3 Easy Post-Pool Dinners for Hot Summer Evenings
One of my favorite ways to spend time with my kids in the summer is in the water. I have yet to find a better way to cool off on a sticky hot afternoon than a trip to the pool or beach. But while it’s fun, all that splashing and swimming and baking in the sun is exhausting. And once we are home the last thing I want to do is make a big complicated dinner.
For those days it’s handy to have a few simple, kid-friendly, 15-minute dinners in my repertoire. Here are some of my favorites.
There is no cooking required for this meal, very few dishes and it’s a great way to clean out the fridge! Get out your biggest cutting board and load it up with things you can eat with your fingers. Sometimes I don’t even bother to put plates out for this dinner — I just put a napkin down at each plate setting and let everyone pick up what they like directly off the board.
The basic meal:
- sliced meats — My grocery store sells a variety pack with different kinds of cured meats — salami, capicola and prosciutto — that we all love. You could also serve ham, turkey or roast beef. Or skip it if you’re vegetarian.
- cheese — Just about any cheese your family likes will work. We go with goat cheese for mom and dad, cheddar cheese for the kids.
- crackers or sliced baguette — Gotta have something to put all that meat and cheese on.
- raw veggies — We like sliced cucumbers, carrot sticks, snap peas, cherry tomatoes and celery sticks.
- fruit — Summer fruits are delectable. Slice up melon or nectarines or just put out a big bowl of cherries or berries.
- any little bits of leftovers you have in the fridge that can be eaten with your fingers
If you have more time or energy add these to the board:
- slice a cantaloup into strips, then wrap a thin piece of prosciutto around each piece.
- cut peppers and zucchini into strips, toss with a little olive oil and throw them on the grill until they’re cooked through. Drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar.
I feel a little sheepish putting quesadillas on this list because it’s not exactly like you need a recipe for them. I think of them as the lazy person’s grilled cheese sandwich. They are so ridiculously easy even your kids can make them. Hey! There’s an idea! Have your kids make quesadillas for dinner while you relax with a tall glass of iced tea! You did drive them to the pool did you not? They owe you.
The basic meal:
Sprinkle grated jack or cheddar cheese on a tortilla, fold it over and toast it in a non-stick skillet until the tortilla is golden in spots and the cheese has melted completely. Cut it into wedges and serve with salsa, sour cream or guacamole and a side of canned refried beans. (You can also put the beans inside the quesadilla if you prefer.)
If you have more time or energy:
- Chop half a red bell pepper (about half a cup) into a small dice. Saute it over medium heat until it begins to soften, then add a half cup each of frozen corn and rinsed, canned black beans. Combined with a grated cheese of your choice, this will make four quesadillas.
- Smash a quarter of an avocado onto a tortilla with a fork. Add some leftover chicken or chopped tomato and the cheese.
- Fill the tortilla with goat cheese or sliced brie, then top with thinly sliced apples or apricots for a more grown-up quesadilla.
Breakfast For Dinner
Why do I like making breakfast for dinner? Because everyone likes it, I always have the ingredients I need in the fridge, the recipes are quick to cook (or assemble) and they’re generally pretty healthy too.
The basic meal:
Scramble some eggs, toast some bread, slice a little fruit and call your family to the table.
If you have more time or energy jazz up the scrambled eggs with a couple of add-ins:
- My kids love it when I add diced ham, cheddar cheese and chopped tomato to their eggs. Bacon or sausage are good too, but that’s too much cooking and clean-up for me after a pool day.
- Sometimes after I’m done cooking them I’ll divide the pan of eggs in half and make one batch for the the kids and a separate, fancier batch of eggs for the grown-ups with ingredients that the kids won’t touch. It’s barely any extra work and everyone is happier. We grown-ups particularly like spinach and feta cheese or goat cheese and roasted bell peppers.
What do you make at the end of a long, hot summer day when you are in no mood to cook?