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EAST COAST MOMMY: Simple (and fun) summer food ideas

There are plenty of simple summer foods you can make on the barbecue. Up your game from the usual grilled hamburger and try this doughnut treat.
There are plenty of simple summer foods you can make on the barbecue. Up your game from the usual grilled hamburger and try this doughnut treat. - SaltWire Network

When summer temperatures start to rise, the last place most people want to be is cooking in a hot kitchen.

As unappealing as summer meal preparation can be, families still need to be fed. With this in mind, today I’m sharing a few ideas for easy (and fun) summer food.

When it comes to summer food, simplicity is key. A tray of healthy food options totally counts as a meal. Fruit and veggie trays are excellent companions to wraps and sandwiches, and charcuterie trays are the perfect summer fare. Cut up a baguette, deli meats, cheese, fruits and veggies, and throw them on a tray. For kids, you can include the same food items in muffin tins (i.e. muffin tin meals) or on sticks (i.e. kabobs). These are all excellent, low maintenance meal options that everyone will enjoy.

Try making your own ice cream sandwiches this summer. - SaltWire Network
Try making your own ice cream sandwiches this summer. - SaltWire Network

 

Getting outside for mealtime is another way to beat the summer heat. Pack a picnic or get take-out from a food truck and enjoy a meal at the beach, at a park, or on your deck. Barbecuing or cooking over a campfire are also fantastic ways to cook this time of year.

Dessert can be cooked outside, too. Consider setting up an outdoor movie night buffet, serving a movie treat snack board, assembling a s’mores bar with several different chocolate and cookie options, or try barbecuing donuts.

My family tried grilled donuts for the first time this year, and they were delicious. To prepare this tasty treat, start with glazed donuts and grill them a couple of minutes on each side over medium heat. Watch them carefully, as you just want to cook them long enough to caramelize the glaze on the outside of the donut. Eat them plain or serve them with ice cream and a drizzle of chocolate sauce.

Ice cream is synonymous with summer, and it can be enjoyed in a large variety of creative ways for extra fun! You can visit multiple ice cream stands, make homemade ice cream, or use ice cream as an ingredient in a decadent dessert. Recently, my boys and I tried making our own ice cream sandwiches and it was a huge success. We made soft and chewy chocolate cookies from a cake mix and filled them with high quality vanilla ice cream.

To make homemade ice cream sandwiches: mix one box of cake mix, 1/3 cup canola oil, one teaspoon real vanilla and two eggs until well blended. Then, stir in one-half to one cup of semi sweet chocolate chips. Refrigerate the dough for 20 minutes, and then roll it into one-inch balls. Roll the balls in sugar and place on an ungreased cookie sheet about two inches apart. Bake at 350 degrees for nine to 11 minutes, let cool on a tray for one minute, and then move cookies to a cooling rack. When the cookies have completely cooled, scoop some softened ice cream in between two cookies.

Summer cooking doesn’t need to be complicated. Take some shortcuts when it comes to meal preparation, get take-out once in a while, cook outside, let kids serve themselves healthy options from the fridge and pantry, and enjoy some special summer treats and recipes.

Gina Bell writes the East Coast Mommy column, which runs every second week. Follow her blog at or contact her at eastcoastmommy@gmail.com

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