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Party Plan: End Your Summer in Style!

Say goodbye to summer with a celebration of food and fun!

The summer sun is fading, so let’s send off the season in style! Start your party with cool summer selections like Pineapple Orange Slaw and Strawberry Chicken Salad with Balsamic Glaze. Dishes like Grilled Stuffed Bell Peppers and Greek Style Yellow Squash Boats make tasty vegetarian options for guests as well. You can even try a Summer Taco Bar!

When it’s time to fire up the grill, serve up some Chicken BBQ Kebabs, or try the spicy-sweet taste of Maple Sriracha Mushroom Skewers. Salmon Asparagus Packets provide delicious flavor in an easy package, while Grilled Flank Steak with Cilantro Parsley Butter will wow your summer guests for sure!

Need a few decorating ideas for your gathering? Light it Up provides great outdoor lighting ideas, while Pretty as a Pineapple shows you a fun way to make a unique tropical vase. Finally, check out No Mess BBQ for tips on keeping your party cleanup to a minimum!

Pineapple Orange Slaw

Pineapple Orange Slaw

Pineapple, mandarin oranges and avocado will make this the best sweet and sour slaw you’ve ever tasted!

Hands-on Time: 5 min. | Total Time: 15 min. | Serves: 6 | Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:
  • 1½ cups poppy seed dressing
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 2 (16 oz.) bag coleslaw mix
  • 2 cups pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
  • 1 (15 oz.) can mandarin orange segments, drained
  • 1 avocado, peeled, seeded and sliced
Directions:
  1. In medium bowl, mix poppy seed dressing and orange juice. Set aside.

    Tip: If orange poppy seed dressing is available at your store, you can use it instead of adding orange juice to plain poppy seed dressing.

  2. In large bowl, combine coleslaw mix, pineapple and mandarin oranges; mix gently.
  3. Pour dressing over salad and stir until well combined. Cover and place in refrigerator for at least one hour.
  4. Serve cold, adding sliced avocado on top.
  5. Refrigerate leftovers.
Nutrition Analysis:

Per serving: Calories 500, Calories from Fat 260, Total Fat 29g (45% DV), Saturated Fat 3.5g (18% DV), Trans Fat 0g, Cholesterol 10mg (3% DV), Sodium 290mg (12% DV), Carbohydrates 55g (18% DV), Dietary Fiber 7g (28% DV), Sugars 30g, Protein 4g, Vitamin A 25%, Vitamin C 170%, Calcium 10%, Iron 8%.

View Party Plan: End Your Summer in Style!

Strawberry Chicken Salad with Balsamic Glaze

Strawberry Chicken Salad with Balsamic Glaze

This sweet and tangy balsamic glaze gives this salad a hit combination and will become an amazing summer salad for your party!

Hands-on Time: 25 min. | Total Time: 35 min. | Serves: 4 | Difficulty: Medium

Ingredients:
  • 1½ cups balsamic vinegar
  • 5 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
  • 2 chicken breasts, slightly flattened (about 1½ lbs.)
  • Dash of salt
  • Dash of pepper
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes (halved if too large)
  • 2 cups strawberries, stemmed and quartered
  • ½ cup red onion, sliced
  • 1 5 oz. bag spring mix
Directions:
  1. In 1 quart saucepan, place balsamic vinegar and sugar over medium heat. Stir constantly until sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until glaze is reduced by half, 15-20 minutes.
  2. Preheat grill pan or grill over medium-high heat. Place chicken breasts seasoned with salt and pepper. Cook 8-12 minutes turning once. Cover grill pan or grill and cook for an additional 10 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165°F. Let set for about 5 minutes. Slice.
  3. Arrange spring mix, grape tomatoes, onions, strawberries and sliced chicken on platter. Sprinkle entire salad with balsamic glaze.
  4. Refrigerate leftovers.
Nutrition Analysis:

Per serving: Calories 340, Calories from Fat 30, Total Fat 3.5g (5% DV), Saturated Fat 0.5g (2% DV), Trans Fat 0g, Cholesterol 85mg (28% DV), Sodium 95mg (4% DV), Carbohydrates 44g (15% DV), Dietary Fiber 3g (12% DV), Sugars 37g, Protein 29g, Vitamin A 60%, Vitamin C 90%, Calcium 8%, Iron 10%.

