A Sacramento mom dishes on parenting, family and everything in between

Pressed for time and looking for a delicious summer meal shortcut?

Head to Ikedas California Country Market in Auburn or Davis, where you can pick up fantastic pre-seasoned tri-tip, locally grown produce and fabulous pie.

tritip.jpgI'm usually not one to spring for pre-marinated meats, since I enjoy cooking and find that to be part of the fun, but Ikedas' tri-tips are so tender, so wonderfully seasoned, why mess with perfection?

The store sells a tri-tip made with Ikedas seasoning, as well as one with Ikedas marinade. The seasoned tri-tip is slightly spicy, while the marinated tri-tip has a touch of sweetness to it that makes the flavor dance in your mouth.

Over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, I cooked my 2 1/2 pound Ikedas seasoned tri-tip over medium heat on the grill for about 45 minutes, which, after resting for about 15 minutes, resulted in the meat being cooked to medium.

dinner.jpgServed alongside grilled white corn and a tangy and sweet summer salad, it made for a beautiful, simple summer meal.

Ikedas has two locations: 3500 Lincoln Way, Auburn and 26295 Mace Blvd., Davis.

Here's my recipe for the salad, which is delicious on its own as a light meal or as a side dish.

Tangy and sweet summer salad

Prep time:
10 minutes
Cook time: 9 minutes
Serves: 4
Notes: You can purchase glazed pecans at many markets if you're too busy to make them at home. Add slices of Granny Smith apples for an extra kick of crunchiness that kids will love.

1 cup pecans
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 cups spring mix lettuce
About 4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Consorzio Raspberry and Balsamic Fat-free dressing

Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and scatter pecans on the tray, making a single layer. Bake in the oven for about 4 minutes. Remove pecans to a medium-size bowl and let cool for about 2 minutes. Drizzle honey over the pecans and stir with a spoon, coating them. Sprinkle the sugar over the pecans and stir again. Pour the pecans back onto the cookie sheet and bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from oven, breaking apart nuts that may be stuck together, and add to a big salad serving bowl.
Add lettuce, blue cheese, cranberries and just enough salad dressing to lightly dampen the leaves (start with about 1/4 cup and add to taste).

What did you grill for the Fourth of July? Have you discovered a great dinner shortcut? Share your ideas and recipes here.
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