A Very Cherry Birthday Party

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by Candace Brower and Anthony Lunsmann
Photography by Cedric Smith

When one of the coolest chicks in the land (I’m talking about you Autumn Van Gunten) is turning 40 and her even cooler boyfriend (Yep, that’s you Cedric Smith) asks you to cater a little surprise dinner party for her and her closest friends, you scream HELL YES!

Inspired by the juicy ruby colored fruit of the season, I used cherries to inform the table and the menu spectacle for this very special event.

The result, like Autumn, a total cherry bomb!!!

The menu on a chalkboard made of a vintage vanity mirror
Chalk Board Art, Menu chalk Board, Libbie Summers, A food-inspired life, Party decor,
Greens, roses, fresh cherries and vintage milk glass ran down the middle of the farm tables as a centerpiece. 
Tablescapes, Cherries, Dinner Party Decor, Libbie Summers Parties, Food-inspired parties
The birthday girl, Autumn, in blue and feeling happy surrounded by her dearest friends including her best friend who flew in from Ohio for the surprise! 
Me…explaining the menu and looking tired! 🙂 
Libbie Summers Dinner Party, Greeting Guests, 40th birthday parties
First Course (sat on the table for guests to pour themselves):
Southern Peanut Soup 

Soups, Peanut Soup, A food-inspired life, Libbie Summers
Second Course:
Salad of Pea Shoots, Avocado and Watermelon

Salads, Summer Salads, Avocado Salads, Watermelon Salads, Libbie Summers, A food-inspired life, parties
Tablescape Ingredients: Fresh rosemary, eucalyptus, fresh cherries, pink roses, garden greens, vintage glassware, mix of flatware, torn french fabric napkins, mix and match plates, vintage milk glass, glass cloches and burlap. 
Cherries, Summer Parties, Tablescapes, Libbie Summers, A food-inspired life
Main Course:
Slow Roasted Pork Tenderloin, Fried Potatoes, Cherry Salsa, Handmade Charred Tortillas
Pork Recipes, Pork Tacos, Cherry Salsa, Libbie Summers, A food-inspired life,
Cherry Inspired birthday party, Libbie Summers, Summer Parties, Cherry-inspired party, Summer entertaining, Libbie Summers

Happy 40th Birthday Autumn!

Cherry Watermelon Wedge Salad

By Libbie Summers
Photography by Teresa Earnest
Assisted by David Dempsey

When my son was young, he called a watermelon wedge diced in the rind “fancy melon”. In toddler Jenga fashion, his tiny fingers would strategically pull out the diced pieces from the rind bringing on contagious juicy giggles.

With a few simple cuts, the humble watermelon wedge will instantly become “fancy” in the eyes of any guests at your table. And, topped with this simple fruit salsa, salty feta and crunchy pistachios…it’s extra fancy.
Summer Salads, Watermelon Salad, Cherry Salsa, Summer Entertaining
Cherry Watermelon Wedge Salad
ripe melon, cherry salsa, feta, pistachios, lime finish
Serves 4

What you need:
4 watermelon wedges (about 6-8 inches long and 3-4 inches wide at the rind)
1 cup fresh cherries, pitted and roughly chopped (feel free to sub any fruit here, it all works!)
¼ jalapeno, finely diced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 juicy lime
Flake sea salt
Coarsely ground black pepper
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
¼ cup pistachios, roughly chopped
Olive oil for drizzling

What to do:
1. Prepare cherry salsa: Cut the lime in half. Cut one half into wedges and set aside for serving. In a small bowl, stir together the cherries, jalapeno, cilantro and juice of ½ lime. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
2. Prepare watermelon: The way these wedges are diced in the rind and served from it, is what   makes this summer salad a show stopper! Working with one wedge at a time, start your cuts from the peak of the watermelon wedge, make vertical slices 1-inch wide just down to the rind (don’t cut through the rind). Next, with your knife at a 45-degree angle, make horizontal cuts about 1-inch wide on one side of the wedge working from the peak to the rind without slicing through the rind. Spin to the other side of the wedge and repeat the process. Finally, run your knife along the rind of the wedge.
To Serve: Place one watermelon wedge on each plate pulling out a few of the pieces of melon slightly to give a “shelf” for the salsa to land on. Spoon salsa over each wedge. Top each with feta and pistachios. Drizzle with olive oil and finish with a pinch of salt. Serve with a lime wedge on the side.
Summer Salads, Watermelon Salad, Cherry Salsa, Summer Entertaining, Fancy Salad
Event Design, Party Design, Magnolias, Watermelon, A food-inspired life,

Red Velvet Balloon Dog Biscuits

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey

For the fun-loving and heath conscious dog!
Balloon Dog, Vizsla, Dog Treats
Red Velvet Balloon Dog Biscuits
yield varies based on the size of your cutter

What you need:
6-7 medium canned beets (drained)
1/4 teaspoon chicken base (can substitute beef or ham…The Bitch likes them all)
1 egg
1-2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup dry milk
2 teaspoons baking powder

What to do:
Preheat oven to 325ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor, add the beets, chicken base, egg, 1 1/2 cups flour, dry milk and baking powder. Process just until combined. The mixture should feel like a bread dough. If it’s too wet, add more flour (2 tablespoons at a time).

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and roll to a 1/4-1/2-inch thickness and cut with your cookie cutter. I used a balloon dog shaped cutter, but often I’ll just use a small star because The Bitch thinks she’s a star and we like to indulge her.

Bake for 30 minutes or until hard and crisp but not too browned. You can turn these over halfway through the baking process, but it’s not necessary. Repeat with the remaining dough. Allow to cool completely before using.

Use within one week. Biscuits can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Healthy Dog Biscuits, Beet dog biscuits, Libbie Summers, A food-inspired life, Vizsla, Dog Treats

Watch the video!

Balloon Dog Biscuits (VIDEO)

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey

One very judgy dog LOVES this very delicious dog biscuit, but refuses to act like she does.

Lunar Landing Cocktail

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey

When someone says “Party like an Astronaut“, do it!

I serve this cheeky cocktail alongside appetizers from the era at a party each year to celebrate the Apollo 11 lunar landing anniversary (July 20, 1969).

PS There’s always an astronaut photo booth and there’s ALWAYS someone drunk in the pool.
Astronaut Party, NASA Party, Apollo 11, Cocktail, Summer Cocktails, Popsicle Cocktail, Libbie Summers, A food-inspired Life

Lunar Landing Cocktail!
Summer Drinks, Fun Party Drinks, Cocktail Party Drinks, Astronaut Party, Apollo 11, NASA, A food-inspired life, Libbie Summers,
Lunar Landing Cocktail
makes 1

What you need: 
Ice (crushed crudely to look like moon rocks)
1 jigger of vodka
Seltzer
1 Bomb Pop

What to do: 
Pack a tall glass with ice. Add vodka and just enough seltzer to bring the level to 1-inch below the top of the glass. Add a bomb pop…splash down style!!