Summer is here (with a vengeance if you’re anywhere near Atlanta, GA these days!), and while it’s not football tailgating time, the menus are pretty much the same: casual, delicious and transportable.

A menu needs to be cool and refreshing and pleasing to the eye and palette.  Here are some ideas:



Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese (about 2 ounces)
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 medium avocado, finely chopped (about 1 1/3 cups, cut just before serving)
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
4 slices bacon, well-browned and crumbled
Celery sticks or assorted crackers, for serving

Place the sour cream, blue cheese, lemon juice, salt, and Worcestershire in a medium nonreactive bowl and stir until well combined.
Fold in the avocado, scallions, and parsley, transfer the dip to a shallow serving dish, and top with the bacon. Serve with celery sticks or assorted crackers.


    Photo Credit: Smitten Kitchen

    (Smitten Kitchen)
    Cherry, grape or small Roma tomatoes
    Whole gloves of garlic, unpeeled
    Olive oil
    Herbs such as thyme or rosemary (optional)

    Preheat oven to 225°F. Halve each cherry or grape tomato crosswise, or Roma tomato lengthwise and arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet along with the cloves of garlic. Drizzle with olive oil, just enough to make the tomatoes glisten. Sprinkle herbs on, if you are using them, and salt and pepper, though go easily on these because the finished product will be so flavorful you’ll need very little to help it along.

    Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

    Bake the tomatoes in the oven for about three hours. You want the tomatoes to be shriveled and dry, but with a little juice left inside–this could take more or less time depending on the size of your tomatoes.

    Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

    Serve immediately warm or later at room temperature.


    1/2 cup sugar
    1/2 cup water
    1 cup vinegar
    1 teaspoon salt
    3 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch thick pieces
    4 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
    1 red onion, minced

    Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

    Yields 12 servings.
    In a bowl, combine sugar, water, vinegar and salt.

    Refrigerate overnight. 1 to 2 hours before serving, add cucumber, parsley flakes and onion to the dressing and mix well.

    Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

    Chill until ready to serve.


    8 cups red or yellow potatoes, cut into bite-size pieces
    1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
    1 red bell pepper, diced
    1 rib celery, diced
    1 carrot, diced

    Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

    1/4 cup red wine
    3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
    1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
    1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
    1 tablespoon minced garlic
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon black pepper

    Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

    1/3 cup plain nonfat yogurt or mayonnaise
    1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
    1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
    1 tablespoon ketchup
    2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
    2 teaspoons sugar
    1/4 teaspoon paprika
    1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

    Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

    Yields 8 servings.
    Place potatoes and onion in a steamer basket. Pour enough water into the pot to make a depth of 1/2 inch.

    Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

    Steam vegetables, covered, for 8 minutes, or until the potatoes are just tender. While the potatoes are cooking, whisk together the Day 1 Dressing ingredients.

    Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

    Transfer hot potatoes and onion to a large bowl and mix with the Day 1 Dressing, bell pepper, celery and carrot. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

    Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

    The next day, whisk together the Day 2 Dressing and mix with the leftover potato salad. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

    Photo Credit: Cate Bogue


    1 cup soy sauce
    1/4 cup olive oil
    1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
    3 TBSP apple cider vinegar
    1 TBSP worchestershire sauce
    2 tsp Dijon
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 tsp red pepper flakes
    1/4 tsp black pepper
    1 flank steak
    vegetable oil for grill grate

    Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

    Whisk together soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, worchestershire, dijon, red pepper flakes and pepper.  Place steak in glass 9×13 dish and pour sauce over.  Cover with saran wrap and refrigerate overnight.

    Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
    Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

    Heat grill to high.  Remove steak from marinade.  Pour marinade into a saucepan and simmer until reduced by half – around 10 minutes.

    Clean and lightly oil hot grates.  Grill steak, covered 6 minutes, then turn and brush with the glaze.  Grill until medium rare about 6 minutes longer.  Rest 10 minutes before slicing.

    Photo Credit: Cate Bogue


    Crumb Mixture:

    1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1 3/4 cups uncooked old-fashioned oatmeal
    3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
    1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
    2/3 cup canola oil
    1 teaspoon dark sesame oil

    2 cups fresh blueberries
    1/2 cup granulated white sugar
    2 tablespoons cornstarch
    2 tablespoons cold water
    1 tablespoon orange juice
    2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
    Yields 8 servings.

    Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray an 8×11-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray or rub generously with oil.

    To make Crumb Mixture, mix together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Stir in oatmeal, brown sugar and nuts, and mix well. Add oils and stir until mixture is crumbly. Set aside 1 cup of mixture. Press remainder into bottom of baking dish. Bake for 10 minutes.

    Meanwhile, combine blueberries and sugar in a saucepan and cook at medium heat for 2 minutes. Dissolve cornstarch into cold water and orange juice. Add cornstarch mixture and zest to blueberries. Stirring constantly, cook until thickened, about 45 seconds. Pour blueberry mixture over partially baked crumb crust. Sprinkle reserved crumb mixture over top and gently press into blueberry filling. Bake until top is golden brown, about 18 to 20 minutes. Cool on a rack before slicing.

    (Adapted from Martha Stewart Living, August 2008)

    2 ripe plums, pitted and cut into wedges
    1 large Gala apple, cored and cut into 1/8-inch wedges
    1 navel orange, thinly sliced crosswise, larger slices halved
    6 ounces (1 1/2 cups) raspberries
    1 cup raspberry-flavored (or plain) vodka
    2 bottles dry white wine, such as sauvignon blanc, chilled
    1/4 cup superfine sugar
    Yields 6 servings.
    Combine plums, apple, orange, raspberries and vodka in a nonreactive bowl. Let stand, uncovered, at room temperature for 2 hours. Combine wine and sugar in a pitcher, and stir until sugar dissolves. Add fruit mixture, and stir gently to combine. Serve over ice.

    All dishes are cool and refreshing and can be prepared ahead of your guests’ arrival.  

    Enjoy! And Happy Swimming!