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Discussion Starter #1
So, I've realized in planning our dinners that most of the stuff I make is pretty cold-weather fare -- stews, soups, chilis, pastas (like baked ziti). I need more summer menus! (Other than grilling out, of course -- we do that, too.) Any great suggestions? Stuff that's fast/easy to make is a big plus :)
 

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What kind of stuff does your family like?  Pasta dishes, rice dishes, salads, meat-and-two-veggies dishes?
 

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A friend taught me this simple recipe that's a big hit:

One tube of biscuits - flatten these as much as you can and put in a muffin tin, so they form a little bowl in the bottom
ground beef - browned, put in the cups
barbecue sauce - I put just a dab on top of the beef
cheese - I use colby jack, sprinkled liberally on top

Then just bake according to the biscuit instructions.  For Pilsbury homestyle biscuits (don't get the Grands; they're too big) it's 8-10 minutes, so only maybe 20 minutes total prep time.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Marianne, those sound good!

Susan, it's mostly just me and DH -- the 2-year-old pretty much still just samples our dinners and eats his own food at this point. We're not terribly picky eaters ... neither of us like mushrooms, but that's about as particular as we get!
 

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Ever since I've discovered microwaved corn on the cob, life has changed forever.

Just put the ears into the 'wave husks and all (trim the tassels first). Six minutes for four ears. Hold under the cold water tap to peel (the cob will keep the corn hot); the silk comes off with the husks. All the vitamins stay where they are instead of getting drowned in cooking water.

It's magic, I tell you, magic.

CK
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I had NO idea you could do that! I'll definitely have to give it a try!
 

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A summer favorite around our house:

1 polska sausage, cooked
1 cup or so of peas (frozen and thawed, or fresh steamed or stir fried)
1 cup or so of carrots (frozen and thawed, or fresh steamed or stir fried)
cooked spaghetti noodles
some Italian dressing

Mix everything together.  Wal-lah.  This one is great because it's good either warm or cold.  I don't remember what the original recipe EXACTLY called for... I remember it called for a LOT of Italian dressing and we ended up just eyeing it because it was too greasy.  We've played around with this and had corn, sugar-snap peas, and other veggies in here too.  Basically you just throw together however much you'll need to feed the amount of people you need to serve.
 

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Having had kids in sports for the last 10 years, simplicity in the summer is the name of the game. We grill everything, and then use that through out the week. Usually on Sundays or Mondays I grill about 8 chicken breasts that have been marinated, and then we use those during the week for quick fixes like chicken quesdillas, chicken tacos, chicken and rice, etc!

We also do burgers and hot dogs this way, so it is super easy to just grab. I always have salad on hand, usually the bag kind so, again, going for the simplest.

Hope this helps!
 

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marianner said:
A friend taught me this simple recipe that's a big hit:

One tube of biscuits - flatten these as much as you can and put in a muffin tin, so they form a little bowl in the bottom
ground beef - browned, put in the cups
barbecue sauce - I put just a dab on top of the beef
cheese - I use colby jack, sprinkled liberally on top

Then just bake according to the biscuit instructions. For Pilsbury homestyle biscuits (don't get the Grands; they're too big) it's 8-10 minutes, so only maybe 20 minutes total prep time.
MMM that sounds good. ;D
 

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Tonight's dinner and a favorite.

Steak tips marinated in balsamic vinegrette and lots of chopped garlic.

Grill steak tips and serve over ceasar salad.
 

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Carolyn Kephart said:
Ever since I've discovered microwaved corn on the cob, life has changed forever.

Just put the ears into the 'wave husks and all (trim the tassels first). Six minutes for four ears. Hold under the cold water tap to peel (the cob will keep the corn hot); the silk comes off with the husks. All the vitamins stay where they are instead of getting drowned in cooking water.

It's magic, I tell you, magic.

CK
I had not idea you could do that I love corn ;D
 

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Anne said:
I had not idea you could do that I love corn ;D
I forgot to add that you might have to adjust cooking time according to ear size. The big 'uns will take 10 or so minutes for four ears. I'd suggest peeling one and testing for doneness. A single medium-sized ear takes about five minutes.

It tastes so fresh! Far better than boiled.

CK
 

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Check out the rice cooker thread just above this one.  They are doling out some seriously delicious sounding recipes!

Kathy
 

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Summer we do lots of horiatiki salad, hummus, tzatziki, olives, dolmas, bruschetta with whatever we toss on the grill. Usually lamb chops or leg of lamb, pork tenderloin, chicken.....
 

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Carolyn Kephart said:
I forgot to add that you might have to adjust cooking time according to ear size. The big 'uns will take 10 or so minutes for four ears. I'd suggest peeling one and testing for doneness. A single medium-sized ear takes about five minutes.

It tastes so fresh! Far better than boiled.

CK
MMm Thanks for the info. I will have to try it.

