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Meal Ideas For When It’s Too Hot to Cook

July 8, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s hot; heating up a casserole or pizza isn’t something you’re eager to do. Eating out is too expensive. How does one eat decent meals without living in a sauna or breaking the budget?

In years past many homes had a summer kitchen – sometimes attached to the home sometimes not, but designed to be used and keep the heat out of the home on days it was too hot to cook inside. Often this enclosed, screened kitchen could double for processing garden produce keeping the heat of extended boiling water out of the home also. While most homes today don’t have a summer kitchen we can somewhat improvise.

The first would be to eat more salads and foods that don’t need extended cooking…which seems obvious. Most think they can’t do without meat and with this one doesn’t have to entirely – left over chicken, ham or other meat can be added to a salad. There’s no definite recipe for salads so you can use whatever you have.

Many have used the microwave just for reheating leftovers, but there’s entire books and a segment of the food industry designed around using the microwave for everything from popcorn to meals. While it can be done just using leftovers after a while leftovers can seem boring too. This is a great option though for mid day meals during the week if you work from home.

The grill is another popular item during the summer and is too often left just for holidays. Every day meals can also be cooked on these grills. If you’re worried about the expense of gas or briquets don’t be…use wood salvaged from storms. Early Americans used wood campfires to cook on and this is just as viable of an option today. We have a small block grill set up in back. It’s easy to put a couple logs on, go in and prepare the food to be grilled and stick it on the grill. It’s not fast but is effective, cheap and doesn’t heat up the kitchen. There are literally thousands of recipes for the grill. With some practice and the right tools you can cook almost anything over a fire. Burgers, hotdogs, brats and sweet corn usually come to mind when the thought of grilling comes up – but there’s so many other options!! It’s worth checking into and seeing how often your grill might be a solution to conserving cooling inside the home.

Many overlook the crockpot or slowcooker, thinking of it for soups and stews in the winter. There are many casseroles that can easily be done in the slow cooker and it’s one small appliance instead of heat in the whole kitchen. If home you can put it on and several hours later you have a hot yummy meal. Like the other methods this offers many options and different kinds of food. Many recipes can be adapted to the slowcooker.

Here are two easy to adapt to grilling. These are from a tasty suggestion in 125 Best Chicken Recipes.

Chunky Barbecue Chicken Salad

4 cups cooked chicken, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes

1 red bell pepper, coarsely diced

1/3 cup diced onions

1/3 cup bottled barbecue sauce

1/3 cup mayonnaise

salt and pepper

lettuce cups.

In large bowl, combine chicken, red pepper and onions. In another bowl, stir together barbecue sauce and mayonnaise. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour dressing over chicken mixture and toss to coat. Serve in lettuce cups.

Serve with hot garlic bread (blended minced garlic with soft butter, spread into cut side of sliced baguette, wrap in foil, heat on grill), corn on the cob, sliced tomatoes and blueberries and cream for dessert.

Chicken Waldorf Salad

2 cups cooked chicken, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

3/4 cup toasted walnut pieces

1/2 cup seedless raisins

2 stalks celery, sliced

1 large red apple, diced

2/3 cup light mayonnaise

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

salt and pepper

lettuce cups

In a large bowl, stir together chicken, walnuts, raisins, celery and apple. In a small bowl, stir together mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard and salt and pepper to taste. Add to chicken mixture and stir to coat well. Serve in lettuce cups along with crusty brown rolls and carrot sticks, with sugared blueberries and yogurt for dessert. Serves about 3.

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