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Party Plan: Send Off to Summer

You can feel it in the air…fall is just around the corner! As we wind down the summer season, here are a few recipes to squeeze a little more flavor out of your day.

If you’re entertaining (perhaps by holding an end-of-summer party?), make up a batch of Mango, Black Bean and Avocado Salsa, or try a simple and tasty Bruschetta Cheese Ball. And while the grilling is good, Turmeric-Ginger Marinated Flat Iron Steak and Grilled Chipotle Shrimp Skewers are must-try entrees.

All that munching might leave your guests thirsty, so try a recipe for sweet Banana Split Milkshakes! For the adults, you can whip up a batch of Boozy Margarita Popsicles – or try Arnold Palmer Popsicles (appropriate for all ages).

And while the weather’s warm, take the chance to get outside with arts and crafts. DIY Mason Jar Luminaries make a wonderful decoration, and can light the way for a game of Oversized Outdoor Tic Tac Toe or a Water War Outdoor Game for Kids! If you’ve got a fire pit for toasting s’mores, try making Lint and Toilet Paper Roll Fire Starters…they’re a great way to keep the party going after dark.

Strawberry Cheesecake Smoothie

Strawberry Cheesecake Smoothie

Created by: Carrie Robinson, Frugal Foodie Mama

When I need to satisfy my sweet tooth without the guilt, I make a creamy smoothie inspired by one of my favorite desserts. Lately, my guilty pleasure has been a slice of cheesecake drenched in strawberry topping.

The problem is, cheesecake isn't exactly good for you, or low in fat or calories. My solution? This lower guilt Strawberry Cheesecake Smoothie that tastes just like the delicious sweet treat it's fashioned after.

Creamy low-fat yogurt, sweet frozen strawberries, reduced-fat cream cheese and graham crackers are blended into this satisfying smoothie. I added some chia seeds to sneak in a little nutrient-packed punch too. Trust me when I tell you that it tastes just like a slice of cheesecake topped with strawberries. Who says you can't have your cheesecake and maintain that waistline too?

0 minutes | Prep time: 10 minutes | Serves: 1
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup Simple Truth Organic® Frozen Strawberries, chopped
  • 1 oz. Kroger 33% Less Fat Neufchatel Cheese, cubed
  • ⅔ cup Simple Truth Organic® Low-Fat Yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp. chia seeds
  • ½ cup almond or soy milk
  • 2 graham crackers, crumbled
Directions:
  1. Place all the ingredients except for 1 tablespoon crumbled crackers into your blender.
  2. StrawberryCheesecakeSmoothie2
  3. Puree until smooth and creamy.
  4. Pour into a tall glass and garnish with the reserved graham cracker crumbs. Add a frozen strawberry, if desired, and enjoy!
    StrawberryCheesecakeSmoothie3

View Party Plan: Springtime Celebration

Grilled Corn Salsa

Grilled Corn Salsa

Created by: Greggy Soriano, Greggy’s Digest

Take advantage of fresh summer sweet corn and make this easy Grilled Corn Salsa.

The peak of summer is all about firing up the grill and enjoying all the summer produce. Hot summer days are actually some of my favorite days of the year to cook. Because it means burgers or grilling chicken, shrimp or just about anything that is done on the grill. Fresh produce is in abundance, so it is easy to find a side dish that the whole family will love. Dinner on the grill means I don’t have to heat up the house, and usually cleanup is so easy!

One my family’s favorite things about summer is fresh sweet corn. It is great with just butter and salt on the cob, but you can really turn it up a notch and makeit into salsa. Grilling corn brings out the sweetness and makes it taste even better. Mixing it with lots of lime juice, cilantro, jalapeno and making it into salsa is a great idea. Grilled corn salsa is delicious on its own with chips. But make your plain chicken or tacos even better and top them with this corn salsa. The flavors of summer in each bite, your family will be asking you to make it over and over again.

Ingredients:
  • 3 ears corn on the cob, husked
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • ¼ red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
Directions:
  1. Heat grill to high heat.
  2. Rub vegetable oil over the ears of corn.
  3. Grill corn for 5-10 minutes, until slightly charred, turning occasionally.
  4. Once the corn is grilled, cut the kernels from the cob.
  5. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the corn kernels with the rest of the ingredients.
  6. Store in fridge until ready to serve.

Corn Salsa 1

View Party Plan: Send Off to Summer

Banana Split Milkshakes

Banana Split Milkshakes

Created by: Jessica Williams, Butter With A Side of Bread

A deliciously simple recipe perfect for a hot summer day! You’ll find all the flavors of a banana split in these tall and tasty milkshakes.

Freeze fresh, ripe bananas ahead of time so you can enjoy these milkshakes whenever you please! This dessert is full of all the classic sweet, creamy flavors of a banana split, only in shake form.

Ingredients:
  • 4 ½ cups frozen bananas, sliced
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 7-8 scoops vanilla ice cream
  • Hot fudge, peanuts, whipped cream & cherries, to garnish
Directions:
  1. To freeze bananas, slice onto a parchment lined tray, then place in the freezer for 3-4 hours.
    Banana Split Milkshakes
  2. Combine frozen bananas and milk in a blender. Blend until smooth, scraping sides of blender as needed. Add in ice cream and repeat.
  3. Transfer to glasses and garnish with hot fudge, peanuts, whipped cream and cherries as desired.
    Banana Split Milkshakes 4

View Party Plan: Send Off to Summer

Grilled Chipotle Shrimp Skewers

Grilled Chipotle Shrimp Skewers

Created by: Krissy Allori, Self Proclaimed Foodie

I can't think of a better send off to summer than enjoying dinner outside while feasting on these tasty sweet and spicy Grilled Chipotle Shrimp Skewers.

