Now that the hot and lazy days of summer are upon us it’s a perfect time for hanging out with family and friends in the back yard. When it comes to cooking and eating, the less time spent in a hot kitchen, the better! Casual, yet elegant outdoor entertaining is easy and delicious! Keep it simple and stress free with these easy party planning tips!
Menu: Follow the rule of “1, 2, 3, 4”
1. One hot grill item (plus hot dogs or burgers for the kids if necessary)
2. One side dish (baked potato, potato salad, pasta salad, grain salad, etc.)
3. One Tossed Salad (Garden Salad, Caesar, etc.)
4. One simple dessert (preferably fruit or ice cream based – ice cream topped with syrup or berries – a platter of sliced chilled watermelon, etc.)
Marinate or season your meat – if using tender steaks simply season with Montreal Steak Spice or something similar
Prepare and bowl up your side dish – can be done the day before
Chop salad ingredients – combine and season with salt just before serving (this will kick it up a notch!) and then toss with dressing
Catering trick: for a pretty and bountiful table, serve your salad and side dish on platters instead of in a bowl
Jazz it up!
Use your most colourful serving bowls and platters or buy some inexpensive plastic ones with bright patio/picnic style designs. Use pretty disposable dinnerware in a pattern or colour that co-ordinates and suits your theme.
Make your food “pop”!
Garnish like the pros the no-fuss way. Toss a handful of quartered lemons or limes onto a grilled platter of meat – no need to arrange them, let gravity do it – leave them just where they land! Throw a handful of cherry tomatoes onto your side salad and top with a big sprig of fresh basil.
Get your guests involved:
Set up a “grazing” table – with purchased dips and spreads, cheeses, crackers, bread sticks, bruschetta topping, nachos, salsas, etc.
Or make your “grazing” table your main menu (example taco bar) – lay out all your meats and condiments and have guests mix and match their own menu.
Easy Bar Tips:
Set up a self-serve bar – fill a cooler with beer, wine and soft drinks and pour lots of ice over the top letting it settle around the beverages. Doing it in this order creates maximum chill.
If serving liquor, select only one mixed beverage that goes with your theme (margarita, sangria, etc). Make up pitchers ahead and let guests self serve. Have an ice bucket on hand so guests can add their own ice.
Mingle and Enjoy:
Following these tips will shorten the time spent fussing with the food allowing you the time to mingle with your guests, eat and have fun at the party yourself!