Monday, August 11, 2014

Summer Grocery Bag

I have a confession to make.  I have not done much meal planning this summer.  Spontaneous schedules, afternoon bike rides and sunny days have gotten the best of me.  I love summer, and this summer I have had very little interest in spending lots of time in the kitchen (or even planning meals, for that matter.)  As a result, most of our meals have been simple favorites or outings with family and friends.  Along the way, however, I have found these summer favorites.  Each recipe is ready with fresh, summer ingredients in 30 minutes or less.

Day One
Pasta with fresh tomato sauce from Martha Stewart Living
with cranberry romaine salad and grapes
I pureed the sauce because my kids are skeptical of diced tomatoes, 
and we used penne pasta.  The meal got rave reviews.  Top with capers, chopped basil and parmesan for an extra treat!
Photo and recipe from

Day Two
Fresh mozzarella and tomato sandwiches with homemade pesto,
a fresh fruit and veggie
We've all been there:  returning home exhausted from summer adventures to find a basil plant that is ready to burst.  Or, perhaps I just can't fire up the kitchen or we are in need of an easy picnic solution.  This meal fits the bill.  I can send the kids to pick basil, and by the time they are back I have sliced the mozzarella and tomato.  A few whirs in the food processor and our pesto is ready.  Any favorite bread will do; lately we have enjoyed pretzel rolls.  Here is my favorite pesto concoction:

Happily Ever Johnson Pesto:
2 cups fresh basil
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 cup almonds
1/4 fresh parmesan
1/4 cup olive oil
Squeeze of a 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Combine ingredients to a food processor and process using the pulse feature to desired consistency.

Day Three
Thai Larb in lettuce wraps with quinoa
If you have had one too many burgers, but there is still ground beef in your summer fridge, then this recipe is for you.  You can use any ground meat with delicious results.  Brown the meat, toss with the sauce and serve with quinoa in lettuce wraps.  My kids love these "Thai Tacos."

Day Four
Saag Paneer from Indian Cooking Unfolded
with basmati rice, pineapple and sweet corn
We tried this as a new tofu recipe and loved it.  I puree the sauce ingredients in a food processor for simplicity, spend a few minutes over the stove and the kids devour every bite.

Day Five
Trader Joe's chicken apple sausages wrapped in crescent rolls
with a favorite fruit and veggie
Are you sensing a theme to our summer meals?  This one is perfect for a late night dinner emergency when everyone is hungry and ready for bed, or for an mobile evening dinner main dish.  Wrap the sausages in the crescent rolls and cook according to the crescent roll package instructions.  

It takes creativity, fortitude and a quick prayer now and then to put dinner together during these special summer months.  More and more, I appreciate it when my children pray "give us this day our daily bread" during our Lord's Prayer, because I know I need the grace to make it happen!

Blessings on your kitchen.

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