No Heat Dinners

No Heat Dinners to keep the kitchen cool

When I was little, we didn’t have central air in our house. My parents had a window unit air conditioner in their bedroom window that cooled their room and the short hallway to a bedroom my sister and I shared. During one especially hot summer, we would set up the card table in the bedroom to eat. It was just too hot to eat in the kitchen.

And the meal of choice was Chef Salad. Cool iceburg lettuce, chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, lunch meat, sliced American cheese all topped with Seven Seas Green Goddess dressing or maybe Russian dressing.

Side note: Remember that Green Goddess Dressing from the 70s? I think it disappeared for a while, but now Kraft is selling it. I haven’t tried it since I was little.

Chef salad still makes a great dinner on a hot evening, but there are some other good no-heat meals too.  Here are a few that will keep you and the kitchen cool.

gazpacho done

 

Gazpacho

This cold soup is full of garden veggies.  It’s a great way to use all that zucchini!

tomato-sandwich

 

Tomato Sandwich

Admittedly, this is a pretty light meal for dinner.  But if you’ve got garden fresh tomatoes, what else do you really need in life?

Peach Chutney Chicken Salad

Peach Chutney Chicken Salad

This 15 minute recipe calls for using homemade peach chutney that you’ve already frozen.  You can skip that and use store-bought chutney instead.  Or go for this Chicken Salad recipe with grapes and pecans.  Use rotisserie chicken to keep it cool and quick.  (The photos on that post are old and not great, but the recipe is wonderful.)

tuna tomato salad done

 

Summer Time Tuna Salad

There’s no mayo in this version.  Instead the tuna is served over sliced avocado with plenty of tomatoes and other goodies.  This is one of my favorites!  It’s quick and easy to make too.

What are your favorite no-heat dinners to beat the sweltering summer heat?

 

Print Friendly

When illness derails even your simplest daily plans – survival mode meals

Survival Mode Meals

I’m going to be honest – the last month has been stinky.  I’ve been dealing with a virus along with migraines twenty out of the last twenty five days, including one episode that lasted for over 48 hours.  I bet you’ve had times in your life when illness (yours or someone close to you) takes all your energy, leaving nothing for even the most basic routines.  I’m not even dealing with anything series or life-threatening, but it still saps all my resources.  I can only imagine that when the diagnosis is more serious and severe, it would all take an even bigger toll.

It’s discouraging and disheartening.  The whole time the Eat at Home Challenge was going on, I was struggling to get dinner for my family or some days, to even make it to the table myself.  My plans of sharing our meals on Instagram and creating new recipes fell by the wayside.  Even the nights I did make dinner, I didn’t find enough energy to take photos.

It left me feeling like a bit of a hypocrite as I encouraged others to make meal plans and eat at home, while we were making do with quick runs to the grocery and more restaurant trips than normal.

But it also made me realize that there are seasons in life when focusing on meal planning and cooking is not the right timing.  That’s the season I found myself in and maybe that’s where you are (or have been) too.

Some seasons call for survival mode.

Here are some things that have gotten my family through this (hopefully) temporary situation.  Maybe some of these ideas will help you too.

1.  Be kind with yourself.

It’s okay to cut things out of the calendar, pare down the housework to bare minimum, and have the easiest dinners ever.  This season of illness and recovery are temporary.  There will be a season of thriving later on when you can get things back the way you like them.

2.  Fall back to your easiest meals.

If you find something you or a family member can easily make and that is tolerated on a sick stomach, it’s okay to have it regularly.  There’s no prize for variety in this season.

3.  Don’t worry about big grocery trips.

I usually shop once a week and try to keep extra trips to a minimum.  During the last month though, we’ve made more grocery stops than I can count.  It just wasn’t possible to think through what we might need or want more than a couple days out.

4.  When you start to feel better…

~ Make a plan for simple meals.  The slow cooker is your friend, as it can be loaded in the morning when energy is higher.

~ Set backs happen.  Try not to get discouraged as you recover.  Focus on the progress you’re making.  If you need to grab food from a restaurant one night, it’s okay.

~ As your energy returns, try making something simple to stock the freezer.  I made a double batch of meatballs the other day and put half in the freezer.  It made me feel like I’d accomplished something and we have something easy and homemade for later.  You can do the same by doubling a favorite casserole or soup recipe.

