Summer Fiesta 2013

Well, THAT was fun!

Our second annual Summer Fiesta has come and gone. What a party! About 40 of our friends came by Saturday night to eat, drink, and be very merry on one of the hottest days of the summer. It was the first big get-together in our backyard since we landscaped, and despite the heat, it worked out perfectly for a crowd!

Hosting a party for that many people requires a little prep work. John and I did as much as we could ahead of time so that we could enjoy the party, too! We shopped and made a few dishes throughout the week. We cleaned off the deck, weeded the yard, and made sure there was plenty of seating available for our guests. We set up a full cocktail bar, a wine bar, and also a sangria station outside. Fun!

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We knew there would be at least 10 kids running around, so I stocked a basket with toys and tossed some juice on ice where thirsty little ones could help themselves.

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While it can be difficult with a group this big, we tried to be conscious about our waste. I picked up recycled plates and utensils, but we used our own glassware and cloth napkins whenever possible. We decided on a “make your own” taco bar with all of the fixings, so I put out a tray of some of the hot sauce stars from our condiment stash.

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Just before folks arrived, I put out two containers of sidewalk chalk. Two years running, those buckets of chalk were a hit with the kids- and grown-ups, too!

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We planned to get dinner going relatively early in the evening, but we still put out some munchies to start with: meats and cheeses, fresh blackberries, tortilla chips with various salsas and guacamole. We set out a bowl of Pirate’s Booty (yum) and little Baby Bell cheeses for the kids.

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And my new favorite summertime treat? FROZEN GRAPES. When the mercury is rising, how refreshing do these look?

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Here’s the full FIESTA menu:

  • Tacos! (grilled carne asada, chicken, or veggies)
  • Corn and flour tortillas/various taco fixings
  • Green chile pinto beans
  • Citrus cilantro rice
  • Charred corn and black bean salad
  • Fruit salad with honey, lemon, and mint
  • Red or white sangria
  • Mojito popsicles
  • Whiskey cake
  • Chocolate caramel oatmeal bars

Did I mention the sangria? Mmmm.

John whipped up a citrusy garlic marinade that worked for both the beef and chicken, and got the meat marinating early in the day.

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I made life a little easier by buying pinto beans from the local Mexican market and jazzing them up with fire-roasted green chiles and lots of cheese.

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For the rice, I simply cooked white rice in chicken stock, then stirred in the juice and zest of a lemon and lime. I chopped up a handful of cilantro and mixed it in. Delish!

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I wanted something cooling on a hot day, so I chopped pineapple and strawberries into chunks and threw them in a bowl with blueberries and raspberries. I zested a lemon into the bowl, then whisked together a little lemon juice and honey and stirred it into the fruit. The finishing touch was a handful of chopped mint. Beautiful!

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John grilled the meat before our guests arrived. We kept it warm in the oven until it was time to eat. That meant the only grilling he had to do was the veggies: zucchini, squash, red onion, bell peppers, whole green onions, and mushrooms. Our vegetarian guests could make no-meat tacos, and everyone else had another side dish to choose from!

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When it was taco time, we put out diced tomatoes, chopped red onion, shredded cheese, sliced jalapeno, and plenty of limes. The table was filled with tasty meats, veggies, sauces…the options were endless– and scrumptious!

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I hadn’t had a chance to have ONE bite of food when the little ones started asking about dessert. Together, we taste-tested the cake and cookie bars (both got thumbs up by all). I had a box of fruit popsicles and some ice cream sandwiches in the freezer, which were a hit. So were the fake mustaches from the toy box.

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I shared the recipes for the Mojito Popsicles and Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Bars last week. Aside from the perfect carne asada, I think I got the most compliments on the two sangrias and the charred corn and black bean salad. Stay tuned for those recipes coming soon. Oh, and the whiskey cake, too!

After most people headed out, about 10 of us laughed around the fire pit until midnight. That’s the thing about Park City; it can be 90 during the day, but at night, you can sip your last drink around a fire. It’s what John and I envisioned when we planned that area of the backyard, and it makes me smile when we use it.

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I pretty much love everything about a good party, whether I’m a guest or the host. This morning, there was plenty of evidence that a good time was had by all, young and old-ish. It’s far easier to handle the post-party mess with love notes scribbled in chalk everywhere!

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I’d say that Summer Fiesta 2013 definitely topped last year’s bash. The bar has been raised for next year, that’s for sure!

I just hope this heat wave ends before I run out of sangria… 

25 replies »

  1. Now THAT is some summer fun. Sorry I missed it! My invitation must have gotten lost in the mail. 😉

    Sidewalk chalk, those bar napkins, and kiddie staches warmed my heart. My June was nuts, as you know (even my photo-a-day today shows it!), so it’s nice to see that bliss is all around me. Today, it was a cute baby barn swallow fledge on the porch. As if on queue for “Happiness Is…” HA!

    Thanks for spreading your joy, Amber. I would SO hire you to do my gatherings.

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