Summertime, and the Cooking Is Easy, Thoughtful and Creative

pauladeen_may-june.jpgAs the weather warms up, so too it seems do social calendars, with sleepovers for the kids, graduations, college send-offs, weddings, baby showers and barbecues. The one common ingredient? You guessed it: good food!

And what better place to find simple, delicious recipes that are equal parts thoughtful and creative than some of today’s most popular food and cooking magazines? These are some of the more unique recipe/event ideas from May and June issues that I think are worth sharing.

Cooking With Paula Deen magazine, May/June 2010

School’s out for the summer but the education doesn’t have to end. Get kids in the kitchen making easy sleepover snacks, like Parmesan Popcorn Mix with pretzels, popcorn and mini cheese crackers.

Summer is the season for weddings and anniversaries. Recognize those newlyweds or that special marriage with a thoughtful gift basket filled with a homemade cheddar-almond cheese spread and store-bought goodies like chocolate truffles and a gift card.

What else precedes those weddings but bridal showers, and these menu ideas are both Southern and easy. A chilled corn soup with avocado relish served in small jars with lids make for easy transport and a pound cake dessert bar with fresh fruit, chocolate sauce and other toppings are sure to please any taste.

No wedding or shower would be complete without those yummy little butter mints, and now you can make your own with a cream cheese mint recipe that calls for cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, shortening and peppermint oil.

Better Homes and Gardens magazine, May 2010

betterhomes_jun.jpgTake three holidays and special occasions and combine them with one basic menu, and you get three different experiences suitable for Mother’s Day, graduation and Memorial Day.

The herb-garlic beef tenderloin pizza, layered red potato salad and green beans and pasta graduation menu becomes herb-garlic beef tenderloin sliders, chopped red potato salad and pickled green beans and spring veggies for Memorial Day.

But don’t forget dessert. Cupcakes adorned with a chocolate-covered cherry and topped with a mortarboard–a tiny cracker dipped in chocolate–honor the grad, while the waffle cone cupcakes for Memorial Day make it easier to hold in one hand while still participating in outdoor games.

Every Day With Rachael Ray magazine, May 2010

It’s all about celebrating four of life’s unique magic moments, including a couple’s first night in after tying the knot with a special menu of steak frites.

Appetizers like Sweet Cucumber Salad with Chiles and Peanuts, Crab Salad on Rice Crackers, Juicy Chicken Potstickers and a toast of a Pomegranate-Lemongrass Fizz help your BFF say goodbye to being single with an Asian-themed bachelorette party.

Close out your teen’s days as a high schooler with grown-up dishes like Herbed Crouton Salad, Tomato-Braised Lamb Shanks with Orange and Mint, and Pistachio Crème Brûlée as part of a delicious college send-off.

Or welcome a new baby with a special brunch featuring Lemonade-Mint Spritzers; Ricotta-and-Radish Crostini; and Shrimp, Arugula and Frisée Salad with Pesto Dressing. Top it off with a Coconut Angel Food Cake with Fresh Berries.

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Michelle Ryan

About Michelle Ryan

Michelle Ryan is obsessed with good food, great shoes and Alabama football way down South in Savannah, Georgia. She hasn’t met a kitchen gadget she hasn’t at least thought about buying (trying them is another story) and devotes her time to Bikram Yoga, baking and trying to overcome long-held finicky eating habits.