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Beat the heat with these dishes

With the heat settled in around us and humidity like a wet blanket, I hear people saying it’s just too hot to do any entertaining.

But, when you think about how many months we are going to have hot weather, you soon realize that you can’t put your life on hold forever.

These two recipes work well in the heat. You do have to turn on the oven but they don’t take long.

On this recipe, I usually use Roma tomatoes instead of cherry tomatoes. I like their meatiness better and a slice from them fills the piece of toast.

Tomato devils

25 cocktail rye bread slices

1 cup of grated cheese (Monterey Jack, cheddar or a combination of these with swiss)

2 bunches green onions, finely chopped

1/2 of a green pepper, minced

1 cup of mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Dash of cayenne pepper

25 slices of cherry tomatoes sliced lengthwise

8 slices of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

Turn oven to broil. Spread out the bread slices on a cookie sheet and toast only one side of the slices. Watch them carefully and only let them get lightly brown. Cover to keep fresh and set aside.

In a small bowl combine the cheese, onions, green pepper and 2/3 of the cup of mayonnaise. Add the garlic powder and the cayenne pepper.

If you are making this in advance, cover and refrigerate the cheese mixture.

Shortly before serving time, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly spread the untoasted sides of the bread slices with remaining mayonnaise. Top each one with a tomato slice a small dollop of the cheese mixture and sprinkle with bacon. Bake for 3 to 5 minutes until bubbly and lightly browned. Serve as quickly as possible.

I love catfish and a thin fillet will cook in the oven in no time, guaranteeing you a delicious meal and short time in the kitchen. I like this served with sautéed summer squash and salad made with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella cheese.

Parmesan crusted catfish

1 cup finely crushed Ritz crackers

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

6 catfish fillets

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray.

In a shallow bowl combine the cracker crumbs, parsley, salt, cayenne and black pepper.

Place the melted butter in another shallow bowl. Dip the fillets in the butter, coating both sides and letting the excess drip off. Roll buttered fillets in the crackers crumbs.

Place on the lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes until they are golden brown.

Sprinkle with the cheese and serve.

Christina Hall writes a weekly column for the Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at christina.hall@natchezdemocrat.com.