Sunday, April 26, 2009

Wanted: Fuss Free Summer Weather Dinners

April in New England is a schizophrenic weather month. We’ve experienced February-like 30 degree days and July-like 80+ degree days, like this past weekend. What is even weirder is yesterday the temperature went from 40 something degrees at 8:00 a.m. to 80 something degrees at 2:00 p.m. It seems like Winter drags on forever where I live, but can change to Summer with barely a hint of transitional Spring weather.

I grew up in the Mid-Atlantic region in an area that had predictable 4-season weather:

Spring: March, April, May
Summer: June, July, August
Fall: September, October, November
Winter: December, January February

Now I live in New England where the seasons are the same according to the calendar, but in reality are like this:

Spring: Half of April, May, half of June
Summer: Half of June, July, August
Fall: September, half of October
Winter: Half of October, November, December, January, February, March, half of April

What is the point of all of this seemingly mundane weather talk? The point is, I live in a climate where it seems the cold weather lasts so long that when the mercury finally rises, I’m completely taken by surprise. Just as I go from sleeping in flannel pajama’s one night to my cotton shorts and t-shirts the next - my poor hubs, I really should start wearing sexy night clothes again - I go from cooking casseroles and roasts one day to making salads and sandwiches the next.

When I planned my weekly shopping trip, I had planned for more days in the 40s and 50’s, despite paying attention to the weather forecasts, and knowing 80 degree days were soon to be upon us. Chalk it up to being stuck in a winter rut. I guess I have to live through a couple of weeks of summer-like weather to actually start doing all of those life-style transitions that should take place when the seasons change, such as unpacking my summer clothes from storage, and putting the winter clothes away.

Which brings me to my dinners for this weekend, which did not go as planned. For example, look at what was planned, and what we really had:

Planned - My famous lasagna with fried eggplant.

Reality - I didn’t want to stand around layering lasagna on such a beautiful evening - we went out to dinner to celebrate the great weather. We had Chinese (hubs choice).

Planned - Broccoli and cheese stuffed chicken breast (on sale) with whole grain rice, and some kind of frozen vegetable.
Reality - I ended up making the lasagna this time. I didn‘t mind the work as much since it was Saturday - but it was a weird choice for hot weather especially since I was frying up pieces of eggplant in the 80 degree heat.

Planned - Fish sticks (kid friendly), baked potato or French fries, and frozen corn on the cob.
Reality - Fish sticks, whole grain rice intended for Saturday, and a salad of romaine lettuce, shredded carrots, corn, avocado, and chipotle ranch dressing.

Ok - so by Sunday I was sort of getting the hang of warm weather fare, but with more 80 degree temperatures tomorrow, I don’t feel what's on tomorrow's menu (heavy broccoli and cheese stuffed chicken intended for Saturday, served with baked potato intended for Sunday, and my old standby frozen vegetable) is really appropriate. I’m concerned I won’t feel like eating what I planned, and may end up running out to the store to pick up prepared potato salad - not good for our grocery budget.

While these past couple of days have been unseasonably warm, the indication is that summer is approaching. Consequently I need to change out my arsenal of cold weather dinner recipes / ideas with more warm weather fare. At the moment my culinary creative well has run dry. On top of that, I’m one of those people who finds salads labor intensive. I would rather throw a roast in my crock-pot than chop all of those vegetables. I need some quick easy warm weather dinner ideas! Once I come across a good recipe or two I may share them. In the meantime, feel free to send your ideas my way.

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