The Midwest is suffering (along with most of the rest of the nation) a prolonged heat advisory weather situation. You step out the door and the heat and humidity just take your breath away.
Although we lose some of our appetites on these dog days of summer, we do still want a bite now and again. In order to avoid the temptation to eat out and blow the budget, I’m sharing some of my own favorite hot weather recipes. Most are extra simple to fix, don’t sit heavily in your stomach and won’t heat up the kitchen.
Tuna stuffed tomato
If you can get your hands on them, home grown tomatoes are primo to use. Fix the tuna salad first, then wash the tomatoes, turn them stem side down and cut slashes in the whole tomato to hold the tuna salad. I start by cutting the tomato through its center, not quite all the way through, then turn it and cut again, turn and cut and so on until it opens up like a flower.
Put a fresh, crisp leaf of lettuce on a dinner plate, tomato on top, filled with tuna salad – pop on a couple of soda crackers and serve with sun tea.
Here is how I make my tuna salad – for the two of us:1 can white tuna in water.
- About a tablespoon of mayo or salad dressing
- 1 slice yellow onion
- About a tablespoon of pickle relish
- Mix it all up – making sure it doesn’t get too juicy.
Chicken salad on croissant
I served this at a wedding shower – tasty, simple and elegant. You can cook the chicken breast in the microwave to beat the heat, or use leftovers from your last outdoor chicken grilling. I just buy the big croissants at the grocery baker section.
The chicken salad recipe I used was from All Recipe.com and is called Crunchy Chicken Salad.
Garden salad with fruit plate
When it is hot, we just don’t want a lot of carbs or protein rich foods. On those days, I toss together a lettuce salad using whatever I can find in the fridge and cabinet, then arrange cool fresh fruit on a tray.
For the garden salad, I like to use a combination of iceberg (for it’s crispness) and green or red leaf lettuce (for the nutrition). I add tomatoes, peppers, onions, cheese, walnuts, and cucumber if we have it. We top it off with our favorite dressing – tangy bacon catalina.
I try to keep several varieties of fruit on hand all the time. For the fruit tray, I will used sliced apples, whole stemmed strawberries, blueberries, watermelon, cantaloupe or whatever other variety of juicy fruit we have on hand. It’s blueberry season at our house right now (we have two bushes going nuts with berries) – so we are having a lot of blueberries mixed with sliced strawberries and a sprinkle of sugar on top.
BBQ chicken and grilled corn on the cob
If it isn’t too hot to grill (as it has been this week), I will pre-cook a couple of chicken breasts in the microwave, then finish them up on the grill along with corn on the cob, which I have prepared by shucking it, removing the stringy things, buttering, salting and peppering and wrapping in aluminum foil. That’s usually all we want.
Bow tie pasta with spaghetti sauce
Although this one heats the stove top for about 30 minutes, it is super easy to fix and we love it – especially sprinkled with garlic salt.
The secret is making sure the pasta is cooked al dente – I used to undercook it and that made it taste less then perfect. I like the Hunt’s pasta sauce with vegetables in it. I just cook and drain the pasta, open the sauce and put it in with the pasta and heat until the sauce is warm.
No bake chocolate oatmeal cookies
I discovered this wonderful food item late in life. They are also super easy to make and great to satisfy a mid summer chocolate craving….in fact, I may go make some after finishing this post!
Here is the recipe I use. It is halved from the one in my recipe book as there are just two of us now.
Place the following ingredients in a saucepan and stir occassionally until boiling:
¼ c milk, 1 C. granulated sugar, ½ stick margarine, ¼ C. cocoa.
Turn heat down and add the following until the entire mix is evenly combined:
½ C peanut butter, 1 ½ C. oatmeal
Let it cool a few minutes, then spoon onto greased (or lined with wax paper) pans. Chill in refrigerator. Eat, Yum.
Homemade ice cream
My grandparents started the tradition of making home made ice cream in the summer. Mom and Dad passed it along to me and now I make it for my own grand children – but only on special occassions.
Here is my recipe for basic homemade vanilla ice cream.
You need one of those ice cream makers that take salt and ice on the outside, and has a motor (or crank if you want to work extra hard for your ice cream) to turn the milk mixture while it is cooled by the salt/ice combo.
Wash and sterilize the can that holds the milk mixture and let it cool before you start.
Vanilla Ice Cream (Basic Recipe)
- 2 Cups milk (I use 2%).
- 1 Cup sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 cups light or table cream
- 4 Tablespoons of vanilla (use the real stuff please)
- Several cups of rock salt
- 10 + pounds of ice cubes or crushed ice
Scald the milk, add the sugar and salt to the scalded milk and stir until dissolved. Add the cream, then the vanilla. Do this ahead of time so you can put it in the refrigerator to cool off (this makes the ice cream set faster).
Turn into the freezer can that you sterilized. Put the paddle into the can and fasten the lid on tightly. Makes 2 quarts.
To actually freeze it, you put the freezer can into the ice cream machine with the lid on tightly. Hook up the motor and plug it in. The freezer can will start turning in the ice cream machine bucket. The paddle inside the can doesn’t turn, causing the milk mixture to agitate.
Add ice into the bucket outside of the freezer can, then add a layer of rock salt on top of the ice. Keep alternating additions of ice and salt until the ice cream machine bucket is full to the top drain hole. The milk mixture usually takes about ½ hour to freeze. You have to keep adding salt and ice – as the salt will melt the ice. In case you aren’t aware, the salt/ice combo makes things colder.
When the machine cannot turn the bucket anymore, it will stop – the ice cream has thickened and is almost ready to eat!
Unplug the ice cream maker, pack the bucket with more ice and cover with a cloth or towel and let it sit for a bit to further solidify.
This melts fast when you pull it out to eat it – gather the crowd, bowls and spoons before hand and enjoy.
What are your favorite hot weather recipes?