Celebrating the Summer

Picnic and summer inspired party.
Picnic and summer inspired party.

I’m always looking for an excuse to celebrate.  From more major accomplishments like a new job or contract, or to more simple things like just having a good day or seeing an old friend, I enjoy celebrating life and sharing it with others.  By adding a few simple decorations and themed food items, every opportunity can turn into a special occasion!

This past summer was a whirlwind of an adventure and we learned a lot about life and ourselves, and grew a tremendous amount.  To celebrate our achievements, I decided to host an End of the Summer party with favorite warm weather foods and drinks.  I set the table with a few details like a picnic basket, fresh flowers, and a “Bye-Bye Summer” banner to get everyone into the spirit.

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Nothing screams summertime to me than BBQ!  For my party, I made cute little BBQ pulled chicken sliders with a homemade slaw.  This is a super easy recipe and you can even use store bought rotisserie chicken mixed with your favorite BBQ sauce.

My slaw was very simple and included cabbage, vinegar, and mustard for a little kick.  I assembled a batch of 12 on a cutting board for when the first set of guests arrived and had another batch ready to be assembled for later guests.

Another summertime favorite is corn on the cob.  I started making Mexican style sweet corn on the cob lately and loved how the cheese and herbs transformed the humble corn into a special treat.  I opted to use a base of yogurt and olive oil, instead of mayonnaise, to save on a few calories with no impact on flavor.  For this recipe I opted to dress the corn with Parmesan cheese, fresh parsley, and a dash of paprika for an additional punch of color and flavor.

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The summer-inspired pasta salad was full of roasted peppers and zucchini, fresh cherry tomatoes and mini mozzarella bocconcini balls.  I used whole wheat rotini pasta, fresh herbs and a house made vinaigrette to dressing the salad.  This was a vegetarian dish to meet the needs of some of my guests, but you can always add chopped cured meats for a more hearty option.

Another simple and easy appetizer is sausages.  I pan fried thick medallions of store bought chicken apple sausage, and arranged them on a platter with a herb emulsion.  I stuck a toothpick in each for ease of eating and a more polished look. Similar to the sliders, I had a second batch ready to be fried up for late arriving guests.

My End of Summer party was a success and I was able to spend time with my friends and enjoy the party with them.  My advance preparations paid off because it limited the amount of time I had to spend cooking when my guests arrived and I didn’t have to make another mess in the kitchen while they were there.  The summertime details really brought the party together and everyone had a great time, including me!!

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