When the weather turns hot and the kids are out of school for months on end, many people are tempted to spend all day indoors with the air conditioning and the TV. Hosting a summer party gives your family, friends and neighbors the motivation to get out of the house and fully enjoy summer. Mark the occasion by serving up some distinctive seasonal refreshments.
As guests mingle and chat, have convenient summery snacks on hand to keep appetites satisfied. Supply a bowl of hummus, a tasty Middle Eastern dip made with chickpeas. Squeeze fresh lemon over the hummus and offer triangles of pita bread or corn chips for dipping. Serve several different varieties of salsa, from spicy green salsa to tangy mango and strawberry salsa. A chilled cucumber soup is sure to be refreshing, topped with fresh mint or tomato slices. Don't just open a bag of chips; place them in a festive bowl by a dish of creamy ranch, blue cheese or Parmesan dressing and a platter of raw vegetables.
Avoid the bland and expected hamburgers and mix a packet of seasoned dip mix into the meat. Make them from beef, turkey or a blend of the two, and offer veggie burgers. Or grill thick slices of yellow squash, eggplant, zucchini and portobello mushrooms, all of which can be used on a bun in lieu of a burger, or as a burger topper. Instead of offering standard condiments, go an extra step by also offering creamy dressings, avocado slices, caramelizing the onions and providing feta cheese instead of cheddar slices. Shred cabbage, carrots and a bit of red onion and mix with a creamy cole slaw dressing for a crisp, refreshing side.
Keep guests hydrated on a hot day with cool, refreshing beverages. As an easy trick with impressive results, freeze berries or pieces of fruit in the middle of ice cubes before the party. Drop the fruity ice cubes into a glass of sparkling water or clear citrus soda for an enchanting-looking drink. Lemonade is a summer staple that becomes even more flavorful and appealing with the addition of dried lavender, offering a pop of summery color and taste.
Let guests make their own fruity dessert pizzas, by using a white tortilla or a sponge shortcake base and offering bowls of ricotta cheese, jams and fresh berries. Guests can assemble their own dessert pizzas, using the ricotta cheese to hold the berries in place. For a beautiful parfait, layer frozen yogurt and fresh fruit in a clear sundae glass. Create a colorful presentation by making each layer a different color, such as peaches, strawberries and blackberries divided by the white yogurt.
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