Easy Summer Entertaining with Amos Gott

Today, entertaining guru Amos Gott joins us to share some tips for pulling together an easy summer party, right from the aisles of the grocery store. We had great fun with our photographer Ashley Hylbert setting up this shoot today at the home of Terry and Mike Patton. Enjoy!

 

Amos:

Summer entertaining is all about casual and comfort. Nothing too complicated. Nothing too fussy. Whether having friends over to enjoy the pool, sit on the patio, or relax inside in the air conditioning, here are some easy shopping and entertaining tips to create a lazy, hazy and easy summer party.

Every grocery store has a few items that you can take from freezer to oven to table. Trader Joe’s has the best selections, but unfortunately not every town is blessed with one. So I’m going to help you navigate the typical supermarket to come up with items that will be effortless but will wow your guests.

Let’s start with an appetizer that could actually even be your main course on a larger scale. Southern comfort food is huge right now. There’s nothing more relaxing than the tastes we grew up with or flavors we associate with family. So a tray of mini-chicken and waffles would not only be satisfying, but a conversation starter as well.

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Amos’ easy version of Chicken and Waffles, served here on a reclaimed wooden tray from Obelisk. Hosta leaves from the garden provide a colorful garnish and backdrop.

Simply purchase a box or two of the Eggo Minis along with a bag of frozen chicken tenders or boneless buffalo wings. Follow directions to bake, then top the mini waffle with a piece of the tender and spear with a skewer. Have a little syrup on the side or drizzle a little over the platter and you’re done! Mini-Chicken and Waffles!

And of course we need to wow your guests with an impressive beverage. Whether alcoholic or not, all you need is your favorite punch recipe (today we made Watermelon Margaritas), a large watermelon, a spigot you can order from Amazon.com, and a few kitchen tools to complete your Watermelon Keg!

Here, our Watermelon filled with margaritas waits to fill our glasses.

Here’s our watermelon keg filled with margaritas. (Glassware and tray from Obelisk. Pitcher–for flowers–from AshBlue.)

Typically the main time-consumer of any party is the entree. And one of the easiest ways to cook is on the grill. The meat department of your grocery typically has beef and chicken kebobs already skewered and waiting for purchase. Just crank up the grill and throw them on, rotating a few times. Couldn’t be easier!

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Mmmm… These beef and chicken kebabs from Publix are delicious AND effortless! (Tray and vases from AshBlue.)

For an easy salad, toss together a Very Berry Delicious Summer Salad. Toss together 8 cups mixed salad greens, 2 cups fresh blueberries, 1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola or blue cheese, and1/4 cup chopped and toasted walnuts or pecans. Drizzle with a desired amount of bottled vinaigrette (such as Newman’s Own Light Raspberry & Walnut Vinaigrette) and you’re done! Remember not to add the oil until the last minute, as you don’t want to serve overly wilted/wet greens. You can serve out of a large bowl, or individually in bowls or thin rocks glass (aka Old Fashioned) tumblers.

Berry Green (and berry delicious) salad

Very Berry Delicious Summer Salad (Tray from Obelisk. Pitcher from AshBlue.)

Sometimes I’m amazed at what you can find in the freezer section at the grocery store–a check plus in the “keep your party easy” department! And who doesn’t love sweet potato fries? The waffle cut variety are my favorite. (The ones we used today are the Alexia brand from Publix.) Serve them directly on a platter, or even put them in cute chevron bags from Buchanan Ink on a tray for individual servings.

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Sweet potato waffle fries in individual parchment paper bags. (Berry containers from AshBlue. Tray from Obelisk.)

Grill up some Texas Toast (or let’s call it Tennessee Toast) while you’re grilling the kebabs and you’ll have an easy, satisfying meal that will wow your guests–not just because of the menu, but because they were able to enjoy your company outside of the kitchen!

 

Here's a shot of our party-ready buffet.

Here’s a shot of our party-ready buffet. Dig in!

And we can’t forget about dessert! To complete the meal with a special touch, purchase or whip up some cupcakes. Here, I’ve used strawberry cupcakes from Dulce Desserts. Into a shallow drinking glass or canning jar, like the Weck ones pictured below, spoon 2 tablespoons strawberry jam into the bottom of each jar and place the cupcake on top, sans paper wrapper. The presentation will make an easy dessert look unique, as well as keep the bugs away from the sweet treats until it’s time to eat!

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Dulce Dessert’s Strawberry Cupcakes – yummy! (Linen napkin from Obelisk.)

For the kids, or even the young at heart, purchase Dove ice cream sandwiches and roll the edges in colorful sprinkles. They’ll love having their own special treat!

Ice Cream Sammies, with a colorful sprinkle garnish. Fun!

Ice Cream Sammies, with a colorful sprinkle garnish. Fun! (Tray from Obelisk.)

 

Our easy dessert selection.

Our easy dessert selection.

Finish up your table with items you have at home. Arrange your silverware in glasses next to your plates and bright napkins at the start of the buffet.

 

Plates, cutlery, glassware from Ashblue. Linen napkins from Obelisk.

We used Turkish T towels, like the green and white striped one from AshBlue here, as our tablecloths. (Plates, cutlery and glassware from Ashblue. Linen napkins from Obelisk.) 

And then line up the buffet with your easy delicacies. I placed the salad in a beaded pewter bowl, the bags of waffle fries on another pewter tray, and the kabobs on a ceramic platter, ending with the Tennessee Toast on a rattan charger.

Candelabra fr

Hungry yet? (Candelabra, salad bowl and tray for fries from Obelisk. Ceramic French guinea hens, votives, vases, Turkish T towels and kebab tray from AshBlue.)

To round out your table, decorate it with candles and a few fun artifacts to keep it interesting. Flowers, fern fronds, ivy and herbs from your garden, grocery or local florist arranged in colored glass vases make your table pop with color.

Gerbera daisies and a fern frond make an easy, no-fuss centerpiece. (Vase from AshBlue.)

Gerbera daisies and a fern frond make an easy, no-fuss centerpiece. (Vase from AshBlue.)

 

Simple accessories and natural decor (a la food)

Simple accessories and natural elements interspersed along the buffet table add visual appeal. 

And for your beverage station, place the Watermelon Keg on the edge so guests can pour from the spigot into brightly colored glasses. Don’t forget the ice, along with other beverages you’d like to serve. Here I added acrylic wine goblets from Obelisk for the wine, and a rustic beer carrier from Ash Blue to complete the table.

Cocktails!

Cocktails!

 

This r

This reclaimed wooden box from AshBlue makes for an interesting beer container.

Being a professional event planner, I do love entertaining large. However, there’s nothing like a casual, easy party where the focus is on a few friends, where the food comes easy, but still impresses, and the décor is simple, but still striking.

Amos and his helpers ( l to r, Amy and Elizabeth) sampling the the

Amos and his “helpers” ( l to r, Amy and Elizabeth).

 

Thank you Amos! Now, we have no excuses for NOT entertaining this summer!

Amos designs and produces events and weddings throughout the Southeast. For more information, visit his website: www.amosevents.com

Thanks also to Ashley Hylbert for the wonderful photographs, as well as French King Fine Properties and the Patton Family for providing the lovely backdrop for our shoot. For more information on this Nashville home, which is currently for sale, visit the French King Website: www.frenchking.com.

Many thanks to AshBlue and Bradford’s and Obelisk, as well, for providing our fabulous entertaining accessories.

 

 

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