Kitchen Fun with Carol
Hi everybody! I don’t know if it’s hot and humid where you are but it has been a scorcher here this summer. We have had weeks of temperatures in the nineties with extremely high humidity thanks to hurricane Dennis.
I always try to plan ahead for the summer months when I put together my summer menu. I avoid meals that will heat up the kitchen. That means we usually do a lot of grilling, cooking with a slow cooker or microwave, or cooking meals that are quick and with very little cooking time.
I usually organize the menu by the day of the week. Saturday and Sunday meals are quick and easy so that we can get in and out of the house for church and family activities. Monday is a slow cooker day. This gives me time to catch up with chores around the house after a busy weekend. Tuesday is a grill day. Wednesday is Mexican with tacos, burritos and fajitas. Thursday is Chinese stir-fries or soups cooked in the slow cooker. Friday is family night. If it’s cool, the kids usually want homemade pizza or calzones. If it’s hot we cook something special on the grill like grill packets or some marinated chicken and grill fries. Some of our favorite recipes include Meats in Marinade, Swiss Steak, Elegant Chicken in Marinade, Delicious Pot Roast, Meatball Subs, Montreal Chicken Sandwiches, Grilled Chicken Salad, Pork BBQ, Chili cooked in the slow cooker, Taco Salad and Sloppy Joes.
We are year round grillers. We have been known to light up the grill in the dead of winter with six inches of snow on top of the grill! We have accumulated our fair share of grill recipes over the years. Some are favorites from friends and family. Others are ones that we have created on our own. Some can be frozen and others cannot. We love trying out new recipes or trying to adapt existing recipes to be cooked on the grill.
Last year while shopping for a Father’s Day gift for my Dad, I came across an expandable grilling tray that is used for cooking vegetables on the grill. It expands to fit the depth of your grill. We love using it. You can use it to grill potatoes, vegetables or even cook bags of frozen French Fries. How convenient is that!
One of our favorite new recipes this summer is grilled zucchini. You cut 3 small zucchini into 1/4 inch slices. Cut up 1 green pepper into 1/2 inch chunks. Cut up 1/2 of an onion into 1/4 inch chunks. Mix it all together with 1/3 cup of light Italian dressing and 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning. Grill on a vegetable grilling tray or a cookie sheet at medium heat or about 350 degrees until the veggies start to brown and are crisp tender. This is a wonderful side dish!
This issue of Chewin the News brings you two new grill recipes including some tips on grilling potatoes or French Fries. Read more about it below in the Bonus Recipes section.
I remember seeing a commercial for Reynolds Wrap aluminum foil. In the commercial they created grill packets. They placed the food inside the wrap and folded it to seal it. This allows you to cook your meat, sauce and vegetables all at the same time on the grill. This idea is great for freezer cooking as well! You can prepare the grill packets ahead of time and freeze them. When you want to grill, just take them out of the freezer and let them thaw completely. Heat up the grill to the appropriate temp and you are ready to make a great meal!
My husband loves Chicken Parmesan but I don’t like to heat up the oven for 45 minutes in the summer. Grill packets became our solution to the problem. It’s easy to create your own grill packet. Tear off a piece of foil that is 18 inches long. Layer your recipe in order of cooking time. Meat usually takes the longest amount of time to cook so start with the meat on the bottom. Add any toppings and sauce.
Once you have all the ingredients layered, it’s time to make the packet. Bring the short sides of the aluminum foil together and fold over twice. Center the fold in the middle of the packet. Now fold over the ends to completely seal the whole packet. The packets can be cooked immediately or frozen for later use.
We wanted a way to cook potatoes and French fries in the summer besides using the microwave. We love those seasoned fries that you get at restaurants so we created our own seasoning mix. You can use this either on regular potatoes or on plain frozen French fries. We grill them using a vegetable grilling tray. I have also used a regular a cookie sheet. The secret is to make sure that you flip the potatoes or fries over every couple of minutes so that they don’t burn.
