Summer’s arrived – and with it comes everything that implies. Whether you’re headed to the lake for some serious watersports or hanging out at the pool – taking the casinos up on all their (free?) air conditioning or just headed to the movies – we’re all looking for ways to stay cool and have a good time. Friends are visiting, school is out (for some), vacations are all the rage – and there are few places that offer more opportunities to enjoy the season than Las Vegas. (We should write a book about how much we love this place!)

But it seems like the one thing we don’t want to do much of is spend our time in a hot kitchen preparing meals. So our solution to that? Spend it in a cool kitchen – making fresh and seasonal dishes that are great for feeding the family – or whipping up to take to the neighborhood BBQ. So we wanted to share some of our old favorites and fabulous finds to help you navigate your way beyond the heat without the “I’m hungry but I don’t feel like cooking anything” drag.

Shrimp and Avocado Salad with Edamame, Cilantro, Chipotle, and Lime

from Kalyn’s Kitchen

image005We are not gonna lie: This salad R.O.C.K.S. Filling yet refreshing, and a little tiny bit spicy. We have never failed to receive a multitude of compliments whether we’re serving this at home or taking to a pot-luck event. And there is NEVER anything left to toss out. The trick lies in timing your avocados so that they’re ripe on the day you want to make this dish. (You do know the “avocado-ripening trick” – right? They ripen more quickly in a closed paper bag!) But omygosh, this is one salad you’re going to add to your regular repertoire.

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

from The Creativity Exchange

image007Okay – we know what you’re saying. “But I have to cook the chicken and the pasta!” Well, not exactly. Pick up one of those nice rotisserie chickens at the grocery store, and then you can handle boiling a little water to cook the Penne pasta to a nice al dente. Then toss the 7 (total) ingredients together, and you’re all set. (The only thing we’d add is some nice fresh avocado – but then again, we add that to everything!)

Southwestern Barley Salad

by Chew Out Loud

image009You can go do the quinoa tango all you want, but as far as we’re concerned, this barley salad puts all those trendy seeds to shame. Could be we just like the texture or the size of pearl barley – or that it’s more flavorful – or hey, it’s just not quinoa! Granted, it’s a grain, so that grain-free label doesn’t apply. But that might also be why we love it. (Always a rebel is this one, Obi-wan.)

Apple Gouda Walnut Salad

from Green Valley Kitchen

image011Actually, this recipe is in the category of “fall salads” (with the Braeburn apples and all). But the truth is, this simple collection of wholesome ingredients will work well with many other apples types, too. Easy to prep, easy to toss together, and a mix of white wine vinegar and olive oil make this an easy and go-to recipe almost anytime.


by Pumpkin Spice

image013Who. Doesn’t. Love. Bacon. ? Let’s put it this way, we’re suckers for it. There are plenty of great recipes out there that include bits of freshly-cooked bacon, that’s for sure. And this one is up there on the list for us. (Although the “Broccoli Madness” salad from the Sweet Tomatoes salad bar is another one that rocks our world! You can get that recipe here.)

When you think about it, it’s amazing how using a limited, select collection of fresh ingredients can so easily turn into a meal-most-tasty. Skip the fast food and the preservatives when you can this summer – and try keeping a variety of lettuce, vegetables, nuts, and other of your favorite ‘snacking foods’ around the house this summer. No reason at all you can’t create a masterpiece of your own! (And it leaves just that much more room for those frilly cocktails you’ll enjoy by the pool!)

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