I recently read a quote saying “August is like the Sunday of summer.” I did not like this quote. New England summers are without a doubt the reason I suffer threw New England winters. August may be my favorite month of them all. Tan skin, salty air, lobster roles, and cool summer cocktails, life can’t really get much better. This quote also reminded me that we must cease these last days of delightfully warm weather! What better way to do that then inviting over some close friends for an end-of-summer dinner party? If you’re just returning from a summer vacation, your wallet is likely feeling much lighter then usual, yet your belt might be feeling tighter. This is the perfect post to help you throw a small healthy summer party without breaking the bank.
Step #1: Buy Some Fresh Flowers and String Lights
We actually always have these string lights wrapped around the wall of the main room in our small South Boston apartment. Another way to make things look festive is by also decorating your porch or roof deck with large bulb string lights. I found ours at Crate & Barrel online here!
Buy some affordable flowers at your local super market! Trader Joes always has beautiful arrangements at friendly prices. The ones above are from Whole Foods and only cost me $5.
Step #2: Chop up Some Fresh Vegetables for a Healthy Hors D’oeuvre!
While I’m a huge fan of cheese platters and chips & guac, there’s nothing worse then overeating even before dinner is served. To prevent this, a simple vegetable platter can serve as a nice hors d-oeuvre. Summer is the time of fresh farmers markets and the brightest, most beautiful produce. Do a simple Google search to find a farmers market close by, and pick up some organic carrots, peppers, cucumbers, and whatever else looks good for dipping! I paired mine with lemon garlic hummus ($1.99 at Trader Joe’s). It made for the best pre-dinner snack without leaving my guests feeling bloated and guilty before dinner.
Step #3: Make a Low Calorie Fruit Inspired Cocktail
While light beer and wine are all delicious choices, a light signature cocktail can really awaken the party. I’m not a huge fan of rose, but 90% of women I know are. Since I had a couple bottles I figured I’d make a rose inspired cocktail for my girlfriends to enjoy. This one was inspired by Jennifer Meyering’s recipe for a strawberry rose sangria.
- 1 liter rosé wine (I used a box that was only $13.99 from Fuoristrada)
- 2 cups vodka
- 2.5 cups lemon-lime soda
- 2.5 cups soda water
- 20 fresh sliced strawberries
- Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher. Reserve 1/4 of the strawberries.
- Refrigerate for a couple hours
- Just before serving, add the rest of strawberries and gently stir.
- Pour into wine cups with ice and decorate with strawberries
Step #4: Keep Dinner Simple & Fresh with This Pesto Pasta Recipe
I love this meal for entertaining because it’s incredibly easy to make, and it never ceases to impress. All you need to do is follow this homemade pesto recipe from the New York Times, boil some fresh whole wheat pasta, and top with some sautéed chicken sausage, sundried tomatoes, and freshly grated parmesan. The great thing about this is that you can prep all the components before your guests arrive, and then just combine everything when it’s time to eat. The only component that you may want to hold off on is cooking the pasta, unless you cook ahead of time and toss with olive oil so it doesn’t stick together.
There’s nothing like fresh pesto, and the recipe I linked to above is the best there is. If you have a basil plant you’re all set (if you don’t have a basil plant, I highly recommend one!). The only expensive part of this dish is the pine nuts, but luckily you’ll get great use out of them, and you’ll likely be able to freeze the extra pesto.
Step#5: End the Night with Homemade Cookie Sandwiches
This dessert definitely hits the spot on a hot summer night. These homemade ice cream cookie sandwiches may not fall into the healthy category, but a good meal cannot end without a satisfying dessert. Homemade also tastes 1,000X better then store bought so cut out some time to whip up some cookies before your guests arrive. I try to do this a day or two before to free-up time the day of. For these cookies I followed this recipe for the best chocolate chip cookie from BuzzFeed. Once your cookies are fully cooled soften some vanilla ice cream (you can do this by leaving it out for 5 minutes or zapping it in the microwave for about 10 seconds). Then scoop the ice cream in between two cookies, wrap in tin foil, and pop them back in the freezer until it’s time for dessert. Then watch the smiles spread across your guests faces as they unwrap these surprise treats.
Step #6: Sit Back with Your Friends, Drink Wine, and Relax
Summers not over yet! Have another glass of wine, and enjoy a warm summer night with friends.