Plump burgers sizzling on the grill…juicy steaks shrouded in smoke, emanating a tantalizing aroma…hot dogs and sausages bursting at the seams as red-hot heat permeates their skin. The summer ahead is filled with endless possibilities for months of slightly charred, smoking delights to enhance our meals. However, it you'd rather be chilling than grilling, breathe a sigh of relief. Recipes that contain less than 10 ingredients and take no more than 30 minutes to prepare are as refreshing as a dip in the pool.
First, I asked a friend who juggles a full-time job, husband, and three children for her favorite go-to dinner when the natives are restless in her hectic household. Oriental Steak Supper has come to the rescue more than once for this multi-tasker. An added bonus: her kids eat their vegetables without even realizing it.
To make this easy dish, she coats a large non-stick skillet with oil and adds 1-1/2 pounds of sliced sirloin steak and a bag of frozen Oriental vegetables. If you prefer to select your own, add slices of fresh green and red bell peppers and a medium onion. After the beef and vegetables are cooked (about 8 minutes), she adds a teaspoon of minced garlic, 14-1/2 ounce can of diced tomatoes, 1-1/2 cup of ketchup, and 1/2 cup of Worcestershire sauce. She mixes everything well, covers the skillet and cooks over low heat for 15-20 minutes. Water can be added to reach desired consistency. After spooning a serving over everyone's plate of rice or egg noodles, the natives are quiet for the night.
Another friend is a fan of P.F. Chang’s Chinese Bistro in Ridgeland. A recreation of one of her favorites from the restaurant, chicken lettuce wraps, is quick and easy. Four boneless chicken breasts are placed in a hot skillet in enough olive oil to cover the pan. When the breasts are cooked through, 1/2 cup of General Tso’s Sauce (found in the condiment aisle) and 1/4 cup of teriyaki sauce are added to the cooked chicken. After the sauces are warm, the chicken is removed from the pan onto a separate plate. After it has cooled, the chicken is chopped and shredded with a sharp knife, then stirred back into the warm sauce.
My friend’s children rebel at the idea of the lettuce wraps, so she substitutes flour tortillas. A tortilla is placed on four dinner plates, then topped with a serving of shredded chicken, single portion from a bag of romaine and cabbage salad mix, a little grated carrot, a sprinkle of sliced almonds, and chow mein noodles. Each tortilla is rolled up burrito-style and served with a side of General Tso’s sauce.
Lastly, a friend agreed to share her recipe for Fake-Out Chicken on the condition that her name is not revealed. The reason for the anonymity? Whenever she makes this dinner for her family, they marvel at the appearance and taste of this rich and creamy dish. Actually, it’s simple, but her family is none the wiser.
To make Fake-Out Chicken, wrap eight boneless, skinless chicken breasts in two packages or jars of dried beef, then arrange in rows in a greased 13x9-inch baking dish. Mix together a can of cream of mushroom soup, 1/2 cup of cooking sherry or milk, and a cup of Parmesan cheese. Pour over chicken and bake in a 350-degree oven for 35-45 minutes until tender.
As usual, I saved the best for last. I’ve made no secret of my love of sandwiches. Sharing a timesaving sandwich recipe that can be prepared the night before and transforms into a delicious meal was a no-brainer. It’s the perfect portable meal for a car trip to the beach when roadside fast food is the only option. Likewise, it lends itself to lunch on the patio, picnic by the lake, or a last-minute dinner on demand.
Stir up this giant sandwich the night before, pop it into the refrigerator, and the next day enjoy it in whatever situation you find yourself. Summer ’17 will be one you’ll never forget.
Summer ’17 Survival Sandwich Loaf
2 loaves Italian bread
8-ounce package cream cheese (use low fat if you desire)
1 cup shredded cheese (your favorite)
3/4 cup green onions, finely diced
1/2 green olive, finely diced
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
1 pound sliced deli ham
1 pound sliced roast beef
1/2 cup sliced dill pickles or sweet pickle relish
Cut loaves in half lengthwise; hollow out some, not all, of bread on both halves, set aside. Combine cheeses, green onion, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce and seasoning salt well; spread over both halves. Layer ham, roast beef and pickles or relish on bottom half of bread; press on top half of bread. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours; preferably overnight. Cut into large slices and serve. Can add sliced tomatoes, lettuce and other condiments if desired.