For those families preparing to send kids back to school, things are about to get a lot busier.

Yes, there is something wonderful about putting all three kids on the same bus at the same time in the morning versus the summer scramble, which at our house consists of three kids going three separate directions.

But, by mid-July our family’s extra curricular activities have dwindled to a trickle and we are doing precious little hauling of children after work.

That will change abruptly next week when cross-country and little guy football get going. And after that it’s just an avalanche of after-school commitments.

Those commitments, coupled with the need to serve dinner before 8 p.m. as has become my habit this summer, mean that I’ll be turning to some tried-and-true recipes to get us through the first few weeks.

Spicy Grilled Shrimp

These are so easy – they don’t marinate long and they don’t mess up the kitchen. I like to serve them with whatever vegetables are in season. Alternatively, serve them as tacos with all the usual trimmings. These shrimp are also tasty served cold over a Caesar salad, so grill some extras and you’re well on your way to dinner for a second night.


1 large clove garlic

1 tablespoon coarse salt

½ teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon paprika

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice

1 ½ to 2 pounds shrimp, in the 15-to-18-a-pound range (or smaller, if skewered), peeled, rinsed and dried

 Lemon wedges


Start a charcoal or gas grill, or heat the broiler. Make the fire as hot as it will get, and put the rack close to the heat source.

Mince garlic with salt; mix with cayenne and paprika, then make into a paste with olive oil and lemon juice. Smear paste on shrimp. Grill or broil shrimp, 2 to 3 minutes a side, turning once. Serve immediately or at room temperature, with lemon wedges.

From New York Times Cooking by Mark Bittman

Easy Chopped Greek and Chickpeas Salad

This super colorful salad has been on regular rotation in my lunch since cucumbers and tomatoes came into season. Enjoy it is as a light lunch, or serve alongside your main course for dinner.


15 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

2 cups diced cucumber

1 1/3 cups grape tomatoes, halved or diced tomatoes

20 kalamata olives, halved

1/4 cup red onion, sliced thinly lengthwise

4 ounces crumbled feta

Juice of 2 fresh lemons

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Chopped parsley, optional


Combine everything through feta in a large bowl. Toss gently.

Drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil and season with salt, pepper and parsley (if using).

Skillet Steak and Vegetables with Spicy Mustard Sauce

I tried this recipe on my family full well expecting complaints about how green this dinner is, but it got rave reviews. I’ve made the recipe as directed with steak, but I’ve also subbed in boneless, skinless chicken thighs with great results.


1 pound boneless New York strip steak, patted dry

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

5 garlic cloves, 1 grated, 4 thinly sliced

1/3 cup Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

1–2 pinches cayenne pepper

1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil

1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced, divided

1 10-ounce bag frozen peas

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces


Season steak all over with salt and pepper.

Whisk 1 grated garlic clove, 1/3 cup mustard, 1 Tbsp. vinegar, 1 tsp. honey, a couple pinches of cayenne, 1/3 cup oil, and 1 Tbsp. water in a medium bowl to combine; season spicy mustard with salt and pepper.

Heat a dry medium skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high. Rub steak all over with 1 Tbsp. oil and cook, turning every 2 minutes or so and making sure to get color on the fat cap, until medium-rare (an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center will register 120 degrees), about 10 minutes. Transfer steak to a plate to rest. Pour off oil from skillet, leaving crispy bits behind.

Heat remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in same skillet over low. Add 4 sliced garlic cloves and all but about 2 Tbsp. scallions (save those for serving) and cook, stirring often, until translucent and softened, about 3 minutes.

Add peas and a splash of water and cook, stirring and mashing to break up slightly, until peas are tender, about 5 minutes. Add asparagus; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until asparagus is just tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Slice steak and shingle over vegetables in skillet.

Drizzle some mustard sauce over steak and top with reserved scallions. Serve with remaining mustard sauce alongside.

From Bon Appetit

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