By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate
My favorite summer hostess gifts are saucy, and by that I don't mean spicy, I mean fun and functional. They are small cast-iron BBQ saucepots crafted with platform bases to sit out-of-the-way on the corner of the grill well above flames or heat. They come with a brush to baste or glaze while grilling, or can warm sauces as accompaniments to outdoor meals.
The pots make great gifts because even some of the most avid grillers don't yet own this sleek cookware that is sold everywhere from mass-market kitchen warehouse stores to culinary chains for about $10-$40.
Warming up barbecue sauce is a warm-weather comfort food that breaks the boredom of months of BBQ sauce monotony. If the reasonable price tag means you also treat yourself to a barbecue saucepot, the even better news is that store-bought sauce can be easily supercharged.
Fun fare like this also proves food preparation can be easy, nutritious, inexpensive, fun - and fast. The creative combinations are delicious proof that everyone has time for creating homemade specialties and, more importantly, the healthy family togetherness that goes along with it!
Another benefit: You effortlessly become a better cook, since these are virtually-can't-go-wrong combinations. They can't help but draw "wows" from family members and guests.
Consider some of these "best practices recipes" for warmed barbecue sauce innovations. All ingredients are to taste. Before heating store-bought barbecue sauce, gently stir in ingredients. Place small saucepots that have been made to withstand heat of grill on grill well away from any flames and occasionally carefully stir to avoid sauce burning.
- LUCKY LUAU
Add: Diced pineapple and fresh pineapple juice, mango, fresh or dried ginger, scallions.
- GET YOUR GREENS
Add: Shredded kale and spinach, diced green bell pepper and chives, chopped fresh or dried dill, freshly ground black pepper.
- SALSA THAT SINGS
Add: Chopped Roma tomatoes, onions and cilantro, store-bought medium salsa, cotija cheese or queso blanco, refried beans.
- SWEETHEART OF A SAUCE
Add: Honey, brown sugar, molasses, diced maraschino cherries and juice, peeled, chopped pears, ground cinnamon.
- CITRUS SURPRISE
Add: Blend of fresh citrus juices, such as: tangerine, pink grapefruit, lemon and lime, and hulled and diced strawberries, chopped fresh mint.
- JUST PEACHY
Puree fresh or frozen peaches and add with: chopped honeydew, lemonade, dried tarragon.
- GREAT GARLIC
Add: Minced garlic, red pepper flakes, diced black olives, chopped fresh parsley, freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
QUICK TIP OF THE WEEK: If your thirst for lemonade is never quite quenched, April White has done you a favor by stirring up Lemonade with Zest. The award-winning food writer's 40 recipes cover everything from the traditional to the innovative and promise months of tingling for the taste buds. Most notable is her showing off of flavors and ingredients that shine when combined with lemon, such as honey, cardamom, ginger, mint, lemongrass, rose, cucumbers, coconut, cherries, honeydew, and watermelon. Grilling and boiling lemonade are also on the menu, as are sorbets, granitas, international fare and some luscious lemony adult libations.
Lisa Messinger at Creators Syndicate 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.