I celebrated my birthday with a Summer Solstice Party. With lots of prep work and zero cooking except for grilling, this easy summer menu feeds 20 people easily and keeps you enjoying the party, not slaving in the kitchen, while looking like WAY more effort than it is.
If guests ask what they can bring, suggest beer, vodka, a prepared salad or a desert. For dessert, my sister brought these Lemon Bars which were a huge hit. I couldn’t eat them so I made my standard Peach Cobbler, which I’ll post separately soon. Another friend brought some wonderful prepared salads from Whole Foods which added a nice touch to the menu.
If grilling isn’t an option, the meat and fish can be prepared in a hot heavy skillet on the stove.
Grilled Tilapia Tacos | Party Guacamole and Chips | Chicken Apple Sausages
Lavender Infusion Cocktails | Ginger Infusion Cocktails | Cucumber water | Light Beer | Iced Tea |
Appetizer Shopping List
- Avocados (2-3)
- Corn chips
- 2 packages prepared guacamole (try to find one unflavored)
- 1 Pomegranate if you can find one, they are a winter fruit – I did without this time
- 1/2 lb Green grapes
- 1 green pear, ripe
- 1 green apple
Bar Shopping List
- lemons (large bag)
- limes (several)
- Large bottle of Vodka (I entertain Russians a lot and Russian Standard is a good Vodka for mixing drinks OR can do straight in a pinch, without being very expensive.)
- dried or fresh lavender (I had a heck of a time finding this – finally I went out and bought a plant.)
- Cheesecloth , kitchen twine
- Lipton iced tea bags
- Beer (I like to serve a summer ale or shandy, or a light colored beer for warm weather parties.)
- Dry white wine (Pinot Grigio is a general crowd-pleaser. No one drank mine but it’s good to have on hand if you’re serving fish)
- 1 bag white sugar
- Fresh mint
- cups ( I use Ball Jelly Jars which are cute and re-usable), straws
- Ice (if you don’t have an ice maker, or you can just make extra and freeze in a large bowl a few days before the party.)
Entree Shopping List
- 1 large bag of frozen Tilapia fillets (regular grocers have them)
- 1 large package Corn tortillas
- Red Cabbage
- Sour cream
- Plain yogurt
- Ginger paste
- Green onions
- Frozen corn (off the cob)
- Shredded cheddar cheese
- Jicama (if you like it and can find it)
- Spices: Cayenne, black ground pepper
- Hot dog buns, spicy mustard, and BBQ sauce for sausages
- Propane, charcoal or lighter fluid if you need it.
- Party miscellany: napkins, paper towels, reusable containers for leftovers, forks, spoons, knives, plates.
2-3 Days Before:
Make simple syrup by boiling 1 part water and adding 1 part sugar. Stir violently until dissolved.
Put 2 TBSP ginger paste into a square of cheesecloth and tie off with kitchen twine to make a sachet. Put lavender into another and do the same. Drop each into a lidded container such as mason jars.
Pour half the simple syrup into each and cover. Let cool, label, and then put in fridge.
To make the cocktails, add 2 liquor to 1 simple syrup over ice. Finish with club soda. Garnish with lemon or sprig of lavender,
The Night Before:
Unwrap and thaw Tilapia in covered container in fridge overnight, peppered with ceyenne and black pepper.
Chop cabbage, jicama, cilantro, and green oni0ns and store in airtight containers in fridge. Put corn in covered container to thaw in fridge.
Process 1 cup sour cream with 1/2 cup yogurt, 1 TBSP fresh squeezed lime juice, 1 TBSP ginger paste, 1/4 cup cilantro and 3 TBSP green onion to make a sauce for the tacos.
Brew iced tea and chill.
Chill Vodka in freezer.
Clean the house and grill/yard, stock bathrooms, get dressed.
Set up bar by placing syrups and a bowl of lemons and limes out, plus a cutting board.
Set out sprigs of mint and lavender for garnishing cocktails or tea.
Set out tea. Slice cucumber and put in pitcher of filtered water.
1 Hour Before:
Mash up avocados with prepared guac. Reserve one of the pits.
Finely chop apples and pear and add to the guac. Half green grapes and add those too.
Open and deseed pomegranate and add some of the seeds to the guac stirring most in and adding a few on top for color. Add 1 pit from an avocado on top to keep the guac green. Open chips and put in a bowl.
Warm tortillas in toaster oven, or in oven on baking sheet on parchment paper at 250.
Plate chicken sausages for grilling, set out condiments and buns.
Plate Tilapia for grilling and turn on grill. We have a fish basket for the grill which keeps them from sticking and falling through the grates when they get flaky, but in a pinch you can use tin foil.
Fill ice bucket or set out ice bowl and tongs on bar.
Put out cooler or ice tub of beer if desired.