View Party Plan: End Your Summer in Style!

Fruit Smoothie

Fruit Smoothie

A perfect trifecta smoothie recipe.

Hands-on Time: 5 min. | Total Time: 10 min. | Serves: 4 | Difficulty: Easy

Directions:
  • 2 cups almond milk per each variation
For the first flavor variation:
  • 1 cup frozen wild blueberries
  • 1 cup frozen dark sweet cherries
  • 1 banana, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
For the second flavor variation:
  • 2 apples, cored and cut into chunks
  • 2 cups kale, ribs removed and chopped
  • 1Tbsp. honey
  • 1 cup ice cubes
For the third flavor variation:
  • ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 cup frozen peaches
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
Directions:
  1. To make the first flavor variation: in blender add almond milk, blueberries, cherries, banana and honey. Blend until combined, about 30 seconds. Serve.
  2. To make the second flavor variation: in blender add almond milk, apples, kale, honey and ice cubes. Blend until combined, about 30 seconds. Serve.
  3. To make the third flavor variation: in blender add almond milk, yogurt, pineapple, baby spinach and peaches. Blend until combined, about 30 seconds. Serve.
Nutrition Analysis:

Per serving: Calories 110, Calories from Fat 15, Total Fat 1.5g (2% DV), Saturated Fat 0g (0% DV), Trans Fat 0g, Cholesterol 0mg (0% DV), Sodium 75mg (3% DV), Carbohydrates 26g (9% DV), Dietary Fiber 3g (12% DV), Sugars 19g, Protein 1g, Vitamin A 6%, Vitamin C 15%, Calcium 25%, Iron 4%.

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Two-Layer Ice Cream Bars

Two-Layer Ice Cream Bars

These ice cream bars are the perfect treat to make on a hot summer day.

Hands-on Time: 20 min. | Total Time: 2 hrs. | Serves: 16 | Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:
  • 1 (10.75 oz.) pound cake, frozen
  • 2 cups vanilla ice cream, softened
  • 1 (12 oz.) bag frozen raspberries
  • 2 cups chocolate ice cream, softened
  • ¾ cup white morsels, melted
Directions:
  1. Slice pound cake into ½” thick slices.
  2. Arrange and cut to fit in order to completely cover the bottom of an 8"x 8" x 2" pan
  3. Using a spatula, spread softened vanilla ice cream evenly to form the first layer on top of pound cake slices.
  4. Tip: To soften ice cream, remove from freezer and let stand for 10 minutes. Then, mix 2 cups of ice cream with spatula until soft enough to be spread.
  5. Place raspberries on top of the vanilla ice cream layer pressing them down with the spatula.
  6. Spread ice cream evenly to form a third layer.
  7. Freeze 2 hours or overnight. Once frozen, use a warmed knife dipping into hot water and drying the knife, in order to cut into the frozen cake. Cut into fourths (a half per side of the pan), and then cut each fourth in fourths in order to form 16 bars in total. Place bars on plate and lightly drizzle with fork with melted white morsels (place morsels in microwave small bowl. Microwave on high in 30 second increments mixing with spoon until melted).
  8. Freeze leftovers.
Nutrition Analysis:

Per serving: Calories 200, Calories from Fat 70, Total Fat 9g (14% DV), Saturated Fat 4.5g (22% DV), Trans Fat 0.5g, Cholesterol 25mg (8% DV), Sodium 105mg (4% DV), Carbohydrates 29g (10% DV), Dietary Fiber 1g (4% DV), Sugars 16g, Protein 3g, Vitamin A 2%, Vitamin C 6%, Calcium 6%, Iron 4%.

View Party Plan: End Your Summer in Style!

Summer Taco Bar

Summer Taco Bar

Throw a summer season party for friends and family and have whole array of toppings so everybody can enjoy this taco feast!

