(Family Features)—Summer is a time for relaxing, enjoying the outdoors and spending time with family and friends. Yet for some, the warmer months can be hectic and busy, and often go by too quickly.
When the little ones have soccer practice and the adults need some alone time by the pool, there isn’t always time to prepare a home-cooked meal or toil away in the kitchen. Ideal summertime meals, snacks and drinks should be refreshing, light, delicious and, of course, easy on time and your budget.
Try these fresh summertime kitchen hacks and enjoy more time outdoors with friends and family, and less time sweating in the kitchen.
Ice Pop Paradise: For an easy dessert, try making homemade ice pops. Puree your favorite fruit with honey, then add it to an ice pop mold. Add Greek yogurt and freeze. For more flavor, add mint or basil.
Coffee Delight: Coffee is often enjoyed hot, but during the summer, cooling things down can be a refreshing alternative. Make coffee and, after it cools at room temperature, blend it with ice and milk. This chilled version can keep you caffeinated and cool during those extra hot days.
Wishing for Watermelon: Watermelon might be the unofficial fruit of summer: It’s sweet, refreshing and a backyard barbecue staple. It can be messy, however, and difficult to cut and challenging to devour. For less mess and more enjoyment, cut the watermelon in half crosswise, then cut each half vertically into a grid to create easy-to-eat, snack-perfect sticks of watermelon.
No-Mess Sides: After a long day at work, going home to cook is one of the last things many people want to do. Try something quick, easy and multi-purpose like mix-and-serve slaw. Combine one bag of slaw mix with pre-made dressing. Just mix and serve for a slaw that can be served as a side dish or used as a topping on burgers or tacos.
Slow-Cooked Perfection: Keep your house and your kitchen cooler by using a slow cooker instead of heating up the oven. Slow cookers are typically easy to use, retain more heat and won’t overheat your living space. They can make cooking indoors simple and cool, even if it’s blazing hot outside.
Keep Drinks Chilled: Ice cubes are the usual way to keep your summer beverages chilled, but ice cubes can melt quickly, especially if you’re outdoors. Instead of overflowing your glass with ice, try a sweet and juicy fruit flavor. Place grapes, raspberries, kiwi or any other kind of fruit on a skewer and freeze. You can easily dip, stir and keep your drink cool with this tasty trick, and then enjoy the fruit when your drink is empty.