It’s been way too long since I’ve posted here. Guys and gals, 2015 has been a rough year. I can’t really say why, but when the going gets tough, I do tend to get quieter online and my routine suffers a little. I did want to (finally!!!) come back and show you a little of what the renovation ended up like. Suffice to say – it’s been the best part about this year so far! We just love it. The entire family, from the furry ones to the human ones, is enjoying our new open kitchen and living space. Embiggen the photos below to see how it all turned out. You can click here to see it from beginning to end.
Being down for the count due to a renovation, not to mention the other stuff making 2015 a rough year, has made it more difficult to get back to food blogging than I thought it would! You do kind of get used to being on a cooking vacation of sorts. I’m determined to get back to it, though, and to keep trying new ideas. Summer’s always been a little more difficult for me when searching for simple, not-a-lot-of-heat recipes. As in, let’s not bake, let’s not heat up the stove top too much, let’s not make the house a literal melting pot with me as the main, sweating dish. Because I definitely like to bake. I do tend to prefer food that’s been roasted and simmered slowly and, well, Fall and Winter food! The rest of this post will hopefully help with recipe ideas we’ve tried here before that lean a little less on the heat with easiness and limited time in mind.
Salmon Panzanella with Greens Beans – honestly, I’m not sure why I haven’t made this more often. It’s delicious! It’s Tuscan in origin! And who doesn’t love the idea of bringing a little Italy into their kitchen? Or, cucina, if you will. And it’s literally a bread salad. Salad where bread is not shunned! Lots of panzanella recipes don’t use any kind of meat, but this twist uses salmon and it’s a great addition. This is light, fresh and perfect for Summer.
Grilled Chicken Pasta Salad with Artichoke Hearts – If you really need to get your heat on, the grill is the obvious choice. And pasta lovers know you can’t go the entire summer without a little pasta here and there, so a quick boil on the stove for some carb goodness won’t hurt anything. If you were feeling extra adventurous, you could possibly even grill the artichokes themselves, just enough to get those pretty grill marks on them and a little extra flavor.
Cherry Tomato Salad with Buttermilk Basil Dressing – This one has passed the Party Test. We made it for a party at our house and it was a huge hit. It’s also, literally, the easiest thing you will ever make. Easy to prep and easy to eat with zero cooking. Don’t skimp on the shallots in the dressing. They add tons of flavor.
Grilled Margherita Sandwiches – Summer’s grilled cheese is not your Winter’s grilled cheese. Fresh mozzarella, sliced as thin as possible, and piled on with fresh tomato and basil is a perfect twist for Summer. The outside of the bread is seasoned to maximize flavor. This happens to be our most popular post lately! Splurge a little on some fresh mozzarella next time, maybe pick a homegrown tomato off the vine this weekend and don’t forget the fresh basil! All are key to this awesome sandwich.
Cold Peanut Sesame Noodles – If you love Asian flavors, but it’s too hot to get the stove revved up for stir-fry or something similar, this is a great and refreshingly cool option. It packs a ton of flavor and it’s perfect at room temperature or even chilled a little. You whip up a sauce/dressing in a blender, boil some noodles, drool a little, and then you’re soon set for some divine Asian flavors and goodness!
Creamy Red Curry Coleslaw – This is a good example of having to substitute ingredients at the last minute because your grocery store didn’t have what you needed. I love red curry, so it seemed like a good substitute for the miso originally called for. And it was! It’s not the hottest kind of curry paste out there, which is fine with me. Use more to get some heat. I love that you can get that heat but still appreciate the curry’s flavor. Pairing it with a cooling coleslaw dressing worked out great.
Grilled Criss-Cross Potatoes – This is one of the easiest ways to make your potato side dish and add flavor easily as well. They go with grilled hamburgers and hotdogs, steak, chicken, pork – pretty much everything! Hubby started making these for us a few years ago and he used to have them when he was a little guy at home. We’re carrying on the tradition and using the timeless flavor enhancing skills of the grill to make potatoes just different enough to be great.
Blackberry Wine Ice Cream – It’s not summer without ice cream. I’m kind of proud of this idea – one, because it’s incredibly delicious, and two, it’s incredibly delicious. It does require some heat to make a custard base, but it’s worth it and the resulting cool, wine-sweet ice cream laced with blackberries is the perfect way to cool down.
Key Lime Pie Gelato – It’s also not Summer without lots of ice cream options! This was another experiment of sorts, turning an ice cream base into one of my favorite cooling desserts – key lime pie. And it worked good. So, so good. Bright, fresh lime and a few graham crackers thrown right into the whole mixture,a long with lime zest, make this one exceptionally refreshing.
Fresh Peach Lemonade – You can’t be all cool for the summer without the perfect summer drink. Do make sure to look through our Drinks category, because most of them are perfect for Summer, but this lemonade is killer good and deserves to be highlighted again. Get in on it while the peaches are flowing at the store and farmers markets!
Lemonade Iced Tea – A combination of the Southern U.S.’s two favorite beverages – and it’s so refreshing! If you’re in the mood to hooch it up for the grown ups, you can always add some yummy alcohol, too, but as-is, it will work for the whole crowd.
Kiddo’s Fun Smoothies – This last idea is one I continue to make often for the kiddo and I at home, when the pool is calling and snack time is high on the priority list. This is one of Infrequent Miniature Cooking Assistant’s most favorite things, and you know that, as a parent, I can get behind a big glass of this for her. And for me!