Summer means a lot of things to me. It means warm sunny days where I can soak in as much Vitamin D as my body can store. It means bike riding, camping, hiking, and swimming with the kids. Maybe best of all, it means delicious meals cooked on the grill and eaten outside.

This shrimp recipe is particularly wonderful because it's so easy to pack in so much flavor with very little work.

The marinade is made of a few simple ingredients and you might even already have them on hand! I like to heat up the marinade so that all the flavors come together. Since the marinade has to cool completely before smothering the shrimp, you can easily make it ahead of time and just store it in the refrigerator until you're ready to give that shrimp its "flavor bath", as my kids like to call it.

The heat from the spice nor the sweet from the honey overtakes the flavor of the shrimp. This is one of those recipes where everything compliments everything and it will leave everyone asking for the recipe! Shrimp gets extra bonus points, in my opinion, for only taking a few minutes to cook. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup (about half of a 7.5 oz can) chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped (including some of the sauce)
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 lbs. uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Directions:
  1. In a small saucepan, combine the honey, chipotles, adobo sauce, garlic, water, lime juice, oil and salt to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to low and cook while stirring an additional two minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.
  2. Transfer mixture to a large re-sealable plastic bag. Add the shrimp, seal bag and turn to coat, and allow to marinate in refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour.
  3. Heat grill on medium-high and lightly grease with olive oil. Grill skewers for 3-4 minutes on each side until shrimp is fully cooked and no longer transparent.
  4. This shrimp goes great with some cilantro lime rice and black beans.

View Party Plan: Send Off to Summer

Apple Fruit Salad with Maple Coconut Whipped Cream

Apple Fruit Salad with Maple Coconut Whipped Cream

Created by: Julia Mueller, The Roasted Root

Fruit salad is one of my favorite summer side dishes. Melon, berries, pineapple, grapes, peaches, oranges, mango, banana, kiwi – I love picking up farm-fresh fruit to prepare a mouth-watering concoction that I can share with friends and family at picnics or barbecues.

While I don’t have a preference on fruit, I have some pretty specific criteria when it comes to the “dressing.” Growing up, my mom would make fruit salad with homemade whipped cream and a bit of mayonnaise. While most of my family went crazy over it, I just couldn’t bring myself to touch it on account of the mayo.

Now that I make my own fruit salads, I have the dish down to a system. Because I try to avoid dairy and refined sugar, I prepare a homemade whipped cream using coconut cream and pure maple syrup (or honey). The result is creamy, sweet, and brings together any type of fruit salad into a delicious flavor meld.

For this fruit salad, I went with an apple-cinnamon-walnut theme with grapes, making for a super flavorful and unique fruit salad.

You can use any type of apples, but I love the tartness of the Granny Smith alongside the sweetness of the Pink Lady. The grapes add juicy natural sweetness and a pop of texture. While I used green grapes, you can use any type of grape as well. Just be sure to apply the whipped cream liberally for a healthful and tasty treat.

Ingredients:
  • 1 Granny Smith Apple, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 Pink Lady apple, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1½ cups green grapes, halved
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup raw walnuts, chopped
  • 1 (14-oz.) can Kroger full-fat coconut milk
  • 3 Tbsp. pure maple syrup or maple cream
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch sea salt
Directions:

    Prepare the Maple Coconut Whipped Cream:
  1. Place the can of coconut milk in the refrigerator, and refrigerate overnight. This allows the coconut water to separate from the coconut cream.
  2. Open the can of coconut milk and scoop out the hardened cream (or “flesh”), leaving behind the coconut water. Add the coconut cream to a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, along with the pure maple syrup, vanilla extract, and pinch of sea salt. Beat on medium-high until well-combined and fluffy– this process only takes 30 seconds or so. Taste the whipped cream for flavor and add more pure maple syrup if desired. Refrigerate until ready to use.
    Apple Fruit Salad with Maple Coconut Whipped Cream4

    Prepare the Fruit Salad:
  1. Add all of the ingredients for the fruit salad to a mixing bowl. Add desired amount of coconut whipped cream and toss together until everything is well-coated. Serve alongside your favorite entrée.
    Apple Fruit Salad with Maple Coconut Whipped Cream3

View Party Plan: Send Off to Summer

Mango Black Bean Avocado Salsa

Mango Black Bean Avocado Salsa

Created by: Julia Mueller, The Roasted Root

Something about summer says, “Salsa!” to me. My idea of the perfect picnic or barbecue is one involving a plethora of grilled meats and veggies, as well as multiple types of salsa for the ultimate fresh and flavorful experience.

Homemade salsa is incredibly quick and easy to prepare, and is also very versatile. One of my favorite parts about salsa is it can act as both a dip and a condiment. Whipping up a fresh salsa and serving it with tortilla chips is my go-to for sharing with friends at a barbecue. I’m also a big fan of the chips-and-salsa situation for tiding me over while I cook dinner.

In addition to being the perfect appetizer, salsa is a marvelous topping to spruce up any meal. I love adding fresh salsa to just about any grilled entre. Fresh-off-the-grill burgers, chicken, seafood, veggies, etc. are typically served with a homemade salsa on top. I’ve also been known to prepare salsas simply for the sake of adding them to a green salad. The fresh flavors of the salsa dress up any salad, creating a flavorful side dish or entrée.

Salsa is one of the simplest flavor-adding dishes to prepare. All it requires is chopping (or blending) fresh fruit and/or veggies, and adding minced garlic, jalapeno, and fresh lime juice for some heat and tang. BOOM! That’s it! While I’m all about a tomato (or tomatillo)-based salsa, I also adore fruit salsas.

Chips and salsa for dinner doesn’t seem so bad when it involves fresh ingredients like black beans, mango, and avocado!

