(BPT) - When the temperature rises, hosts need to stay as cool as can be when entertaining friends and family. The secret is planning ahead to deliver easy ambiance, crowd-pleasing food and plenty of fun. Start with versatile foods that can both stand alone and serve as recipe-enhancing ingredients to help keep summertime hosting stress-free.
1. Turn to the summer host’s best friend — an entrée salad that’s cool, crunchy and refreshing, like the Crispy Garlic Chicken Chopped Salad (recipe follows) that tickles tastebuds with a delightful contrast of sweet California grapes and savory toasted garlic.
2. Spending the afternoon poolside? Keep an assortment of floats and inflatable tubes so guests can relax or play in the water. Stock a mini-fridge with cool beverages, and tuck small bags of grapes in the freezer section for a cooling snack. Hint: grapes also make great ice cubes that won’t dilute a drink!
3. Put together an Italian-inspired antipasto platter in minutes — arrange clusters of fresh grapes next to olives, marinated artichoke hearts, cubes of provolone cheese and roasted red peppers on a large plate. Serve with crusty Italian bread.
4. Liven up any picnic with a cooler filled with easy-to-eat red, green and black California grapes that have been cut into small clusters ahead of time. Add some assorted cheeses, crackers, fresh veggies and Mediterranean dips and let the party begin.
5. Say olé to cool summer libations at celebrations. Start the party with an unexpected and unique drink, the frosty Grape Mojito, shown below. Red grapes add natural sweetness and a pop of color.
6. Set up a grilled fruit buffet for a fun snack or dessert. Thread fresh grapes, pineapple chunks and peach cubes on skewers. Brush lightly with oil and grill until the fruits begin to caramelize, which deepens and enhances flavor. Serve with a choice of sorbets.
Crispy Garlic Chicken Chopped Salad
Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories 360; Protein 22 g; Carbohydrate 25 g; Fat 21 g (50% Calories from Fat); 2.5 g Saturated Fat (6% Calories from Saturated Fat); Cholesterol 60 mg; Sodium 290 mg; Fiber 4 g.
Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories 200; Protein 0 g; Carbohydrate 18 g; Fat 0 g; Sat Fat 0 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 0 mg; Fiber 1 g.
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