Picture this: It’s Summer. You don’t have central A/C. It’s 5pm, and you have no idea what to make for dinner. It feels like a thousand degrees in your kitchen. You’ve been contemplating how feasible it would be to fill the kiddie pool up with ice cubes.

The last thing in the world you want to do is turn on your oven. When you find yourself in this situation this Summer, turn to this list for seriously delicious meals that require ABSOLUTELY NO HEAT to prepare, and can be ready in 15 minutes or less (to leave plenty of time for a long walk after dinner or an impromptu ice cream outing before the kids have to be in bed).

Avocado Feta Dip with Tuna

Mash up 2 ripe avocados. Add a half of diced onion, one diced yellow pepper, 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, a good sprinkle of dill (fresh or dried), salt and pepper, and the juice of half of a lemon.You can stop here and have the yummiest guacamole ever. Or, add 1 can of tuna, flake it with a fork and combine with the guacamole. Serve with tortilla chips, Triscuits or pita chips. It sounds weird, I know, but it’s so tasty! If you’re determined to make it to some outdoor concerts this summer, throw this dip into a storage container, grab your “dippers” and go enjoy some music!

Chicken Salad in a Cantaloupe

Shred up a rotisserie chicken, or canned chicken, or leftover chicken from another night. Place in a bowl (You’ll want 2-3 cups worth). Add a good spoonful of plain greek yogurt, a spoonful of your favorite mayo, a squirt of lemon, a handful of dried cranberries, 2-3 stalks chopped celery, and half an onion chopped. Served in hollowed-out cantaloupe halves or with cantaloupe wedges on the side.

Shrimp and Mango Tacos (or Lettuce Cups)

For this recipe, use a bag of frozen, pre-cooked shrimp without tails (go for a smaller sized shrimp to make for quicker defrosting). Empty the shrimp into a bowl so they start defrosting. Add 1 fresh mango, chopped, 1/2 jalapeno, chopped (leave out the seeds unless you love spicy), 1/2 onion chopped, 1 clove garlic minced, a good sprinkle of chopped cilantro and salt and pepper. Or, to make it even easier, pick up a jar of fresh mango salsa and simply add to the frozen shrimp. Add fresh lime juice and combine it all. Let it sit for a few minutes to make sure the shrimp is fully defrosted. Use to fill corn or flour tortillas. Top with sliced avocado and crunchy romaine lettuce. You could also use this as a filling for Bibb lettuce.

Antipasta Platter

Get out your largest platter or even a big wooden cutting board. Arrange any and all of the following: cubes of cheese (fresh mozzarella works especially well), crackers,  cherry tomatoes, rolled up slices of  deli meat (salami, ham and/or turkey), baby carrots and bunches of grapes. Use small mugs or tiny bowls for things like olives, marinated artichoke hearts, crackers and sun-dried tomatoes. Use tall glasses for tall, skinny breadsticks. Serve this meal with toothpicks. This is also a great meal to throw into to-go containers and bring to the park. Lay out a blanket and let the kids run and play while you and the hubs get in a mini-date!

Greek “Pizzas”

Spread flour tortillas liberally with hummus. Set out the following toppings in bowls or on a big platter: sliced cucumber, halved cherry tomatoes, chopped bell pepper, chopped baby spinach and chopped red onion. Set out crumbled feta, Italian vinaigrette and diced pickles (I know this sounds strange, but go with it!). Let everyone assemble their own “pizzas”. We end up rolling these up like burritos to make them easier to eat, but either way, they’re delicious! Plus, you might get little ones to be more adventurous with veggies if they get to be the one to top their own tortillas.

Taco Boats

In a large bowl, combine the following: 1 can black beans (drained and rinsed), 1 cup cherry tomatoes halves and 1 cup frozen corn. Add a handful of chopped, fresh cilantro and a generous squeeze of lime. Season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine, allow to sit for a few minutes to let corn defrost. In the meantime, rinse some spears of Romaine lettuce and place in a sealable bag with a paper towel. Refrigerate until crisp. Serve filling alongside the lettuce “boats”, top with avocado slices, salsa, sour cream and shredded cheese.

After Your Meal, Head Outside!

Instead of spending your summer evenings babysitting a hot stove or oven, make the meals above and have more time for lingering outside with the neighbors, family bike rides or toasting marshmallows over that backyard bonfire. May your summer be long, lazy, and mostly oven-free!

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Danielle was born and raised on Long Island, NY. She married a handsome country boy from Idaho and together they moved out to Colorado for a new adventure. Ten years later, they have 3 children, ages 6, 4 and 16 months. Though she sometimes misses the beaches and the Italian bakeries back east, her daily view of snowcapped mountains and the piercing blue sky remind her that she wouldn't want to live anywhere else. She reads cookbooks for fun and loves getting creative in the kitchen. A musician at heart, she can't walk by a grand piano without sitting down and playing for as long as those around her will let her. Her favorite thing to do with her little ones is snuggle under a quilt with them and read through a fresh stack of library books. She hopes her life will reflect the things she values most- her faith, family and friends (both the flesh ones and the TV show).