My favorite way to entertain is with laidback barbecues and picnics. Memorial Day weekend is the perfect occasion to kick off outdoor entertaining. Serve juicy turkey and black bean burgers (to satisfy the meat eaters and veggie-friendly guests alike) alongside vegetables brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper, and grilled right along with the patties during the last minutes of cooking. Prepare a make-ahead dessert like tiramisu or mini ice cream pies the night before and you’re all set.
Fun drinks make any celebration more festive, and a glass of cold white sangria with colorful fruit floating in it is my favorite party drink. I love peach sangria, but you can use just about any fruit and juice you have on hand.
Peach White Sangria
1 bottle white wine
1 bottle sparkling white wine
3 cups peach juice
2 peaches, pitted and sliced
2 oranges, sliced
1 cup raspberries
½ cup fresh mint leaves
ASSEMBLY Pour all the ingredients into a large pitcher, stir, and serve cold. Serves 8 to 10.
Mini Ice Cream Pies
16 chocolate sandwich cookies (such as Oreo)
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 pints good-quality
ice cream, any flavor
1 cup chocolate chips
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon corn syrup
¼ cup milk
½ cup toasted nuts, chopped (optional)
2 tablespoons sprinkles (optional)
ASSEMBLY Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray.
To make the crust cups, pulse the cookies in a food processor until finely ground. Add the butter to the ground cookies and pulse until combined. Press 2 tablespoons of cookie crumbs into the bottoms and up the sides of eight muffin cups. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool completely. Place the muffin pan with the cookie cups in the freezer for 15 minutes to make removing the cups easier. Remove from the freezer, turn the pan upside down, and tap the back until the cups fall out. If they stick, try heating the underside of the pan with hot water for 10 seconds.
Scoop ice cream into the crust cups. An ice-cream scoop makes this easy and creates a nicely shaped pie. Place the ice cream pies back in the muffin tin. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze, for up to three days, until ready to use.
To make the fudge sauce, set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of shallow simmering water to create a double boiler. Pour the chocolate chips into the bowl and stir until melted. Stir in the butter, corn syrup, and milk until smooth and combined. Let fudge cool to room temperature.
The next step is pouring the fudge sauce over the ice cream. Because the fudge tends to run off the top of the ice cream, first spread a small, ½ teaspoon-size dollop of fudge on the very top of the ice cream domes and place the ice cream pies back into the freezer for 2 minutes until the chocolate dollops have hardened. Then pour the rest of the fudge on the tops of the pies. Top with nuts or sprinkles, if desired. Serve immediately, or return to the freezer until you’re ready to serve. Makes 8 cupcake-size pies.