Hands-on Time: 20 min. | Total Time: 9 hrs. | Serves: 8 | Difficulty: Medium

Ingredients:
  • 1½ lbs. pork shoulder, bone in, fat removed
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 1 dash of salt
  • 1 dash of pepper
  • ¼ cup beef broth
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • 8 taco shells (from a 4.7-ounce box)
  • ½ cup guacamole
  • 3 Tbsp. cilantro, finely chopped
  • ½ cup tomato, chopped
  • ⅓ cup sour cream
  • 1 cup lettuce, shredded
  • 1 cup store-bought taco salsa
  • Shredded cheese, if desired
Directions:
  1. In 4 quart slow cooker, place onion and celery. Season pork shoulder with salt and pepper and place on top of vegetables. Add beef broth. Cover and cook on low heat 8-10 hours, until meat is fork tender.
  2. Place pork shoulder in large bowl and shred by pulling pork apart using two forks; remove any large pieces of fat and bone.
  3. To assemble bar: arrange flour tortillas and taco shells next to pulled pork on platter; place guacamole, cilantro, tomato, sour cream, shredded lettuce, salsa and cheese (if desired) in small dishes next to the pork.
  4. Serve immediately.
  5. Refrigerate leftovers.
Nutrition Analysis:

Per serving: Calories 380, Calories from Fat 120, Total Fat 13g (20% DV), Saturated Fat 2.5g (12% DV), Trans Fat 0g, Cholesterol 60mg (20% DV), Sodium 980mg (41% DV), Carbohydrates 41g (14% DV), Dietary Fiber 5g (20% DV), Sugars 5g, Protein 24g, Vitamin A 45%, Vitamin C 10%, Calcium 6%, Iron 8%.

View Party Plan: End Your Summer in Style!

Greek Style Yellow Squash Boats

Greek Style Yellow Squash Boats

A fresh and healthy summer treat to celebrate summer’s bounty!

Hands-on Time: 20 min. | Total Time: 45 min. | Serves: 4 | Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:
  • 4 aluminum foil sheets cut into 12”x16” rectangles
  • 1 large zucchini, end cut
  • 1 large yellow summer squash, end cut
  • ½ cup quinoa seeds
  • 1 cup chicken broth or water
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. basil, fresh
  • ½ cup tomato, diced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ cup feta cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. red onion, chopped
  • Dash salt
  • Dash pepper
Directions:
  1. In a large saucepan, combine quinoa and chicken broth or water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the quinoa is tender and water is absorbed, about 12-15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for about 5 minutes. Fluff the quinoa with a fork. Set aside.
  2. While the quinoa is cooking, cut the zucchini and yellow squash in half lengthwise. Microwave on a plate covered 1-2 minutes in 30 second intervals or until pulp is soft enough to scoop (do not overcook - zucchini should still be stiff and will take less time than the squash). Let cool 2-3 minutes. Carefully scoop pulp; set aside.
  3. In large bowl, mix quinoa with garlic, pulp, basil, tomatoes, bell peppers, feta, red onions, salt and pepper. Spoon quinoa mixture evenly and press the mixture into the center of zucchini and yellow squash.
  4. Preheat grill to medium high.
  5. Place one zucchini half on center of foil. Seal edges, making a tight ½” fold; fold again, allowing space for heat circulation. Repeat with second zucchini and yellow squash halves. Place packets on grill, cover and cook on medium heat 15-20 minutes or until tender (tooth pick inserted in zucchini comes out easily).
  6. Remove packets from grill. To serve, open foil packs carefully, cut large X across top of each pack. Carefully fold back foil. Serve.
  7. Refrigerate leftovers.
Nutrition Analysis:

Per serving: Calories 180, Calories from Fat 60, Total Fat 7g (11% DV), Saturated Fat 4.5g (22% DV), Trans Fat 0g, Cholesterol 25mg (8% DV), Sodium 450mg (19% DV), Carbohydrates 22g (7% DV), Dietary Fiber 5g (20% DV), Sugars 11g, Protein 8g, Vitamin A 90%, Vitamin C 430%, Calcium 20%, Iron 6%.

