Summer Cookin’

7/6/2015 - 9:13:46 AM
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Now that the 4th is over and the hot, dog days of summer are here we have been turning our attention to meals and quick food that are much easier to prepare and store in the fridge. We’re busy, we know you’re busy, and sometimes we all want nothing more than to grab a pre-made dinner from the fridge that doesn’t require prep time over a hot stove. In the old days people had summer kitchens for this very reason, though the ladies still cooked themselves along with the food in that one room detached from the main part of the house.

We have A/C, well-insulated houses, and cool kitchens nowadays, but this doesn’t mean we want to spend summer “vacation” in the kitchen when there’s so much activity happening elsewhere. Because of that we’ve assembled 3 practical ways to cook outside the kitchen, or not cook at all. Welcome to summer cookin’.

Grill Out

This is probably the most all-out popular way to cook in summertime, especially with the guys. Of course it’s also a popular option with women, since it means their men will be taking over the main course of the meal for them. Mostly men enjoy using this method because it’s so simple and straightforward and because it’s very easy to break out a pack of pork chops or steak to marinade, sirloin and tips for the special nights, and hamburgers and hotdogs for the rest of it. The upside is practically anything can be grilled, from vegetables, to pizza, to a dessert of peaches with a dollop of ice-cream. Just pop it on the grill and 10-20 minutes later your main course is done.

Go Garden

It doesn’t matter if you love gardens and have lots of your own vegetables, or if you live in urban areas where you grab CSA shares each week from local farmers, this is always a good way to go. All it involves is eating fresh, fresh fresh. This can be anything from vine-ripened tomatoes with a dollop of egg salad on top, or a fresh tomato-mozz sandwich on bread, a salad with all the goodies plus some, or a meal of mostly watermelon for a summer evening with an accompaniment of things like pasta salad that you pre-cooked, or hummus and crackers and veggies.

Pre-Prepped

This is a fantastic way to keep food on hand for quick meals in between summer busyness. It’s probably the hardest one to actually make a habit of practicing, but once you’re in a groove it’s excellent. It involves taking something like a pack of chicken and grilling or cooking more than you need to keep in the fridge for extra options for quick meals. You can then chop it and easily make chicken quesadillas, burritos, a salad, or a casserole on short notice. Another excellent idea is to make a large pasta salad at the beginning of the week and use it for quick meals, sides or snacks throughout the week. Beans or hard-boiled eggs are another option for quick protein additions to food. It takes so little prep work that it more than compensates for the time saved throughout the next part of the week.

Salad in a Jar



This is a relatively new trend in the blogger world, but we wanted to cash in on this one because honestly its the best method we’ve seen for quick salad options that last about a week. Salad is tricky because even just a couple of hours of sitting in dressing can ruin it, and to use it for a lunch option while having to take separate containers for separate ingredients is definitely a pain. That’s why this week we tried ‘salad in a jar,” and have been impressed with how well the salad kept with the dressing on the bottom of the jar ending with the lettuce on the top kept dry and crisp.

Ingredients

In two pint jars layer in this order:

  • 1-2 T. vinaigrette
  • 3 mini peppers, sliced
  • 1 small tomato, diced
  • 2 T sweet or green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 c beans, rinsed & drained
  • 1 grilled chicken breast, sliced
  • 2-4 T. cilantro, loosely chopped
  • 1 1/2 C. chopped kale or lettuce

What you get is a fantastic option to pack for picnics, hot day snacks, lunches and a side to just about anything you can think of. These won’t last indefinitely of course, but they will do well for up to a week, though rarely more than that and depending on the season, less. Enjoy!

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