Recipe of the Month Contest Winner
Recipe of the Month… April’s Chicken Marinade
Our winner this month is April from Beaverton, OR, with her recipe for April’s Chicken Marinade. This recipe uses honey. I have never frozen honey in a marinade before. Most information on honey talks about the quality of the honey after freezing. It tends to make baked goods mushy because it breaks down. This is not an issue with marinade and it worked great for us!
I am always looking for a great marinade. There’s nothing simpler on cooking day than putting a marinade together, adding the meat and then freezing. It’s a wonderful thing! We tend to eat a lot of chicken in the summer and this recipe tastes great! My kids even asked when we would be having it again. I just love it when that happens! I would also suggest trying it with pork chops.
Let’s meet April:
I am a stay-at-home mother of my three-month-old baby girl, Allison. Before her birth, I was a high school English teacher with an hour-long commute. My husband and I have been doing 30-day-gourmet for a couple of years. Every time we make a meal that we know freezes well, we make a huge batch and freeze a bunch of it in entree size Gladware containers. The individual servings work great for us, because we can just grab one out of the freezer to take to work for lunch (much healthier than frozen meals from the grocery store, and tastier too), and it doesn’t take long to build up a variety of meals. On nights when neither of us feel like cooking “from scratch,” we just grab meals out of the freezer. This keeps us out of the fast-food restaurants. This poultry marinade is great tasting, simple to make, and doesn’t include expensive ingredients. I found it on a hand-out that I received in a high school foods class from the Oregon Turkey Improvement Association, 13 years ago. I used it a lot when I was still a single first-year teacher with no money. Enjoy!
Click here to view/print the August Recipe of the Month.
Freezer Cook of the Month Contest Winner
Our winner this month is Theresa from Houston, TX, with her great story about the “five second rule” and freezer cooking!
The new “newsletter”(s) are great! It was so great to get the one from Carol and then from Nanci so close together. The fact that my sister, a friend and I just had a marathon cooking day on Saturday probably influences my excitement. It was my friend’s first time cooking the 30 Day Gourmet way and my sister’s first time in 8 years! We made 94 batches of entrees, breads, muffins, soups, sandwiches and of course, desserts! I started at 6 AM finishing my make ahead items (browned beef and fat free white sauce) and we finished around 9:30 PM. Our final recipe was the Chicken Pockets and since we had been working so diligently and hadn’t stopped to eat dinner (lunch was pizza delivered to our door), we were eagerly anticipating the timer going off to signal the first tray of them being done. In my overly eager state, I opened the oven door (the upper of a double oven) and pulled out the pan and apparently those chickens had a rebirth and flew right off the pan onto the floor!!!! Unfortunately the 5 second rule didn’t apply due the day’s worth of build up on the floor (uncooked rice, cornflake crumbs, etc.). We were so hungry we really wrestled with the thought of digging into the steamy pile of 12 crescent rolls filled with the cream cheese enrobed chicken … BUT couldn’t get past the hairs and rice sticking to it all. So, we waited 10 more minutes and enjoyed the second batch:) When it was all over, we felt like we did after walking a half marathon back in January, but we are in that afterglow of awe at our full freezers! The new newsletters keep me inspired and act as a 30DG Rolaids (relief for the “I’m so tired of browning, cutting, mixing, stirring, labeling, storing, I don’t want to do this anytime soon” feeling I had at 10:30 PM Saturday night). Thanks for doing a great job as usual !!!!!!
Thanks Theresa! We’re glad you are enjoying the new newsletter format and are encouraged by them.
Closing Comments from Carol
I hope you enjoy the recipes and the grilling tips! Next month we’ll talk about back to school lunch and after school snack recipes.
Do you have any recipes that you would like to share? I’d love to try and share them with everyone. You can post your recipes on the 30 Day Gourmet Facebook® fan page or click here to send me an email. Or do you have any other topics that you would like me to cover? Click here to send me an email. I enjoy hearing from you!
Have fun in your kitchen!