I’d like to know what has worked for you as you pull back together after a “survival mode” time.

 

Print Friendly

Toffee Brownies {4-Ingredients}

Have you ever had a brownie craving, but missing ingredients to make them and only cake mix on hand instead of brownie mix?  I think you’re going to love this recipe from Kim.  She uses a cake mix to make some deeply chocolate brownies that are studded with Heath toffee bits!

I love Heath candy bars and I love brownies, so it was only natural that I put the two together! Since I also adore quick and easy recipes, this dessert only requires 4 ingredients.

Toffee Brownie Ingredients EAH

If you are not a fan of toffee, you can easily substitute your favorite candy or chocolate chips. I’ve made these with mini peanut butter cups, Rolo candies, chocolate chips, and white chocolate chips! What can I say, they are so easy to whip up, and there are so many possibilities!

Toffee Brownies EAHThey may not be the most photogenic dessert, but disappear quickly every time I make them! Also, this recipe contains no eggs, so it’s great for anyone with an egg allergy or who doesn’t eat eggs, and with so few ingredients it’s a great “first” recipe for kids. My children enjoy getting in the kitchen and baking up goodies, and this is the perfect rainy day activity (with the added bonus of getting my chocolate fix!)

4 Ingredient Toffee Brownies EAH

Toffee Brownies {4-Ingredients}
Quick and easy Toffee Brownies, made with just 4 ingredients!
Ingredients
  • 1 box of chocolate cake mix
  • 1 box of instant chocolate pudding mix (4 serving size)
  • 1¾ cups milk
  • 1½ cups Heath Toffee Bits or desired candy/chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease/spray a 9 x 13 baking dish. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine milk and pudding mix. Whisk together until pudding begins to thicken.
  4. Add dry cake mix. Stir until combined.
  5. Spread batter into prepared baking dish.
  6. Top with toffee bits.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and allow to cool - melted toffee is HOT!
  9. Cut into squares and serve.

*Note: I have vanilla pudding pictured with the ingredients, and chocolate pudding listed in the recipe. I usually use chocolate pudding, but you can substitute different flavors. You can also add additional chocolate chips or toffee bits to the batter if desired. You really can’t have too much chocolate in my opinion!

Kim M. is a contributing writer for Eat at Home, as well as the mom behind the mayhem at Makin’ it Mo’Betta. There you will find kid-friendly recipes, quick and easy meals, and many, many more desserts!

Print Friendly

‘Sweet Heat’ Slow Cooker Chex Mix

This recipe from Kim looks amazing! This is the kind of thing my family would devour at the beach!

I love a Chex Mix for several reasons…I can make a huge batch at once, there are tons of different flavor variations, it’s great to have on hand for hungry kids that are constantly in and out of the kitchen, and it’s super easy to throw in a ziploc bag and carry with you on long car trips or to the beach. However, we’ve been experiencing quite the heat wave this week, so turning on my oven, and opening it every so often to stir up a batch of chex mix was not appealing to me.

Crock Pot Chex Mix EAH

Crock-Pot to the rescue!! Yes, the slow cooker comes in handy all year long! I couldn’t quite decide which direction I wanted to go with this mix…did I want sweet? Did I want spicy? I kind of wanted both, so that’s what I did. A sweet and salty combo with just a little bit of heat. You could easily increase the heat on this, but I knew my kids wouldn’t go for it, so I kept it mild. It actually sneaks up on you – the first few bites taste sweet and salty, and then you get a little kick from the cayenne.

Sweet Heat Chex Mix EAH

And yes, those are little Minion cheese crackers. According to my 7 year old, the Minions taste better than the traditional square crackers! As with almost all chex mixes, you can add whatever you like or have on hand.

