In my humble opinion, summer meals should be quick and easy. Even though I love to cook, it is absolute torture for me to spend a beautiful summer day in the kitchen. I would much rather spend my time outside than in a hot kitchen. Summer for me is all about spending every minute than I can in my garden or relaxing by the pool or hanging out with my family - not alone in the kitchen.
I still want to feed my family great meals this summer - I just don't want to spend a long time preparing them. One thing that helps keep me from lonely dinner prep is to have Ryan and Courtney help me with at least one dinner a week. (They help on separate nights - learned that the hard way.) I also choose recipes that are super easy and quick to prepare. (I save the complicated and fussy recipes for the winter months when I'm stuck inside the house anyway.)
These grilled pork chops are the perfect summer meal - quick, easy, delicious. The trifecta of a perfect summer dinner. I threw the pork chops in the brine solution in the morning and let them soak all afternoon while I spent the day hanging out with the kids. When it was time to eat, my thin sliced pork chops were ready in minutes.
Combine brine ingredients and stir until salt and sugar are dissolved. Add pork chops and refrigerate 8-12 hours.
Grilled Pork Chops
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar
4 cups water
4 center cut pork chops
3 Tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon each onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, ground mustard and pepper
Remove pork chops from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Combine rub ingredients. Sprinkle over both sides of pork chops.
Grill chops until thermometer reads 145 degrees.
Add a few simple sides and dinner is served.
These grilled pork chops are delicious and they're so quick to prepare that you'll still have plenty of time left in your day to linger on the front porch swing.
I am doing my best to soak in every single minute of this summer. Lingering by the pool, sitting outside listening to summer storms, playing corn hole in the front yard - all of my usual summer traditions. I am sure not going to miss out on any of my favorite summer eats this year either - corn on the cob, barbequed chicken, watermelon, summer salads. We had every one of those summer treats on our dinner table last night and it was DELICIOUS. Summer on a plate.
I found this recipe for Barbequed Chicken in Cook's Country magazine. This recipe just screamed summer and it was the perfect recipe for my summer dinner menu.
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon white pepper
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
4 pounds chicken thighs
1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons barbeque sauce
1/2 cup chicken broth
7 cloves garlic (6 sliced thin, 1 minced)
3 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons hot sauce
2 Tablespoons apple jelly
Transfer chicken to a disposable pan. Pour broth sauce over chicken and place on grill for 30 minutes.
Remove chicken from sauce and place directly on grill grates. Brush with jelly sauce and continue to grill until cooked through.
Toss in a few summer classics like corn on the cob, watermelon and a fresh green salad and voila - you've got yourself a perfect summer meal.
All that was missing was a giant slice of strawberry shortcake to finish off this fabulous meal.
I can come up with more excuses to eat cake than anyone else I know. There are the usual cake occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, baby showers and weddings and then there are the less popular cake worthy celebrations like first day of summer, no cavity dental appointments, because it's a Monday... you get the idea. Let's face it - I can make any day into a cake worthy day.
Sometimes I have to get creative when I'm trying to come up with reasons to make a cake but lately - I've had plenty of cake orders to satisfy my need for cake baking without any crazy excuses. And for me - it's all about the baking and not so much the eating. I'm perfectly content to bake cakes and then pass them off to other people to enjoy. It makes me even happier to know that someone else is enjoying one of my cakes than it does if I were to eat it all myself.
Even though I don't eat all of the cake that I bake (because I would weigh 500 pounds) I still make it my goal to make them as delicious as I possibly can. One of the most popular flavors that I get asked to make is a classic yellow cake. I came across a new recipe for yellow cake on Browneyedbaker.com and decided to give it a try. It was so good that it has now become my go-to yellow cake recipe. So good in fact that I used them in my two latest graduation cakes.
2 1/2 cups cake flour , plus extra for dusting pans
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1 3/4 cups sugar (12 1/4 ounces)
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter , melted and cooled slightly
1 cup buttermilk , room temperature
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks , room temperature
3 large egg whites , room temperature
Separate egg whites from yolks.
