End of Summer Meal Ideas

We are SO CLOSE to fall. I can’t wait. This year has been such a dumpster fire and I’m absolutely treasuring any little thing we can look forward to. But, if we’re being realistic, we still have several more weeks of hot temperatures before spooky weather. If you’re like me, you left your enthusiasm for meal planning somewhere back in February. Here are a few easy meals we’ve had on rotation all summer that beat the heat and are easy to throw together. They require no oven (it’s too hot for that nonsense), simple ingredients, and they pass the family taste test.

  1. Frito Bowls:
  • Ingredients:
    • 1 bag of chili cheese Fritos (Upgrading from plain to chili cheese is a game-changer.)
    • Ground beef (amount depends on how many people you’re feeding)
    • Taco seasoning

Layer with Mexican fixins’ to your liking. We do:

    • Shredded cheese
    • Black beans
    • Lettuce
    • Diced tomato
    • Green salsa
    • Sour cream
  • Instructions:
    • Brown the ground beef. Add taco seasoning. Layer ingredients in bowl in order listed.

2. Chicken Salad Croissants

  • Ingredients:
    • Approx. 1/2 chicken breast for each person being served
    • Mayonnaise
    • Red grapes, halved
    • Walnuts or pecans
    • Salt & pepper
    • Croissants, sliced
  • Additional options:
    • Pineapple chunks
    • Sliced strawberries
    • Tarragon
    • Craisins instead of grapes
  • Instructions:
    • Boil chicken. Shred with forks or in a food processer
    • Mix in mayo until chicken is coated
    • Add halved grapes, nuts, salt, pepper, & any other preferred ingredients to taste
    • Serve on croissants w/chips or cut raw veggies

3. BLFGT (Bacon, lettuce, fried green tomato) sandwiches

  • Ingredients:
    • Bacon
    • Lettuce
    • Green tomato, sliced
    • 1 Egg
    • Cornmeal
    • White bread
    • Mayo
    • Flour
    • Seasoning Salt
  • Instructions:
    • Cook bacon in a skillet, set aside
    • Use skillet with bacon grease to fry tomatoes
      • Mix cornmeal & seasoning salt together in a small bowl
      • In a separate small bowl, whisk egg.
      • Dip tomato slices in egg, then cornmeal mixture, coating thoroughly. Fry in pan until breading starts to brown.
      • Toast bread. Spread mayo on both slices while still warm.
      • Assemble sandwiches and enjoy!

I hope these will spark some inspiration for your end of summer meal ideas. I also wrote a post about easy dinner recipes you can find here. What are your go-to summer recipes? Share them in the comments!

 

 

Beginner Blackberry Cobbler Recipe

When we moved into our rented farmhouse, we discovered the best blackberries I’ve ever tasted growing along the pasture fence. It felt like finding treasure! They were sun-sweetened and our only competition for them was the songbirds. I knew I had to put them to good use. Wild blackberry and honeysuckle grew on the fence behind my childhood swing set. Those two scents will always transport me to simpler summers.

This recipe is a combination of several I found for cobbler. I used the filling for a cobbler, and as a topping for waffles. I also made hand pies (pictured above) with a very similar recipe that had a thicker, more jelly-like filling. Here is the hand pie recipe if you prefer to try those!

Ingredients:

4 cups blackberries

1 cup boiling water

1-2 TBSP corn starch (you will add to your taste based on how thick you want your filling)

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Lemon juice (you will add to taste if you want added tartness)

1 TBSP cold, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 pre-made pie crust 

Coarse sugar for topping (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400. Grease a 9 inch casserole dish. I use this baking spray. You can use a 9×13 pan if you don’t have a casserole dish, you will just have to roll your crust out thinner.
  2. In a medium saucepan, mix together 1 cup of sugar, cinnamon, 1 TBSP corn starch, and boiling water. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Add up to 1 more TBSP cornstarch if you want it thicker.
  3. Remove mixture from heat and add the blackberries with their juices (meaning do not drain the berries before adding them). Stir gently until blackberries release some juice. Taste mixture and add lemon juice 1 tsp at a time if you want it more tart. If you’re happy with the taste, no lemon juice is needed. Set aside.
  4. Roll out whole disc of pie crust to at least a 12×12 inch square, about 1/8 inch thick. Gently ease the dough into the greased dish, taking care to press it into the corners without stretching. Trim the edges of the dough leaving a 1/2 inch overhang all the way around. This overhang will be folded up and over the edges of the lattice top to seal. Save any dough scraps.
  5. Spoon blackberry mixture over crust. Dot the top with butter cubes.
  6. Roll out remaining dough into about a 10×10 inch square. Cut the dough into 8 or 10 strips and weave a lattice crust on top. Trim the excess dough so that the strips meet the overhang at the edges. (I personally didn’t weave the strips, but simply laid them diagonally across each other. Weaving will be prettier and seal better, I just didn’t have the confidence to try it on my first cobbler attempt.)
  7. Wet your fingers and seal the strips at both ends. Fold the overhang up and over the strips. Crimp edges with a fork to seal.
  8. Brush the pastry with beaten egg. Sprinkle with coarse sugar.
  9. Bake at 350 for about 55 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.

