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On those hot summer days we'll bet the last thing you want to do is spend time cooking a big family dinner. 

We're all for convenient and easy meals that can appeal to even the pickiest eaters at our dinner table. To help parents make a menu that won't break a sweat, we put together some of our summer favorites that are simple and semi-homemade. 

You might even have some tasty leftovers to pack in your poolside picnic the next day! 

 Photo Courtesy of  Cooking Light

Photo Courtesy of Cooking Light

Ham and Cheese Pizza

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 4 ounces fresh baby spinach
  • 1 (8-oz.) prebaked thin pizza crust (such as Mama Mary's)
  • 1/4 cup lower-sodium marinara sauce (such as Rao's)
  • 4 ounces lower-sodium deli ham, diced
  • 2 ounces shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, torn
  • 1/2 cup julienne-cut Fuji apple
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 500°F.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add spinach; cook 3 minutes or until completely wilted, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.

Place pizza crust on a sheet of parchment paper; spread marinara sauce evenly over crust. Arrange spinach, ham, cheddar, and mozzarella evenly over sauce. Place pizza on parchment directly on oven rack; bake at 500°F for 9 minutes or until cheese melts and begins to brown. Remove from oven. Top with apple and peppers; drizzle with remaining 2 teaspoons oil. Cut into 8 wedges.

 Photo Courtesy of  My Recipes

Photo Courtesy of My Recipes

Broccoli Mac and Cheese

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces uncooked large elbow macaroni
  • 2 cups chopped broccoli florets
  • 1 1/2 cups 1% low-fat milk
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 center-cut bacon slice, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 4.5 ounces reduced-fat cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)

Directions

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Add broccoli during the last minute of cooking; cook for 1 minute. Drain.

Combine milk and next 5 ingredients (through salt) in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add bacon; cook 4 minutes or until crisp. Add butter to pan; swirl until butter melts. Add milk mixture to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in cheese. Add pasta mixture to pan, stirring to coat.

 Photo Courtesy of  Cooking Light

Photo Courtesy of Cooking Light

Pretzel Crusted Chicken

Ingredients

  • 5 tablespoons yellow cornmeal, divided
  • 1/4 cup 1% low-fat milk
  • 3 teaspoons Dijon mustard, divided
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup finely crushed unsalted pretzel twists
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 chicken breast tenders (about 1 1/4 pounds)
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1/4 cup canola mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°.

Place 4 tablespoons cornmeal in a shallow dish. Combine milk, 2 teaspoons mustard, and egg in a separate shallow dish, stirring with a whisk. Combine pretzels, remaining 1 tablespoon cornmeal, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, sugar, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and pepper in a third shallow dish, stirring with a whisk. Lightly dredge chicken in cornmeal, dip in milk mixture, and dredge in pretzel mixture, pressing gently to coat thoroughly. Lightly coat chicken with cooking spray.

Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add chicken; cook 3 minutes or until browned. Turn chicken over, and place pan in oven. Bake at 375° for 7 minutes or until done.

While chicken cooks, combine mayonnaise, yogurt, chives, lemon juice, remaining 1 teaspoon mustard, remaining 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Serve sauce with tenders.

 Photo Courtesy of  My Recipes

Photo Courtesy of My Recipes

Potato and Carrot Pancakes

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups grated carrot
  • 2 1/2 cups grated baking potato
  • 3 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2/3 cup)
  • 1/2 cup grated onion
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup whole-milk Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons honey

Directions

Preheat oven to 325°.

Place carrot and potato on paper towels; squeeze until barely moist. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, onion, garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, pepper, and eggs in a large bowl. Add potato mixture; stir to combine.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 2 teaspoons oil; swirl to coat. Heap 3 tablespoons potato mixture into pan to form a patty; flatten slightly. Repeat procedure 5 times to form 6 patties. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook 6 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Place pancakes on a baking sheet; keep warm in oven. Repeat procedure twice with remaining oil and potato mixture to yield 18 pancakes. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Combine remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, yogurt, curry, and honey in a bowl. Serve curry sauce with pancakes.