Friday, June 23, 2017

4 easy summer meals!

I've gotten so much good feedback on the easy family meals series I post from time to time.  You guys asked and I am answering... today I've got four easy summer meal ideas from my family to yours.  As if making dinner isn't hard enough all year, add in the heat and the kids' busy summer schedules and making dinner turns out to be the absolute WORST in the summer.  These are four easy meals that we have enjoyed recently and I think you will like them too.  Besides grilling (which is my husband's domaine) I don't cook meat as much in the summer - prefer lighter meals with lots of veggies that come together in a snap.  Ain't nobody have time for slaving over a stove in the summer!


Burrata and Pea Salad (above)
This is one of my favorite... my mouth is watering just thinking about it. If you have never had burrata it is a fresh mozzarella with a creamy/liquidy center and it's AMAZING.  I layer the spinach on a plate, top it with the burrata and then split the burrata with a knife so the creaminess opens.  Then I sprinkle fresh peas on top, a little chopped mint and top with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar (or you could use your favorite pre-made balsamic vinaigrette).  And oh man! It's good! The peas and mozzarella are packed with protein, so no meat needed.  In full disclosure, my kids aren't interested in this at all.  So it's a perfect night for them to go for cereal or chicken nuggets.  I can hardly get my kids inside for dinner these days any way so usually my husband and I eat together early and then when they collapse starving inside I whip something up for them. So it's a win for everyone. 

Quinoa Salad (above)
This meal is more of a formula than a recipe.  I cook up a healthy serving of quinoa and then mix in whatever veggies I have on hand.  Corn, cherry tomatoes, yellow pepper and avocado were what I had in the fridge recently. I also love adding cucumber, diced apple, spinach or carrots if I have them on hand.  Then I let the quinoa cool a little, mix in chopped veggies and top with a vinaigrette and some cheese (feta works too!) and voila. Dinner.  So easy and so delicious.  

Bruschetta Pasta Salad (above)
I tend towards pasta and grains in the summer, but if you want a break from the gluten, we really loved these quinoa elbows. We couldn't even tell they were gluten free.  This pasta salad is perfect for making ahead and then having in the fridge for when you get home from the park, pool or beach. Or heck, bring it with you to the park, pool or beach!  Prepare the pasta and let cool.  Then dice up the tomatoes, mozzarella, chicken and basil.  Then toss with (you guessed it) a balsamic vinaigrette. My kids LOVED this, which is surprising because they tend to be pick eaters. 

Baked Gnocchi (above)
If I make gnocchi in pretty much any form my kids will eat it.  You could easily double this recipe by doing two packs of gnocchi because you will likely have extra sauce and meat.  Prepare the gnocchi according to the directions while you brown the meat.  Then carefully (the gnocchi can break) stir the finished gnocchi into the beef with sauce.  Then I take two 8x8 pans (or 1 if you are only making once batch) and fill them with the gnocchi/meat/sauce mixture.  Top with crumbles of goat cheese (or just shredded mozzarella) and bake at 400 for about 15 minutes.  You can also pop them in the freezer or fridge to bake up later in the week if you are a meal-prepper type.

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