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Breezy Tips for Summer Cooking

So you have a summertime party to throw, or even a picnic to put together? Here are some easy breezy tips to get things off to a cool start!

Step One: It's summer, so be lazy! Beat the heat by NOT cooking over a hot stove all day. Make all the "no-cook" food you can think of. Fruit salad, vegetable salad, tuna salad, Caprese salad, watermelon, mile-high sandwiches full of cold cuts and cheeses, charcuterie and crudité boards. Same with pies and desserts. Just do an online search for "no bake pies" and "no bake desserts." The possibilities are endless. A no bake recipe will also likely be refrigerated so will be cool and refreshing. If you DO need to use your stove (see deviled eggs, corn on the cob) do it first thing in the morning when the temps are cooler!

Step Two: Wisely use no-heat appliances. Slow cookers and pressure cookers (even microwaves!) are your friend during hot summer months since they keep the heat inside them, PLUS allow you to be lazy and enjoy relaxing at the same time (see Step One). Just search online for Instant Pot dishes for summer, or Slow Cooker summer recipes!

Step Three: Keep it simple. No one needs to know that you bought that tasty German potato salad at your local market, or that strawberry shortcake (be sure to grab a can of Reddi-wip and slice up some strawberries to top it off). These days you can pick up attractive pre-made trays of practically anything and you don't have to lift a finger making it yourself.

Step Four: Roadside produce stands and outdoor fresh markets in the city are TERRIFIC places to shop for delicious straight-from-the-farm fruits and vegetables for your summer bounty picnic. Try them, you'll like them!

Step Five: Go big or go home. A little extra effort now means you can take it easy later. Say it's time to grill! If you've got a yard and place to do it, cooking outside in summer is one of the year's most rewarding seasonal treats. But when you do it, make it count! There's no reason why you can't grill yourself up enough ribs, or steak, or chicken, to last for the next couple of days following your festive cookout. You can of course make extra portions of all the "no-cook" foods mentioned in step one, AND pick up additional servings of the store-bought or produce stand goods while you're at it.

Step Six: Collaborate! Every celebration—holiday, summer, or otherwise, is less work (and more fun!) when everyone chips in with a favorite dish or two. Make a list, organize everyone's contributions, and get ready to party!

Step Seven: Be creative. Shish kababs! Watermelon boats full of fruit! Special recipe sangrias or mojitos! Summer berry skewers! Individual seven-layer dips! Go crazy and choose a special theme. It's a Hawaiian luau! A Mexican fiesta! Everyone's favorite sports team! Just go wild like there's no tomorrow. The internet search machine is your friend for this step as well!

Step Eight: Use leftovers in your "no-cook" summer food. Cold meatloaf sandwiches anyone? Leftover rotisserie chicken can become literally anything. Still got some cooked pasta? Add olives, red onion, vinegar and oil and you've got a pasta salad! Salad greens taking up space in the fridge? Add sliced cold cuts, chopped egg, crumbled bacon, roquefort dressing, and you've got a Chef's salad! Every fridge has pickled vegetables. (I love okra!) Put together a relish tray of pickled beans, olives, asparagus, onions, peperoncinis or whatever you've got. It's always a crowd pleaser.

Step Nine: Hey there you, great job getting that big old spread of food ready. Now go to the beach and celebrate yourself! It's time to play!

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