Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Easy Dinner for Hot Day

Today just might break a record here in MA for the high temperature; I overheard some people in the toy store mention that it was 97 degrees outside. When temperatures hit the 90's here on the East Coast, people go running for stores and shops, try fervently to install their window air conditioner units, and if they happen to be lucky and have central air conditioning, they crank that sucker down to 60. East Coast natives handle the heat about as well as Arizonans handle cold; and by cold I mean anything below 60 degrees. While my children were complaining about their skin melting off and could I please turn up the air in the van higher, I kindly reminded them that in three short weeks we'd be heading off to Arizona, so they'd better suck it up. At least there are pools in Arizona they reminded me. Well, okay.

I actually invented this dinner when we lived in AZ, and it was so hot so often that no one wanted to eat, and I sure as heck didn't want to cook a hot meal. I affectionately refer to it as Cold Plate, and it has now become almost a weekly staple in my house.

The basic idea for this is that you serve a bunch of cold foods; fresh fruits and veggies, lunch meat rolls, sliced cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, and any leftovers you may have in the house that you need to get rid of. Diced chicken breast, pasta salad, green salad, etc. are all perfect Cold Plate ingredients. I also try to make it as colorful as possible (at one time actually arranging the food by color to replicate a rainbow, with cottage cheese clouds) which just makes it even more fun to eat. The benefits to Cold Plate are many:

1. You don't have to cook anything and can get dinner on the table in about 15 minutes.
2. Cold Plate is never the same twice, so people don't really get tired of it.
3. If you eat on paper plates there are also no dishes.
4. It's a good way to get your kids to try new fruits and veggies, especially if you serve stuff with a ranch, yogurt, or cream cheese dip.
5. There is almost never any whining when I tell the kids we are having Cold Plate for dinner. This in itself is enough reason for me to serve it at least three nights a week. No whining. Can you imagine?
6. It is versatile enough that even picky eaters can find something to munch on, although my kids don't have a lot of say because I "encourage" them to eat what I put on the plate.

This dinner is great for summer, allowing you to take advantage of warm weather by spending more time at the pool, beach, or playing outside with the kids. Or, in the case of my family, watch more TV. Bon apetite!

1 comment:

Tara said...

Brilliant, I love it. And yeah, my kids would eat it without complaining, which sure don't hurt.