July 6, 2010

Nibbles for a Casual Summer Cocktail Hour {Naptime Simple Tips}

What’s Going on Today: Fourth of July weekend fun! Friends over for cocktails, evening dinner al fresco.
Naptime Goals: Relax with a good book, whip up onion dip and help Mom with the tomatoes.
Tonight’s Cocktail Hour: Tomatoes stuffed with blue cheese or pesto, onion dip with vegetables, cheese plate, assorted nuts.
Parenting Lesson of the Day: Sometimes it’s ok to let toddlers eat crackers, carrots and yogurt for dinner.

Over the holiday weekend we were up in Cooperstown with my parents. On Saturday night we invited our neighbors to come over with their teenage grandchildren for a fun cocktail hour. With such beautiful weather and the garden in full bloom it was the perfect occasion to sit on the porch and catch up. The event was to be completely casual, we all planned on wearing jeans, and the food was to be easy and unfussy.

When my daughter was taking her afternoon nap my husband and I helped my parents get things ready. My husband was in charge of setting up the bar with assorted liquor and garnishes for drinks, while Mom and I tackled the food. Since simple cocktail food shouldn’t take long to prepare, we relied on a few old favorites that could be assembled in a snap.

For the two main appetizers we choose to make tomatoes stuffed with pesto or blue cheese with the fresh tomatoes we’d picked up at the farmer’s market. Then, I cooked up my favorite onion dip to serve with carrots and fresh cucumbers, also from the farmer’s market. To balance out the vegetables, we set out a delicious container of goat cheese with strawberry compote and a nice round of runny Camembert with some buttery crackers. Finally, to include a little salt on the table, we poured two bowls of fancy nuts. All in all it was a simple and delicious menu for a party of eight, plus one toddler. I should mention that she munched on so many vegetables and crackers that all she actually ate for dinner was a container of yogurt. With all of us in summer mode I didn’t mind one bit. It was the perfect start to a relaxing weekend.

Casual Summer Cocktail Hour:
Stuffed Tomatoes: Halve and seed cherry tomatoes. Fill with a scoop of fresh pesto or blue cheese. Serve.
Ina Garten’s Pan-Friend Onion Dip with Cucumbers and Carrots
Goat Cheese with Strawberries
Camembert, runny
Fancy Nut Assortment
Lillet with Lemon over ice
Prosecco
Sparkling water and Cokes (for the teens)