It’s the “Dog Days” of summer, which means the days are hot and long. But what are the Dog Days, exactly?
The term Dog Days traditionally refers to a period of particularly hot and humid weather occurring during the summer months of July and August in the Northern Hemisphere.
This period of sweltering weather coincides with the year’s rising of Sirius, the Dog Star. Sirius is part of the constellation Canis Majoris—the “Greater Dog”—which is where Sirius gets its canine nickname, as well as its official name, Alpha Canis Majoris. Not including our own Sun, Sirius is the brightest star in the sky.
In ancient Greece and Rome, the Dog Days were believed to be a time of drought, bad luck, and unrest, when dogs and men alike would be driven mad by the extreme heat. Today, the phrase doesn’t conjure up such bad imagery. Instead, the Dog Days are associated purely with the time of summer’s peak temperatures and humidity.
Surviving the Dog Days of Summer
The summer heat is peaking, and it’s getting harder to keep things cool in the kitchen. When you can’t bear to turn your oven on, look for other cooking methods to avoid eating salads at every meal. Just when you think you’ve run out of creative juice, here are five ideas, and a few fun recipes, that make meal planning during the dog days of summer a breeze.
Break Out the Blender
When it comes to summertime dishes, gazpacho has been trending for years. Mix and match ingredients to design the soup of your choice without leaving a pot of simmering liquid on the stove for an hour. Simply blend your flavors, then place the mixture in the fridge to cool. It’s that simple.
Combine all the ingredients in a blender and purée for 1 minute.
Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, then enjoy cold.
Utilize Your Grill or Slow Cooker
Your slow cooker isn’t reserved for cold weather. Instead of heavy, creamy comfort foods, use your slow cooker to braise cheap cuts of meat for tacos or a salad. It’s an easy way to save money and time on nights when you’re not in the mood to cook and it’s too hot to turn the oven or stove on. You can choose from a variety of flavored glazes or pure maple syrup to sweeten your pot.
In a gallon-sized zippered plastic bag place the flour, salt, and pepper and mix to combine.
Place 2 chicken thighs, at a time, in the bag with the flour mixture and zip close the bag. Shake the bag to coat the chicken with flour. Open the bag and remove chicken from the bag, shaking off the excess flour and place chicken on a large platter, and set aside.
In a large skillet on the stove-top heat vegetable oil on medium heat until hot.
Place 2 to 3 pieces of chicken in the hot oil and cook for about 3 minutes until lightly golden brown. Flip chicken over and cook an additional 3 minutes until lightly browned. The chicken will still be raw inside.
With a pair of tongs carefully remove the chicken from the frying pan and transfer it to a 3 1/2-quart casserole slow cooker OR a 5-quart or larger oval or round slow cooker.
Continue cooking with the rest of the chicken placing the chicken in your slow cooker.
For the Sauce: In a small bowl mix together the real maple syrup, dijon mustard, and fresh herbs. Stir to combine and then spoon over the chicken.
Cover and cook on LOW for 6 hours or on HIGH for 4 hours.
Cook with Citrus
Give your grill a break and turn seafood into ceviche. This Peruvian dish is perfect for hot days when you’re craving something refreshing. Zingy flavors from lemon and lime juice “cook” seafood such as shrimp, octopus, or scallops.
In a medium bowl, add the pink grapefruit juice, lemon juice, lime juice, onions, pineapple, maple syrup, salt, and red chile. Whisk.
Add the scallops and striped bass, and mix.
Cover the bowl and refrigerate until the seafood is opaque and cooked from the acid in the fruit, about 20 minutes.
Serve the ceviche in a martini glass, add a few sweet potato chips or plantain chips and sprinkle with fresh cilantro.
If you’re looking for another easy way to beat the heat this summer using your blender, we have the drink for you! Fun, frosted and oh-so-flavorful slushies are here to keep you refreshed all season long. They’re also super versatile and sure to satisfy everyone.
Pour into popsicle molds. Freeze for 1 hour, then add popsicle sticks.
Freeze another 2 hours, or until frozen solid.
Break Out the Ice Cream
And if all else fails? Ice cream! You can’t go wrong with a bowl of ice cream covered in your favorite toppings to cool you off on a hot summer day. Looking for a way to take your ice cream to the next level? Try topping your favorite ice cream with one of our flavored maple syrups. Check out these great flavor combos!