Friday, July 10, 2009

Am I Cool or What? Part IV

Did I hear someone say 113 by Sunday? Be back in a minute........sure enough. I just checked the National Weather Service site and 113 degrees is right. As everyone around here loves to say, "It's a dry heat." Actually at only 10% humidity, it is a dry heat, and it does make a really big difference. That being said, however, the fact still's going to be hot! This is the time of year that those of us here in the Southwest have to remind ourselves that for eight months out of the year our weather is absolutely gorgeous. Still, this weekend we are going to be reaching for a lot of those cold drinks!

Actually this time of year if you live anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere you're going to be experiencing warm weather......and that means you need a plan. What kind of plan, you ask? A "stay-out-of-the-kitchen-as-much-as-possible" kind of plan that's what!...........which leads me to the subject of today's post. If you don't make a plan for your meals any other time of year, you should in the summer. Besides, there are just too many fun things to do in the good 'ol summertime to be stuck in a hot kitchen! So here's a short list of suggestions for keeping it cool in the kitchen for the next few weeks. I'm sure you'll be able to think of even more......just tailor it to your family and your circumstances.

The List
*Plan menus so you're not tempted to get fast food "just one more time".

*Think" make-ahead" main dishes that can be cooked early in the morning or later in the evening when the house has cooled down .......then reheated in the microwave.

*Use your crock pot!

*Prepare a big salad bowl with all your favorite lettuce. It'll be ready on short notice to top with the chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, and radishes, etc, that you enjoy making your lunch or dinner salads with. All these little goodies can also be prepared ahead of time and be stored in containers or baggies so they're right there when you need them.

*Fix bowls of cubed watermelon and cantaloupe and keep chilled. There's nothing more refreshing than to be able to grab a bowl of fresh fruit anytime you like.

*Strawberries, blackberries, and peaches can be "sugared" lightly and kept in covered containers the same way. Flash freeze your grapes on a big cookie sheet, then package in baggies in individual portions......these make a great snack for kids and adults alike.

*Make a big pitcher of tea or lemonade first thing every morning. Try making "sun" tea.

*Keep some extra lemons and limes for slicing into big glasses of ice water. By the way.....make sure you have plenty of good tasting, healthy-for-you drinking water in your home. There's nothing better for us in the summertime.

*Buy an extra bag of ice to keep in your freezer even if you have an ice maker. You don't want to run out.

*Prepare several main dish salads such as chicken salad (recipe below), corned beef salad, and egg salad to keep in your fridge for quick sandwich meals.

*Make homemade ice cream or buy your favorites from the store. Do the ice cream thing I talked about in this post.

*Now go ahead and think of your own......some that will work for you this summer.

Cool 'n Quick Chicken Salad

*This recipe can be easily cut in half if you want to make less than this at a time
6 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 ribs of celery
1 cup of quality mayonnaise
salt and pepper
1 Tablespoon sugar
To Prepare:
Steam chicken breasts until done. I love to use my double- decker steamer, but if needed you can bake or boil the chicken.

If you steam or boil the chicken you will have the added bonus of several cups of chicken broth. Cool in fridge, skim fat off of the top, then label and freeze. This broth is invaluable for soups, chicken and noodles................all kinds of chicken dishes.

Season the cooked chicken breasts with salt and pepper to taste, then cut into cubes.

Dice the celery into small cubes.


Finally, in a large bowl add to the chicken the mayonnaise, the celery, and the sugar. Don't decide to leave out the sugar here because you've never heard of putting this in chicken have to trust me.............add the sugar.

And you're done! To serve this as a main dish just put your servings on beds of lettuce. Serve with Wheat Thins or Club Crackers. Chicken salad will keep in the refrigerator for several days, ready for a sandwich lunch or dinner. Here you see it on our favorite deli-rolls served with cantaloupe and a cold veggie side dish.


Smaller sandwiches can be made by using the small potato dinner roll. Grab some sliced fruit from the fridge, add a few chips, and you're ready to go.

Enjoy! Be sure to join me on Wednesday the 15th for Christmas in July. Wouldn't you say we could use a little Christmas ?
Keeping it cool...............

For more delicious menus on this lovely Friday evening drop by to visit these two great sites.
And for some lovely homemaking posts........  go visit Sarah at Blissfully Domestic


Ann Kroeker said...

Elaine, I love the way you think--planning in advance how to stay cool. Making the lemonade & iced tea in advance, sitting in the fridge cooling down, ready for ice. Mmmm....

Thanks for the recipe, and for participating in Food on Fridays!

Kristina said...

Just discovered your blog. Nice! I too like the way you think. You're a really interesing writer. I'll be back for Christmas in July!

Amy Green said...

I found you through Ann's Food on Friday. It's hot where I live, too, so I recently did a series on keeping the kitchen cool. I had lots of fun with that.

I am a dedicated menu planner - it saves me so much time and, sometimes, money. I love to cook and experiment so I can tend to run the grocery bill up. Thank goodness my husband loves to eat my food. :)

Holly said...

That chicken salad looks pretty quick and easy to make. It's hot in my part of the country too and we don't have a pool. :( Looks like you're pretty creative about the whole thing....thanks for the ideas and I'll be trying a few of them this week including the chicken salad.

marmee said...

some great suggestions for the summer palate. i always have a pitcher of tea and lemon or lime ade in the frig.
thanks for visiting my at "things i love." you are welcomed anytime.

Julie said...

thanks for your comment. WE are sisters somehow....I absolutely LOVE gardenias, my 2nd favorite! {:-o You have inspired me to re-read the Mitford series, seeing as you are doing it. I have just put the 1st book on hold at the library. All of my reading tends to gravitate towards growth in my Christian life and marriage books, etc.etc... I suddenly have a desire to just read for the pure pleasure of it ...because of what you said. I WILL reread that series. Thanks for the prod.
Blessed Sunday!

YayaOrchid said...

Elaine, I ♥ ALL your tips and suggestions. That chicken salad looks so yummy too! I would love to have your corned beef salad. I don't think I've seen a recipe for it. But it does sound good!

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi There, We're home after a wonderful weekend in the gorgeous North Carolina mountains. I'll post in the morning.

Great post on 'keeping cool'... I've never heard of adding sugar to chicken salad. We southerners add sugar to lots of things--but I haven't heard of this one. Think I'll try it...

Hope you had a great weekend.

thatgirlblogs said...

do you deliver? I'll tip you ;)

here from sits

Gollum said...

I love a quick, tasty chicken salad, and this one will be perfect! Your advance planning is a gem. I will look forward to seeing you again at Foodie Friday.

Susana said...

Stopping by from SITS. Your blog is so creative and informative!! Thanks for sharing such great info!

Happy Monday and hope your busy week is a great one!

The Redhead Riter said...

Stopping by from SITS and thought I would say Hi!

I HATE THE HEAT and that is why I am so glad that we moved to a cooler state. I'm sorry for you! LOL

Ginny said...

Nice ideas for keeping cool. We need it here too! :0 I agree with one of your commentors about that corned beef salad. I've never heard of it but I would like to see the recipe.

Robbie S. Redmon, LPC said...

Hi, just stopping over from SITS! Your recipies are great. I'm following you. Come visit. I post marital secrets for young wives, mothers, and couples.