Summer is all about being outside. And part of this season’s outside fun is grilling and hosting summer parties. Often times these summer parties start with last-minute invitations. “Come on over, we’ll throw extra burgers on the grill”, that kind of thing. So, in the spirit of sharing time with friends and family, let me share my best summer party recipes with you. I’ve assembled dishes to complete an impromptu or well-planned menu for guests or for weeknight family meals:
Burgers and Ribs-
Burgers of all kinds are so popular because they’re easy, almost everyone loves a good burger, and the possibilities for toppings are endless. Here are three distinctly different burger recipes that are favorites of mine. Hawaiian Teriyaki Burgers can be made with beef or turkey. The homemade teriyaki adds perfect flavor and grilled pineapple slices are heavenly carmalized. Top with some red onion and avocado on the perfect bun. Juicy Chili Burger with Avocado Aioli is a favorite burger I’ve been making for years. Chili powder and cumin are mixed in with the meat before grilling and then it’s topped with pepper jack cheese and a homemade avocado aioli that’s out of this world. This is a perfect Tex Mex burger. Moist and Delicious Turkey Burgers are probably the best burgers made with turkey that I’ve ever had. Do NOT leave off or substitute the manchego cheese that’s called for here, if you can help it. Manchego is a mild but creamy-flavorful sheep’s cheese and it pairs perfectly with the ground turkey. The sauce is a combination of Dijon mustard, mayo and cayenne pepper.
Best Baby Back Ribs in the Slow Cooker are the best ribs I’ve EVER had. I know, this isn’t outdoor cooking on the grill fare, but why not have a huge party with burgers or steaks on the grill and pull these babies out just before serving for a full smorgasbord of meat options. Jaws will drop, fingers will be licked. This meal will be talked about for a long time. They’re that good.
Meatless Main Dish Options-
If you have some guests coming over that prefer meatless options, this recipe for Baked Black Bean Burgers with Quinoa is perfect for them. All the burger condiments can be enjoyed and even meat lovers will also devour this burger. If you’re doing something Southwest, offer up a big platter of BBQ Cauliflower Tacos with Chickpeas and Quinoa. These tacos are big on BBQ flavor, while being light and fresh at the same time. Another great meatless taco option, Black Bean and Quinoa Tacos come together in no time and ground beef lovers will be super happy with this meal. Sweet potatoes round out the beans and quinoa with a nice texture and hint of sweetness.
My Best Baked Beans are well-known and requested in my family. Enough said. If you want a healthier alternative to standard potato salad, this Yam Potato Salad is colorful and delicious. The combination of sweet potatoes and green olives make it irresistible. I call this my “hipster potato salad”. If you have a clear glass salad or trifle bowl, this Layered Salad will be a show stopper. It’s colorful AND tasty. The best pasta salad I’ve ever made is this Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta Salad inspired by an Ina Garten recipe. And if you want salad that’s also finger food, try these Salad Stuffed Shells. You can fill them with whatever salad combination you like. Melons are plentiful in summer and Fruit Salad Medley combines fresh watermelon and cantaloupe with a refreshing dressing using fruit juice and diced jalapeno.
Appetizers and Starters-
I could do a party soley on appetizers and starter recipes, my favorite part of a meal. If you’re hosting a summer get-together, Hot Corn Dip just has to be on the menu. It’s super easy to prepare at the last minute and it will last for only about a minute. A good alternative to Buffalo Chicken Wings is this recipe for Cauliflower Buffalo Bites. It continues to be the most popular recipe on my blog- Need I say more? If you love stuffed mushrooms, but think they’re too time consuming, try these Boursin Stuffed Mushrooms. And again, these will only last about a minute so make plenty.
Raspberry Lemonade Cake is light and refreshing, just like lemonade in the heat of summer. It’s super pretty, deliciously homemade and the frosting? Well, I think it’s the best part. If you have extra time, or if you’re going to a party and have been assigned with bringing the dessert, why not blow everyone’s mind with my Aunt Pat’s Famous Cream Puff Recipe? These are not hard to make and they’re impressive looking, but even more important, they’re one of the best desserts you’ll ever have and everyone will request them again and again. Peaches are in season for about one day in the summer or at least it seems like only a day because we can’t get enough of them. This Peach Upside Down Cake makes the most of fresh peach flavor and is great for dinner or even brunch.
Hosting a Fourth of July Party? Then you have to have red, white and blue food. Healthy Red, White and Blueberry Popsicles can be made in popsicle molds of even plastic cups in the freezer. I grew up with “poke cake” at many a summer party. This recipe for Poke Cake with Whipped Cream and No Artificial Colors is made with fruit juices instead of food coloring.
There you have it. Some of my favorite recipes for hosting at summer parties or for bringing to a neighborhood potluck. The heat of summer sometimes seems endless, especially when the temperatures get into triple digits. But the summer memories made with friendly gatherings are unforgettable and priceless. So, stay cool and let’s eat and eat well my friends.