Take it outside! Ideas for dining alfresco

Sunny days and breezy nights offer perfect opportunities for alfresco dining. From a laid-back morning meal to elegant drinks by the pool, these recipes and tips add up to easy entertaining with plenty of style.

Summer Entertaining Tips:

Plan Ahead

When it's hot and sticky out, you don't want to be rushing around with last-minute tasks. To help you stay calm and fresh, prepare as much as possible ahead of time. Start meat marinating in the fridge the day before, and prep sauces and other recipe components in the morning. Then relax and enjoy the company of your friends.

Keep Things Cool

Your party will be livelier and your guests happier if you do your best to shelter them from the blazing sun. If your dining space is tree-free, set up some umbrellas for shade. And be sure to have plenty of bottled water and cold drinks on hand to quench thirsts.

Freshen Up

Keep food chilled but easily accessible by nestling serving dishes on larger bowls or platters filled with ice.

Spread Good Cheer

Bring a summery touch to your table by layering tablecloths, runners, and place mats in bright, sunny solids and prints. As a centerpiece, float candles or pretty blooms such as daisies or orchids in colorful dishes.

Set the Scene

After dark, strings of lights hung around a patio or backyard will add a magical glow to the atmosphere. We're fond of strands of tiny paper lanterns or, for a funkier vibe, chile peppers-both are available at many houseware stores.

Recipes:

Brunch on the Porch

Do the cooking in the cool of morning, then relax as the day stretches into a lazy afternoon...

Summer Vegetable Frittata

Blueberry Corn Muffins

Honeydew in Lemon Thyme Syrup

Apricot Iced Tea

Watermelon Lemonade II

Dinner Party in the Garden

Set up a table in your backyard or patio and invite friends over to share the warm summer night

Grilled Sweet-Potato Salad

Zucchini with Garlic and Dried Crushed Red Pepper

Grilled Chicken, Red Onion, and Mint Kebabs with Greek Salad

Warm Blackberry Pie Sundaes

Champagne Cooler

Poolside Cocktail Party

For tiny hors d'oeuvre-sized tartlets, double the crust recipe and bake it in 2-inch pans or mini muffin cups

Chive and Pine Nut Dip with Sourdough Toasts

Coconut Shrimp with Tamarind Ginger Sauce

Tomato and Grilled Polenta Stacks with Basil Sauce

Pork Rib Satays with Peanut Sauce

Blueberry Tartlets with Lime Curd

White Zinfandel Sangria

Mojito


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