Ingredients:
  • 1 (14-oz.) can Simple Truth organic black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 large ripe mango, peeled and diced
  • 2 small avocados, peeled and diced
  • ⅓ cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice, or to taste
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt
Directions:
  1. Dump a can of beans into a colander, rinse with lukewarm water, and transfer to a mixing bowl.
    Mango Black Bean Avocado Salsa4
  2. Add all of the ingredients for the salsa to a mixing bowl and toss together. Taste the salsa and add more lime juice and/or sea salt to taste. Serve as a dip with chips, or as a condiment on top of grilled chicken, fish, tacos, etc.
    Mango Black Bean Avocado Salsa5
    Mango Black Bean Avocado Salsa3
    Mango Black Bean Avocado Salsa1

View Party Plan: Send Off to Summer

30-Minute Vegetarian Red Curry

30-Minute Vegetarian Red Curry

Created by: Julia Mueller, The Roasted Root

I’m almost embarrassed to admit how frequently I eat curry. Home-cooked curry-in-a-hurry makes its way onto the menu in my household every single week. You’d think I’d tire of the dish, but there’s no stopping the salivation when you start talking aromatic spices, coconut milk and fresh seasonal vegetables. Plus, I’ve learned some tricks along the way to keeping the curry flame alive and burning.

For example:

  • Change up the type of curry: yellow, green, and red curry all have different enough flavors to keep things mixed up. You can also choose between the Thai and Indian approaches to change up the spices used.
  • Use a variety of in-season vegetables: Some of my curry go-to’s are potato (Yukon, red, sweet – any type!), cauliflower, bell pepper and onion. During the summer, I love using zucchini and yellow squash.
  • Add your favorite meats: Pork, shrimp/seafood, chicken, beef, lamb – they all work marvelously in curry!
  • Adjust the heat level: Depending on my mood and the time of year, I may make a mild, medium, or hot curry. I control the heat level by using fresh chilies such as habaneros, serranos, Thai chilies and jalapenos, leaving some or all of the seeds in. You can also use red chili sauces (such as sriracha) or Thai, Indian, or Asian hot sauces of choice in order to give your meal a kick.

So there you have it – same dish but different flavors for an easy and nutritious meal that you can put on repeat every week.

Traditionally, curry can take hours to prepare. If you toast and grind the spices to make your own curry spice blend, the process can be very time consuming. During the times I’m super hungry and under a time crunch, I short cut the whole process by using store-bought curry paste and coconut milk. This simple trick saves a great deal of time without making you feel like you cheated the authenticity of the dish.

All things considered, this healthy meal is vegan, gluten-free and nutritious. The perfect meal for any busy weeknight to please the whole family!

Ingredients:
  • 3 Tbsp. Simple Truth coconut oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 Yukon Gold potato, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium zucchini squash, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow squash, chopped
  • 1 (14-oz.) can Kroger coconut milk
  • ¼ cup red curry paste
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Cooked brown rice for serving
Directions:
  1. Heat the coconut oil to medium-high in a large skillet or wok. Add the yellow onion, carrot, and potato. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies have softened but are still al dente, about 8-10 minutes.
  2. While the veggies are cooking, prepare the curry sauce by pouring the coconut milk and curry paste into a blender and blend until completely smooth. Set aside until ready to use.
  3. Add the bell pepper, ginger, and garlic to the skillet with the veggies and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the zucchini and yellow squash, along with the red curry sauce. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until squash is cooked to desired doneness, about 5 minutes.
  5. Taste curry for flavor and add sea salt to taste. Serve curry with cooked rice and fresh cilantro.

View Party Plan: Send Off to Summer

Bruschetta Cheese Ball

Bruschetta Cheese Ball

Created by: Emily Buys, Clever Housewife

I love using seasonal fruits and vegetables because I know I’m getting fresh produce. Since we are right in the thick of summer, tomatoes are everywhere, and what better way to use them up than in a Bruschetta Cheese Ball! This recipe makes great use of fresh tomatoes while combining with sun-dried tomatoes and a variety of cheeses. You will want to invite a crowd over because this cheese ball feeds plenty, and is so tasty that it is meant to impress.

The Bruschetta Cheese Ball is the perfect appetizer for your end of summer parties!

Ingredients:
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 4 oz. soft goat cheese
  • ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped, rinsed, and dried
  • ½ cup basil, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle Seasoning
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • ⅛ tsp. Pepper
  • ¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 3 Tbsp. sun-dried tomatoes, diced, rinsed and dried
  • 3 Tbsp. basil, chopped
  • 1 Roma tomato, diced
  • 1 Tbsp. basil, chopped in long pieces (chiffonade)
  • 2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional)
  • 2 baguettes, sliced into ½” pieces
  • Olive oil
Directions:
  1. Combine all cheese ball ingredients into a large bowl, and mix with a spatula until fully incorporated. Place mixture in the center of a large piece of plastic wrap and cover tightly, shaping the mixture into a ball. Freeze 1-2 hours, or refrigerate overnight.
  2. Just before removing cheese ball from the freezer, or refrigerator, prepare Panko coating by melting butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Stir in panko and continue to cook until golden. Cool completely and stir in sun-dried tomatoes, parmesan cheese and basil.
  3. Remove cheese ball from chilling and roll in toasted panko mixture. Use your hands to press mixture firmly onto ball, if needed.
  4. To prepare baguette, place slices on a baking sheet and brush olive oil over the tops. Place in oven on broil for 4-6 minutes, or until slightly golden.
  5. Place cheese ball on a serving dish and garnish with fresh tomatoes, basil, and bacon. Serve with baguette slices.

