Easy Summer Cooking: How I’m Simplifying My CookingJun 22nd

Photo found here

If I had it my way I would cook one meal a week. Things have been going my way for a while, and as a result my family is scrounging for their supper in dismal corners like cans of Dennison’s chili, or the last-minute pizza delivery (no cheese for Chaucer, of course—so basically, just bread and sauce) and the infamous, always a hit, always on hand PB&J. Yes, I fail pretty royally on the cooking end of my “homemaking.”

It wasn’t always this way, and it certainly isn’t always this way. It just happens from to time to time. And I need to be done with this wishy washy nonsense.
 Once upon a time there was an energetic and excited bride. She wanted to blaze the trails of homemaking and channeled her zest from June Cleaver and Martha Stewart. It was all so fun and new, this playing house business. We had never lived together before marriage so it was, in every respect, new territory. Beyond the joy of beautifying the apartment, I was very passionate about my supposed “duties” in the kitchen *ahem*
And so that kitchen was stocked, by a ridiculously expensive trip to Stater Brothers. We didn’t have a system organized that would tell us to how stock our pantry. I’ve heard some genius ideas out there. Ours wasn’t one of them. 
I wanted my cupboards to look like my Mom’s cupboards. And while I couldn’t think off the top of my head why we needed both red and white wine vinegar we bought them. Or Cornmeal. Why did Mom have it in her cupboard and what for crying out loud would she make with it? It was a tense shopping trip. He was like a kid getting to shop without mom for the first time. Except he didn’t know that I had turned into my mother in that grocery store. It scared him a tad. But our two heavily loaded carts gave him hope that just maybe the strawberry Wahoos and Nutter Butters and Flaming Dorito’s had found their way back in.
They didn’t.
 I made these elaborate dinners and my very young husband would invite his still-single friends over so that he could show off the glory that was his life. His idea, not mine. They’d get the tour of our little married students apartment. It never failed to hear some snickering as they saw the bedroom, remember, they were all still very much single. Then they’d sit down at our perfectly set table for a perfectly made meal. Chicken-fried steak and gravy (Bakersfield boys expect that sort of thing), a meaty, juicy stew, twelve cheese tortellini, STEAK, you name it, I tried to cook it.
There’s something about being a newlywed that turns the clock back to 1952 for a girl. Suddenly we’re sporting aprons and pearls and greeting our husbands at the door with a steaming plate of pot roast. Or at least that’s what we think we should be doing. For a couple of weeks.
This is us on our honeymoon. Dorks. I have bigger teeth than him.
As we both gained the expected 15 pounds of marital bliss, my enthusiasm for cooking gave way to the diet. Oh, and there was that added detail about me being a college student. Yes, this isn’t 1952, honey. Let’s crack a package of Top Ramen and carefully slurp it over our laptops. That was the more realistic version of me. And him.
Fast forward six years and here we are, still in school, with two very hungry little chillens. It’s a lot more difficult to bread and fry a steak, while mashing potatoes, while steaming some broccoli, while looking smoking hot…with two urchins pulling at my once-sexy apron strings. No thank you. Someone pass them the peanut butter, please. Mama’s eating cereal.
But that doesn’t really work. Because I have this massive guilt trip about failing at my job, my kids are getting peanut butter ulcers, and my husband probably still remembers that enthusiastic little wife that he showed off to all his friends. Crap.
I’ve figured out a system that is pretty maintainable for our household. So that means it should be a breeze in most homes. Here’s my formula: I make three meals a week, and my husband “gets to” make one. Then we just eat the leftovers for the rest of the time. It works. I’ve been simplifying this already highly simple plan by searching on Pinterest. My goal is to find and make EASY summer meals. Oh, and healthy too. I thought I’d share some of the winners with you. That’s right. This whole thing was a roundabout way to give you a few simple recipes. What can I say? I’m wordy.
Sweet and Sour Lemonade Chicken with rice and stir fry veggies.
Visit this blog. They have SO many recipes on there!
Let me just say, the lemonade chicken is pretty good—its appeal lies in the fact that it’s super easy. Yes, I’ll make it again. It’s pretty dang easy to stir fry up some veggies and since I doubled the recipe there were plenty of left overs. We had it over egg noodles another night and that was really yummy, too.
BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches. Or tacos. Or salad. Depending on the day.
Photo found here
Yum. So maybe pork isn’t the healthiest of meat, but this was delicious and did I mention, easy? My favorite way to have it was on a salad with some blue cheese.
Baked potato bar.
Photo found here. Simply Fit Mama is a great source–go check it out.
Perhaps we did pop open a can of Dennisons. Perhaps. Baked potatoes are so simple they’ll make you weep with joy. And I used this method to cook them—they turned out perfect.
BBQ chicken (This was Matt’s end of the deal) and Grilled Zucchini and Corn Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette
Photo and recipe here
This salad is phenomenal. The zucchini and corn just pop with flavor. And avocado is my cooking muse so I love everything about this recipe. You should definitely try it!
Photo and recipe from Iowa Girl Eats
I have Matt make a bunch of the chicken for me and we just store it in Ziplock bags in the fridge. Its perfect for making burrito bowls and quesadillas throughout the week. Plus, with all of these other meals I usually have everything on hand for a Chipotle inspired bowl. I feel so much better about feeding this to my kids than that canned chili. Oh well. Baby steps.
So there you have the evolution of my cooking. It’s fascinating, right? What are your cooking secrets? Any special recipes for me to try this summer?

One Response to Easy Summer Cooking: How I’m Simplifying My CookingJun 22nd

  1. Cha Cha June 26, 2012 at 4:12 pm #

    I, too, fell into the “I'm gonna be June Cleaver” trap. Oh, early marriage … Hahaha! But it sounds like you have nothing to be worried about – nobody's starving, and you have a plan and some great recipes. Thanks for sharing!

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