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By Rebecca Fending
Summer cooking can either be the best or worst. Those of us that love cooking and baking year-round have vowed summer to be our nemesis. The seasonal struggle of wanting to use your oven and stove top for meals and snacks, but not wanting to turn them on in fear that your living quarters will soon feel like the Everglades. Fear not, the solution to this issue isn’t to exclusively use your microwave—instead, here’s a few fresh recipes that are great for summer cooking to wow both you and your guests:
Italian Cucumber Salad
Are you looking for a cool, refreshing snack that makes working vegetables into your diet delicious? This recipe is perfect for summer cooking—it’s simple to throw together, requires only four ingredients, of which you can choose how much or how little you want and lasts up to three days!
- 2 whole cucumbers (variety of your choosing)
- ½ or whole red onion (to taste)
- 4-5 Roma tomatoes
- Italian salad dressing
- 13 x 9 glass dish
Start by cutting cucumbers and tomatoes into circles, and the red onion into rings or half circles. Once vegetables are prepared, spread two tablespoons of Italian dressing on the bottom of your 13×9 dish. Layer cucumbers on top of the Italian dressing until the bottom of the dish is covered. Cover lightly with Italian dressing. Repeat with tomatoes and onions. Cover and chill for a minimum of one hour. Serves 2-4 people. Enjoy!
Tex-Mex Chicken Salad
One of the most refreshing dishes during the warmer months is a salad: cool, crisp and customizable. This salad is great for both meat lovers, vegetarians and picky eaters. Nearly every ingredient is optional, but for this recipe, we’re going to assume you want a little bit of everything for maximum flavor:
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 packet or 2 tablespoons of chicken fajita seasoning
- 1 yellow or white onion
- 1 package of romaine hearts
- 1 avocado
- 1 can black beans
- 1 can corn
- Fresh lime
- Fresh cilantro
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Salad dressing of your choosing (recommended: chipotle or avocado ranch)
- Mexican blend, pepper jack or cheddar shredded cheese
- OPTIONAL: Crushed tortilla chips for topping
Start by pan frying chicken breasts with sliced onion. Once cooked, shred and season with fajita seasoning according to directions on packet or bottle. Set aside. Wash and chop romaine hearts. Place in designated salad bowl and set aside. Wash, pit and dice avocado. Set aside as salad topping. Drain and rinse black beans and corn. Place on top of chopped romaine hearts along with shredded, seasoned chicken breasts.
Next, squeeze fresh lime juice, salt and pepper on top of salad to taste. Add fresh chopped or torn cilantro to salad bowl. Pour desired amount of salad dressing on top, toss well. Portion out salad mixture into size-appropriate bowls. Sprinkle cheese on top of bowl, as well as avocado and crush tortilla chips (optional). Bon appétit!
*BONUS: This also works well in a soft-shell taco for Taco Tuesdays!
No-Bake Peanut Butter Pie
This dessert is one of many summer treats that are sure to please any audience of all ages, and without heating up your house or apartment. A timeless summer recipe idea, this one is specifically made to be simplistic in a “set-it-and-forget-it” style, the ultimate way of summer cooking.
- 1 container of thawed Cool Whip
- 8 oz. block of cream cheese
- 1 cup peanut butter
- 1 ½ cup powdered sugar
- 1 cup whole milk
- Two 9 inch pre-made (or homemade, if you choose!) chocolate graham pie shells.
- OPTIONAL: Chocolate chips or shavings
Mix cream cheese and powdered sugar. Once combined, add peanut butter and milk until smooth, then fold in Cool Whip. Transfer to pie shells and top with (optional) chocolate chips or shavings, or any other toppings you’d like (crushed peanuts also make a great topper). Cover and leave in refrigerator overnight or freeze for 2-3 hours. Enjoy!