5 Exciting, Summery Ways To Mix Up Your Weeknight Dinners (Recipes)

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By Cooking Panda

Look, I get it. You need a quick bite for dinner, but you’re just so dang tired of the same old thing, over and over again. Chicken, veggies, rice. Spaghetti. Frozen burritos. Takeout.

While there are so many delicious iterations of these meals, you might just want a few nights off from your tried-and-true staples, whatever they may be. 

Here are some great ways to break the monotony during the week:

1. Mozzarella Stuffed Pork Chops With Polenta and Tomatoes

If pork chops sound bland and dry, then you aren’t cooking them right! With smoked cheese and a bit of anchovy paste, you get a seriously savory kick of flavor that goes beautifully with the bright, acidic tomatoes. Want to make them even more tender? Ditch the broiler and use the slow-cooker instead like so.

2. Charred and Raw Corn with Chile and Cheese

With lime, cilantro, chile rings and fresh Cotija cheese, you might just get addicted to this summer staple. If you want to make things a little more filling, consider serving this alongside Grilled Tequila Garlic Lime Flank Steak. P.S. The same marinade goes great with tofu, too!

3. BBQ Eggplant Sandwiches With Provolone and Mushrooms

This recipe suggests broiling your eggplant, but you can also get fabulous results on the grill for a more summer-friendly version. Here’s how to do that.

4. Healthy-ish Cheesy Vegan Nachos

I don’t know about you, but I could eat nachos every single day if I could get away with it. This healthier veggie-packed version allows you to enjoy nachos way more often while still feeling great afterward too!

5. Crustless Spinach Quiche

Toss in some crumbled breakfast sausage, bacon, leftover chicken and/or some cooked veggies like broccoli, red peppers or asparagus if you’d like to make it even more filling.

Featured Image: Max Pixel

Tags: dinner recipes, easy recipe, summer dinners, weeknight dinner, weeknight recipes
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5 Outstanding Mains To Grill For Your July 4th Party (Recipes)

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By Cooking Panda

Ready to celebrate America’s freedom?

Since it’s traditional to have a big barbecue bash on the Fourth of July, there’s no reason to fight it. Grilling food is delicious, easy and a lot of fun, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, there’s no denying that it can be a little lackluster, with guests picking at charred hot dogs and cardboard burger patties that didn’t get enough seasoning love and were left on the grill for way too long.

Don’t let this happen to you, and don’t worry! Grilling is pretty easy, and there are a lot of really exciting foods you can make this Independence Day. Just be warned: If you follow these recipes, your guests might expect you to do the cooking every year.

1. The World’s Best Cheeseburger

It’s pretty likely that you’re going to have burgers — this handy guide will give you everything you need to know to avoid serving hockey pucks to your loved ones. Want to do something a little more decadent? Stuff your burgers! Here’s how.

2. Best Barbecued Pork Ribs​

Ribs are actually pretty easy to cook on the grill, as long as you are able to get them set up a few hours early. If not, you can braise them for a while in the oven first (feel free to do this before your guests arrive) and then throw them on the grill with all your other food until they get a little browned. Here’s how to whip up an assortment of easy homemade BBQ sauce that you can serve on the side or slather on your ribs the last 20 or so minutes of cooking.

3. Fajita Chicken Kebabs

These easy, lean kebabs are such a nice change of pace from all the red meat, carbs and fatty, delicious sides and snacks you’ll probably be gnawing on. If you want, you can make these vegetarian by leaving out the meat completely or replacing it with tofu (here’s a great way to grill it), mushrooms, zucchini or whatever else tickles your fancy.

4. Grilled White House Pizza

Pizza sounds really difficult to make, but using store-bought dough takes out a ton of the work and mess, plus grilling it is not only super easy, but the high heat replicates a pizza oven way better than a regular oven does. The sweet potatoes add an unexpectedly excellent texture, although you are free to use any toppings you want — just make sure to cook them first, especially if you’re using meat. You know what would be awesome? Grilled shrimp with white sauce.

