101 Ways to Love Summer

 

This summer, Cooking Channel shares 101 ways to love summer, helping you take advantage of the splendid weather and fresh seasonal produce, and giving you ideas for outdoor adventures and easy entertaining.

 

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1. Plan Your Memorial Day Barbecue

Kick off grilling season by hosting a low-key Memorial Day backyard bash featuring simple skewers, a build-your-own-burger bar and five-star tequila-spiked lemonade.

Easy Summer Cookout Menu

2. Grill a Last-Minute Side Dish

No need for advance prep: Grill the veggies you have on hand and dress them with a simple herby balsamic mixture.

See More Photos: The 106 Best Summer Side Dishes

3. Get Swimsuit-Ready

Dig into hearty, flavorful and good-for-you mains like a meaty portobello burger to keep that tummy flat and happy.

See More Photos: Best Healthy Summer Recipes

4. Hit the Beach

Go island hopping for the best beachside food on Beach Bites with Katie Lee as she travels to Miami, St. Barts and more sunny spots.

Beach Bites with Katie Lee

5. Play With New Grilling Gadgets

Meatballs on the grill? No problem. Test out innovative tools that enable you to give your favorite fare a summery spin.

See More Photos: 10 Cool Grilling Tools to Try

6. Discover the Secret to Better Barbecue

Learn how to infuse meats with flavor through rubs, sauces and mops, then sit back and let the smoking begin.

See More Photos: Tips for Building Better Barbecue

7. Savor Strawberries at Their Peak

A juicy, rustic strawberry galette is but one of the ways to enjoy the ruby-red berry –– early summer's best and brightest.

See More Photos: Summer Berry Sweets

8. Join a CSA

Get access to the freshest veggies from local farmers by joining a Community Supported Agriculture program.

See More Photos: 15 Ways to Eat Your Veggies –– for Dinner

9. Make the Perfect Juicy Burger

Find out how to make a perfect burger, then choose from recipes for different meat and veggie patties and endless toppings.

See More Photos: 64 Top Burger Recipes

10. Fire Up the Grill

Join Roger Mooking on the fifth season of Man Fire Food as he uncovers the inventive ways Americans are cooking with fire.

Man Fire Food

11. Throw a Ribs Cook-Off

Challenge friends and family to a dueling of the meats: Whose saucy, stick-to-your-fingers ribs will reign champion?

See More Photos: Best BBQ Ribs

12. Love Summer, Cooking Channel-Style

Some of our stars share what they love most about the summer season. Their answers will inspire you –– and make you laugh.

Watch the Video: Cooking Channel's 101 Ways to #LoveSummer

13. Get Perfect Grill Marks

Find out how to create those even char lines, how to tell when steak is done and more essential grilling tips.

See More Photos: How to Grill Like a Pro

14. Start a New Family Game Tradition

Whether it's whakin' a wacky-shaped pinata, tossing a bean bag or DIYing cute plants, these outdoor activities are ripe for the tradition-making.

See More Photos: Outdoor Games + Summer Activities Guide

15. Throw an Ice Cream Social

Get tips for setting up this old-fashioned ice-cream-and-toppings bar, featuring colorful soda pop and mini pies, to boot.

See More Photos: How to Throw an Ice Cream Social Party

16. Go on a Long Hike or Bike Ride

Spend a long weekend day adventuring outdoors –– and make sure you're fueled for the trip by bringing along lightweight, nutritious foods.

Food to Pack for a Day of Biking, Hiking or Other Adventures

17. Stick a Beer Can In It

There's a reason this (hilarious) cooking style is so popular: The end result is an impossibly juicy, crispy chicken.

The Best Beer Can Chicken

18. Deck Your Deck With DIY Lighting

Transform red plastic cups and paper cones into beautiful string lights that emit a colorful glow on warm summer nights.

Watch the Video: Design Your Own Party Lighting

19. Create a Signature Summer Cocktail

Unleash your inner mixologist and craft a colorful, fruity cocktail that you'll want to drink over and over again, all summer long.

