Summer is the season for entertaining, but there isn’t any reason you have to slave away in a hot kitchen in order to throw a sophisticated summer party.
Opt for simplicity, sophistication and seasonality, and it will be easy to host smashing summer soirees with less time and work involved in preparation. Ingredients like fresh fruits and veggies play to the best tastes of summer, while familiar flavors like coffee can lend an air of sophistication to even the easiest summer treats.
“Convenience is key to making the summer months enjoyable – whether you’re organizing a fun afternoon for yourself or having an adult gathering at your house,” says Robin Miller, a nutritionist and author of “Robin Rescues Dinner” and “Quick Fix Meals,” which is also the title of her show that airs on Food Network. “Having healthy fresh snacks that incorporate seasonal fruits and vegetables to keep everyone refreshed, or fruity drinks mixed with coffee to give a sophisticated and adult flavor, will help make your event fantastic and memorable.”
One way to keep things simple is to blend refreshing and tasty, yet convenient, items like Starbucks VIA Ready Brew into your snacks, drinks and even grill rubs for a fresh take on old favorites.
For a quick and delicious start to your next party, here are a couple of recipes for drinks, snacks and great-tasting foods on the grill:
Cucumber Mint Gin Lemonade
Serves about eight
1 packet Starbucks VIA(R) Ready Brew
4 cups lemonade
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and grated
1 cup gin
1 cup loosely packed mint
Dissolve coffee with a tablespoon of hot water in a pitcher. Add lemonade, sugar, cucumber, gin and mint. Chill for several hours. Serve over ice.
Sweet and Spicy Coffee Grilling Rub
2 packets Starbucks VIA Ready Brew
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons black pepper
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Stir coffee, salt, pepper and sugar together. Coat it on the meat and grill. For stronger taste, let the coated meat sit up to an hour in the refrigerator before grilling.
High Octane Apple-tini
Makes two martinis
1 packet Starbucks VIA Ready Brew
1 cup apple juice
3 tablespoons vanilla vodka
1/2 cup ice
1/2 lime chopped
1 apple, sliced into thin wheels for garnish (core is in the center of the wheel)
Dissolve coffee with a tablespoon of hot water in a shaker. Add apple juice, vodka, limes and ice. Place lid on top of the shaker and shake vigorously for 20 seconds. Strain liquid into martini glasses. Place a thin apple wheel on top.
Spicy Cocktail Nuts
1 cup cashews
1 cup walnuts
1 cup almonds
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon red vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1 packet Starbucks VIA Ready Brew
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon Chili powder
1/4 cup dried papaya
1/4 cup dried mango
1/4 cup dried pineapple
Toast nuts on a sheet pan for 10 minutes at 300 degrees. While nuts are toasting, combine all ingredients together, except dried fruit, in a heat-proof microwave container. Microwave for 20 seconds to melt and combine the mixture. Remove nuts from oven and turn temperature down to 225 degrees. Add toasted nuts to mixture and stir to coat. Spread in an even layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes. Stir nuts to evenly coat and bake on all sides. Spread and press dried fruit onto nuts and place back in the oven for 15 minutes. After cooling, break up the mixture and store in an air-tight container.