summerFor many kids and adults, summer is synonymous with freedom. The days seem endless, the sunshine empowers everyone with energy, and the world is filled with the smell of freshly cut grass and blooming flowers. Summer also brings the most plentiful and ripest fruits and vegetables to market and inspires outdoor cooking while you sip on frosty, thirst-quenching summer drinks.

Cool, Tall and Fresh

Nothing tastes better on a hot day than a frosty summer drink in a tall glass. Whether it’s old-fashioned sweet tea with fresh lemon slices floating on top, a healthy smoothie, an indulgent milkshake, or a tropical cocktail, short of jumping into a cool mountain lake, a cold beverage is the pinnacle of refreshment. Mix up a pitcher of lemonade and add a shot of vodka to the grown-ups’ glasses or bring out the blender and whip up popular “umbrella” drinks such as Pina Coladas, Mai Tais, or Fruit Daiquiris, both traditional and virgin versions. For a light afternoon drink, give white or red wine some pizzazz by adding club soda to create Wine Spritzers.

Snacks and Bites

As refreshing and satisfying as cool drinks are, they taste even better when paired with summer snacks. Tortilla chips dipped in creamy guacamole, chunky salsa, or a layered dip nicely complement fruit-based beverages. Make lettuce cups using romaine lettuce leaves filled with roasted chicken, honey ham and shredded carrots dressed with honey-Dijon dressing. Finger foods like empanadas, egg rolls, and pot stickers are good companions for evening cocktails.

Bountiful Breakfasts

Quick breakfasts packed with instant energy are most popular in the summer. When the cool evening falls, bake some muffins and breakfast breads to have on hand to kick start the mornings. Pack the muffins with fresh fruits such as blueberries and cherries or make oatmeal, banana nut, or whole-wheat muffins and pair them with chunky fruit salad. Cinnamon raisin bread toasts up quickly and is even better when topped with soft cream cheese. On weekends, take the time to cook a summer breakfast buffet featuring quiche Lorraine, sticky cinnamon rolls, scrambled eggs