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Grilled Stuffed Bell Peppers

Grilled Stuffed Bell Peppers

These grilled stuffed peppers are hearty enough for a vegetarian dish, or served as a side. Easy and delicious!

Hands-on Time: 15 min. | Total Time: 35 min. | Serves: 6 | Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:
  • 4 aluminum foil sheets cut into 12”x18” rectangles
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 can (15 oz.) black bean, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • ¼ cup red onions, chopped
  • 1 avocado, peeled, seeded, (¾ of the avocado chopped, cut remaining avocado in 6 slices)
  • 2 Tbsp. cilantro, finely chopped
  • Dash salt
  • Dash pepper
Directions:
  1. Preheat grill to medium-high.
  2. Slice each bell pepper in half lengthwise. Hollow out each pepper, removing stem and seeds. Set aside.
  3. In large bowl, combine rice, black beans, onions, avocado, cilantro, salt and pepper. Mix well. Spoon the mixture evenly into the peppers.
  4. Place pepper on center of foil. Seal edges, making tight ½” fold; fold again, allowing space for heat circulation. Place packets on grill, cover, and cook on medium heat about 15-20 minutes.
  5. Carefully place packets on serving platter. Cut large X across top of each packet, carefully; fold back foil. Top peppers with avocado slice. Serve.
  6. Refrigerate leftovers.
Nutrition Analysis:

Per serving: Calories 240, Calories from Fat 45, Total Fat 5g (8% DV), Saturated Fat 1g (5% DV), Trans Fat 0g, Cholesterol 0mg (0% DV), Sodium 170mg (7% DV), Carbohydrates 40g (13% DV), Dietary Fiber 9g (36% DV), Sugars 2g, Protein 9g, Vitamin A 25%, Vitamin C 130%, Calcium 2%, Iron 15%.

View Party Plan: End Your Summer in Style!

Salmon Asparagus Packets

Salmon Asparagus Packets

Grilling salmon inside foil makes it incredibly flavorful, juicy and flaky. You are going to love this recipe!

Hands-on Time: 30 min. | Total Time: 30 min. | Serves: 4 | Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:
  • 4 aluminum foil sheets cut into 12”x16” rectangles
  • 4 salmon filets (4 oz.), skin removed
  • 1 lb. asparagus, fresh, ends removed
  • 1 fresh lemon, sliced in 8 slices
  • 8 tsp. olive oil
  • 8 fresh thyme sprigs
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
Directions:
  1. Preheat grill to medium high.
  2. Divide the asparagus into 4 equal portions in foil (about 6 pieces per foil).
  3. Place salmon filet on top of asparagus; add 1 teaspoons olive oil per packet. Season each with salt and pepper; top with 2 slices lemon and thyme sprigs. Seal edges, making a tight ½” fold; fold again, allowing space for heat circulation.
  4. Place packets on grill over medium heat. Cover grill; cook 12-16 minutes or until salmon flakes easily with fork.
  5. Place packets on serving platter. Cut large X across top of each packet, and carefully fold back foil.
  6. Refrigerate leftovers.
Nutrition Analysis:

Per serving: Calories 340, Calories from Fat 220, Total Fat 24g (37% DV), Saturated Fat 5g (25% DV), Trans Fat 0g, Cholesterol 60mg (20% DV), Sodium 220mg (9% DV), Carbohydrates 6g (2% DV), Dietary Fiber 3g (12% DV), Sugars 2g, Protein 26g, Vitamin A 20%, Vitamin C 35%, Calcium 4%, Iron 15%.

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Maple Sriracha Mushroom Skewers

Maple Sriracha Mushroom Skewers

Maple syrup and Sriracha sauce...a brilliant combination of flavors that gets better when it’s grilled!

