So our summer is off to a good start. We’ve had a lot of doing nothing which is not a complaint. At some point I’m hoping I’ll get bored enough to start cleaning out closets and such, but I’m not there yet. Right now I’m choosing to spend my down time watching Netflix and reading books.
My people spent a few days fishing in Louisiana and they got back last night. I was so glad to see them that I barely noticed how terrible their fishing clothes smelled.
That’s a lie. I totally noticed how bad their fishing clothes smelled because it was like a garbage bomb went off in my house.
Also, aren’t they cute? I keep thinking the Outdoor Channel or some such will come calling to give them their own fishing and hunting show because they are seriously like a couple of professionals. I mean look at all that equipment.
Clearly, I’ll be cooking flounder for dinner in the near future. I highly recommend this recipe for flounder stuffed with shrimp and crabmeat if you happen to find yourself with some flounder that needs to be cooked. In full disclosure, I don’t use the shrimp. I just double the crabmeat because I think it tastes better that way and I have a tenuous relationship with shrimp.
And speaking of dinner, what is everyone cooking this summer? I think that summer dinners are the hardest thing in the world and my reasons are twofold:
1. It’s so hot.
2. I don’t want to cook.
But I will offer you two fairly easy dinner solutions I have recently put together with the hope you will share some of your own ideas in the comments.
The first one is Pioneer Woman’s Slow Cooker Barbecue Chicken. The actual recipe is in her newest cookbook which is available here. (This isn’t an ad, but her newest cookbook is my favorite in terms of easy, quick meals.) But this version on her website is actually closer to what I made because I didn’t use a slow cooker because I’ve decided my Crock Pot makes everything smell the same. (I know. It’s stupid. But it’s how I feel.)
So I just cooked a pack of four boneless, skinless breasts along with about eight boneless, skinless chicken thighs. I threw them in the dutch oven, salt and peppered them, sliced up an onion and fresh garlic and then poured a bottle of barbecue sauce over all of that. I cooked it at 300 degrees for about 2 1/2 hours. Then I drained the liquid, shredded the chicken and then poured in another bottle of barbecue sauce. I served it on slider buns with coleslaw on top. It makes a ton, my people loved it and there were leftovers for days. That’s a cooking trifecta.
The second dinner option is my current favorite. My friend Karla makes this panzanella salad that I love and so I decided I needed to learn how to make it because it’s essentially bread and tomatoes and what else do you need in life?
I found this panzanella salad recipe and it’s different from the one Karla makes, but so delicious. And, to turn it into an actual meal and not just a side dish, I added arugula and then pan-seared some deer steaks in the cast iron skillet that I sliced thin and served on top. Here’s a picture minus the steak on top because I am a terrible food photographer.
I also added fresh mozzarella because cheese means never having to say you’re sorry. And I think next time I’ll add some black olives. All that to say, it’s delicious and perfect for a summer meal when you don’t want to eat hot food.
But clearly I can’t spend the rest of my summer cooking these two meals so I’d love some other suggestions for anything that’s easy and fairly healthy and doesn’t require hours in the kitchen.
This recipe from Smitten Kitchen is a top go-to during the summer. You can sub store-bought tzatziki instead of making your own per the recipe but if you have the time making your own is worth it. http://smittenkitchen.com/2016/05/chicken-gyro-salad/
I just discovered smittenkitchen and love it! I’ve made the lime garlic steak with rice noodles twice already and it’s so easy and yummy!
My people love Pioneer Woman’s Dr. Pepper pork! In a Dutch oven put a pork shoulder(I sear in a cast iron skillet first-because the ‘FLAVOR IS IN THE BROWN’!-Carla Hall), half of a little can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, salt, pepper, garlic, chopped onions and peppers, and…..wait for it….a can of Dr. Pepper. Bake for about 3 hours. Makes great tacos, tasty on a salad, and just plain old bbq sandwiches.
