A cold buffet makes a wonderful alternative to oven cooked meals

The idea of warming up the house by turning on the oven to cook a meal may be especially unappealing.

Mid- to late-summer is appropriately known as "the dog days of summer" because it can be so doggone hot. The humid, sticky conditions of late summer can make people feel sluggish and looking for ways to cool down. The idea of warming up the house by turning on the oven to cook a meal may be especially unappealing.

Recipes that require little to no cooking - and no stove - can be a home cook's best friend as summer progresses. Here are a few ideas to get started.

Grilled paninis

Gather some favorite sandwich fixings, such as sliced meats, vegetables and cheeses, and head to the grill. Put ingredients between two slices of crusty bread and place on the grill over low or indirect heat. Weigh down the sandwiches with cast-iron pans to flatten out the sandwiches.

Savory salads

Cool salads can be refreshing and light on hot summer evenings. Salads can range from tradition lettuce- or greens-based salads to pasta salads and chicken or tuna salads. Mix ingredients in advance and store them in the refrigerator. Serve chilled with toppings like shredded cheese, bacon bits and croutons to dress up the salads.

Cold buffet

Summer is a time to avoid hearty, belly-filling meals. Instead, produce a spread of finger foods, ranging from crackers and cheese to vegetables and dips. Fresh fruit also can accompany buffet-style meals, as can slices of Italian bread and homemade tomato bruschetta.

When the weather is hot, think cool, no-fuss meals that keep the stove off but bellies full.