augusta free press news

Dinner Diva: Don’t lose your cool

The last thing you need to be doing in the middle of the summer is turning on your oven to make dinner. Unless you like huge utility bills and the extra heat pouring out of your kitchen, that is.

I have an easy rule for summer: no oven recipes. My Menu-Mailer subscribers know this and to their great relief, I provide menus from now until September without using the oven. It’s easy to implement yourself—let me tell you how you can do this.

You want to keep the heat in the kitchen to a minimum—especially if your air conditioning is insufficient. So move the cooking, if you can. Utilize your barbecue (and there are SO many great recipes just begging for a barbecue – like the one below!) as much as you can stand it. You can even grill veggies on the barby—try it, it is absolutely delicious. You can get these nifty little pans with holes in them and grill to your heart’s content (kind of essential, unless you don’t mind zucchini slipping through the grill slats). I toss my cut up veggies in a little olive oil and they’re just wonderful grilled. Try this combo: red bell pepper, red onion, zucchini, summer squash and mushrooms. YUM!

Another keep-the-kitchen-cool idea is to use your crockpot elsewhere. We used to put it on the screen porch, but I have heard of people moving their slow cookers to the laundry room. You can have all kinds of delicious things cooking in that thing and never have to worry about heating up your kitchen. When you’re dealing with woefully inadequate air conditioning, every little hint helps.

And don’t forget things like main course salads, sandwiches and fast and easy stove-top suppers.

Doing all of these things will give you a summer kitchen that won’t get you all hot and bothered—know what I mean?

Here’s a recipe to get you grilling!

DO AHEAD TIP: Make the marinade and get your chicken marinating the night before or first thing in the morning.

Grilled Lemon Garlic Chicken

Serves 6


6 (6-oz.) boneless skinless chicken breast halves

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup olive oil

6 cloves garlic, pressed

2 teaspoons thyme


In a small bowl combine lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and thyme to make marinade. Put the chicken in a 1-gallon ziploc-type plastic bag and the pour marinade over chicken then seal the bag. Marinate in the refrigerator for 6 to 8 hours or overnight. If you can, squish it around every now and then to distribute marinade. Drain chicken, discarding marinade. (Don’t even THINK about using it again!)


Light the barby till coals are to a medium-high heat. (Not red hot, but slightly ash-y if not using gas). Grill for 5 to 6 minutes per side or until cooked through. (You can also cook this on the stove top in a skillet: heat a little olive oil and cook till browned on each side, about 5 minutes per side or until cooked throughout)


Per Serving: 278 Calories; 11g Fat; 40g Protein; 3g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 99mg Cholesterol; 112mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 5 1/2 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 2 Fat. Points: 7


SERVING SUGGESTIONS: Serve with brown rice, grilled asparagus (lightly steam first, brush with a little olive oil and finish them on the grill—YUM!) and a huge salad.

Need more ideas for keeping your kitchen cool this summer? Be sure to check out our Crock Cooker Ebooks for dinner “easy button” style!

Column by Leanne Ely. More at

augusta free press
augusta free press