We love this too – I use the whole can of chipotle/adobo because we LOVE SPICY ~ once the pork is finished I use the immersion blender to buzz up the peppers/onions into a smooth sauce. In addition to sammies, salads, and tacos I’ll through it on a pizza crust with sauce (maybe an addition of the favorite bbq sauce) mozzarella cheese, and thin sliced red onion – SO GOOD!
Anything by Gaby! Love her new cookbook!
I highly recommend an Instant Pot! Easy, quick, and nutritious meals can be made in that electric pressure cooker.
I made a crab salad that was stuffed in avocados. It was kind of a take on a spicy tuna roll. Just mayo, canned crab, a little bit of sriracha and I put it on top of an avocado. Super easy and I didn’t have to turn on the stove.
We had BLTs with freezer fries the other night and it was easy and delicious! What about baked ziti, burrito bowls, pioneer woman’s ranch chicken. Why is summer cooking harder? I agree about the crockpot! I’m writing down ideas from these comments!
I mentioned the Verdusa caftán on my blog today and gave you and Sophie credit. I ordered the maxi instead and not sure if I can pull it off!
Love this post!
Cold, cooked pasta
Cold, leftover chicken cut in bites sized pieces. (Rotisserie chicken is wonderful!)
Cold, steamed broccoli pieces. (Again, leftovers.)
Halved cherry tomatoes
Italian dressing (I prefer bottled Olive Garden)
Marinate a few hours. A delicious, cold summer lunch or dinner. Great served with garlic bread!
Me too…too hot for this business. So uh…chicken salad? Caprese salad but add chicken to make a meal and/or pasta? Tacos, any varietal that involves slow cooking or your husband grilling? We do an Asian slaw salad a lot, sometimes with ramen, sometimes with rice noodles. There are lots of recipes for said salad on the internets.
Melanie – I have been reading for years, and I am excited because it just occurred to me that Caroline should TOTALLY join the high school fishing circuit! I am a board member for the Texas High School Bass Association and we will be expanding into a Hill Country/San Antonio Division. There are TON$ of scholarships involved! She would be awesome…hope her school will check into it.
My son fished with THSBA this year. Such a great organization! We really enjoyed it a lot!
I totally second the Instant Pot recommendation! It’s such a fabulous help. Did you forget to thaw your meat, no problem. Throw it in frozen! There are a gabillion recipes out on the internets.
I also do not love cooking in the summer. We’re not in Texas, but we’re in Memphis, and the heat and humidity combined with the oven make me want to not eat ever again. But I have these four teenaged boys…
Anyway, here are a few things I like to make in the summer. Grilled chicken marinated in a bottle of Italian dressing. I usually serve it with things from the oven, but in the summer, it would be good with a salad or maybe just some sliced tomatoes and bread. My family also loves French dip sandwiches, and they take five minutes in the oven. I use hoagie rolls and pile on cheese and roast beef (not even from the deli, but the kind you buy with all the other lunch meats) and then buy a package of au jus and cook that on the stove. We do grilled cheese sandwiches a lot, or breakfast for dinner (we are not breakfast people), or BLT’s and chips. I’ll do anything that doesn’t involve the oven being on for long. Hope these inspire you some. I’m going to try that panzanella salad.
This salad looks delicious! Here is another idea for leftover chicken!
Barbecue Chicken Ranch Salad.: just mix your favorite salad likes ( lettuce, tomato, onion, etc) and add cut up pieces of barbecue chicken. Top with some shredded Colby jack cheese, you favorite crunched up tortilla chips or corn chips and ranch dressing. It’s delicious! ( Also, if you don’t have any leftover barbecue chicken, just toss some barbecue sauce on whatever leftover chicken you happen to have….)
