper time, not only will the house smell as if you’ve been cooking all day (you have!), the house will not be hot, and all you will need to fill out the meal will probably be a salad and a dessert. (How does a big scoop of ice cream with some syrup on it sound?) Easy peasy and no cooking involved.
Almost any type of casserole that is to be baked in the oven can be baked in the microwave in much less time. This is another trick to keep kitchen time to a minimum; again, get out the cookbook that came with your microwave. Many of the recipes that are in it are really delicious. Meat loaf is awesome when made in the microwave. Corn on the cob? Yes, cut both ends off and cook it with the shucks left on, I don’t have a time table here for several ears, but I usually cook my single ear of corn for 3 to 3½ minutes. Also baked potatoes are simple to do in the microwave, check the cookbook!
If you have decided to make a dish such as Chicken Enchilada Casserole or Chicken Spaghetti which requires chicken to be cooked before being used, consider cooking it in the microwave, and, if you’re not comfortable doing this, consider purchasing one of the rotisserie chickens from the grocery store and use it. I have done this many times, and if you figure out the price, it’s only a little more expensive than raw chicken and you don’t have to mess with boiling it!
Here is a slow-cooker recipe for a pepper steak. It does require browning some of the ingredients on top of the stove, but after that it is up to the crock-pot.
Slow-cooked Pepper Stead
1½ to 2 pounds round steak, cut into 3X1-inch strips
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 cup chopped onion
1 glove garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon powdered ginger
4 fresh tomatoes, cut into 8 wedges each, or 1 can (16-oz) tomatoes, chopped
2 large green bell peppers, cut into julienne strips
½ cup cold water
1 tablespoon corn starch
Brown meat strips in oil, place in bottom of slow cooker. Add next seven (7) ingredients. Cook 5 to 6 hours on low, or until meat is tender. Add tomatoes and peppers, cook one (1) hour longer. Mix together water and cornstarch and add to liquid in cooker. Cook on high until thick, serve over noodles or rice.
Strawberry Cream Cheese Cobbler
1 stick butter
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 quarts strawberries, stems removed and washed
4 ounces cream cheese, cut into small pieces
Preheat oven to 350º, melt butter and pour into 9×13 pan. In a small bowl, mix egg, milk, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Pour over butter in baking dish, don’t stir; add the strawberries in a single layer. Place cream cheese pieces on top evenly. Bake 45 minutes or until top is golden brown and edges are bubbling. Crust rises around fruit, but the fruit peeks out on top. Now, this recipe is to have the children have fun!
Best ever play dough
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
½ cup salt
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 cup water
Food coloring as desired
Mix food coloring into water first; then add oil in a large pot. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Cook over low to medium heat until dough starts to form. Once it starts to make a ball, remove from heat; cool, then knead for about 5 minutes. Have fun!