When readers took the survey a while back, many of you noted that you wanted to see more recipes for working moms. Recipes aren’t really my forte (I cook a lot of the same, easy weeknight dinners on repeat) but we’ve started including recipes in our weekly news roundups. Today, let’s have a proper recipe open thread: Which are your best recipes right now, ladies? Which summer recipes work with your work schedule?
I always forget that I hate the oven in summertime, and every time the weather gets hot I’m left wracking my brain for new recipe ideas. We just made slow cooker Korean Tacos from this recipe on Hellobee (DELICIOUS! So happy we tried it!), and it’s definitely going into our summer rotation. The recipe calls for 8 hours on low, but you can easily add more time. (You can also start with frozen flank steak and/or try it with cauliflower rice — the dish pictured above has a mix of white rice and cauliflower rice, flank steak, cucumber slaw we made at the very last minute, and sriracha. YUM. Other summer recipes in heavy rotation now:
- Make your own pizza! The kids and Mr. G like Mama Mary’s premade crusts the best; I just tried Flatout Bread for a crust for me and it’s awesome. I haven’t yet managed to get my hands on any cauliflower pizza crust but I’m keeping my eyes peeled! Also: I put pepperoncinis on everything now because I’m a little obsessed. (Latest discovery: They’re great in omelets, too!)
- Salads with precooked, chilled quinoa: We got the idea from this recipe that started as a special treat for the holidays, but we now make it pretty much whenever we feel like it, thanks to the magic of jars of presliced kalamata olives and Hak’s lemon dressing. In any event, quinoa is a great way to add more texture and protein to salads.
- Egg salad sandwiches made with packs of precooked, peeled hardboiled eggs –you can find these at every place from Trader Joe’s to Costco. The recipe we use is very similar to this one (except my recipe, from Weight Watchers, calls for 2 T. light mayo.) We add cayenne to taste, and I eat mine open-face.
- Hummus pita sandwiches with pretty much just hummus for the kids, maybe a few carrot sticks thrown in for crunch.
- Crackers with cheese slices, Laughing Cow cheese, or (if it’s on hand), fancier cheeses like brie. (I know, super original.)
- We’re still perfecting our recipe for tequila lime chicken, but when I find a good one I’ll share.
Readers, which are your favorite summer recipes — particularly those that work with your schedule as working moms? Have you tried any new recipes lately that you’re loving?
Psst: Check out our other posts on family meals and working parents!
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Oooh, very excited for this thread.
One recipe we love in the summer is Avocado Orzo Salad: cook orzo in salted water, when done, add cubed avocado, fresh corn, a can of black beans (rinsed and drained), chopped cilantro and lime juice. Tastes great when freshly made and after chilled in the fridge. Simple but so tasty.
Also a fan of this Shrimp Durango recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/18130/shrimp-durango/ It always turns out to taste somewhat “fancy” without being a lot of work, so it is good when you are having friends over.
I’ve made a very similar orzo salad! Ours is rotisserie chicken (or chickpeas) + tomato + olives + feta + scallions, all tossed with a healthy dose of olive oil plus some salt. It lasts well in the fridge.
One of my favorites (I make it year round) is romaine + grilled chicken + pasta + caesar dressing + parmesan, all tossed together. I cook the chicken on the stove, along with the pasta, so I don’t have to turn on the oven. It’s all very flexible – as much or as little cheese/pasta/dressing/chicken as you want.
I also love making a fresh tomato sauce – on a very low heat I’ll saute about 2 containers of grape tomatoes + a ton of garlic + olive oil, and then add basil at the very end. I like to add fresh pasta (fettuccine is great here). With my toddler, I’ve taken to pureeing this because she doesn’t like the tomato skin, and it even more delicious (but unnecessary if you don’t want to dirty the blender).
Just made beef with broccoli the other day and it was delicious (and I think you could follow the same process with chicken). About 1/2 lb of flank steak or other comparable cut, about 3 cups of broccoli florets, 1/2 an onion (sliced), jarred black bean sauce + low sodium soy sauce. Oyster sauce for topping (optional). Slice the meat into thin strips and coat in some cornstarch and let it sit in the fridge for a little bit while you do other things. Remove beef from the fridge and add more cornstarch if it looks like it’s been absorbed. Saute the meat until it’s browned and then remove from pan. Add onions and cook slightly. Add broccoli. Then pour in some water and cover the pan. When broccoli is soft, add the beef back to the pan. Add in a heaping spoonful or two of the black bean sauce and a glug or two of soy sauce (all to taste), and cook for a minute or two. Ready to serve over rice/cauliflower rice. Top with oyster sauce if you want.
