Eat Well, Spend Less: The Art of the Summer Potluck

There’s nothing like a lingering, warm summer evening to inspire one to entertain. The children’s bedtimes have long gone out the window, friends and family are in town, and the garden is flourishing – its fruit ready to take center stage on the dinner table.

A barbecue with the guys one week, a garden party with the ladies another week; there is no question that entertaining in summer can eat a chunk out of the monthly food budget. But not gathering with friends is entirely out of the question, as summer entreats us to fill the back patio to overflowing and let the laughter spill onto the neighboring yards.

So how do we receive guests (lots of them) and still have money at the end of the summer for school supplies? This is the subject we’re tackling in our July edition of the Eat Well, Spend Less series. My blogging cohorts and I are talking about Entertaining on a Budget.

My solution to entertaining on a budget is simple: The Potluck. But not just any pot-luck. It must be an organized event, with plenty of communication between host and guests. Read on to learn how to plan a successful potluck, as well as how to be a gracious potluck attendee.
[Read more…]

The Benefits of Cooking with Canned Fish (Recipe: Salmon Croquettes)

Written by Megan of Stetted.

Fish is something that we used to eat more of, and somehow moved away from. I like to eat fresh fish, but sometimes our schedules get filled at the last-minute and we’re stuck having to throw a gorgeous piece of fish in the freezer for another time.

It always works out fine in the end, but I hate that period of ingredient anxiety and feeling of urgency attached with buying fresh fish.

Salmon

Luckily, I’ve taken a second look at another option.

Until recently, I hadn’t considered canned salmon. Like everyone else I grew up with canned tuna, but for some reason canned salmon held a spot in my mind also occupied by anchovies and pickled herring. However, prompted by the desire to get more omega-3s in my diet without spending big bucks on fresh sustainable fish, I grabbed a pack of cans from my local warehouse store.

I’m happy to relay that canned salmon can be used any place you often use tuna: salads, sandwich spreads, filling in homemade sushi, and more. [Read more…]

More Warm Weather Batch Cooking

I‘ll bet that you didn’t expect to see homemade salad dressing as the top photo for a post about batch cooking, did you?

The term ‘batch cooking’ refers to dishes that are made in double or quadruple batches, and frozen for convenience. It usually refers to vats of chili, seas of lasagna, and spaghetti sauce by the gallon.

Here’s the thing. For me, batch cooking (and baking) applies to all aspects of feeding the family, not just hearty, ‘wintery’ main dishes. Summer is a busy time and I’m sure you don’t want to hang out forever in the kitchen any more than I do. Right? We want to get in there, be immensely productive, and then hit the beach with girlfriends. Or in my slightly less glamorous case, the plastic kiddie pool on the back lawn.

Batch cooking in summer allows you to get a leg up on dinner. These suggestions are not necessarily entire meals unto themselves, but all provide the base of wholesome -and delicious- summer fare. Last summer I introduced my warm weather batch cooking theory and covered ideas such as pizza dough, homemade pesto, and even a do-ahead dessert. Be sure to revisit that post for more inspiration!

Now we’ve just wrapped a series on frozen treats, but as everyone knows, man cannot live on popsicles and ice cream alone (although some of us would sure like to try), so here are few ideas for more substantial fare.

[Read more…]

Frozen Treats: Fresh Strawberry Granita

Beat the heat with our week-long series on frozen treats! Written by Kristen of Dine and Dish.

I remember it like it was yesterday… my first taste of strawberry granita. The fresh strawberry flavor combined with the sweetness of the sugar had me hooked at first bite.

It was in a little township outside of Pittsburgh, PA, of all places. We were vacationing with my sister-in-law and the temperatures had shot up well past 100 degrees. We had reached the end of a fun-filled day when my sister-in-law introduced us to a little place called Rita’s Ice.

The lines were long but she assured us it was well worth the wait. I devoured a strawberry granita ice treat topped with vanilla custard. I loved it so much I went back the next day and the next and the next. When we returned home from our trip one of the first things I did was look to see if there was a Rita’s near us. Nothing. I was so disappointed…

Desperate for my new found favorite treat, I even went so far as to see what starting a Rita’s franchise in our town would entail. My husband talked me down and promised that it probably wasn’t necessary to go to those kind of measures. I guess he was right.

It never crossed my mind to try to re-create the strawberry granita we tasted at Rita’s in Pittsburgh – until now. Little did I know that such deliciousness could be made in my own kitchen with just a few simple ingredients and my freezer. I can have my strawberry granita in Kansas and I’m a happy girl!

[Read more…]

Frozen Treats: Tropical Fruit Punch Popsicles

Beat the heat with our week long series on frozen treats! This is a guest post from Naomi of Bakers Royale. Welcome, Naomi!

Summer has just begun and the thermometer is already shouting numbers over 90. Add some humidity to that and a heat-induced laziness will overcome me faster than I can wipe the sweat off my forehead.

As for my boys, the flipside of a heat-induced laziness is crankiness, so to keep everyone moving and happy, I keep my freezer well stocked with fruit popsicles. Full of fruit, easy to make and costing a under a dollar a popsicle, I’m can feel good about us eating one, two or a few in one sitting.

The base for this popsicle is coconut. Being that coconut can be very sweet and strong on its own, I gave this popsicle some balance with raspberry tartness and lending a cooling hand is the citrus edge of the Clementine tangerines.

[Read more…]