Spring is in the air and another long, cold winter is behind us. I will tell you one thing that I don’t like to do when it’s hot outside and that is heat up my kitchen while cooking. I am excited to offer some Quick and Easy Cookout Recipes. These quick and easy cookout recipes will not only save you time, but also money because I used less energy prepare meals.
I recently partnered Project Envolve, which is sponsored by PPL Electric Utilities, to introduce you to more efficient cooking habits. Did you know that on average, your kitchen accounts for 15 percent of your home’s energy use- most of which is for cooking food? There are so many alternative ways to make delicious meals your family will love without having to use your stove or oven.
Kitchens are home to appliances that use a lot of electricity. From cooking to cleanup, using these appliances effectively will help your energy savings add up. If you think the microwave is only for reheating leftovers, think again. It has a ton of untapped cooking potential-like cooking pasta, even baking brownies and cakes. The best part is that there is usually minimal cleanup, so besides saving energy, there is no need to wash pots and pans (yay!) I am a very simple cook when it comes to meals since I am a full time teacher and a taxi driver to three young kids. I always try to think simple meals that everyone will enjoy.
As much as I love saving money, when it comes to meals there are times that it’s all about saving time. I will admit that I never really cooked with my microwave. Yes, I have reheated leftovers or heated up a frozen breakfast sandwich, but I never thought that the microwave can be used for cooking meals. I was excited to try some simple and time saving recipes.
Grilled Corn in Microwave
My kids love corn, but I hate making it because it usually involves boiling a huge pot of water and checking the corn very often (to avoid overcooking). How about grilled corn in the microwave? Using a microwave grill pan, I decided to test this unconventional cooking method by cooking the frozen corn for 5 minutes then flipping it before cooking it another 5 minutes.
The true test came when it was time to eat dinner. my kids usually flip out when they see marks on food, but to my surprise, they were asking for seconds. The corn actually cooked perfectly and still had a nice crunch. Have you ever tried to Grill Corn? Give it a try and serve it at your next cookout.
10 Minute Pasta Salad
Summer isn’t complete without a quick and simple pasta salad. We always have a bowl in the fridge ready to serve with any meal. I was excited to try cooking pasta in the microwave, which didn’t involve standing over a hot stove to stir pasta. My kids are very picky when it comes to fancy pasta salads, so I always make it very simple. I used a microwave pasta cooker and was shocked to see that in just about 8 minutes, I had perfect pasta. I was able to make all the beds in the house while cooking the pasta for our Mother’s Day Cookout. I didn’t have to wait 10 minutes for the water to boil and then another 10 minutes to cook the pasta. It was great to be able to multitask and get other things done while the pasta was cooking.
As a mentioned above, I am not a fancy cook. I make things that are simple and quick because I am usually running to piano, dance or Karate after school and before dinner time. This quick Pasta Salad is always in our fridge.
- Black Olives
- American Cheese
- 1 Bottle Italian Salad Dressing
- Microwave Pasta Cooker
A perfect side to any meal during a cookout!
Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos
One last recipe that I would like to share is from The Wire Blog for a Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Recipe. I had no idea what to make for dinner but this Chicken Taco recipes caught my eye for a few reasons. First, my kids love tacos and just adding cheese to anything and second, I had all the ingredients to make it and third, there was no clean up because I was using the crock pot with liners. I changed the recipe around to fit my picky eaters.
I came home during my lunch break to put the chicken in the Crock Pot and after running the kids to piano and twirling, I came home to dinner being ready. The best part about this meal is that there is minimal cleanup, so no washing dishes (love it!)
- 3 Tablespoons of taco seasoning, to taste.
- 1 cup chicken broth.
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast.
- Taco shells (hard or soft)
- Your favorite toppings (shredded cheddar, lettuce)
- Crock Pot Liner (to avoid the messy cleanup)
How to make it:
- Dissolve taco seasoning by stirring it into the chicken broth.
- Place the chicken breasts into the crock pot and combine all remaining ingredients.
- Cover and cook on low for 6 hours.
- Shred the meat into bite-sized pieces. You can use tongs, a fork or a spoon. The meat will be so tender that it will fall apart. I kept the meat in the juice from the crockpot until we were ready to serve. This kept it very moist.
- Serve in a tortilla or taco shell along with your favorite toppings.
This would actually be a great Cookout Recipes because you can serve it right from the Crock Pot and set up a toppings bar, too.
Here are some Efficient Cooking Tips to help you cut costs.
- Use small electric pans, toaster ovens, or convection ovens for small meals rather than your large stove or oven. A toaster or convention oven uses one-third to one-half as much energy as a full-sized oven.
- Use microwaves and slow cookers when possible. They use less energy than the stove or oven.
- Keep the inside of your microwave and oven clean. It improves their efficiency.
- Use your dishwasher only when it’s full. You can save 5,000 gallons of water each year and $40 in utility costs by using a dishwasher instead of hand-washing dishes, according to the Department of Energy.
- Use the air-dry option on dishwashers. It saves energy and keeps the machine from using a heating element to bake your dishes.
- For more efficient recipes, check out the PPL Electric Utilities Taste the Energy Savings Blog and PPL Electric Utilities’ Pinterest
Disclosure: I am a Project Envolve ambassador and receive product and/or compensation for these posts. All opinions and ideas are 100% my own!
Check out some of the recipes shared by my blogging buddies involved in Project Envolve
Enter to WIN
Giveaway: One lucky Bucktown Bargains’ Reader will win a Gift Pack from PPL Electric Utilities that includes the following:
- Totally Bamboo 5-piece Utensil Set
- 250 Best Meals in a Mug Cookbook
- Project Envolve Coffee Mug
Please note that recipients must be PPL Electric Utilities customers.