I haven’t posted about food in a while. Granted, I’ve been nauseous for the past 5 months, but I’ve also had a lot going on. And it takes a lot of effort to photograph food when you have three hungry kids plus a husband waiting to eat. I seriously don’t know how I used to write about food almost daily! And take pictures! I’m glad I don’t feel the weight of that blog journey anymore, but I do miss writing about and photographing food. There have been a few times the past couple of months when I’ve made something special and wanted to blog about it but just didn’t have the energy to try to capture a good picture and put the recipe into print. But I decided it was time. So I’m about to have a food-explosion blog post and hope you’re ready for it! 🙂
We’ve got some hot weather around the corner, and the changing of seasons always gets me excited about what new dishes I’m going to create in the kitchen that will satisfy the seasonal cravings. (Think: fruit pies, tarts, grilled food, pasta and potato salads! Yeah, summer!) I realize that cooking in the summer does not appeal to most people, even if you have air conditioning, so I wanted to share some of my tips to beat the heat and still provide a filling dinner for your family.
During summer, I love making a good pasta or potato salad because I can cook the pasta or potatoes early in the morning and assemble the salad before it gets too hot, and stick it in the fridge. Then, when my husband comes home from work, he can throw some meat on the grill (which he loves to do) and we have a perfectly hearty side to go with it and don’t have to heat up the kitchen! One pasta salad I’ve made quite a few times just in the last month, is my spring asparagus salad. It’s so refreshing and has a light oil/vinegar dressing rather than a creamy one, so it doesn’t weigh you down.
To make a classic potato salad (which I just made a couple days ago and planned to take a picture, but someone in the house ate the all the leftovers before I was able to stage an appealing photo–then told me to make sure I wrote about how it’s so good that you can’t leave it in the refrigerator unattended or it will be gobbled up…) I start by quartering a whole bag of red potatoes. Then I boil them just until fork-tender (about 15-20 minutes) and then drain and steam them under a towel for an additional 20 minutes. For the dressing, I combine just under a cup of mayonnaise, about a 1/4 cup of buttermilk, plenty of salt and pepper, and 2-3 TBs of freshly chopped dill*. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle but still warm, I cut them up and add them to the dressing. I also add a quarter of a red onion, chopped, and about 2 stalks of celery, chopped. As you can see, I’m not one to do a lot of measuring these days, so I apologize if you prefer exact measurements. The onion and celery can be added “to taste” depending on how much crunch you want in your salad and how much you like the taste of onion or celery. If you want some real specific measurements, Ina Garten has a few potato salad recipes with exact measurements and they’re pretty fool-proof!
*What else can you do with fresh DILL?! You know that pesky ingredient that you only bought to go with that one recipe and now you have leftovers of it in your fridge and you don’t know what to do with it? Unless you’re really into pickling your own cucumbers, dill can be like that. I do make a lot of potato salad in the summer, so I generally grow dill in my garden, but we’ve had such cool weather until now, I haven’t started the garden yet! Ina Garten has a recipe for cheddar-dill scones which is a scrumptious way to use up that dill! The recipe calls for a full cup of chopped dill, but you certainly don’t need that much, you’ll still get some of the flavor with less of the herb.
So I also thought I’d share some of our dinner plans for the week. I try to meal plan in order to save money at the grocery store and stay organized throughout the week. The links to these recipes all take you to my old food blog, which is still active, though I never use it. There are TONS of recipes on there, so you might see more than one thing to try! And if you’re looking for food ideas in the sweltering heat, here are a few options…
I work on Mondays and usually pick up my groceries (LOVE Hannaford To-Go!) on my way home, so dinner needs to be relatively simply. Temps are in the 90s today so we’re sticking with a HEARTY pita-pocket salad and watermelon. NO OVEN! 😉 Tomorrow night we’ll be grilling up some pork ribs, I’ll make a potato salad early in the morning to serve at night and we’ll try out some corn on the cob. I know it’s early in the season, but I couldn’t resist! Wednesday the temps should be a little cooler, so the stove is going back on but we’re still keeping it simple: cheese and pepperoni stromboli with a Greek salad. Thursday, we’ll have chicken caesar sandwiches, and Friday I’m serving up Western pizza! Simple dishes to get us through the work-week. This weekend is Father’s Day weekend so it’s all about what Randy wants to eat! (But let’s be honest, it almost always is anyway–he’s my true inspiration for cooking.) But specifically for this weekend, he’s requested a veggie garden pizza lunch, steak tips supper, and on Sunday, my famous carbonara with caesar salad (and my homemade dressing) and bruschetta for his after-church dinner. Oh, and I’m also supposed to make homemade brownies with a twist–I’ll fill you in after I decide how good his idea comes out. 😉 Whew! A viewer once asked the Food Network’s Pioneer Woman (Ree Drummond) if she had any tips for starting a food blog and she said to buy a treadmill! I can totally relate–haha! I did gain some weight while doing that year-long food blog of mine so now I have to be smarter about how I balance my meals and activity because so far, my love of cooking hasn’t died down. Hopefully you enjoy this weather and have some inspiration for future summer meals and check out my old blog–whenever I randomly stop by, I still get inspired to make something I haven’t made in a while!