Put the cherry on top of your Maine summer day by serving sangria, a spicy meal, and ending with a hot fudge sundae. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

Since summer has finally arrived, let’s savor all of it. To accomplish that, we may want to spend less time in the kitchen, yet we still want to have the experience of all the flavors the season has to offer. We can still do that, too, by committing to keeping things simple.

With just a bit of forethought and a handful of favorite recipes, we can be spending our time at the shore, day tripping, kayaking, and napping in a hammock. We must make the time to enjoy everything we’ve been anticipating over the many long months leading up to this ultimate heaven-on-earth experience that is summertime in Maine.

I’ve only recently discovered chilaquiles, made by our neighbors south of the border. Don’t ask me how to pronounce it; I only know it’s delicious. The recipe varies depending on the region of Mexico, but crispy fried corn tortillas cut into strips or triangles are always the basis of this flavorful dish.

Typically, green or red sauce or mole is poured over the tortillas then the mixture is simmered until the chips become soft. If you prefer, you can add pulled chicken or browned chorizo sausage to the dish. Crema or crumbled queso fresco is nice, too, if you prefer it to goat cheese.

Chilaquiles is wonderful served with eggs for breakfast, or prepare it to go alongside grilled steak to give your evening meal an international flair.

While the simmering is happening, make happy hour extra glad by sipping a glass of this gorgeous sangria. It will be even easier to kick back to enjoy the evening knowing that you have a jar of homemade hot fudge sauce to pour over your favorite ice cream when your sweet tooth is making a loud noise later on. I’ve got you covered.

Here’s to summer in Vacationland!

Summer Sangria

1 (750-ml.) bottle Sauvignon Blanc
1 cup white rum
1/4 cup watermelon schnapps
1 (20-ounce) can pineapple chunks with juice
1 orange, halved and thinly sliced
1 kiwi, peeled and sliced
1 cup strawberries, sliced
Sprite or 7-Up

Pour wine, rum and schnapps into a large pitcher and stir. Carefully add fruit (including pineapple juice) and stir again. Chill. Add Sprite or 7-Up at serving time if you desire a lighter beverage. Yield: 8-10 servings

Veggie Chilaquiles

2 1/2 cups enchilada sauce*
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup fresh corn
1 1/2 cup zucchini, diced
1 large red pepper, cut into thin strips
1 (10-oz) bag tortilla chips
1 (15.5-oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
16 cherry tomatoes, halved
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 large avocado, sliced

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add corn and sauté until it begins to brown. Stir in zucchini and peppers, cooking until softened and browned. Remove cooked vegetables to a plate.

Return skillet to burner and pour in enchilada sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer and add tortilla chips, stirring to coat all the chips. Add vegetables and black beans to the sauce and heat through.

When ready to serve, garnish with tomatoes, cheese, cilantro, onions, and avocado. Yield: 4 servings

*Enchilada Sauce

4 tbsps. butter
4 tbsps. vegetable oil
6 tbsps. flour
4 tbsps. tomato paste
4 heaped tbsps. chili powder
1 tsp. each cumin and dried onion flakes
1/2 tsp. each garlic powder, salt, freshly ground pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
4 cups chicken, vegetable, or beef stock
4 tbsps. apple cider vinegar

In a large saucepan, melt butter and oil over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook until golden, about 4 minutes. Whisk in tomato paste and spices. Cook for 1 minute. Slowly pour in stock and simmer for about 5 minutes to thicken. Remove sauce from heat and stir in vinegar.

Hot Fudge Sauce

3/4 cup butter, cubed
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/3 cups packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup cocoa
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. light corn syrup
Pinch salt
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 tbsp. vanilla

Combine butter and cream in a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring until butter is melted. Add sugars; cook and stir until dissolved, 3-4 minutes.

Add cocoa, corn syrup and salt; cook and stir until blended, about 3 minutes. Stir in chocolate until melted. Reduce heat to low; cook and stir until mixture reaches desired thickness, 10-15 minutes.

Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Serve warm. Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 3 1/2 cups

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