Perfect Summer Meals… got any you’d like to share with the class?

I am REALLY full of salmon right now.

I ate my weight tonight in Asian marinated salmon that I grilled on a cedar plank. It looked a little somethin’ like this:

(The part of My Actual Salmon will be played tonight by this picture I found on the intrawebs.)

I fixed a side dish of Moroccan curry pilaf and a big green salad with a few early lettuce leaves from my garden mixed in. It was good!

Before you get too impressed with my mad culinary skillz, I’ll come clean and confess that this was not a slave-over-a-hot-stove-for-hours kind of meal. The marinade? Came straight from a bottle– Honey Asian Teryaki Sauce that I picked up in the fancy-schmancy food aisle at T.J. Maxx. (Ya’ll know I have a tendency to lose my mind and buy all manner of weird things in that aisle. I can’t help it. It’s like a sickness. However, at least I actually used this stuff– that Passion Fruit Applesauce is still sitting in my pantry.)

Also, that wonderfully healthy and trendy whole grain pilaf came from a pouch, courtesy of Kashi:

So there, I just outed myself! Believe me, I am not above using bottled this or packaged that– whatever it takes to get the dang meal on the table without cooking all afternoon. And you should probably also know that though Madi enjoyed it, Charlotte actually shuddered at the sight of it, like if I was trying to get her to eat cat food or something. She ended up nuking some leftover mac and cheese for her dinner. *sigh* Which is why her family nickname is “Meat ‘n Three.” That child has never met a white food she doesn’t like.

I’m trying to nudge the family towards healthier eating, though Lord knows I’m not what you’d call a health food nut, myself. I am a Southerner after all, I do indulge in red meat and the occasional fried food and I’ve inherited my Daddy’s sweet tooth– the man eats a bowl of ice cream every night of his life and has lower cholesterol than anyone in the family, go figure. But in this season of gorgeous fresh fruit and bountiful farmer’s market vegetables, I’m definitely going to try to broaden our culinary horizons around here.

Which brings me to…

What are some of your healthy food favorites? Let me hear from you! Recipes are welcomed, but even just a description will do. (Now, I’m not talking anything hard-core here– I don’t think the Taffs are going to be turning vegan any time soon, and the only person in the family who will even touch tofu is Madi and that’s only because I used to dip it in ketchup and poke it in her little mouth when she was a baby and too young to say, “WHAT IS THIS CRAP?!”)

One of my standard summer pasta dishes is Pasta Pomodoro, which is basically just angel hair pasta topped with chopped fresh tomatoes from my garden, snipped bits of fresh basil, and garlic tossed in a little olive oil. I like to add crumbled up feta cheese or fresh-ground Parmesan and sometimes throw in a handful of kalamata olives or marinated artichoke hearts. It’s fast, easy, delicious and lends itself to all manner of variations. I found a picture that shows a basic version:

Doesn’t that look good? If I wasn’t up to my gills in salmon right now, that would make me really hungry.

Anyway, jump in here and help me out you guys–let’s talk food!

18 Responses

  1. MostlySunny

    Well, I used to cook when the kids were home. Somehow they always wanted something to eat. Now that that’s over and they are cooking for themselves (often calling, “Mom, how do I fix…”). I love it! The youngest one is a GREAT cook; the oldest thinks there’s nothing to eat if it’s not in a jar or has to be microwaved. He’s learning. He’s realized he HAS to learn or he will starve. Hmmm…Makes sense now why he’s the skinniest one in the family! I call him “boney butt”.

    OK. So what do the husband and I do now that it is just us two? We eat a big lunch at work, then snack and graze at home. So I have to have some snacking and grazing foods available, some of which are:

    ~Weight Watchers 0 points spaghetti sauce (I make a big pot and freeze it. We should be OK thru 2010). Put this on whole wheat pasta.
    ~Grilled chicken w/Sweet Baby Ray’s BQ sauce.
    ~Salad stuff
    ~Jell-O “No Sugar, No Fat” chocolate pudding (cook ‘n serve, not instant). Top this off with Cool Whip “Free”.
    ~Chicken & Peppers – a long time favorite. Cut chicken into bite size pieces; saute in OO (olive oil); add chopped peppers & onions (I now use frozen); drain; salt with Lowry’s Seasoned Salt; add cooking sherry (1/2 – 1C or as much as you want!). Heat thru and serve on whole wheat rice (Uncle Ben’s 90 second stuff is good). Sometimes I add itty-bitty bits of carrots.
    ~Dijon potatoes – bit-sized red potatoes with a Dijon, OO, tyme mixture; baked for 30 minutes. Yummo! (Rachel Ray expression).
    ~Baked potatoes – with any kind of topping.

