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Easy weeknight dinners

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tortilla soup

HEAT, ADD, STIR This tortilla soup almost as easy to make as basic tacos, especially if you use rotisserie chicken. (Photo: The Junior League of Houston)

Cooking Buzz is produced in partnership with the Junior League of Houston.

Back to school draws near, and the lazy days of summer come to a close. This has always been one of my favorite times of year, as I was an eager student who enjoyed the excitement of back to school and shopping for school supplies.

Now as a mother, however, the excitement and busy-ness can mean less time for preparing food for our family. Plus I am always looking for something my picky toddler will try, which can be a challenge. In the heat of a late-Houston summer, any recipes that can be served cool are winners in our house.

A unique choice we’ve tried recently is the Tuna Niçoise Salad from Peace Meals. With a mix of fresh vegetables, potatoes, eggs and tuna, this meal is approachable enough for a small child and delicious and refreshing for an easy, late-summer meal. In fact, my toddler loves picking his bites from the deconstructed platter arrangement.

Another favorite is one I have been making for years, the Tortilla Soup from Stop and Smell the Rosemary. A dear friend made this for us once. It was so delicious we called her to get the recipe. Imagine my surprise that it came from a cookbook I already had on my shelf. Normally, I would not say that a soup is a quick and easy dish to make, but this recipe is just a few steps beyond making basic tacos. Sometimes I use a rotisserie chicken to make it an even quicker meal. It is a great idea to make extra servings; we have it for lunch, bring it to friends, or freeze it for a future meal.

And for me, there is nothing simpler and tastier than a great B.L.T. A Bacon-Lettuce-Tomato dinner is the perfect way to take advantage of the gorgeous tomatoes from the farmers’ market this time of year. Stop and Smell the Rosemary’s Best B.L.T. with Hill Country Basil Mayonnaise takes a simple, classic summer sandwich to new heights with the delicious homemade dressing. It is a breeze to make the mayonnaise over the weekend using basil from our little herb garden. And here’s a tip: You can keep it in the refrigerator for up to a week, making it an easy meal spread for when that busy night pops up later in the week.

Enjoy spending these last few days of summer with your family and friends – and not spending it all in the kitchen.

To buy a Houston Junior League cookbook, see or call 713-871-6608.

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