View Party Plan: Send Off to Summer

Watermelon Berry Sorbet

Watermelon Berry Sorbet

Created by: Nellie Tracy, Butter With a Side of Bread

Summer is one of my favorite seasons – I just love the warm weather and getting to do so many fun activities with my family! I also love all of the frozen treats I get to make (and eat!) when the temperatures get high. This delicious sorbet is packed with fresh fruit and only requires four ingredients, one of which is water!

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 cups cubed seedless watermelon
  • 2 cups fresh strawberries, greens removed
Directions:
  1. In a small saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil while stirring for about 2-3 minutes, until all of the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool for about 15 minutes.
  2. Place the water/sugar mixture into a blender and add the watermelon and strawberries. Blend until the mixture is smooth.
  3. Strain the mixture with a fine mesh strainer to remove any seeds. Pour the sorbet into an 8”x 8” dish and place in the freezer for about 3 hours, or until firm.
  4. Remove the sorbet from the freezer about 10 minutes before serving. Scoop the sorbet into individual serving dishes and serve.

View Party Plan: Send Off to Summer

Dessert Cowboy Caviar

Dessert Cowboy Caviar

Created by: Krissy Allori, Self Proclaimed Foodie

If you're looking for an interesting take on a classic summer recipe, this sweet and delicious Dessert Cowboy Caviar looks just like the original but tastes nothing like it!

Have you ever had Cowboy Caviar? My guess is you have, even if you didn’t know it. It’s basically an appetizer or side dish made from beans, tomatoes, corn, avocado, and cilantro. You serve it up cold and it makes a great addition to any summer potluck.

Well, I wanted to get a bit crazy and make something that had the look and feel of Cowboy Caviar but tasted nothing like it. I’m happy to say this recipe was a total success.

In order to go for the look and feel of Cowboy Caviar, I made the following dessert substitutions: dark chocolate chips for the black beans, kiwi for the avocado, strawberry for the tomato, banana for the corn and fresh mint in lieu of cilantro. The blueberries ended up looking like olives (an unintentional win). I held all the flavors together with my secret ingredient - lemon curd.

I served this lovely treat up with some cinnamon pita chips. Not only did it end up looking exactly as I had envisioned, it tasted even better than I had hoped!

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (I prefer dark chocolate)
  • 1 banana
  • 2 kiwis
  • ½ cup fresh blueberries
  • 8 strawberries
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh mint, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon curd
Directions:
  1. Chop all fruit into ¼ inch pieces. Slightly firm fruit works best.
  2. Combine all ingredients in large bowl and gently toss until lemon curd is distributed evenly.
  3. Best if served same day. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
  4. This is great on its own or served with cinnamon sugar pita chips.

View Party Plan: Send Off to Summer

Cheesy Jalapeno Brats

Cheesy Jalapeno Brats

Created by: Erin Sellin, Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts

Spice up grilled Johnsonville brats with pepper jack cheese and sliced jalapenos.

I am a Wisconsin girl. And there are a few things that Wisconsin people know; beer, cheese, and brats. Today we are actually combining all three into one delicious and great summer dinner. Growing up in Wisconsin, we lived on Johnsonville Brats. And there is only one way to prepare them. First, boil them in beer and onions for about 20 minutes. Then throw them on the grill until they are slightly charred. Toppings are usually mustard or ketchup, but sometimes sauerkraut. Today we are going back to my Wisconsin roots and adding cheese!

My family is a fan of all things spicy, so pepper jack cheese and jalapenos was the perfect thing to take our brats to the next level. Once the brats are cooked, I put them in the buns and topped with cheese. Then I put them back on the grill, on the top rack, so they weren’t getting direct flames. Just enough heat to melt the cheese! Then to serve, just top them with sliced jalapenos. What could be yummier than grilled brats with lots of flavor, gooey melty cheese, and crisp spicy?

Ingredients:
  • 4 Johnsonville original brats
  • 1 (12 oz.) bottle of beer
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 4 slices pepper jack cheese
  • 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
  • 4 Ballpark hot dog buns
Directions:
  1. In a sauce pan combine brats, beer and sliced onions. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. Preheat grill to high heat. Place brats on the grill, cook for 5-10 minutes until slightly charred; turn occasionally. Place cooked brats in the hot dog buns, top with a slice of cheese. Place on the side of the grill, or on the top rack where it will get indirect heat. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the cheese is melted.
  3. Remove and top with sliced jalapenos to serve.

View Party Plan: Send Off to Summer

DIY Mason Jar Luminaries

DIY Mason Jar Luminaries

Created by: Emily Buys, Clever Housewife

Use up your summer printed paper napkins with these DIY Mason Jar Luminaries.

With summer comes plenty of outdoor entertaining, and just plain ol’ hanging out by the pool. When we are blessed with cooler evenings, there is nothing I enjoy more than sitting outside with my husband, and having great conversation while taking in the ambience. Part of that fun outdoor ambience is these easy DIY Mason Jar Luminaries. Pick up some fun summer paper napkins for mason jars, and follow these easy steps.

Materials:
  • Pint mason jars and fitted rings
  • Printed paper napkins
  • Small nail and hammer
  • Wire
  • Mod podge
  • Sponge paint brush
  • Scissors
  • Tealight candle
Directions:
  1. Take a small nail and hammer and poke a hole in the top of the mason jar ring. Repeat on the opposite side of the first hole.
  2. Thread wire through the underneath side of the hole, coming out the top. Twist wire around itself and secure with pliers if needed. Make a curve with the wire, for the handle, and thread through the underneath side of the opposite hole. Bring up and twist around it once again.
  3. Set lid aside and place mason jar in the center of an unfolded napkin, print-side down. Lift napkin up one side of the jar so the edge of the napkin barely meets the rim of the jar. Scoot jar in or out as necessary, so napkin is pulled firmly against the jar. Apply mod podge around the jar, and stick the napkin to the glue, trying to smooth out any wrinkles. It’s okay if some wrinkles remain.
  4. With excess napkin at the bottom of the jar, bring it together and in the center and cut with scissors - leaving just enough to cover the bottom of the jar. Apply mod podge to the bottom and finish attaching the remaining napkin edges.
  5. Allow jar and glue to dry completely. Screw lid/ring onto the top of the jar, and place a tealight candle in the jar. Light, and hang jar wherever it can be enjoyed in the yard. Sitting on the table works too!

