Putting off that summer barbecue? You don’t have to. Here are some helpful ideas to simplify what seems to be just a big ordeal. The key is organization. Everything can be broken down into logical categories. I use lists, lots of lists. They come with me everywhere I go. Start your party list now before the summer is over.
Food: Choose simple items which can be prepared ahead of time or purchased, i.e.:
• of course, my first suggestion is to call us for the food. We can deliver any kind of food you are looking for. Yummy appetizers, great salads, grilled meats, fish, chicken…. dessert!
• serve an antipasti with grilled veggies, cheeses, meats, olives, dips and crostini
• or a middle-eastern platter with hummus, baba ghanoush, stuffed grape leaves, yogurt cuke dip, feta or string cheese, olives and pita triangles and/or cracker bread.
• composed salads like an orzo salad with tomatoes, toasted almonds and scallions.
Orzo Salad – Serves 8
4 c. Cooked Orzo
3 T. Extra virgin olive oil
4 chopped Roma tomatoes- seeds squeezed out
1 bunch of chopped parsley
4 chopped scallions
Kosher Salt & Fresh Cracked Pepper
1 Lemon- juice from
1 c. Toasted sliced almonds
Mix and serve. To die for. Top with almonds when ready to serve or they will get soggy!
• make a quick blender salsa and serve with tortilla chips
Blender Salsa- makes 2 cups
Place in order into base of food processor:
6 roma or 4 vineripe tomatoes- quartered
1 cup cleaned cilantro leaves- unchopped
1 jalopeno- sliced into quarters; seeded for less heat (try not to touch with fingers!)
1-2 cloves garlic
1/2 red onion cut in quarters
lime juice from whole lime
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Cover and process until it reaches a consistency you like. I myself prefer a smooth salsa so I let the processor go a bit. Add more salt and pepper if needed after tasting.
• a big platter piled high with baby arugula, squeeze of lemon juice, drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of kosher salt and pepper, some shaved imported Pecorino Romano cheese. Have these ingredients out and ready to throw together and top with some amazing well-seasoned sliced medium-rare rib-eye steak. So easy and absolutely amazing. Accompany with some Iggy’s breads or other local fresh baked breads.
• Dessert: I am not a dessert person. I admit it, o.k.? I either delegate this to my guests, or it’s ice cream sundaes with fun toppings, or maybe some store bought pies, brownies and/or cookies. No cheating here. I will make a special trip to a farm for a freshly baked one. No chain store desserts for my friends.
• Place all your serving platters and bowls out along with appropriate serving pieces and label each one.
• Make sure if it’s a crowd of 40, that you put the appropriate sized bowl or platter out. If it is a bowl that only serves a family of 4, you will either be running back and forth to the kitchen OR even worse, you don’t refill the bowl and your guests go hungry.
• To keep things real simple, I always recommend just serving wine, beer, soft drinks and water. People don’t expect to be served mixed drinks. There’s no need to spend more than $10-$15 per bottle on wine. There are many great inexpensive wines out there. You might have to start keeping a list of some nice ones and keep it in the car.
• Ice- 1 lb. per person for icing down tubs and icing drinks. Icing down beer and wine only takes half an hour to forty five minutes so buy the ice in bags an hour before guests arrive. Place drink ice in a bowl with an ice scoop or large serving spoon.
• Have a separate small tub for kids drinks. Individual sized small juice boxes and small waters are best. Less mess and kids tend to get distracted so you want to keep them small.
• Glassware and cocktail naps: I prefer glass, but some occasions call for plastic. It’s your call and it mostly depends on how fancy you want to get. Two real glasses per person are all you need; more if you’re doing mixed drinks.
Whenever I’m out shopping, I always pick up cute cocktail napkins so I always have them available for spontaneous get-togethers.
• All of this can go on, or near a table that you’ve deemed the bar table. I have a 4 foot fold-up one in my garage for just this purpose. Throw a cute linen over it and your bar is all set. Make sure your linen covers the ugly fold up legs. That’s my only pet peeve. If the table has nice wooden legs, show them off!
• Cut some flowers from your garden and place in a fun vase for the dinner/outdoor table. Have some festive and colorful tablecloths on hand for your outdoor table.
• Have some inexpensive games from a craft store for the kids to play with. Water balloons, make your own paper airplanes. It will keep them busy while the adults have their adult time.
• When your guests ask you what to bring, be specific! Kid friendly dessert, an hors d’oeuvres, 3 bottles of wine, 4 bags of ice. Delegate, delegate, delegate!
• Make sure your gas tank on the grill is full. Or, that charcoal is purchased.
• Don’t play YOUR favorite music. Ask your guests what they enjoy. After all, why torture them with your favorite
70’s rock band lyrics.
I hope this helps you to fulfill that goal of having a summer party before the cold weather sets in. We’re only on this planet for so long. Create a memorable moment and invite your friends over… And, remember, Keep It Simple!
Susan A. Lane Events does drop-off and full-service catering and event planning. For menus, check our web-site at susanlaneevents.com. Our entire menu can be downloaded. If you’re just looking for a drop-off menu, contact Susan at 508-783-1663.