'Sweet Heat' Slow Cooker Chex Mix
A sweet and salty combination with just a little heat, that comes together easily in your slow cooker.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups of each:
  • Corn Chex cereal
  • Rice Chex cereal
  • Wheat Chex cereal
  • Cheerios cereal
  • Pretzels
  • Cheese Crackers
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon seasoning salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon, or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1 bag Pretzel M&M's (or candy of choice)
Instructions
  1. Place all of the cereals, pretzels and crackers into slow cooker.
  2. In a small microwave safe bowl, melt butter.
  3. Add brown sugar, Worcestershire, seasoning salt, cinnamon and cayenne to butter. Mix well.
  4. Pour butter mixture over cereal mixture and stir to coat.
  5. Cover with lid and set slow cooker on low for 2½-3 hours, stirring every 30 mins. (Make sure to stir down to the bottom to make sure it doesn't burn)
  6. NOTE: to prevent condensation from dripping onto cereal, you can place a clean dishcloth between the lid and slowcooker base.
  7. Once done, spread out on wax paper to cool.
  8. Add M&M's and store in air tight container.

Just beware…it’s hard to stay out of!

Kim M. is a contributing writer for Eat at Home, as well as the mom behind the mayhem at Makin’ it Mo’Betta. There you will find kid-friendly recipes, quick and easy meals, and many more desserts!

Print Friendly

Chipotle Ranch Chicken Pasta

The Eat at Home Challenge is off to a great start! Nearly 1800 people have joined.  I’m doing the challenge right along with everyone else, but last week I was sick all week.  Summer isn’t supposed to be for viruses, but this one sure did lay me flat!  It’s put me a little behind and made the Eat at Home Challenge a bit more challenging for my family.  We haven’t eaten perfectly planned meals, but we have eaten.  Fingers crossed that this week is better!

Today, we’ve got a recipe from Kate.  This one looks fantastic!

I know the summer stereotype is lazy days but my summers are always busy. The longer days always seem to keep us out and about later, which often means less time to make dinner. This pasta has been one of my favorites so far this summer. It’s a recreation of something I got at a local café and it comes together in about fifteen minutes. If you cook the pasta the night before, you can have it on the table in about five.

ChipotleRanchChickenPasta

I prefer to serve this cold – it feels more refreshing on a summer night, especially with fresh-from-the-garden corn and tomatoes – but you can heat it if you want to.

ChipotleRanchIngredients

Chipotle Ranch Chicken Pasta
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. mini penne
  • 1 lb. cooked chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 ear of corn, grilled and cut off
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • 8 oz. Colby Jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup ranch dressing
  • 2 tsp. chipotle sauce, or more, to taste
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the ranch dressing and chipotle sauce.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the pasta, chicken, corn, tomato and onion. Pour the dressing over and toss to coat. Add the cheese and stir until evenly distributed.
  4. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Kate is a home cook and new mom  from New Jersey. In addition to sharing recipes with Eat at Home readers, she blogs her cooking adventures at Kate’s Recipe Box. When she’s not in the kitchen, you can find her reading or tending to her garden.

Print Friendly

Slow Cooker Hacks to Make it Really Work for You

Using a slow cooker is such a time saver in the kitchen.  There’s nothing as satisfying as knowing your dinner is prepped, cooking and will be ready to eat when you are.  But it’s possible to get even more use from this appliance.  Check out these tips to really up your slow cooker game.

5 Hacks to Make Your Slow Cooker More Awesome

1.  Cook more than one type of food in the slow cooker at a time.

By using foil to wrap different parts of the meal, you can cook a whole meal that retains separate flavors.

using foil in slow cooker

BBQ Chicken Dinner in the Slow Cooker

Ham and Hash Brown Casserole

Try this method with steak, smoked sausage, pork chops or chicken.  Add packets of potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash…  Top with corn, peas, green beans, broccoli… And season each packet a little differently, if you like.

The possibilities are endless.

2.  Make your slow cooker smaller.

If you’ve got a large crockpot, but need to cook a small quantity of food, place a small casserole dish inside the crock.  This makes the inside much smaller, which keeps your food from overcooking.

3.  Add a timer to make it programmable.

slow cooker and timer

DIY Programmable Slow Cooker isn’t a perfect system.  It won’t switch off to a warm setting when the cooking time is up, but it does work for things like overnight oatmeal.

4.  Make it easier to clean with one of these three methods:

Line it with foil – Lynn from Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures lines her slow cooker with foil to make clean up easier.

Use a plastic liner.  We use these on vacation.  I don’t mind cooking on vacation, but no one wants to scrub a dirty crockpot.

Spray with cooking spray before adding food.  This really does help the clean up process.

