Thursday, August 13, 2015

Summer Recipes I've Been Loving

One of my goals for August was two-fold: 1) to meal plan so I only shop for what I need and 2) to try new recipes to infuse some variety into our diet. I was also especially looking for meals that I don't have to use the oven for because it's hot and we don't have air conditioning. 

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.

Cauliflower Chowder 
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.



  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup almond milk (or dairy-free milk of your choice)
  • 1 head cauliflower, roughly chopped
  • 1 bay leaf (or substitute a few teaspoons of thyme)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

  • Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate; set aside. (Or make your bacon on a plate in the microwave placed between paper towels. For crispy bacon, 4 minutes for 4 slices, but it will depend on the power of your microwave so check before the 4 minute mark to make sure you don't burn it!)
  • Melt coconut oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in cauliflower and bay leaf (or thyme). Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in chicken broth and almond milk, and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until cauliflower are tender, about 12-15 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste. If the chowder is too thick, add more milk as needed until desired consistency is reached. If not thick enough, whisk some a bit of cold water into a tablespoon of cornstarch and then add.
  • Serve immediately, garnished with bacon and parsley.

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.  


  • 1 cup cous cous
  • 1 cup chicken broth, low sodium
  • 3/4 cup feta, cubed or crumbled (or as much as you desire)
  • 1/2 cup almonds, sliced (or chopped) and toasted (if desired)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (you could roast them first if you wish)
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 2 green onions, dice
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 lime juice (or lemon)
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh chives, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil, minced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

  • Put the cup of chicken broth in a large bowl and put it in the microwave a few minutes until it is boiling. Add one cup of cous cous and cover for 5 minutes. 
  • While the cous cous is sitting, mix the vinaigrette (I like to use a mason jar, add everything, and shake it up). When the 5 minutes is up, fluff the cous cous with a fork and add the vinaigrette to it.
  • Toast the almonds a few minutes on a pan over medium heat, shaking regularly so it doesn't burn (or however you wish - I just find this way is quickest for me)
  • Chop the cherry tomatoes, red pepper, zucchini, green onions and feta. Sprinkle with salt and pepper as you like.
  • Add the tomatoes, red pepper, zucchini, green onions, and almonds to the cous cous. If you have someone with a dairy allergy in your family like we do, take their portion out now. 
  • Finally, add the feta to the rest of the cous cous and veggie mix. 
  • You can either serve it right away when it's a little warm or after it has been chilled in the fridge. 

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! 


  1. Yummy! I never thought of using the microwave to prepare couscous, that is genius! I'll try it next time. Also gotta try this granola, looks simple and delicious! Thank you :)

  2. MMM! I love taco salad. Excited to try it with chicken in it instead of beef. Thanks for sharing!