This last week in Calgary had been one of the longest heat waves I can remember. With temperatures hovering above 29 well into the night, cooking has been the farthest thing from my mind. When it’s that hot, I’m running around opening and closing windows, adjusting fans, and generally trying to keep the house manageable. I can’t find the motivation to do much else – let alone figure out what to eat, turn on the oven, and make it even hotter in the house.
Because I’m not just me – I have a family to cook for – I can’t take everyone out to eat at a nice air conditioned restaurant every night, so I have to figure something out. I’m sharing with you my top tips and tricks for managing a healthy dinner when it’s too hot to cook, and my delicious chicken fajita recipe to help inspire you.
Tips & Tricks
- FIRE UP THE GRILL
I know this one isn’t a difficult one to think of, but it really can be a lifesaver. If your house is too hot, turning on the oven or standing in front of the stove for an hour will be like torture. And, if you’re like me, raising your body temperature even more on a hot day will make you lose any kind of appetite you had to begin with.
I’ll try to make sure everything is either cooked on the barbeque (Less clean up!!), or I’ll cook up the meat and make a salad.
- SPEAKING OF SALAD...
Salads can be your best friend on a hot summer night. Not only are salads really easy to make, but eating something cold when it’s so hot can peak your appetite. A simple garden salad with grilled chicken breasts and soft dinner rolls will help reduce the amount of time you spend in the kitchen.
- SIMPLE, SIMPLE, SIMPLE
Stick with easy recipes that don’t take to long to cook. Even if you’re using the barbeque, you don’t want to slow cook a giant roast when it’s 30 degrees outside. Grill up hotdogs, smokies, hamburgers, chicken wings, or ribs. All of these take much less time, which means you’ll spend less time standing in front of a hot grill!
- DON'T TURN ON THE OVEN - EVER
Eating salad and barbecuing can be a great way to deal with the heat. But, sometimes you just don’t want to use the grill, and you need to eat something different. On those nights, I cook skillet dinners. Fajitas, tacos, stir fry, anything that will cook quickly in one pan.
- GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK
You’ve been cooking in this heat for a week, feeding yourself and your family, but you can’t imagine how to find the motivation to do it again tonight. It’s okay. Give yourself a break and go out to eat. It will feel great not to worry about it for a night. Treat yourself to air conditioning, not having to cook anything or clean up – you deserve it!
Chicken Fajita Recipe
- 3-4 chicken breasts, sliced into thin strips
- 2-3 red, yellow, or orange peppers, sliced into thin strips
- ½ onion, sliced into thin strips
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Sour cream
For the marinade:
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Put the marinade all over the chicken, and place seasoned chicken strips into a large Ziploc bag. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
- In a large skillet over medium high heat, heat the olive oil. Put the marinated chicken in the skillet and cook until no longer pink. Remove the chicken from the pan, and place on a large plate or bowl.
- Cook the peppers and onion in the same skillet until almost tender. Return the chicken to the skillet, mixing well. Cook until the peppers and onion are tender.
- Serve in tortillas with sour cream.