An icebox cake, for the unfamiliar, is an easy summer dessert that comes together in the chilly confines of your refrigerator. The oven plays no role in the making of an icebox cake - and that's a good thing when temperatures are high and something cool, creamy and sweet seems like just about the perfect warm weather antidote.

Novelty for the sake of novelty is an occupational hazard of food writing and recipe testing. How many ways can you make a chocolate chip cookie? What else is there to say about roasting a Thanksgiving turkey? And then when you're content not to move the needle too much, even your relatively restrained variations can send the internet peanut gallery into a shell-throwing frenzy. (Why, yes, I'm still paying off the therapy bills for the Cornbread Controversy of 2018 and Steak Storm of 2019.)

Carne deshebrada, literally meaning “shredded beef,” is a common offering at Mexican taco stands. It’s made by braising a large cut of beef until ultra-tender and then shredding the meat and tossing it with a flavorful rojo sauce made with tomatoes and/or dried chiles.

When you stroll through a farmers market during peak tomato season, you can almost feel the yearning. One table after another burns bright with the fruits of the season, nature's true eye candy. Everything about these plump orbs invites you to take them home: their juicy colors, like prism light swollen with nectar; their musky aromas of grass, earth and papaya; and their curvy ripeness, with skins stretched tighter than water balloons.

The best summer salads are mere suggestions: Buy what looks good and fresh and calls to you at the market, cook it simply or not at all, season it well (combining it with pantry staples that lend pops of flavor) and eat up. A classic of the genre is the niçoise, which in its most traditional form allows for no cooked vegetables at all but has been widely interpreted (some would say bastardized) to include not only boiled potatoes and green beans but such apparent travesties as seared fresh tuna instead of canned.

It is said that, given a dozen hours to do so, a yogurt marinade can tenderize chicken. Well, we don't have that kind of time, but I can tell you what a 20-minute rest in this sunny mixture does for plain old chunks of chicken breast: It coats them, acting like a moisture-lock so the meat stays juicy. That is no small feat for white-meat chicken under the broiler.

Pad thai is a popular takeout staple. In our house, it’s part of every order from our favorite local spot. But having made this recipe several times, I can tell you that — surprise! — there is no magical power imparted by the plastic carryout container. You, yes YOU, can make pad thai that tastes exactly like what you’d get from a restaurant. 

Welcome to the Summer of S'mores! Or so it has been proclaimed by the media. The assessment is based on new items such as s'mores-crafted mochi ice cream pods; Starbucks Golden S'mores coffee blend with "notes" of marshmallow and graham and an earlier-released S'mores Frappuccino, natch; Dan Whalen's puffy-jacketed "S'mores!" cookbook (Workman); also, the Target S'mores Caddy, a plastic case designed for ferrying your marshmallows, your graham cracker packs and your 1.55-ounce Hershey's milk chocolate bars; no room for wire hangers, fyi. (I am automatically disqualifying S'mores Oreos, because the brand has lost its soul.)

Few things have come and gone through my kitchen that I have loathed as much as my late grill pan. Designed to stretch over two burners, its size and large handles made it unwieldy and hard to store. It was allegedly nonstick, but food still burned and stuck, and yet I couldn't scrub it for fear of ruining the coating. After years of collecting dust and resentment, it was recycled in one of those county-sponsored events. Good riddance!

A chopped salad, where every ingredient is cut into pieces of about the same size, offers the perfect mixture of flavors and textures in every bite. However, some vegetables get watery and soggy when you chop and dress them, and require extra attention.

With summer in full swing, may of us are enjoying meals outdoors. But a seamless, successful picnic takes some planning. Having a checklist and some ideas for what foods work best can keep the easy-breezy notion of a summer picnic just that.

When salad season heats up, one thing keeps my kitchen humming: a good homemade dressing. Sure, I'll throw together a makeshift vinaigrette here and there, combining the bits from almost-used jars of condiments with vinegar and oil. I also adore creamy dressings - green goddess, ranch and the like - that typically take a little more thought.

You can be one of those people for whom summer entertaining seems effortless. You know the type: They just “toss things together.” They don’t sweat the tablescape. They plunk down a few bottles of vino, light up some votives and enjoy their company till it’s time to clear the plates.

There is a certain broccoli salad that's been popular at summer picnics and pool parties for decades. Variations abound, but it typically has both sweet and savory elements, a nutty crunch, and a rich, creamy dressing. It also typically happens to contain more bacon and mayonnaise by weight than broccoli, and often a lot of sugar, almost as if mocking the word "salad."