View Party Plan: Send Off to Summer

Water War Outdoor Game for Kids

Water War Outdoor Game for Kids

Created by: Sharon Garofalow, Cupcakes and Cutlery

When the weather warms up, our family spends a lot more time outside. Since we don’t have our own pool, we look for fun ways to cool off with water in the backyard. Each year, the kids look forward to playing our favorite outdoor game, Water War! It’s a fun, summer twist on the classic card game, War. Since it is a familiar game most kids will know the rules and it’s easy for a lot of different age groups to participate together. This game works just as well with two players or for a group of kids and is a great way to cool off on a hot day.

Supplies:
  • 1-2 decks of cards (these will get wet and may get ruined so use an old deck that you already have or look for packs that are really inexpensive).
  • 8 plastic cups filled about half way with water (you may need more, but you can refill these)
  • 1 large pitcher of water
Directions:
  1. Like the game of War, players turn over one card at a time, the same time as their opponent.
  2. Whoever draws the higher card, wins.
  3. The winner gets to dump a cup of water on the other player’s head. Have an adult on hand to help refill the glasses as needed.
  4. If the players get War, the winner of that hand gets to dump the pitcher on the losing players head.
  5. Play until the cards run out.
Tips:
  • To play with a group of kids, split the kids in to two even teams. Have one player from each team play against each other and when that hand is over they move to the end of the line. Play is continued until the cards run out.
  • Or you can make it tournament style with two players playing against each other until they get to their first War. The winner is then noted on a bracket (much like for football tournaments) and the next two players play. The winner from that game would then play the winner from the previous game. This style of play works great as a party game!

View Party Plan: Send Off to Summer

Arnold Palmer Popsicle Recipe

Arnold Palmer Popsicle Recipe

Created by: Erin Sellin, Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts

Summer is all about lemonade and iced tea. So my kids and I combined our favorite drinks into a popsicle recipe. These refreshing popsicles are the perfect way to beat the heat this summer. Using store-bought ingredients means that these popsicles are super quick and easy to make. This is a fun activity to do with the kids and a delicious way to talk a little bit about science (some liquids freeze better than others!). We’ll be making these all summer long. You will love this fun DIY popsicle idea and your kids will be begging for you to try other flavor combinations!

Ingredients:
  • 1 bottle (59 oz.) Simply Lemonade
  • 1 bottle (12 oz.) Tejava Premium Iced Tea
  • 1 popsicle mold set
  • Wooden popsicle sticks
Directions:
Measurements and popsicle stick instructions vary depending on the type and size of popsicle mold you use. My mold has large, reusable plastic handles, which don’t allow for using two types of liquid. I used regular wooden popsicle sticks instead.
  1. Fill popsicle mold, halfway, with lemonade.
  2. Place in freezer for about 2 hours to allow the lemonade to start to freeze so you can add your second layer without them mixing.
  3. Fill the rest of the popsicle mold with iced tea.
  4. Insert popsicle sticks (use tape to keep them from falling over if you need to).
  5. Place in freezer for approximately 4 hours.
  6. Remove popsicles and enjoy!

If you need a little help getting the popsicles out, try running cold water over the outside of the popsicle mold.

View Party Plan: Send Off to Summer

Coconut-Banana Mug Muffin

Coconut-Banana Mug Muffin

Created by: Carrie Robinson, Frugal Foodie Mama

Enjoy a tropical treat for one for breakfast in mere minutes with this easy to make Coconut-Banana Mug Muffin.

Sometimes you just want a muffin. But you don’t want to have to crank on the oven (especially in the heat of summer) to bake an entire batch when you just want one little muffin. With this easy to make muffin for one, you can whip up just one, fresh muffin in minutes using your microwave. Yes, I said your microwave! Bet you didn’t know that you could use your microwave to bake, now did you?

The flavors for this Coconut-Banana Mug Muffin were inspired by some of my favorite flavors of summertime. When you dig into this perfectly portioned for one mug muffin, you can’t help but to be temporarily transported to a warm, tropical beach if only for a few minutes of your morning.

Ingredients:
  • 3 Tbsp. whole wheat flour (can use all-purpose white flour instead)
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • ¼ tsp. baking powder
  • ⅛ tsp. salt
  • Pinch of ground ginger
  • 1-2 drops of vanilla extract
  • 1½ Tbsp. Simple Truth Organic Coconut Oil, liquefied
  • 3 Tbsp. Simple Truth Coconut Milk
  • ½ banana (half mashed, the other half cut into slices)
  • 1 Tbsp. shredded coconut
Directions:
  1. In a microwave safe mug, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, & ginger. Add in the vanilla extract, coconut oil, coconut milk, the mashed banana, and the shredded coconut. Mix well. Top with the remaining banana slices.
  2. Microwave on high for 60-90 seconds. Enjoy immediately.

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View Party Plan: Send Off to Summer

Turmeric-Ginger Marinated Flat Iron Steak

Turmeric-Ginger Marinated Flat Iron Steak

Created by: Carrie Robinson, Frugal Foodie Mama

This juicy and tender Turmeric-Ginger Marinated Flat Iron Steak is not only perfect for your summertime grilling plans, but it comes with a few added health benefits too.

