I look forward to the summer months and refreshing our summer menu. Typically, our winter menu consists of pastas, comfort foods, casseroles, soups, and baked goods. During the cold weather months, I use the oven and crack it open after I turned it off to warm up the rest of the kitchen.
My dad is an electrical engineer, so it is ingrained in me to save energy. I can hear my dad saying, “Don’t use the oven, it will heat up the house,” all summer long. I overthink the time of day that I use my oven and dryer in the summer. I get up early to bake and do laundry so that I don’t heat up my house.
I try not to use any appliance that creates heat during the hottest part of the day. Do other people do this? I blame my dad for my hypervigilance to energy savings, but maybe other people think about it as well.
Since I use the oven as little as possible during the summer, I have to switch up my cooking style. Our summer menu is all about eating fresh foods, grilling, and easy cleanup.
When the weather starts to warm up, we take our grill out of storage and set up two outdoor tables. We all enjoy gathering on the patio for dinner. The girls are usually outside munching on kale or corn chips while we are cooking dinner
Summer dinners are quick, casual, and grilled. The best part of grilling is that Mike cooks. I just have to make sure the meat is thawed + marinated, and then he perfectly grills it. The girls are at the age that they enjoy eating the same food that we do off the grill.
My favorite local meat shops:
To step up our grill game, I added a few new side dishes to our rotation.
Summer menu planning is easy since I just keep our favorite meats stocked up in the freezer. I rotate salmon, shrimp, chicken, brats, burgers, and grass-fed hot dogs throughout the week and change up the marinades.
Garden to table
I am so glad that we used our time in quarantine to expand our garden. I can now harvest lettuce, kale, and basil on a daily basis. Tomatoes, peppers, and the squash are not too far behind.
Kale Chips are a summer staple side dish. I make two pans of them and hope to get a few chips myself. The girls devour them before I can get the chips off the pan.
- Cut 3 cups of kale. Cut out the rib in the middle if it is rigid. Note: baby kale doesn’t need cut up.
- Wash the leaves and pat them dry
- Lay them out on a jelly pan
- Sprinkle with avocado oil and salt
- Toss to coat
- Make sure the kale is in a single layer
- Broil on High for 5-10 mins, Watch carefully
- They are done when crispy and starting to brown on the edges
As more veggies ripen for harvest, I am excited to incorporate them into our meals.
Homemade ice cream
All of my girls love to bake and work alongside me in the kitchen. Making homemade ice cream enables us to be in the kitchen and not heat up the house. We store the bowl of our Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker in the freezer so that it is always ready to churn ice cream.
The girls enjoy finding new ice cream recipes to make. We recently used our homemade vanilla extract beans to make Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. It took a few extra steps to make the ice cream but all the work was worth it. The ice cream was delicious.
Mike requested Strawberry Sorbet after the girls and I went strawberry picking. This was Adelynn’s first attempt at a sorbet. After pureeing and straining the strawberries, the sorbet was silky smooth.
Chocolate ice cream is our go-to flavor. We have already made it twice this summer. The last time Heidi decided to make chocolate ice cream, she found out halfway through the recipe that we were out of Dutch Chocolate. Thankfully, Heidi was able to adjust the recipe to vanilla.
With all of the homemade ice cream, I finally invested in nice ice cream storage containers. I decided to buy the Sumo Ice Cream Containers and they have worked out well. The containers even have a dry erase spot on the lid to label the flavor.
Summer months are a time to relax and refresh. I enjoy changing out our meals to reflect the freshness and ease of summer. Our summer menu is lite, predictable, and easy.
What are your favorite summer time meals?
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