Photo: Aaron Kirk; Prop Styling: Sarah Elizabeth Cleveland; Food Styling: Adam Dolge

Sometimes, simple is best. 

Antara Sinha
August 17, 2018

Summer cooking is fun, but let’s be honest—a lot of those seemingly fresh, low-effort, sunny recipes are surprisingly tricky and time-consuming. Latticing the top of a picture-perfect cobbler, dealing with grill mishaps, pitting and chopping pounds of summer fruit for preserves, agonizing over hours-long smoke and cook times for those weekend cookouts—it can quickly become a messy, sweaty ordeal. That’s why we scaled it back this week, and focused on one-skillet basics to help you ease into those hectic back-to-school routines. This 25-minute Zucchini Fried Rice is a tasty and (most importantly) easy weeknight option that’s also a great way to pack in more of that summer zucchini. A simple Mediterranean Chicken Skillet uses no-frills ingredients for a stunning dish, with easy clean-up, you can effortlessly add into your weeknight rotation.

When it comes weekly meal-prep we happened upon some helpful revelations from unexpected places—turns out hosting a cat birthday party over the weekend is also a great way to get a head start planning your week’s lunches and dinners. And buying in bulk and joining a CSA may be the simplest ways to save a boatload of cash when you’re packing your brown bags for the week. Maybe you’ll consider packing yourself a peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwich every now and then? We tried it, and were surprisingly on-board with this Southern concoction.

And of course, as always, we stayed curious about some of those basic ingredients you may take for granted in your fridge and pantry. Turns out, Chinese sesame paste and tahini are not the same thing—and the difference in taste is pretty significant so you’ll want to double check your favorite noodles or hummus recipe to make sure you’re using the correct ingredient called for. If you’ve ever noticed red spots in the yolks of fresh eggs and have wondered whether they were safe to eat, we took a deep dive into what causes them and whether you need to toss them out. And if you’ve been on a quest to cook the perfect crispy-fried pork chop but haven’t been quite getting the results you wanted, you may want to reconsider the meat you’re buying—the thickness of the chop can be a real game-changer for the end result, and we broke down how to buy the best cut for every recipe.

Whether you’re still wading through summer vacation mode or are already knee-deep in that back-to-school grind, take this weekend to scale it back and keep it simple. Mid-August calls for stress-free, no-hassle cooking that still leads to sunny and delicious eating.

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