(BPT) - Whether you're celebrating a birthday, bridal shower, graduation or simply inviting friends over to revel in the good weather, the change in seasons offers a great excuse to enjoy a meal outdoors and spend time with family and friends. Here are a few tips to help you simplify, so you can make the most of your good weather soiree.
* Keep it simple. Plan a streamlined, make-ahead menu: a salad of fresh greens or in-season fruit; grilled burgers, like Mirassou Winery's recipe for Sunset Sliders; and dessert, such as fresh fruit with a scoop of ice cream.
* Make the most of the season. Source your ingredients locally - the food will be fresher, and you'll have an instant conversation starter. Your fruit might be from the orchard down the street, your greens from a local farm and your beef from a regional ranch.
* Cater to all tastes by offering a white wine like chardonnay, a red wine like Mirassou's Sunset Red, as well as non-alcoholic beverages, such as lemonade or iced tea.
* Take your decorating cues from nature by featuring whatever is blooming in your backyard. Snip flowers, herbs or short leafy branches and place in mason jars or small vases, alongside tea lights.
* Relax. The best get-togethers are when you are relaxed and visiting with your guests, rather than harried and trying to get food on the table.
David Mirassou, wine expert and sixth generation of America's oldest winemaking family, believes the key to hosting a truly enjoyable gathering takes equal parts planning and relaxing.
'I've been to events where the hosts are so busy creating the perfect meal that they don't get to fully enjoy their guests,' says Mirassou. 'The most memorable times are when everyone is relaxed, enjoying a glass of wine, good food, a beautiful sunset and each other.'
By simplifying, your get-together will be stress-free, delicious and enjoyable - after all, a relaxed host makes for happy guests.
For more recipes, visit www.mirassou.com/recipes.
Mirassou Sunset Sliders
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 6 to 8 minutes
Makes 8 servings
1 pound lean ground beef (preferably grass fed)
1/2 cup finely chopped baby bella mushrooms
1/4 cup minced shallots or red onion
1/4 cup Mirassou Sunset Red
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup shredded aged Gouda cheese
Freshly ground pepper to taste
8 brioche, ciabatta or other small slider rolls
8 thin Roma tomato slices
4 strips cooked cherry wood or apple wood smoked bacon, broken into quarters
Baby arugula leaves
Using your hands, mix beef, mushrooms, shallots, wine, rosemary, Dijon and salt in a medium bowl. Shape into 8 very flat patties. Grill, broil or pan fry for 3 minutes. Turn and top with cheese; cook for 2 minutes more. Serve on lightly toasted rolls with tomato, bacon and arugula.
Recipe tip: Dress arugula with a bit of olive oil and balsamic for extra flavor.
Pairing Suggestion: Pairs with Mirassou Sunset Red.