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 Fourth 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 Fourth 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 cool and crispy topping of coleslaw. If berries are in season, 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 with pineapple chunks. String up the tiki lights, put out some grass skirts and coconut tops, and 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; be sure to serve heartier fare to to balance the food and drink input.
Pool 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 grilled fruit and drizzled with white and dark chocolate. And people of all ages enjoy it.