Friday, August 8, 2014
Cooking In The Summer
Cooking in the summer can be so easy and relaxing for me. First of all there's no go, go, go that the September ~ June calendar holds. There is no viola to rush off to, no homework to fit in, no irish dance. There is just this one, glorious day laid out in front of me with lots of time for cooking here and there.
But even still in that huge day we have before us I find that the hour or two before dinner I still have cranky girls (no matter what the age) and often I can get tired. For me at least the key to dinner happiness and no stress (and actually enjoying cooking) is having a plan.
So I plan every Sunday afternoon. Usually after church. I sit with tea and the on sale paper in front of me, trying to plan meals with meats, etc that are on sale.
I know it's weird but I find that having pretty paper to write on and a cup of tea makes all the difference in the world. It's the little things that turn it from a task to a joy.
I work from a list of 'tried and true' that always works for my family but I always choose something seasonal each week.
Like this grilled tomato and basil chicken... soo soo soo good!
8 tomatoes, divided
3.4 c. balsamic vinegar
1/4 c. fresh basil (I use more)
2 T olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 t salt
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Cut 4 tomatoes into quarters and place in a food processor; add vinegar, basil, oil, garlic and salt. Cover and process until smooth. Pour 1/2 c of tomato mixture into a small bowl; cover and refrigerate until serving. Pour remaining tomato mixture into a large plastic zipping bag; add chicken. Seal bag; turn to coat. Refrigerate for one hour. Spray a grill rack with non-stick spray. Drain and discard marinade. Grill chicken, covered, over medium heat for 4 to 6 minutes on each side, or until juices run clear. Cut remaining tomatoes in half; grill for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until tender. Serve with chicken and reserved heated dressing.
And this was a perfect summertime dessert.
1 qu. strawberries, divided
1 c. sugar
3 T cornstarch
3 oz package cream cheese, softened
9 inch pie crust, baked (I like to make the Pioneer Woman pie crust recipe)
Garnish : whipped cream (I use heavy cream and a bit of vanilla in my mixer for 5 minutes... yum!)
Reserve half of the biggest strawberries, set aside. Put remaining strawberries, about 1 1/2 cups, in a blender. Process until smooth. If needed, add water to pureed berries to equal 2 cups; pour into a small saucepan. Add sugar and cornstarch; bring to a boil, stirring, for one minute. Remove from heat; cool. Spread cream cheese in bottom of pie crust; arrange reserved berries on top, pointed-end up. Pour cooled strawberry sauce over top. Refrigerate for 2 hours. To serve, top with whipped cream.