I try not to heat up my kitchen if I can avoid it (can you blame me - see above weather statement). So, I use my grill when at all possible. I even use it as an oven. I grill pizzas, french fries, baked beans. Anything I would bake, I just regulate the grill to that temperature and use it instead. It beats heating up the house and makes clean up easier, too. (who wants to clean when you can lounge by the pool instead?)
Here are a few of my summertime favorites:
ITALIAN SAUSAGE & PEPPERS
1 lb. sweet or mild (or hot, if you like it) Italian Sausage links
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 onion, sliced
poboy rolls (or hot dog buns)
Place sliced peppers and onion in a baking dish that you can use on the grill (I like to use the aluminum disposable ones to make life easy, but if I don't have one I use an oven-proof skillet or Pyrex baking dish). Drizzle a little oil on them (just enough to coat - don't drown them). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover with foil and put on the grill (preheated to medium). Let them grill until softened, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, grill the sausages until browned on both sides (they don't have to be cooked through at this stage).
When peppers and onions are soft and sausages are browned, add the sausages to the pan with the peppers and onions. Recover with foil and let steam together for 5-10 minutes on the grill, until sausages are cooked through. (I shake the pan every now and then to prevent the bottom from burning). Remove from grill and let it rest for a few minutes before serving. Serve on buns.
Another summertime favorite of mine is pico de gallo. This is just a simple salsa (very simple), but so delicious. It's all about the tomatoes and they are so fresh and ripe in the summer. Perfect!
PICO DE GALLO
3 large ripe tomatoes (creole tomatoes, if you can get them, are perfect)
1 small red onion
Dice the tomatoes and onion and put in a bowl. Add some chopped cilantro (I like a lot, some people don't, so add as much or as little as you like). Season to taste with salt and pepper. That's it. I told you it was easy. I like to let it sit in the fridge for a while before I serve it with chips. It also goes great on a hamburger. I love it on my black bean burgers - recipe here: http://hotsouthernmessblog.blogspot.com/2012/07/meatless-is-not-four-letter-word.html
Of course, I have to share a summertime dessert. This is a fun ice cream cake that's made with ice cream sandwiches. Your kids will love to help you make this one. And the best part, no baking and heating up the house! (Are you sensing a theme here?) Plus it's a freezer cake, so it'll cool you down on a hot summer day!
Just be sure to work quickly when making this one or the ice cream sandwiches will start to melt!
ICE CREAM SANDWICH CAKE
12 ice cream sandwiches
1 (8oz) tub cool whip, thawed, divided
1/2 cup fudge ice cream topping, warmed
1 box instant chocolate pudding mix
Put the fudge ice cream topping in a big bowl (microwave-proof). Warm it a little in the microwave (just to soften). Add 1 cup of the thawed cool whip and whisk until blended. Add the pudding mix and stir well (for 2 minutes) until well blended. It will be thick. If it is too thick to spread, you can add a little milk to thin it out. You want it to be the consistency of frosting. Set aside.
Get a long piece of foil (24x12 inches or so). Arrange 4 of the ice cream sandwiches, side by side, on the foil.
Spread half of the pudding mixture on top of them.
Layer 4 more ice cream sandwiches on top, then the other half of the pudding mixture. Finally, top with the last 4 ice cream sandwiches.
Frost the top and sides with the remaining cool whip.
Bring up the foil and double fold the top and sides to loosely seal the packet.
Freeze at least 4 hours (or overnight). Let sit at room temperature to soften a little bit before slicing.
It has a pretty striped affect when you slice it! And it is so good!
So, there are a few of my summertime favorites. Try them out when you want to keep your kitchen (and yourself) cool. Enjoy!