5 recipes to cool things down on hot days

An icebox cake with soft and crumbly cookie layers. A salad of cool watermelon and peppery arugula. A chilled grab-and-go breakfast.

Cook? Not us. Not when temperatures are expected to soar, possibly into the 90s.

From cold soup to salads to desserts, these tasty offerings will cool you down without heating up your kitchen.



No need to turn the oven on for this chilled cake that brings some perfect sweetness for a hot summer day. It’s best to allow this to set overnight.

Serves: 10 / Preparation time: 20 minutes / Total time: 6 hours, 20 minutes

1 3/4 cups well-chilled heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon mint extract

1 package (9 ounces) chocolate wafers

1 1/4 cups miniature chocolate chips

Mint leaves for garnish

In a large mixing bowl, beat the heavy cream, sugar and mint extract until stiff peaks form.

To assemble the cake: Spread each wafer with about 1 tablespoon of mint cream, forming about four stacks of six to eight cookies. Lay the stacks side by side on a sheet of wax paper, pressing gently to form a log. With small spatula or knife, cover log with remaining mint cream. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or up to 2 days.

To serve, gently remove wax paper from underneath cake (holding cake in place with a metal spatula, if necessary), and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Slice cake diagonally with a serrated knife into 1-inch-thick slices.

Adapted from www.marthastewart.com

Tested by Susan M. Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen. 360 calories (57 percent from fat), 23 g fat (13 g saturated fat), 36 g carbohydrates, 3 g protein, 162 mg sodium, 58 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber.

» Wish-Bone recalls thousands of cases of Italian dressing


If you don’t have two — or three-day-old bread for this chopped Italian salad, dry the bread out in a 300-degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes. This is best served immediately.

Serves: 12 / Preparation time: 30 minutes / Total time: 45 minutes

If you are not using day-old bread, dry the bread slices in a 300-degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes. This salad is best served immediately.


6 medium tomatoes, washed, cut into chunks

1/2 teaspoon salt

1-pound loaf of thick-crust bread or 1- or 2-day-old French baguette, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes

1 medium cucumber, peeled if desired, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 jarred roasted red peppers, coarsely chopped

1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced

2 green onions, washed, thinly sliced

1/3 cup fresh chopped herbs such as basil, tarragon or oregano

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


1/2 cup olive oil

1 to 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or white vinegar

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard or more to taste

1 teaspoon sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

1 garlic clove, pressed

In a large bowl, place the tomato chunks and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Set aside for 15 minutes.

Place the bread in a large serving bowl. Add the cucumber, red pepper and red and green onions. Add the tomatoes with any juices. Sprinkle salad with herbs and season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

In a small bowl, whisk together all the vinaigrette ingredients until the mixture emulsifies. Drizzle the vinaigrette lightly over the salad and toss gently to coat. Use only enough vinaigrette to coat all the ingredients. Leftover vinaigrette will keep in the refrigerator for several days. Season the salad with salt and black pepper to taste and serve.

From and tested by Susan Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.

207 calories (44 percent from fat), 10 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 25 g carbohydrates, 4 g protein, 349 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber.

» Boy sick of eating salad calls 911 on parents -- twice


This recipe pairs a summertime favorite with some unexpected flavors.

Serves: 4 / Preparation time: 15 minutes / Total time: 25 minutes

6 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 cup Israeli couscous

2 cups water

Salt to taste

2 to 3 cups watermelon, rind removed, seeded and cubed or diced

3/4 cup favorite cubed soft cheese (feta, goat cheese, ricotta salata, fresh mozzarella)

1/3 cup basil, washed and chopped

1 cup arugula, washed and chopped

1/4 cup white wine or sherry vinegar

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan and add the couscous. Stir until the couscous begins to color and smell toasty, 4 to 5 minutes. Add 2 cups water and salt to taste and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes, or until the couscous is tender. Drain if any liquid remains in the pan.

Spread couscous evenly on a baking sheet, drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil on top and stir.

Cover in plastic wrap and cool in the refrigerator.

Prepare all the remaining ingredients.

In a large bowl, combine the cooled couscous, watermelon cubes, cheese, basil and arugula. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, vinegar and salt to taste. Pour over salad and toss to thoroughly coat.

Adapted from several recipes and tested by Susan Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen. Nutrition information not available.


Gazpacho is one of the most ubiquitous summer soups. It’s cool and refreshing. Serve it up with some crusty bread for an excellent dinner

Serves: 8 / Preparation time: 30 minutes / Total time: 30 minutes (plus chilling time)

2 pounds tomatoes, washed, seeded

1 red bell pepper, washed

1 green or yellow bell pepper, washed

3 salad cucumbers, washed

1 large shallot, peeled

2 cloves garlic, peeled

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon hot red pepper sauce

1 ear fresh corn, kernels removed

1 3/4 cups low sodium or no salt added tomato juice or vegetable juice

Fresh basil, sliced in shreds

Salt and pepper to taste

2 teaspoons sugar

2 cloves garlic, peeled, minced, optional for garnish

6 green onions, washed, green and white parts thinly sliced (about 3/4 cup)

Roughly chop about three-fourths of the tomatoes. Place in a food processor fitted with the metal blade or a blender. Dice the remaining tomatoes and set aside.

For the bell peppers, roughly chop half of each one and add to the food processor. Dice the remaining bell peppers and set aside.

Peel, seed and roughly chop two of the cucumbers and add to the food processor. Leave the peel on the remaining cucumber, slice in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Dice the cucumber and set aside. Add the shallot, garlic cloves, olive oil, vinegar and hot pepper sauce to the food processor. Process until smooth, about 1 minute.

Transfer to a glass bowl (or leave in the blender jar). Stir in the corn, remaining diced tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste and half of the green onions. Adjust seasoning as necessary.

Chill for 2 hours. Serve in cups, bowls and garnished with a bit of the diced bell peppers, diced cucumbers, minced garlic and green onion slices.

From and tested by Susan Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.

104 calories (35 percent from fat), 4 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 16 g carbohydrate, 3 g protein, 88 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol, 43 mg calcium, 3 g fiber.


For a cool breakfast idea, try overnight oatmeal. It takes minutes to assemble and the refrigerator does the rest.

Makes: 2 servings / Preparation time: 10 minutes / Total time: 10 minutes (plus 8 hours in the refrigerator)

2/3 cup old-fashioned oats

1/2 cup skim milk

1/2 cup low-fat vanilla Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup diced apple (Granny Smith apples work well)

2 tablespoons raisins

2 tablespoons toasted pecans

In a medium bowl, stir together the oats, milk, yogurt, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, apple and raisins. Divide oatmeal mixture evenly into 2, 1/2-pint glass jars and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Refrigerate at least 8 hours. When ready to eat, top each serving with 1 tablespoon toasted pecans.

Created by Darlene Zimmerman, MS, RD, for Heart Smart and tested by Susan Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.

306 calories (24 percent from fat), 8 g fat (2 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 50 g carbohydrates, 11 g protein, 291 mg sodium, 5 mg cholesterol, 137 mg calcium, 5 g fiber. Food exchanges: 1 1/2 starch, 1 fruit, 1 milk, 1 fat.

About the Author