I'm Kendra, and I'm here to help you be a genius about the things that matter and lazy about the things that don't. Welcome to your people.

Summer Dinner Queue

Summer Dinner Queue

I have 21 recipes on my summer dinner queue, and I am perfectly happy just rotating through the list a few times. Most of the meals in my dinner queue are easily moved to other days and don’t depend on a ton of fresh produce. I can use the bounty of summer farmers markets to bulk up lunches or to use as sides for dinners, but the main meals are based on food that can be made and frozen or just not made at all.

1. Burgers and a side.

It’s on the grill, the side can be corn from the farmers market, tater tots, or carrot sticks and chips. No big thing, but burgers are always a win.

2. Ribs and a side.

Same thing. The trick here is to cook the ribs until they mostly done in the oven in the morning and then finish them off on the grill before dinner so it’s fast. Or if I know I’m going to be home all afternoon, I can cook them on the grill from start to finish. I like the flexibility though.

3. Hot dogs and a side.

You’re getting it, right? Meat on the grill and whatever side I have.

4. BBQ chicken legs and a side.

And that’s the last of a random grilled meat and a side.

5. Grilled pizza.

I tried this for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and it was magical. I used a Neapolitan dough - learn the differences here - but I just stretched it out over a well-oiled grill, closed the grill, let it cook for a couple of minutes, flipped it, put on sauce and cheese and toppings, closed it again for another couple of minutes, and it was incredibly delicious. Crispy and quick and didn’t require the oven. We’ll do this weekly.

6. Teriyaki pork and pineapple skewers and rice.

This is just taking pork tenderloin that you cut into big cubes, season them well, skewer alternately with pineapple chunks, and grill. Flip it a few times and brush on teriyaki sauce every time you flip. Serve that over rice.

7. Greek chicken dinner.

This is grilled chicken breast that’s been marinated in lemon juice and olive oil and dried oregano mostly. Sometimes I’ll add garlic if I remember. Then I either grill skewers or just whole pieces and slice. We eat it with naan bread, tzatziki if I feel like making it, maybe cherry tomatoes, hummus, just whatever we have or feel like making.

8. Shrimp or chicken veggie couscous.

It’s a simple, fresh almost pasta salad that’s one of my favorite things to eat in the summer.

9. Curry rice in the instant pot.

It’s a brainless crowdpleaser and easy to make without heating up the house.

10. Pork and mushroom lettuce wraps.

What I love about this recipe too is that the meat mixture can be completely cooked ahead of time on a meal prep day and just heated up.

11. Pork cutlets and rice.

Pork cutlets is a recipe my mother-in-law makes, so it’s not written down anywhere. But it’s not really a recipe to measure anyway. You just slice a pork tenderloin into half inch slices, season them with salt and pepper, and then you bread them like you do chicken fingers or fried chicken.

First in flour seasoned with salt and pepper, then in egg wash which is just egg thinned out with water, and finally in panko bread crumbs which are a crunchy Japanese bread crumb. Then you fry them in a skillet in shallow oil over medium to medium-high heat, flipping them once to get them golden brown on both sides. They’re great with tankatsu sauce which is almost like Japanese ketchup or with actual ketchup and served over rice. We’ll usually have carrots or broccoli alongside if vegetables are needed.

12. Chicken fingers and a side.

I do the same process with chicken that I do with the pork cutlets, including breading them in panko. I like making chicken fingers even though it’s more work, and summer is my favorite time to do it because Kaz is often home since I have chicken hands for a long time and it’s a great finger food to eat outside. They’re also great put into a salad for lunch the next day.

13. Sloppy joes.

That’s a great thing to make ahead on a meal prep day and just heat up along with a side. Even if it’s not made ahead, it’s still quick. I always find great success with Rachael Ray’s recipe.

14. Grilled cheese and tomato soup.

The soup can be made in the instant pot to cut down on heat in the house, and I’m going to try grilled the grilled cheese on a cast iron skillet on the grill this summer. The key to a great grilled cheese is great bread with an open crumb (not too tight so it’ll be get crunchy) and lots of butter. Don’t blast the heat. Let the crunch develop at a leisurely pace, please.

15. Yakisoba.

This is a Japanese noodle bowl, and I have a post on my blog. We usually do ground pork, carrots, and a mushrooms, and it’s just delightful. I will sometimes sauté up everything but the noodles and then just reheat it in the pan once I cook the noodles at dinner. It’s ready in less than ten minutes that way.

16. Change Your Life Chicken on the grill

Basically prepare it the same way on a sheet pan and everything, but put it in a hot grill and close the lid. Check on it occasionally, but it turns out. This might be a good time to get an instant read thermometer by the way since you can’t guarantee the timing on a grill the same way you can in the oven.

17. Naan pizza.

I love naan bread for quick pizza inside. I usually use pepperoni or freezer meatballs as the protein topping, throw on whatever else we have, sprinkle with cheese, and put it under the broiler. It’s definitely different than actual pizza, but it’s still tasty.

18. Asian chicken and a broccoli.

There aren’t enough Asian recipes in my summer dinner queue, so we’ll do this one often. I make a marinade with orange juice, soy sauce, sriracha, and a little brown sugar and then sauté it in the instant pot and cook it through or just use a skillet if I’m in the kitchen and don’t mind standing over the stove. I like the flavor better in a skillet, but the instant pot works fine. We eat it over rice because of course we do, and I often add steamed broccoli.

19. Salmon and rice.

Fish cooks so fast, so it’s a great summer meal. Again, rice and some kind of quick vegetable that my kids will ignore but at least it’s there.

20. Breakfast.

It’s fun to make pancakes or cinnamon rolls or biscuits and then a whole mess of bacon. My kids are never bummed when that’s for dinner, and on days when we know we’ll be home or especially when there’s a thunderstorm in the forecast, a yummy sticky breakfast makes a great dinner.

21. Finally, bowls.

I just did an entire series on dinner bowls, and they’re such a great summer meal because you can use whatever you have. We’ll likely have a dinner bowl day once a week if not more.

Listen to the series: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

You're Allowed to Take Up Space

You're Allowed to Take Up Space

Summer Stack

Summer Stack