5.  Cook with a water bath for things like cheesecake or oatmeal.

Pouring some water around the bottom of a dish set inside the slow cooker creates a water bath.  This prevents foods from drying out or getting overcooked.  It works great for things like cheesecake and oatmeal.

Slow-Cooker-Chocolate-Cheesecake-with-Pretzel-Crust

 

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for the Eat at Home Challenge!  Find out more here.

P.P.S. We’re also having a Facebook Party with prizes on July 16!

Challenge_Email

Print Friendly

Join the Eat at Home Challenge!

Challenge_Blog

 

I’m really excited today to invite you to join the free, two week Eat at Home Challenge!  It’s easy to get off track with meal planning and dinner making.  The next thing you know we’re hitting the drive-thru too often or we get in a rut of making the same meal over and over again.

I’ve got help for you though!  Sign up now to be part of the Eat at Home Challenge.  It starts July 16 and will be full of tips on meal planning, pantry stocking, quick cooking, and grocery shopping tips.  The goal is to eat at home for at least six dinners a week for two straight weeks.  This is a great time to build the eat at home habit and take control of dinner time before school schedules start again!

Pop over here and enter your email to join the challenge!

Print Friendly

Italian Sausage Sub Casserole

I love this recipe that Eat at Home writer, Kim brings us today!

I love Italian sausage, and use it in the place of, or in addition to, ground beef in many recipes. I also really like Italian sausage subs. You can usually substitute it in the place of meatballs on a meatball sub or chicken in a chicken parm sub. I can not tell you how many of these I ate during my first pregnancy! Maybe that’s why my oldest loves sausage. This recipe is basically a sub sandwich in casserole form, and comes together quickly and easily.

Sub Casserole Ingredients EAHI used a cheese bread loaf purchased from my grocery store’s deli, but any good thick bread will work. You can’t have too much cheese in my house! I also used turkey Italian sausage, reduced fat cream cheese and light mayo to cut the calories a little. You can use your favorites. Speaking of favorites, the sauce pictured – Newman’s Own Sockarooni, I highly recommend it!

Sub Casserole Collage EAH

I usually cut this recipe in half, so pictured is an 8 x 8. The recipe below is for a 9 x 13 casserole dish. You could also add peppers and onions, but I have to pass on that to get my kids to eat it. I even have to puree my sauce so there are no chunks! Any one else have super picky eaters?

Italian Sausage Sub Casserole EAH

Italian Sausage Sub Casserole
All the flavors of an Italian Sausage sub sandwich, in casserole form!
Ingredients
  • 1 package Italian Sausage links (4-5 links)
  • 1 (1 pound) loaf Italian bread
  • Olive oil, for coating bread
  • garlic powder, optional
  • 1 (8 ounce) brick Cream Cheese, softened
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 (28 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
  • ¼ cup water
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cook Italian sausage links according to package directions. Cut into 1 inch chunks.
  3. While sausage is cooking, slice bread into 1½ inch slices. Spray or brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Broil until lightly toasted on each side.
  4. Place toasted bread in a single layer in a 9 x 13 casserole dish.
  5. In a small bowl, combine cream cheese, mayo, Italian seasoning and pepper.
  6. Spread cream cheese mixture over bread, and top with ½ the cheese.
  7. Place Italian sausage over cheese.
  8. Pour spaghetti sauce and water over the sausage and top with remaining cheese.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes, uncovered.

I do love a casserole, and this one is a keeper!

Kim M. is a contributing writer for Eat at Home, as well as the mom behind the mayhem at Makin’ it Mo’Betta. There you will find kid-friendly recipes, quick and easy meals, and lots of desserts!

Print Friendly

Backyard BBQ Sides – Salads, Hot Sides and More

Backyard BarbequeIt’s the season for backyard barbecues!

I think one of my favorite things about backyard barbecues is the way it brings the family together for not just an hour at dinnertime, but an afternoon of fun and memories cooking and eating out under the big blue sky. There’s something about eating outside, off of the grill that just gives an extra special element to dinnertime. Not to mention an extra-good kick of flavors!

While grilling up meat and veggies is obviously the main part of a Backyard BBQ, the sides are equally as important!  A good side can really bring your meal to a new level and depending on what you serve, you can take your BBQ in all kinds of fun directions. I like getting creative with my sides, and there are so many delicious things you can choose from. Some of them are super simple. Some of them you can make in advance. All of them are really good and things we come back to time and time again.

