Summer Time Tips to Stay Cool in the Kitchen

Cooking less in the summer saves energy while cooling down your house and your body as well.

In the summer, pay attention to the long-range weather forecast especially the stretch of sizzling days ahead.

Take advantage of the cooler days to prepare a few extra meals and stash them in the freezer. The frozen food will be microwave-ready when you can't face the kitchen during a hot spell.

Eat and drink cold foods such as salads, fruits, sandwiches, hard-boiled eggs, bread and cheeses, ice water, milk, etc.

If you have to cook, make something covered on the stove or in your microwave rather than heating up the oven. Prepare quick cooking main dishes such as fish.

Cut things like vegetables into smaller and evenly sized pieces to speed up the cooking process.

Defrost everything completely before you cook and make sure you cover all the pans you use.

Summer is what the charcoal grill was invented for. Why cook in the kitchen when you can get outside and grill?

But if it's that hot, turn to small appliances like the electric skillet indoors. It would be handy for stir-fried vegetables, caramelized onions, poached fish, etc. Skillets maintain low temperatures well and release almost no heat into the kitchen.

Sandwiches aren't just for lunch in the summer. They are ideal for a hot evening when served with a cool fruit salad or a refreshing fruit smoothie.

You can also serve the sandwich and soup combo with soups that don't have to be hot like the gazpacho.

Salads are made for the summer. Basic salads will do – a mix of romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and the like. If you like you can add protein like chicken, fish, cheese and garbanzo beans.

Another quick summer meal is pita bread filled with hummus, olives, feta cheese, and roasted peppers.



Cool Summer Recipes

The following are some summer recipes, courtesy of Sunset Magazine:

Golden Gazpacho

PREP TIME: About 25 minutes
MAKES: 4 servings

2 yellow bell peppers (about 1 lb. total)
1 cup chilled fat-skimmed chicken broth or vegetable broth
1/2 cup chilled sour cream
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2/3 cup seedless green grapes, rinsed and cut in half
2/3 cup cherry tomatoes (3/4 to 1 in. wide), stemmed, rinsed, and cut into halves or quarters
2/3 cup diced English cucumber
1/4 cup coarsely chopped salted roasted almonds
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves
Salt and fresh-ground pepper

  1. Rinse, stem, seed, and coarsely chop bell peppers.
  2. In a blender, combine peppers, broth, sour cream, and lemon juice. Whirl until smooth. If making up to 1 day ahead, cover and chill.
  3. Ladle soup into wide bowls. Onto the centers, spoon equal portions of grapes, tomatoes, cucumber, almonds, cilantro, and mint. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Per serving: 253 cal., 39% (99 cal.) from fat; 12 g protein; 11 g fat (5.7 g sat.); 23 g carbohydrates (2.1 g fiber); 212 mg sodium; 29 mg chol.


Red Pepper Puré e with Smoked Trout

PREP AND COOK TIME: About 40 minutes if quick-chilled
MAKES: 4 servings

1 pound thin-skinned potatoes
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 cups fat-skimmed chicken broth
3/4 cup canned peeled roasted red peppers
1 cup half-and-half (light cream)
2 oranges (about 1/2 lb. each)
1 hard-cooked large egg
1/4 pound boned, skinned smoked trout
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives Salt and fresh-ground pepper

  1. Rinse and peel potatoes; cut into 1/2-inch chunks.
  2. In a 2- to 3-quart pan over high heat, combine potatoes, onion, broth, and red peppers. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer until potatoes mash easily, about 20 minutes.
  3. In a blender or food processor, whirl potato mixture until smooth. Return to pan and add half-and-half. Quick-chill soup or cover and refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.
  4. Meanwhile, with a sharp knife, cut peel and white membrane from oranges. Working over a bowl, cut between inner membranes and fruit to release segments into bowl; discard peel and membrane.
  5. Shell egg and shred or finely chop. Break trout into flakes.
  6. Ladle soup into wide bowls. Garnish equally with orange segments and trout; sprinkle egg and chives on top. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Per serving: 317 cal., 34% (108 cal.) from fat; 19 g protein; 12 g fat (5.4 g sat.); 35 g carbo (4.3 g fiber); 449 mg sodium; 83 mg chol.


Ginger-Lemon Salad Soup

PREP AND COOK TIME: About 40 minutes if quick-chilled
NOTES: Serve with chopsticks and a spoon, or a fork and spoon.
MAKES: 4 servings

2 stalks (each 12 to 15 in.) fresh lemon grass
1/4 cup minced fresh ginger
1 quart fat-skimmed chicken broth or vegetable broth
2 ounces dried thin rice noodles (mai fun or rice sticks)
2/3 cup long, thin carrot shreds
2/3 cup long, thin daikon shreds
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons slivered fresh mint leaves
Asian fish sauce (nuoc mam or nam pla) or salt

  1. Rinse lemon grass; trim and discard stem ends and leaves, and pull off and discard coarse outer layer. Cut stalks into 1/2-inch pieces.
  2. In a 2- to 3-quart pan over high heat, combine lemon grass, ginger, and broth. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes. Quick-chill soup or cover and refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.
  3. Meanwhile, in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart pan, bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add rice noodles and stir to separate. Cook until tender to bite, about 3 minutes. Pour into a fine strainer over the sink and rinse with cold water until cool, about 1 minute. With scissors, cut noodles in 2 or 3 places to make smaller pieces.
  4. In a bowl, mix noodles, carrot, and daikon.
  5. Pour broth mixture through a fine strainer into four wide bowls; discard residue. Mound noodle mixture equally in centers of bowls. Scatter cilantro and mint on top. Add fish sauce to taste.

Per serving: 102 cal., 0.9% (0.9 cal.) from fat; 8.5 g protein; 0.1 g fat (0 g sat.); 16 g carbo (0.8 g fiber); 111 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.


Great non-alcoholic drinks for Summer

Aqua Fresca

INGREDIENTS:
4 cups drinking water
2 cups fresh fruit
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons lemon or lime juice
lime or lemon wedges for garnish

PREPARATION:

In a blender combine water and fruit. Puree until smooth. Pour mixture through a sieve into a pitcher or serving container. Stir in lemon or lime juice and sugar. Add additional sugar to taste. Garnish with a lemon or lime wedge.


Virgin Piñ a Colada

The tropical flavors of pineapple and coconut are perfect together blended with ice.

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup pineapple juice
1 cup crushed pineapple
1/2 cup coconut milk (canned or fresh)
juice from one lime
ice to top of blender

PREPARATION:

Blend ingredients until ice is slushy. Pour into frosted glasses and enjoy immediately.