When the mercury climbs, often schedules fill and you start looking for summer meals that are quick and kid friendly. Keep the kitchen cool by preparing fast and cool menus with a focus on fresh and nutritious. Kids will enjoy the big taste and riotous colors and you can appreciate the no-fuss cooking methods that get you back in the action.
Spear a variety of different morsels onto kabobs for a fun and fast grilled dinner. Chunks of beef sirloin, chicken breast, salmon, tuna steak or shrimp are perfect for sliding onto skewers. Add eggplant, zucchini, pineapple, cherry tomatoes, new potatoes, green pepper and red onions to the skewers, varying the placement of the ingredients to make colorful kabobs. Brush olive oil over the ingredients and roast them over a moderate grill until the meat cooks through and the vegetables become tender and toasty. Include chilled ranch dressing for dipping. Add a loaf of French bread and a summer fruit salad and you have a fast, summer meal.
Make one-dish salads with cooked pasta or rice. Use diced chicken breast, salmon, crab meat or even roast beef to add protein. Amp up the crunch factor with cashews, peanuts, water chestnuts, celery, carrots, broccoli, green peppers and green onions. Mix in a generous dollop of mayonnaise or a creamy dressing to hold the ingredients together and season it with fresh basil or parsley. Consider tossing in some fresh raspberries or blueberries for a flavor treat. Another option: use croutons or chow mein noodles instead of pasta or rice. Throw together a colorful fruit salad with pineapple, melon, berries and grapes to complement the salad supper in style.
Use precooked ham or turkey from the deli to whip together no-cook meals. Another alternative: use canned tuna or salmon. Combine the cooked meat with cubed cheese, cucumber slices, grape tomatoes, blueberries, green onions, grapes, shredded carrots, shredded cabbage or diced celery. Add mayonnaise or a creamy salad dressing and mix it all up well. Serve the salad on a bed of lettuce or wrap them up in tortillas. Round out this fast and cool meal with crusty Italian bread and big wedges of watermelon.
Fill crepes with a variety of different concoctions, including sour cream, shredded zucchini, fresh corn, chopped green onions, black beans, ricotta cheese and shredded mozzarella cheese. If you need a jump start, look for prepared crepes in the produce section and fill them with different ingredients. After rolling the crepes, top them with a cheese or Monterey sauce and serve them with a crisp salad and a berry medley.
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