Hands-on Time: 10 min. | Total Time: 20 min. | Serves: 4 | Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:
  • 4 bamboo skewers
  • 12 mushrooms (about 2 cups or 8 oz.)
  • 8 cherry tomatoes
  • ½ red onion, quartered and each cut in segments
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp. Sriracha sauce (more if additional heat is desired)
  • Red bell pepper, cut into chunks
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Dash of salt
Directions:
  1. Soak bamboo skewers in water 10-20 minutes before grilling.
  2. In large bowl, mix maple syrup, Sriracha sauce and a dash of salt. Add vegetables to mix.
  3. Thread the mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, red onion and red bell pepper alternately onto skewers, repeat twice per skewer.
  4. Preheat grill for medium heat and lightly oil the grate.
  5. Cook skewers 4-6 minutes (or until cherry tomatoes burst), turning skewers and basting vegetables occasionally with remaining maple Sriracha sauce.
Nutrition Analysis:

Per serving: Calories 230, Calories from Fat 120, Total Fat 14g (22% DV), Saturated Fat 2g (10% DV), Trans Fat 0g, Cholesterol 0mg (0% DV), Sodium 65mg (3% DV), Carbohydrates 25g (8% DV), Dietary Fiber 2g (8% DV), Sugars 22g, Protein 2g, Vitamin A 25%, Vitamin C 130%, Calcium 4%, Iron 6%.

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Grilled Flank Steak with Cilantro Parsley Butter

Grilled Flank Steak with Cilantro Parsley Butter

Try this perfect tasty combination of butter, herbs, lime and steak.

Hands-on Time: 10 min. | Total Time: 30 min. | Serves: 4-6 | Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:
  • 2 sticks salted butter, softened
  • 1 Tbsp. parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1½ lbs. flank steak
  • 2 Tbsp. Montreal seasoning
  • Canola oil
Directions:
  1. In bowl, combine butter, parsley, cilantro and lime juice with a spatula. Blend well to distribute ingredients.
  2. Spoon compound butter onto wax paper; roll paper around butter to form a rough cylinder. Twist ends to secure butter (about 6”x1¼” diameter).
  3. Refrigerate butter until chilled, at least 2 hours. Slice into 8-10 slices.
  4. Lightly brush grill with canola oil and preheat to high. When grill is hot, grill flank steak covered 10-14 minutes turning once (or until internal temperature reaches 160°F). Season with Montreal seasoning. Place four slices compound butter on top of steak once turned.
  5. Cover meat and let set 3-5 minutes. Slice meat against the grain. Serve with remaining compound butter slices on top.
  6. Refrigerate leftovers.
Nutrition Analysis:

Per serving: Calories 640, Calories from Fat 480, Total Fat 54g (83% DV), Saturated Fat 33g (165% DV), Trans Fat 0g, Cholesterol 225mg (75% DV), Sodium 1530mg (64% DV), Carbohydrates 6g (2% DV), Dietary Fiber 0g (0% DV), Sugars 0g, Protein 37g, Vitamin A 30%, Vitamin C 6%, Calcium 6%, Iron 15%.

View Party Plan: End Your Summer in Style!

Chicken BBQ Kebabs

Chicken BBQ Kebabs

Sometimes the best recipes are the simplest, and these kebabs are just that!

Hands-on Time: 10 min. | Total Time: 20 min. | Serves: 8 Kabobs | Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:
  • 2 chicken breasts (about 1½ lbs.), cut into 1” pieces
  • 16 cherry tomatoes (about 3 cups)
  • 1 red onion cut into quarters and in sections
  • 2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut in 1” pieces
  • ½ pineapple, peeled, cored, cut into chunks
  • 2 cups BBQ sauce
  • Canola Oil
  • 8 – 10” skewers
Directions:
  1. Pour ¾ cup BBQ sauce over chicken pieces in large bowl. Turn pieces to evenly coat on all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 15-30 minutes to marinate.
  2. On a separate large bowl, pour ¾ cup BBQ sauce over vegetables and stir to evenly coat.
  3. Prepare kebabs by threading alternating pieces of chicken, red bell pepper, onion and pineapple, and repeating three times per skewer.
  4. Heat grill to high. Lightly brush grill rack with oil, and place skewers on grill. Cook, using tongs to turn skewers occasionally for about 4 minutes, until chicken is almost cooked through.
  5. Turn grill to medium heat. Use remaining BBQ sauce to brush the kebabs while grilling. Cover grill and cook for about 15 minutes, or internal temperature of chicken reaches 165°F and vegetables are tender. Transfer skewers to a platter and serve.
  6. Refrigerate leftovers.
Nutrition Analysis:

