Too Hot to Cook

I’m guessing you all noticed that summer finally arrived and so did the desire NOT to cook anything. Here are a few recipes to help you navigate through this heat wave, some recipes are no cooking at all but there are a couple using an Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker and a Slow Cooker. So, break out those appliances that are probably stashed away somewhere.

Antipasto Salad

  • For vinaigrette
  • 1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon basil, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, approximately
  • For salad
  • 1 medium red onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 2 hearts romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1 jar roasted red peppers, drained and sliced
  • 1 jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
  • 1 cup assorted brine-cured olives
  • 1 cup pepperoncini pepper
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 pound assorted Italian cold cuts, sliced or cubed

Make vinaigrette:

In a small bowl whisk together vinegar, mustard, basil, salt and pepper. Slowly add oil while whisking constantly to emulsify. If using right away, let sit at room temperature. Refrigerate after using but let come to room temperature before using.

Spoon dressed romaine onto a large plate and arrange with peppers, artichokes, olives, pepperoncini, tomatoes, onion and cold cuts.

Whisk vinaigrette again and drizzle over salad. Serve with some crusty bread and butter.

Gazpacho

Serves 2-4

  • 1 small red onion
  • 2 small cucumbers
  • 2 ribs celery
  • 1 small jalapeno, optional
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper
  • 6 medium tomatoes
  • 1 cup French bread, cut into cubes and soaked in a little water
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ Hass avocado, chopped
  • ½ pound cooked, cold shrimp, optional

Rough chop the vegetables and add to a blender, for a chunkier texture process in a food processor instead of a blender.

Squeeze the water from the French bread cubes and add to a blender along with the vegetables. Add olive oil and vinegar and blend to a puree. Season with salt, pepper (if needed), lemon juice, zest and Worcestershire sauce. Refrigerate over night for best flavor.

To serve, check for seasoning again before pouring into a bowl. Garnish the top of the soup with the chopped avocado and shrimp if using.

Goes very well with a nicely toasted slice of cheesy garlic bread.

Italian Chicken Wrap

  • 1 extra-large tortilla flatbread or lavash bread
  • 2 tablespoons roasted red peppers, sliced
  • 5-6 slices cooked chicken breast about 3 ounces
  • Handful of arugula or spinach
  • 2 slices provolone cheese
  • 3-4 thin slices of tomato
  • 2 tablespoons artichoke bruschetta or marinated artichoke hearts
  • 10 sliced kalamata or black olives
  • Sliced red onion
  • Balsamic glaze

Lay the tortilla or flatbread on a flat surface. Starting on the edge closest to you, layer a stripe of red pepper about 1/2 inch inside the outer edge. Place the chicken slightly overlapping the peppers, add a strip of arugula, provolone cheese and tomato. Top with the artichoke bruschetta then olives, sliced red onion and drizzle lightly with the balsamic glaze.

Starting from the edge closest to you, fold the portion of the tortilla with the red pepper and chicken into itself, and fold the outer edges of the sides inward, then continue to tightly roll and wrap the sandwich. Slice the wrap in half and serve or cut the halves into even portions to serve as pinwheels. Make the day before or refrigerate for 2-3 days.

Cuban Sandwich

Makes 4 Cuban sandwiches

  • 1 loaf Cuban bread
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • yellow mustard
  • 1 pound ham
  • 1 pound roasted pork
  • 1/2 pound Swiss cheese
  • dill pickles

Preheat a pancake griddle or large fry pan to medium hot.

Cut the bread into sections about 8 inches long. Cut these in half and generously spread butter & mustard on both halves (inside.)

Make each Cuban sandwich (Cubano) with the ingredients in this order: pickles, roasted pork, ham, and cheese. Be generous!

Spread a little butter on the hot griddle or fry pan and place the Cubano sandwich on the pan. Use a heavy skillet, bacon press, or foil-wrapped brick to flatten the sandwich. (You really want to smash the Cubano sandwich, compressing the bread to about 1/3 its original size!)

