As summer starts winding down, it’s fun to gather a group of friends together to soak up the warm weather outdoors while you can!  It’s a super-casual get-together, so the food needs to reflect just that.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Tri-tips with Salsa Verde
Salmon on the Grill
Corn Pudding
Grilled Prosciutto-wrapped Asparagus
Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes with Gruyere and Rosemary
Tossed Salad (one of the guests, Diane, provided)
Peach and Blueberry Trifle
Planter’s Punch
I handled the main dishes for the evening and had my friends bring their favorite appetizers.  Here’s what we nibbled on before dinner:
Mexican dip with chips
Watermelon-Mint-Feta cups
Marinated Shrimp
Bacon-wrapped new potatoes with spicy dipping sauce



This dish is a little tricky in that tri-tips are virtually unknown in the Southeastern part of the United States.  I had them originally while visiting friends in California, and people from the west coast and Texas are very familiar with them.  The tri-tip is a cut of beef from the bottom sirloin, and it’s generally 2 – 2 1/2 lbs . I simply call my local butcher and order them whenever I need them. I’ve ordered them from Fresh Market and Whole Foods as well.

This preparation is my favorite way to serve them.  You can use a smoker or a regular grill, and they’ll come out juicy and delicious every time.  With the addition of a fresh salsa verde your guests will love you!

Salsa Verde

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Juice and grated zest of 1 lemon
2 anchovy fillets, very finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
1 tbsp drained capers, roughly chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh oregano
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp finely chopped fresh mint
½ tsp kosher salt

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

For steak
Two 1½-pound tri-tip steaks, sliced crosswise into 1¼-inch-thick planks (can also use flank steak with excellent results). For 10 people I used 3 tri-tips that were 2 1/2 lbs each. We had lots of leftovers!
1 tsp kosher salt
1½ tsp grapeseed oil


Place salsa verde ingredients in medium bowl; whisk together to combine.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Season steak with salt and set aside. Heat large stainless skillet over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add oil to pan; sear steak until it is browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Flip steak; cook other side until browned, about another 3 to 5 minutes for rare, or 5 to 6 minutes for medium-rare to medium. Serve with salsa verde spooned over top.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue


Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Easiest recipe there is!  Place a salmon filet on a piece of tin foil, skin side down. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Then drizzle with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, lemon juice, white wine.  Top with capers and dill.  Place on the grill until flakey ~ 8-10 minutes, depending on the thickness of your salmon.  Delish!


This dish is always a hit, and I’ve lightened it up a bit by using 1/2 cup of cream and 1 1/2 cups milk instead of all cream.  It’s just as good.  Of course there is that butter…but it’s worth it!

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

1/4 cup sugar
3 TBSP flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
6 large eggs
2 cups whipping cream (see above)
1/2 cup butter, melted
6 cups corn kernels (~12 ears of corn)

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine first 4 ingredients.

Whisk together eggs, whipping cream and butter.  Gradually add sugar mixture in, whisking until smooth, then stir in corn.  Pour mixture in a lightly greased 9×13 inch pan.  Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown and set.


Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Photo Credit: the delicious life
2-3 bunches fresh asparagus

3-4 packages thinly sliced prosciutto
Extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Wash and trim an inch off the bottom of the asparagus.  Blot off, and place in a glass baking dish.  Drizzle with olive oil, then generously add salt and pepper.  Toss with your hands until well coated.

Slice each prosciutto slice in half lengthwise, and wrap around 1-2 stalks of asparagus.  Grill either directly on the heat or on a metal grill sheet with holes until done ~ 15 minutes.  You want them to be cooked, but not too soft.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue


Photo Credit: Google Images

 4 large sweet potatoes
2 TBSP fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tsp butter, melted
4 TBSP Gruyere cheese, grated
4 TBSP light brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

2 TBSP butter, melted
2 dashes worchestershire sauce
~ 4 TBSP chopped toasted pecans

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Wash and scrub sweet potatoes, then using a fork, make several holes to allow steam to escape.  Place on a foil lined baking sheet and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until easily pricked with a fork.  Allow to cool a bit, then slice each potato lengthwise.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Scoop out the centers and place in a medium size mixing bowl.  Add the butter, brown sugar, rosemary, cheese and salt and pepper and mix well.  Carefully add the potato mixture back to the skins equally.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Bake for ~ 15 minutes, or until just starting to brown on the edges.

For the topping, mix together the butter and worchestershire and drizzle over the halved potatoes.  Sprinkle with the pecans and return to the oven for 5 minutes.


This recipe is my “go to” salad!