    And…TA DA…our most favorite thing of all – SKINNY COWS!!!! (We LOVE the Cookies ‘n Cream ones. Such indulgence).

    I’m not a whole heckuv a lot of help to you am I!? Your food looks so much prettier…

  2. LindaB

    I’m from the South too, Tori, and my idea of a healthy meal is fresh, organic, green vegetables of any kind cooked with fat back, or bacon, lard or real butter, salted or brined, cooked until it’s no longer recognizable, and eaten in copious amounts! But I’ve turned a corner…..a WIDE turn, at that! Since hubby’s recent heart attack, I’ve had to change my ways instead of just talking about it……because I don’t want to be referred to as “widow”! I use olive oil, canola oil, and heart healthy “spreads” now……and less of them. And lots of chicken and turkey. I wish I could say that we like healthy cooking better now—-that’d be a lie. But we sleep better. And feel better. And at our age, that’s good enough.

    I’m still new at this, so I don’t have any fantastic health-enhancing recipes. I’m anxious to hear some from other readers, though. I absolutely love the pasta pomodoro—-we’ve had that before, sometimes with cannelli beans thrown in for extra protein. It’s easy to make and delicious.

  3. tori

    MostlySunny– Oooh! Dijon potatoes! Good one!

    LindaB– Yeah, I had you in mind the whole time I was writing this… Thought you might like some new recipes, too. The cannellini beans are a very good idea, love that.

  4. BrownEyedGirl

    The food looks great!! I love the gourmet goodie aisle at TJ Maxx – I think of whenever I’m there :o)

  5. chall

    Delurking because food is my favorite subject and trying to keep it healthy is always part of it.

    I like fresh tomatoes sliced and drizzled with a little balsamic vinegar (and garlic olive oil, but it’s not necessary) with chopped basil and salt/pepper.

    Green beans (even the frozen kind) are simply addicting if you trim and wash, then pat dry. Toss with olive oil (I like the garlic kind but you can use regular and add garlic if you don’t have it…fresh chopped is better but powdered will do) and salt/pepper. Then spread out in an even layer in a shallow pan and roast at 500 degrees for 10-15 minutes…until they turn a little brown and wilt a bit. I like them better when cooled off a bit.

    Strawberries, and pretty much any kind fruit, are awesome tossed with a little orange blossom honey (found at Whole foods here). Sometimes I add a bit of water if I want a saucy version. You know, to drizzle over pound cake or shortbread! :)

    Another fav is a Mexican type dip mixture. Corn, black beans, pintos (or white northern), tomatoes, chopped onion, chopped green pepper and hominy. One great thing about can use any combo of fresh, frozen or canned that you have and use more or less of whatever you have on hand. I rinse the beans if they are canned and gently combine. Then juice a couple of limes, add some honey, salt/pepper and fresh chopped cilantro (you can also use dried) to taste. Toss and let it sit for at least an hour to let the flavors meld. (personally, I like it best the next day) Sometimes I put it over tacos but mostly I eat it with tortilla chips. If you REALLY want to be healthy you could use (gag) baked chips.

  6. justThelma

    I’m aaalll about cutting corners by using packaged ingredients. If I can find a way to get a meal on the table while spending the least amount of time in the kitchen, I’m all over it. So here are a few of our summer favourites:

    – To a large package of cooked and drained rigatoni, add ~2 lbs of cooked, ground beef seasoned with a package of Sloppy Joe or Chili seasoning, lots of sliced mushrooms and a couple chopped onions, 1 large can of diced tomatoes, a bottle of pasta sauce, and a bag of frozen chopped peas and carrots, thawed in the microwave. I up the nutrition value by using whole wheat pasta, extra lean ground beef, low-sodium tomatoes, and low-fat pasta sauce. Add a large salad made with mixed greens, grape tomatoes, and english cucumbers, drizzled with a Light Italian dressing, and you’ve got a full meal. Bonus: the recipe fills a dutch oven, so if time is short or it’s too hot to cook, dinner is already prepared for the next few days.

