Nope, not Summer Cooking for Dummies, but close.
Now that things are heating up, many people are trying to figure out how to make meals without too much heat or fuss.
First thing's first - figure out what methods of cooking you have available and whether or not you are comfortable with them. One thing you definitely don't want to do is turn on the oven! Even if you have A/C the heat from the oven takes longer to dissipate in the summer since the humidity is generally higher. Also, anything that involves boiling water is something you want to do before sunrise or after sunset. If there is anything that I definitely need the oven or stovetop for (ie; certain cakes, pastas, rice) I try to get it done as early in the day as possible when it's generally cooler and more likely that the kitchen will cool off by mealtime.
I would try to stick with these appliances: refrigerator/freezer, crockpot, microwave, sandwich maker, waffle iron, blender, food processor, tabletop or stovetop grill, outdoor grill and electric frying pan. (I don't even own all of these myself, so you can make do with less.)
OK, now that you have your basic appliances chosen, what do you cook with them?
Here's where I come in! I have too many crockpot recipes and many for the microwave. I will post microwave recipes for sure, but they will be fewer since individual microwaves vary in heating times making it harder to pin down the method for many recipes. They are great to have and you can make a perfect cake with them as I discovered when we were without cooking gas for about a month once. (My microwave made a 9x9 cake in 10 minutes at 50% power, for instance. I did need to play around the first couple times but once I had it down we had cake fairly often.)
My favorite recipes are the ones that don't involve any cooking and those are most likely the ones I will share first.
My personal favorites for hotter days:
No-Cook or almost-no-cook:
- Fruit and Cheese with crackers or bread
- Tortilla Roll-Ups and wraps
- Cut up veggies and dip (cucumber, carrot, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, grape tomatoes, zucchini, etc.)
- Cucumber Salad
- Pasta Salads
- Sandwich spreads
- Smoothies and milkshakes
- Rice dishes
- Chicken patty sandwiches
- Quick pizzas
- Veggie melts
- Bulgogi (aka-Korean BBQ beef)
- Hot dogs
- Lime Ranch Chicken
- BBQ Chicken
- Grill roasted potatoes
- Grill roasted corn
- Chicken and veggie packets
- Crockpot Chicken Stew
- Chicken with Noodles
- Sausage and Rice dinner
- Chicken and Rice
- Triple Chocolate Mess Dessert
Here is a sample to get you going. Keep "tuning in" during the Summer for lots more!
Ham and Cheese Ranch Roll-Ups
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese-softened
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese-room temperature
1 cup mayonnaise
1 envelope Ranch Dip Mix
3/4 pound shaved deli ham-chopped if necessary
3/4 cup green onion, thinly sliced
12 (9 inch) flour tortillas
In medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, cheddar, mayonnaise, and
dip mix until well combined. Stir in ham and onion, Spread each
tortilla thinly with ham mixture, leaving a scant 1/2 inch edge on
one side. Roll up toward side with 1/2 inch edge and wrap tightly in
plastic wrap; chill thoroughly, 3 to 4 hours or up to 2 days. Slice
rolls into 1/2 inch slices for appetizers or serve whole for full servings; discard ends if desired and arrange spirals on serving dish. Cover tightly and chill until ready to
serve, up to 24 hours.
Serves approximately 16 - 20 as an appetizer or 12 as a main dish.
5 Layer Mediterranean Dip
2 c hummus (recipe below)
1/2 c chopped tomato
1/4 c chopped cucumber
1 pkg. (8 oz.) Feta cheese-crumbled
2 T sliced pitted ripe olives
Spread hummus on bottom of 9-inch pie plate.
Layer with remaining ingredients. Serve with pita chips or wedges.
Makes 2 cups
2 cups cooked and drained garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
1/2 cup tahini - sesame paste
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
juice of 1 lemon
Toss everything into a blender and pulse until smooth. For this one I added in a cup of diced red pepper. You can add in other veggies, etc. just make sure to balance out the liquid so the hummus isn't too thin.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
Makes 36 bars
2 c powdered sugar
2 c graham cracker crumbs
1 c smooth peanut butter
1/2 c +2 T butter or margarine-melted
12 oz Milk chocolate or semisweet chocolate chips-melted
Mix the powdered sugar, cracker crumbs, peanut butter and butter in a
medium size bowl until blended.
Scrape into an ungreased 13x9 baking pan and press into an even layer.
spread the melted chocolate over the top. Refrigerate at least 2
hours until the chocolate is firm. Let stand at room temperature, 15
to 20 minutes before cutting with a sharp knife into bars.
White Sangria Punch (Non-alcoholic)
12- 3/4 cup servings
4 c white grape juice
1 c pink grapefruit juice
1T lime juice
1 club soda bottle- 750 ml- chilled
Pink grapefruit slices
In large pitcher, combine grape, grapefruit and lime
juices; refrigerate. Just before serving, add soda water
and grapefruit slices.
Summer Cooking 101 Part II, Big Ideas for Little Tummies