When it comes to summertime cookouts, there is not much else that comes close to throwing a juicy, flavorful steak on the grill. And while red meat sometimes gets a bad rap, it is actually pretty healthy for you when marinated and prepared properly and consumed in moderation. Not only is some good ole red meat packed with protein, but it also happens to be an excellent source of zinc, iron and vitamin B12.

I decided to up the healthy ante with this grilled flat iron steak by basing the marinade around the newest healthy superfood that has been gaining in popularity rather quickly recently: ground turmeric. Turmeric is a spice that is often associated with Indian curry and Asian dishes, but it’s health benefits are just now starting to become widely known.

Tumeric gives this flat iron steak an extra kick of flavor and a gorgeous color to the sear on this steak. And be careful when handling this turmeric marinade,tumeric’s bright yellow color can stain clothing and fabric.

Ingredients:
  • 2 lb. Beef Choice Boneless Flat Iron Steak
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1½ tsp. fresh ginger, peeled & grated
  • ½ tsp. Private Selection Mustard Ground
  • 1 tsp. Private Selection Turmeric Ground
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • ½ tsp. Kosher salt
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Juice for ½ of a fresh lime
Directions:
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic, ginger, ground mustard, turmeric, pepper, salt, soy sauce, olive oil, and lime juice. Pour the mixture into a 13” x 9” glass baking pan, and place the steak in it. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours, turning the steak over once halfway through.
  2. Remove the steak from the refrigerator and allow it to set out at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  3. Heat your grill to medium-high heat. Once the steak has warmed up a little, place it on the hottest part of the grill. Cook the steak for about 5-6 minutes. Using tongs (never puncture the steak to flip it), flip the steak over and cook an additional 4-6 minutes. (You can cook the steak for a shorter or longer period of time depending on your desired doneness. Five minutes on each side over a hot grill will usually get you a good medium-rare cook on the steak.)
  4. Allow the steak to rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting. Once the steak has rested, thinly slice it against the grain. Serve immediately.

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View Party Plan: Send Off to Summer

Margarita Popsicles

Margarita Popsicles

Created by: Lauren Saylor, A Fabulous Fete

It’s a hot summer day and you have absolutely nothing on the agenda expect soaking up a little sun. I can’t think of anything more fitting as a snack for these types of days than a fresh batch of margarita popsicles in the freezer. Make and store for weekend lounging, or prepare the night before a backyard party!

We all have our go-to frozen cocktails, but it can be fun to switch up the presentation from time to time! Not to mention, having these in the freezer can be a lifesaver for an impromptu get together. The key in getting these to freeze is adding the coconut water, besides that, you can customize to include any fresh fruit or flavors that are your favorites. This is a great base recipe to have on hand and jazz up for all of your summer celebrations.

Ingredients:
  • 8 oz. tequila
  • 8 oz. coconut water
  • 6 limes, juiced
  • 4 oz. orange juice
  • 2 oz. triple sec
  • 2 tsp. Agave nectar
  • 1 Tbsp. lime zest
  • 1 lime, thinly sliced for garnish
  • 10 Dixie cups
  • 10 bamboo skewers
  • Cheesecloth
Directions:
  1. Mix together all of the ingredients (except lime zest and sliced lime for garnish) in a large pitcher and stir until agave nectar has dissolved.
  2. Fill small 3 oz. Dixie cups leaving about ¼” of room at the top
  3. Cover the cups with a piece of cheesecloth, this will hold the skewer upright
  4. Trim the bamboo skewer to your desired length to use as the popsicle stick, insert into cup through cheesecloth using the cloth to hold the skewer upright
  5. Freeze for 6-8 hours or overnight
  6. Once frozen, remove cheese cloth and tear away cup
  7. Serve each in a miniature dish on a thin slice of lime, sprinkle a pinch of lime zest on top to finish

View Party Plan: Send Off to Summer

Pickled Red Onion with Corn and Cilantro

Pickled Red Onion with Corn and Cilantro

Created by: Amy Christie, this heart of mine

Give summer’s bounty a zingy fix. Spicy, snappy and zestful, this jarred blend is good alone or used as a topper.

Ingredients:
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and thinly sliced
  • ¼ medium red onion, sliced
  • 2 cups corn kernels
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
  • ½ cup white wine or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • ¾ cup water
Directions:
  1. Mix together the jalapeno, red onion, kernels, cilantro, lime juice and pepper.
  2. Put the ingredients into a quart jar.
  3. In a small pot, combine the vinegar, salt, sugar and water together and bring to a boil.
  4. Pour over mix in the jar.
  5. Seal the jar. Allow it to cool and then chill. Will keep for up to a month.

View Party Plan: Send Off to Summer

Foil-Wrapped Potatoes & Carrots

Foil-Wrapped Potatoes & Carrots

Created by: Amy Christie, this heart of mine

Wrap shredded potatoes and carrots, and a bit of green onion, in foil and cook them on the grill to create this savory, tasty side dish.

Ingredients:
  • 4 medium potatoes
  • 3 carrots, peeled
  • 3 whole green onions, chopped, (including the greens)
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • Fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 4 pieces of foil
Directions:
  1. Scrub the potatoes and carrots. Cook in boiling water, between 10-15 minutes. Drain. Cool. Chill.
  2. Peel the potatoes and grate them and the carrots on the coarsest grating.
  3. Lightly mix potatoes, carrots, onions, salt and pepper.
  4. Spray one side of each piece of foil with cooking spray.
  5. Divide the mix between the 4 pieces of foil.
  6. Put one tablespoon of butter on top of each.
  7. Close tightly, folding the edges over.
  8. Cook on a hot grill for 20-25 minutes, turning once.
  9. Serve hot, in or out of foil.