Pesto! I like to use spinach instead of basil or a mix of both. Arugula works, too. It takes 2 minutes to put together and you can use on plain pasta or make pasta salad or add chicken + broccoli too for one-pot wonder. Pesto can go on any grilled meat / fish too (or broiled / sauteed) too.
Caprese anything! Summer tomatoes are the best. I like to make kabobs but it’s so easy to just do a salad.
Also, I have to admit that I also use lots of my recipes year-round; because of central AC, I don’t really ever have the too-hot-for-the-oven feeling. Maybe I lighten things up, though, and try to use the most seasonal veggies.
If you have an Instant Pot, poach a couple of chicken breasts in broth, shred them and put them in the fridge for use in various meals.
Like this one…ginger scallion sesame noodles. 4 bunches of soba noodles + cooked edamame, tossed with a tablespoon of ginger paste, a couple bunches of scallions chopped fine, 1/4c grapeseed oil, 2 tbsp sesame oil, 1/4c soy sauce, and a dash of rice vinegar. Add that cold poached chicken. Enjoy chilled…
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That sounds delicious. I have an Instant Pot but I haven’t figured out how to use it yet. Maybe that’s a job for the plan-less holiday weekend.
Second this. We cook a bunch of chicken in the instant pot and shred it and do whatever with it, including:
-shredded chicken with (insert asian sauce here) and rice
-shredded chicken mixed with bbq sauce, on a bun with gouda cheese and red onion
-sun dried tomato and basil chicken salad (on sandwiches, with crackers, whatever)
-my husband puts the chicken on his salads he takes to work
-shredded chicken with roasted red pepper and hummus in a wrap
This is a new favorite in my house. I do the chicken in advance in my slow cooker or instapot, and have used different dried fruits (cherries, golden raisins, apricots). The resulting dish is great warm or cold.
You might also like slow cooker Moroccan Chicken with dried apricots. We use the Cooksmarts recipe (can’t link here), but it looks like there are lots of free recipe variations online.
just Karen says
we do this one too! love it.
Shaking Beef: http://www.skinnytaste.com/vietnamese-shaking-beef-bo-luc-lac/ We usually eat this over a salad of romaine and tomatoes. I combine the dipping sauce ingredients with the dressing ingredients and use that as the dressing.
Alton Brown’s skirt steak: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/skirt-steak-recipe-2014004 We just grill this on a very hot gas grill, we don’t mess with charcoal on weeknights.
The orzo salad recipe above reminds me I made a great Greek orzo salad last year, maybe this one?: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/mediterranean-orzo-salad/
And for nights when there’s no dinner plan and even picking up take out seems like too much, I keep a bag of scallops in the freezer, cook them in some olive oil with a squeeze of lemon or a handful of what ever herb is threatening to wilt to nothingness in the fridge, then throw the whole thing over some pasta. Defrosting the scallops takes 2 min under running cold water.
I make a bunch of these on the grill and freeze any extra: http://www.marthastewart.com/1106712/red-bean-burgers-avocado-and-lime
Also this – my husband is allergic to nuts, so it was a brilliant discovery that we could make pesto with pepitas instead! http://cookieandkate.com/2016/zucchini-noodles-with-pesto-recipe/
We do carnitas tacos a lot. I slow cook a pork tenderloin (pork shoulder tastes better, obviously, but trying to keep it healthy) with water, salt and pepper in the crockpot, maybe a beer if one is laying around. Shred it and I usually use 1/2 the meat for pulled pork (mix in BBQ sauce in the crock pot and let it simmer an extra 30 minutes on high, slap on buns, add coleslaw and good to go) and freeze half to use for tacos later (or the opposite). For the taco meat (and this does involve the oven briefly but it is so worth it), you put the shredded meat in a shallow pan, season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and paprika to taste, and crisp in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes (tossing once or twice) until the meat is crispy. You could totally serve just rewarmed, seasoned shredded pork, but the oven is worth it to us. You could also probably use the broiler to shorten the time, but that’s how I set fires, so no broiler for me. For toppings, we saute peppers and onions on the stove, make guacamole (or you can buy it, but we are picky), and serve with cheese and sour cream and salsa, maybe some black beans if I have some handy. I’m slowly, slowly trying to train my husband on how to make proper guacamole. We’re getting closer except for last week when we (he) learned that unripe avocados are not mashable.