Cobbler can be intimidating for beginners, but the real hardest part of this recipe is waiting for the finished product to cool enough to serve! This was a big hit at my house. As I mentioned, we made the filling again for waffle topping and it was delicious! I’m so glad I tried something new and didn’t worry about it looking Pinterest-perfect. Hope you enjoy!

 

My Favorite Treat Recipes

We’ve all had delusions of domestic grandeur. I told myself when I got married that I would learn to love cooking because it’s something I’ll be doing for the rest of my life. Alas, I never quite got bit by the Betty Crocker bug. I will cook. I can cook. But I don’t love it. I do, however, love baking treats! It’s a good exercise for me. You need to follow the recipe to a tee (since baking is basically a science experiment), which appeals to my rule-loving nature. But it’s also messy and creative, which are muscles I need to work more often. Today I’m sharing my favorite easy sweet treats. As we slowly start to emerge from this quarantine, I hope that some of the slow-down will stay with us–like making time for messy kitchens and the smell of something sweet baking in the oven.

Cake Batter Fudge

Source: Baked From A Box via Pinterest

Ingredients:

1 cup Funfetti cake mix
1 cup confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter, cut into small squares
1/4 cup milk

Instructions:

  1. Place cake mix in a microwave safe bowl. Add butter and milk. Do not stir.
  2. Microwave for 2 minutes. Stir immediately until combined.
  3. Spread into greased square pan. Refrigerate 1 hour to set up.

Notes: This makes just a small square pan of fudge. This would be a fun after school or weekend activity for kids because it’s so easy and quick, and it doesn’t make a huge amount so they can’t get too terribly overloaded on sugar.

Blueberry Lemon Quick Bread

Source: Kroger magazine (Come thru, Kroger!)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/3 cup sugar

1 Tbsp lemon zest

3/4 cups milk (can use almond milk for non-dairy version)

1 egg, beaten

2 Tbsp canola oil

1 cup blueberries

For lemon glaze:

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1-2 Tbsp lemon juice

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt; whisk well. Add the sugar and lemon zest/ stir.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together milk, egg, and canola oil. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir just until combined.
  3. Toss blueberries with a few pinches of flour, and gently fold them into the batter.
  4. Pour into a greased 9×5 inch loaf pan. Bake 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
  5. To make glaze, whisk together confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice until mixture is thick but pour-able.
  6. Let bread cool in pan 15 minutes, then remove from pan and place on a wire rack to continue cooling. Spoon glaze over bread in a zig-zag pattern.

Notes: This makes a great breakfast bread.

M & M Cookies

Source: Modern Honey

Ingredients:

1 cup Cold Butter (cut into cubes and microwave on high for a few seconds)
1 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons Sugar
2 large Eggs
2 teaspoons Vanilla
2 3/4 cups Flour
3/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 bag mini M& M’s (You won’t use the whole bag, you will add them to your batter to your taste)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, brown sugar, and sugar for 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl halfway through to ensure even creaming.
  2. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix for 1 minute longer.
  3. Stir in flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Mix just until combined. Fold in M&M’s.
  4. Scoop cookie dough onto baking sheets. Place extra M & M’s on top of cookie dough balls so the M & M’s show up after baking.
  5. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until the edges just begin to turn a light golden color. Remove from oven and let set for 5 minutes before removing from the cookie sheet.

Notes: I grabbed a bag of mini M&M’s on a whim in the baking aisle one day and I really do think they are preferable to regular-sized if you like soft cookies. I didn’t measure them out. I just added them until the dough looked good to me and pressed four on top of each cookie. How many you add on top will depend on how large you make your cookies.

Fruit Pizzas

Ingredients:

Sugar cookie mix of your choice (break and bake, slice and bake, or a powdered mix will work fine)

1 block cream cheese, softened

1 cup brown sugar

1 Tbsp vanilla

Fruits of your choice (Blueberries, strawberries, kiwis, raspberries are good options)

Instructions:

  1. Bake cookies according to package directions. Make sure the balls of dough are smooth so the tops of the cookies will be fairly flat.
  2. Beat softened cream cheese in mixer until whipped. Add brown sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth.
  3. Chop any non bite-sized fruit into smaller pieces.
  4. Serve as a build-your-own-fruit pizza bar or pre-make pizzas by spreading cream cheese on the cookies and adding assorted fruits on top.

Notes: These are so fun when you have company for dinner, especially during the summer. Kids can feel like they’re building their own dessert, and the icing is thick enough that it won’t turn into a total disaster mess-wise. And even if it does, it melts off with water. Grown ups can have fun, too, trying out different fruit flavor combinations. You can also make this but press the cookie dough into a greased 9×13 pan, bake, and top with dip and fruit once cooled. It makes a great 4th of July dessert with all red and blue fruits.

