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Easy Summer Dinners Anyone?

Easy Summer DinnersIf you’re like me, you’re always on the lookout for easy summer dinners. Come the hot, lazy days of summer, who wants to spend hours toiling away in the kitchen trying to put decent fare on the table day in and day out? The following summer dinners address a wide range of tastes, and you’ll find the side dishes particularly handy: delicious on their own, they also complement a wide range of main courses.

Blue Cheese and Avocado Burgers

Blue Cheese Avocado BurgersFor a super juicy hamburger, you need fat, so make sure you start with regular ground beef which has a higher fat content, i.e. avoid ground chuck, round or sirloin. For good measure, we’ve also added sweet Italian pork sausage. You also need seasoning, and this recipe includes plenty: Worcestershire sauce and onion (which combine to increase juiciness), garlic, fresh rosemary, salt and pepper. Bacon topping would take it, well, over the top… or simply add lettuce or tomato slices.

2 lbs regular ground beef
1 lb sweet Italian pork sausage
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup white onion, very finely minced or grated
4 cloves garlic, very finely minced or grated
3 tbsp fresh rosemary, stems removed and leaves finely minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Add all ingredients to a large glass bowl and combine thoroughly. Divide meat mixture into eight equal parts, then shape into ¾-inch thick patties. Place patties on a lined tray and use your thumb to create an indent in the middle to keep them from puffing up while cooking.

Patties without blue cheese topping need to cook over direct high heat on your grill for 8–10 minutes, depending on patty thickness. For blue cheese burgers, move burgers to indirect heat 2-3 minutes before they are done, top with blue cheese and close lid to allow cheese to melt completely. Serve on toasted buns with slices of avocado.

Chicken Wings with Honey Mustard

Chicken Wings with Honey MustardEasy to make, honey mustard chicken wings are great finger foods, making them a great choice for casual outdoor gatherings. Highly versatile, they can be tossed with all sorts of sauces or seasonings. Our honey mustard chicken wings sauce pairs beautifully with potato salad and all sorts of picnic side dishes.

Honey Mustard Sauce
1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 tbsp honey
¼ cup Dijon mustard
1 tsp hot sauce (optional)

Chicken Wings
3 pounds chicken wings
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Add chicken wings to baking sheet in a single layer, not touching or overcrowding. Season wings with salt and pepper; place in oven. Bake until skin is crispy, approximately 45-50 minutes.

About 20 minutes before wings are done, add garlic and butter to a saucepan; heat over medium high until garlic becomes translucent. Reduce heat to low; add honey and Dijon mustard and stir to combine. Simmer for a few minutes until honey dissolves completely. Remove from heat and stir in hot sauce (optional).

Add cooked wings to a mixing bowl and pour honey mustard mixture over them. Toss until coated; either serve immediately or place on a rimmed baking sheet (either lined with parchment paper or sprayed with non-stick cooking spray) and place under broiler for a couple minutes until brown and bubbly. Serve with your favorite side dishes.

Marinated Grilled Chicken Breasts

Marinated Grilled Chicken BreastsEveryone needs a quick and versatile grilled chicken recipe that consistently delivers great flavor. This healthy and delicious option fits the bill!

The best part about this recipe is the flavors go with just about anything else you want to serve, including grilled garden vegetables, leafy salads or more substantial sides, such as potato or pasta salad. To save time, you can double or triple this recipe to pull together quick lunches or dinners throughout the week.

4 8-oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Marinade for Grilled Chicken Breast
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tsp organic lime zest
3 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
2 tbsp fresh oregano (rinse & crush with fingers to release oils)
2 sprigs fresh rosemary (rinse & crush with fingers to release oils)
Salt and pepper to taste

Add marinade ingredients to a large glass bowl and whisk to combine. Add chicken breasts to a 1-gallon sealable freezer bag and pour marinade mixture on top. Seal back and turn to coat breasts thoroughly. Place bag in a bowl and refrigerate for 1-3 hours, making sure to turn the bag a couple of times to distribute marinade evenly.

