Here are some quick and easy recipes that are easy to make and that are perfect for quick summer dinners or entertaining.
There are times during the summer when the kitchen just seems like a prison. Even 15 minutes seems like an eternity when it is hot outside. It is for those days that I rely on these recipes. They are simple, easy to make, and best of all, fast. Most don’t have to be cooked and many require just a few ingredients. A few can even be made in less than five minutes. What could be easier? A dinner mixed and matched from these recipes can be served to company in less than 30 minutes and both you and your kitchen will keep your cool.
Classic Clam Dip
Once you make this easy clam dip you will never purchase a pre-packaged one again. It is simple and easy to prepare and tastes just marvelous. It can be made up to 48 hours in advance, or whipped up and served immediately.
- 6 1/2 ounces minced clams
- 8 ounces softened cream cheese
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- Dash cayenne pepper
- Freshly ground black pepper
Drain the clams, reserving 2 tablespoons of juice. Beat the juice with the cream cheese, sour cream, and Worcestershire sauce. Fold in the clams, parsley, garlic, cayenne, and pepper. Serve immediately or chill.
Makes about 2 cups of dip.
Light Cucumber Canape
We are always looking for tasty low fat appetizers that look great and taste even better. This is one of our more popular and savory staples that everyone really enjoys. The Parmesan mixture also makes a great topping for crackers or tomatoes. The Parmesan mixture can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
- 1 cup low fat cottage cheese
- 1/4 cup fat free mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons grated low fat Parmesan cheese or Asiago cheese
- 1 thickly sliced English cucumber
- Fresh parsley
Place the cottage cheese, mayonnaise, and Parmesan in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Drop about two teaspoons of the mixture onto each cucumber slice and garnish with a fresh parsley sprig.
Chicken, Spinach, and Raspberry Salad
A favorite dish for the end of a busy day, this salad is summer comfort food for me. Cubed roast or poached chicken can be used in this recipe, but I always use grilled chicken. On a cool day I marinate dozens of boneless skinless chicken breasts in raspberry vinaigrette (recipe below) and then grill them while it is cool outside until they are cooked through. I then cool them slightly, slice them into thin strips and freeze them. Whenever I want cooked chicken with tons of flavor I just grab them from the freezer and thaw. Store-bought raspberry vinaigrette can be used in this recipe, or you can use the recipe for Wen’s Raspberry Vinaigrette below.
- 3 cups cubed cooked chicken
- 1 pint washed raspberries
- 20 ounces washed and trimmed baby spinach leaves
- 1/3 cup sliced almonds
- 1 1/2 cups raspberry vinaigrette (recipe below)
Toss all of the ingredients together. Serve immediately.
Wen’s Raspberry Vinaigrette
This is our “house” raspberry vinaigrette. If you do not have the fresh tarragon, simply omit rather than using dried. The dressing stays fresh for about a week in the refrigerator if stored in a tightly sealed container.
- 1/2 cup raspberry vinegar
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh shallots
- 2 crushed garlic cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup olive oil
In a bowl whisk together the vinegar, shallots, garlic, mustard, tarragon, and salt and pepper to taste. Slowly whisk in the oil until it is well blended. Use immediately, or store in the refrigerator and shake or stir well before serving.
1 1/2 cups of dressing
Tuna, Tomato, and Cannellini Bean Salad
No-cook main dish salads are a staple in my household during the summer. Our kitchen is always the hottest room in the house, and using the oven or stove increases the temperature substantially. Which makes recipes like this one a blessing. It is quick, easy, and inexpensive to throw together. It is wonderful for casual entertaining served with some fresh crusty bread and sliced fruit.
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 15 ounces drained and rinsed cannellini beans
- 7 ounce can drained and flaked tuna
- 3/4 cup halved grape or cherry tomatoes
- 1 bunch minced scallions
- 1/2 cup minced basil
- 4 minced garlic cloves
- 8 cups washed and torn salad greens
Mix together the vinegars and oil in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the beans, tuna, tomatoes, scallions, basil, and garlic and mix well. Add the salad greens and toss well before serving.
Grilled Bruschetta Loaf
I like nice and easy side dishes, and grilled bread is something so easy and a dish that everyone just seems to inhale like it is going out of style. They do the same thing with bruschetta…but it takes so long to make each bruschetta that it isn’t practical when serving a crowd when you are short on time. This recipe is, and tastes marvelous. The key is to use your favorite good quality Italian dressing for great results.
- 1 long loaf French or Italian bread, halved lengthwise
- 1 cup Italian dressing
- 4 sliced plum tomatoes
- 1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup minced fresh basil
Brush the cut side of the bread with the Italian dressing. Grill cut side down for 3 minutes. Layer the tomatoes over the bread and top with the cheeses. Return to the grill and grill cheese side up for another 2-3 minutes or until the cheese melts. Sprinkle with the fresh basil and serve hot.
Strawberry-Cantaloupe Salad with Marshmallow Dressing
I have to admit to being a bit skeptical of my husband’s liking for cantaloupe and marshmallow cream, but it actually is surprisingly good. Add some strawberries and a few more simple ingredients and it becomes great! You can also skewer the melon and berries and use the sauce as a dipping sauce rather than making it a salad.
- 1 large ripe cubed cantaloupe
- 1 pint hulled and halved strawberries
- 3/4 cup marshmallow cream
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
- Freshly grated zest from one orange
- Pinch salt
Toss together the cantaloupe and strawberries in a large bowl. In a small bowl mix together the marshmallow cream, orange juice, orange zest, and salt until smooth. Pour over the cantaloupe mixture. Serve immediately, or chill for up to 6 hours before serving, tossing well before serving.
Belgian Waffle Sundaes
These fast and easy sundaes bring back fond memories of pajama parties and lazy Sunday mornings. Wonderful for a dessert or as a really indulgent breakfast, these sundaes are truly scrumptious. If you are ambitious you can use your favorite homemade waffle recipe in place of the frozen waffles.
- 1/2 cup raspberry jam
- 6 frozen Belgian waffles
- 1 pint vanilla ice cream
- 2 cups raspberries
- 1 cup whipped topping
- 1/4 cup chocolate syrup
Melt the jam in a small pan on the stove or in the microwave until smooth. While the jam is melting, heat the waffles according to the package directions and place a waffle on each plate. Top each waffle with a few scoops of the ice cream. Sprinkle the raspberries over top, and drizzle with the melted jam. Top with a few tablespoons of the whipped cream and drizzle the chocolate sauce over the whole sundae.