Summer. It snuck up on us this year here in Toronto. But all of a sudden, here it is. And with its arrival, the end of the school year.
As a teacher, it’s an odd time – something you dream about in the dark days of winter, yet, when it’s upon you, it always seems like you could use a few more weeks to finish everything!
It’s such a busy time of year for so many people, and with that comes “end of year” party season!
When it’s sunny out, it’s great to be able to take advantage of the nice weather and entertain guests outdoors, whether it’s a kids’ party, an end-of-school year gathering or simply a casual barbecue, but with so much going on, many people feel overwhelmed. With just a little bit of forward planning and organization, you can turn that feeling of panic into a well-planned gathering that doesn’t actually take you that long to prepare where everyone eats well! What could be better?
Here are some tips to help get you organized during this busy party season:
Frozen Tiramisu Squares
1. Make-ahead recipes
Make-ahead recipes are your friends when it comes to easy summer entertaining. Pasta dishes like this tortellini bake or these “unstuffed” shells are the types of dishes that always taste better the next day or the later in the day – make them ahead of time and simply heat them up when your guests arrive. That way you’ll have time to mingle with them instead of hanging out in the kitchen all night! Dessert is another area where you can save time by making dishes in advance. These individual baked cheesecakes, maple tiramisu or frozen tiramisu squares are the perfect end to a summer party and don’t require any finishing touches, meaning you can just disappear into the kitchen and emerge with a beautiful dessert – ideal for busy parties when you want to spend your time socializing, not cooped up in the kitchen!
Layered Pizza Dip
2. Revisit familiar flavours or dishes!
Something I like to do at parties is present a familiar dish using different flavours. For example, when summer entertaining, a cheese-heavy pizza might be too much, but this white pizza with chicken is a great summer alternative to an ever-popular dish. Or how about presenting a favourite dish in a completely different way like this layered pizza dip? Not only is it easy to make ahead, but it’s a neat way to enjoy all the flavours of pizza when it’s too hot for a real pizza.
3. Cook outside!
When the weather is warm, it’s nice to be able to entertain outside, and what better way to start a party than to cook some of the dishes in front of your guests? This warm Philly Mexican spread is full of fresh summer flavours and can be made outside on the BBQ – a neat party trick! This grilled Tuscan spread can actually be made ahead and finished on the BBQ.
Vegetable Chicken Roll Ups
4. Keep it simple!
Tasty dishes don’t always have to be complicated, and for summer entertaining, simple is best. This warm garlic and tomato bruschetta is a quick-to-make appetizer using pantry and fridge staples, and these vegetable chicken roll ups are so easy, your kids can help you make them!
Asparagus and Parmesan Quiche
5. Some like it not-so-hot!
On a hot summer’s evening, it’s not always ideal to serve piping hot foods. When I’m planning a summer party, I always look for food that will do well at room temperature – not only does it help you plan because you can make it ahead of time, but it will leave you free to mingle with your guests. I love tarts and quiches for this reason – how about this caramelized onion and olive tart or an asparagus and Parmesan quiche? The great thing about this type of dish is that you can also customize it to your guests’ taste – they are easy to make vegetarian and you can easily make quiches gluten-free if you make them crustless!
Summer entertaining doesn’t have to be a hassle. A few simple tips can really make your life easier when you’re planning get-togethers in the warmer weather.
What's your best tip for summer entertaining?
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