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Kids and grandkids visiting this summer? Keep the food simple


Food can be the most time consuming, so prepare ahead as much as possible. 


Summer is here, a time when friends, kids and grandkids come to visit. We all love to have a houseful of guests, so when it comes to successful summertime entertaining, think easy. After all, you want to to actually spend time with everyone.

Food can be the most time consuming, so keep the dishes simple and prepare ahead as much as possible.

Easily Prepared Food

Serve fresh salads and cold soups like gazpacho or chilled pea soup. Get fresh produce in season at your farmer’s market or grocer. Serving up big helpings of colorful vegetables will bring seasonal freshness directly to your table.

For main dishes, rely on cold proteins: chilled roasted chicken or poached fish can be paired with a pasta salad and topped with mozzarella or goat cheese.

Grilling is the most social and simple cooking method during the summer. Enjoy the sunshine with friends and family while grilling calamari or a whole fresh fish, such as trout or Arctic char with olive oil, garlic and fresh herbs.

These ideas are great for serving family-style, giving you more time to mingle.

Main entrees can be appreciated with a make ahead side of vegetables. Grill tomatoes, squash, eggplant, green beans, portobello mushrooms and peppers for a flavorful side dish. Fresh basil is plentiful in summer, so make the most of it by topping off your veggies with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and chopped basil.

Thoughtful Appetizers

For starters, take advantage of in-season produce, such as caprese salad. Right-off-the-vine tomatoes, fragrant basil and fresh mozzarella are refreshing ways to whet appetites. Certain light cheeses, such as fontal, Gruyere, Parmigianino Reggiano, pair well with crisp white wines.

Great appetizers for summer include shrimp cocktail and fresh tomato bruschetta. Serve dips like hummus and guacamole with freshly chopped vegetables like bell peppers and carrots. All of these are easily prepared and refreshing starters in warm weather.

A tasty alternative is a seafood platter or shrimp cocktail. Roberto Pighin, owner of Fernando Pighin & Figli Winery shared an innovative twist on the classic shrimp cocktail that will be sure to please.

Shrimp and Mango Mint Cocktail


? 12 fresh jumbo shrimp

? Ripe mango

? 2 Tbsp. of apple cider vinegar

? 5 fresh mint leaves

? Fresh peeled ginger

? 1/2 gallon of water

? 1 large carrot

? 2-3 celery stalk

? 1/2 white onion

Mango Mint Topping:

Combine into a mixer: peeled mango, apple cider vinegar, 3 fresh mint leaves, peeled ginger. Mix until creamy and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Cooking Instructions:

Wash and devein shrimp in fresh water.

Boil 1/2 gallon of water in a deep pot with sliced carrots, celery, half an onion and a pinch of sea salt for 15 minutes.

Add shrimp to the pot to boil for 4 minutes and drain.

Let cool.

Pile shrimp into martini glasses and top with mango-mint topping, garnish with remaining mint leaves and pieces of mango. Serve with a glass Pighin & Figili Pinot Grigio Collio D.O.C. Recipe serves four.


Speaking of libations. In the hot summer weather, consider a versatile bottle of white wine that will taste great with each course and refresh guests while sitting poolside or in the backyard.

“When preparing for a summer gathering, pair meals with medium-bodied white wines that have fruity aromas and bright acidity, explained Pighin, whose winery produces high quality products that are easy-drinking in warm weather.

A Pinot Grigio Collio, the finest area of Pinot Grigio production within the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of Italy, would be a great match for any alfresco event. The wine has citrus notes and white fruit on the nose and palate. It has lively acidity with a clean, fresh finish. Wines like this are ideal with fish dishes, risotto or grilled chicken with lemon.

featureWine and cocktails are the stars of the show at any good get-together. This summer, think about going beyond traditional warm weather drinks. A delicious, unexpected choice is Port wine. With all its diverse styles (ruby, tawny, rosé, and white), Port should not be reserved for the colder months. Certain types work perfectly in warm weather, such as Croft Pink Port, a crisp, ripe and fruity wine. Serve chilled with a squeeze of lime or in a rosé sangria; it’s a great pairing for lighter meals.

Warmer days also call for lighter cocktails that are lower in alcohol. Try Fonseca Siroco, a dry white Port that is delicious served over ice, topped with tonic, and garnished with a lemon peel. It’s a simple and refreshing summer sipper.

Some Tawny Port wines are great served chilled, such as Croft Reserve Tawny or Taylor Fladgate 10 Year Old Tawny. They are light, nutty, and have good acidity, making them a naturally refreshing choice for an excellent aperitif on their own or paired with hard, nutty cheeses or pâté.

Port is one of the few wines that keeps in the refrigerator for weeks after being opened — ready to go for those impromptu summer sipping moments.

Remember, simplicity should extend to your hosting duties. — StatePoint

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