(10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare)
By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate
Stick it to run-of-the-mill skewer recipes and instead pile on unexpected ingredients. All it takes is imagination or a peek into cultures outside your own.
Ted Allen, host of the Food Network
's top-rated Chopped
series and author of In My Kitchen: 100 Recipes and Discoveries for Passionate Cooks
, pinpoints new arenas at which to take a stab.
You can easily emulate those or the other skewer specialties that follow. Use either wood skewers you've soaked or metal skewers:Surprising Scampi
One of Allen's favorite dishes is scampi. Give Allen a few minutes in the kitchen and the scampi will instead emerge on skewers. Why not try the same for a super summer dish? To achieve some of the same flavor, alternate the cooked scampi (which you've let drain of excess butter) on the skewer with fresh basil leaves. Serve the scampi remains from the pan as an accompanying dipping sauce for the dish.An Apple a Day
Imagine foods and flavors that make traditional pairs anyway and line them up on skewers, like a Disney Resorts specialty of balsamic pork and apple chunks with red onions.Asian Menu Favorites
Sometimes ethnic specialties we're used to eating on a plate surprise as outstanding skewer stars.
The longtime popular Los Angeles Thai restaurant Siam Cabin serves up a memorable rendition of the universally popular dish crispy orange chicken as skewers. Chefs use battered spiced chicken meatballs and then drape it in tangerine sauce over curry rice, proving imaginative sticks can inspire unique sides as well.Dynamic Desserts
Dessert isn't out of bounds.
The PBS series Globe Trekker
showed off Moroccan takes on simmering apples with butter and cinnamon, and bananas with thyme, olive oil, almond extract and honey. Alternating these on skewers, wrapping them in foil and then lightly grilling them puts a twist on any ordinary fruit skewers that may have come before.
Or simply take Pillsbury's imaginative suggestion of skewering chunks of cinnamon rolls, wrapping them in foil, lightly grilling and then drizzling them with chocolate and caramel sauces before serving.
Fun fare like the aforementioned proves cooking can be easy, nutritious, economical, fun - and fast. They take just 10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare.
The creative combinations are delicious proof that everyone has time for tasty home cooking and, more importantly, the healthy family togetherness that goes along with it! Another benefit: You effortlessly become a better cook, since there are no right or wrong amounts.
These are virtually-can't-go-wrong combinations, so whatever you - or your kidlet helpers - choose to use can't help but draw "wows" from family members and guests.QUICK TIP OF THE WEEK:
Yukon Gold potatoes, available commercially since the 1980s, are more buttery, creamy and light than the more-often used Russet potatoes. They are a good choice for mashing or baking. They are smaller, so they bake in less time than Russets and may be a better choice for your family since servings can be kept smaller, but still satisfying. The skin is also thinner and smoother and, therefore, better-tasting than the skin of Russets. This is important, too, since your family is then more likely to eat the skin, which contains most of the fiber and nutrients.
Lisa Messinger is a first-place winner in food and nutrition writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the National Council Against Health Fraud and author of seven food books, including the best-selling The Tofu Book: The New American Cuisine with 150 Recipes (Avery/Penguin Putnam) and Turn Your Supermarket into a Health Food Store: The Brand-Name Guide to Shopping for a Better Diet (Pharos/Scripps Howard). She writes two nationally syndicated food and nutrition columns for Creators Syndicate and had been a longtime newspaper food and health section managing editor, as well as managing editor of Gayot/Gault Millau dining review company. Lisa traveled the globe writing about top chefs for Pulitzer Prize-winning Copley News Service and has written about health and nutrition for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Reader's Digest, Woman's World and Prevention Magazine Health Books. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.