Per serving: Calories 260, Calories from Fat 20, Total Fat 2.5g (4% DV), Saturated Fat 0g (0% DV), Trans Fat 0g, Cholesterol 40mg (13% DV), Sodium 940mg (39% DV), Carbohydrates 42g (14% DV), Dietary Fiber 2g (8% DV), Sugars 35g, Protein 18g, Vitamin A 35%, Vitamin C 140%, Calcium 2%, Iron 4%.

View Party Plan: End Your Summer in Style!

Grilled Steak Greek Salad

Grilled Steak Greek Salad

The addition of steak to this simple salad makes a perfect warm weather meal.

Ingredients:
  • 2 beef steaks, center-cut
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons kalamata olives, pitted, finely chopped
  • 3 cups mixed greens
  • 1/2 small English cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 2 red onions, sliced in thin wedges
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Directions:
  1. Preheat grill to medium. Grill steaks, covered, 5 minutes per side. Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix garlic, dried oregano, and pepper.
  2. In separate small bowl, combine 1/4 teaspoon of seasoning mixture, olive oil, cheese and olives; mix well and set aside. Sprinkle half of remaining seasoning onto steaks on grill; turn steaks over and sprinkle with seasoning. Grill, covered, about 8 minutes longer: until temperature reaches 140° F, turning once. Remove steaks from grill.
  3. In a bowl, combine greens, cucumber and onion. Toss with dressing to coat. Slice steak into thin slices; sprinkle with salt. Arrange salad mixture on serving plates; top with steak. Serve immediately.

View Party Plan: End Your Summer in Style!

Pizza Burgers

Pizza Burgers

These juicy burgers are full of family favorite flavors - Italian seasoning, cheese and pizza sauce.

Hands-on Time: 25 min. | Total Time: 25 min. | Serves: 4 | Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef (85% lean)
  • 1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • 4 slices provolone cheese
  • 4 sandwich buns or ciabatta rolls, split, toasted if desired
  • 4 Tbsp. pizza sauce, warmed
Directions:
  1. Heat gas or charcoal grill to medium heat. Mix ground beef, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Shape into 4 patties, ½” thick and 3½” diameter, pressing a depression in the center of each.
  2. Cook 5-6 minutes or until depression fills with juices. Turn and cook 5-7 minutes longer or until no longer pink in center and thermometer inserted in center reads 165°F. Top with cheese last 2 minutes of cooking.
  3. Fill buns with burgers and top with pizza sauce. If desired, serve extra pizza sauce for dipping.
Nutrition Analysis:

Per serving: Calories 460, Calories from Fat 220, Total Fat 25g (38% DV), Saturated Fat 11g (55% DV), Trans Fat 1g, Cholesterol 95mg (32% DV), Sodium 740mg (31% DV), Carbohydrates 27g (9% DV), Dietary Fiber 1g (4% DV), Sugars 5g, Protein 32g, Vitamin A 6%, Vitamin C 2%, Calcium 30%, Iron 25%

View Party Plan: Make Your Memorial Day Weekend Sizzle!

Drink Up!

Drink Up!

Staying hydrated is always key, especially when summertime heats up. If you’re physically active, you have even more reason to drink lots and lots of water. But let’s be honest: Water, though refreshing, can also be boring. Yet the more appealing juices, sodas, energy drinks and teas can be frighteningly high in sugar. A better bet is to infuse your own fruit-flavored water.

