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Savor Summery Sides

When the weather's hot, you want something easy to make and cool to eat, so give one of these treats a try. The best part? They can all be made in the blender.

  • Chill with cool veggie soup. Take tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and celery, add a dash of Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and a few other ingredients and you've got a backyard superstar: gazpacho. Make it a meal with a side of grilled bread.
  • Fruit soups. Sweet produce works great as a cold soup, too. Grill up your favorite fruits, then combine them with a touch of fruit juice, salt, red pepper flakes, and balsamic vinegar.
  • Delectable dips. While you've got the blender out and the grill going, roast a little eggplant, then mix up some smooth baba ghanoush (eggplant dip), or give homemade hummus a spin.
  • Fruit and veggie salsas. Give those grilled pitas and tortillas something to do by roughly chopping a couple kinds of chunky salsa. You can go with the tried-and-true mix of onions, tomatoes, and avocado, or mix it up with a fruity summer salsa of pineapple, peaches, mangos, and hot peppers.

Dice Up Delicious Desserts

Ice cream isn't the only cool dessert for summer, try a few of these easy-to-make chilly treats:

  • Fruit pops. Watermelon, strawberries, grapes, cherries -- summer produce is everywhere right now, so make the most of the bounty. Toss your favorites in a blender with fruit juice and yogurt, pour into small paper cups or molds, and unveil at your backyard bash. Drippy, sweet, and good for you, too.
  • Frozen bananas. Bananas transform into super-creamy treats when they're frozen. Roll them in nuts or drizzle a little dark chocolate over them before freezing for an even more decadent treat.
  • Bring out the blender again. Mix summer fruits, a little ice, and a splash of a fruity, herbal iced tea and the resulting smoothie is a great way to bring a hot day to heel. Add a jot of your favorite liqueur or spiced rum for a dessert smoothie that doubles as an adult treat.
  • Parfaits. Dice summer fruits like kiwis and strawberries into a tall glass, top with frozen yogurt and nuts, then repeat the layers and chill.