    – For potlucks, nothing beats a stir fry for a quick meal. I cut boneless, skinless chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces and cook in olive oil. Then add a couple packages of frozen stir-fry vegetables (the more exotic, the better) and let steam until done. Just before serving, I season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with Teriaki Sauce and Lime Juice, tossing to coat. Also works well for a family dinner, served with a large salad and whole wheat rolls.

    – Finally, when we’re in the mood to barbecue, I like to cook *everything* outside. Marinated steaks, a (metal) pan of sliced bell peppers (red, green, yellow and orange), chopped onions, and sliced mushrooms, tossed in olive oil and covered with tinfoil, and a couple potatoes wrapped in tinfoil, partially cooked in the microwave, sliced and seasoned with margarine, salt and pepper. I serve this with a large salad and whole wheat rolls. Best part about this one is clean-up is a breeze!

    Now I’ve made myself hungry, so am heading for my afternoon snack of grapes and low-fat cheese.

  7. auburn60

    When I show my husband pictures of Tori’s dinners or LindaB’S general old ‘food porn’–well, if I turn up missing look for him in either Nashville or Michigan.

    Usually we grill EVERYTHING during the summer but our grill ‘gave up the ghost’ a few weeks ago so we’ve ordered another one and it’s not here yet. It’s some weird tile thing that looks sort of like a rocket.The picture shows a small Japanese man standing beside it–I’m hoping he comes with it to do the actual cooking.If it doesn’t work out as well as we hope, we can always run a side business cremating small animals and road kill.
    Along with whatever is on the grill I try to provide lots of fruit salads with melons and bananas (to help prevent dehydration as Matt is always in the heat during the summer) and the kinds of vegetables that lend themselves to grilling. There’s also a summer squash–it’s white and shaped like a satellite–very hard to find but has a really good flavor;we like that.
    We have my husband’s special smoked Boston Butts (no jokes,please)several times during the summer.

    {He’s looking over my shoulder–says he’s gonna bring you one
    someday so you can taste how good they are. Seriously, check
    your driveway in about 3 hours.}

    Those are good later on barbeque sandwiches and in soup and stew.
    I just realized how un-creative we are. Have to experiment more this summer.

  8. gracelynn

    Well one of my favorite summer dishes is one that my grandmother used to make for our family reunions and has been passed on down – sunflower strawberry salad. She’d take the strawberries and combine them with an apple, a few grapes, celery, and raisins. Then she’d stir in some strawberry yogurt and top it off with the sunflower seeds. We always kept it chilled until we served it. I’m not big on fruit but I’ve always loved that one. If we are grilling we have anything from hamburger and hotdogs, to chicken, ribs or steak. My cousin or uncle usually handles that end of the meal. However, my aunt does make some fabulous baked potatoes. She takes the potatoes after they are baked, scoops them out and adds butter, milk, mayonnaise, salt, pepper and then folds in some crabmeat. Put the mixture back into the potato skins and then sprinkle a little cheese on it and let it bake about another half hour. They are truly delicious if you love crabmeat (and most of my family does). Add a few fried squash and zucchini from my mom and we have the perfect cookout combo.

  9. rockin robyn

    salmon…. salmon is my weakness. I Just had it tonight. Love it!!! I had broiled salmon cakes with whipped potatoes and coleslaw… O.k. so it was at a restaurant with friends… I’m a bachelorette and though I love cooking it’s no fun cooking for one. How about rainbow trout stuffed with crabmeat, a side salad and a tall glass of rasberry ice tea? O.k. you got me – another restaurant two nights ago with my aunt.

  10. GRITSinNC

    Since I’m old and alone, I don’t cook much. Can’t believe how good some of those frozen dinners are these days. :o)

    I’m a Rachel Ray fan…she cooks fast & easy. Per Rachel, I’ve started roasting asparagus sorta like chall above does green beans…spread asparagus tips over baking sheet, coat with chopped shallot and EVOO (extra virgin olive oil for those who’re not familiar with Rachel Ray), sprinkle with salt & pepper, and roast in oven. She also adds taragon and lemon juice but I don’t bother. Be sure not to overcook…it’s only good IMO if it’s still a bit crunchy.

