I decided not to fight the trend and picked my top 10 favorites. Also, I mistakenly thought this would be a quick post to finish up the year with but it turned out to be much more difficult than I thought to narrow them down to just ten. My sister-in-law (the healthy registered dietician one) recently pointed out that I lean toward desserts, which I have to admit is very true. They are just all around better, better tasting, better photos and a lot more fun to do so of course this list is also a little heavy on the dessert side (I did sort of consider which posts got the most hits but basically I reserved the right to make the final decisions.) In my quest for self-improvement, I promise to try to include more healthy items in the future (due to repeatedly failing at this in the past, I can’t actually promise – only promise to try). Drum roll . . . in no particular order, this years winners:
As everyone has probably figured out from so many of my recipes, I have been on a cast iron skillet kick and it has become my new favorite pan. Cooking. com requested some product reviews on its Facebook page which I am a fan of where you can go to see all about new products and lots of cooking tips and recipes, or you can follow them on Twitter. To be fair, you should know they also offered a gift certificate for doing it, but you could pick your own product so of course I choose one I really like – my iron skillet. After going through many non-stick skillets, I actually got on to the cast iron by accident. For some reason, Husband who doesn’t cook, decided to get one but I didn’t use it for a really long time thinking it was too old-fashioned and camping like until one day I decided to make pork chops. I normally grill meats and rarely fry anything but after prepping, I went to turn on the grill and there was no gas so I had to go another direction. I do like a good crust so it seemed like a good idea to try out the skillet. After that I was hooked. This particular pan, the Lodge 15 1/4 inch seasoned pan is the best, large enough to cook for a whole family – as you all also have probably figured out, I like to cook BIG. I would say the only drawback to the pan might be its weight as it is a little heavy but well worth it.
The skillet is relatively inexpensive but heats evenly, holds the heat well and in a pinch makes a really good meat pounder (if you can lift it). Well seasoned they are as good (and much more durable) than a non-stick pan. Best of all, they make amazing homemade pizza. Make or buy your favorite ingredients, put the pan in the oven at the highest temperature you can get, let it heat up for 30 minutes then put in a little oil and your pizza. I find it works better than all the pizza stones I have tried. If you search my blog, you will find at least 20 different recipes (some of the pictures are below) where I’ve used this skillet from the above mentioned pizza to chicken, pork, steak, potatoes, vegetables and desserts and I am always happy with the result.
Cleaning is a little different, you never want to leave them in water (don’t use them to boil water either) but generally a quick rinse with hot water immediately after cooking, wipe with a sponge, dry well and wipe with a little oil. If something does stick, scrub with a mild abrasive, like coarse salt; you can also use a few drops of a mild dishwashing soap every once in a while but you don’t want to use it often or it will remove the seasoning.