Summer is slowly coming to an end. True statement. I had something on my summer checklist to cross off. I wanted to put on my party dress and invite people over. I wanted to make fun and tasty food and share it with people. I wanted people from here and there, near and far to come together and meet. New friends and old friends. Smiles and laughs.

Fabulous flowers!

Since it is still summer vacation I had some time to plan out this little shindig. First I had to plan a menu (and listen to Sweet Z when he told me to keep it simple…guests on my original menu would have been eating trail mix, sesame chicken, quiche and coleslaw. Yes, I needed to focus)!

The final menu: Starters: Black bean dip with assorted tortilla chips, peaches with chive and goat cheese atop a whole wheat wrap and drizzled with a lemon/ lime honey sauce. Salads: Charred corn salad, a lentil & bulgar salad with feta, tomatoes, fresh herbs, tuscan kale salad. The main course: build your own mini grilled pizza. And dessert?? Oooh..I am going to make you wait a little bit. It will be worth it..trust me here.

Earlier in the week I threw together a few batches of pizza dough. See?

Pizza Dough Madness

After the dough was made (I used the Pioneer Woman’s recipe and a whole wheat recipe from Eat, Live, Run) I portioned out little dough balls and threw them in the freezer. The day before the party I thawed out the dough in the fridge. The day of the party I rolled out the lovelies one by one and partially grilled them. Why partially grilled you ask? So when people made their own pizza Picasso creations it wouldn’t be overcooked.

There was a custard base made for a new ice cream recipe. Take a look at this concoction will ya?

And...how does this end? Stay tuned.

To go with the ice cream I threw together a little caramel sauce.

Creamy Caramel

That was a full day o’ work in the kitchen right there. And this girl was tuckered out. So I was treated to a delicious dinner…all I had to do was observe and sip a little wine. How lucky am I?!

So.darn.delicious!!!

I was fortified and carried out some other pre-party duties. I whipped up a batch of chewy molasses chocolate chip cookies. A homemade pizza sauce was thrown together. It is amazing what fresh local tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, onion, a splash of red wine and fresh herbs can do!

Make this today

I was inspired to make some homemade ricotta. What happens when you take farm fresh milk, cream and add in a little white wine vinegar? Well…you have to let it strain for about an hour. I suggest sipping on some strawberry infused vodka and work on the rest of the party to do list.

A hit!

Or you can go concertina shopping…

You thought I was kidding? Nope!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the big party day finally was upon us I was so excited! I thanked my lucky stars that the weather was gorgeous. I decorated up the yard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You exhale when Sweet Z comes early to keep you calm, cool and collected in the final rush to getting everything in place. He poured me a little of this…

Sensational Summer Sangria

And before you know it people have gathered. There was lots of chatter, laughter and happiness all around. A little guitar was strummed, pizzas were created, salads were consumed and dessert. How was it you are wondering? As I scooped out the bourbon vanilla bean ice cream and added a drizzle of caramel to the top I was noticing it was getting quieter by the second. This dessert…

Beyond Words

…was beyond words. But really…I don’t think it was the dessert. Was it this?

Dish mania

No. (But not every girl has a guy who tackles a mountain of party dishes without batting an eye. Yup. Bob Dylan helped us out too.)

This recipe was the true winner: working your way through menu planning, food preparation, decorating…adding in some new friends and old friends…stepping back to see just how lucky you are to have such friends in your life, a great space to share and creating new memories.

“love the life you live. live the life you love.” — Bob Marley

So I raise my glass (of the last sip of the sangria with the boozy fruit) to a wonderful evening. Thanks for reading and have a great week!

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