Last summer we (finally) had our patio re-done after 7 years of living with a wooden deck that we rarely used. We lucked out with finding a contractor that agreed to tear down the rickety deck and replace it with a fresh new flagstone patio. And so began my visions of summer patio entertaining! I like nothing better than to throw a party and warm summer evenings are the perfect excuse. There’s also something so easy about summer entertaining: there’s no expectation that the hostess is slaving over a hot stove and preparing heavy dishes – summertime parties are all about light, fun and simple dishes with refreshing drinks and great conversation with friends and family.
When I host a party, I like to start with a theme. Once I settle on one, everything else falls into place! Menu, decor, music, even favors for special occasions. A fitting summer patio theme that you can’t go wrong with is Mexican. Don’t feel limited to Cinco de Mayo! Any day can be a fiesta. Using the recipes from Ready Set Eat, a meal planning site created by ConAgra Foods, I created a party plan. Here’s what my menu might look like:
Six ingredients and 15 minutes = a winner! I might serve this soup at room temperature (or chilled) and in shot glasses.
A simple no cook soup of black bean refried beans with tomato sauce and cumin, topped with diced tomatoes, green chilies and avocado for a hot summer day
- 2 can (16 oz each) Rosarita® Low Fat Black Bean Refried Beans
- 1 can (10 oz each) Ro*Tel® Original Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies, drained, liquid reserved
- 1 can (8 oz each) Hunt’s® Tomato Sauce-No Salt Added
- 1-1/2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 avocado, pitted, peeled and diced
- Combine refried beans, liquid from tomatoes, tomato sauce, water and cumin in large bowl; mix well. Spoon evenly into 6 shallow bowls. Top each with drained tomatoes and avocado.
Ro*Tel® Mexican Diced Tomatoes with Lime Juice & Cilantro may be used in place of the Original tomatoes. An additional topping of sour cream or chopped fresh cilantro may be used with the tomatoes and avocado, if desired.
Then, I might do this dish as small plates with corn tortilla chips (and omit the rice):
Fresh shrimp cooked quickly with fire roasted tomatoes, peaches and some hot pepper sauce for a delicious topper to serve over rice
- 2 cups instant brown rice, uncooked
- PAM® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 can (14.5 oz each) Hunt’s® Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes with Garlic, undrained
- 1 can (15 oz each) sliced peaches in juice, drained, diced
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 3/4 pound medium peeled and deveined shrimp with tail, thawed if frozen
- 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Cook rice according to package directions. Meanwhile, spray large skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook 3 minutes or until crisp-tender, stirring occasionally. Add next 3 ingredients; cook 2 to 3 minutes or just until boiling.
- Add remaining ingredients; cook 2 to 3 minutes more or just until shrimp turn pink, stirring frequently. Serve over rice.
And oooh! Mini sliders?
Burgers with spicy tomatoes and green chilies cooked right in, topped with Pepper Jack cheese, avocado slices and more tomatoes
- PAM® Grilling Spray
- 1 can (10 oz each) Ro*Tel® Original Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies, drained
- 1 pound ground sirloin beef (90% lean)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 slices Pepper Jack cheese
- 4 hamburger buns
- 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced
- Spray grate of outdoor grill with grilling spray. Preheat grill to medium heat according to manufacturer’s directions. Meanwhile, set aside 1/3 cup drained tomatoes. Mix together beef, remaining drained tomatoes, salt and pepper in medium bowl. Shape into 4 patties, about 1/2-inch thick.
- Grill patties 10 minutes or until cooked through (160°F), turning once. Top each patty with 1 slice cheese; melt slightly.
- Place patties on bottom halves of buns. Top each patty with 3 or 4 avocado slices and a generous tablespoon of reserved tomatoes. Close with tops of buns. Serve immediately.
Up next? Grilled pizzas! Instead of placing the pizzas in the oven, place them on the grill.
Pita breads make a perfect crust for individual pizzas topped with refried beans and melted cheese, sprinkled with crisp lettuce and zesty tomatoes
- 1 can (10 oz each) Ro*Tel® Mexican Diced Tomatoes with Lime Juice & Cilantro, drained, divided
- 1 can (16 oz each) Rosarita® No Fat Traditional Refried Beans
- 6 honey wheat pita pocket breads (6-1/2 inch)
- 3/4 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
- 4-1/2 cups thinly shredded romaine lettuce
- 6 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
- Preheat oven to 450°F. Place 1/4 cup drained tomatoes in small bowl; set aside. Mix remaining tomatoes and beans in small bowl until combined. Spread evenly onto pita breads.
- Sprinkle pizzas evenly with cheese. Place on ungreased baking sheets; bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges of breads are lightly browned and cheese melts, rotating pans halfway through.
- Top with lettuce, onion and reserved tomatoes.
Add to your patio a beverage tub with Mexican beer and sodas, set out a store-bought Mexican Chocolate Cake, throw on some salsa music and the party’s in full swing.
Leave me a comment with a recipe you’d like to try from Ready Set Eat for your next “patio party” for a chance to win a South of the Border-themed goody bag, courtesy of ConAgra Foods. Winner will be selected on Sunday 6/12 at midnight.
This post is an installment of a ConAgra Foods-sponsored series. While the post is brand-inspired, my opinions are my own!