Summer Entertaining – Casual Dinner for Family & Friends

IMG_3764I had wanted to do a casual dinner for family friends, but before I knew it my children had invited the neighborhood and the guest list looked more like a party than a casual sit down dinner for eight.  I decided to just roll with it because it was summer and it’s so much fun to open the house up and have friends over.  I also hate to ask the kids to tell people they can’t come when it is so easy to make a little extra food.

Organizing dinners with very busy people can be a challenge. This party was complicated because my husband and one of our guests could not be there until 7 p.m. and I also had a 7 p.m. car pool pick up.  We explored different dates, but several of the guests were leaving the next day for a 2 week vacation and on and on.  Sometimes, you just have to make things work, so I greeted my guests, threw the lasagna in the oven and then left to pick up my daughter and a friend while my husband entertained everyone.  I was back before the lasagna was bubbling and I was able to toss the salad while the pasta noodles cooked.


I’m going to do this post quickly because I have a soccer tournament to attend, so I don’t have time to rewrite the recipes.  But, I wanted to get this posted to inspire you to host a fun party like this.  You can use the Cheese Stick Lasagna recipe in my cookbook, Real Food For Real People (Amazon),  and one of the many salad recipes also in the book.   This salad consisted of spring greens with red peppers, avocado and goat cheese and tossed with my homemade white balsamic vinaigrette.   I will write the lasagna recipe in the next few days, but this one was made with a Ground Turkey and Italian Pork Sausage Red Sauce (recipe to follow) and lots of fresh mozzarella cheese.  It was a huge hit with the kids and the Dads.



Butter Noodles with Fresh Grated Cheese

When cooking for kids it’s a good idea to have a dish for the unadventurous eater.  I often do a mac and cheese version of this, but due to time constraints described above I made this very easy pasta dish that everyone loves.


2 boxes of good quality Penne Pasta

1/2 stick of butter cut into small pieces

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup good quality Parmesan


Cook noodles as per package directions.  While noodles cook cut butter into small pieces and place in the bottom of a pasta bowl.  When noodles are cooked, drain them and stir them into butter to melt.  Add cheese and sea salt toss with tongs and serve.

I like to put out the grater and cheese, so guests can help themselves to a topping of fresh grated cheese.




I then followed it up with S’mores which the kids always beg for.  I can do an entire blog on S’mores, so look for that in the weeks ahead.


Happy summer.




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