Quick Cooking Tips to Get You Out of the Kitchen
6 strategies to help you beat the heat and join the summer fun.
If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen! That's what I say when
it's summer, and the very thought of turning on the stove or oven inspires
beads of sweat to form on your brow.
But how do you "stay out of the kitchen" and still fix dinner for
yourself and your busy brood?
Eating out or ordering takeout gets expensive and tiresome. But cooking
dinner in the summer can be a challenge. Not only do we want to avoid the
kitchen as much as possible, we need something we can prepare with a moment's
notice, since school-free family members may be coming and going all evening
Never fear. I've got some ideas on how you can minimize your kitchen time
and this summer.
1. Get 2 Grilled Entrees for the Price of 1
While the barbeque is all fired up on the weekend, go ahead and throw
tomorrow's dinner on, too. Roasted veggies or kabobs, chicken, lean steak, pork
tenderloin or prawns are all great choices.
- If you throw four chicken breasts on the barbie while grilling tonight's
salmon, tomorrow's grilled chicken Caesar salad will only take five minutes to
- Throw on a peppered pork tenderloin while you're grilling tonight's light
hot dogs, and you can make BBQ pork sandwiches or pork tenderloin sandwiches
with pesto and tomato the next night.
- While grilling tonight's hamburgers, put on tomorrow's shrimp and veggie
kabobs or chicken sate skewers. All they need is a quick reheat in the
microwave (be sure to pull the skewers off first if they're not
2. Blend up a Summer Soup
Cold summer soups can be savory or sweet. The sweet types feature ripe
summer fruits like berries or melon; the savory ones are usually based on a
vegetable like cucumber, zucchini or carrot, or a veggie wanna-be like tomato
Two big summer favorites are gazpacho, the Spanish tomato-based soup with
bell peppers, onion, garlic and cucumbers; and vichyssoise, which features
pureed potatoes, leeks, and a swirl of cream.
3. Summer Salads + Protein = Dinner
Salads are a refreshing change from hot dinner entrÃ©es. But how does a salad
become a meal with a minimum of fuss? In a word, you need protein! From plant,
fish or fowl, the choice is yours.
Here are some quick picks for salad add-ons:
- Roasted turkey from a deli or supermarket, cut into strips or cubes
- Thickly sliced extra-lean ham from a deli or supermarket, cut into strips
- A can of water-packed tuna or a pouch of pre-flavored tuna (available in
- Defrosted pre-cooked shrimp (available in the frozen food section of your
- A can of beans. Black, kidney, or garbanzo work well in salads.
- Shredded meat from a roasted whole chicken, from your rotisserie or
- Baked tofu (available in packages). It comes cooked, flavored, and ready to
- Roasted nuts, a perfect topper to a main-dish salad. They add fiber and
protein along with some crunch.
- Summer fruits, which can complement the protein ingredient in your
- 4 ounces of sliced or diced cheese. Cheese adds flavor and color along with
milk protein (each ounce has 7 to 8 grams of protein).
- A couple of chopped or sliced hard-boiled egg whites. Each egg white will
bump up the protein by 3.5 grams.
Here's how much some common ingredients can pump up the protein of your
|Turkey breast, roasted
||1/2 cup, diced
|Chicken breast, roasted
|Sirloin steak, broiled
||10 (depends on brand)
||7 to 8 (depends on type)
|Black beans, canned
|Kidney beans, canned
|Garbanzo beans, canned
|Egg white, hard-boiled