Being a vegan with a bad attitude, I don’t have a lot to offer but Trader Joe’s was taste testing their corn and wheat tortillas (that’s what it says on the package) with some sort of frozen pulled pork, the super creamy organic sour cream and Hatch Valley green salsa which had people losing their minds. I understood why when I tried it without the pork, hence the vegan “bad attitude”. These corn/wheat tortillas have the nicest texture, very soft. The Hatch Valley chili is amazing. I could dive into the sour cream. Only trouble is the tortillas a small so I’d buy like four packs. Breakfast burritos for dinner would be amazing with them.
What are the details of your dinnerware shown in that pic? I love them and need some new ones.
At some point this week we are making Reuben sandwiches, but without Russian dressing (shudder). You only have to turn on the oven for a few minutes.
Completely agree about the crockpot. Doesn’t matter what kind of meat and what I put in with it, it always smells the same and after smelling it all day I can’t eat it.
I love that you asked for suggestions because in what Universe do you want to turn on anything hot when it’s 103 degrees in Texas??!!
I love this recipe and crave it when the heat goes up. Mostly healthy; cold and refreshing. You have to cook the pasta (use angel hair and it’s super fast) and the protein if you don’t already have it but this is easy if you have leftover.
Fast, easy and you can top it with almost any protein to make it more of a “meal” which in my house means my man must have meat or he’s eating a side-dish.
I’ve done chicken, shrimp, salmon but I think my favorite is steak.
My husband and son feel very cheated if we do “entree salads” so I have to sporadically space those out. Funny enough – I did the Pioneer Woman Spicy Dr Pepper Pulled Pork last night and it’s always a winner.
Some of my entree salads are: Chicken Caesar Salads, Taco Salads (old fashioned kind served with fritos and Catalina dressing), flank steak wedge salads, Greek Salads with grilled chicken…. you get the idea.
We have a Big Green Egg so we are constantly grilling. Did you know you can make pizzas on the BGE? Doing pizzas on the grill is a great way NOT to heat up the oven. I often do roasted veggies also on the BGE, or even in the oven, but the oven isn’t on long, so it doesn’t heat up the entire house (or me)!
One of my summer go to’s is: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/summer-stir-fry/ You could substitute ckn for the shrimp if you’re not feeling it. We also love this recipe for fish tacos: http://tastykitchen.com/blog/2011/04/spicy-grilled-fish-tacos/
Don’t forget about grilling chicken wings, ribs (low and slow), etc. And – sloppy joes are always good. Stove top simple and Pioneer Woman’s recipe is delicious.
You just brought back childhood memories of “old-fashioned” taco salad!!! My grandma would make that all the time. I just did an online search for the original recipe and I am going to make it soon!
I doubt it’s the hottest summer on record in Texas, but it’s gotta be close! These recipes sound great! Thanks for sharing!
I thought I was the only one who thought that about a crock pot. Gave mine away!
By the way. Thank you so much for your books. I enjoy them and buy multiple copies for gifts.
My daughter and I are trying to find new healthier recipes to make this summer. This was a hit! We love the mango salsa from Costco. I’m reluctant to suggest a salsa to a TX girl 😉
https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/turkey-burgers-with-mango-salsa (we left out onions)
I agree about the sloppy joes! I get the Chili’s sloppy joe sauce from Kroger…always a big hit! They are especially yummy served on toasted King’s Hawaiian buns. Super easy!
Black Bean Taco Salad
1-2 cans of black beans rinsed
1 bag frozen corn
1 diced onion
4-8 oz can green chilies
Mix above in a bowl with Newmans olive oil and vinegar dressing. Crush tortilla chips on a plate. Top with black bean mixture, lettuce, cheese, guacamole, sour cream….anything taco you like.
Mix everything up on your plate and enjoy!
My quick go to is to make sweet potato zucchini hash with a simple meat accompiament (chicken or salmon etc)…..here’s the hash recipe
I’m just here for the comments! Your two reasons for looking for meal ideas and add in the complication of gluten-free plus two-men-with-high-cholesterol-so less-red-meat and it gets complicated! We actually do foil packs on the grill (or can throw them in the oven) a lot. Sliced red potatoes, diced onions, corn on the cobb slices, smoked sausage, and shrimp. Add some pats of butter and season to your liking (I like McCormick’s Lemon N Herb). Wrap in individual foil packets and cook until potatoes are done. Easy cooking and easier cleanup!
