A Return to Plans and Schedules (and Meal Plans)
After taking a break from meal planning in June and and July, I’m ready to get back to it. This is the time of summer when late nights, loose schedules and limited structure have started to take their toll. It’s time we got back to a meal plan and stick to it. We’ve been eating as a family this summer, it’s just a very loose situation. Our routine is typically to grab some type of meat or fish to throw on the grill, along with zucchini or peppers, make a salad and call it a night. We are in Sun Valley, Idaho, for one more week (where we will continue to grill our hearts out) but then it’s back to Houston. Cooking in the heat and humidity of the Texas summer looks (and feels) a little different. Basically, come next week I don’t want to be outside any more than I have to. Here’s what’s on tap.
Burgers with all the fixings. I prefer bleu cheese melted on top of my burgers, but my kids like good old fashioned cheddar (or, I’m embarrassed to say, slices of American cheese. I buy Horizon organic to make myself feel better.) I’ll put out all the toppings and let everyone make their own burger: Quick pickled onions, pickled jalapeños, avocado slices (or even better, guacamole), tomato and crunchy iceberg. Sriracha mayo is my go-to burger condiment and could not be easier to make. I’ll also make this coleslaw that we can put on sandwiches or tacos during the week. PSA: If you’ve never salted your cabbage to soften it and draw out the water, you’re missing the most important step of slaw. I’m also making a welcome home dessert for my kiddos (who’ve been at a weeklong camp in California). Texas sheet cake made with Miss Jones Baking chocolate cake mix. Easy peasy.
A big batch of roasted cherry tomatoes with garlic and olive oil is all you need for a perfect meal. Just fyi, I double the amount of olive oil in the linked recipe. And I don’t really use a recipe at all. I throw a ton of tomatoes (maybe 4 pints), diced garlic (3-4 cloves) and a few glugs on olive oil on a sheet pan with a generous sprinkling of Maldon sea salt or course kosher salt. Roast away. Put them on grilled chicken or salmon, add them to Parmesan polenta or toss with pasta. We’ll have ours with angel hair pasta for the kids, and spaghetti squash for the adults. Pile on a chiffonade of fresh basil and a heaping pile of freshly grated parmesan.
We’re getting together with a big group o family for dinner and a mean round of the name game (our favorite family after-dinner game). We’ll make one of my go-to family meals to feed a crowd. Grilled tamari honey flank steak, cheese bread and either grilled asparagus or zucchini. Apricot upside down cake for dessert.
We’re heading to an outdoor Big Head Todd concert tonight (a throw back to my college days at Red Rocks), so dinner will probably be an epic cheese board or veggie board with green goddess. Snack boards are my favorite way to eat in the summer!
Campfire cooking all the way. As a last hurrah of summer, we’re camping with our kids in the Sawtooth mountains. We aren’t hiking in to our campsite, so I can pack all the cast iron pans I want. Dinner made over an open fire is one of life’s simple pleasures. Closely followed by a bottle of wine chilling in a mountain lake. S’mores for dessert, naturally.
Tonight I need a dinner that can stay warm in the slow cooker or Instant Pot. I’m thinking salsa verde shredded chicken that we can heap onto tortillas or taco salad. Black beans (and all the regular taco fixings) on the side. Maybe a TGIF spicy jalapeño mint margarita, too.
We are headed to dinner with friends tonight. If you’re staying home, consider this epic dry rub for your pork chops, chicken or steak. If you have a glut of basil in your garden, you may like reading this.