Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Garden Inspired Patio Party

Yesterday I hosted my very first dinner party. It all started when I dreamed up a garden inspired patio party to submit to Foodbuzz, thinking there was no way I would  be picked to be featured in their upcoming June 24x24. Well, a few days later I was so very pleasantly surprised to find an acceptance letter in my inbox!! I could not believe it! I would like to thank Foodbuzz so much for the opportunity to create my dream dinner party.

I wanted to host a garden inspired patio party to celebrate our new home and welcome summer with my closest girl friends. Summer is the perfect time of year to enjoy fresh produce and herbs from your own garden or your local farmers market so I wanted to create a meal inspired by the seasons freshest ingredients.

A Garden Inspired Menu:


Limoncello Blueberry Coolers

Spiked Watermelon Pops


Summer Vegetable Tart

Side Dishes:

Fresh Potato, Tomato, Grilled Corn and Basil Salad

Grilled Clams with Basil Breadcrumbs 

Main Course:

Grilled Summer Lobster with Lemon Herb Butter


Strawberry Lavender Ice Cream

Little Lemon Souffles

I just loved how pretty the drinks looked on the table!

We had such an amazing time relaxing outside and enjoying all the food...boy was there a lot of it!

And here is the best part...all of the recipes! The best part about this menu is that most of the dishes can be prepared ahead of time, which is a key ingredient to a laid back summer patio party.

Limoncello Blueberry Coolers
Mix the cocktail the morning of the party and let chill in the fridge.

Here is the link to Giada's recipe. I added about 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1/4 cup sugar, and more sparking water to taste to my cocktail to give it a little less punch.

Spiked Watermelon Pops
These can be prepared days in advance if  you'd like. They are so easy to make too.

Here is the link to Giada's recipe. She is clearly my go to girl for tasty cocktails!

Summer Vegetable Tart
Prepare the morning of the party. When ready to serve heat in the oven at 350 degrees until warm.

Serves 4 

1 Store Bought Pre-made pie crust
Cornmeal for dusting
1/2 cup goat cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon garlic
1 small red bell pepper, sliced into strips
1/2 medium fennel bulb, sliced lengthwise into strips
1 small zucchini, sliced lengthwise and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 yellow squash, sliced lengthwise and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 egg and a tablespoon water (egg wash)


Lay out sliced veggies on a paper towel and sprinkle with salt. Let sit for about 30 minutes to draw out the moisture from the veggies. After 30 minutes, pat the veggies dry with paper towels. You don't want soggy veggies on your fresh summer tart! Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lay out the prepared pie crust and sprinkle with some cornmeal (this will help to make the dough stronger). Spread goat cheese mixture over the center of the tart leaving a 1 inch edge. Add the veggies and drizzle with some olive oil. Fold the sides of the tart up and over the filling, pinching the folds together with egg wash, until all the sides are folded up. Bake for about 40 minutes until the tart is golden brown and the veggies are cooked through.

Fresh Potato, Tomato, Grilled Corn and Basil Salad
Prepare the salad the day before the party.

Here is the link to Dave Lieberman's recipe. Note: Instead of boiling the corn I grilled mine.

Grilled Clams with Basil Breadcrumbs

Here is the link to Ina Garten's recipe. Note: I cut the recipe in half and omitted the pine nuts.

Grilled Summer Lobster with Lemon Herb Butter

Serves 4

Lobster tails
1 stick butter
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 teaspoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh chives, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh basil, chopped


Grill lobster tails until they turn red and start to curl up. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan heat the remaining ingredients until butter becomes melted.

Strawberry Lavender Ice Cream
Prepare the ice cream 2 days ahead of time for the best results.
Serves 6

1 pint fresh strawberries
30 fresh lavender buds with flowers removed 
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs until light and fluffy. Gradually add the sugar, mixing well. Stir in milk and vanilla and mix. Add strawberries and lavender and mix. Gently stir in whipping cream just until combined. Pour into an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer's instructions. 
Little Lemon Souffles

Here is the link to Martha Stewart's recipe. These are so cute and fun to serve at a party!

