Summer Backyard Party
July 22, 2012
Outdoor PartyRusticOutdoor Weddings
We're so excited for today. Because its the first Sunday that Sundays will officially be fabulous on SMP. With entirely new, completely unique life inspired content that will give you the warm and fuzzies and will hopefully give you the know-how to build a home that is as beautiful and thoughtful as the weddings we see every day. And we're starting with the most fitting of Summer easy, lazy, soak up and enjoy the sun kind of day planned and photographed by our Marina Delio of Yummy Mummy Kitchen. Make sure to check out all of the gorgeous images right here.

From Marina...Summer afternoons are meant for lazy outdoor get-togethers with friends and family. A backyard, some freshly snipped flowers, good food, and wine are all you need. I love to serve make-ahead dishes that are fresh and elegant. I wrap flatware in a napkin and tie with jute twine. 

Tucking in a piece of lavender from the garden takes just a minute and adds such a special touch. Roses from the garden make beautiful and un-fussy centerpieces when placed in Mason jars. Crowd pleasing recipes like pizza and lasagna are lightened up for summer in the recipes below.

Rich ingredients like meat are replaced with summer's finest produce: heirloom tomatoes, nectarines, and zucchini. Top your pizzas with any seasonal ingredients that you love.

A glass of summery sangria is sure to put a guest in a good mood right from the start. Pull the pizzas out of the oven, or let guests help top the pizzas and then nibble on them until dinner is ready. Another fabulous make-ahead appetizer is watermelon feta bites. The sweet and salty combination is delicious; this salad is refreshing on hot summer nights.

Peaches are at their peak right now and need little sweetening to make a delicious dessert like Individual Whole Peach Pies. After a recent visit to Carmel Valley Ranch in Carmel, CA where my daughter and I spent a morning learning to be beekeepers, we were inspired to use whole honeycomb in our cooking. The centers of these "pies" are filled with a piece of honeycomb. I also love serving honeycomb as part of a cheese platter. It really adds a special touch of natural beauty.
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Kiwi Blackberry Summer Sangria
Serves 4

1 bottle white wine
12 oz. sparkling berry juice
3 very ripe kiwis, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup blackberries
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh mint

Place all ingredients into a large pitcher and gently stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Refrigerate until ready to use. Sangria is best made several hours in advance so that the flavors from the fruit come out.

Watermelon Feta Bites
Serves 6

2 tablespoons syrupy balsamic vinegar (il Fustino 25 Year Balsamic recommended)
1 small seedless watermelon, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 small bunch basil
5 oz. feta cheese, cut into 1" x 1" x 1/2" squares

Drizzle a serving dish with balsamic vinegar. Skewer one cube of watermelon, one basil leaf, one feta slice, and another watermelon cube onto a decorative toothpick. Repeat until all ingredients have been used. Place Watermelon Feta Bites on balsamic drizzled serving dish.

Heirloom Tomato and Greens Lasagna
Serves 8

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
10 ounces baby spinach, kale, or chard (looks like a lot, but cooks down)
2-3 medium heirloom tomatoes, any color, sliced
1 egg, lightly beaten
16 ounces ricotta cheese
4 ounces goat cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
25 ounces homemade or store-bought marinara sauce
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese in water, drained and sliced
8-9 ounces fresh or cooked lasagna noodles (I used fresh sheets)
2 tablespoons capers

Preheat oven to 375. Pour olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add greens, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Toss until wilted, about 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels and wring out as much water as possible. Set aside. Press paper towels on top of the tomatoes to soak up some of the juices. In a medium bowl, stir together the egg, ricotta, goat cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside.

Coat the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish with a layer of sauce. Place a layer of noodles on top of the sauce. Spread 1/3 of the ricotta mixture over the noodles. Arrange 1/3 of the mozzarella over the ricotta layer. Arrange 1/2 of the greens and 1/2 of the tomatoes over the cheese. Pour a thin layer of sauce on top. Add a second layer of noodles. Spread another 1/3 of the ricotta over the noodles, and layer the mozzarella on top. Sprinkle capers over mozzarella. Continue layering until the ingredients have been used up, ending with noodles and then sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan. Bake for 45 minutes or until bubbling.

Individual Whole Peach Pies
Makes 4

1 store bought or homemade pie crust
4 small to medium very ripe peaches, halved and pit removed
4 heaping teaspoons honeycomb
1 egg
4 teaspoons turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly coat 4 wells of a muffin tin with cooking spray. Divide the pie crust dough into quarters. Roll into disks. Place 1 heaping teaspoon of honeycomb into one side of each peach where the pit was. Place the other half on top so the peach is whole again. Wrap dough around the peaches. If peach is enclosed, use a paring knife to cut several slits for air. Place each pastry wrapped peach in the prepared muffin tin well. Whisk together the egg and 2 tablespoons water. Brush egg wash on pastry and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of sugar.  Bake for 13-15 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or freshly whipped cream. .