Grill the sandwiches for two to three minutes then flip them over to toast the other side. Once the cheese is melted and the bread is golden brown on both sides, the Cubano sandwiches are done.

Make sure your griddle or fry pan is not TOO HOT! Otherwise, the crust will burn before the cheese melts.

Slice the sandwich in half diagonally and serve.

Tip: Let your meats and cheese come to room temperature. This way you avoid over toasting the bread and the cheese melts perfectly! This is especially helpful when you have a lot of meat in your Cubano sandwich.

You may substitute French bread if you must, but NOT a baguette! Additional bread options: hoagie roll, Mexican bolillo, or ciabatta bread rolls.

Tuscan Summer Salad

  • Dressing
  • ¼ sherry vinegar (can substitute any vinegar that you like)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Italian herbs, crushed
  • ½ cup oil, approximately use olive
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste
  • Salad
  • 1 head romaine lettuce
  • 1 head radicchio lettuce
  • 4 ounces green beans, cut into 1 to 2-inch pieces, blanched and cooled*
  • 1 basket cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 can gigante white beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ small red onion, cut into slivers
  • ½ cup chopped roasted red peppers
  • 2 small Persian cucumbers, cut in half then into half moons
  • 2 cups chopped cooked chicken, optional

Put vinegar, garlic powder, shallots, mustard and herbs together in a bottle or medium bowl, whisk in enough oil to emulsify dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Toss all salad ingredients together in a large bowl. Add a little dressing and toss again, taste and add more dressing as necessary.

*Blanch and cool green beans: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile prepare an ice water bath, a large bowl filled with ice and water.

When the water boils add the green beans and a good amount of salt, boil for 3 minutes then plunge them into the ice water bath.

Steak Fajitas Crockpot Style

  • 1-2 pounds beef flank steak*
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 large onion quartered and sliced into thin pieces
  • 1 red pepper, sliced into strips
  • 1 tablespoon or more, seeded and chopped jalapeno pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 dozen flour tortillas

Serve with optional ingredients sour cream, guacamole, shredded Mexican blend cheese, chopped tomatoes, shredded lettuce, salsa

Cut flank steak into 6 or 8 pieces and marinate in lime juice and oil for about 30 minutes.

Add all the ingredients except tortillas into the crockpot and mix well.

Cook on low for 8 or 9 hours, until the beef is tender and can be shredded easily.

Remove from slow cooker and shred the meat. Return meat to slow cooker and stir.

For the fajitas, spread meat mixture onto warm flour tortillas and add your favorite toppings.

If you can’t find flank steak, you can substitute skirt steak, london broil or flat iron steak

Pulled Pork I Instant Pot

  • 1 boneless pork shoulder, about 4 or 5 pounds
  • Sea salt and ground pepper
  • 1 onion, cut into large pieces
  • 1 rib celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1-2 cups chicken stock

Cut the pork into several pieces so that it fits into the Instant Pot below the fill line. Season the pork with salt and pepper, then brown it on all sides on the searing or frying setting.

Add the onion, celery and carrot around the pork and cover with chicken stock keeping below the fill line. Add the lid to the pot and make sure to turn the steam release vent to the sealing position. Cook on manual for 1 hour. Let the pressure release naturally for 10 to 20 minutes

Remove the pork and slice or shred, add any sauce you like. I use plain shredded or sliced pork for my Cuban Sandwiches.

The meat freezes well for up to 6 months.

Black Forest Mousse Parfait

Serves 4

  • 1 package chocolate instant pudding and pie filling, 4 serving size
  • 2 cups cold milk
  • 1 can cherry pie filling
  • 1 cup whipped cream

Mix together pudding mix and milk according to package directions. Let

thicken slightly and spoon into parfait glasses leaving 2" at the top.

Before serving, whip cream and add a little powdered sugar to your liking. Top

pudding with a layer of pie filling and finish with a spoonful of whipped

cream.

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