Now, get out there and enjoy your summer evenings with some good BBQ and some of these sides!

 

pickles

Almost Homemade Pickles

Balsamic Strawberries

Balsamic Strawberries

Easy Peachy Fruit Salad

 

Easy Peachy Fruit Salad

grilledzucchinidone_thumb.jpgGrilled Zucchini

Green Bean and Tomato Salad

 

Green Bean and Tomato Salad

broccolitomatotortellinisaladdone.jpg

Broccoli Tomato Tortellini Salad

Parmesan fettucini done

 

Parmesan Fettuccine

cucumber tomato salad done

Cucumber and Tomato Salad

parmesan-zuchini-and-summer-squash-done

 

Parmesan Zucchini & Summer Squash

cucumbers-and-onions-doneCucumbers and Onions

pastasaladdoneclose.jpg

 

Pasta Salad

hashbrown casserole

Hashbrown Casserole

Orange and Red Onion Salad - simple!

Orange and Red Onion Salad

macaroni-and-cheese-done

Mac and Cheese

corn-on-cob-with-butter

Microwave Corn on Cob

AuGratin Potatoes in the slow cooker

Au Gratin Potatoes

loaded-cheesy-potato-casserole

 

Loaded Cheesy Potato Casserole

bacon and tomato pasta done

Bacon Tomato Ranch Pasta Salad

oven fried potatoes done

 

Oven Fried Potatoes

asian broccoli salad done

Asian Broccoli Salad

hawaiin-coleslawHawaiian Coleslaw

Layered Cole Slaw

 

Layered Cole Slaw

237Detox Salad

Homemade Baked Beans in the Slow Cooker

Homemade Baked Beans

4 Tips for Making Perfect Pasta SaladPerfect Pasta Salad

potatosaladdone_thumb

 

Potato Salad

Pressure cooker mac and cheese

 

Pressure Cooker Mac n Cheese

One Pot Stove-Top Mac & Cheese

 

One-Pot Stove Top Mac n Cheese

slaw-ingrQuick Cole Slaw

ranch veggie salad done

 

Ranch Veggie Salad

roastedredpepperandbroccolidone_thumb.jpg

Roasted Broccoli and Red Pepper

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Simple Lettuce Wedge Salad

 

Simple Wedge Salad

ColeslawwithTomatoRedOnionandJalapenoPlate

 

Slaw with Tomato and Jalapeno

slow cooker corn casserole

Corn Casserole

corn salad done

 

Summer Corn Salad

sweetpotatofriesdone_thumb.jpg

 

Sweet Potato Fries

tomato-and-artichoke-heart-salad-done

Tomato Artichoke Salad

tropical salad done

 

Tropical Salad

watermelon chili powder

 

Watermelon with a Kick

Wild Rice Salad - redeeming leftover rice

 

Wild Rice Salad

winter fruit salad done

 

Winter Fruit Salad

Print Friendly

Cumin Pork Roast & Beans — 30 Days of Whole Food Summer Slow Cooker Recipes

Need a healthy dinner on a budget?  Try this one out and see what you think.

Cumin-Pork-Beans-Tacos

 

For a lot of us, money can be pretty tight. Feeding our family healthful meals can be a challenge sometimes. But this one? It’s inexpensive. It’s very simple but it’s also delicious. And kid approved!
I’d definitely try it out on your family and see what they say, but I would almost bet it’ll be met with a resounding  round of applause.

I really love tacos because you can top them with whatever you like. I love guacamole, but you can fill them up with all sorts of goodies. And if you aren’t sure what to serve along side, check out this post for some fun ideas to make this the perfect, well rounded dinner.

30 Days of Whole Food and Garden Fresh Summer Slow Cooker Recipes

 

Looking for easy, healthy meals you can make in your slow cooker? We’re sharing 30 Summer Slow Cooker Recipes that use Whole Foods and garden fresh produce this month! Click here to find all the recipes in the series.  Would you like a menu of slow cooker meals, along with a color-coded grocery list all done for you?  Find your perfect Eat at Home Weekly Meal Plan here.

Email1

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Print Friendly