Ask the Swag Gal – June 22, 2011

Now that we’re finally into the Summer season, it’s time to adjust our routines to make them more suitable for the hot weather.  I’ve been asked, by quite a few Swaggernauts, to find some good recipes that don’t require an oven, because the last thing you want to do after a long day in the sun is turn your oven on.  I resorted to Disney to help me find recipes that are delicious, refreshing, and don’t require an oven.

First we’ll need to start off with a nice summer salad.  I chose a nice, classic Caprese salad.  Simple, yet delicious:

2 pounds ripe local tomatoes (4 to 6 large), cored and sliced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound fresh mozzarella (water-packed is best), sliced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 dozen basil leaves, washed and spun dry
Set tomatoes in a single layer on a large platter or individual dinner plates. Drizzle with vinegar and sprinkle with salt. Lay one cheese slice on each tomato slice. Drizzle with olive oil and a bit more balsamic if desired, then top each stack with a basil leaf.

There’s nothin’ like a good barbecue on a Summer evening.  Try some Grilled Salmon with Mustard and Herbs:

2 lemons , thinly sliced, plus 1 lemon cut into wedges for garnish
20-30 sprigs mixed fresh herbs plus 2 tablespoons chopped, divided
1 clove garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 pound center-cut salmon , skinned (see Tip)

1. Preheat grill to medium-high.
2. Lay two 9-inch pieces of heavy-duty foil on top of each other and place on a rimless baking sheet. Arrange lemon slices in two layers in the center of the foil. Spread herb sprigs over the lemons. With the side of a chef’s knife, mash garlic with salt to form a paste. Transfer to a small dish and stir in mustard and the remaining 2 tablespoons chopped herbs. Spread the mixture over both sides of the salmon. Place the salmon on the herb sprigs.
3. Slide the foil and salmon off the baking sheet onto the grill without disturbing the salmon-lemon stack. Cover the grill; cook until the salmon is opaque in the center, 18 to 24 minutes. Wearing oven mitts, carefully transfer foil and salmon back onto the baking sheet. Cut the salmon into 4 portions and serve with lemon wedges (discard herb sprigs and lemon slices).

If you’re looking for something quick and easy that you can just microwave, try some Basic Microwave Risotto:

3 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
3/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. In a 3 quart, microwave safe casserole dish combine butter, garlic and onion. Place dish in microwave and cook on high for 3 minutes.
2. Place vegetable broth in a microwave safe dish. Heat on microwave until the broth is hot but not boiling (approximately 2 minutes).
3. Stir the rice and broth into the casserole dish with the onion, butter and garlic mixture. Cover the dish tightly and cook on high for 6 minutes.
4. Stir wine into the rice. Cook on high for 10 minutes more. Most of the liquid should boil off. Stir the cheese into the rice and serve.

Of course you’ll need to finish off every meal with a delectable dessert!  After a hot Summer day, sit back with a nice and refreshing Red, White and Blueberry Sundae:

6 large strawberries, hulled and quartered
1- 3 ounce package cranberry-raspberry jello, or another red flavor
1 cup heavy cream
2 meringue nests
1 cup blueberries
mini U.S. flags
1. Divide the strawberries among the glasses. Prepare the jello according to the package instructions and pour over the strawberries. Place in the fridge until set.
2. Whip the cream. Break the meringues into pieces and stir into the whipped cream. When the jello is set, divide the cream among the four glasses.
3. Spoon a layer of blueberries on top and decorate with the U.S flag.

To see more recipes like these, click here.

Are you all as hungry as I am now?


P.S. – Send your questions to, and if your question is chosen your answer will be featured in an Ask The Swag Gal post and you’ll be hooked up with 150 Swag Bucks!