  • The longer your water infuses, the stronger the flavor. Refrigerate your fruit/water combo anywhere from 15 minutes to up to about a day. Any longer and the water may taste bitter and the fruit and/or herbs start looking limp.
  • Refill the pitcher with water as you drink it down. Though each batch will be milder in taste, the ingredients will continue to infuse.
  • Tap water works well, but you can brighten things up by using sparkling water instead.
  • If you’re entertaining, fill a beverage tub with ice to chill your infused waters. Make multiple flavors for variety and use glass carafes to show off the ingredients.
  • You can also use mason jars for smaller individual batches, whether for a DIY drink station at a party or when you’re at home drinking solo.
  • Wash fruit and herbs well, then chop or slice fruit and remove any seeds before using.

Ready to infuse your flavored water? Any of the following combinations are guaranteed to please; you can also create your own. Place fruit, herbs and ice in a glass carafe, then fill with water and refrigerate.

  • Orange + blueberries
  • Apple + blackberries
  • Kiwi + strawberries
  • Watermelon + fresh mint
  • Cucumber + lime + fresh mint
  • Pineapple + coconut
  • Berry Blast (blueberries + raspberries + strawberries + blackberries or any combination)
  • Citrus Crush (orange + grapefruit + lemon + lime)
  • Lime + gingerroot (peeled)
  • Honeydew + fresh basil
  • Lemon + fresh thyme
  • Cantaloupe + fresh mint + blueberries
  • Mango + blackberries
  • Blackberries + fresh rosemary
  • Grapefruit + blackberries
  • Pineapple + fresh mint

View Party Plan: End Your Summer in Style!

Light it Up!

Light it Up!

Outdoor parties are practically essential come summertime and if these get-togethers slide into evening hours, you can easily keep the lights on with any of these lighting hacks.

  • One of the easiest ways to light up an outdoor party is to wrap Christmas tree lights around trees or deck posts or string from trees and posts in your backyard. You can also find outdoor party lights in any number of shapes and colors online or in stores.
  • Place candles (traditional or LED) in mason jars. Tie lengths of wire securely around the neck of the jar, then hang jars or lights randomly from tree branches. Their glow will add a bit of whimsy.
  • Candle-filled mason jars can also be used to line walkways, decorate tables and provide lighting to ledges and other shadowy spots.
  • Fill large beverage tubs, decorative washtubs and ice buckets with water, then place candles in small floating vases. If you use enough candles and vases to nearly cover the water’s surface, you’ll have a lovely blanket of candlelight in each container.

If you really want to impress your guests, take a bit of extra time to string up these Ping Pong Ball Lights:

Things You'll Need:
  • Paper towel
  • C-clamp
  • One ping pong ball for each bulb on the light string
  • String of colored Christmas tree lights in good condition (check for shorts)
  • Drill with bit that is just slightly smaller than light bulb on your string
  • Hot glue gun
Directions:
  1. Fold a 1½” wide strip of paper towel over on itself several times so it fits on the plates of the c-clamp; tape one on each side of the clamp. Adjust the clamp so it holds a ball just firmly enough to keep it from slipping when you drill. The “give” in the paper towel will allow you to remove a ball and press another one in without having to readjust the clamp.
  2. Press the drill bit against the ball just to depress slightly, then drill at medium to high speed while applying light pressure. As always, exercise caution when using power tools.
  3. Test your drill bit size by making just a few of the balls and attaching to the lights. You won’t want to drill dozens of balls only to find out you’re working with the wrong size bit!
  4. Slide a ping pong ball over each light. If the holes are too loose, run a small bead of hot glue to secure the base of each light to the ball. If the holes are tight enough that they won't be easily knocked off, you’re good to go.
  5. Hang your new DIY lights and enjoy!

View Party Plan: End Your Summer in Style!

No Mess BBQ

No Mess BBQ

Summer’s here, which means barbecue season is in full swing! Whether you’re grilling for immediate family or inviting a crowd, these simple steps will make your event—and the clean-up that comes afterward—simple and fun.

  1. Working with a gas grill? Be sure it is completely cool before cleaning. Brush any debris off flame tamers (also called heat tents or vaporizing bars, they directly cover the burners).
  2. Keep those grates clean
    • For a gas grill, routinely brush cooled grates off with a dry wire brush or grill stone. (If using a brush be sure it’s in good condition and not losing bristles.) You can also hold crumpled aluminum foil with tongs and use to brush the grates.
    • Charcoal grill grates are best cleaned when still warm. A bit of water can be used to scrub them down.
  3. Rub clean grates with cooking oil. An easy way to do this: Soak a paper towel in a bit of oil, then use tongs to clamp the paper towel and rub over the grates.
  4. Read and keep your grill’s instruction manual and warranty. The instructions will include specific cleaning procedures.

