Cookin’ When It’s Hot?

Where I live you never know what type of weather you’re gonna get. 

At the beginning of this week we woke up with goose bumps.  It was 60 degrees in the house, the wind so refreshing and cool was blowing briskly through the windows and all my curtains were billowing out.  It was beautiful!  But, our summer weathered bodies weren’t used to it. We were scrambling for our sweatshirts.

Today it is supposed to be  100 degrees… hot, hot, hot for were we live. And when these hot days are upon me I always scratch my head for what to feed my family.  Cuz, in this frugal household we don’t turn on the AC until we can’t stand it and then there is this understanding that you don’t heat up the house by using the oven.  And on top of that the man can only eat so much pasta salad and such before he is needing a meat and potatoes type meal.

Enter center stage my crock pot. Which in itself can put off a considerable amount of heat, but I have a way around that.

I get my meal all prepared and then stick it in one of two places.  1) Out in the mudroom which I can close off from the rest of the house by shutting the door  OR 2) Outside under the awning on our deck.

 

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If you have outside outlets, I highly suggest this!  I just always make sure I put it either on the north side of my house of under shade of some sort.

The other day was just such a day.  We all had had enough of pasta salads and quick stove top meals.  It was definitely time for something substantial to fill my hungry boy’s bellies!  So Scalloped Potatoes and Ham was on tap for  dinner.

 

Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes ( this feeds my family of 6 with left overs. It can definitely be cut to fit any size family.  Also I used my 5 qt. crock pot for this.)

9-12 medium potatoes peeled and sliced thin

3/4 cup chopped onion

White Sauce:

6 Tablespoons butter

6 Tablespoons flour

3  3/4 cups milk

1   teaspoons salt

1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon pepper

2  1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

 

For sauce cook onion in butter until tender.  Stir in flour, salt and pepper.  Add milk all at once.  Cook and stir till thickened and bubbly.  Add cheese and stir till melted.  Remove from heat.  Grease crock pot with butter.  Place small amount of sauce in the bottom of your crock pot, then layer potatoes on top.  Continue with layers, ending with sauce on top.  Cook on low for 7-8 hours.

 

I happened to have a ham steak on had so I fried that up and placed chunks of ham in with the potatoes. Meat is often a must with my guys.  What I love about this recipe is that it is also good with hamburger or ground sausage with this recipe (just cook and drain the meat first before you add it to the potatoes).

 

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If you have a helper when you make this recipe then you are in luck, because they will do a fantastic job of cleaning up for you. Done to the very. last. drop!

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Once you have your crock pot filled and cooking away all you have to do is make up a yummy simple salad.  We were enjoying lots of Romaine lettuce out of the garden until heat and drought conditions made it bitter.  I loved that I could pick bunches of it and just serve it with a simple dressing.  Super easy and amazingly yummy.

 

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Raspberry Balsamic Dressing

1/2- 3/4 cups sugar (start out with 1/2 and adjust to taste)

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup Raspberry Balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup ketchup

1 teaspoon celery seed

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon onion powder

 

Combine and refrigerate.

 

So, if its hot where you are break out that crock pot, fill it, then sit back with a cold ice tea….that is after you hang up the laundry, pick up the house, scrub the tub, make that phone call, feed your children, vacuum the floor…again, etc, etc, etc.

 

Stay cool!

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Mom’s Red Salad Dressing

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Lettuce is abundant in my garden right now and I am eating salads for lunch each day.  This is one of my FAVORITE ways to use up some of our garden lettuce.

 

Salad:

Torn lettuce

Drained mandarin oranges

Dried cranberries

Sliced almonds

 

Dressing:

1cup sugar

1/2 cup vegetable, canola or olive oil

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 cup ketchup

1 teaspoon celery seed

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon onion powder

 

Combine well and Refrigerate.

 

Place lettuce in a bowl. Layer on the oranges, cranberries and almonds.  Drizzle on dressing.

 

ENJOY!