This is it - the season we've all been waiting for. Summer is here. But if you're living space is anything like mine, the idea of turning the oven on at any point of the day makes me sweat. But eating out for every meal in the summer is just not the . So I've compiled a few quick, cheap and cool recipes that will keep you cool and fed in the sweltering heat.
A great refreshing appetizer that's light, quick and easy is Green "Hummus". This is one of my absolute faves! All you need is a food processor or blender.
Green Hummus (serves 4)
2 cups shelled edamame, cooked according to package directions (can be done in the microwave)
1 cup of silken tofu, briefly drained of excess liquid
1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
3 tsp of minced garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice, plus more to taste
1 1/2 tsp cumin, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
Place the edamame, tofu, salt, garlic, oil, lemon juice, red pepper flakes and cumin in the bowl of the food processor and process until very smooth, about 2 minutes. Season with more salt, pepper or lemon juice if desired. Pour into a serving bowl. I like to serve with rice crackers, but any chip or crunchy vegetable will do. The leftovers can be put into a container refrigerated for up to one week.
My favorite "hearty" meal in the summertime is a great and plentiful pasta salad. There are plenty of ways to make pasta salad, but this is my recipe, so of course, my favorite!
T's Pasta Salad (serves about 8)
1 box of tri-color rotini
1 16oz bottle of Italian dressing (I use Zesty Italian)
1 block of Monterey Jack cheese, cut into small cubes
1 red pepper, diced
1 yellow or orange pepper, diced
1 3oz can of black olives, sliced
1 small container of cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
1 package of turkey kielbasa, cut into pieces (any kielbasa will do; you can even use chicken sausage)
Cook pasta according to package directions and drain. In a skillet, lightly brown kielbasa pieces and drain. In a large bowl, combine pasta, cheese, peppers, olives, tomatoes, kielbasa and dressing. I don't use the entire bottle of dressing, but you can add and mix until the salad texture is to your liking. Refrigerate for an hour, then serve. Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to four days.
One of my favorite summer salads is the most simple salads in the world to make - cucumber and tomato salad. Its so easy and very refreshing!
Cucumber and Tomato Salad (serves 2)
2 cucumbers, peeled and cut into quarters
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp pepper, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp of dried basil
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Then serve. Leftovers can be kept refrigerated for up to 3 days. This salad can also be doubled for more servings.
And last, but certainly not least, one of my favorite summer desserts, Fruit Pizza. This one does require a small amount of baking, but your oven won't be on longer than 30 minutes including preheat. A small price to pay for such a light delicious dessert!
For the crust:
3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar; blend in flour. Add extracts and salt, mixing well. Spread in bottom of ungreased 13x9-inch pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until deep golden brown. Remove from oven.
For the sauce:
1 6oz package white chocolate chips
1 4oz package cream cheese, brought to room temperature
Melt white chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl in 1 minute intervals, stirring in between, until completely melted. Transfer to mixing bowl, and mix the white chocolate with the cream cheese until blended. Spread this mixture on top of the crust like you would pizza sauce.
For the toppings:
1 peach, pitted and diced
1 container of blueberries and raspberries
1 kiwi, sliced and quartered
Make sure the pizza has cooled. Arrange fruit on top of "sauce" until the surface is covered. Refrigerate for one hour, cut into bars and serve.
No summer meal would be complete without a cocktail! The perfect way to beat the heat is with my Sweet "T" cocktail.
Sweet "T" (makes a pitcher)
1 1/2 cups of vodka
1 cup of Amaretto Liqueur
Fill with equal parts iced tea and lemonade.
Mix all ingredients and adjust to taste Serve over ice with a lemon wedge.
Happy Summer Eating and Drinking, and I hope you enjoy the recipes and stay cool!