See More Photos: The Best Summer Drinks & Cocktails

20. Try a New Kind of Slaw

Go beyond boring, creamy cabbage and opt for julienned veggies, slivers of meat, tropical fruits and an abundance of herbs and nuts.

See More Photos: 6 Ways to Amp Up Your BBQ Slaw

21. Have a Low, Slow and Lazy Day

Apply your rubs and sauces, fire up the smoker and then wait. The reward for your patience? Tender barbecued meats, like beer-braised barbecue pork butt.

See More Photos: Our Best BBQ Recipes

22. Surprise Dad With a Southern Comfort Brunch

This Father's Day, treat Dad to bacon mac and cheese, Bloody Marys and bourbon-spiked banana pudding.

See More Photos: Father's Day Brunch, Southern Comfort-Style

23. Try a New Side Dish With Dinner

Mix a colorful new slaw (like this smoked corn + lime recipe), a differently dressed potato salad or a veggie-filled pasta dish.

See More Photos: The 106 Best Summer Side Dishes

24. Catch Up On Your Favorite Cooking Channel Shows

We have over 100 full episodes to stream online, including Carnival Eats, Dinner at Tiffani's, Unique Sweets, Rev Run's Sunday Suppers and more.

Watch Full Episodes

25. Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

Berry crumbles, peach pies, ice cream sandwiches and these fruity frozen yogurt-coconut pops: How's a dessert lover to choose?

See More Photos: Best Summer Dessert Recipes

26. Beat the Heat with a Light Dinner

As the temps heat up, our stomachs tend to shrink –– get recipes for light dinners that pack extra flavor into every bite, like jerk spice-marinated mahi mahi.

See More Photos: Light Summer Dinner Recipes

27. Pack a 5-Star Picnic    

Spruce up your picnic spread with crowd-pleasing salads, sandwiches and desserts that can stand up to the heat and travel easily.

See More Photos: Pack a 5-Star Picnic

28. Go Berry Picking

Plan a day trip to collect bushels of blueberries, strawberries and more, then get creative with the fruits of your labor and turn those berries into some seriously decadent desserts. (Cast-iron blueberry cobbler, anyone?)

See More Photos: Summer Berry Sweets

29. Play in the Dirt

Don your gardening best and roll up those sleeves –– you can plant your way to a salsa garden (tomatoes! peppers! onions! cilantro!) using a linen vertical shoe hanger, some potting soil and bee-attracting marigolds.

Watch the Video: Make Your Own Salsa Garden

30. Scour Your Local Activities Calendar + Plan Your Summer

June may nearly be over, but the best of summer is still ahead of you (fret not). Find out when the fairs, drive-in movies, concerts and other local events are happening, and mark your calendars.

31. Get Creative With Pasta

Tired of the same-old macaroni salad? Prep for your next barbecue, potluck or picnic by making a DIY salad: Start with different pasta shapes and expand your mix-in horizons.

Get the Tips: Create Your Own Pasta Salad Recipe

See More Photos: Know Your Noodles: A Guide to Summer Pastas

32. Reinvent the Classics

Food's Greatest Hits will teach you the facts about your favorite foods and then show you how to reinvent them with crazy twists like shrimp cheesecake and waffle burgers.

Food's Greatest Hits

33. Throw a Pizza Party

Invite friends over for a rustic pizza party, including fresh veggie toppings, simple sunflower decorations and plenty of red wine. Get tips for setting up the party –– and learn how to grill a pizza –– here.

See More Photos: How to Throw a Rustic Pizza Party

34. Make Your Own Cornhole

Whether you call it cornhole, bean toss, bean bag or some other silly name, the simple pleasure of tossing a weighted sock or bag into a hole is synonymous with summer fun and fair games. Make your own with these simple DIY tips.

Watch the Video: Make Your Own Cornhole Game

35. Get Schooled in the Art of Eating

Think you know how to tame watermelon's succulent slices? Or how best to lick a quickly melting ice cream cone? Dan Pashman will blow your mind with his clever and efficient eating techniques.

You're Eating It Wrong

36. Try New Burger Toppings

Why cap off your burger with plain ol' ketchup when you can pile your patties with colorful, customized condiments and tasty toppings (like deli-sandwich-inspired pastrami and Swiss cheese)?

