Top 5 Cool Recipes for a Hot Summer

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How about some cool recipes for hot days? Memorial Day is past so unofficially summer is here. The invitations that conclude with “bring a favorite dish to pass” will soon be arriving. This year, I vow that I am not going to resort to picking up the tub of baked beans or potato salad from the deli. I am going to try interesting alternatives and find new favorites.

Here are my first picks to kick off the season and get the ball rolling on the basics: a protein main dish, fruit, vegetable, starch and beverage. Please give your experience with these recipes and share your favorite summertime recipes below.

Shrimp on a Stick
(Recipe courtesy of Family Fun)

1 pound uncooked medium shrimp
1/4 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

  • 1. Peel and rinse the shrimp. Add olive oil, garlic and bread crumbs to the shrimp in a large mixing bowl. Toss until all of the shrimp are coated evenly.
  • 2. Place the coated shrimp onto the skewers and grill at medium heat for approximately 2 minutes on each side, or until the shrimp look opaque in the middle and the coating browns.
  • 3. Remove the shrimp from the heat and place them on a cookie sheet. Remove the skewers and squeeze lemon juice, salt and pepper. Serve as-is, or with cocktail sauce.

Watermelon and Cantaloupe Salad with Mint and Basil Vinaigrette
(Recipe courtesy of Giada DeLaurentiis, Food Network)

1/2 watermelon
1 cantaloupe, seeded and cut in half
2 tablespoons freshly chopped mint leaves and whole sprigs (for garnish)
2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves and whole sprigs (for garnish)
1 lemon, juiced (around 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water, heated until sugar dissolves)
1/8 teaspoon amaretto

  • 1. Using a melon baller, scoop watermelon and cantaloupe to yield 2 cups. Cut out the remaining watermelon and set aside the shell.
  • 2. Combine the mint, basil, lemon juice, simple syrup and amaretto in a blender until smooth to create the mint and basil vinaigrette.
  • 3. Place watermelon and cantaloupe balls in the watermelon shell.
  • 4. Toss vinaigrette and melon balls.
  • 5. Add mint and basil sprig garnish. Enjoy!

Cucumber Salad with Rice Vinegar Dressing
(Recipe courtesy of Cooking Light Magazine)
3 cups thinly sliced seeded peeled cucumber (about 2 medium)
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
1-1/2 tablespoons chopped unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts

  • 1. Combine cucumber, rice vinegar, sugar, sesame oil and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Toss until cucumber is coated.
  • 2. Add onions and chopped peanuts. Ready to serve!

Spinach and Orzo Salad
(Recipe courtesy of

1 (16 oz) package uncooked orzo pasta
1 (10 oz) package baby spinach leaves, finely chopped
1/2 pound crumbled feta cheese
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

  • 1. Add orzo to boiling water; cook 8 to 10 minutes or until pasta is firm in the center and soft on the edges (al dente). Drain and rinse with cold water.
  • 2. Transfer pasta to a mixing bowl; add spinach, feta, onion, pine nuts, basil and white pepper. Stir ingredients until pasta is coated.
  • 3. Add olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  • 4. Refrigerate for 30 minutes and serve cold.

Blueberry-Ginger Mojitos
(Recipe courtesy of Tyler Florence, Food Network)

Ginger simple syrup ingredients:
1/4 cup peeled and grated fresh ginger
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup cold water

Mojito ingredients:
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 lime, cut into wedges
20 to 24 fresh mint leaves
4 ounces ginger simple syrup
4 ounces vodka
5 ounces club soda
Ice cubes
Blueberries, for garnish
Mint leaves, for garnish

  • Ginger simple syrup:
  • 1. Add ginger sugar and cold water to a saucepan.
  • 2. Bring mixture to a boil; stir until sugar dissolves.
  • 3. Cover; steep for 15 minutes.
  • 4. Strain to yield the pure liquid; place in refrigerator.
  • Mojito:
  • 1. Place blueberries, lime and mint leaves in pitcher.
  • 2. Stir above ingredients with a wooden spoon to break blueberries and allow mint and lime to release juices. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.
  • 3. At serving time, combine blueberry/mint/lime combination with ginger simple syrup, vodka and club soda. Stir and pour over ice.
  • 4. Garnish with blueberries and mint sprig.

The recipe is for two tall glasses, but you can use the ratio to double or triple the recipe.
Please give your experience with these recipes and share your favorite recipes below!

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