Meal Planning for the Dog Days of Summer

Hot weather meal planning calls for different strategies than other times in the year. Here are some techniques to help you keep your cool in the kitchen.

Meal Planning for the Dog Days of Summer - Hot weather meal planning calls for different strategies than other times in the year. Here are some techniques to help you keep your cool in the kitchen.

My friend Andrea, also a native Southern California girl, worded it perfectly this week:

Now’s about the time things really start to heat up in Southern California, and usually don’t let up until Halloween. You’ll hear us Cali people complain about the heat from here on out. You’ve been warned. Please don’t kill us.

It’s true. Even though we’ve had a hotter than normal summer, it’s only just begun. Last NIGHT it was 84 in the house. We don’t have an air conditioner. We don’t have many ceiling fans. If the house belonged to me, that fan situation would have been changed pronto. I grew up in the desert and I lived five years in Kansas City humidity with the AC set at 82, so this is not a big deal. Except that it is.

Of course, the pool was closed these past couple days and we’re on drought alert so there wasn’t a ton to do in the way of finding cool, refreshment.

I threw out my original French Friday meal plan yesterday afternoon when I realized there was NO WAY I wanted to cook several courses in a hot kitchen. Instead, my FishChick 7 and I ran to the store for sushi, cold cuts, fresh fruit, and crackers. We dined how we will probably eat often in France: the no-cook, snacky meal. It’s actually one of our favorites and such a great way to eat without heat.

If the weather man is right, we’re in for a hot week. That means my meal planning needs to be WAY simplified. Can’t we all just eat salad? I wish. My people can do it, but not every day like I could. Instead,

I’m leaning on no-cook, crockpot, and quick fixes to get us fed in a flash — without too much sweat or tears. Are you in the same boat? Check out these posts that will help you enjoy the dog days of summer a little bit more: [Continue reading...]

Spice-Rubbed Grilled Pork Tenderloin

Custom-mixed spices are an economical and tasty way to add flavor and texture to grilled meats. Try this grilled pork tenderloin.

Spice-Rubbed Grilled Pork Tenderloin - Custom-mixed spices are an economical and tasty way to add flavor and texture to grilled meats. Try this grilled pork tenderloin.

Over the last few weeks since hubby and I have been “watching what we eat,” our meals have become simpler. With a hearty protein at the center and lots of fruits and veg all around, meals have been easier to prepare and increasingly tasty.

Hubs thinks that since we’re cutting out excess fats and sugars, the flavors of our food are becoming more distinct to our taste buds. I don’t know what it is, but I like it.

One of the meals that we’ve enjoyed has been grilled pork tenderloin. This had never been something I served my family until I was doing recipe testing for The Cookbook. One of my family’s favorite meals in the book is the Caribbean Pork Tenderloin with Mango Salsa.

Pork tenderloin is now a surefire favorite. And there are rarely any leftovers. Rubbing it with a custom seasoning blend and grilling it over the fire is a super-simple, healthy way to serve it. And now that the USDA has lowered the safe cooking temp on pork, you can enjoy tenderloin that really is tender and juicy.

Buying spices in bulk and mixing them yourself is a great way to save money and add flavor. This seasoning blend which evokes a little Cajun flair goes great on any of grilled meats. The spice-rubbed tenderloin is delicious with Peach Salsa on top.

This post was originally posted on August 13, 2012.

Disclosure: I received products and product coupons from Hormel Foods as part of my participation in the Hormel Foods Extended Family Preferred Blogger Program. All opinions about the products are my own.

Grocery Geek Q&A: Reducing Grocery Spending

Reducing Grocery Spending - Grocery budgets are tight. How can you trim the bill?

Grocery budgets are tight. How can you trim the bill? Sarah wrote in with the following dilemma: I currently live in a four person household (five if you count my dog). I am the only female, I live with three males, my husband and two sons (age 8 and 11). I have currently whittled my […]

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Wines to Pair with Good Cheap Eats

Bonus Feature #3 - Did you preorder a copy (or two) of my new book, Good Cheap Eats? I’ve got another bonus feature waiting for you.

Did you preorder a copy (or two) of my new book, Good Cheap Eats? I’ve got another bonus feature waiting for you.  Blogging has been such a wonderful experience for me. I’ve met so many great people over the years, yourself included. One of those sweet people is my friend Amy. We met at a blogging conference almost […]

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5 Quick & Easy Meals to Freeze

Quick & Easy Meals to Freeze - Save money and eat better with these quick and easy freezer meals.

Save money and eat better with these quick and easy freezer meals. You’ve probably heard that making a bulk batch of something is a surefire way to save money and eat better. It’s totally true. Freezer cooking has helped us bridge the gap between a small budget and great food for years. If you’re not already […]

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Oven Roasted Ratatouille

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Enjoy the flavors of summer eggplant and squash in this easy oven-roasted ratatouille.   I’m a lifelong francophile. I’ve loved French culture since I was about five years old. I studied French literature in college, just because really, since there are few “practical” reasons for majoring in French literature. I had the amazing opportunity — […]

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Make Your Meal Plan Happen This Week

Make Your Meal Plan Happen This Week - Take these steps to make great meals, save money, and enjoy time with the people you love.

You can be a freezer cook extraordinaire or a whiz at grocery shopping on a budget or even a dynamo when it comes to creating a delicious and nutritious meal plan, but if you don’t get food on the table in a timely manner, all your prior efforts kinda fall on their faces. If the […]

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Presentation is Everything

Food doesn’t need to be expensive to look special. In fact, the way you present the simplest, cheapest eats can deliver a powerful punch.  This post was originally posted on June 26, 2009. The lessons still hold true. Years ago I worked in a catering kitchen, assembling deli and cheese trays, preparing cocktail sandwiches, and […]

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Spicy Sausage Burgers

Spicy Sausage Burger - Despite all the back to schooly stuff going on, summer

Despite all the back to schooly stuff going on, summer’s not over. Live up the lingering days of the season with these Spicy Sausage Burgers. Despite the fact that the kids and I are finishing our first week of school, the calendar and the warm weather both concur that summer is still here. Fall doesn’t […]

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5 After-School Snacks Your Kids Will Love

After-school Snacks Your Kids Will Love: Make after school time a happy hour. Provide your kids with these tasty snacks that are easy as well as delicious.

Make after school time a happy hour. Provide your kids with these tasty snacks that are easy as well as delicious. We are halfway through our first week of school. So far, so good. I’ve stayed (mostly) on task, teaching six kids, keeping the house (mostly in tact), and no one has starved. I had […]

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