View Party Plan: Send Off to Summer

Sesame Noodles With Shredded Chicken

Sesame Noodles With Shredded Chicken

Created by: The Crafting Chicks

When the summer heat has me straying away from the oven, this Sesame Noodle is my go-to. It’s a family favorite and comes together quickly, without turning on the oven! It is served cold and is enjoyed equally on the back patio or on a picnic.

Ingredients:
  • 2 ½ Tbsp. Kroger soy sauce
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. sesame seeds, toasted
  • 2 Tbsp. Kroger chunky peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. Kroger light brown sugar
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ tsp. hot sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. Hot water
  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked and shredded
  • 1/3 lb. Private Selection Italian Spaghetti
  • 1 Tbsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
  • ½ red bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and grated
  • 2 scallions, sliced thin on the bias
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds, toasted
Directions:
  1. Blend soy sauce, sesame seed, peanut butter, rice vinegar, brown sugar, ginger, clove and hot sauce in a blender.
  2. With the blender running, add hot water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the sauce is the consistency of heavy cream (probably about 2 tablespoons)
  3. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the noodles and salt and cook until tender, stirring often.
  4. Drain the noodles and rinse under cold running water.
  5. Transfer the noodles to a large bowl and toss with sesame oil. Add the sauce, shredded chicken, bell pepper, cucumbers, carrot, scallions, and toss to combine.
  6. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.
  7.  

View Party Plan: Send Off to Summer

Blueberry and Rosemary Jam

Blueberry and Rosemary Jam

Created by: Nicole Leggio, Cooking for Keeps

Just four simple ingredients are all you need to perfect homemade jam. In this version, blueberries, lemon juice, plenty of sugar, and rosemary are simmered together until the berries are broken down, the sugar has melted, and the mixture is super thick.

Spread it on toast with whipped butter, sweet biscuits, or even in between two pieces of bread with peanut butter for a classy PB&J!

 

The thing I love most about homemade jam, is you really only need a few ingredients – fresh berries, sugar, and a little bit of lemon juice – for killer results. For this version, I wanted to play around with a classic blueberry jam, but add a little bit of an herbaceous kick with fresh rosemary. Although if blueberries and rosemary aren’t easily accessibly where you are quite yet, you could substitute strawberries or blackberries for the blueberries, and basil or even thyme for the rosemary.

Ingredients:
  • 2 lbs. blueberries
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
Directions:
  1. Add blueberries, sugar, lemon juice and rosemary to a medium-sized pot.
  2. Turn the stove on a medium heat. Stir almost constantly until all the sugar has melted and the blueberries have started to break down.
  3. Once the sugar has melted, turn the heat down to low, and let the mixture simmer for 45 minutes. Stir every 5-10 minutes to prevent the bottom from burning.
  4. After 45 minutes, fish out the rosemary stems. Pour the mixture into a mason jar, and let it come to room temperature. Place the lid on top and keep chilled in the fridge.

View Party Plan: Send Off to Summer

Oversized Outdoor Tic Tac Toe

Oversized Outdoor Tic Tac Toe

Created by: Lauren Saylor, A Fabulous Fete

With all of the backyard barbeques that will be happening this summer, it’s always a good idea to have a few entertaining ideas ready to go. There are lots of games you can find for kids, but how about the adults? I know I like to get in on the games sometimes, so here’s an easy game that you can DIY in less than a minute.

Make up your own terms (loser has to make the next batch of margaritas?) to mix up this classic game, but the rules stay the same. Tic-tac-toe, three in a row… except this time, try a new challenging twist and use Frisbees as your game pieces!

Supplies:
  • 1 roll duct tape
  • 6 Frisbees (3 red, 3 blue or colors of your choosing)
Directions:
  1. To set up your “board” you’ll need a large area of grass and duct tape. Tape your board on the grass like a traditional Tic Tac Toe game.
  2. Give each player different colored Frisbees and play! It’s simple to set up and put away and you can take it almost anywhere.

View Party Plan: Send Off to Summer

Lint and Toilet Paper Roll Fire Starters

Lint and Toilet Paper Roll Fire Starters

Created by: The Crafting Chicks

If you're heading to the hills or sitting around a backyard fire pit, one thing is essential as your day turns into night. Fire! Make these simple fire starters from left overs at home and you'll have no problem getting that fire to start! There's a bragging right that comes with starting a fire with only one match, and these are the secret ingredients.

Supplies:
  • 2 Toilet Paper Tubes
  • Dryer Lint
  • Reynolds Wax Paper
Directions:
  1. Cut toilet paper tubes in half.
  2. Stuff a chunk of dryer lint inside the tube and wrap in wax paper, twisting the ends.
  3. Place the fire starter inside a designated fire spot and add crumpled newspaper, kindling and wood.
  4. Light the end of wax paper and watch as your fire takes off.

View Party Plan: Send Off to Summer

DIY Soothing Aloe Vera Ice Cubes

DIY Soothing Aloe Vera Ice Cubes

Created by: Laura Franklin, Food Fun Family

After a long day in the summer sun, your skin could use some soothing nourishment. These aloe vera ice cubes not only cool and sooth the skin, but provide instant relief from the sun.

Aloe vera gel helps skin retain moisture and aids in the prevention of peeling. Lavender essential oil helps speed the healing of sun burned skin. Combine the two and freeze for a summer-time refreshment that your skin will appreciate.

