Summer in the Kitchen: NO COOK Dinners!

Summer in the Kitchen: NO COOK Dinners!

Raise your hand if you don’t want to cook dinner!!  (All around the world, readers raise their hands.)  OK, hold up.  I didn’t say you didn’t have to prepare dinner.  I just said you didn’t have to cook it.  Notice the difference?  And what an important difference it is right now, too.

You see, right now, I am doing everything in my power to not have to cook dinner.  I don’t mind making dinner, per se.  Just cooking it.  And do you know why I’m doing everything in my power not to cook dinner?  Because it is freaking hot outside!!  Not just hot, though.  CRAZY hot.

WHY is it only the end of May and I already feel like Florida has taken up residence on the surface of the sun?  We honestly shouldn’t feel this way until August!  OK, maybe the end of July.  Regardless, I feel like I am being totally gypped out of my nice cool(ish) evenings that make the June heat bearable!  And did I mention that it’s still only May?!  But I digress…

Keep it Cool

In order to keep my kitchen as comfortable as possible, I’ve made it my mission these last couple of weeks to try keep actual cooking to a minimum.  What that means to me is as follows:

  • no oven usage after 4:00 pm.
  • no standing over a hot stove.
  • crockpot usage is acceptable as long as we aren’t making soup (or some other cold weather dish).
  • grilling is fine as long as the heat index is below 95.

The Round-Up

Thanks to readers/followers on the ‘gram and FB, I’ve got a round-up of tried and true, kid-pleasing, family favorites for you!  What’s even better is that this is really just a list of ideas.  No stuffy recipes with lengthy instructions for your chlorine-and-sun-fried brain to handle!  No crazy processed foods.  Just (mostly) healthy, real food meals that will keep you and yours satisfied and out of heat stroke’s way.

These aren’t going to be super shocking or win any prizes for originality.  Sometimes, though, I find that I forget the obvious unless it’s staring me in the face.  So, without further ado:

Rotisserie chicken and salad: Make your own salads or buy the bags and mixes from the store.  This is a favorite go-to of ours on super busy (or super lazy) summer nights.

Pub Subs!: Yes, that did need an exclamation point, thank you.  Pub Subs are also known as sub sandwiches from Publix grocery stores.  If you don’t live in the south and can’t get your hands on these beauties, I am so sorry.  For those of us who can, here’s a pro tip — as for them to cut the whole sub into 3 or 4 pieces instead of 2.  Makes it easier on your little ones and you don’t have to order as many subs!

Sandwiches on nice rolls or homemade buns

Pasta salad: You all know that this is my favorite summer pasta salad!

Chef salad: Salad mix + chopped up lunchmeat + cheese + hard-boiled egg + croutons + avocado + honey mustard = YUM

Chicken salad: The no-cook hack for this is to buy a rotisserie chicken and use that instead of cooking your own.  Costco also makes really good chicken salad if you’d rather just buy it, too.

Club sandwiches

Sandwich wraps

BLTs: Now, I realize this may seem to violate my “no oven” and “no hot stove” rules, but…!  My cousin says she uses the microwaveable thick-cut bacon from Costco and it works great.  You could also make the back earlier in the day and just reheat it, too, I guess.

Around the Web

Here are a few other recipes/ideas that you need to keep in your back pocket for those super hot days:

Ramen Noodle Slaw: serve it with that rotisserie chicken you picked up!

Meat From a CrockPot: here are my family’s favorite beef, pork, and chicken recipes that don’t overheat your house.

Roast Beef Roll-Ups

Naked Greek Feta Zucchini Turkey Burgers

Charcuterie Platters: Also known as snack suppers.  Sometimes, all you need is some sliced meats and cheeses, pretzels or crackers, fruit and veggies/dips.

And a Bonus Recipe!

Two nights ago, I made this chicken salad recipe that my friend Deb had given me.  It was so good!  Admittedly, I didn’t follow the directions to the letter.  I subbed in the breasts and thighs from a rotisserie chicken for the cooked chicken breast.  For the sour cream, I substituted non-fat plain Greek yogurt, and I added some extra minced red onion and celery.

This chicken salad was tangy, sweet, and full of flavor!  The grapes I had picked up from the store were still a little on the sour side, but that didn’t seem to matter.  My kids and my husband ate it on a bakery roll from the grocery store and I had it with some sliced tomatoes.  All in all, I don’t think it was too far gone from her original recipe and it was a really big hit with my whole family!

Special thanks to Deb for letting me share this healthy and delicious recipe with all of you!

Click here to download your copy of the recipe! —> Deb’s Buttermilk Chicken Salad

Happy (no) cooking, friends!  And may you and yours not completely melt away in the summer heat.

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