I love all of the fun summer ushers in! Weddings, 4th of July, pool parties and lots of impromptu, casual entertaining. I love that my family and friends are always willing to oblige me! While I may not always make the entrée, I truly love throwing together a quick cocktail, a simple snack and a salad to serve alongside barbecue brisket or chicken from one of my favorite local restaurants. The recipes below are an alternative to traditional sides.
CARAMELIZED ONION & CREAM CHEESE STUFFED PEPPERS
I love this new snack! The fragrance of the caramelized onions simmering on the stove is amazing. It’s super simple to make ahead and pop in the oven before you are ready to serve.
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
• 16 baby sweet peppers, halved and seeded
• 1 8-ounce container cream cheese
• 1 large clove garlic, minced
• 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
• 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1. Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium high heat. Add the sliced onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to turn translucent. Reduce the heat to medium low and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until onion has caramelized, about 40 to 60 minutes. If the onion begins drying out or sticking to the pan at any point, you can add a few tablespoons of water to de-glaze the pan. Once onion has finished caramelizing, transfer to a cutting board and chop finely.
2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Halve and seed all of the peppers. Place the peppers in a mixing bowl and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt.
3. Arrange peppers on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove peppers from the oven and allow to cool.
4. Add the cream cheese, chopped caramelized onion, garlic, Italian seasoning, and sea salt to a mixing bowl. Stir well until all ingredients are well-combined.
5. Spoon the cream cheese mixture into the peppers. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cream cheese is golden-brown.
6. Top the stuffed peppers with any additional toppings, such as chopped green onion and red pepper flakes.
7. Serve warm.
I first had this summertime favorite at the sweetest bride’s wedding at Perini Ranch Steakhouse. It is a wonderful addition to grilled meats or hamburgers. You must give it a try! Feel free to vary the greens you use- I often substitute the arugula for spinach and many times switch the toasted pecans to walnuts or pistachios.
• 1 5-ounce package baby arugula
• 8 cups cubed seedless watermelon (cut to 3/4-inch)
• 1 7-ounce package feta cheese, crumbled
• 2 TBS. balsamic vinegar glaze
1. Arrange arugula over large platter.
2. Scatter watermelon, then feta over top.
3. Drizzle with balsamic glaze and sprinkle with pepper.
PROSECCO & POPSICLES
This has become my favorite go-to summer sip – perfect for poolside!
• 1 bottle of your favorite Prosecco or champagne
• All fruit popsicles (I used Outshine, No Sugar added. As to which is the best, it is a toss-up between the strawberry and raspberry).
1. Place the popsicle in the glass and allow it to melt a little, top with Prosecco, and enjoy!
Entertaining on the fly has never intimidated me, but I know that isn’t the case for everyone. These recipes are super simple and perfect for summer!
By Nancy Roberts
Photography By Shayli Anne Photography