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We celebrated summer this year with a barbeque.

I prepared for 2 weeks in advance of our big celebration because we wanted to offer homemade food (instead of grub from giant plastic tubs and frozen cartons), and we wanted everyone to be able to sit cozily at a table for several hours.

A Comfy Glider

The guest list grew and grew until we had to rent more tables and chairs at the last minute to seat everyone in comfort.  The party spilled over from our porch into our yard.

A Shady Respite

I ran out to get more cheery cushions and bright table cloths to make them festive.  I found these great, vintage-looking, strawberry ones at Target for $4.99 each.

Flowers and Candles

We strung paper lanterns on the porch and old fashioned large, clear strings of lights through the trees.

Porch Lanterns Aglow

We ordered starter bouquets from our local Kings florist to match the tablecloths because my friend, Betsy, generously offered to bring flowers from her garden to adorn our tables.

Garden Flowers from a Friend

Since she is an amazing gardener, I eagerly took her up on her offer, and she created the lovely bouquets you see in all these pictures.  Thank you, Betsy!  (She has written for the New York Times on gardening and has this terrific website: The Gardener’s Apprentice.)

A Summer Garden Bouquet

We invited everyone to come in the evening, so we could be nice and cool.  I played gentle, steel drum music in the background.

Porch Comforts

And, of course, we ate!  We ate and drank a lot!  I filled a metal tub with many varieties of Stewarts Old Fashioned sodas (like Black Cherry, Root Beer, and Key Lime).  I made sangria and showed it off in this charming server from Pottery Barn.

Summer Sangria

I set out bowls of chilled cherries (which were on sale) and juicy strawberries (from the farmer’s market) on the tables.

Strawberry Season

Along with this homemade version of the onion dip, which I have loved since I was a kid. (Recipe from Martha Stewart here.)

Homemade Onion Dip with Chips

And, savory shrimp cocktail (adapted from a recipe from Martha Stewart New Year’s Eve DVD).

Savory Shrimp Cocktail

My beloved hubby grilled these savory turkey burgers.  Besides chopped green peppers and onions, I slip a little sour cream into the meat to make it juicy and a little bread crumbs to help the patties stick together.

Juicy Turkey Burgers

Juicy Turkey Burgers

I used this recipe for Spicy Grilled Lemon Chicken (from Sandra’s Money Saving Meals), but I multiplied it a zillion times, and I marinated the chicken breasts for 2 days in the fridge.

Spicy Lemon Chicken Breasts

Along side the meats, we served potato salad (my mom’s family recipe)

Mom's Potato Salad

and this Creamy Rainbow Coleslaw with Bacon.  (I found the recipe, see below, in a flyer at the Stop and Shop supermarket and swapped out the pork bacon for turkey bacon.)  The smoky saltiness of the bacon deliciously balanced out the usual tang of regular coleslaw.

Rainbow Bacon Coleslaw

For dessert, I splurged (and cheated) by purchasing the fabulous Mint Brownie mix from The Barefoot Contessa, which our daughter kindly baked for us all.  Thank you, sweetie!  People were RAVING over these, and several requested the recipe. They went so fast that we have no pictures.

Twilight Approaches

Our guests feasted and relaxed.  We had some of those magic moments I love, when you look around, and see the people you love, smiling and laughing and glowing in candlelight, or under the fairy lights in the trees…and all is right and beautiful in the world.

Wishing you every blessing,

Christina

 

Creamy Rainbow Coleslaw with Bacon

Ingredients

1 small head green cabbage, cored + shredded

1 small head purple cabbage, cored + shredded

2 cups shredded carrots

½ lb cooked bacon, crumbled (we used turkey bacon)

2/3 c mayonnaise

¼ c sour cream

2 TBsp cider vinegar

2TBsp sugar

Salt + pepper

Directions:

  1. Place cabbage, carrots, and bacon into a large bowl.
  2. In a small bowl combine mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar, sugar, and saltand pepper.
  3. Pour half the dressing over the vegetables; toss to combine.
  4. Add more dressing to just lightly coat vegetables.
  5. Taste and adjust seasonings and flavors as desired.

(I found I had to make more dressing because my heads of cabbage were big.  Unlike at most parties, all of this coleslaw was eaten!)

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