Summer heat is almost unbearable! Working in a hot kitchen does nothing but aggravate the situation. We have an old outdoor stone fireplace in our back yard and my favorite summertime outdoor activity is to cook a full meal in that fireplace. I always let my husband or one of my boys start the fire and let it cook down a bit so the coals are super hot and there are no big flames. Then I marinate chicken thighs in olive oil, salt and pepper and wrap them in a single layer in heavy duty aluminum foil. I bake the chicken on the coals for about an hour, carefully turning and flipping them every fifteen minutes. I take fresh corn on the cob and without taking the husk off, put it right on top of the hot coals and cook it for about 20 minutes, turning them every 5 minutes. I make a quick spinach salad with a squeeze of a lime, a drizzle of olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Simple and delicious. In my sweet opinion, summer should never be a time to stop eating dessert. It’s just more of a challenge to make something without turning up the heat. With such an abundance of fresh fruit in season, there is nothing better than a big bowl of cut up fruit. Cut the fruit up about an hour before dinner so the fruit has time to yield a bit of juice. If you are feeling adventurous, I have a quick, no-bake cheesecake recipe to share with you that would be the perfect base for a spoonful of fresh fruit or berries.
Cookie Crust Ingredients:
- 1 1/2 cups crushed cookie crumbs, take one sleeve of graham crackers put them in a plastic Ziploc bag and crush them completely with a rolling pin
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 4 ounces (1 stick) melted butter
- Mix cookie crumbs, sugar and melted butter together and using your fingers or the bottom of a drinking glass, press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Refrigerate while you make the filling.
Cheesecake Filling Ingredients:
- 12 ounces softened cream cheese (leave out for one hour to soften)
- 1/3 cup confectioners sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Beat cream cheese, confectioners sugar and vanilla until smooth. Transfer to another bowl and using the same mixer, beat 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream with 5 Tablespoons of confectioners sugar
- Beat until stiff peaks form. If you over whip it and it starts to look curdled, you can add a touch more cream to bring it back to the right consistency.
- Gently fold the cream cheese mixture into the whipped cream. Take the crust out of the fridge and spread the cheesecake mixture into the crust. Refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight. This is the perfect ending to a simple meal and all without a hint of heat.
Contributor: Susan O’Keefe
Susan O’Keefe has been baking since she was a little girl. With a passion for baking and a background in marketing and sales, she opened Baked by Susan right in the heart of the little river town of Croton-on-Hudson where she lives with her husband and three growing boys.
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