5. Broiled Steak Kabobs With Orange Relish

Your guests will probably expect burgers and dogs, but if you want to diverge a little from that while still satisfying them with big hunks of beef, this is a great way to make your meal a little fancier. Plus, the orange relish/salsa adds a brilliant pop of freshness — you might consider making it as a side even if you aren’t doing these steak kabobs.

Happy Fourth!

Featured Photo Credit: Mark Levisay/Flickr

Tags: easy dinner recipe, fourth of july, grill recipe, July 4th, summer dinners
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7 Quick, Fresh Meals You Should Be Eating For Dinner (Recipes)

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By Cooking Panda

We’re right in the midst of summer, and personally I’m not looking for anything that takes much time to whip up. 

I want to minimize my oven time and prepare bright, fresh dishes with a medley of smooth and crunchy textures that taste perfect on a patio on a warm summer’s evening, ideally to be washed down with fresh peach cobbler and a tart, somewhat fruity cocktail.

Granted, that’s not necessarily always the way things go on weeknights, but you can certainly chow down on these easy dinners while you fantasize about migrating south for the summer:

1. Copycat PF Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Don’t have ground chicken? Use whatever ground meat you have on hand, like turkey or pork, or make it even easier on yourself and use shredded or chopped leftover/rotisserie chicken instead.

2. Fish Tacos with Quick Cabbage Slaw


Fish tacos might seem like a bit of a hassle, but these are actually really simple — dredge your fish in flour and pan fry! This recipe recommends using just about any white fish, but you can mix things up if you want by using shrimp, salmon or even just bypassing the work and using frozen breaded fish.

3. Easy Chicken Gyros with Greek Feta Sauce

LEFTOVER FRIENDLY. It might seem like gyros would require a lot of work to prepare the meat they way you’re used to, but you can absolutely take shortcuts and use rotisserie chicken or another type of leftover meat to make this meal an absolute breeze. However, if you want proper lamb/beef gyro meat, here’s how to do it. Vegetarian? Make it with homemade vegan seitan like so.

4. Classic Gazpacho (Plus Five Variations)


Ah, cold soup, for when it’s too hot for life. Keep it classic with some cool cucumbers, ripe tomatoes and deeply flavorful red peppers. Or mix it up with some uniquely fabulous versions, from Tomato Watermelon with Pistachios and Basil Oil to Thai Spicy Tom Yum Goong Tomato.

5. Sockeye Salmon Poke Bowls


With quick-pickled cucumbers, soy-sesame marinated raw salmon and a creamy sriracha drizzle, this is a perfectly refreshing (and easy!) summer dinner. Top with anything you like in your sushi or poke bowls, like avocado, masago, krab salad (shred your imitation crab and combine with sriracha and either Japanese or regular mayo with a drizzle of rice vinegar) and/or a Japanese omelet. You’re welcome to use this with any other sashimi-grade fish, like tuna or scallops, or just use small cooked shrimp tofu or cooked fresh fish.

6. Healthy Buffalo Chicken Salad

Three ingredients are all it takes to give your boring chicken breasts (or leftover shredded chicken, if you want to bypass the slow cooker) a facelift. Get as creative as you want. You can add sliced cucumbers, shredded carrots or celery, thin apple slices, bleu cheese or anything else your heart desires.

7. Shrimp Avocado Salad


This would be absolutely brilliant atop some salad greens, crunchy tostada shells or tortilla chips! It’s super easy too. Grab some cooked shrimp (frozen/thawed works great) and mix it with creamy avocado, crunchy onions and refreshing cucumber, and toss your usual spicy lime sauce aside for an exciting tart, herbal seasoning that features a few drops of sundried tomato liquid.

Featured Photo Credit: Stacy Spensley/Flickr

Tags: easy dinner recipes, fresh dinner recipes, healthy dinner recipe, summer cooking, summer dinners
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