Let’s Have Some Fun In The Sun!

This is my favorite time of year because there are so many fun outdoor activities to enjoy, especially when it comes to casual entertaining. Relaxing under a sunny sky with friends, drinks, and delectable nibbles is a delightful way to spend an afternoon. 

So why not plan your own outdoor get-together? Hosting a laid back gathering al fresco can be stress-free and fun. With that in mind, I have put together a menu of easy to prepare party foods and a new seasonal cocktail too.  

Let’s start with my latest libation creation, the Campari Peach Cobbler Cocktail. Campari is an Italian liqueur with a distinctive flavor that combines deliciously with sparkling peach moscato. A whisper of cinnamon gives the drink a flavor reminiscent of a classic baked peach cobbler. Next are my Cucumber Canapes with Herbed Cream Cheese and Smoke Salmon… delish and so easy to put together. Cantaloupe Citrus Soup is cool, refreshing and fun too served up in “shooter” glasses. My Savory Garbanzo Cocktail Sandwiches are a satisfying plant based nosh, with a flavorful chickpea salad served between slices of flaky puff pastry. Finally Strawberry Vanilla Shortbread Cookies add a sweet touch to the festivities.

If you would like to round out your menu a bit more, go downtown to The Savory Pantry for gourmet style dips and other delicious cocktail nibbles. And while you’re in town don’t forget the wine…head over to Purdy’s Discount Wine and Liquor for an impressive selection and expert advice.  

As always, I hope you enjoy these recipes.

Until next time, have fun in your kitchen, enjoy cooking (and making cocktails!) for the people you love, and remember… it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to taste good!


Campari Peach Cobbler Cocktail

Ingredients:

  • 1 & 1/2 ounces of Campari
  • A pinch of cinnamon or more to taste
  • Sparkling peach moscato (I like Villa Jolanda Moscato and Peach)

Directions:

Pour Campari into an ice filled shaker and add the cinnamon, secure the lid and shake for about 30 seconds. Strain into an ice filled white wine glass and top off with the peach moscato. Cheers!


Cucumber “Canapes”
with Herbed Cream Cheese & Smoked Salmon

Ingredients:

  • 1 large fresh cucumber washed and dried
  • One 15.5 ounce tub of cream cheese spread softened
  • 1 tablespoon of minced fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon of minced flat leaf parsley
  • A 4 ounce package of smoked salmon, cut into squares about ½ inch in size
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

Peel the cucumber and cut it into ¼ thick slices and allow to drain by placing in a single layer on a paper towel lined baking sheet, cover with another layer of paper towels and set aside to drain for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile in a medium bowl combine the cream cheese spread, minced herbs and salt and pepper. Place a tablespoon sized dollop of the cream cheese on each cucumber slice, top with smoked salmon and arrange on a serving platter. Sprinkle with additional fresh dill if desired, Refrigerate until time to serve.


Savory Garbanzo Cocktail Sandwiches

Ingredients:

  • One 17.3 ounce package of Pepperidge Farm frozen puff pastry
  • One 16 oz can of chickpeas drained
  • ¼ cup of white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of minced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise or more to taste
  • 2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon of capers
  • ½ teaspoon of garlic powder
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 

 

Directions:

Thaw puff pastry per package directions. When thawed place each sheet of a flat surface. Cut each sheet in to 12 squares and place on parchment paper lined baking sheets. Bake at 400˚F for 15 minutes or until puffed and edges are golden. When done place the baking sheets on a wire rack and allow to cool.

Place the chickpeas in a large bowl and mash with a fork to a coarse consistency. Add the next 8 ingredients and stir to combine. Refrigerate until ready to use. When ready to use divide the chickpea salad over 12 puff pastry squares and top each with another pastry square.


Chilled Cantaloupe Soup “Shooters” 

Ingredients:

  • 1 large ripe cantaloupe
  • 2/3 cup of orange juice
  • Juice and zest of ½ of a lemon (May substitute the same amount of lime juice and zest if desired.)
  • 1 tablespoon of agave nectar or more to taste
  • A pinch of salt

 

Directions:

Wash and dry the cantaloupe, slice in half and scoop out the seeds. Scoop the flesh out and place into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Add the other ingredients and process into a smooth puree. Pour into a large pitcher and adjust the flavor with a little more agave nectar if desired. Chill until serving time. To serve, pour into chilled “shooter” glasses. Makes about 16 to 20 two ounce shooters.


Strawberry Vanilla
Shortbread Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of salted butter softened
  • ½ cup of white sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup of strawberry jam
  • 2 ½ cups of all-purpose flour
  • Pink decorating sugar if desired

Directions:

In a mixer bowl cream the butter, jam and white sugar together then mix in the vanilla. Add the flour in small amounts and mix until it forms into dough consistency. Remove the cookie dough and place on a sheet of plastic wrap on a flat surface. Gently roll the cookie dough into a log about 2 inches wide. Wrap in the plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour. When ready to bake preheat your oven to 325˚F. Cut the cookie dough into ¼ inch thick rounds and place on parchment lined baking sheets. Sprinkle with the decorating sugar if desired. Bake 12 to 16 minutes or until the edges are a light golden color. Remove from the oven and place the baking sheets on wire racks to cool.


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