We are rapidly approaching my favorite time of year, Summer! We entertain a lot at our house, and summertime is really when we have most of our parties and family barbecues.
We have a small house, which means serving a crowd can sometimes be a challenge, so we love to take advantage of the outdoor space we have and incorporate the beautiful colors my yard brings to the party. Of course, my pop of color is redfeaturing flowers, patio cushions, outdoor rugs, and beautiful red California Giant berries on the menu.
Summertime entertaining for me is the easiest time of year to create a menu and wow my guests with all the fresh produce that’s in season. My ‘go to’ menu always has California Giant berries, but I love to incorporate them into many parts of the menu with lots of other fresh produce.
One of my favorites that helps to kick off the afternoon is our strawberry jalapeno salsa recipe served with tortilla chips. This recipe has minimal ingredients, beautiful color and always surprises people when they take that first bite of sweet mixed in with a bit of jalapeno. I always end up with at least one request for this recipe before the night is over. If we don’t eat all of it as an appetizer, its great on chicken or fish too.
I really love making big salads during the summer because of the wonderful colors that come together along with different textures that provide a little crunch. This chipotle grilled corn and berry salad is just perfect for that combination of color and crunch. Plus, we have a few vegetarians in our group along with one family member that eats only gluten free so this a good solution to meet the needs of guests that might not be able to eat everything on the table.
We also have the distinct advantage in our backyard of a full tiki bar my husband built last summer so we love having a signature cocktail there when we entertain. We are known as celebrating the ‘drink of the day’ during the summer at home and on our group vacations. One of my favorite drinks of the day is a fresh berry moscow mule, definitely a crown pleaser. However, we can make any drink special by simply dropping in a some raspberries or blueberries into a glass of champagne, white wine or club soda.
Lastly, I find that dessert is the easiest part of a summertime meal. I make it in advance and even have everything in serving bowls and platters ready to go. When my guests are relaxed after a fun filled summer evening in backyard, we start a fire in our outdoor fire pit to add a nice glow and warmth to the chill that sets in and then we bring out the platter of chocolate dipped berries, or sometimes we switch it up and let them build their own strawberry shortcake sliders.
The easiest dessert I make all summer long whether I am serving a dozen people or just the family doesn’t even need a recipe. I fill a bowl with strawberries (sliced), blueberries, blackberries and raspberries, then I whip up some whipping cream with a little sugar and vanilla and put the two bowls on the table letting folks simply spoon up some berries and cream onto their plate.
This is an easy and delicious way to end the evening with family and friends. I hope you enjoy your summer with family and friends as much as we do to nurture treasured friendships and build family memories.