Along with the longer days and abundance of outdoor activities, summer also brings a different style of cuisine that can shake up the culinary routine. While it’s easy to just throw something on the grill for dinner or a cookout, there are plenty of other ways to get into the spirit of summer by testing new recipes that are great for both adults and kids alike. For active families who might need to put together a delicious meal in a hurry, here are five recipes and a few tips to help you make the most of summer from a food perspective.
Skinny Cheeseburger Casserole
You don’t have to tell anyone that it only took you 20 minutes of prep time to whip together a skinny cheeseburger casserole, which combines a couple of different kid classics. With some diced tomatoes, pickle relish, cheddar cheese, and ground beef (or turkey), skinny cheeseburger casserole sounds like a bit of a mess but comes together into a batch of creamy deliciousness that everyone can enjoy. Whipping up a double or triple batch is also a cinch, making it a great option for large gatherings and picnics with other growing girls and boys.
Sloppy Joe Sliders
Whether for a cookout or just an easy weekday meal in the summer, Sloppy Joe sliders are as tasty as they are easy and are also extremely versatile. Although the main recipe calls for ground beef, substituting ground turkey can offer a lighter option, and switching in tempeh or lentils can send you on your way to a scrumptious vegetarian dish. The sliders can also serve as the centerpiece of a full dinner or work as an appetizer, making the mini-sandwiches pretty much a good-to go for any occasion under the summer sun.
Corn Dog Muffins
With only a handful of ingredients and minimal prep time (about 10 minutes), corn dog muffins are a terrific option for anyone with kids on the go. Although they’re also great for picnics and road trips, corn dog muffins are a nice side dish for just about any summer staple. After your kids have a few, they might even prefer your muffins to a corn dog that they would get at a baseball game.
Oven Fried Chicken on a Stick
You might feel like you’re suddenly at a state fair with this kid-friendly gem. Modifying the nearly universally beloved kid’s favorite, chicken fingers, this recipe only requires 30 minutes to marinade the chicken and is easier than most other recipes that involve breading. The recipe also comes with a terrific homemade honey-mustard sauce that can bring the whole meal together, although you can just skip that step in favor of traditional barbecue sauce or ketchup. While the recipe is great for dinner any night, it is particularly ideal for family picnics and cookouts.
Ham and Cheese Pizza
A variation on a kid’s classic, ham, and cheese pizza is a very simple way to try something new without pushing the envelope into questionable territory for picky eaters. Utilizing a pre-baked crust along with some deli meat, a ham and cheese pizza only takes a few minutes to throw together and can even be the perfect conduit to some sneaky nutritional value. A few slices of apple and some fresh baby spinach combine deliciously with the marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese for an enhanced version of your everyday cafeteria fare.
Health Tips for Cookouts and Summer Eating
For the health-conscious parent, there are also a few easy nutritional tips and substitutions that will have your kids asking for seconds without growing wise to your subterfuge. Instead of sticking with the standard, mayo-based pasta and potato salads, switching to Greek yogurt can give you a double-dose of protein compared with regular yogurt as well as assist with digestive health thanks to the active bacteria cultures. Mixing in Greek yogurt can also be a seamless sub for deviled eggs, another summer cookout favorite. Similarly, one of the easiest ways to cut down on the fat and calories without anyone even knowing is by substituting applesauce into many of your favorite homemade baked goods. You can quickly slice the caloric intake and boost the Vitamin C for cakes, muffins, bread, and more by substituting unsweetened applesauce (or another fruit puree) for half of the butter or shortening.