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Monday, July 02 2007
It is summertime and the living should be easier – at least in the kitchen. Our environment gives us everything we need to create simple, delicious, healthy meals. It is up to us to slow down long enough to enjoy the reward. With extended day light hours, and no need to plague our children about homework, dinner time can take on a whole new quality.

Change things up a bit this summer and have fun with these straightforward dinner ideas. Even the pickiest eaters will be won over.

Monet in the Kitchen:
Allow the vibrant colors of summer fruits to become your palette. Take hold of a large white plate or attractive tray and arrange slices of watermelon, kiwi, peaches, mango, grapes, cherries, apples and strawberries. This good-looking arrangement can become your table’s centerpiece. Add a small number of bowls of various yogurts around the table and your hungry family can dip to their enjoyment. Warm a loaf of crisp French bread, wrap it in a celebratory cloth and add it to the table. Arrange some sliced cheeses and smoked or roasted turkey slices, and you’ve got an easy does it, display that is good enough to eat.

Contribution is Key:
Less controlled summer days give kids the chance to join in meal preparation. When kids cut the carrots chances are they will eat the carrots. You might even assign your older kids a specific night to select and prepare the menu (with you as their backup chef). Offer them a few ideas such as “breakfast for dinner”. The new communal networking site for moms, MomJunction.com, recently posted an easy, tried and true Mac and cheese recipe:

Picnics Indoors:
Even if it’s raining outside think “picnic.” Who said a picnic needs to only be in the great outdoors? Pitch a small tent in the living room or use paper plates in the dining room. The idea is simplicity and a cheerful advance to mealtime. Buy precooked meals from Send a Meal. You can often find organic, barbecued, or even oven roasted chickens for a low price. Bring together a large salad from the salad bar or buy a Caesar salad in a bag. Lastly, pick up a bottle of vanilla frozen yogurt and some chocolate chip cookies. When you get home all you will need to do heat your meal, add it to the Caesar salad and scoop some frozen yogurt between 2 cookies, wrap them in cellophane and freeze for dessert.

Collaborate:
Produce a weekly summer potluck dinner gathering with neighbors. Bring back to those beach days where everyone contributed to a joint family dinner; enlist your neighbors to join you in creating the ultimate summer easy potluck, one night a week. Your kids will love the helpful feel where gathering together is what counts.
Posted by: AT 11:21 am   |  Permalink   |  Email