Monday, July 24, 2017

Dog Days and Summer Salads

We are hitting on those proverbial Dog Days of Summer aren't we?  I know in our neck of the woods we haven't been out of the 90s and 100s much more than a day or two for a few weeks now... and there seems to be no end before we start back to school in mid-August!

In my newsletter coming out Thursday I will be talking about some ways to beat the heat while showing hospitality (be sure to sign up, I'm including a recipe for a delicious twist on an old summer favorite!)  Today, however, I thought we could talk salads...

As summer ramps up, many families crank on the grill and whip together some greens.  Living in a non-air-conditioned house for most of my adult life (until 4 years ago anyway) I know this was our go-to.  We didn't turn the oven or stove on until the heat of the day passed and we grilled out as much as possible... serving cool (non house heating) sides like salads and chips and anything we could figure out how to grill!

I know, I know, for many people, salads get boring which is why I wanted to share a few out-of-the-box ideas.  These salads are family favorites, easy to make, cost effective and filling when served as a main-dish.

A tip before we start: it is best to NOT use iceberg lettuce for main-dish salads as it has little caloric or nutritional value, though you can mix it in with other types of lettuce.  I typically use Romaine.  Tomato types in my recipes aren't too particular but more of a personal preference or what you have on hand.

1) Ground Beef  
Burgers are easy to grill but tiresome to continuously consume.  Go ahead, grill that burger but then cut it up (or just crumble and fry it inside) and try these salad-twist ideas:

- Cheese Burger Salad  
Lettuce of choice, tomato of choice, red onion, cucumber, cheese of choice, crumbled burger, bacon bits (if you like bacon burgers!!) and croutons.  Top with choice of dressing, I personally like ranch or avocado.

- Taco Salad
Lettuce, tomato, cheddar cheese, black olives whole or sliced, chopped green onion (we use scissors to cut ours) ground beef, sour cream, avocado, salsa, crumbled Doritos in flavor of choice (hubby likes re-fried beans with this as well)

- Stuffed Green Pepper Salad  
Lettuce, tomato, green peppers sliced, green onion chopped, ground beef, dash of oregano, Italian dressing .... serve with rice crackers

- Supreme Pizza Salad  
Lettuce, tomato, green peppers, black olives, fresh sliced portable mushrooms, sliced red onion, dash of oregano,  ground beef, shredded Italian mixed cheese (usually 5-cheese package in deli section at the grocery store), Italian dressing... serve with French Bread or Bread sticks you can buy at the store

2) Chicken  
Grill chicken and then cube it and try one of these...

- Garden Fresh Chicken Salad
Lettuce, tomato, grated carrots, sliced red cabbage, green or red onion sliced, green or sweet peppers sliced, chicken with herb seasonings, cheese of choice (I use feta and cheddar), ranch dressing and croutons or fresh bread if you want the starch

- BBQ Chicken Salad   
Lettuce, tomato, sliced red cabbage, sliced green onion, cheddar cheese, chicken cooked with BBQ sauce of choice, blue cheese or ranch dressing (this recipe works great for BBQ shredded pork as well!)

- Greek Style Chicken Salad  
Lettuce, tomato, cucumber, green or red onion, chicken cooked with Greek seasoning, feta cheese, cucumber dressing, croutons on top or french bread on the side

-Southwestern Chicken Salad
Lettuce, tomato, green onions, black olives, cheddar cheese, chicken cooked with Mexican seasoning, salsa, sour cream, avocado or guacamole, tortilla chips  (I like black beans on mine as well)

These are just a few to get you started.  For any meal you want to turn into a salad, think, 'how can I replace those ingredients with fresh vegetable alternatives'.   (My hamburger salad was developed on that concept... what do you think each ingredient represents from a typical burger?)

For a month full of menu ideas, subscribe to my newsletter (on side bar) and get a FREE exclusive download in each issue!

I pray your dog-days of summer aren't too doggie but instead full of delicious meals, great times with family and friends, and cooooool, despite the heat!


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