See More Photos: 11 Outside-the-Bun Burger Toppings

37. Test a New Tater Salad

There's more to the barbecue spread than globs of mayo. Make a salad out of different potato varieties, leave their skins on for color and flavor, and try lighter, thinner dressings that will withstand the summer heat. Don't forget the flavorful mix-ins, like sausage, herbs and more.

See More Photos: 43 Perfect Picnic Salads: Potato, Pasta, Slaw & More

38. Kick off July by Planning The ULTIMATE Summer

Don't let Labor Day pass you by without having partaken in these top 10 summer activities. We developed recipes meant specifically for each event, like the pool party-perfect ice cream drums.

See More Photos: The Top 10 Things To Do (and Eat) This Summer

39. Visit Your Local Farmers Market

Check out what produce your local farmers are peddling, then get tips for selecting, prepping and cooking the varied veggies.

See More Photos: Tips for Prepping + Cooking Summer Vegetables

40. Celebrate Independence Day With an All-American BBQ

Transform the most-landlocked backyard into a beach-inspired retreat for this all-American blue and white barbecue party.

See More Photos: How To: Nautical Backyard BBQ Party

41. Find a New Way to Red, White and Blue

Make this July Fourth tops with creative red, white and blue desserts that are sure to spark a conversation among guests.

See More Photos: Red, White and Blue Sweets for the 4th

42. Dress Up Your Hot Dogs

Those snappy, juicy dogs are just begging to be dressed up in creative fixin's like chili, cheese and plenty of other condiments.

Best Hamburger, BBQ + Grilling Recipes

43. Make Your Own BBQ Sauce

Once you prep your own smoky-sweet sauce for slathering on meats, you'll never turn to the bottled stuff again.

See More Photos: Spicy, Smoky BBQ Rubs & Sauces

44. Grill Your Dessert

Keep those coals sizzling once your steaks are done –– grilling fruits and baked goods releases their natural sweetness and intensifies flavors. (Pair the slightly charred sweets with a scoop of frosty ice cream for the perfect balance of temperatures.)

See More Photos: 22 Reasons to Grill Your Dessert

45. Spruce Up the Salt-and-Pepper Routine

Sure, a simple steak requires little more than your most basic seasonings, but these recipes prove that a spicy rub, succulent sauce or other flavor pairing can elevate your steak dinner to a whole new level.

See More Photos: 21 Ways to Grill Steak

46. Get Your Jiggle On

When mixed with fresh fruits, molded into clever shapes or spiked with booze, Jell-O becomes much more than a nostalgic treat.

See More Photos: 11 Cool, Jiggly Jell-O Treats

47. Give it Your Brawl 

Brooklyn chef Shannon Ambrosio is heading south to battle top pitmasters on Big Bad BBQ Brawl. Watch to see who is crowned the 'cue king.

Big Bad BBQ Brawl

48. Make Quick Pickles

This step-by-step guide will show you how to turn humble cukes and onions into the ultimate picnic condiment.

See More Photos: Quick Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe

49. Spend a Day at the Beach

Romping in the ocean's waves can really work up your appetite –– but boardwalk concession stands are often pricey and lacking in variety. Pack your own beach picnic to stay sated all day long, and you'll never have to leave the sand.

Food to Pack for a Day at the Beach

50. Get Your Fair Share

Carnival Eats is back to take you on another food-frenzied roller coaster of culinary delights as we find the best eats on the midway.

Carnival Eats

51. Chow Down on Super Foods

Before watching the summer comic-book blockbusters, try sandwiches inspired by superheroes, like this one with a french fry Wolverine "claw" sticking out of it.

See More Photos: The Super Heroes of Summer

52. Buy Tix to Head to the Ballpark

In honor of today's annual All-Star Game, plan a trip to your local major or minor league team's ballpark. Hungry for more? Try these ballpark-themed recipes for toasty hot pretzels, loaded hot dogs, caramel corn and more.

See More Photos: Best Ballpark Eats

53. Drink Out of a Pineapple

Escape to the tropics in your own backyard by drinking right out of a pineapple. Follow these simple tips to core the fruit and make it a stable drinking vessel. Just make sure the drink you put it in mixes well with pineapple –– the interior walls will add a little extra flavor to your drink!

