Who doesn't love a good summertime cookout? It's a great way to bond with family or catch up with friends. That said, it's no secret that the real star of the show is the food. Preparing a dish for your next gathering doesn't have to be a headache. Try these three no-stress recipes, and the only thing you'll be worried about is remembering to pack the sunscreen.
Three-Pepper Crock Chops
Need to distract the hungry hordes long enough to give the overworked grill chef a break? This is a great recipe for those who want maximum flavor with minimal effort. There's very little prep, and your slow cooker will do most of the heavy lifting. Feel free to adjust the cayenne and black pepper to taste.
A note: The size of your slow cooker will determine how many chops you can cook at once. Scale the recipe accordingly, and plan ahead if you need to make more than one batch.
3-4 center-cut boneless pork chops
1 tsp. black pepper (freshly ground if available)
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
¼ c. Dr Pepper
¼ c. of your favorite marinade
¼ c. Italian dressing
Combine Dr Pepper, marinade, Italian dressing, black pepper, and cayenne pepper in a one-gallon sealable plastic storage bag. Shake vigorously. Place pork chops in the bag, reseal it, and lay it sideways in a pan or mixing bowl so the chops can marinate evenly. Marinate in refrigerator for one hour. Flip the bag after 30 minutes to get a more even distribution of marinade.
Place pork chops in slow cooker and cook on low for four hours. Check the temperature with a meat thermometer before consuming. (Per the USDA's recommendation, pork chops should reach a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees before consumption and should be allowed to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consumption.) For the best flavor, spoon some of the juice onto the chops before serving.
Very Strawberry Applesauce Dump Cake
This recipe is a lighter take on the traditional dump cake. The slight tartness of the applesauce marries well with the sweetness of the strawberries and cake mix. It's good cold, too, so don't be surprised if you find yourself sneaking bites of the leftovers from the fridge. (That's assuming there are any leftovers.)
10 4-oz. cups of Mott's Strawberry Applesauce
1 lb. package fresh strawberries
1 box of yellow cake mix
½ c. (1 stick) butter
vanilla ice cream (optional)
After removing stems, thinly slice the strawberries. Combine with Mott's Strawberry Applesauce cups in an ungreased 9" x 13" glass baking dish. Shake mixture until evenly distributed. Carefully spread cake mix on top of mixture and smooth evenly with a spoon. Slice butter into thin pats and spread uniformly on top of cake mix. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 55 minutes. (Heating times will vary depending on the oven.) Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
This drink is a great way to enjoy the warmer weather. The recipe makes one, but scales easily for a crowd. (Just remember to do the math before you drink one.) Or if you're pressed for time, bring the ingredients--and the recipe--and set up a “make your own cocktail" station.
3 oz. Canada Dry Ginger Ale
1 ½ oz. pineapple juice
1 ½ oz vodka
½ tsp. ReaLemon
½ tsp. ReaLime
pineapple chunks (optional)
Mix Canada Dry, pineapple juice, vodka, ReaLemon, and ReaLime. Pour over ice in a martini glass, tumbler, or plastic cup. (Hey, it's summer!) If you're feeling fancy, place pineapple chunks on the edge of the glass or skewered chunks inside the glass.