By Lorie Ham
Summer is here, and in much of the country, that can mean very hot temperatures. When it is that hot, no one wants to heat up the house even more by turning on the oven. So, what can you do? There are many options. You can use a crockpot, BBQ outdoors, make salads, or even use stovetop recipes.
Spoon University has a list of 21 recipes that don’t use the oven or stovetop. Some of the ones included are Yogurt Parfaits, Overnight Oats, Tuna Tartare, and a multitude of interesting and unusual salads.
Thrifty Frugal Mom offers 45 different no-oven dinner ideas and recipes for your summer eating. The article includes several crockpot recipes such as Creamy Crockpot Mexican Chicken and Slow Cooker Black Bean Enchiladas. They also include many Instant Pot recipes like Smothered Pork Chops with Mushroom Gravy, as well as stovetop and grill recipes, and ones for salads, sandwiches, and wraps.
If you want to do some BBQing this summer, Delish.com has a list of 45 BBQ recipes including ones for fish tacos, loaded grilled cauliflower, cabbage steaks, Balsamic Grilled Mushrooms, and more traditional grilling fair like burgers, chicken, and steak. Also on Delish.com, you can find 62 recipes for summer salads.
On Don’t Waste the Crumbs, they recommend cooking ahead before it gets really hot, and then heating the food up in the microwave at dinner time. They also suggest batch cooking, and approaching the idea of meals a bit differently.
If you are wondering how to pick the right slow cooker, the Food Network has a great list of product reviews. If you are looking to buy your first outdoor grill, cnet has some good advice. Picking the right grill for you means deciding on fuel type, size, price, style and extra features.
For some cool summer cooking suggestions that you won’t find by doing a Google search, we chatted with some mystery authors who feature cooking and recipes in their books to see what they would recommend.
Victoria Hamilton, who writes the Merry Muffin Mysteries, prefers cooking ahead of time in the cool of the morning or evening. “I usually have bean salad in the fridge (here’s where you can find Victoria’s recipe for bean salad). I loathed bean salad as a kid. Couldn’t even look at it. And now it’s my go-to vegetable side dish! And so simple. It will keep for up to three weeks in the fridge! I store it in glass Mason jars. Other make aheads can be a whole chicken cooked, or a ham, and a pasta or potato salad. Pasta salad—such as a tortellini salad with a lemon and olive oil dressing and cherry tomatoes—tastes even better the next day.”
Author Edith Maxwell, who writes the County Store Mysteries, likes to use a lot of fresh vegetables. “I like lots of salads, cold soups, and grilled foods.”
She also suggests using the microwave more. “Want potato salad? Cook the potatoes in the microwave. Steam corn on the cob in the microwave. Boil water in the microwave. You can even cook bacon for your BLT in the microwave.” You can find two of her favorite summer time recipes—Cucumber Dill Salad and Pell’s Yogurt-Honey Fruit Salad Dressing, here.
Peg Cochran, who writes the Farmer’s Daughter Mystery Series, prefers grilling. “I love grilling because there are no pans to wash afterwards and I get to stand outside on the deck in the nice weather! Also, everything tastes better grilled. Throw a steak, chicken, burgers, or fish on the grill, make a big salad, cook some corn on the cob in the microwave, and dinner is done without creating a heat wave in the kitchen.”
One of her favorite things to grill is Chicken Satay. “Thread strips of chicken breast on skewers and grill. Serve with peanut sauce, some basmati rice, and cucumber salad or Asian slaw. I also love to do shrimp on the grill—marinate in some olive oil, oregano, and garlic (lots!) for a few minutes, put on skewers and grill—they’re done in no time.”
Peg also suggests using an air fryer, or serving up a casual “antipasto” dinner of cheeses, dried salami, prosciutto, roasted peppers, olives and whatever else suits your fancy!
Here is Peg’s recipe for Peanut Dipping Sauce:
- 1 cup peanut butter
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons red chili paste like sriracha
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 2 limes, juiced
- ½ cup hot water.
Combine all of the above except for the hot water in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Add enough hot water to thin sauce to dipping consistency. Enjoy with grilled chicken.
If you are also a mystery reader, you can find even more recipes in the author’s books!
To find fresh fruit and vegetables for your summer meals, be sure to check out fruit stands and farmer’s markets. If you live in the Fresno County area of California, you can find a great list on the Fresno County Fruit Trail website. Wherever you live in the United States, check out Local Farm Markets to find a guide to your local farmer’s markets.
We would love it if you would share some of your summer beat-the-heat meals with us on our Facebook page!