Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Summertime Food

Helen here.

I’ll get it out there right away. I don’t cook.

I also have to admit I see that as a bit of a personal failing. My mother is a wonderful cook and while I have learned some of her secrets and I CAN cook, I just don’t like to. I think enjoyment of that particular pastime must skip a generation ‘cause my daughter likes to cook too.

During the winter, I can make myself cook because I love leftover hotdishes and casseroles, and the handy, dandy crockpot makes things simple.

But it’s summer. Not only can I think of so many other things I’d like to do besides hanging around in the kitchen, I don’t want to heat up the house with the oven, let alone eat all those heavy wintery foods. I’m stumped.

On top of that, I’ve been furiously writing with my 9/1 deadline looming and now have an excuse not to cook. Still feel badly about that, though. Strangely enough, my heroine in the current WIP hates cooking too. Naturally, the hero enjoys effortlessly tossing together marvelous meals. I know, I know. It’s not reality, but it is my fantasy.

My family is sick of mac and cheese, frozen pizzas and cold sandwiches. The nearby take out restaurants know our orders by heart.

So … I’ll tell you mine, if you tell me yours …

My simple, summery food idea (can’t really call it a recipe) tastes so good, I actually crave it. Chop up any veggie that you can poke with a skewer and grill. I use mushrooms, all varieties of peppers, red, green and yellow, zucchini, and onions. Put them in a Ziploc baggie and pour a bottle of Italian dressing over them. Let ‘em sit for half an hour, or longer if you like strong flavor. Stick ‘em on a skewer and grill.

It’s good for you, and the leftovers taste great too.

What’s your favorite, easy, grilling or summer dinner idea. No recipes, please, unless they are so simple and quick Big Bird could put it together, clumsy hands and all. My idea of easy is opening a bottle of marinade, or can of something and pouring it over something else. I love recipes that take advantage of already partially prepared food items like bagged lettuce, or skinned and deboned chicken breasts.

My family will love you for this.

Oh, and I have a vegetarian at home who will eat fish, so any seafood ideas are especially welcome!


Michele Hauf said...

I don't like to cook in the summertime either, Helen. But come winter I am the queen of the roast beef and dumplings. :-)

I don't grill, because I'm not creative grill-wise. The easiest way to make an awesome roasted chicken though, is go to the grocery store meat section. Find the Golden Plump already bagged chickens (they come in three or four different flavors.) Go home, dump chicken in pan (it comes out in another bag, so you don't even have to touch raw meat) put in over, cook two hours.

Out comes the most amazing, juicy chicken that'll serve a family of four. Tastes like you worked on it all day. I swear, who ever invented this easy-bake chicken had to be a woman, because men just don't get it.


Michele Hauf said...

Put in OVEN! Not over.


flip said...

marinade salmon overnight in a 50/50 mix of soy sauce and maple syrup (the real stuff) Just before grilling grate on some black pepper. It is yummy.

Anonymous said...

I'm a big fan of salads in the summer. Whenever I do heat up the stovetop(like browning ground beef)I make double portions and put half in the fridge. That way the beef can dress up a frozen pizza or make a taco filling that makes a terrific taco salad.

My favorite salads usually involve pre-prepared stuff:

Bagged salad greens (any combo)
crumbled gorgonzola cheese
pecan halves
1 or 2 Fresh pears, sliced
Brianna's "Blush vinegarette" dressing
May add pre-grilled, ready-to-eat chicken strips
May add fresh raspberries for color and flavor

I could eat this salad every day. Rex, however, requires more variety. Men.

Betina Krahn said...

Hey, how did I get to be anonymous? That last post was me!


Helen Brenna said...

Michele, I've tried the pre-marinated chicken breast, but never the whole chickens. Will have to give that a shot.

Flip, that salmon sounds perfect. I'm going out to buy myself some salmon tonight. Yess!

Helen Brenna said...

Betina, and here I thought you were trying to be sneaky with your anonymous comment. In the future, however, you must refrain from mentioning Rex. Dead giveway.

That sounds like an awesome salad. I'm adding to my grocery list!

Debra Dixon said...