What treats have you been making during these crazy times? Any go-to recipes? Share them in the comments!

Easy Dinner Recipes

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If you’re like me, you dread coming up with dinner ideas each week. With a newborn baby and a husband who often works on call, getting dinner on the table is the last thing I want to deal with in a given day. With that in mind, I’m sharing some of my easy, go-to recipes. I’m not a food blogger, so there are no fancy pictures, just straightforward, fool-proof meals. The quantities listed make enough for two people in our household. One of those people is built like a Hemsworth brother and we still usually have leftovers, but if you’re feeding a family with kids, you may need to double some of the ingredients.

  1. Crockpot Hawaiian Chicken
    • Ingredients:
      • 2 chicken breasts
      • 1 can sliced pineapple in water or pineapple juice
      • Lawry’s Hawaiian or teriyaki marinade
      • 1 cup water
      • Minute rice (follow box directions for serving size)
    • Instructions:
      • Place chicken breasts in crockpot. Pour water over chicken.
      • Pour marinade over chicken.
      • Layer pineapple slices over chicken. Pour in rest of slices/juice.
      • Cook on low about 6 hours.
      • Prepare rice according to box directions.
      • Shred chicken and serve over rice.
    • Notes:
      • Choose whichever marinade gives you the flavor you want. The Hawaiian marinade is very tangy. The teriyaki is sweeter. I generally use a whole bottle of marinade because YOLO. I also use Minute rice because I cannot cook. We make one cup of rice and it’s plenty for the two of us.
  2. Sausage, rice, and beans
    • Ingredients:
      • 1 Turkey Sausage (link, not ground)
      • 1 can black beans, drained
      • 1 cup Minute rice, prepared according to box directions
      • 1 Tbsp olive oil
    • Instructions:
      • Slice sausage into bite-sized rounds
      • Heat olive oil in a skillet
      • Brown sausage in skillet once oil is hot
      • Add in beans and rice. Cook in skillet until sausage has reached desired brown-ness (I realize that sounds idiotic, but again, I’m a bad cook)
    • Notes:
      • This recipe is so simple, it’s name is just a list of the ingredients. I honestly don’t think I can legally call it a recipe. We buy a Hillshire Farms turkey sausage, but I don’t think there’s a huge difference between brands. I wouldn’t get ground sausage because I don’t think it would go as far as the link. You literally cannot mess this up. One thing I do is add the rice to the skillet before it has fully absorbed the water in the pot, that way it soaks up some of the juices from the sausage.
  3. Crock Pot White Chicken Chili
    • Ingredients:
      • 2 chicken breasts
      • 1 can yellow corn, drained
      • 1 can white beans, drained
      • 1 can diced tomatoes
      • 1 boxed chicken broth
      • 1 pack white chicken chili seasoning or taco seasoning
      • Shredded cheese (optional for serving)
      • Sour cream (optional for serving)
      • Tortilla chips (optional for serving)
    • Instructions:
      • Literally dump all ingredients in the crock pot and walk away. Cook on low around 6 hours.
    • Notes:
      • Andrew and I hate spicy food, and our definition of spicy is pretty broad. If you like a little more kick, you can get diced tomatoes with green chilies and/or opt for a spicier seasoning. This is also a great recipe to make for a group. Just double all the ingredients.
  4. Dutch oven ham & white beans
    • Ingredients:
      • 1 ham steak, diced
      • 1 can white beans
      • 1 boxed chicken broth
      • Minced garlic, to taste
    • Instructions:
      • Add all ingredients to dutch oven
      • Cook covered on medium heat, time will vary (see notes)
    • Notes:
      • The cooking time for this depends on if you get a ham steak that is pre-cooked or not. It should specify on the package. If you get a pre-cooked steak, you technically only need to let it sit in the Dutch oven until it’s heated through. If it’s not pre-cooked, dice & follow package directions for cooking…then add it to the Dutch oven to simmer with the other ingredients. For an even quicker option, buy diced ham. For some reason I’m a diva and I don’t like the way the pre-diced ham tastes, so I always just slice up a ham steak. The longer you let this recipe simmer, the more flavorful the beans will be. We usually put it on the stove an hour before we want to eat and let it cook the whole hour, turning it to low once the ingredients are heated through.
  5. Honorable mentions: other easy dinner ideas
    • Taco night-chicken or ground beef, lettuce, shredded cheese, etc. I think we all know what goes in a taco. Keep these types ingredients on hand and you can also do quesadillas, enchiladas, etc. by mixing and matching with seasonal ingredients.
    • Walmart deli pizza-so much cheaper than having pizza delivered and, in my white trash opinion, just as tasty.
    • Sandwich melts-Bust out the George Foreman and turn it into a panini press. We do tuna melts, ham & cheese melts, etc.

As you can probably surmise from this list, cooking is not my strong point. Please share in the comments if you have other easy meal ideas!