I decided to cater this one myself. Sometimes I prefer pot luck style for my parties, but every now and then, I get in the mood to try out new ideas in the kitchen. The party started at 1 p.m. so I knew people would be arriving hungry for snacks. I thought about using the built in BBQ grill - adjacent to the bocce ball court - but quickly decided against the idea, because of the smoke.
Since this gathering was taking place outdoors, I had to keep factors like bugs, heat and wind, in mind when creating the menu. Eventually (two days before the party), I landed on the following:
- Fruit Salad - A classic seasonal treat, appropriate for nearly any occasion. This one had watermelon, honeydew, raspberries and strawberries.
- Pasta Salad - I went with a Greek theme for this dish. I got the "fancy" noodles, quartered cucumbers, halved grape tomatoes, chopped black olives, thinly sliced red onion and feta on the side - all covered in a light Greek salad dressing. Easy peasy and perfectly filling.
- Meatballs - In the crock pots I had 2 different kinds of homemade meatballs. (Even I am impressed with my culinary skills on these bad boys.) When I cook, I mostly stick to ingredients that I am familiar with, but put them in different combinations to keep things interesting. For the meatballs, I grabbed two pounds of ground turkey and various other add ins. I didn't follow a recipe with either flavor, because most times recipes actually stress me out, more than peacefully guide me.
- For the BBQ meatballs I added panko, an egg, and sautéd diced mushrooms and a little yellow onion. I cooked them on the stovetop with BBQ sauce, then transferred them to a crock pot to keep warm.
- Flavor number two was Asian infused! I used the same base of ground turkey, an egg, and panko, but this time I mixed a few sauces for a unique flavor. In my sauté pan, I had shredded carrots, green onion, and sesame oil, then I added an Asian marinade. I mixed those two bowls together, formed the meatballs and browned them in a pan with kung pow sauce. Into the second crock pot they went! They turned out really delicious, and were my favorite of the two flavors.
Lastly - but probably the biggest hit of this meal - my strawberry shortcake cups! I love how easy and visually appealing they turned out. Ready to make your own? Grab 2 boxes of Sara Lee frozen pound cake. (A secret weapon amongst those of us who do not love baking cakes from scratch). I let the cakes thaw, then cut them down into thinner slices. I used a champagne flute (cheers) to make my circle shaped layers of cake.
- Each cup had one cake layer, some chopped strawberries, and a little cool whip X 2. The strawberries on top worked perfectly as garnish and made the cups look fancy shmancy, when in fact they were so easy to make.
Don't forget the drinks! We had bottles of cider, leftover 805, a couple bottles of white wine, bottled Coke and Root Beer, plus three varieties of lemonade! Needless to say, nobody left thirsty.