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Bag of mixed greens
Dried Cranberries
Crumbled good blue cheese

4 TBSP good extra virgin olive oil
2 TBSP good balsamic vinaigrette
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together, and right before serving, pour over salad.

(Adapted from Epicurious)

1 regular sized angel food cake, torn into 1 inch pieces (from any grocery store’s bakery)
8 firm, ripe peaches, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup peach preserves
1 (16-oz.) package fresh blueberries, divided
2 to 3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Microwave preserves in a large microwave-safe bowl at HIGH 30 to 45 seconds or until melted. Toss peaches and 1 1/2 cup blueberries with warm preserves. Stir in granulated sugar and next 2 ingredients.

Beat whipping cream and lemon juice at medium speed with an electric mixer until foamy; gradually add powdered sugar, beating until soft peaks form.

Arrange about one-third of cake pieces in trifle bowl. Top with one-third of peach mixture. Repeat layers twice. Top with whipped cream. Cover and chill 1 hour. Top with remaining 1/2 cup blueberries just before serving.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

(from The Chew)
This punch was a huge hit!  I multiplied by 20 (for a dinner party with 10 people), so I used a very large pitcher I had on hand.  It’s great on a hot Atlanta summer night!

1 1/2 oz. dark rum
6 oz. freshly squeezed orange juice
Dash grenadine
Juice of 1/4 lime
1 tsp. Simple Syrup
Orange slices

In a cocktail shaker over ice, combine rum, orange juice, grenadine, lime juice, and syrup. Shake well, then strain into a tall glass over ice. Garnish with an orange slice.


My friend, Wendy, has brought this dip to several functions over the years, and I finally asked her for the recipe.  It’s simple to put together, and it’s absolutely wonderful.

1 can 16.oz Old El Paso spicy(fat free) refried beans
PACE chunky (medium) salsa
Sour cream
Shredded lettuce
Shredded Sharp cheddar
Jar of sliced jalapeños (Kroger brand)

Layer (starting with the beans first, then sour cream, then salsa, lettuce
and cheese) in a serving dish. Refrigerate for an hour or so – serve with
tortilla chips.


Sheila brought these, and I had never had them before – so so good!

Just hollow out the center of the square, leaving a bottom to keep the cheese and cucumber from falling out and add chopped cucumber and crumbled feta.  You can use other cheeses and other herbs for a twist – whatever tastes good to you works!  Light and refreshing and delicious!


2 pounds fresh or frozen medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, leaving tails intact
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons finely chopped onion
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup tequila
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons snipped fresh cilantro
1/8 teaspoon salt

Thaw shrimp, if frozen. Rinse shrimp; pat dry. Set aside.

In large skillet heat olive oil over medium heat; add onion and garlic and cook about 3 minutes or until tender. Add shrimp and tequila; bring to boiling. Boil gently, uncovered, for 3 to 5 minutes or until shrimp turn opaque, stirring occasionally.

Transfer shrimp mixture to a bowl. Add lime juice, cilantro, and salt; toss to mix. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Drain before serving. Makes 10 to 12 appetizer servings.


Photo Credit: Pinterest

Makes about three dozen bites

These little morsels were so good I could’ve eaten the entire tray myself! Thank you Denise!

1 pound small or medium red potatoes
2 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
12 ounces to 1 pound thick-cut bacon
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
1 tsp Lemon Pepper
1-2 TBSP fresh chives
1-3 teaspoons hot sauce

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Wash and dry the potatoes. Chop them into 1-inch pieces, keeping the chunks roughly the same size even if they aren’t the exact same shape. Put the potatoes in a medium pot, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil. Season the water with 2 teaspoons of salt. Once the water begins to boil, cook the potatoes for 3 to 4 minutes, until you can stick a fork into them without too much resistance. You want the potatoes to be almost, but not fully, cooked through so they won’t fall apart during the next steps.

Drain the potatoes and put them in a large bowl. Add the rosemary, olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a few grinds of pepper, and toss until the potatoes are evenly coated.

Cut the strips of bacon into thirds. Wrap each potato bite in a piece of bacon, securing it with a toothpick. Put the potatoes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil spaced an inch or two apart. You may need to cook the potatoes in two batches.

Cook the potatoes for 15 minutes, then flip each piece. Cook for another 15 to 20 minutes, until the bacon is cooked through and as crisp as you like it. Mix the sour cream, lemon pepper, chives and hot sauce in a small bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings according to your taste. Pile the potato bites on a plate and serve alongside the dip.

Here we are, dining under the stars, enjoying great food and company!

Photo Credit: Denise Jones

Photo Credit: Denise Jones

All in all a fun time was had by all, and we enjoyed some fabulous weather and even better food!

Group photos courtesy of Denise Jones Photography – @dwj525