Sweet

Pistache

Pan-fried Turkey Cutlets with Spinach & Blue Cheese Salad | Macarons

Here’s the idea, a frequent flier at our house: green salad, topped with lean protein, followed by dessert. For this one, try a standard spinach/blue cheese combo for the salad and top with turkey tenderloins that have been pan-fried in a bit of butter or olive oil, with seasoning to taste. You’ll have plenty of time left over to try your hand at making macarons, should you choose. They’re much easier than you think, although piping them into perfectly shaped rounds takes a bit of practice. Or you could just buy some from your local bakery and enjoy having some free time.

Love to Cook: Here’s Martha Stewart’s version of turkey cutlets, if you need directions. David Lebovitz has great instructions (and recipe) for chocolate macarons, and he also has suggestions for other sites to visit for more tips.

Weeknight Reality: Make the salad, etc., using the best ingredients you can find, and then purchase the macarons. There really isn’t another mid-level option here, since there’s no shortcut in the macaron process.

Need a Miracle: Use deli turkey instead of preparing tenderloins; bagged spinach, blue cheese crumbles, prepared dressing and bakery macarons finish your list.

Harvest

farm board

If you don’t like kale, or are afraid to try it (still), then substitute something else. I start with that so you won’t think “I hate kale; I’m never eating a kale salad” and miss the entire idea here: it’s summer harvest time, so you should enjoy the bounty available at the market. If your idea of a perfect summer salad does not include kale, or blueberries, or any of the other suggestions here, then use something else: basil and peaches, or celery and cherries, or whatever makes you happy.

Blueberry & Kale Salad

Love to Cook: Get your gourmet on with this Massaged Kale Salad with Creamy Blueberry Vinaigrette and Rosemary Candied Walnuts.

Weeknight Reality: This Best of Summer Kale Salad from Iowa Girl Eats is easy to prepare, if you’ve not intimidated by making your own salad dressing. The blueberry-balsamic dressing is good on just about any salad, in fact, so make a double batch. And her recommendation to massage the kale with salt only, not oil, works well. A vegan alternative is this version from the Blueberry Council.

Need a Miracle: Bagged kale, blueberries, seasoned nuts and prepared dressing. And cheese, or fish, if you like.

Southwest

Scottsdale

Tacos make for easy entertaining. Prepare all of the individual components, and then let everyone assemble their own plates. The bonus is that people can pick and choose without having to feel impolite about it.

Instead of standard taco bar taco fare, try some spicy chicken paired with cool mango (or peach) salsa and a bunch of cilantro. It’s a lighter version of the traditional taco night but still with the hot-sweet combo.

Love to Cook: This Bobby Flay recipe for Grilled Jerk Chicken with Mango Salsa is easy but requires a long marinating time for the flavors to develop fully.

Weeknight Reality: This recipe for Cilantro Lime Chicken Tacos uses pantry spices instead of fresh ingredients for the chicken, which makes prep faster (although there’s still a required marinating time). You could use frozen mango pieces instead of fresh to speed things up for the salsa.

Need a Miracle: If you’re making the chicken at home, there’s no way around marinating time. This recipe from La Tortilla Factory uses prepared spice rub, though, so it’s really about as simple as simple can get.