How to Breeze Your Way Through Cooking for a Summer Party

It’s almost officially summer and that means lot of get-togethers and cooking. I love this time of year. There is nothing better than being outside and firing up the grill. Even a veg loves a good barbeque!

So today I thought I’d share the menu from the last shindig we hosted a few weeks ago. This is a very simple menu that allows you to focus more on enjoying the party and less on living in the kitchen (there’s a time and place for that too!).

Step 1: Buy some booze.

I’m pretty partial to craft beer and my heart truly belongs to the IPA. On this occasion I went with Lazy Magnolia’s Timber Beast. It’s so hoppy that I’m surprised rye isn’t sprouting out of the bottle. Love! It’s currently my favorite IPA. It’s a bit pricey and only comes in a four pack, but it’s totally worth it. Lazy Magnolia is based in MS. Check out all of their yummy creations here: http://lazymagnolia.com/

We also snagged some Ruby Red Vodka from Deep Eddy Vodka (based in Austin TX). This stuff is magical. Add it to some lemonade and you have a perfect summer drink. Check out Deep Eddy at: http://deepeddyvodka.com/desktop/

Finally, we grabbed some Abita Strawberry. This is a wonderfully light lager that has the perfect hint of strawberry. I tend to not go for lighter beers much anymore, but I can’t get enough of this one. It’s great for a day at the pool. http://abita.com/brews

I also recommend asking your friends to bring their favorite beverages to share. This is a great way to add variety without breaking the bank and to discover new beers and cocktails.

IMG_9830ruby

This stuff is dangerous.

Step 2: An easy appetizer

Go to the store and purchase some Sabra Hummus. I picked garlic because I can never have too much of the stuff. Seriously, in my house garlic goes in and on just about every dish! Scoop up a few bags of pita chips. I love Amy’s.

Take your purchase home. Transfer the hummus to a cute bowl. Add a little olive oil and paprika. Arrange the pita chips on a nice tray. Bam, looks homemade and impressive. Now all of your friends think you are the hummus master. You’re welcome.

Step 3: Convince your boyfriend to man the grill.

I love to cook, but I’m not much for prepping and cooking meat anymore given my veg status. So that means Matt was on grill duty. He fired that bad boy up and produced some yummy chicken breast (so I was told), turkey burgers and delish Boca burgers. I’m not quite sure what he used for seasoning but he went with Garland’s Six Sweet Brown Sugar BBQ sauce. Yum, yum! He also hooked my boca burgers up with some grilled garlic and mushrooms.

Step 4: A banging summer salad.

Out of all of the food served this is what got devoured the quickest. I mean there wasn’t a leaf left in the bowl.

Salad:

baby kale, green chard, red chard, arugula

cucumbers, seeded

red bell pepper, diced

strawberries, sliced

tomatoes, yellow cherry, halved

goat cheese

almonds, slivered, salt and pepper

*You can buy these in the store or make your own. To make your own, lightly toss plain slivered almonds with a bit of olive oil and salt & pepper. Lay out on a cookie tray. Bake at 350 until they are lightly golden and crunchy.

Dressing:

olive Oil

balsamic vinegar

Dijon mustard

garlic, minced

honey

oregano, finely chopped and pressed

salt & pepper

*I’ve recently been trying out a free sample of Filippo Berio EVOO. Pretty great stuff for the price point.

Step 5: Sides

First, I went with baked beans. Vegetarian Bush’s straight from the can. I get more compliments on these beans than when I’ve tried to get fancy and create my own. They’re great without any additions.

I also served-

Rosemary New potatoes:

Red potatoes, quartered

Olive oil

Garlic, minced

Rosemary

Salt & Pepper

Cook in a pyrex dish covered in foil at 350 for roughly 45 minutes (until a fork easily pierces potatoes).

I have a wonderful herb garden on my back patio that allows me to enjoy fresh herbs. It’s great because they are available instantly! Perfect for making up sauces, dressings, etc.

2013-06-04 07.43.23

Oregano, lemon balm, chive, basil, mint, stevia.

2013-06-04 07.43.45

Rosemary

Step 6: Dessert

This time I really cheated and had my friends bring dessert. Bee showed up with a delicious mango pie from Publix. It was just insanely good. We also had an “apple” pie courtesy of Roger and Joe that turned out to be peach. Nice surprise!

So all and all, a very easy summer menu. I apologize for not posting ingredient amounts or knowing what Matt put on the chicken. I wasn’t planning on blogging this. I pinky promise I will be prepared with full details next cooking post!

What do you like to serve at your summer parties? Leave me a comment.

Stay positive & love your life!

-Melissa

Today:

Listening to: Queens Of The Stone Age – Keep Your Eyes Peeled

Eating: Leftover pasta….again

Drinking: H2O

Random fact: I hate wearing socks in bed. It makes my feet feel claustrophobic

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