Three Essentials for Summer Entertaining

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Summer is heavily upon us here in Chicago.  We had rain yesterday that broke the heat a bit, but we've been steadily in the 80s and 90s.  You know me, winter baby at heart, but John absolutely loves summer.  He was born on July 5th, and he has a great time in the heat.  So I try to get on board best I can, and that means hosting and entertaining in our backyard.  Because summer is when everyone wants to come out for a get together.  We've been having people over casually a lot lately, so I picked up a few essentials that I wanted to share with you (a long form three on Thursday!) to help you make the most of your next summer entertaining event.

Get the Right Meat

Summer grilling is John's favorite pastime.  The barbecue was one of the first things he moved into the house (well, into the back yard.)  And he's gotten pretty particular about what he eats and how he grills it, and getting great product at great prices is really essential to hosting a successful summer party.  Did you know you can order meat online?  Yep!  He found out about this meat delivery service and now John is obsessed with Fareway Meat Market.  It's really high quality meat at a value price, and he refuses to get anything at the local grocery store anymore.

Everything is hand-cut and high quality, We got the Date Night Bundle, which included two 10 oz. Iowa Pork Chops, two 8 oz. America's Cut Boneless Pork Chops, and two 12 oz. Beef Ribeye Steaks.  We also got a pound of Butcher's Blend Ground Beef and four Premium Steak Burgers.  For this particular dinner, he grilled up the ribeye steaks and the burgers.  John's biggest tip on the grill?  Don't keep flipping!  Just cook things once per side.

We offered the usual fixings on the side - ketchup, mustard, pickles, barbecue sauce, etc., but everyone thought the meat was great on it's own.  If you want to try Fareway Meat Market for yourself, enter the code 'meatlover' to receive $20 off your first order.  You won't be disappointed!

Include Sides and Snacks

While the grilling is usually the main component of backyard get togethers, sides and snacks can't be overlooked.  We grill tons of vegetable kebobs and corn cobs, and guests often bring different salads and desserts.  I also like to make sure there are things to snack on before the main dishes are grilled up.  Chips are essential for snacking, at any event you host.  But popchips are great in particular for healthy snacking.  Popchips contain only real ingredients and are never fried, making it a great lighter option in the summer heat.

I think the barbeque was the universal favorite with it's hint of smoke, but I liked the zesty jalapeño cheddar since I prefer a little spice.  We served them all plain but it would be easy to make dips to match each flavor.  I'll keep it in mind for next time.

Don't Forget a Variety of Drinks

Everyone's first thought goes straight to the booze but you have to provide things to actually hydrate your guests in the heat.  So important to keep everyone safe!  Water is great of course, but I like to provide options, and iced tea goes so well with summer.  Particularly sweet tea, and Southern Breeze Sweet Tea has made that easier than ever.  It's cold brew tea, so you just steep a bag in cold water for 5 minutes, and then add ice.  Done!  Really, that's it.  The sweetener is already in the tea bag, and it's zero calories.

It comes in four flavors, but we tried just the original and the peach.  I'll be trying the other soon though.  And of course, you can easily use this for cocktails and mocktails.  Add some lemonade for a sweet Arnold Palmer, always a classic and a crowd favorite.  Adding some vodka would make it my best friend Tara's favorite drink.  She loves her sweet tea vodka.  Serve with a wedge of lemon and a stainless steel straw and enjoy!  Try it for yourself and get free shipping on your order here.

Do you entertain during the summer?  What essentials and tips do you have to share?

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