I do not always enjoy cooking. For some reason I don't mind making breakfasts and lunches, but dinner can feel like the bane of my existence some days. It's just an awful time of day to have to make a meal. In the summer, especially when it's hot and muggy, we all feel a bit sluggish around dinnertime. And there also tends to be something about that 4 o'clock hour that causes little kids to lose their dang minds and all ability to cooperate, remain uninjured, or maintain emotional control. So I'm often cooking with either crying in the background or little ones wrapped around my leg. It's hardly peaceful, but it needs to be done. Those kids (and I) need delicious food shoved in our mouths as soon as possible.
The past few years since becoming a stay-at-home mom I've been slowly learning how to cook. I've always loved to bake and found that came easy because if you just follow a recipe exactly it will usually turn out. I generally like structure and sticking to the "rules". Cooking always scared me because it seemed to involve a bit more finesse and require the ability to flavour, taste, and cook to your preference. This comes naturally to my husband - he's a great cook (but he's also at work when dinner needs to get started so it's usually up to me during the week). That finessing has been a skill I have to keep learning gradually through the only way you can learn: trying. I have learned a lot and it's nice to be at the point where I feel I can tweak recipes to suit me (especially since we found out my daughter has a dairy allergy and I need to adjust and substitute in almost every recipe), but I still regularly get stumped for inspiration and ideas. I tend to accumulate a few favourite, quick, easy meals each season and repeat them over and over until we are practically begging for anything else. That is where we were as we finished July, and that is what prompted my goal this month to get meal planning and try some new recipes that give our poor taste buds some excitement in their life again.
We are about half way through the month and I've been really enjoying trying new recipes. I thought I'd share with you guys some of my favourite meals so far this month.
Chicken Taco Salad
by The Pioneer Woman
We had this amazing salad on Saturday night. You put it all together on a big platter and enjoy. I won't type it out, just follow her recipe because she's the Pioneer Woman and everything she makes is fantastic. The only thing I did different was that I used corn chips (unhealthy, but so delish). We loved it! It's delicious and filling. It makes a lot so invite some friends over and enjoy out on the deck. Next time for our family of two adults and two littles I would cut the recipe in half.
by Damn Delicious
I tweaked this recipe a little to make it dairy free because my daughter has a dairy allergy. I'll share my tweaked version below, but if you don't need yours to be dairy free just follow the original recipe here. All I'd suggest is to add some thyme (especially if you don't have a bay leaf like I didn't) and some crisp sweet corn. I served it with some warm homemade dairy-free biscuits that the kids helped cut into star and gingerbread man shapes, because obviously that's just way more fun. To be honest, many dairy-free recipes do not turn out nearly as delicious, but this one I wouldn't have any other way. It was perfect for the few cool, rainy August days we had this week.
Cous Cous Feta Almond Summer Veggie Salad
by Recettes du Quebec
My sister-in-law brought this to one of our family birthday parties this summer and with my first bite I was hooked and had to have the recipe. It's easy, delicious, filling and doesn't use any heat - it meets every summer recipe requirement for me! The original recipe for this salad is in French and uses quinoa. So I'll share my slightly tweaked English version below. If French is your first language - perfect! You can use the original recipe here. I served it with grilled honey garlic sausage on the side, but you could definitely have this by itself too.
Coconut Oil Honey Almond Granola
by Lovely Little Kitchen
I had never made granola before. This was a nice simple, dairy-free version that the kids loved to help me make and have been asking for repeatedly since we made it. They love it! You can eat it as a cereal by itself, just adding some milk and strawberries or enjoy it over some yogurt. It's delicious, fast, and easy!
So those are a few of my favourite recipes we have been enjoying so far in August. Do you have any recipes you love that I should try? So far this month there haven't been any recipe "duds" but I still have half a month to go! We've had a bit cooler weather this past week so between that and all the buzz about back to school season, the fact that fall isn't too far around the corner is starting to set in. That brings mixed emotions except when it comes to cooking. I think Fall cooking and baking is my absolute favourite. I cannot wait to share some amazing recipes with you then!