08/03/2012 at 02:00 PM EDT
Season 2 MasterChef winner Jennifer Behm is a food lover, owner of Pink Martini Catering, a soon to be wife, an adventurer – and this summer a food blogger for PEOPLE.com.
With a little over a month and a half left of summer, I know like most families, we are trying to get all the things we wanted to do this summer in. Tiling, finally getting the car clean – mmmm that one is tough – the sewing projects I have ... Well, the list goes on and on, but we decided to stop and take a moment to watch some of the Olympic Games
As a former competitive gymnast with aspirations to be at the Olympics, every opening ceremony
gives me the chills. Watching our athletes give everything to go for gold is something special.
So what did we do to watch and celebrate? We pulled our TV out to the deck and turned our backyard into an amphitheater. Pulling out all of our blankets and chairs, we created a picnic of all picnics!
Thanks to the live, around-the-clock coverage and on demand, we watched and cheered gymnastics
, volleyball, swimming
, diving, judo
First we geared up with some medal-winning food:
Shrimp salad sandwich on croissant, marinated flank steak with sauteed mushrooms – we love using our Kennett Square mushrooms – house-made mozzarella, tomato and basil panini (our basil plant at the house this year is like a bush), and Mahi Mahi tacos.
Watermelon, basil and queso fresco salad, choyote, jicama and carrot salad, Mexican corn on the cob, Pennsylvania Dutch potato salad, which I love adding a touch of liquid smoke to for a background flavor, smashed garlic popcorn, and homemade sweet potato chips with espelletta.
Lemon thyme bars – I use lemon thyme from our garden – chocolate creme du pot, and mango juice pops with diced strawberries.
I use plastic stemmed glasses for drinks. Why? We have the wine sticks that you put in the ground and they hold them beautifully. Plus, the kids love it. And, as hot as it has been, a gorgeous cucumber water is a MUST!
As we all cheered the Fab Five on while they stormed towards gold, yelling encouragement to Lochte and Phelps, feeling every fiber in my body as the "flying squirrel" Gabby Douglas competed on the floor, watching Kayla win Judo gold, we saluted all the Olympic athletes. We are proud of your sacrifice and inspired by your strength.
If your dream is to get to the Olympics, don't give up. If you want to find a cure for cancer, keep going even when the road seems long. If you want to create art that evokes emotion, create! And if you want to stimulate people's taste-buds, cook BIG!
Dream big, give everything, and believe in yourself.
Catch me every Friday on PEOPLE.com to see what crazy food and adventures I have to stimulate all of your senses!