Remove chicken from refrigerator and discard marinade. Grill breasts over medium direct heat for 10–12 minutes total, turning once. Remove from heat and let set for 5 minutes before serving.

Foil Packet Cooking

Foil Packet Cooking

The perfect cooking technique for hot days when you don’t feel like being in the kitchen, foil packet cooking isn’t limited to warm weather. You can prepare delicious foil packet meals in your oven year round. Though orange roughy fillets are used here, this technique can be used with any type of fish, lean protein and veggie combination.

You can also toss foil packets on the grill to enjoy a light and healthy meal in less than half an hour. Even better, clean up can’t get any easier: simply toss in the trash when you are done!

If you’re concerned about which foil side to use, I’ve always seen the matte side used on the inside. The shiny side would reflect more heat which would tend to dry up the ingredients rather than working up more steam. Just remember to use a heavier foil like Reynolds Wrap Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil to avoid tearing…

Our next two recipes (with oven as well as grill instructions for cookouts) deal with steamed orange roughy in foil packets. Feel free to serve with our quick pasta salad or select among our other side dishes with complementary flavors. You can also use fresh lemons or the preserved variety: just remember to add less salt: always taste first!

How to Bake Orange Roughy in Foil
Tear off 4 sheets of aluminum foil into sections large enough to fold over fillets, with a couple of inches extra on each side to allow for sealing. Place a filet slightly off center on each sheet and your chosen toppings and seasoning. To seal packet, fold aluminum foil in half over the ingredients. Fold the 3 open sides, one at a time, over several times to seal the packet completely. The packet should be sealed tight enough to hold in the steam, while allowing enough room for the air to expand.

Steamed Citrusy Orange Roughy in Foil Packet

Marinated Grilled Chicken Breasts4 orange roughy fillets
12 slices fresh or salt-cured preserved lemon
8 slices fresh lime
2 tbsp fresh cilantro (stems removed), chopped
1 tbsp fresh jalapeno pepper (seeds and veins removed), finely chopped
4 tbsp unsalted butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Follow above instructions on How to Bake Orange Roughy in Foil, but before closing your foil packets, add 3 lemon and 2 lime slices on top of each filet, as well as ¼ of the cilantro and jalapeno pepper and 1 tablespoon of butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Seal foil packets and bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes (if using grill, place on hot grill over medium direct heat and cook for approximately 8-10 minutes). Cook a couple of minutes longer if starting with frozen fillets.

To serve, open the foil packets carefully – keep in mind the hot steam! Discard lemon and lime slices. Transfer fillets to plates or serve in foil packets, topped with our spicy peach salsa.

Orange Roughy Packets with Oven-Roasted Tomatoes

How to Oven Roast Tomatoes
Oven drying is a great way to use up excess tomatoes from your garden or the farmers’ market. The process removes excess moisture, concentrating their flavor for a really sweet, delicious burst of flavor in each bite.

Slice tomatoes into 2” thick slices and place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle olive oil over the slices and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with fresh thyme leaves. Place in a pre-heated 200-degree oven for about 2 hours. When nicely browned around the edges, remove from oven and use immediately or store covered with olive oil in an airtight container in the refrigerator (for 1-2 weeks).

Orange Roughy Packets withOrange Roughy Packets & Oven-Roasted Tomatoes4 orange roughy fillets
4 oven-dried tomato slices
4 fresh or preserved lemon slices, cut in half
2 tbsp fresh thyme
4 tbsp unsalted butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and refer to How to bake orange roughy in foil above.

Place foil packet in preheated oven for 15 minutes, or on a hot grill over medium direct heat; cook for about 8-10 minutes. Add an extra couple of minutes if starting with frozen fillets. Open the foil packets (carefully avoiding the hot steam); discard lemon slices and serve in packets or transfer to plates.

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