    Another RR goodie is cherry or grape tomatoes tossed in an oven-proof skillet with sauteed garlic & chopped onion and EVOO of course, add a bit of sugar, red pepper flakes, and salt then roast in oven for about 15 minutes or so. She adds sherry but I don’t. Delish.

    The way I did potatoes when grilling out was to slice each potato in about 1/4 inch slices, holding it together as good as possible, put a slice of onion and butter between each slice, salt & pepper, wrap tightly in foil…hoping it kept it’s potato shape, and grill until done.

    And if you haven’t eaten corn on the cob grilled in the husk, you haven’t lived. Remove some silk, soak in water till the husks are good and wet, put on grill and grill until husks are brown…what a treat. Tortures me to think about it because I can’t eat corn anymore (health issue).

    After a long life and a huge collection of great recipes, I could go on forever but I’ve bored you long enough.

    Though I was always a cook-from scratch person when I was younger, I’m all for anything possible that’s pre-packaged so go for it, Tori!

  11. GRITSinNC

    One more that’s worth sharing. Got it from one of the Mr. Food blurbs on the local news and I usually don’t even like him. it’s called Summer Pizza and I love it!

    Spread out some store bought pizza dough in your pan, prick it with fork, brush dough with olive oil and chopped garlic, spread sliced Roma tomatoes over crust, top each tomato slice with a slice of fresh mozzerella, bake at 450 for 12 minutes or so, sprinkle with fresh chopped basil (I sprinkle with salt also).

    Since I just need small ones and since I’m lazy these days, I usually use split pita bread for the crust…it’s actually good, and Roma tomatoes are the only kind I buy for anything anymore. Hard to find a good tomato anymore, even in the summer in the South, and Romas are nearly always good…firm and not mealy.


  12. Barbara M. Lloyd

    This is one y’all probably know about, but it’s so easy I thought I would mention it anyway…in case you have forgotten about it for a time.

    6 Vidalia Onions (or as many as you want)
    Take off the skins and then cut out a hole in the center of the onion.
    Into that hole put: about 1/4 tsp. beef granuales
    and tiny chunk of butter

    Put the onions in a microwave safe casserole dish with a lid….and microwave until the onions are completely tender.

    These are delicious and great with steak…or chicken

    They also can be made up the night before and put in the refrigerator; then brought out to room temperature before popping them in the microwave.

  13. GRITSinNC

    Barbara, that one is delicious. Been thinking about making myself one just recently. Yep, ONE. Just me here. I usually wrap mine in foil and cook in the oven. I’ll see if I have something the right size for one onion and try the microwave next time. And the more beef granules, the better IMO. :o) Got the idea from Paula Deen. Did you?

  14. Barbara M. Lloyd

    Gritts, I’ve had that recipe for so long I just can’t remember where I got it….but Paula Dean is a good bet.

    And, I agree with you about it being delicious; however, you need to use sweet onions, so I strongly recommend Vidalias.

  15. Phyllis R

    Ok, so I am late with my entry…I really don’t have an excuse (except Facebook). LOL My all time favorite summer recipe is pasta salad…I know I should use whole wheat pasta…but haven’t found the cork screw(don’t know its real name) pasta. Anywayyyyy, I boil the pasta til done…add Zesty Italian Salad Dressing and then I go crazy with all kind of fresh veggies…black olives, radishes, carrot, green onion and blades, cucumber…sometimes I add fresh squash. Toss all together and refrigerate until cooled completely…Lawdy have mercy I could eat the whole bowl right about now. LOL

  16. GRITSinNC

    Phyllis, that sounds wonderful…and torturous for me since I have a health issue that prevents eating raw fruits & veggies, and not even olives. Oh my, it sounds so good. Enjoy some for me, okay?

  17. Phyllis R

    Well GRITSinNC, maybe you could leave out the veggies and just eat the pasta with the salad dressing on it? Might be good, but then I love the taste of it. LOL

  18. taralynn819

    I frequently reference this awesome blog. Speaks for itself:

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