Sliced avocados
chunks of tomato
chunks of onion
sliced cucumbers
Paul Newman's italian dressing
(lots, the salad should be dripping)

Serve just made at room temperature or refrigerate for a bit to get it nice and cold.

Christie Ridgway said...

Do you guys have a Trader Joe's? Frozen swordfish steaks. Thaw. Marinate or choose not to. Grill.

If you didn't marinate, then serve with a wedge of lemon or lime.

Here's what I like to eat in the summer for lunch:

Half a cantelope, cut into chunks with a can of water-packed tuna (drained) spread over it. Sweet and salty...yum!

lois greiman said...

I'm way too lazy (or crazy) to cook. I swear, I eat nothing but fruit and toast all summer. Sorry. It's true. But toast is really versatile if you think about it. :)

Candace said...

Okay, up front, I love to cook. Now that's out of the way, here's a super easy re... ah way to cook fish.

Take any firm hite fish fillet, not more than 1/2 thick(tilapia is my favorie). Put it on a sheet of foil. Smear both sides with Thai red curry paste (buy it already prepared in the internation foods section). Fold up the foil into a nice neat packet around the fish. Turn on the grill to medium. Put the fish on for five minutes--seven max if you like your fish over cooked. Open the foil. Eat. Heaven!

Candace said...

Ah... that should be white fish, not hite fish. I don't know what I hite fish is.

Helen Brenna said...

My grocery list is getting really long. I LOVE this!! Yum, is right.

Helen Brenna said...

Christie, what's the best marinade for swordfish? I've never cooked it before.

Mark said...

Candace, Helen's husband here. Can you come over and cook every now and then? I don't cook either.

Helen Brenna said...

LOL Nice try, Mark.

Told you guys my family's sick of take out!!

Virginia Lady said...

Here's an easy and relatively healthy choice.

Cook your favorite small shaped pasta, I use elbows or bowties. Cool pasta with cold water.
Dice tomotoes.
Take out seeds from cucumber and dice cuke.

Combine cooked pasta with tomatoes and cukes and then drizzle lightly with either ranch dressing or vidalia onion dressing. (My kids prefer ranch, I prefer V.O.), serve.

You can add precooked chicken strips or lump crabmeat or even cooked baby shrimp if you need more substance to the dish.

robynl said...

As a side dish to whatever meat you want to grill, we take a big piece of foil and spray with Pam, slice potatoes thinly and slice onions. Sprinkle salt and pepper on and add dobs of butter around the contents. Wrap the foil into a packet and put on BBQ. We have added peppers or carrots before. Yummy.

Helen Brenna said...

VL, that's an interesting dressing for a macaroni salad. I usually use mayo, but it can get a little heavy and wouldn't have the nice flavor. Great idea.

Robynl, thanks for the reminder! I used to make this on the grill and forgot all about it. How long do the potatoes usually take?

Keri Ford said...

Cooking's fun when you have the time to slave over a stove. Here are my favorite easy preps:

This is sooo easy and sooo delicious. Take a beer (light for you dieters). Pop the top. Shove it up a chicken's bottom. Stand chicken on grill until thoroughly cooked. And Volia! you've have Drunk Chicken! (BTW- no hint of beer taste, but it'll be the juisiest stuff ever!)

For a veggie, Fesh corn, pull back the shuck, add a pad of butter, replace shuck, wrap in foil, place on grill and leave. Best stuff you'll wrap your tongue around!

Helen Brenna said...

Keri, I've done the beer thing with a chicken before and it is amazing how tender and juicy it turns out. Haven't done corn that way before, though. Do you have to soak them in water so the husks don't burn?

Keri Ford said...

Helen, no. I just pull the husk back, add about a tablespoon of butter and re-wrap the husk around then corn. then I wrap it tightly in foil before putting it on the grill. I guess the butter steams it and keeps it from burning.

Helen Brenna said...

Tin foil. Duh!

Cindy Gerard said...

sorry - again to be so late
Pork chops on the grill: marinate chops overnight in a mix of brown sugar and garlic salt then grill.
Yum Yum so easy and soooo good.