Ingredients:
  • 1 bottle (16 oz.)of aloe vera gel
  • Lavender essential oil, optional
  • Ice cube tray
Directions:
  1. Pour aloe vera gel into individual sections of an ice cube tray. You can fill the sections or leave them half full if you’d like smaller cubes.
  2. Place 2-3 drops of lavender essential oil in each section; stir gently with a popsicle stick or toothpick.
  3. Gently tap the bottom of the ice cube tray on a flat surface to compact the gel. Freeze for at least 2 hours.
  4. To use: remove an aloe vera ice cube from the tray and rub on skin for an after-sun refresher.

View Party Plan: Send Off to Summer

Italian Inspired Pinwheels

Italian Inspired Pinwheels

Created by: Crystal Owens, A Pumpkin & A Princess

As summer comes to an end and we prepare for busier routines with school back in session, lunch options can be a little repetitive. To switch things up from your average sandwich try these Italian inspired pinwheels. Made with a spinach wrap this makes a great lighter meal option and can be made ahead of time.

These Italian pinwheels are made with layers of cream cheese, spinach, salami, provolone cheese, pepperoncini’s, roasted bell peppers and olives. They’re great for an easy lunch on the go or triple the recipe for a great party appetizer.

Ingredients:
  • Spinach tortilla wrap
  • Cream cheese
  • ½ cup spinach leaves
  • 6-8 slices of salami
  • 4 pepperoncini’s, sliced in half
  • 4 pieces of roasted peppers
  • 2 Tbsp. sliced olives
Directions:
  1. Spread a thin layer of cream cheese over the spinach wrap, leaving about an inch from the edge.
  2. Layer ingredients. Add spinach leaves, salami, pepperoncini’s, peppers and olives.
  3. Tightly roll wrap together. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours. Slice 6-8 pieces.

View Party Plan: Send Off to Summer

Mini Blueberry Galettes

Mini Blueberry Galettes

Created by: Crystal Owens, A Pumpkin & A Princess

Summer time brings an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables. Blueberries are in season and it’s the perfect time to make a blueberry pie for your backyard barbecue or Sunday dinner. If you’re looking for a way to switch up your average pie recipe, try these mini blueberry galettes. They make a great individual serving size dessert and can easy be made for a small party.

To make the galettes you will need blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, and pie crust. You can use your favorite pie crust recipe or a ready-made pie crust.

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 1/3 cup sugar, + 1 Tbsp.
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp. water
  • 1 ready-to-use pie crust
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Combine blueberries, 1/3 cup sugar and cornstarch in a bowl; set aside.
  3. Roll out prepared pie crust and use a round cutter or small dish to cut out 6-inch circles.
  4. Pour blueberry mixture into the center of each pie crust circle. Fold the rim of the dough around the blueberries and pinch the folds together.
  5. Combine egg wash by coming the egg and water together. Brush along the top of the dough. Sprinkle sugar on top.
  6. Place galettes on a parchment covered baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
  7. Allow galettes to cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan.

View Party Plan: Send Off to Summer

Watermelon Granita

Watermelon Granita

Created by: Leigh Ann Hieronymus

This makes a great dessert for a warm evening!

Ingredients:
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 4 cups seedless watermelon, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Directions:
  1. Make a simple syrup: Heat water and sugar in a saucepan until sugar dissolves. Let cool.
  2. Working in batches, purée watermelon with syrup and lime juice in a blender until smooth. Pour into a 9"x13" glass baking dish. Freeze mixture for 1 hour. Remove from freezer. Stir, mashing any frozen parts with a fork. Cover and freeze mixture until firm, 2-3 hours. Using tines of a fork, scrape granita vigorously to form icy flakes.

View Party Plan: Send Off to Summer

Easy Turkey Salad Croissants

Easy Turkey Salad Croissants

Created by: Laura Petersen, Pink Cake Plate

I love a good sandwich and if it is on a fancy croissant then it's even better. This Turkey Salad Croissant is loaded with delicious turkey, sweet cranberries and crunchy almonds. It sounds really fancy but it's really simple to whip up.

Lately it’s been pretty hot and I don't want to even get near my oven so I have been using my slow cooker a lot. I was at my local Kroger store and came across a frozen turkey breast. I have never cooked turkey in my slow cooker so I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to cook a turkey breast in a slow cooker. I have to say it came out perfectly so we had a yummy turkey dinner and a lot of leftover turkey. What do you do with leftover turkey? There are so many wonderful and amazing recipes that incorporate leftover turkey. I didn't want to do a heavy casserole I wanted to keep this recipe light and refreshing. Turkey Salad is perfect and so easy to make.

I wanted to incorporate some complimentary flavors in this turkey salad so I decided to add sweet tart dried cranberries. For crunch I added sliced almonds. I love the fresh produce I can find at my local Kroger grocery store. I found beautiful green onions and that crisp celery. Now Italian dressing is my secret weapon in this recipe. It adds a kick of flavor to a recipe that can sometimes be bland. It also helps that you don't have to add a lot of spices to this turkey salad.

As I mentioned before I love a good sandwich and I love croissants so it was only natural that this turkey salad go on a delicious bakery croissant. I have to say I love that Kroger stores have beautiful bakeries and I found beautiful buttery croissants in the bakery. I found some yummy cookies there too which would be a perfect ending to a nice light lunch.

This turkey salad croissants turned out perfectly. Do you have a favorite recipe using up that leftover turkey?

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups cooked diced turkey (leftover)
  • ½ cup diced celery
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup sliced green onions
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds
  • ⅓ cup Italian Salad Dressing
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4-6 Croissants from  bakery section
Directions:
  1. Place diced turkey, celery, cranberries, green onions and almonds in a medium size bowl and toss gently until ingredients are mixed.
  2. Add Italian dressing and toss until salad is coated with dressing.
  3. Add mayonnaise to salad and toss again until mixed well.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve on croissants or bread. Enjoy!

View Party Plan: Send Off to Summer

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