Crowd-Pleasing Summer Recipes

Martha Stewart Living, June 2011

Looking for a recipe for summer entertaining? Combine blue sky and green grass with a dash of sunshine -- then mix in some refreshing drinks and easy-to-make, crowd-pleasing food. Sound delicious? It gets even better when you top it all off with simple but stylish serving ideas.

These fresh fruitades -- just citrus juice, sugar, and water -- are delicious all on their own or as mixers for cocktails and other creations. To the lemonade, add mint and vodka or, for an Arnold Palmer, iced tea. With the limeade, try tequila and cilantro. Stir vodka into the orangeade with a sprig of rosemary -- or add seltzer and float a scoop of vanilla ice cream in it. Plain or fancy, these "ades" are irresistible sipped from straws decorated with baking-cup flowers.

Guests will go nuts for these scrumptiously seasoned snack mixes. Some have familiar flavors, such as the sugar-candied peanuts. More unexpected are the coconut-curry cashews. Make one kind or several, and offer them in containers crafted from ordinary paper plates cinched with big, colorful rubber bands. These everyday supplies have never looked so chic.

Everything seems to taste better when you put it on a skewer. And nothing could be easier than stacking a few ingredients on these wooden sticks. Make haute hors d'oeuvres by trying favorite flavor combinations on the grill. Here we pair watermelon with feta, corn with a sprinkling of Mexican Cotija cheese, lemony shrimp with avocado, and ham with cheese and pickles (a deconstructed Cuban sandwich).

What's better than blender drinks at a backyard barbecue? These mojito, strawberry daiquiri, and margarita ices. Make them ahead and freeze in single-serving paper cups; offer them with wooden spoons you've stamped with a toast.

There's no soft-serve here. We used sugar cones as the bases for these decadent (and deceptive) desserts. To make this portable "sundae," we baked a cupcake right in the cone and topped it with buttercream, a drizzle of chocolate sauce, and a cherry on top. We filled a chocolate-dipped sugar cone with whipped cream and topped it with fresh berries. For this riff on the traditional cannoli, we stuffed a chocolate-dipped cone with sweetened ricotta and a dash of pistachios.

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