I've been on the hunt for one since I moved here, but nothing caught my eye, so when CSN Stores ask me if I would like to do a product review, I knew exactly what I would search for. I choose the Circulon Contempo 5.5 Quart Covered Straining Casserole.
I love CSN Stores, as I know many of you do. They've sponsored two giveaways here at The Hut and many others around our blogging community. I was also the lucky recipient of a set of Pfaltzgraff dishes from Cindy's CSN giveaway at Applestone Cottage. All three packages I've received from this company have come as scheduled and packaged perfectly. I can understand why they have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, they've got this whole online buying thing down!
Anyway, I've had my pot for about two weeks now and it has become the favorite pot in my kitchen. Of course, it is perfect for boiling pasta or potatoes and the straining lid makes this task so easy. Each side of the lid has holes for draining, one side for larger foods and the other for smaller foods. Now, I've always used a colander for this task, but I can honestly tell you that is a thing of the past here at The Hut! What I really love about being able to drain right from this pot is that the lid locks on securely. This means I can shake the dickens out of it and get out more water than I ever could with my colander. The boiling water can no longer stay hidden in my penne or in my ziti. I can turn it this pot every which way to make sure my shells (the pasta kind, not the ones I pick up on the beach) are dry as can be. This improves the overall quality of my finished dish, no more water-downed sauce or soggy potato salad!
Now you'd think that would be all I could say about this pot, but because I have limited space in my new kitchen, I like things to be versatile, so I further tested this pot with a few of my favorite recipes. I used it to make ribs and rice; a dish where the rice normally sticks to the bottom. Not so with this pot! Not only did the rice not stick, it took far less watching and stirring. This tells me that the pot cooks nice and evenly with no hot spots to scorch my dinner. Oh yeah, I'm loving this pot!
I also used it to make squash and onions, a dish I've made in a cast-iron skillet all my life and a dish that takes constant watching. I was afraid the vents in the lid would let all the juices evaporate and I would have to add more, but it didn't. The result was moist, delicious and the clean-up a breeze. While I'm on the subject of cast-iron I want to share something with you. I love my cast iron pots and skillets, but when I moved to Florida there was no natural gas in my area and the same thing holds true here. I don't know about you, but I don't love cooking with cast iron on electric stoves, it just doesn't yield the same results. I have a glass-top stove and my oven is convection, which I love, but I stopped making my cornbread in a cast-iron skillet because the crust never turned out crusty. I starting making my squash and onions in a regular skillet and while it was good, it was never as good as when I used cast-iron. Well, I don't know what it is about this pot, but I love, love, LOVE how my recipe turned out!
Since it is oven-proof to 400 degrees, I also wanted to try baking in it, so I made a casserole complete with lots of cheese. I hate washing glass casserole dishes, something always sticks and there is lots of soaking and scrubbing involved, ugh! Again, this pot cleaned up in a flash. I highly recommend this product for yourself and as a perfect wedding gift.
Now you didn't think I'd let Friday go by without sharing a recipe did you? This one is easy and falls under the comfort food category. I grew up eating this as made by my Southern mother. She cooked it in bacon grease, as did any self-respecting Southern cook did in those days and it was soooo good, but I don't eat bacon any more, so there is no grease can sittin' around. This dish does call for fat though, I've tried making it with spray oil, but honey, it is no where near the same. I use butter, yep I do, I admit it, sometimes a gal just needs fat and this is one of the few dishes I cook with lots of fat.
Squash and Onions
6 yella (crookneck) squash, sliced medium
1 large Vidalia onion, sliced into rings
3 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Melt butter in a large skillet or pot. Add squash and onion in layers, sprinkling with salt and pepper as you go. I use Paul Prudhomme's Magic Seasoning Salt. I love all of his seasonings and this one is a great blend for everyday use.
Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally. The squash will start to become tender, so stir gently, but if it starts to break up a bit that's just fine. You want the squash to be nice and tender. This takes about 20 minutes. Serve it up with baked chicken, grilled fish or a nice pork loin. Honey, your taste buds will do the happy dance and any stress you're feeling will just melt away.
Tip: Now if you like things a bit on the spicy side you can add in a small can of diced chiles.
How's this for a little down-home cookin'?
Baked chicken and sweet potato, sliced 'maters with 1000 Island
and today's recipe — Squash and Onions. Enjoy!
That's if for today, I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and remember to tell those close to you that you love 'em.
Be sure to stop by Michael's over at Designs By Gollum for more Foodie Friday recipes.