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May 7, 2012 09:26 PM

Summer Birthday Party for 40 Guests

Hello Fellow Foodies!

My husband turns 60 this September so I am planning on surprising him with a party in August. We have a large yard with multiple vegetable gardens, raspberry bushes and fruit trees. We even have hens for fresh eggs. We haven't had our family and friends over for eons and I thought it would be a great time to serve up our home grown delights. Please provide feedback regarding the menu below, which I'm considering.


Shrimp Cocktail

Main Course

Eggplant Parmesan
Garden Veggie Frittatas (cut into squares)
Teriyaki Grilled Chicken Sticks
Quinoa Tossed with Garden Veggies and Olive Oil
Roasted Beets with Goat Cheese


Fresh Raspberry Pie
Chocolate Cake
Homemade Cookies (TBD)

In another thread, someone suggested serving the gazpacho from a pitcher in shooter glasses. Does this sound like a good idea?

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  1. Menu looks great! Very ambitious! I like that!

    Since we're in berry season (depending on where you live), what about a triple berry trifle? It's very easy to make, gorgeous looking, keeps well, and can be made to serve plenty.

    Here's a picture of one:

    2 Replies
    1. re: 1POINT21GW

      Oh my!!! That trifle looks incredible! I've never made one but now I'm wondering, why not!?!?! We do have blueberries earlier in the summer. I can freeze some to use in August with the raspberries and make a Double Berry Trifle. I wonder if I can add peaches and paw paws? Great idea! Thanks so much : )

      I like the idea of the Trifle instead of the Raspberry Pie. It will be easier to make and serve and it is a visual delight. How far in advance can I make it and do you have a favorite recipe you'd like to share? TIA

      Also, I almost forgot . . . I'd serve zucchini bread with the main meal. And I have a beautiful glass beverage server with spout that I'll serve homemade lemonade in. I'll also have wine and beer but I'd like to offer another refreshing pretty drink that can be either virgin or with alcohol. Not sure what to do about wine glasses? Do I use real wine glasses or go with plastic?

      1. re: judydel

        We love this on a hot summer's day (and really anytime), it is so refreshing.

        Barefoot Contessa’s Herbal Iced Tea

        4 Celestial Seasonings Lemon Zinger tea bags
        4 Celestial Seasonings Red Zinger tea bags
        4 cups boiling water
        4 cups pure apple juice
        Steep the 8 tea bags in 4 cups of boiling water for about 10 minutes. Discard the tea bags. Combine the tea with the apple juice and refrigerate until cold. Serve over ice.

    2. The Trifle is an awesome idea. If you want to go on the light side, I've made them with store bought, Angel Food Cake, berries and custard layers, with whipped cream on the top. Very easy and well received.

      I think I would go with plastic, being outside. Also the gazpacho would look great in little short plastic old fashioned glasses. Add a sprig of fresh cilantro on each to freshen them up. The shot glasses are a little too small IMO. It may just be me, I love Gazpacho! lol Have a great time, try to do as much as possible ahead, so you can enjoy yourself also.

      1. I think your menu sounds great the way it is and I love the idea of gazpacho in shooter glasses. I love trifle in the summer and think it's pretty but you already have cake so I'd stick with the pie, if you can. And, while trifle is pretty before serving. it ends up muddled as time goes on. What will you have in the panzanella?

        Another drink you could do is a white wine sangria--refreshing in the summer. As a non-alcoholic drink, I like plain water that has had cucumber, lemon/lime, mint added to it a few hours earlier.

        1. I forgot to mention the additional drink.....since you seem to have an abundance of raspberries, how about a homemade raspberry tea. Quenches the thirst and would be great for all ages.

          1. Thanks for the feedback thus far!

            Chowser I've actually never made or had panzanella! I heard about it on here and then looked up recipes and photos. It looks/sounds so good . . . and easy. And in August we'll still have plenty of tomatoes. What's your favorite rendition? I figure I have plenty of time to fiddle with different variations. I like the idea of artichoke hearts, olives, roasted peppers, basil, and of course tomatoes and fine, stale italian bread from our local artisan bread bakery.

            Othervoice since it's my husband's birthday party I thought having his favorite cake (chocolate) would be a good idea. My kids make a killer chocolate layer cake from scratch so I could delegate that job to them. The trifle, although it has cake layers, seems like a totally different dessert, no? And I've been reading I can make it a couple of days in advance, unlike the fresh raspberry pies. The other problem with the raspberry pies is that they are messy to serve, lol. The trifle may look messy after awhile, but I think scooping is easier than slicing a fresh berry pie and getting it onto your plate. Maybe others can weigh in on this. Another thought would be to have chocolate cake layers in the trifle, nix the raspberry pie and just have a variety of good cookies with the trifle? Geesh I'm getting hungry now, lol.

            5 Replies
            1. re: judydel

              Your variation of panzanella sounds great. I like that you'll have an abundance of vegetables (throughout the whole meal even). I like using marinated bocconcini and get a huge tub from Costco. Then, I use that marinated olive oil for the base of the panzanella. It's my quick and easy short cut for it.

              I'd stick with the chocolate cake as is because it's his favorite and it's his birthday. You can't go wrong with either the trifle or the pie so if the trifle is easier, go with that. No one will mind. I think you'd be fine with just chocolate cake and cookies. If you have raspberries, make a raspberry sauce/fresh raspberries on the side for the cake. Add whipped cream on the side and you have a deconstructed trifle. After all the other good food it sounds like you're having, I think guests will be full by then!

              1. re: judydel

                I think you'll be completely fine with chocolate cake and the raspberry pie or trifle as the two would be so different from one another and, besides, they're both good and most everyone, if not everyone, will love them so I wouldn't be so concerned with "rules" as I would simply serving what your husband and everyone else likes to eat.

                Concerning the recipe for the trifle I would use angel food cake (store-bought will work just fine) and, of course, blueberries and strawberries. For the "white" portion you could use any practically combination of cream cheese, yogurt, sour cream, and/or whipped cream. Additionally, you can make the "white" portion as sweet or unsweet as you'd like. Even though this dish can be considered a dessert, it is so "light" that it could even be served before the entrees.

                As far as scooping out the trifle versus slicing and serving the pie, I don't see any advantage over either as both will look their best before they're cut into and served. I think people will overlook the potential messiness since they had seen the pie or trifle before it was attacked in all it's glory, not to mention people understand that food doesn't stay perfect looking once it's being served in bulk or buffet style.

                Concerning how long the trifle will keep, it will keep for hours, if not days, depending on the ripeness of the fruits you use and how you make your filling between the layers. I will mention, though, that if you're planning on picking or buying the berries now and freezing them until you're ready to use them, they will weep and mess up your pretty presentation. I would only use freshly picked or purchased berries in the trifle, especially if you're planning on making it more than a day in advance.

                1. re: judydel

                  I created a trifle with chocolate mousse, chocolate chip pound cake, fresh strawberries and whipped cream. Garnish the top with chocolate curls or strawberries. Since your husband likes chocolate, this may be a nice compromise. The chocolate mousse makes it really, really decadent!