Beat the Heat! Make Ahead Menu

When the heat is outside it may creep inside too. So most of us might not want to create too much heat in the kitchen as well. Cooking at this time of year is one a favourite thing to do, as the fresh produce is abundant and there are cravings for salads and grilled meats frequently during the week. This is a great time to have casual get togethers with family and friends too. Planning a dinner menu can be daunting but planning ahead and making things easy and painless for you to prepare are key ingredients to having a fun evening. Whether you are having people over to your place or you are heading out to someone’s home or cottage you can bring easy make ahead dishes that are sure to inspire and taste great without heating up your kitchen and your frustrations!
Here is an easy make ahead menu that should keep you cool and looking fabulous while enjoying your guests company!

Here’s the Plan for your get together at home:
The Day Before your guests come over:
-get your groceries the day before (be sure to read over the recipes first and make a list of what you don’t already have on hand)
-make the panna cotta and refrigerate
-marinate the chicken overnight
Day Of:
-make the Red Berry Coulis for the panna cotta
-grill your corn and tomatoes and make your salad
-when guest arrive have some drinks and appetizers
-grill the chicken when you’re ready and serve up the salad alongside
-pull dessert out of the fridge and enjoy the night!

If you are taking the food on the go:
Day Before you leave
-make the panna cotta
-marinate the chicken and freeze
-make the salad but pack the vegetables separately from the dressing
Travelling Day of:
-be sure to pack up your cooler with all the dishes and use the frozen chicken as a freezer pack so while you are driving to the cottage it will start to thaw slightly so you can enjoy it for dinner
-whip up a fresh Red Berry Coulis once you get there to serve with dessert
-toss the dressing into the vegetables
-grill the chicken and enjoy your weekend!

Coconut Panna Cotta with Red Berry Coulis
Panna cotta is a cooked cream dessert from Italy that is refreshing and light. This one has a little more Asian flavour with the use of canned coconut milk. This is a great make ahead dessert for family and friends and keeps the kitchen cool during these hot summer days and nights.

1 envelope (7 g) unflavoured gelatin
1 can (400 mL) coconut milk
1 cup (250 mL) 18% table cream
1/2 cup (125 mL) granulated sugar
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract
1/2 cup (125 mL) toasted shredded coconut

Red Berry Coulis:
1 cup (250 mL) sliced fresh strawberries
1 cup (250 mL) fresh raspberries
2 tbsp (25 mL) granulated sugar
1 tbsp (15 mL) orange juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh mint
Fresh raspberries and mint leaves (optional)

Red Berry Coulis: Combine strawberries and raspberries in blender with sugar and orange juice; puree until smooth. Press through fine mesh sieve into bowl to remove seeds. Stir in chopped mint. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

In small bowl, dissolve gelatin in 1/4 cup (60 mL) cold water; set aside.

In saucepan, whisk together coconut milk, cream and sugar. Bring cream mixture to boil and remove from heat. Whisk in vanilla and gelatin mixture until smooth.

Divide toasted coconut in bottom of 8 ramekins or custard cups. Gently pour coconut mixture into ramekins. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or until set. Run knife around edge of ramekins and turn onto serving plates.

Garnish with fresh fruit and mint leaves, if using and spoon Red Berry Coulis alongside.

Makes 8 servings.

Honey Mustard Sugared Chicken
Here is a recipe that will have adults and kids alike asking for more! A sweet tangy marinade that is perfect to prepare at home and then freeze for your weekend dinner getaway. Double up this recipe for a bigger crowd.

1/4 cup (60 mL) chili sauce (such as Heinz)
2 tbsp (30 mL) packed brown sugar
1 tbsp (15 mL) honey mustard
1 tbsp (15 mL) cider vinegar
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh Italian parsley
8 boneless skinless chicken thighs, about 1 1/4 lb/600 g
Salt (optional)

In large resealable bag combine chili sauce, brown sugar, honey mustard, vinegar, garlic and parsley. Trim visible fat from chicken and add to bag. Seal and massage to coat chicken with marinade. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours. (Or alternatively, freeze for up to 2 weeks. Thaw completely before grilling.)

Place chicken on greased grill over medium heat and cook, turning once for about 12 minutes or until no longer pink inside and juices run clear. Season with salt if desired.

Makes 4 servings.

Grilled Corn and Tomato Salad
Sweet grilled corn is a special treat for a summer dinner. You can grill the corn and tomatoes ahead of time and toss the salad and have it ready in the fridge to take with you or pull out and enjoy with your main course.

2 field tomatoes, chopped
1 cup (250 mL) snow peas, trimmed
4 cobs of corn, husked
2 tbsp (30 mL) extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp (30 mL) sherry vinegar
1 tsp (5 mL) Dijon mustard
1 tbsp (15 mL) each chopped fresh mint and basil
1 clove garlic, minced
Pinch salt

Combine snow peas and tomatoes in large piece of foil and seal to form a packet. Place cobs of corn and packets on greased grill over medium high heat for about 10 minutes, turning corn occasionally or until lightly charred and tender crisp. Remove to cutting board and using a chef’s knife, cut corn kernels off the cob and place in a large bowl. Add tomatoes and snow peas.

In small bowl, stir together oil, vinegar, mustard, mint, basil, garlic and salt until combined. Pour over corn mixture and toss to combine.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.


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