How to Turn a Pineapple Into a Drinking Vessel

54. Plan a Pretty Picnic

Get step-by-step instructions on packing for and setting up a retro-styled picnic on the fly –– perfect for impromptu parties or a romantic rendezvous.

See More Photos: How to Host a Retro-Inspired Picnic for Two

55. Mix It Up With a Midsummer Playlist

Liven up gatherings –– or just your commute to work –– with a fresh batch of tunes. Check out our playlists tailored specifically to different summer occasions.


See all the playlists here.

56. Pitch a Tent (Even If It's In Your Own Backyard)    

Whether you're in the mountains, under the stars or right outside your back door, sleeping outdoors is a special summer treat. S'mores required, of course.

See More Photos: Camping Foods

57. Make Your Own Ice Cream Truck Treats

Can't wait for Mister Softee to round the corner? Whip up your own ice cream sandwiches, flavored Popsicles and bowls of other frosty treats.

See More Photos: Frozen, Frosty Ice Cream Treats

58. Spice Up Same-Old Grilled Chicken

Bored with plain grilled breasts? These recipes prove that a solid spice rub, savory sauces and fresh herbs can transform chicken into a crowd-pleasing dish.

See More Photos: Great Grilled Chicken Recipes

59. Lighten Up the Barbecue Spread

The freshest summer veggies need little sauce or dressing to shine and make delicious, good-for-you side dishes.

See More Photos: Healthy Summer Side Dishes

60. Cold-Brew Iced Coffee

Have a hankering for some java? All you need is a strainer, a pitcher, coffee grounds and water. The best part? By cold-brewing your beans, you'll turn out coffee that's less acidic (thus gentler on your stomach) and infused with flavor notes typically masked by hot-brewed coffee's strong acidity.

Watch the Video: How to Cold Brew Coffee

61. Build a Better Butter

Diversify the grilled grain with infused butters, flavorful spice mixes and more clever corn-preparation tricks.

See More Photos: Corn on the Cob, 11 Ways

62. Reinvent the Popsicle

Start with a fruit (or in this case, wine) or yogurt base, mix in fruits, herbs or other surprising ingredients, then freeze: These are not your ordinary concession-stand pops.

See More Photos: Lick These Now: 16 Irresistible Summer Ice Pops

63. Make 'Em Mini

Petite sliders, pigs in blankets, crostini and other small bites are perfect party fare –– easy to serve to a crowd, no plates required.

See More Photos: Sliders Recipes

64. Eat a Perfectly Ripe Peach

Is there any sensation more typical of summertime than that of the juices of a perfectly ripe peach running down your chin? Savor this peak-season time by eating all the stone fruits you can find –– and baking irresistible desserts like peach cobblers, cherry pies and more.

See More Photos: Peaches, Cherries + More Stone Fruit Sweets

65. Find a Dinner Salad That Satisfies

Spiking temps may make you crave simpler, lighter meals. These protein-filled salads with interesting ingredients will keep you satisfied without weighing you down.

See More Photos: Delicious Dinner Salad Recipes

66. Grill a New Type of Meat

There's more to grilling than steaks, chicken, burgers and hot dogs –– toss stuffed pork, lamb and bacon over the coals for a new type of main dish.

See More Photos: Great Grilled Mains: Chicken, Steak, Pork & More

67. Spike the Dessert Spread

These dishes might look like the innocent fruit favorites, but beneath their bubbling crusts lies some seriously strong liquor.

See More Photos: The 5 Best Boozy Cobblers + Crisps

68. Dress Up the Dinner Table

Turn an everyday dinner into a special event with these simple decorating ideas, like topping your table with tall sunflowers and turning produce into decor.

See More Photos: Easy Ways to Dress Up the Summer Table

69. Cook a Fresh Catch

Savor fresh-off-the-boat fish and other seafood by building flavorful fish tacos, grilling salmon or holding a clambake on the beach.

