Today is June 21 which means that summer has officially arrived.  Most of us have been experiencing summer weather for quite some time, which is why I’ve never really paid much attention to the calendar dates of the seasons.  (In fact, it is a huge pet peeve of mine that the calendar seasons are so out of sync with the weather – just ask Ben.)  The longer I blog and the more the archives grow, the greater chance that there are some really fantastic past recipes that readers may miss because they weren’t a recent entry.  I thought I would start doing a feature at the (calendar) beginning of each season to highlight some of my personal favorites with you.

I hate the thought of ever having to choose a favorite pie, but if it came down to it my choice would be this blueberry pie.  There is something magical about blueberries after they are cooked and this pie is the embodiment of summer for me.

I used to be lukewarm about pickles until I met this recipe.  Now, I positively can’t get enough of them.  Excuse me while I run and make some.

For me, the very best thing about summer is the abundance of fresh produce, specifically fruit.  Right now my fridge is bursting with so much produce, I’m not sure I’ll be able to make use of it all.  (I will though, I am determined!)  With beautiful bright colors and natural sweetness, combined with vanilla pastry cream it’s positively irresistible in the form of this tart.

Living in the midwest, we don’t tend to use the grill all year round.  (Well, my dad does, but we won’t go there today.)  In summer I try to take advantage of the grilling season by planning at least one or two meals per week on the grill.  These burgers make it into the rotation frequently.  To us, they are the perfect classic burger – nothing fancy or odd, just the right ratio of the usual suspects to take them from good to great.  (They also require the perfect burger bun, in my opinion.)

Berries can be extremely pricey during some parts of the year, but in summer there seems to be a magical few weeks when they are all dirt cheap.  That’s the time to make this summer berry pie.  The lovely berries and their deep jewel tones almost look too pretty to eat.  Almost.

A beautiful summer evening, grilling up some fabulous chicken fajitas while you sit outside on the patio and indulge in a margarita or two = perfection.  That is what I’ll be doing this Friday night, for real.

Cold weather has never deterred me from making or eating ice cream, but the heat of summer certainly makes me crave it even more than usual.  This chocolate ice cream is perfectly thick, creamy and well, chocolatey.  Such a classic treat.

At the end of summer many home gardeners end up with a plethora of zucchini.  Zucchini bread, cupcakes, everything are baked at a frantic pace.  This easy side dish is one of my favorite uses for zucchini, and it is fun to make (I love squeezing out all the water!)

Mississippi mud pie combines two of my favorite treats in one – pie and ice cream.  Very different than a fruit pie a la mode, but certainly no less delicious.  Coffee, toffee, and chocolate?  Yes, please.

This cherry tomato salad is my new favorite summer side dish.  Fresh cherry tomatoes are the perfect match for crisp, cool cucumber and tangy feta in a simple dressing.  It’s love, I tell you.

Sorbet can be the perfect ending to a hot summer day when you want something lighter than ice cream.  This one in particular screams summer to me, with its beautiful magenta color, smooth texture, and sweet-tart flavoring.  It’s good stuff.

For me, one of the very best things about summer is home grown produce.  Pizza margherita is my very favorite because in summer, you can step outside for tomatoes and basil fresh from your own garden.  With homemade pizza dough, it just doesn’t get much better than that.  Except in the form of this tomato mozzarella tart with basil garlic crust – same flavors, but they take on new life in this savory tart.

Summer gatherings spent cooking hot dogs over a fire and ending with s’mores are a popular past time.  This s’mores layer cake is a fun variation on the classic flavor combo, and is an ideal dessert for any summer get together.