This Memorial Day weekend we were honored to be invited to enjoy an outdoor barbecue at a friend's house. And it was an honor.
It seems like people are less and less willing to host a gathering, to do the work that it takes to have friends over. I love to entertain and when the invitations to our house never seemed to be returned by the invitees, I found myself getting bitter. But I had to do a reality check -- entertaining at your home can be hard. From getting the house and yard ready to buying and preparing all the food and beverages to just managing your guests RSVPs, what should be fun starts feeling like a hassle.
So, when we do get invited, I try to acknowledge the work the hosts have done. I try to RSVP as soon as possible, I try to be a fun and appreciative party guest, and if I'm asked to bring something, I try to make it something special. (Notice my caveat "try." I can be damn lazy.) It's easy to bring a bag of chips, but I like to make my potluck offering a gift to the host, a little something to acknowledge the work she or he has done.
The trend that is the Mason jar is the perfect way to offer that gift. It allows you a beautiful way to present your goodie, to make goodies single-serving if appropriate and to designate adult drinks from kid drinks. I've included some of my favorite jar offerings below. Enjoy!
This Roasted Eggplant Dip on toasted brushetta is a real crowd pleaser, not only for the hearty, tangy taste of the dip, but the beautiful presentation it makes in a large jar. I bought a 1 liter Weck jar for $5 from World Market and it held all the goodness. Place your toasted bread, a ramekin of ricotta and the jar on a platter and let people make up their own toasts.
With the mint and the peaches and the bubbles from the sparkling wine, these White Peach Sangrias are beautiful in Mason jars. If you're using 8-ounce Mason jars, this recipe makes a dozen drinks. Put three peach slices and a spring of mint in every jar, mix the liquids in a pitcher and fill jars about two-thirds of the way. Then ice in a tub and bring to a party!
I like Cowboy Caviar because it has so many healthy ingredients that it feels like you're canceling out the fried chips you're dipping into it. All the little morsels especially look vivid and colorful presented in a jar. Make sure your avocados are firm so they don't turn into guacamole when you stir.
Many summer parties are all-ages parties. Putting alcoholic cocktails in jars is an easy way to keep kids from pouring a deliciously tempting drink like this Berry Vodka Punch into their Dixie cups. These single servings of hard alcohol also allow your guests to have fun without having TOO much fun!
Nothing looks more gorgeous than these cubes of watermelon flecked in sea salt sparkling in their jars in a tub of ice. I adapted this Tequila-Soaked Watermelon recipe to offer my guests a refreshing, mildly boozy treat on a hot day. Cutting up the watermelon into bite-sized cubes, distributing it between the jars, pouring the liquid over the top and then sealing them up gives them more flavor than pouring the liquid over the top of slices.
When we were in our 20s, we took these classic American favorites to an elegant D.C. dinner party. No one was as charmed as we were. But in glass jars on a hot summer day, cold Chocolate Pudding Parfaits are the bomb. You don't really need a recipe -- graham cracker crumbs on the bottom, instant chocolate pudding next, Cool Whip on top. Refrigerate.