With the warm weather I have been really making use of all my kitchen gadgets. Anything to keep the heat outdoors! My favorite items to make use of for the summer are my crock pot, contact roaster and steamer. Often times the items my family wants to eat require stove top cooking which of course lets off quite a bit of heat. I'm also always looking for new recipes to make with these gadgets. I have a Rival 5-Quart Crock Pot, a George Foreman Contact Cooker and a Black & Decker Flavor Scenter Steamer and Rice Cooker.
I find the contact roaster to be very versatile. When I first saw it on an infomercial, I thought it would be great to prepare meats in. Now I find it works for much more than that. I do wish I had purchased the larger model. This particular one will fit a 4-5 lb. chicken. It can be used to roast any meat including beef roast, whole or cut up chicken, a breast of turkey, etc. I did a little research on-line and found that the roaster temperature is 350 degrees. I got to thinking that anything that I could cook in my stove at 350 could probably be cooked in the roaster. I used the pan that came with it to make brownies, coffee cakes and corn bread. I also use it to roast potatoes and to steam hot dogs. It's a great little machine to have in the kitchen.
My absolute favorite way to cook any time of year, especially in the summer, is in the crock pot. I love barbecue sandwiches but since we don't have a grill I prepare barbecued meats like brisket, hot dogs and chicken in the crock pot. I've been experimenting with baking in the crock pot and have made a pudding cake, rice pudding and banana bread. The all turned out moist and delicious.
I got a steamer for Christmas from my sister after the one I had quit working. This new one is great! It has two tiers so I can make meats and vegetables at the same time. Steamers also work great for cooking tamales or steamed breads or puddings, you just have to do a little trial and error to figure out how long to cook them. I always make my Spanish Rice or Rice Pilaf in the steamer as well.