I grew up fishing with my dad just like that – your pictures make me feel nostalgic! ??
Penne w/ tomatoes, basil and fresh mozzarella.
Sauté a few cloves of fresh chopped garlic with a couple tablespoons of olive oil and butter in a large skillet. Add 10 or 12 chopped fresh Roma tomatoes. Season with salt, pepper and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Cook for 5 to 10 min and add fresh chopped basil. DO NOT use dried! Serve hot over cooked and drained penne and add fresh buffalo mozzarella cut into small cubes. Grate fresh parmigiana on top.
BLT’s – and add some avocado too if you have it ??
1000% agree about the crock pot. So much so I gave mine away. I just convert everything to either my dutch oven or Instant Pot… which oddly enough doesn’t make everything taste the same. Weird, but also how I feel.
Mediterranean chopped salad
1 English cucumber, chopped
1 small container grape tomatoes, halved
1 orange bell pepper chopped in large chunks
Pitted Kalamata olives, cut in half
Greek or Italian dressing
I sometimes add cannellini beans
Super flavorful and refreshing!
Do you know about the food blog Pinch of Yum? Lindsey’s recipes are fabulous and she is too. Her recipe for arepas is amazing and easy https://pinchofyum.com/arepas
She serves them with carnitas and sweet potatoes but my favorite filling is carne asada https://thestayathomechef.com/authentic-carne-asada/
with guacamole. So good!
I love this recipe, it comes together pretty quickly. It’s light and tasty. The perfect summer meal. I add chopped kalamata olives and serve it on a bed of baby spinach.
Two words: instant pot. Soooo much better than a crockpot!!!
Holly in Houston
I found a great copy cat recipe for Chick fil A’s Market Salad. It is wonderful. Of course you can always get one at the drive through and take it home. Less work.
I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like this beef. You could easily make in the oven if you’re anti slow cooker. Add rice and tortillas. And of course a squeeze of lime!
I made this last night. Super easy, fast and all my people loved it! For sure will be making it again!
Put corn on the cob in foil with pats of butter. Slow cooker on high for 5-6 hours. Ready when your steak or hamburgers are. Also bake potatoes in the slow cooker. Same amount of time. no sweat. Go shopping. Let your man grill the meat. Sides are done. Voila!!
This weather here in Northern California is HOT. We don’t have the humidity like you do. But I tell you I am a barometer when the humidity reaches 15%. This weather makes me not want to eat anything hot or warm. I am obsessing over the Subway tuna salads-no dressing needed. I know I could probably make my own version, but I don’t even have the energy to mess with all the chopping and preparing of the tuna fish. I am just trying to keep my flowers alive at this point.
This salmon with salted lime butter is my very favorite summer meal. My husband grills the salmon along with some asparagus and I never have to heat up my kitchen. It’s SO GOOD and guilt free (minus the butter. But don’t skip the butter!).
My husband feels the same way about the crock pot, so we don’t use ours much.
Easy summer meal:
Buy a cauliflower pizza crust top with good sliced tomatoes, salt, pepper, shredded mozzarella and Parmesan. I think it’s in the oven around 12 minutes. (Directions are on the crust box)
This is my go-to in the summer. It’s great with chicken or steak kabobs or really any type of meat. And you can make it ahead and eat it cold or room temp. Love it!
Skinnytaste.com is my go to resource- I usually use the website as my source but she has 2 cookbooks already out and another one releasing soon with one pot, pan, cooking apparatus type recipes-. She has several sheet pan meals, really great salads and grill based recipes my family loves
Great recipe, thanks!!
I know they aren’t but those two look so perfect they look like models. So cute!