It is time to take the party outside when the sun shines warmer, the days last longer, and friends are ready to mingle. The anticipation of renewing acquaintances and meeting new friends seems like fun and games, but if you're the host there is still a lot of planning to do. It doesn't need to be a struggle. By taking a few simple steps as you plan, you can pull off the social event of the season in your own backyard.
Some ideas to get your BBQ party season started!
Pick a theme: It doesn’t take much more effort to have theme oriented food like Wild West Oktoberfest, Marie Antoinette favorites or Sushi and Slushies. Pick table linens and dinnerware to reflect your theme.
Plan Your Escape: Often everybody has a great time but the host that is stuck in the kitchen, refilling plates, grilling more hot dogs and finding the extra ketchup bottle. Plan a menu that lets you have fun too. Do it yourself dinners like kabobs are perfect. Just cut up the pieces, set out the skewers, and you hang out by your outdoor grill and chat with your friends as they cook for themselves.
Divide and Conquer: If you have guests of all ages, set up sections in your yard for each. Set up a playcenter and blanket area for toddlers under one pergola, a backgammon tournament for teens under another. That way not everyone in grouped at you kitchen table making it hard for you to maneuver through the night.
Dare to be Different: Cook up some options that will be conversation starters themselves. This Zucchini recipe from Epicurious is one of those that is sure to be a “taste” hit as well.
Grilled Zucchini with Black Olives and Mint
Serves 4 as a side dish
• 7 Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives (about 1/4 cup)
• 1 1/2 pounds zucchini (about 3 large)
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves
• 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Pit and thinly slice olives. Cut zucchini diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick slices and in a bowl toss with oil and salt and pepper to taste.
Grill zucchini, in batches if necessary, on a rack set 5 to 6 inches over glowing coals 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until lightly charred and just tender. (Alternatively, zucchini may be grilled in a hot well-seasoned heavy ridged grill pan over moderately high heat.) Transfer zucchini to bowl and toss with olives, mint, and lemon juice.