Recipes For A Cool Summer

Many folks have this entire week off and I’m seeing all kinds of fun pool and lake pictures on social media.  Our week is a mixed bag as we’ve had some time off as well as some work days this week.  We were able to get our new shed finished yesterday and to see some great fireworks last night.

One of the things I most enjoy this time of year are some of the delicious summertime recipes I have.  Some are recipes I’ve developed myself over the years and others were shared by some of my friends who are great cooks.

I’ve always liked hot food in cold weather and cold food in hot weather, and living in the hot Texas heat makes the cold summer recipes even more refreshing!

Since it’s a vacation week and my brain is in semi-vacation mode, I thought I’d do something a little different and share some of my most requested (by family and friends) summer recipes.

Chicken Salad

3-4 grilled chicken breasts chopped (You can substitute canned chicken)

2-3 celery stalks chopped small

1 Granny Smith apple peeled and chopped small

Red seedless grapes cut in half…as many as you want

½ cup chopped walnuts (optional if you are a nut lover)

Mix all ingredients with Hellmann’s mayonnaise to your desired consistency.

I don’t use any seasoning because it doesn’t seem to need it with all of the flavors in the recipe.  I have served this over fresh tomato slices, on top of a lettuce salad, and on croissants for bridal and baby showers.  It’s also good on regular bread or by itself.

Spinach Pasta Salad

1/3 bag of baby spinach

1 container of grape or cherry tomatoes and slice tomatoes in half

½ of a large red onion chopped small

2 small cans of sliced black olives

2 packages of crumbled feta cheese

1 pound box of penne or rotini pasta

1 package or bottle of zesty Italian salad dressing.  I use the Good Seasons dry mix and make my own with olive oil and red wine vinegar.  You can make the salad dressing the night before and refrigerate.

Cook pasta and rinse in cold water.  Wash spinach leaves (I pull off the stems). Chop onion. Slice tomatoes in half. Drain olives.  Mix all ingredients in a really large bowl and add salad dressing.  You may not need all of the dressing.  Chill and serve.

This is a really popular and much requested salad at carry-in dinners.  Thank you to my friend, Renee Lange, who shared it with me many years ago!

 My Family’s Favorite Pasta Salad

1 pound box of rotini or penne pasta

8-ounce block of mild or medium cheddar chopped in small cubes

1 green bell pepper chopped small

2 stalks of celery chopped small

2-3 green onions chopped small or use onion powder

Optional if you want to add some protein:  1 cup cubed turkey or ham

Mix ingredients in a large bowl and cover with creamy dressing.

Dressing:  ½ – 1 cup Hellmann’s mayonnaise, ½ – 1 cup sour cream and ¼ – ½ cup milk, salt and pepper to taste.

I’ve been making this recipe for over 30 years and it’s my dad’s favorite so I often make him a bowl of it for Father’s Day or his birthday! I think the original recipe came from my friend, Elaine Michael in Cincinnati but I’ve tweaked it a bit over the years.


Baked Bean Casserole

3 lb can Bush’s baked beans

1 lb ground beef

2 teaspoons dry mustard

1 onion chopped small or onion powder

¼ cup brown sugar

1 cup ketchup

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

Brown meat and onion or add onion powder.  Add other ingredients and simmer.

This recipe is from my friend, Nancy Fehrenbacher, and is another popular one at carry in dinners and can be taken in a crock pot to keep it warm.  It can also be made without the ground beef.

 Summer Cheesecake 

1 8-ounce block of cream cheese

1/3 cup sugar

1 cup sour cream

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 8-ounce Cool Whip (I use lite)

1 large graham cracker crust

Fresh strawberries or blueberries for garnish on top

Beat cream cheese until smooth in large bowl and add in sugar.  Mix with vanilla and sour cream.  Fold in Cool Whip and mix well.  Spoon into graham cracker crust and top with fruit if desired.  Chill for 3 – 4 hours before serving.

I don’t remember where this recipe came from originally because I have been making it for so many years.  It is quick and easy and tastes really good on a hot summer day!

Ice Cream Pie

1 chocolate graham cracker crust

1 container of chocolate chip ice cream

1 jar of hot fudge or plain old Hershey’s Syrup

Soften ice cream in large bowl for 10 – 15 minutes and stir to a smooth consistency.  Pour into crust, cover with plastic lid and refreeze for several hours.  Heat fudge right before serving and drizzle over individual slices of pie.

This is a quick and easy to make dessert that is always a hit in the summer!  My friend, Lora Eminhizer shared it with me many years ago and it remains one of my personal favorites. You can use whatever flavor of ice cream you love but we like chocolate chip the best.  I’ve also made it with a regular graham cracker crust and chocolate ice cream.

 Are you hungry yet?  Feel free to share any of your favorite summer recipes.  I am currently in search of a really good banana cream pie recipe.  Hope you have a fun and safe vacation week and summer!


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