See More Photos: Fresh Summer Seafood Recipes

70. Throw an Impromptu Party

Last-minute entertaining? No need to plan a whole menu or even a main dish: These easy appetizers will keep guests sated and allow them to sample lots of small bites representing varied flavors.

See More Photos: 53 Easy Summer Appetizer Recipes

71. Get Lei'd In Your Backyard

Wish you were escaping on an August getaway? Bring the tropics to your backyard with this easy Hawaiian luau party. Start with these five "ingredients" to tap into that Polynesian spirit.

See More Photos: How to Throw a Hawaiian Luau Party

72. Get Going With a Sweet Sunrise Smoothie

Cool down on a hot summer morning with a fresh, fruit-filled smoothie and get energized for the day ahead.

See More Photos: Sweet Shakes & Smoothies

73. Grill Your Pizza

See how Kelsey Nixon and Bobby Flay transform dough into meat-loaded cheesy pizzas and crispy flatbreads, then experiment with your own DIY pizza recipe.

Watch the Video: Secrets of Grilled Pizza

74. Make Your Ice Cubes Cooler

Freeze sweet, savory and fruity liquids in ice cube trays and then add them to drinks to change the flavor of your summer beverages (not water them down).

See More Photos: 10 Flavored Ice Cube Tricks for Summer

75. Eat Your Way Across the Country

The best part of going on a road trip? Sampling all the great foods that are unique to each region of the country and the iconic state foods you've never heard of. Ready your appetites and load up the gas tank!

See More Photos: Best State Food Recipes

76. Embrace the Mediterranean Trend

There's so much to love about Mediterranean culture and cuisine, from fresh fish to salads filled with vine-ripe tomatoes, feta cheese and crisp cucumbers. Host a late-summer party celebrating this food –– and the beautiful blue-and-white landscape of the Greek islands –– with just a few key ingredients.

See More Photos: Mediterranean Dinner Party

77. Discover Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom tomatoes gain in sweetness what they lose in uniform color –– those ruby-red supermarket varieties have been genetically modified to obtain their perfect hue, and in the process, their flavor is lessened. Embrace the rainbow-hued tomatoes during peak season by eating them straight off the vine, or mixing with herbs and creamy cheeses for fresh, flavorful salads.

See More Photos: 41 Fresh Summer Vegetable Recipes

78. Give Your BBQ a Southern Spin

Pair meats and mains with smoky beans, cornbread, creamy slaws and collard greens to turn your cookout into a Southern feast.

See More Photos: Top BBQ Side Dishes

79. Go Belly Up

Pork belly is the closest you can get to eating a big slab of bacon for dinner. Try it in barbecue, hash and more top recipes.

See More Photos: Beyond Bacon: 8 Ways to Transform Pork Belly

80. Summer-fy Your Favorite Comfort Foods

We extracted the flavors from the top 10 wintry comfort foods and turned the dishes into picnic-ready, barbecue-perfect fare like this addictive loaded baked-potato salad.

See More Photos: Summer-fy Your Favorite Comfort Foods

81. Turn Off the Stove

It's simply too hot in the kitchen to stand near a flame –– try these no-cook summer recipes to prepare satisfying meals, no heat source required. 

See More Photos: 10 No-Cook Summer Meals

82. Let Your Fridge Do the Work

Feel like baking but can't stand the heat of the oven? Make simple icebox sweets, like a no-bake strawberry cheesecake, which requires a little prep work and lets your fridge do the rest.

See More Photos: How-To: No-Bake Strawberry Cheesecake

83. Shuck Some Corn

Try new ways to savor the iconic summer grain, like grilling the ears until they're charred, slicing off the kernels and then mixing them with a basil-vinaigrette dressing, tomatoes and onions.

See More Photos: 41 Fresh Summer Vegetable Recipes

84. Plan a Fluorescent Fiesta

This low-key party requires some bright papel picado and a colorful tablecloth –– then the margaritas, guacamole and taco bar do the rest.

See More Photos: How to Throw a Fiesta Party

85. Make Your Own Lobster Roll

Craving that creamy mix of lobster meat atop a buttery, grilled roll, but nowhere near the shore? No problem: Making your own summery sandwich is simpler than you think.

