Now that summer entertaining is back on the menu; we’re pleased to bring you some fresh ideas to wow your guests (since we’re all a bit rusty at the old “˜hosting’ thing these days!). Dust off your patio furniture, oil up the grill, and get ready to welcome back friends and family””at last!
Energize Your Patio Decor
Summer entertaining is all about creating a fun, upbeat mood, and these ideas will have your patio looking like the place to be all summer long.
- Bring tropical houseplants into the sun. Got some great foliage plants hanging out inside? Give them a summer vacay on the patio and enjoy the tropical vibes they bring to your outdoor parties.
- Hang a hammock. Hammocks are all the rage for 2021; they make a great decor statement, and they double as a lovely spot for solo relaxation when the guests have gone. If you don’t have trees or posts to accommodate a hammock, affordable wood or steel stands are easy to find online.
- Put the spotlight on patio lighting. Lighting instantly transforms any outdoor space, especially as the laughter flows later into the evening! Hang bistro lighting overhead for a warm and inviting glow.
- Add some “˜pop’ with prints. Summer entertaining is all about fun, and a lively print is perfect for encouraging the flow of laughter and ideas around the table. Incorporate a print into your textiles, such as your outdoor rug or throw cushions, to add personality to your patio.
- Grow some climbing colour. Is there anything more romantic than a wall covered in lush leaves and vibrant flowers? Climbing tropical vines like mandevilla and bougainvillea are great for infusing life into trellises, pergolas, and just about any other outdoor structure.
Showcase Your Garden Harvest
By now, your summer vegetable crops are likely at their peak, and there’s no better time to share. Along with your favourite salads, these simple, grill-friendly recipes are sure to liven up your patio table!
Tomato Basil Flatbread
This flatbread is the perfect way to show off an awesome crop of heirloom tomatoes. Assume most guests will eat one flatbread each and multiply the recipe as needed.
Ingredients (per flatbread):
- 1 store-bought naan
- ½ medium garden tomato, quartered and sliced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 4 leaves fresh garden basil, chopped
- fresh mozzarella cheese (like bocconcini or fior di latte) to taste
- salt and pepper, to taste
- balsamic reduction, optional
1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
2. Combine olive oil, garlic, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl. Brush both sides of naan bread with oil mixture.
3. Lightly toast both sides of naan on the grill, about 1 minute per side. Move grilled naan to the upper rack of the grill.
4. Using fingers or BBQ tongs, quickly layer tomato slices and desired amount of fresh mozzarella cheese on top of naan.
5. Close grill lid for 2-3 minutes and check. Flatbreads are done when cheese is melted and gooey.
6. Transfer flatbreads to a cutting board and top with chopped fresh basil, sprinkle of salt and pepper, and if desired, a light drizzle of balsamic reduction. Cut flatbreads in zig-zag pattern to create long slices. Serve hot.
Stuffed Zucchini Boats
This super-satisfying recipe is packed with veggies but tastes so indulgent. This recipe can be made keto-friendly by omitting breadcrumbs. Prepare one boat per guest and adjust accordingly.
Ingredients (per 2 zucchini boats):
- 1 small to medium zucchini
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cups fresh spinach leaves
- 2 oz cream cheese
- 2 oz shredded parmesan cheese, divided
- 2 cloves garlic, minced and divided
- 6 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
- salt and pepper
1. Slice zucchini in half lengthwise and use a spoon to hollow a divot into the middle.
2. In a saucepan, heat olive oil on medium-high heat and add fresh spinach. Cook until wilted and drain into a colander, pressing lightly with a paper towel to remove as much moisture as possible.
3. Return spinach to the saucepan and add cream cheese and half the garlic. Cook over medium heat until cream cheese is melted and spinach is incorporated. Add half the parmesan cheese, stir to combine, and remove from heat.
4. In a small bowl, combine remaining garlic and parmesan with panko breadcrumbs and a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper.
5. Arrange zucchini on a cookie sheet. Spoon cream cheese mixture into zucchini “boats” and top with a generous amount of panko topping.
6. Transfer zucchini boats to a grill on medium heat. Cover and grill until zucchini is tender and panko topping is crisp and golden, approximately 6-9 minutes.
Cheers to Friends and Family
All over Alberta, we’ve been waiting patiently to celebrate the most important part of our summer soirees””our guests! Now that we can gather together again, there’s never been a better reason to say “˜cheers.’
Mixed Berry Lemonade
Use any berries in your garden to add colour and flavour to this sparkling lemonade beverage.
Ingredients (serves 6):
- 1 can frozen concentrated lemonade
- 10-16 oz assorted fresh berries (great with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, haskap berries, and/or blackberries)
- â…“ cup white sugar
- 1 2-litre bottle club soda
- vodka (optional)
1. In a large 1-gallon pitcher, use a wooden spoon to muddle the fresh berries and sugar.
2. Add the lemonade concentrate and half the club soda. Stir with the wooden spoon until lemonade concentrate has fully melted.
3. Top with remaining club soda and fill the remaining room in the pitcher with ice.
4. Pour into your favourite cocktail glasses. Serve as-is or add 1 oz of vodka to each glass to elevate the recipe into a refreshing summer cocktail.