Week 1: Summer Cooking Challenge

Even in West Michigan, the weather gets hot in the summertime…really hot. I believe this is why God gave us the Great Lakes: a natural and beautiful setting, which happens to include an oh-so-satisfying dip in the unsalted waters. Pack a picnic and head to the beach – this is one of the most common weekend entertainment items here (plus, it’s basically free! #dutchies)

With such hot weather, I find it challenging to have the desire to cook. This is quite opposite from winter, when I can’t wait to utilize the oven as much as possible so it can play double-duty by warming the ice cold house. But during this time of year I avoid using it so as to keep as many atoms of heat out of the house as possible. But, we do still have to eat. So, I’ve decided to put myself to the test and try to use the crockpot (formerly thought of only as a “winter meal” vessel) and the grill as much as possible this summer. I’ll post updates on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.

The first dinner I made in the crockpot this summer was Slow Cooker Coconut Lime Chicken. I had almost everything the recipe called for on hand, so my decision was easy. I followed this recipe by Slow Cooker Gourmet – this will be a great resource in my journey, I’m sure! A few items to note from my experience:

  • Since we like spice, I added about a tablespoon of red pepper flakes to the mixture for a little zing. Not absolutely necessary, but we did think it added some flair.
  • I didn’t put the finished chicken under the broiler, as recommended. The hubs and I were starving and we were too impatient. Looking back, I wish I would have to give it a nice crunchy crust.
  • I added a small bag of frozen peas and some cooked rice to the slow cooker about 30 minutes before it was done. The peas added some nice bright color to the dish, and the rice added more “oomph.”
  • Mine turned out a bit chunkier, since I was unable to find a small quantity of pineapple juice. I used a can of chunk pineapple, which I wouldn’t recommend.

Although the beig-y colors of this dish make it look a bit bland, it had great flavor similar to Thai food. Overall, I highly recommend this dish and will be making it again (under the broiler though!).

What suggestions do you have for me to try on the grill or in the crockpot this summer? I’m looking for ideas!

-thrifty hollander

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