We also make a lot of use out of an indoor grill pan for hot dogs/cheeseburgers. I have a cast iron two burner grill/griddle combo, but if it’s just the three of us, the nonstick grill pan beats clean up any day. Sometime it’s just too hot to even grill outside.
A super simple, super fast one: sushi sandwiches (aka pinwheel sandwiches). My kids are more interested in cooking now, so this is a favorite for them too.
Cut the crusts off a piece of bread
Use a mini rolling pin to flatten the bread
Roll up in a spiral
Cut into fourths
* The toppings are things like PBJ, ham and cheese, turkey and cream cheese, bacon and avocado, etc. The kids love to get creative with whatever they find in the fridge.
Not exactly a summer recipe, but we eat this once a week. It is SO GOOD and so easy https://food52.com/recipes/66790-victoria-granof-s-pasta-con-ceci
Really curious about what families with toddler are eating. Do you eat the same thing as your toddler or make two separate meals? We’re struggling with this now – trying to feed our 2yo the same thing we eat so he learns to appreciate vegetables, etc, but he’s falling behind on the growth curve. so now i want to pump him full of protein, but don’t want to be doomed to eat chicken nuggets for the next couple years. What do you guys do?
I replied down below with meals I make regularly. My son is 16 months and he eats what I eat or a deconstructed version of it. On a typical night we feed him, he goes to bed, I make dinner for me, and he eats that for dinner the next day. That said, he recently quit eating meat (other than meatballs), so I just continue to serve him a small portion of meat and let him not eat it. There is usually something in the meal he will eat, so I don’t worry about it. That said, he is the 80th percentile for height/weight, so it’s easy for me to do that. I think if he was on the small side, I would do the same thing, but include more things I knew he would eat. For example, he loves peanut butter sandwiches and bananas. I would probably serve the same meal, but always serve a banana or half a peanut butter sandwich on the side so he got the calories/protein. I think providing exposure to different foods is more important than making sure he actually gets his nutrition specifically from those different foods.
When DD1 was a toddler, we’d offer what we were eating, but if it was spicy, or messy, or she wasn’t eating chicken that week, or whatever, we’d have an additional thing that was more toddler friendly. Nothing complicated (left over mac and cheese, cut up fruit, string cheese, pouch of applesauce) We tried to have it on the table with the rest of dinner, so we weren’t ‘giving in’ and getting her another meal all the time.
Also, big fan of the pre-bedtime snack when she didn’t eat enough dinner for me. It was usually a sliced up apple and some cheese, and even if she was ‘not hungry’ it usually got half eaten. We didn’t make a big deal of it (and yes, sometimes it was served about 15 minutes after dinner was over so it would be eaten before bed) but she’d wake up starving in the middle of the night otherwise, so this worked for us.
We usually feed toddler separately and cook/eat our dinner after he goes to bed. I do sit down with him and eat a snack and talk to him while he eats. Often he gets some of our leftovers from a previous meal. We also give him chicken sausage or chicken nuggets sometimes. We try to serve a balanced, colorful dinner–some meat, some carbs (usually a starchy vegetable like carrots, sweet potatoes, or squash), something green, and a fruit (sometimes applesauce with no added sugar counts). TBH, though, he often refuses to eat much, including the traditional toddler food like chicken nuggets. That said, he never wakes up hungry. He’s pretty skinny, but the pediatrician hasn’t said anything yet. I think he just gets most of his calories earlier in the day.