Add egg whites to a mixing bowl and whisk 30 seconds. Add 1/4 cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Transfer whipped egg whites to a separate bowl.
Pour batter into a parchment paper lined, greased cake pan. (One recipe will fill 2 - 9" cake pans.)
Bake 23 - 28 minutes at 350.
Cool cakes on wire racks. By the way - I made 4 recipes of this delicious cake batter and filled 5 ten inch cake pans.
Just in case you're more of a cupcake person than a cake person, these also translate really well into cupcakes.
You can turn this yellow cake recipe into anything that you like. Let your imagination run wild. Just be sure and send me the pictures of your beautiful cupcake and cake creations when you're finished.
Dear long lost blog followers -
Although it may appear that I've forgotten about you and given up on the blog - that really couldn't be farther from the truth.
I've had a few setbacks this Spring - and an extremely busy catering schedule - but I'm happy to report that I'm back! Armed with a brand new (and super awesome) camera - I'm back to blogging my favorite recipes and the stories that make up my crazy life - and I couldn't be happier about that.
I am so in love with my new camera but there is a learning curve while I try and navigate this entirely new (and quite complex) machine. You'll have to bear with me as I fumble through this process.
I can't think of a better way to kick off a new season of blogging than with a recipe for fluffy Hawaiian Sweet Rolls. This Cook's Country recipe is fabulous.
Hawaiian Sweet Rolls
1 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup milk
6 Tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup honey
5 1/2 cups flour
1 Tablespoon rapid rise yeast
2 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla
Transfer dough to a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 - 1 1/2 hours.
Divide dough into thirds and then divide each piece into 6 equal pieces. Form each piece into a tight ball and arrange into 9x13 pan. The pan that I used was clearly not a true 9x13 because it only fit 15 rolls. I put the other 3 in a small rectangle dish.
Cover dish with plastic wrap and let rise 1 - 11/2 hours or until the rolls are almost up to the top of the baking dish.
Remove plastic wrap and bake rolls 20-23 minutes in a 375 degree oven. Brush warm rolls with additional melted butter.
Cool rolls on wire racks.
Hawaiian sweet rolls - waaay better than the supermarket version. You've got to try these - they're delicious.
I love these rolls so much that I ate 1 as soon as it came out of the oven. Then I ate the roll in the picture above because my new camera made it look soooo delicious. Hahaha.
I haven't published a new blog post in so long, you were probably starting to think that I'd given up blogging altogether. The truth is that I haven't been blogging because my camera is broken. Essentially, a food blogger without a camera is like a landscaper without a lawn mower. My camera is critical to my blog because lets face it - you visit the blog mostly for the pictures.
I am so accustomed to taking pictures while I'm preparing food that I store my camera in the kitchen. It's always within arms reach so it feels really strange to NOT have it by my side right now.
After a few tears and a few hundred hours on the computer researching cameras, I decided to take the opportunity to upgrade my camera instead of trying to repair a broken lens and flash. I'm not sure that I agonized this much over which house to buy but there are so many camera options out there - it was overwhelming.
The good news is that my new Sony mirrorless camera is ordered. The bad news is that is will take a couple of weeks for it to arrive. You can bet that as soon as it gets here though - I'll be snapping away. For now, I'll post this one final recipe with pictures from my Nikon D60.
Barbequed Chicken Calzones
1/2 recipe for pizza dough
1 cup shredded chicken
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1 cup barbeque sauce
1 cup mozzarella cheese, sliced thin
Fold dough over and seal edges by pinching seams.
Bake in a 400 degree oven or on a pizza stone on a grill.
Let cool slightly before cutting in half to serve.
I'm going to miss my Nikon DSLR camera. We logged a lot of hours together. It was in my hand as I traveled through Italy and Disney, Montana, Colorado, Florida and countless other vacations. I've hiked with it, run with it, baked with it and even tried to swim with it. I am grateful that it was by my side for all of the important moments in my life and I will always treasure the memories that it captured. Thank you Nikon for 10 great years. You will be missed.
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