Summer block parties

posted on

June 2017

Cooking Buzz is produced in partnership with the Junior League of Houston, a women’s charitable and education organization founded in 1925.

Each year, in celebration of the beginning of summer, my neighborhood hosted a huge block party. Families moved grills from the back to the front yard, and each house made favorite summer foods. Parents cooked while kids ran from house to house. Once dinner was ready, the parents walked to neighbors’ houses, trading snack-size portions and plans for the summer.

Many families would cook hot dogs or hamburgers. My family, being the adventurous bunch they are, usually made something a little less traditional.

Our family’s summer grill-outs almost always consisted of more than just an entrée. We had a festive drink, at least one appetizer and dessert. If I were preparing for the block party today, the Summertime Cooler and the Roasted Red Pepper Dip from Stop and Smell the Rosemary would be my choice to start to the meal.

The Summertime Cooler is a refreshing citrus drink that reminds me of a slightly more complex and upscale lemonade. This drink can be prepared without alcohol as a fun drink for the kids, or it can be made with sparkling wine or vodka – also a fun drink for the adults. It is great for cooling down in the summer heat or lightly sipping throughout the evening.

The Roasted Red Pepper Dip is light and airy – perfect for an evening outdoors. Depending on how much heat you would like to add to the Houston evening, you could add extra jalapeños to the recipe. The dip is best served with tortilla chips, or, my preference, assorted uncooked vegetables.

The Grilled Pizzas from Peace Meals are another good choice. Although preparation work is required on a surface other than a grill, the dough and pizza itself are grilled. This recipe is great for large gatherings because it makes four to six pizzas. Guests could make the pizzas to their liking, or the host could feature a variety of favorites.

Then it’s on to Cookies and Cream Cheesecake from Stop and Smell the Rosemary for dessert. One of my favorite desserts is cheesecake, any kind of cheesecake. Oreo Cookies are not far behind, and this dessert pairs the two. The cheesecake is cool but creamy and can easily be sliced into bite-size pieces for serving a larger group.

To buy a Houston Junior League cookbook, see or call 713-871- 6608.

Source: June 1, 2017, The Buzz Magazines, by Lauren Michelle Williams