– Cook TJ gnocchi and chicken sausage in saucepan and serve with frozen veggies (my favorites are green beans and TJ grilled asparagus)
– Homemade hot pockets: Pillsbury crescent rolls filled with ham/turkey and cheese or BBQ pulled beef or pork (you can buy it already made in the refrigerated foods section)
– Marinate chicken with soy sauce, honey, ginger, and garlic and sauté; serve with jasmine rice and frozen stir fry veggies topped with sweet chili sauce
– Homemade pizzas (we buy personal pizza crusts near the pasta sauce); our favorites are meatball (sauce, frozen meatballs, and cheese) and BBQ chicken pizza (BBQ sauce, chicken, red onion, and cheese)
– Mexican turkey bowl – cook ground turkey with taco seasoning and stir in black beans; serve with rice, tomatoes, corn, avocado, onion and top with salsa/ranch dressing/sour cream
i love these suggestions Em, thank you! really good new ideas for me….
I second the pasta con ceci!
Sure, it doesn’t scream summer, but it’s perfect for the night you come back fromvacationand don’t have anything in the fridge.
I hope this nests under E’s comment…
We have a 2.5 year old and we have been reliant on plain roasted chickens since she was under a year old.
She gets the protein and I don’t have to make a second meal for the adults, since we can use an Asian sauce or chimichurri or something else to make it more interesting.
A standalone comment now: the blog Dinner a Love story has a great recipe for shrimp and feta.
It’s fast, reasonably healthy, delicious, and doesn’t heat up the house. It’s basically a unicorn.
Variation on E’s question above re toddler eating – at what age did you start doing something resembling family dinner if you and spouse weren’t in that habit pre-kids? Was it an every night thing, or just a few nights a week?
My husband and I were both order-dinner-at-work types pre-baby, and never really ate proper meals together during the week. We both still mostly do our own thing for food in the evenings, and separately feed our 1.5 yo pasta or whatever he’s willing to eat when he gets home from daycare, but I feel like we’re past the point where we should be modeling a balanced, “real” meal all together. Kid’s weight is on target so not really worried about his intake so much as about exposing him to a variety of (semi-)healthy foods. Eating better ourselves wouldn’t be terrible either.
Trying to figure out how to ease into it – any suggestions appreciated!
You could ease into it by having a family meal on the weekends. We do brunch together sometimes.
Or, it may not be the pinnacle of modeling healthy eating/variety, but you could pick one night to be “takeout night” or “pizza night,” etc.
We do breakfast together every day, which I find is a lot easier schedule-wise than dinner — and honestly, our toddler is in a much better mood in the morning than she is in the evening.
On nights when we aren’t ready to eat but it’s time to feed our son, we sit down with him while he eats and all talk about our days etc. Then we forage for our respective dinners after he’s in bed. It’s not technically eating dinner together, but we’re still sitting down and giving each other attention and spending time together. A lot of evenings when we’re tired it’s easier to just fix him a meal than figure out something everyone wants to eat.
We lucked out with a good eater so ymmv. Our 2 year old eats what we eat but usually deconstructed (ie tomatoes, cukes, chickpeas, and red onion from the salad but not lettuce that he still has trouble chewing, or pasta and sauce served separately, or meat, beans, vegetables and tortilla pieces separately instead of assembled into tacos. I make sure to serve at least 2 ingredients he likes and don’t make a fuss about what he leaves on his plate. He gets milk at every meal so I’m not worried about protein in the event he just eats the tortilla. (4 oz mixed with4 oz water for hydration for our reluctant water drinker who’d drink 100 oz of milk if we let him). Good protein sources he loves are eggs in any form, Kashi cereal, beans, meat/chicken/fish of any kind, nuts chopped up tiny, pesnut butter, yogurt. Could you add yogurt to food, like a sauce? We do a lot of middle eastern ish yogurt sauces (although he won’t touch h tahini anymore). Yogurt mixed with pb is also really good.
In addition to all the stuff we do with instant pot shredded chicken i posted above, we make instant pot pulled pork as well. I season it following this recipe but cook it in the instant pot instead: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/slow-cooker-pulled-pork-sandwiches-recipe-2043419
We use it for pulled pork sandwiches, bbq quesadillas (with pulled pork and smoked gouda), and if there’s some left I’ll make bbq pulled pork mac and cheese.
Saffron and Sweet Peas has an amazing group of 7 chicken recipes which I freeze, buy frozen veggies that steam in the bag, and the microwaveable rice packets or use my InstantPot to make rice. Super easy and then only one dish to clean or you can do these in a slow cooker with a crockpot liner for no dishes. I usually buy a bag of chicken thighs from Costco and make enough to have two of these a week for a month since we only need a pound of chicken for our family of 3.