See More Photos: How Do You (Lobster) Roll?

86. Visit Your State Fair

It's hard to decide what to love more: the Ferris wheels and games or the amazing over-the-top foods, like greasy corn dogs, funnel cake, cotton candy and more. Can't get enough? Tune in to the all-new show Carnival Eats to dig even deeper into the dizzying array of fair foods.

Favorite Fair Foods

87. Squeeze a New Kind of Lemonade

When life hands you lemons, spike your lemonade with tequila, a la Chuck, or make it unbelievably sweet (and pink) by swirling cotton candy into the batch like Kelsey does.

See More Photos: The 20 Most Refreshing Summer Drinks

88. Watch High-Steaks Food Fights

Watch your favorite barbecue foods battle it out in the ring in our new animated series, The Great American Food Feud.

Big Bad BBQ Brawl Videos

89. Cheat With Lighter-Than-You'd-Think Desserts

These low-calorie sweets, like bright citrus gelatin, help you satisfy your sweet tooth without packing on the guilt (and pounds).

See More Photos: Light Summer Desserts

90. Freeze New Foods

If you've ever frozen grapes in the summertime, you're familiar with the surprising way the freezer can transform foods into refreshing (and seemingly more indulgent) snacks.

See More Photos: 11 Foods You Need to Freeze, Right Now

91. Take a Dip

Guacamoles, salsas and more dips are ripe for the picking when their main ingredients are in peak season. Try something a little different, too, like a spicy-sweet mango salsa.

See More Photos: Perfect Summer Dip Recipes for Parties

92. Grab Some Growlers + Grub

Go beyond the basic bottle and pick up growlers of craft beers that represent the broad spectrum of lagers and ales. Then invite friends over for a fun beer-tasting party, featuring tasting notebooks, simple decor and plenty of munchies, like a cheese plate, hot pretzels and burgers.

See More Photos: Beer-Tasting Party

93. Chill Out With a Bowl of Soup

Try a chilled bowl of soup filled with the season's freshest flavors for summer's take on the ultimate comfort food.

See More Photos: Summer Soup Recipes

94. Have a S'mores Party

Go beyond basic graham and chocolates by setting up a full toppings bar –– potato chips, bacon, apples and more –– and a variety of cookies for the sandwich bookends.

Watch the Video: Entertaining Kids: S'Mores Bar

95. Pig Out on Pulled Pork

Stay cool inside with classic slow-cooker pulled pork sandwiches or try inventive new takes on pizza and nachos.

See More Photos: Pig Out with 13 Takes on Pulled Pork

96. Make a Fruit-Filled Pie

Whether you're precise in your crust-making or prefer an open-faced and no-fuss galette, there's a pie (or tart) for every baking capability. With so much fresh fruit at the ready, it's sinful not to take advantage by baking something juicy and sweet.

See More Photos: Perfect Summer Pies & Tarts

97. Pack a Picnic Haul in a Pinch

Savor these final days of summer by dining outdoors as much as possible. No time to prepare a complicated meal? These easy picnic salads, like a simple antipasto, require no cooking and take little time to prepare.

See More Photos: Easy, No-Cook Picnic Side Dishes

98. Make a Cobbler, Crisp, Crumble or Other Silly-Named Fruit Dessert

The combination of even-sweeter baked fruit and crunchy or doughy toppings is a summertime rite, and this peach crisp is the perfect summer capper.

See More Photos: Cobblers, Crisps + Crumbles: When Fruit Meets Flour

99. Host a Low-Labor Potluck

Take summer's final holiday literally and invite guests to bring different courses from this menu so that hosting isn't a burden on anyone in particular.

Summer Potluck Menu

100. Stick a Stick In It

These simple grilled and produce-filled skewers are equally enjoyable for a quick weeknight dinner or for serving to party guests.

See More Photos: 16 Party-Ready Summer Skewers

101. Finish Summer With A Superstar Dish

Not sure how to top off a summer of delicious meals and fun adventures? Turn to Cooking Channel's best and make one of our stars' top-rated summer recipes, like this mega-hit Mexican grilled corn.

See More Photos: Cooking Channel's All-Star Summer Recipes