I have always believed the removing yourself from familiar surroundings and gaining different perspective can have a great impact on my mind and spirit. For the past few years, my family and I have been blessed to rent a little cottage for a few weeks every summer and it is a little piece of heaven for us all. With cottag-ing comes cottage meal planning and by now I have it down to a science! Here are some tips that can help make your summer getaway meal planning smoother and gives you more time to rejuvenate. Of course, I am always available to do meal planning for your vacations too and can be contacted here
Truth be told, I don’t love to cook as much as I do in the city when we are at the cottage. This is one of the few times a year I honestly say, Karen, stop. I find planning out our meals really helps to create an environment for playing and relaxing or having fun with friends in the kitchen.
I start by making a list of staples or pantry items. You can skip this if you or your family own the property. If renting, you can ask what’s in the kitchen or use this list.
Sample pantry and Kitchen staple list
Blender or magic bullet
Salt & Pepper
Vinegar Red wine, balsamic, apple cider
Rice, quinoa, millet, wheat berries etc
Beans (with veggies makes a great lunch)
Mustards (you can never have too many kinds of Mustards)
Salad dressing (you can make before and bring up or make there)
Spray oil. We like the spectrum brand they have canola and coconut
Homemade Pantry Staples
I make my own pancake and muffin recipes in dry ingredient batches and put in mason jars so I don’t have to bring up flour, baking soda etc. It cuts down on cooking time when we are up there (more time for the lake, reading and loafing). Also, you can do this with frozen stuff for smoothies; adding powders, flax seed etc to a baggie and put in the freezer at the cottage so all you have to do is add liquid!
Now my favorite part, the MEAL planning.
I create a calendar on my computer and print two copies. I fill in the farmer’s market days (to buy fresh produce) and guest days. On the back of one of the calendars, I start brainstorming meal ideas. I tend to always start with dinner, as for us it tends to be our most grand meal. We decide how many times we are going to have fish, tacos, meat, pasta and fill it in. I write down all my favorite (easy & quick) lunches because if it is nice out, I will not be happy being inside the cottage! Then breakfasts. I always plan on having 2-3 entertaining breakfasts and the rest are fun and easy. Another tip for breakfasts is to make muffins, banana bread ahead of time so the first few days at the cottage are simple and mess-free.
As I start to plot the meals, I being with guest days and add my fancy breakfasts, lunch and dinner (to the guests liking). I reference past recipes or ideas I have saved throughout the year that I know are crowd pleasers! I look for meals that need fresh produce and put those closest to the farmer’s market days. Pantry meals like tacos, pasta, hamburgers can be on days not close to the market as there ingredients stay fresh longer. For Breakfast & lunches, I want to lighten the carbohydrate intake so we don’t feel sluggish throughout the day so I add extra protein or veggies!
We buy and freeze our fish and meat for the entire time we are at the cottage. Some people may choose to buy fresh in town but we don’t like to go into town often and we are selective about the meat we consume.
We definitely leave room to be spontaneous and don’t always plan the entire meal. For example, ifI am planning on barbequing fish, we go to the market to let our natural cravings and inspiration lead the way! My time at the cottage, gives me the freedom without distraction and inspiration for many Fall recipes.
Here are typical days and recipes that will be making it our table this summer!
A Cottage Day meal plan
Breakfast: Smoothies (with protein powder or nut butter) & pancakes
*Save left over smoothies and freeze for popsicles as dessert or snacks
Lunch: Sausages and salad
Liquid Gold Salad Dressing (From my new favorite cook book Love Real Food)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice, 2 tbs of Dijon mustard, 2 tbs of honey, 3 cloves of garlic pressed, ¼ tsp of salt, fresh pepper. Add to mason jar and shake. Keeps in fridge for 2 weeks (which means you can pre-make and bring with you!)
Pasta with Corn Crema and charred green onions (recipe from Mastering Pasta)
Prep time: 10 minutes Total time: 30 minutes Serves 4-6
2 tbsp. olive oil
1⁄2 yellow onion, minced
2 large ears corn, shucked and kernels removed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 scallions, trimmed
1 lb. pappardelle or fettucine
Ricotta salata, for serving
1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil
2. Heat oil in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium heat; add onion and cook until soft, 3 minutes. Add ¼ cup water and all but ¼ cup corn; simmer until heated through and almost tender, 2-3 minutes. Add salt and pepper and transfer to a blender; purée crema until smooth.
3. Heat a 10” cast iron skillet until hot; cook scallions, flipping once, until charred, 2-3 minutes. Transfer scallions to a cutting board and mince. Wipe saucepan clean and add remaining oil; cook reserved corn and the scallions, 1 minute, then add corn crema and cook 1-2 minutes more.
4. Meanwhile. Cook pasta until al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain, reserving ½ cup pasta water; add pasta and reserved water to saucepan and toss to coat. Transfer to a serving platter and grate ricotta salata over the top.
- 1½ cups cooked broccoli florets, chopped small (from frozen or fresh)
- 6 large eggs
- ½ cup half-and-half, milk, or non-dairy milk
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ¾ cup shredded cheese (cheddar, Colby Jack, or Gouda make great options)
- Butter or oil for muffin pan
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- (If you don't have extra cooked broccoli handy, bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil, then add the broccoli florets and cook for 1 minute. Drain, blot dry, and chop).
- Butter or grease 6 to 8 muffin cups (you can choose to skip this for silicone cups). Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper. Stir in the cheese and broccoli. (Option: Divide the cheese and broccoli evenly into 6 to 8 portions and place in greased muffin cups instead).
- Ladle the egg mixture evenly into the muffin cups. Leave at least ¼ inch of space at the tops. (If using a silicone muffin pan or silicone cups, place on a baking sheet first.)
- Bake at 350F for 35 to 40 minutes, until golden brown.
For different taste combinations, you can add ½ cup chopped grilled or sauteed onion, or 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped green onions or chives.
You can substitute other leftover or extra veggies for the broccoli, or use a combination. Chopped spinach, zucchini, peas, or cauliflower also make great kid-friendly alternatives, and mixing in chopped carrots and tomatoes can create a fun twist. But really, anything works if it's something you'd enjoy with eggs!
Lunch- Focaccia bread from market and salad
Dinner- Miami ribs (I love the recipe from Smoke & Pickles cookbook), rice and vegetable from market
I hope whatever you are serving at your table this summer, the company is as delicious as your food!
Wishing you a wonderful healthy summer in the kitchen and beyond!