Summer Cooking Tips: Cool Off in the Kitchen!

Enjoy summer's bounty

Children, even dyed-in-the-wool vegetable haters, love choosing dinner from vegetable gardens or roadside produce stands.

Serve a vegetable meal, with corn-on-the-cob, sliced tomatoes, and washed raw vegetables. Don't forget the fat-free ranch dressing for dipping!

When you do cook, make it count

Firing up the gas grill? Don't stop with just tonight's entree of barbecued chicken breasts. Add several more pieces and hold the barbecue sauce.

Next night, serve half of the chicken shredded, over salad, and add dressing made from walnut oil and raspberry vinegar. The following night, reheat the remaining chicken, shredded, with salsa, crushed garlic, a squeeze of lime juice and a dash of oregano, and serve delicious chicken fajitas, wrapped in steaming flour tortillas. Cook once, but plan to eat at least three times.

Delegate!

Even die-hard non-cooking spouses have an elemental attraction to the open flame, signified in our society by the barbecue grill. Let them at it!

Add vegetable kabobs and foil-wrapped corn-on-the cob to the evening's grilled entree for the full, flame-kissed experience.

Pick a packet

Children can help, too. School-aged children enjoy making packet dinners to cook over the grill.

For each family member, place a square of heavy-duty aluminum foil on the counter.

Peel a potato, then use the potato peeler to shave about half an inch of thin-sliced potato in a burger-sized round on top of each square of foil. Sprinkle the potato with pepper and a shake of dehydrated onions.

Shape ground beef into a thin patty, and place on top of the potato mixture. Top the patty with another half-inch of potato, some more pepper and dehydrated onion.

To enclose the packet, bring two sides of the tinfoil together and fold down at least three times. Do the same with each open end.

Grill for about 45 minutes over a medium heat, turning each packet once. A real child pleaser, packet dinners give the cook the night off!

Pre-pack a picnic basket

An organized home manager outfits a picnic basket with tablecloth, napkins, disposable plates and utensils and lots of plastic cups.

Add a can opener and some serving spoons, and include wheat crackers, and firm cookies like animal crackers.

Keep it in the car trunk, next to your ice chest. Next time it's dinner at the soccer field, toss peeled, washed veggies from the vegetable bin, the bottle of fat-free dressing, a can of barbecued beans, fruit, and sliced cheese into the basket, and go.

Take that, Colonel Sanders!

Think drinks!

Does your freezer contain some of those marvelous, plastic-gel coolers? It should. A jug of iced decaffeinated tea or fruit juice, snuggled up against a gel cooler or two inside your auto-trunk ice chest quenches thirst without the calories and caffeine—not to mention expense—of fast-food sodas.

Consider, too, outfitting each family member with personalized plastic water bottles. Stored in the refrigerator, they'll help keep water consumption up, and they're easy to grab on the way out the door.

Outfit your car for summer

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A summer auto survival kit makes it easy to enjoy the season.

An empty, lightweight ice chest is invaluable for bringing frozen groceries home from the supermarket.

Add a jug of water and a stack of washcloths or cleaning cloths in a plastic bag, and you can handle sticky hands and sandy faces anywhere.

Happy Summer!

Most of all, enjoy the summer fun. Say "yes" to your children, whether it's Ice Cream Sundaes for Dinner or Can We Have A Lemonade Stand?

Summer is a time for making memories. With a little planning and preparation, the organized home manager can create golden days that will light a child's mind for life.

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