Of course this menu would not have been nearly as delicious without using the freshest ingredients. Here are some tips for picking out the best seasonal ingredients at your local farmers market:

Pick basil that is bright green and has no signs of wilting or bruising.

Summer Squash
Look for small squash that is firm and free of blemishes.
There is nothing like the taste of tomatoes from your own garden or farmers market! The best tomatoes should be vine ripened, smell fresh, and be a deep color red.

Choose corn with husks that are bright green in color. Grab a piece of the husk and pull it a little to see the kernels inside. They should be plump, firm, and full of color.

Always choose locally grown strawberries, they will be sweeter and juicier. Pick the plumpest and most fragrant berries.

I am so happy that my first dinner party was a great success, and I will look forward to the next time!


Maggie @ A Bitchin' Kitchen said...

This is such a fun menu - everything looks so delicious! I've always been nervous to try and pull off a dinner party, but you make it look totally doable!

Erin said...

Looks AMAZING Chelsea!!! Good job!

Chelsea said...

Thanks Maggie! The key was in the prep work beforehand. And I had a lot of help from my hubby!

Chelsea said...

Thanks Erin!!!

Veronica Guzman said...

Doll, thanks for having me over for your dinner party! All the food was delicious!!! I had a fun time hanging out with you, Chris and Ashley. I hope we can hang out again very soon! :)

Chelsea said...

I'm so glad you came! It was so fun!!

Made in Sonoma said...

Wow, this looks awesome! Great job!

stilbonmaria said...

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The Cooking Actress said...

What a beautiful party-and it looks like you had so much fun (and delicious food)! I adore your blog, thank you so much for the friend request on FoodBuzz!

Chelsea said...

Thanks so much! I hope you continue to stop by!

Chelsea said...

Thank you! I love reading your blog as well!

Foodie Stuntman said...

I'm glad your first dinner party was a success! Congratulations for being selected to host a foodbuzz 24X24 party!

xiomara @ Parkesdale said...

Yum! All the food looks so delicious. I'll have to make that potato salad. Congrats on being featured.

Mama F said...

It all looks so good and I love your color pallet. Those little lemon souffles are just darling!

Paula @ Vintage Kitchen said...

Great menu. The lemoncello blueberry cooler sounds awesome!

Soni said...

Looks amazing and what a delicious menu!!Love all the recipes :)So apt for this season!!I'm sure you all had a great time!

Naree + Dara said...

Everything turned out divine. The table top looks perfect and your menu is amazing. I love that you can prepare the food ahead of time. I will defintely be trying out the menu.

mjskit said...

Congratulations on your first dinner party! I looks amazing and was obviously a big success. Just check out those smiles! :) Fabulous looking food! I would have loved to have been a guest!

Winelady Cooks said...

Hi Chelsea, Congrats on the party! The menu looked delicious, and definitely easy to prepare just right for a perfect party.

Your photos are awesome as well.

Thanks for sharing all the recipes.

Ridwan@Asian spice mix said...

Great themed party for the summer,amazing menu,congrats to be feature on foodbuzz 24x24 !!


Kels @ K and K Test Kitchen said...

What a fabulous 24x24 party! Everything looks fabulous! Those Limoncello Blueberry Coolers may need to go on my 4th of July menu!

Vicky said...

Looks like a wonderful time was had by all! I love your photos - the food looks so scrumptious! Congrats on 24x24 :)

Elizabeth @ Eating Local in the Lou said...

Wow- well done! Looks like you all had a wonderful time and the pics of the food are gorgeous!

Ericka @Chef PickyKid and Me said...

The photos of your party are beautiful, and the recipes look fantastic!

Sam @ said...

Such an adorable summer party!! I am craving those lemon bites and I need to try the limoncello blueberry coolers!

Mei said...

SO beautiful and the food..oh my, the food! Well done, Chelsea! You're such an inspiration!

AndreaBai said...

Yum! The limoncello blueberry coolers are right up my alley! That looks like one fab party!


Maika said...

wow...very gorgeous :)the menu sound delicious, love the blueberry coolers :) you had a lot of great creative it

table top freezer said...

WOW, this looks awesome! Great job!

Dorothy L. Lind said...

Good job!I love your choice of inspiration.

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