Something about summer just screams, “Party!”
Fall, winter and even spring seem inherently more somber. I guess it’s the warmth, the extra hours of sunlight and the lack of homework monitoring, but when summer rolls around I feel an urge to make everyday meals more fun.
Of course, “fun” is in the eyes of the beholder. For kids, though, there are some tried-and-true concepts that are sure to be winners. Finger foods are a good example. Anytime I get to lick my fingers freely with no one shooting me a disapproving stare, I get a little giddy. I can only imagine how my kids feel.
Surreal food, or food that is prepared from one set of ingredients but presented to look like something entirely different, is another sure bet. Flowerpot cake, complete with writhing gummy worms, or ice-cream cone cupcakes with swirling tops of frosting, or even the easier and healthier ants on a log (a peanut butter-filled celery stick with rows of raisins marching up and down) will all induce a giggle.
The fun doesn’t have to stop with the kids. Grown-ups need to let loose a little, too, although in this case the approach can be a little more direct.
Take Tequila Lime Chicken — it just sounds like a good time to most adults. Yes, the idea of using tequila in the marinade is novel, and the fact that there’s bound to be some left for other recipes (margaritas) is a bonus, but in this case the result is more than a party on a plate.
The combination of tequila, lime and orange juice, along with lime zest and chili powder, infuses the chicken breasts with bright flavors and just a tiny bit of heat. I usually serve the chicken with steamed rice and grilled vegetables, but it’s also delicious sliced and served as a taco filling for warm corn tortillas, which might be the preferred option for kids.
What’s even more fun for Mom and Dad is the fact that it’s all made in a freezer bag and then grilled, which means there’s not a lot of cleanup. Let the good times roll!
Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @meredithdeeds.