EASY DOES IT!
This party menu features deli-fried chicken and make-ahead side dishes. Set up a lemonade bar: We've included three super versions and serving ideas. You could even furnish the chicken and beverages and ask guests to bring the sides. Check out our Cool Desserts for inspired sweet endings. Our prep schedule below assures a party that's sure to please. Now that's something to celebrate!
2 days before
Prepare Flavored Butters, Lavender Lemonade and Blackberry Lemonade puree; gather linens and serving pieces for party.
1 day before
Prepare Black Bean Salsa; prepare Marinated Green Bean—Potato Salad through step 2.
Day of party
Arrange flowers and set the table; prepare Spiked Pink Lemonade and set up lemonade bar with garnishes. Assemble Marinated Green Bean—Potato Salad; prepare Tomato Salad. Slice assorted breads. Purchase fried chicken 1 hr. before party.
MARINATED GREEN BEAN-POTATO SALAD
Makes: 8 servings
Hands-on time: 40 min.
Total time: 2 hrs., 40 min.
2 lbs. small red potatoes, halved
2 teaspoons salt, divided
2 lbs. thin fresh green beans, trimmed
Coarsely ground black pepper
Chopped fresh rosemary (optional)
1. Bring potatoes, 1 teaspoon salt and water to cover to a boil in a Dutch oven; cook 12 min. or until potatoes are tender. Drain and cool. Bring 2 quarts water and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil in Dutch oven; add beans. Cook 6 min. or until crisp-tender; drain. Plunge beans into ice water to stop cooking process; drain.
2. Place potatoes and green beans in separate large zip-top plastic freezer bags. Divide vinaigrette evenly between potatoes and green beans. Seal bags; chill 2 hrs. or up to 2 days.
3. Drain vegetables; arrange in a large bowl. Sprinkle with pepper and rosemary, if desired.
½ cup white balsamic vinegar
¼ cup honey
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
¼ medium-size red onion, quartered
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Process first 8 ingredients in food processor for 20 secs., stopping to scrape down sides. With processor running, gradually add olive oil; process until smooth. Yield: 1½ cups
BLACK BEAN SALSA
Makes: about 6 cups
Hands-on time: 25 min.
Total time: 25 min.
3 (15-oz.) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (11-oz.) can golden sweet whole kernel corn, drained
1 medium-size red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium-size green bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro
⅓ cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder
1. Combine first 8 ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Stir together lime juice and remaining ingredients; pour over vegetables and toss gently.
Makes: 8 servings
Hands-on time: 15 min.
Total time: 15 min.
1 lb. fresh mozzarella
4 large heirloom tomatoes
8 small heirloom tomatoes
¼ cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
Freshly cracked black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Slice mozzarella and large tomatoes into ¼-inch-thick slices; halve small tomatoes; arrange on a serving platter. Sprinkle with basil, salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil to taste.
Makes: about 1 cup
Hands-on time: 5 min.
Total time: 8 hrs., 5 min.
½ cup butter, softened
1. Stir desired recipe ingredients (see below) into ½ cup butter; cover and chill 8 hrs.
2. Remove flavored butter from refrigerator 1 hr. before serving to soften. Serve with crackers or breads.
BLUE CHEESE BUTTER
¼ cup crumbled blue cheese. Sprinkle additional crumbled blue cheese on top.
1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon ground cumin and ½ teaspoon ground red pepper.
2 tablespoons pesto
Make a Lemonade Bar
With three flavors to choose from there's something for everyone!
FRESH BLACKBERRY LEMONADE
7 cups water, divided
¼ cup sugar
¼ (1.9-oz.) package sugar-free pink lemonade drink mix
Combine blackberries and 1 cup water in a blender; process until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides. Pour through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a large pitcher, discarding solids; stir in 6 cups water, sugar and drink mix. Serve over ice. Makes about 2 quarts.
SPIKED PINK LEMONADE
1 (12-oz.) can frozen pink lemonade concentrate, thawed
3 (12-oz.) bottles beer (not dark), chilled
¾ cup vodka, chilled
Stir together ingredients. Serve over ice. Makes 1½ qts.
7 cups water
1 cup sugar
1½ cups frozen lemon juice from concentrate, thawed
4 fresh mint sprigs
3 fresh lavender sprigs*
1. Bring 7 cups water to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in sugar and cook, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 min. or until sugar dissolves; remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice, mint sprigs and lavender sprigs; let stand 2 hrs.
2. Pour lemonade mixture through a wire-mesh strainer into a large pitcher, discarding herbs. Serve over ice. *2 tablespoons dried lavender flowers may be substituted. Makes about 2 qts.