Anne
 

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I do whole chickens in my slow cooker then you can use the meat for tons of things - chicken salad, chicken pot pie, chicken tacos, chicken and rice, etc.

I also brown up ground beef and make it into taco mix (using whatever you would put into that) then I put it in the fridge - I usually do this first thing in the morning while it is cool -- then we make up a big salad and warm some of the meat in the micro (not too hot just warmed up) and put it on the salad with sour cream, salsa, cheese whatever. 

I roast up a bunch of veggies (or grill) and keep in the fridge too - you can do panini (sp?) with just the veggies and tomato and provolone .... or serve over rice, or pasta, or even on pizza.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks for all the suggestions, you guys! I will definitely have to check out the rice-cooker thread (I have one and love it!).

Rho, I love your idea of cooking a whole chicken in the slow cooker! How do you do that? My toddler loves chicken, and I often end up buying rotisserie chickens at the store for him, but I'm sure this would be cheaper!
 

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For when things have to be really fast and easy, I have two standby dinners.

One is something my daughter calls rainbow rice.  Prep time is involved, but can be the day before or can be from leftovers.  You need plain cooked rice, some cooked or grilled chicken cut into bite-sized pieces, a couple of slices of bacon (cooked and crumbled), and some frozen veggies (I use mixed peas and carrots, but corn works too, or any other mix).  And two or three eggs.

Heat up the rice if you pre-cooked it  --  or just boil some rice right before dinner.  In a separate pan, scramble the eggs.  Add the chicken, the bacon, and the veggies to the rice.  Stir in some soy sauce.  Fold in the scrambled eggs.  At various times, I've also used up chopped spring onions, shallots, and bean sprouts in this.


The other is high-sodium, so it's not very healthy....  but it's fast!  You need one box of Goya yellow rice, four hot dogs, and half a bag of frozen peas.  Cook the rice according to the package.  Slice the hot dogs into about 1/4-inch slices.  Five minutes before the end of the cooking time for the rice, throw the hot dog slices into the rice pot.  Three minutes before the end of the cooking time, add the frozen peas.  Stir and serve.  Not very healthy, but fast, easy, tasty, and visually appealing (bright yellow and bright green, plus the hot dogs).

 

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I also like to put a whole chicken in the crock pot.  I wad up balls of aluminum foil about the size of golf balls and put them in the bottom (to keep the chicken up out of its own fat). Spray the inside of the crock with Pam.  I usually just season the chicken with seasoned salt and a little pepper, but sometimes get a  little more creative and use other seasonings.  Then just put the chicken in the pot, (don't add any liquid).  Cook on high till done ( 3-4 hours or longer, it won't get dry).  The chicken is so tender it falls off the bone.  You can eat it as is or use in recipes.  I put my crock pot out on the patio in the summer to keep the house cool and odor free.  It can be used much like supermarket rotisserie chicken and is much cheaper. It also allows you to control the sodium which can be way too high in rotisserie chickens.
 

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Whole chicken in the crockpot is so great. Come home from work and there's magic chicken waiting for you without a hot kitchen. Hey, I live just outside Sacramento, heat is a big deal here in the summer!

*Wash a 3-4 pound roaster and shove either a quartered onion or a lemon that you've punched holes in the peel with a fork into the cavity. Rub with a little salt and pepper. If you're a skinless chicken person, leave it on for cooking and take it off after.
*If you want vegetables with your chicken, wash and cut into large chunks 2 carrots, 2 stalks celery, an onion and 3-4 potatoes. Put them on the bottom of the crockpot.
*If you just want the chicken, make four loose balls (I'd say fist sized, but I have tiny hands) of aluminum foil and put them on the bottom of the crockpot.
*Put the chicken, breast side down, on top of the vegetables/tin foil.
*Add a half cup of liquid - wine, broth, or water.
*Cover and cook 8-10 hours on low, 4-5 hours on high.

Main thing is something to keep the chicken from touching the crock and a bit of extra moisture to keep it from drying out. The chicken will be pale as sin though, not the lovely brown the rotisserie makes though. On the plus side, the meat just falls off the bone so if you're doing chicken with the intent of using the chicken for other recipes, this is THE way to do it. I've done fancier rubs on the chicken, but that's something you can pretty much fiddle with as it suits you.

And, of course, since you'll have a chicken carcass handy, crockpot chicken stock is a no brainer: put the carcass and gizzards in the crockpot, add chunks of carrot, celery, and onion. Toss in pepper corns, thyme sprigs, sage and a bay leaf. DO NOT SALT. Add cold water to top. Put it on low overnight (at least 10 hours). Strain the solids out and chill, skim the fat once it's solidified. Voila, chicken stock better than anything the grocery store will ever sell you. I freeze 4 ounce portions in muffin tins so I have pucks of broth in an easy to use in recipes size.
 
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