Secrets to my Fete Success: Part Two

So I know I promised you the recipes from my party...forever ago!

Here they are...forever ago + 1 day...

We wanted this party to be a casual summer BBQ. But I wanted to make sure that it was special enough to celebrate Melanie and Jon's engagement, so I relied on BBQ staples with a twist for the menu.

Now when I say "I" what I really mean is my fabulous-chef of a sister, and my equally talented mother-in-law. I just made sure their food had pretty plates to live on.

Courtesy of High Street Market

Tip: If you are not a good cook, don't try to become one in time for the party. While I came up with the menu...the real cooks in my family (my sister and mother-in-law) totally deserve all the credit for their magnificent dishes!

Melanie & Jon's Summer Engagement BBQ Menu


Asparagus Roll Ups
(made by my mother-in-law, courtesy of Southern Living November 2001)

24 fresh asparagus spears
1 8 ounce package cream cheese
1 4 ounce package crumbles bleu cheese
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
12 slices thin bread, trimmed
12  slices sliced deli ham
1/4 can butter

Serving Size: 12 appetizer servings 

Garnishes: green onion curl, red bell pepper  

Snap off tough ends of asparagus, and remove scales from stalks with a vegetable peeler, if desired. Arrange asparagus in a steamer basket over boiling water. Cover and steam 4 to 6 minutes or until crisp-tender. Remove from steamer, and cool on paper towels. 

Stir together cream cheese and next 3 ingredients.
  • Roll each bread slice with a rolling pin to flatten. Spread 1 side of each slice with 2 tablespoons cream cheese mixture; top each with 1 ham slice.
  • Place 2 asparagus spears, tips pointed toward opposite ends, on 1 end of each bread slice; roll up, and place, seam side down, on a greased baking sheet. Brush with butter; sprinkle with paprika.
  • Bake at 400° for 12 minutes or until golden. Garnish, if desired. Serve immediately.  
  • Note: Freeze unbaked rollups up to 1 month in an airtight container. Thaw in refrigerator, and bake as directed.

Janet's Black Bean Salsa
(I am not kidding when I say every single time my mother-in-law makes this, every single person asks her for the recipe. This won't disappoint!)

16 ounces cooked black beans
16 ounces fresh or frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon ground cumin
salt and ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped ripe tomatoes, drained

Serving Size: 8


  • In large bowl, combine beans, corn, cilantro, green onion, red onion, lime juice, oil and cumin.  
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.  
  • Cover and chill at least 2 hours or up to overnight.  
  • Just before  serving, stir in tomatoes.  
  • Serve with blue and white corn chips or the new Guacamole chips.


Avocado Chicken Salad in Lettuce Cups
(created by my sister)

Kitchen Space

Chicken breasts
2 Avocados
2 cups of grapes
2 tbsp. mayo
1/8 cup of sour cream
Garlic powder
Roasted red pepper sauce
Gouda cheese

  • Cut raw chicken in bite sized pieces and cook in a skillet until cooked through
  • Add salt, pepper, and chili powder to skillet
  • Let cool
  • Add 1-2 avocados cut into small pieces and grapes cut in half
  • Mix in 2 tbsp. mayo, 1/8 c. sour cream
  • Add salt, pepper and dash of garlic powder
  • Lay on a bed of lettuce or scoop individual servings into lettuce cups
  • Sprinkle sliced almonds on top and drizzle roasted red pepper sauce over top
Roasted red pepper sauce is made by blending one 8 oz. jar of roasted red peppers using only a little bit of the oil/water, 1/2 c. of Gouda cheese (chopped) and 1 cup. sour cream., salt & pepper. 
Watermelon Salad
(created by my sister)

1 Whole watermelon
Olive oil
Whole mint leaves
Feta cheese
Peeled pistachios
  • Slice half a watermelon into triangle wedges
  • Sprinkle 1 tbsp olive oil and salt over top
  • Add whole mint leaves, feta cheese, and peeled pistachios to taste

Main Dish

Wasabi Burgers
(made by my sister)

Martha Stewart

4lbs ground beef/chicken
4 tbsp of soy sauce
2 tbsp wasabi powder
Salt & pepper to taste
  • Combine ingredients into patties
  • Grill.
Served with avocado aioli
1 avocado
1/2 cup mayo
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tsp garlic powder
salt & pepper
Also served with ginger sesame slaw
1 package shredded cabbage
1/8 c. rice wine vinegar
1/8 c. soy sauce
1 tbsp. shredded ginger
1 tbsp. sesame oil
2 tbsp. sesame seeds
Salt & pepper

Signature Drink

White Sangria
(recipe by Rachel Ray)

Photography by Ian Wallace

3 tablespoons sugar
3 shots Calvados or other apple liquor
1 lime, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
2 ripe peaches, cut into wedges
3 ripe green apples seeded and cut into wedges 
1 bottle white Rioja Spanish wine or other dry white wine 
1 pint raspberries 
Sparkling soda water, for topping off glasses of sangria at table

  • Combine sugar, Calvados, lime, lemon, peaches and apples in a large pitcher. 
  • Cover with 1 bottle of Rioja
  • To serve, spoon fruits into glasses or goblets, adding a few fresh raspberries in each glass, pour wine over top of the fruit. 
  • Top glasses of sangria off with a splash of soda water and serve.


Lemon Cookies
(Made by my mother-in-law, recipe by Betty Crocker)

Betty Crocker
1 Box of Betty Crocker SuperMoist lemon cake mix
1/3 Shortening
1/3 Cup butter or margarine, softened
1 Egg
1 Container Betty Crocker Whipped or Rich & Creamy lemon frosting

  • Heat oven to 375 degrees F
  • In large bowl, beat cake mix, shortening, butter and egg on medium speed about 2 minutes or until blended
  • Onto ungreased cookie sheet, drop dough by rounded tablespoons 2 inches apart
  • Bake 9-12 minutes or until light brown around edges
  • Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet; cool completely
  • Frost with frosting

Carmel Brownies
(created & made by my mother-in-law)

2/3 c. evaporated milk, divided
14 oz. pkg. caramels
3/4 c. butter, melted
1 pkg. German Chocolate cake mix
1 c. chocolate chips
1/2 c. chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350.

  • Melt caramels with 1/3 c. evaporated milk over low heat. (Unwrapping the caramels is the most tedious part of this recipe.)
  • Combine the melted butter, remaining 1/3 c. evaporated milk and cake mix
  • Spread 1/2 the batter into an ungreased 13 X 9" pan
  • Bake for 6 to 8 minutes
  • Sprinkle the top with pecans
  • Spread melted caramels over the nuts
  • Drop remaining cake batter on top. Don't worry about spreading the batter out--it will spread while baking
  • Bake an additional 15-20 minutes


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