Beat the Heat – Easy Oven and Stove Free Dinners

Beef and Corn on a Charcoal BBQ grill

Gilling out is a great summertime option to help keep the kitchen cool. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If there is one thing about Arizona that never changes, it is the triple digit summer temps.  Although most houses have air-conditioning, the last thing many of us want to do on a hot summer’s night is slave over the stove or open up the oven.  Rather than letting someone else do all the cooking, use these suggestions for making easy oven and stove-free dinners.

1.     Grill It

While swapping the stove for the grill might not seem like good idea heat wise, the truth is you can get more flavor using the grill without introducing more heat inside the house.  Besides, summer nights are made for cooking outside and there is no better way to make an outdoor meal than on the grill.  Pick up your favorite meat on the way home, add a little seasoning, and dinner will be ready before you know it.

2.     Focus on Fresh Fruits

One way to eliminate the extra heat from your dinner time preparations is to skip cooking dinner entirely.  It may not seem like it, but you can make an entire meal from fresh Arizona grown fruits like oranges, cantaloupe, and strawberries.  Here are some delicious recipes you can use to fill your family’s dinner plates with fruit dishes.

3.     Stick with Sandwiches

Although we generally reserve sandwiches for lunch, they can actually make delicious dinners as well.  Grab some artisan bread or flaky croissants from the store and fill them with your favorite meats, cheeses, or other fillings.  Pair your sandwich with a salad for a summertime meal that will fill everyone’s plates as well as their bellies.  Try these fun fillings for something a little different.

4.     Cool Down with a Super Salad

Fruit isn’t the only fresh Arizona produce that is perfect for making stove-free meals in the summer months.  The wide variety of veggies grown throughout the state also offers great ingredients for some simply amazing salads that will fill you up without heating up the house.  In addition to the fun fruit salads listed above, you can also try these delicious salads packed with enough goodness to make them stand alone dishes.

5.     Make Ahead Meals

Sometimes, the best way to have a great dinner without overheating your kitchen is to cook when the temps are lower and serve when they are high.  This means making meals or at least portions of the meal ahead of time and then freezing the food.  Using your microwave for reheating won’t put more heat into the kitchen while widening your options for meal planning.  If you plan ahead, you may be able to make one thing that can be used in more than one meal.  One example of this would be making BBQ Pork that can be used as a main dish but that can also be used to make BBQ Pork Salad with Summer Fruits and BBQ pork sandwiches at another time.  Other recipes for great make ahead meals include:

6.     Cook it in the Crockpot

The other option you have for cooking up a great meal without standing over a hot stove is to use a crockpot.  While some heat will escape into the house, this alternative can provide an easy way to keep your cool while cooking on particularly hot days.  Many recipes can be altered to work in a crock pot but keep in mind that crock pot cooking often takes much longer than other methods.

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