Keep It Cool This Summer
Life’s a Bowl of Chicken and Salads
Summer is all about fun and relaxation, but the rising temperatures don’t have to mean you can’t enjoy homemade food; just follow these tips for easy, breezy summer cooking. Try cooking outside — fire up the grill and make some awesome grilled vegetables, turkey burgers, grilled chicken cutlets, and grilled fresh fruits.
When you do decide to get into the kitchen and cook, make double or even triple portions so you cook once but have food all week. Store whatever you are not eating today in a storage container in the fridge. Then you will always have perfectly cooked chicken, roast beef, or vegetables ready to be reheated or tossed as is into salads. For pastas, make the most out of that big pot of boiling water by using it to quickly cook veggies in the last few minutes as the pasta cooks. Then you can make a delicious pasta dish in half the time with half the pots to clean.
Try to make lots of one-pot meals for easy cooking and easy clean-up.
Here’s one of my quick and versatile chicken recipes that can be used with pasta, rice, veggies and salads (it will be featured in my upcoming cookbook – “Just Eat”).
Parmesan Chicken Cutlets & Mixed Greens with Lemon Vinaigrette
- 4 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 2 extra-large eggs
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 ¼ cups seasoned dry bread crumbs
- ½ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
- Unsalted butter, for frying
- Olive oil
Mixed green salad (serving for 6), washed and spun dry
¼ cup sliced almonds (optional)
Wash, drain and pat the chicken dry (see tips on cleaning meat)
Place the chicken breasts in plastic wrap and pound until they are 1/4-inch thick. You can use either a meat mallet or a rolling pin. In a large plate, combine the flour, salt, and pepper. In a second plate, beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon of water. On a third plate, combine the bread crumbs and ½ cup grated Parmesan. Coat the chicken breasts on both sides with the flour mixture, then dip both sides into the egg mixture and dredge both sides in the bread-crumb mixture, pressing lightly.
Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan and cook 2 or 3 chicken breasts on medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until cooked through. Continue the process, adding more butter and oil and cook the rest of the chicken breasts.
Prepare the salad and Lemon Vinaigrette.
- ¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (2 large lemons)
- ½ cup good olive oil
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
In a large bowl, toss the salad greens with lemon vinaigrette. Sprinkle with sliced almonds.
On each serving plate, place a piece of hot chicken breast and a mound of salad on chicken.
Serve with extra grated Parmesan.
Summer Styling with Dresses
Nothing is as easy, glamorous and cool as a good summer dress. Ideally you will have at least four dresses for several purposes. I grew up wearing mostly dresses, so the love for dresses has led to my extensive collection. I enjoy pretty bold colors, prints and unique styles and look forward to the switch from the dark colors of the winter season. Here are four suggestions for simple elegant styling.
- A beach dress: This can be shorter than your other dresses and is easy to wash, doesn’t wrinkle too easily and is not too precious. A good example is a light-colored cotton dress or a simple dress with spaghetti straps — perfect for the beach, but can also be used as a tunic for casual clothes.
- A day dress: This is the perfect dress for casual get-togethers during the day. It could be a nice wrap dress in cotton jersey or a casual shift dress. My floral-patterned dress has turned out to be a very popular day dress for me.
- A work dress: Look for a traditional shift dress that looks both professional and conservative and can be easily combined with a jacket or cardigan.
- An evening dress: This dress is a bit more special than your day and work dress. I like silk, combined with several other fabrics as my preferred materials for a special dress in summer. I believe in wearing my nice clothes as often as possible, so quite often I wear it during the day, too!
When it comes to authentic, Father knows best.
In recognition of Father’s Day, I dedicate this month’s ‘family’ topic to my dad, George. I’ve learned a lot from him, but the strongest lessons that remain are honesty, integrity, loyalty. Growing up, my brother and I teased our dad that, after Mahatma Ghandi, he came next on the list of men to be admired — because he doesn’t get angry, doesn’t use swear words, and when it comes to honesty, he is 100 percent and beyond. The examples and storytelling techniques he taught me are what I implement in my life now with my children. Dad was hardworking and dedicated to his job. He taught me that, whatever your job is, give it all your best. I learned patience watching him making kites for us or helping to fix my bicycle. I learned to use tools observing and helping him. He still has his wooden handmade toolbox.
We learned the importance of education because, although my father grew up with only a middle school education, he is one of the smartest, most knowledgeable and brilliant men I know. His brain is our dictionary. Even at age 84, he is precise with his vocabulary, does not miss a day of playing crosswords or fondly reviewing his dictionary – a gift from my mom. He taught us to learn a new word every day to build our vocabulary. He taught us how to enjoy life and how to be cautious at the same time. These little things are what make me lighthearted in my adult life and assist me with my daily challenges. My father’s love is beyond measure. When I was about 5 years old, on an Easter picnic at a farm, I wanted a specific lemonade from a certain snack shop, though we had lots to drink. Dad walked a mile to that shop just to get me that lemonade — and when he brought it back, all I did was take one sip and say, “I’m done.” We have laughed about this story many times. But it's a memory that will always remind me of the love and care I was lucky to have, growing up with this amazing man I call DAD.