Who feels like cooking when the thermostat on the air conditioner reads 85 degrees at 6 p.m.? Certainly not me.
Gas stoves and even electric ones, to a degree, hike the kitchen heat and, if the house has an open floor plan, the rest of the living area as well.
It's time to bring on the salads, slow cookers and grills.
When I am talking salads, I am not just thinking lettuce and tomato. I mean meat salads, beef and seafood. Usually I add everything but the kitchen sink to my salads. I want crunch, meat of some sort, crisp veggies, a variety of lettuces, sometimes fruit and sunflower seeds or nuts for extra crunch. This is no wimpy salad, but not heavy on the calories either.
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Slow cookers are the best when home cooks want a heavier meal sans the heat. Slow-cooked meals are a dump-in-the-pot and forget-it meal.
Another favorite is the grill. I like to toss chicken breasts, veggies and kebabs on the grill and let it do its thing. Of course, a watchful eye is a must.
Here are some ideas that I like and thought readers might, too. If you have any cool meal ideas, please send them to me.
SPINACH SALAD WITH BEEF AND FRUIT
1 pound round steak
2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon onion, chopped
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound spinach
2 oranges, sliced
2 cups strawberries, sliced
Trim round steak and
broil about 3 inches from the heat for 6-7 minutes per side or until desired doneness is achieved. Slice the steak across the grain into thin slices; place in a glass baking dish.
In blender, combine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, chopped onion, sesame seed, sugar, crushed garlic clove, chili powder and white pepper. Cover and mix until blended. Gradually add oil, blending until smooth.
Pour over the steak slices; cover and refrigerate for 3 hours.
Place trimmed spinach on serving plates. Arrange beef slices, sliced oranges and sliced strawberries on top. Drizzle with remaining marinade.
LUNCHEON CHICKEN SALAD
4 cups cubed cooked chicken (could use a rotisserie chicken)
1 can (20 ounces) unsweetened pineapple tidbits
1 cup chopped celery (I used water chestnuts instead of celery)
6 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
2/3 cup mayonnaise (can use low-fat)
4 teaspoons brown mustard, or more to taste
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
In large bowl, gently combine the chicken, pineapple, oranges, celery, onions and green pepper. In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Pour over salad and toss to coat. Yield: 7 servings.
-- Taste of Home Magazine, March 2008
TUSCAN GARLIC CHICKEN AND VEGETABLES
1/3 cup balsamic vinaigrette dressing
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1-1/4 pounds)
1 large red onion, cut into1/4-inch round slices
1 medium yellow squash or zucchini, cut into1/4-inch thick slices
1 large red bell pepper, cut into thick strips
In large, shallow, non-aluminum baking dish or plastic bag, pour dressing over chicken and vegetables, turn to coat. Cover or close bag, and marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes.
Remove chicken and vegetables from marinade, discarding the marinade. Grill chicken and vegetables, turning once, 12 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly cooked and vegetables are crisp-tender.
Serves 4; 240 calories per serving.
-- From Wish-Bone, 2009
HONEY-LEMON CHICKEN WITH POTATOES
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (I use chicken breasts)
Salt and ground black pepper
1- 1/2 pounds baby potatoes
1 small onion, chopped
2 to 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated
4 to 5 sprigs thyme leaves, picked and chopped
2 lemons, thinly sliced
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup chicken stock or water
Zest of 1 lemon, cut into strips
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Season with salt and pepper and brown on both sides.
Scatter the potatoes, onion, garlic, thyme and lemon slices in the bowl of a slow cooker. Season with salt and pepper. Lay the browned chicken over the veggies and drizzle with honey. Add stock, cover and cook, undisturbed 4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low. Top with lemon strips, parsley and pine nuts.
-- From "Rachel Ray Show," 2011.
Lost recipe, found
"A few months ago you published a recipe you made up yourself that used a small piece of sirloin steak, sesame seed oil and beef noodles," Carrol Fletcher of Gulfport, Miss., said. "I have lost my copy, and I cannot remember all of the ingredients. Could you please republish this recipe?
Here is the recipe.
EASY ASIAN BEEF AND NOODLES
3/4 pound boneless sirloin steak
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil, divided
1 bunch green onions, sliced into 1-inch pieces
2 cups pre-packaged coleslaw
2 (3-ounce) packages beef-flavored ramen noodle soup (I used the roast beef flavored)
1- 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Cut steak diagonally across grain into very thin slices. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add steak and onions; stir-fry 1 minute. Remove steak mixture from pan; keep warm. Heat remaining 1 teaspoon slaw; stir-fry 30 seconds. Remove slaw from pan, and keep warm.
Remove noodles from packages; reserve 1 seasoning packet for another use. Add water and remaining seasoning packet to pan; bring to a boil. Break noodles in half; add noodles to water mixture. Cook noodles 2 minutes or until most of liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently. Stir in steak mixture, slaw, and soy sauce; cook until thoroughly heated.
Serves 2 to 3.
Need a recipe?
If you have lost a favorite recipe or simply want to find one that perhaps you have eaten in a restaurant, email or mail me your request. Readers and I will do our best to find the answer.
Andrea Yeager, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and takes requests at Cook's Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567.