Now that your grill is clean, here’s how to keep your meal fuss-free.

  • Start clean. When you start with clean cooking surfaces and a clutter-free gathering space, you’ll have less mess when the meal finishes.
  • Make trash and recycling bags many and easy to find. If you’re entertaining over a large area, be sure to have containers for trash at many points throughout your yard and/or deck.
  • Also offer napkins and wet wipes in multiple locations, especially if you’re serving foods with deliciously sticky barbecue sauce.
  • There’s a time and place for disposable dinnerware, and a barbecue is one of them. Sticky sauce, grilled meats and butter-drenched grilled corn are all foods best served on biodegradable, disposable plates. They’re easy to toss (in those easy-to-find trash bags—see above) and won’t add to the dish pile.
  • Serving hot dogs or burgers? Place each sandwich in a coffee filter before offering to guests for topping. No more sliced onions falling to the table or onto your deck.
  • Grilling meat for tacos instead? Offer single-serving bags of tortilla or corn chips and have guests fill bags with meat and toppings for a less-messy version of a Southwestern favorite.
  • Keep the bugs away by serving salads and condiments in mason jars with locking canister-style lids. Guests can easily remove and replace lids as they move through the line.
  • Make it easy for guests to dispose of their own dishes by setting up a tub for any dirty washables.
  • Spills happen. Keep a few portable stain removing options (Tide® To-Go pens, etc.) close at hand.

View Party Plan: End Your Summer in Style!

Pretty as a Pineapple

Pretty as a Pineapple

Should you be looking for a little “wow” to brighten your summertime table, this pineapple vase is it! Not only is it fun and seasonal, it’s also waste-free as you’ll be using the edible fruit, too. To create this one-of-a-kind centerpiece, you need only an attractive, healthy pineapple, sharp knife and large spoon.

First, cut an inch or two off the top of the pineapple. Next you’ll use your knife to carve into the pineapple flesh, leaving an inch or so wall around the edge. Take care to not cut through the skin as you want a solid barrier to hold water and flowers. Scoop out the pineapple flesh, again leaving about an inch or so at the bottom to provide a sturdy base. Chop the pineapple you’ve removed and set aside for later use.

The final step is to fill your pineapple vase with water and fresh-cut flowers. Then get ready for the “wow!”

And the pineapple fruit you’ve scooped out? Of course you can enjoy it as-is, but there are other options as well:

  • Puree into a smoothie along with vanilla yogurt, banana and shredded unsweetened coconut for a tropical smoothie.
  • Dice into smaller pieces and stir into cottage cheese.
  • Sprinkle smaller dice onto a cream cheese-topped bagel for a morning treat.
  • Layer with strawberries, toasted sliced almonds and plain or vanilla yogurt for a fruity parfait.
  • Pour a few tablespoons melted butter into a cake pan, then sprinkle with brown sugar and scatter with chopped pineapple. Make batter for a single-layer yellow cake (from scratch or box mix) and pour into pan. Bake according to recipe or package directions. When the timer rings, invert the cake onto a serving platter and you have Pineapple Upside-Down Cake!
  • Use leftover pineapple to infuse water.
  • Toss into a stir-fry near the end of cooking for a touch of sweet-and-sour.
  • Blitz a few bananas and pineapple together in a blender, then freeze in ice-pop molds for banana-pineapple pops.
  • Tropical fruit salad is as easy as tossing leftover pineapple chunks with chopped fresh mango and papaya and fresh mint leaves. Dress with a touch of honey and splash of lemon juice.
  • Stir into pancake or waffle batter.
  • Use toothpicks to dip pineapple pieces into caramel sauce or melted chocolate.

View Party Plan: End Your Summer in Style!

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