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One of the best things about summer is being able to throw a party in the backyard. Whether it be a family BBQ, a graduation of Father's day party of even a 4th of July festival, summer parties are awesome. I love stringing up tiki lights, dreaming up a theme and whipping up the food. Since I can fit more people in my outdoor space than inside my house, I can invite more people. Something about the sultry summer air just invites people to linger and chat. For Father's day, grill some steaks or ribs with a side or corn to show dad you love him. For a graduation party a stack of burgers will keep the young adult crown happy. For dessert, consider homemade ice cream on top of warm brownies. Top them with chocolate sauce and salty peanuts tin roof sundae style. For 4th of July, how about slow roasting a brisket, or pork should for BBQ beef sandwiches or pulled pork sandwiches? I love a North Carolina style pork sandwich with vinegary BBQ sauce and a coll and crispy topping of coleslaw. For 4th of July, berries are on season so you can serve red white and blue ice cream sundaes with strawberry and blueberry sauces. A luau is a great theme for a summer party. Serve mai tais with fruit spears and tiny umbrellas. Grill shrimp on skewers alternated with pineapple chunks. String up the tiki lights, put out some grass skirts and coconut tops ans see if anyone is brave enough to model. If you have plenty of time and space roast a pig, either in a pit in the ground kalua style or rent a rotisserie and cook it over hot coals. Be sure to allow enough time for this, because a party can get out of hand if the pig doesn't get done in time to eat and too many mai tais were consumed while waiting. A wine tasitng event is a really great outdoor mixer, because you can serve the wine in several locations throughout your entertaining space. Pair each wine with some cheese and fruit. Your local wine merchant or gourmet grocery store would be glad to help you with the pairing if you need help. Be sure to serve heartier fare to to balance the food and drink intput. Poor parties are great family fun. Almost every child on the planet loves to swim in the summer time and even adults are drawn into the childhood remembrances of frolicking in the water. Crank up the grill and plan really big portions. There's nothing like swimming to spark the appetite. One of my favorite easy recipes for outdoor entertaining is grilled pizzas. They go with almost any theme (Hawaiian, Meat lover, gourmet, kid friendly, and even upscale with goat cheese and arugula). Most of the work is done in advance making the crust or you can simply use frozen bread dough and each guest can tailor make their own pizza (especially the kids). Grilled pizza works as an appetizer, a main course or a dessert topped with grilles fruit and drizzled with white and dark chocolate. And people of all ages enjoy it.

Easy Dinner Recipe - Grilled Pizza Grilled Pizzas This is a family favorite that kids love. Individual pizzas cooked on the grill or campfire cook up fast and can be tailored to individual tastes. You can choose to make basic pizza or choose more sophisticated toppings like brie and portabella. Serves 4 Ingredients 2 ea Refrigerated pizza dough 2 Tb Olive oil 1 Can Pizza or spaghetti sauce 3 C Mozzarella cheese - grated Assorted pizza toppings - sliced tomato - pepperoni Instructions Preheat the grill or campfire until hot. If it is raining, you can always use the broiler. Roll out the dough, stretch and form into individual size pizza crusts. Brush with olive oil to prevent sticking. Grill the crusts 2 minutes per side until firm. Remove and top with sauce, cheese and toppings. Grill until cheese is melted and toppings are heated through. Note: You can also pre-grill vegetable toppings like peppers and portabellas.

Julie Languille Mom, step-mom, foster mom and adoptive mom and owner of Dinners In A Flash Easy Dinner Recipes, Menus and Meal Planning for Busy Families

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