When summer temperatures rise, head to the kitchen for some low-heat treats. The recipes shared here are prepared in the microwave or slow cooker. That means you don't have to lose your cool when preparing a hearty meal for your family.
For useful information from your fellow readers, check out the Microwave & Slow Cooker Tips shared below.
"Ready in minutes, these easy Microwave Texas Nachos are great for a light luncheon or snack," suggests Carl Dahlgren of Fort Worth, Texas.
Treat yourself to this attractive Lemon Shrimp Ravioli Toss, which relies on shrimp and convenient cheese ravioli cooked in a light lemony sauce. "Being an avid crafter and quilter, I'm usually running short on time, so I make this often," says Emma Magielda of Amsterdam, New York.
"Cheese-Topped Meat Loaves is one of my favorite entrees for two," says Lois Kinneberg from Phoenix, Arizona. "I found this tender meat loaf recipe in a supermarket's cookbook almost 20 years ago and have enjoyed it ever since. Sometimes I substitute ground turkey or chicken for the ground beef or make extra loaves to freeze for later meals."
A "veggie-licious" alternative to traditional lasagna, Veggie Lasagna makes use of slow-cooker convenience. Laura Davister of Little Suamico, Wisconsin suggests using chunky spaghetti sauce.
"The beef comes out tender, juicy and flavorful in the slow cooker to create these tempting Flank Steak Fajitas," notes Twila Burkholder, Middleburg, Pennsylvania. "I like to serve them with a side of Spanish rice."
- I've found a foolproof way to cook butternut squash. You simply cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and place the halves cut side down in a dish. Then microwave it on high for about 20 minutes. The squash will come out soft enough to scoop out and mash easily. —Barb R., La Jolla, California
- Want to get fried potatoes on the table fast? Pop the spuds in the microwave first for a few minutes before slicing them. This will cut your cooking time almost in half. —Tina S., Council, Idaho
- Time doesn't always allow me to make a proper breakfast for my kids. A friend offered this idea. When fixing French toast, cook several extra slices. Place a layer of waxed paper between each slice and freeze. When you're ready to use them, just pop the slices in your microwave to heat, then serve them with syrup. —Paula W., Rosharon, Texas
- If your flour tortillas are a little too stiff to roll up for burritos and enchiladas, wrap them in a damp microwave-safe paper towel and gently warm in the microwave for a few seconds until they are soft and pliable. —Karen B., Gove, Kansas
- I love spaghetti sauce, so I make a big batch in a 5-quart slow cooker. I don't add any meat or vegetables (except onions) while it's cooking. When it's done, I cool meal-sized portions and place them in freezer bags. This way, I can add various ingredients to the sauce to create different meals. Sometimes I use browned ground beef, other times sausage and pepperoni, and still other times clams or garden veggies. The possibilities are endless! —Stephen H., Reading, Pennsylvania
- I had leftovers when I fixed fajitas made with beef, chicken and shrimp. The next day, I removed the shrimp and put the rest of the fajita mixture in my slow cooker. I covered it with water, added some chicken bouillon and another tablespoon of chili powder, and simmered it on low for 4-5 hours. I added some cooked tortellini and the leftover shrimp and cooked it until it was warmed through. This made a wonderful spicy soup my husband and I loved. —Amy K., Savanna, Illinois