A Simple and Affordable Summer Dinner Party


I invited my best friend Jess over for a Summer dinner to celebrate her recent engagement. I've known Jess since middle school. My earliest memory of her was at summer camp. She was a few years younger than I and hadn't discovered hair gel yet. With her big hair and equally big old-school metal braces, she and her goofy friends ran circles around me while my summer crush (Juan) was trying to orchestrate our first kiss. The summer fling faded away, but a few years later Jess and I had become BFF's for life. We both started out in Oklahoma, where we dreamed about living in New York one day. She wound up at KU, during which I lived on an Army base near her, thus we were reunited. After graduating she moved to D.C., and I had to move to El Paso. A few years after that, I ended up on a base near D.C.. It's been nearly twenty years of friendship, and now we have both inadvertently settled down in the same area. How amazing is that? Her recent engagement to her boyfriend Jay called for a major celebration and a night of gossip and pouring over wedding magazines. I'm so honored to throw her a bridal shower and to be by her side on her big day. I will of course share any planning and styling tips with you here on the blog.
*All recipes from this dinner are at the end of the post.



I set the summer dinner table with fresh lemons, limes, and artichokes. All you need to create a beautiful and inexpensive centerpiece is a table runner topped with a line of produce and votive candles. In the fall I do the same thing with pumpkins and squash. I didn't have a table runner that would match the fresh green color scheme, so I had an idea to find a linen summer scarf and found this extra wide summer scarf at Charlotte Russe for $5.00!

The dressing for the salad was a very happy accident. I made a reduction with red wine vinegar and the sangria wine I used for the cocktail to make a Sangria Vinaigrette. It's my new favorite summer vinaigrette. It's also incredibly inexpensive if you already have some olive oil on hand, as well as the wine for dinner. Toss the dressing with mixed greens and sliced strawberries for an easy summer salad.



I wanted to stay under budget on the meal as well, so I went with quartered chicken thigh and legs. If you need meat for a large crowd, and you're on a budget, it's the perfect choice. I used a very easy recipe with a McCormick marinade packet and lime juice. The recipe turned out so well, this is my new go-to grilling recipe for summer entertaining.


The summer cocktail is just as easy and affordable as the rest of the meal. It starts with the Livingston Sangria Wine. I was prepared to mix this with fruit and liqueur to create a true sangria, but it tasted perfect as-is. I highly recommend this wine for summer entertaining. To create a Sangria Spritzer, simply add club soda and lime juice.


The side dish was incredibly affordable. I've always wanted to grill fresh corn on the cob. It was actually quite simple. The trick is soaking the ears of corn in water first, then peeling back the husk to remove the silk, and placing it back over the corn before grilling. I used olive oil and a spicy citrus rub on the corn, which tied it in to the flavors on the grilled chicken.

Dessert was eaten up in a matter of seconds. My go-to summer dessert starts with pre-made frozen phyllo cups. From there, simply add a cold pudding and top with fresh fruit. I've made them before with vanilla bean pudding and raspberries, as well as lemon pudding and kumquats. For this dinner, I used lemon pudding mixed with lemon zest, and topped it with sliced strawberries to create Strawberry Lemonade Tartelettes.


Get the Recipes

Sangria dressing
*serves 6
-Make reduction with 1 cup sangria/sweet red wine and 1 tbs red wine vinegar (bring to low boil then simmer 15-17 min), let cool
-whisk with 1/2 cup light olive oil and ½ tbsp balsamic vinegar
-4 cups mixed greens
-2 c strawberries quartered

Sangria Wine Spritzer
-lime juice
-sangria wine (Livingston)
-club soda
*fill each glass with ice and 2/3 full with the wine, then 1/3 with club soda, the add about a tbsp lime juice

Fiesta Lime Grilled Chicken
*serves 4-6
-4 pieces thigh and leg quarters
-2 fiesta lime McCormick marinade spice packets (use according to directions plus add juice of one lime in place of the water) marinate overnight
-grill 30 minutes skin side up then 10 to 15 minutes skin side down over outdoor grill

Fiesta Lime Grilled Corn on the Cob
*serves 4
-4 pieces of corn on the cob
-leave at least a single layer of husk on (or wrap in foil before grilling) and soak in cold water for 15 min
-peel back the husk and remove silk, leaving the husk on
-pat dry and drizzle on olive oil and sprinkle with Mrs. Dash Fiesta Lime seasoning, then put the husk back in place to cover the corn
-grill on direct med heat for a few min, rotating on each side, then place on indirect heat for about 20 min
-squeeze on lime for garnish

Strawberry Lemonade Tartelettes
-30 phyllo shells
-1 package lemon pudding mix + 1 C milk
-zest of one lemon
-15 small-med strawberries (cut of stem then cut length-wise into 4-5 strips)
-chill pudding overnight then fill each shell with about a tsp pudding
-top with strawberries (stem side down)
-use pastry brush to glaze w/strawberry jam/jelly
 

Comments

  1. Wow! Amazing! I want to come to your house for BBQ. Thanks for sharing all of these great recipes!

    Wishing you a lovely day.
    xoxo

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete
  3. LOVE this post:) and your blog Is so inspiring.

    Check out my new post...a lovely retro Swedish home:)

    have a great day dear

    LOVE Maria at inredningsvis - inredning it's, Swedish for decor :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Love this post! I'm so hungry thinking about that chicken!

    ReplyDelete

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