It's finally summer! Lighter evenings and swelteringly hot days may make cooking/baking the last thing you want to do, but summer is actually the best time to try new recipes. Summer fruits are ripe and ready to use in salads and desserts, and easy-to-make refreshing meals can be a great way to beat the heat. Here are my ten favorite summer recipes that can be perfect for a quick no-bake dessert or become your new go-to dish to bring to a summer party.
1. Dessert waffles
These dessert waffles are the epitome of a quick, no-bake dessert. All you need to make these are strawberries, whipped cream, and your favorite frozen waffles. I prepare the strawberries, by washing them, cutting them lengthwise, and putting them in a Ziploc bag with a couple teaspoons of sugar. I let this mixture sit for a bit to allow the strawberries to release some juices. Then when you're ready to assemble, simply toast up the waffles, spoon some strawberries over the waffles, and top with as much whipped cream as you like.
2. Chocolate-covered cheesecake bites
Yes, these chocolate-covered cheesecake bites really are as indulgent as they sound. I found this recipe on Pinterest and knew immediately that I had to make them. This recipe is like if you took a piece of cheesecake, mashed the filling and the crust together, and dipped it in melted chocolate. The finely crushed graham cracker crumbs give these bites a great texture, like the thick cream inside of a Cadbury cream egg. I brought these cheesecake bites to a party recently and they were a big hit!
3. Breakfast egg muffins
If you like to practice the fine art of meal prepping, here's a great make-ahead breakfast recipe. Hard-boiled eggs are "hidden" inside a batter that's filled with cheese, scallions, and maple sausage. These muffins can be eaten warm or cold and stored in the refrigerator for breakfast or a snack throughout the week. On busy mornings, I like to grab an egg muffin on my way out the door.
4. Zoodles & meat sauce
Ever get tired of the same old pasta and meat sauce for supper? Well, take advantage of the fresh in-season zucchini in the summer months and try this variation on a classic. You can either make these zucchini noodles (aka "Zoodles") by hand with a spiralizer or sliced thinly, OR you can do what I always do and buy pre-made zucchini noodles in the store. To cook them, you can either boil in water, microwave or lightly saute in olive oil, depending on the flavor you want. After the zoodles are cooked, you can add them to your usual ground beef or turkey and tomato sauce, for a refreshing summer supper.
5. Pesto lasagna rolls
For a vegetarian summer meal, my go-to are these pesto lasagna rolls. Not only are these rolls delicious, but they are also pretty fun to make. I got this recipe from the Food Network's Facebook page, which has a cool video showing exactly how to make them. After mixing together a spinach, pesto, and cheese filling and spreading it onto a cooked lasagna noodle, you can roll up the noodle and place them in a baking dish and cover in a pesto cream sauce and more cheese (of course, there's never too much cheese!).
6. Quick chicken & biscuits
I know, typically chicken and biscuits is a fall/winter dish made on a cold, blistery day, but trust me, this version is so quick that you can enjoy the comfort of chicken and biscuits even in the warm summer months. By using several store bought ingredients such as frozen mixed vegetables, rotisserie chicken, and tubes of biscuit dough, half of the prep work has been done for you. All you need to do is make a quick gravy sauce, mix the vegetables and chicken together, and layer the biscuit dough on top. The only baking that is required is a much shorter time frame to heat up the mixture and cook the dough.
7. Chicken grain bowl
These chicken grain bowls have been a serious game-changer for me this summer. I have them at least a few times a week for lunch, and it helps me incorporate more beans and vegetables in my life. I order these at my school's dining hall, but they are also quick to make yourself and great to use for meal-prepped lunches. Either cook up some chicken breast ahead of time or use store-bought rotisserie chicken, let it cool, and mix it in with some cooked corn, cauliflower, and chickpeas. Sometimes I include cold zucchini, black olives, or cucumbers too, and serve it with a base of farro grains. The finishing touch is a generous drizzle of balsamic vinegar over the top, and you have an amazing protein-filled cold lunch that's perfect for a hot summer day.
8. Chocolate crinkle cookies
Chocolate crinkle (or crackle) cookies are every chocoholics dream! These chewy cookies are made with extra dark cocoa powder to contrast with the white powdery crackle effect on top. To get this cool cracked effect, the chocolate dough is refrigerated and rolled into balls, which are then rolled into powdered sugar. When the cookie bakes, the powdered sugar doesn't dissolve but instead breaks apart to reveal the fudge cookie beneath it.
9. Braided raspberry pastry
Craving an elegant pastry for your next summer special occasion? Look no further than this braided pastry made with cream cheese and raspberries. While the braiding may look fancy and complicated, it's actually a pretty easy design to make. After spreading some sweetened cream cheese and placing fresh raspberries along the middle panel of a three-paneled sheet of pastry, you cut slices into the two outer panels and then fold the strips inward on top of the raspberries, overlapping two strips on opposite sides, all along the length of the pastry. To create a glistening brown crust, brush the top of the pastry with a beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar.
10. Slowcooker gingerbread cake
Yep, you heard that right, gingerbread in summer! Despite being another traditionally Fall dessert, I consider this particular gingerbread cake recipe a great summer bake. The key here is the slow cooker. When the temperature reaches the high 90s, no one wants to be turning on the oven. A slow cooker generates much less heat than the oven and won't heat up your entire house. A 2-quart slow cooker, like the one used in this recipe, is even smaller than the standard slow cooker that you'd cook your holiday roast in. Serve this cake with ice cream for a sweet end to a summer meal.