Summertime Cooking Helps

I just love my old copies of the Southern Living Cookbooks. I have a collection of about ten of them and they are my absolute favorites. I’m always finding new recipes! If you find a Southern Living Cookbook on Amazon or at a yard sale I’d say snag it, because their recipes are tried and true. I can’t think of one recipe from their books that I’ve made that we didn’t like.

However, one of the neat things about the cookbooks is that they don’t just have recipes in them, they have all kinds of valuable information. I will get a book and sit down and read through it and learn information such as how to choose a ripe melon, ingredient substitutions and equivalents, or entertaining tips.

Last night as I was reading one edition I came across some tips on Summertime meal preparation. The information is really good for any time of the year, but for the hot months when you don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, they shared some tips on how to reduce your cooking time and yet still have a good meal on the table each night. Let me share some of their ideas:

  • Make up a menu at the beginning of the week (this is soooo needful!)
  • Choose recipes with few ingredients, quick preparation and easy-to-follow directions.
  • One-dish meals are ideal – lasagna, chicken & rice dish, etc.
  • Recipes using chicken or seafood are speedy as well as delectable.
  • Prepare the recipe the night before, and refrigerate until time to cook or reheat.
  • Or prepare part of the recipe ahead, such as a sauce.
  • Marinating food overnight adds flavor and requires little effort.
  • On weekends or when you have extra time, cook double batches, freezing the extras. All you have to do is defrost foods such as meat sauces, breads, waffles, cookies, cakes, soups and meat loaf in the microwave oven or overnight in the refrigerator; then heat.
  • Use the microwave oven for side dishes or reheating.
  • Stir-fry meals are convenient when time is short.
  • Make salads ahead of time; refrigerate the dressing and other ingredients separately.
  • Gather all necessary ingredients and utensils for the recipe you are preparing.
  • Clean up as you cook; then you don’t have a big mess left when you’re finished.

I know for women that work full-time, meal prep can be difficult, but these suggestions should help you get a jump start and aid you in getting ahead. If you can begin your preparation early you’ll be that much closer to suppertime after you get home!

Here’s a fruit salad recipe I made this week from one of my Southern Living Cookbooks. The citrus dressing is so good on the fruit.

Fruit Salad with Citrus Dressing

1/4 tsp grated orange rind

2/3 cup orange juice

1/2 tsp grated lemon rind

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 (3 inch) cinnamon stick

1/2 tsp cornstarch

4 oranges, peeled and sliced

2 kiwi, peeled and sliced

2 cups fresh pineapple chunks

1 cup seedless red grapes

2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced

3 bananas, sliced

Combine first 7 ingredients in a small saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minutes. Cool.

Combine oranges, kiwi, pineapple and grapes. pour dressing over fruit; cover and chill. Add strawberries and bananas; toss gently. Serve immediately. Yield: 6-8 servings

I used half amounts of the fruit for my family and reserved half of the dressing in a Ziploc bag and put it in the freezer to use another time – an example of having a sauce on hand for a quick salad.

Happy cooking!

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