Burger Buffet, Fish Fry and Other Easy Food Ideas for Summer Get-Togethers

Some simple ideas to gather together family and friends for casual good times�
Some simple ideas to gather together family and friends for casual good times�

How about home made ice cream after dinner one night – an ice cream social. You can even get together at a neighborhood part so there is no major clean up by any one family. In my last neighborhood we did this one Sunday evening each summer. Only, we bought the ice cream. Each family brought either ice cream or a topping (we didn’t organize this and it always worked out ok) and their own drinks. It’s at great way to get to know neighbors you might not normally socialize with.

Or, do the same thing with lemonade and cookies. The “host” back yard can do the lemonade and the other families can bring a couple dozen cookies. I cheat with my homemade lemonade. I buy an inexpensive frozen lemonade, add slices of lemon and some fresh lemon juice and powdered sugar – always get great compliments on it.

How about a hamburger buffet? Make up the patties in advance (I like mine nice and thick, please)-I’d suggest two patties per person, and chill. Get a couple of the guys to man the grill. Prepare the usual fixings (mustard, mayo, catsup, pickles, tomatoes, onions, etc.) and the buns and then ask half of the guests to bring a special topping (enough for about 4 people, maybe 6 depending on how many in your party) – crumbled dry blue cheese, sliced mushrooms to sautÃ?©, strips of bacon, avocado slices, special cheese, sliced, chili, etc. Have the other half bring a package of buns (you might need to supplement this so you’ll have enough), a green salad, or some corn on the cob-the usual, and unusual, side dishes. One or two families could bring dessert. Set up one side of the buffet table/counter for the “toppings” and condiments; the other side is for your side dishes. Have everyone start the buffet line at the grill, put their burger and bun on a paper plate and head over to the toppings/condiment area, then select their side dishes and go sit down. You might have tables set with silverware and drinks, or go real casual sitting on the ground. The older folks would probably appreciate a chair and nearby table. Ice chests make great “mini tables.” With paper plates, cups, etc, there would be very little clean up.

A fish fry? Ok, this will only work if you actually catch some fish. So, it’s best to be prepared with some other type of foods, just in case. This could be done at the beach or lakeside. Bring the side dishes, (a back up entrÃ?©e), and the necessities for grilling the fish. Many parks at both beaches and lake have firepits or charcoal BBQ pits you can use for preparing, hopefully, the fish. If you’re in the right part of the country, I guess you could add clams to this also. Plus, whatever you need to prepare them.

A luau theme would be fun. Everyone can wear casual shirts and blouses in Hawaiian prints with matching/contrasting shorts and zories to wear. Colorful solid or print bandanas tossed (artfully) on the table(s) will look great along with some tiki torches stuck in the ground to light when it gets dark. Consider fruit kebabs as a starter – chunks of fresh fruit – pineapple, pear, banana, melons, etc threaded onto a short wooden skewer – about 5 chunks to a skewer. Lomi Lomo Salmon would make a terrific entrÃ?©e –

Salmon steaks, sliced 1″ thick
4-5 tomatoes, chopped
1 onion, chopped (Maui, if possible)
3-4 green onions, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1 Pineapple, cut into chunks (Reserve the shell)
1 T Olive oil
Sea salt, coarse black pepper, to taste
1 head red leaf lettuce, leaves separated (butter lettuce also works well)

Place the salmon topped with the sea salt in a glass dish, cover and chill or at least eight hours or overnight.
Rinse the salmon to remove most of the salt. Blot dry.

Cut into cubes, add the tomatoes, pineapple, onions, lime juice and pepper and place into a bowl. Toss gently and chill for an hour.

To serve, place the salmon salad in the pineapple shell. Place servings of the salmon in a lettuce cup

Then, pineapple ice cream for your dessert.

Let’s borrow an idea from the Spaniards – tapas! Again, let everyone bring a couple types of appetizers (the tapas) and have a meal of all – tapas. Paper plates, cups, plastic utensils – again, it’s easy clean up. This would also work pretty well at a park so no one has a “bigger” clean up. Recipe ideas – wraps, either in lettuce or flour tortillas; small taco shells filled with ground meat mixture, a spicy shrimp (or seafood) mixture, meatball in some type of sauce, the possibilities are endless.

Just get creative, round up some friends and family and have fun!

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