Summer Cookout with Some of the Parker Gwen Staff's Summer Recipes


With spring finally warming up and summer just peeking its head over the horizon, it's time to start thinking about cooking and/or eating outside. Firing up the grill and grilling (or is it barbecuing?) a few burgers and bratwursts, corn on the cob, and a nice cold salad to cool you off.

Of course, the staff at Parker Gwen have a few strong opinions about what makes an ideal summer recipe. We'll cover some grilling basics next month, like how to make the best burgers and brats (hint: let your bratwursts simmer in beer in a shallow pan for 10 minutes first), but we wanted to share a few of our favorite salad and dessert recipes to help you get started for the season.

Let's start with a drink.


Kenzie's Tequila Paloma Cocktail

This one comes to us from Kenzie's own website.


1/4 cup grapefruit juice

1/4 cup tequila

1/4 cup club soda

1 squirt of sugar syrup dash of salt


Fill a plate with salt and wet the rim of your glass. Dip the glass in it for a salted rim. Add grapefruit and lime slices to the rim.

Mix all the ingredients in your cub and stir until sugar syrup is well mixed.

Add ice. Enjoy!

    Christine’s Caprese Salad

    Tomatoes fresh off your own vine make this recipe even more special.


    4-5 fresh tomatoes

    1 pound fresh Mozzarella cheese

    Olive oil

    Balsamic vinegar 

    Fresh basil leaves

    Pinch of salt

    Pinch of sugar


    Slice tomatoes and mozzarella cheese and layer one on top of each other

    Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar on top

    Sprinkle salt and sugar

    Top with fresh basil leaves

      Tiffanie’s Cucumbers and Tomatoes in Dill Dressing

      The onions add a little kick to this great summer salad. Rinse them first to take off a little of the bite so it doesn't overpower the sweetness of the tomatoes and cucumbers.


      6-8 cocktail cucumbers sliced

      1 pint cherry tomatoes cut in half 1 small red onion diced

      3 tablespoons olive oil

      1 lemon juiced

      2 tablespoons white vinegar

      1 tablespoon honey

      1 teaspoon salt

      1 teaspoon black pepper

      2 tablespoons fresh dill


      Cut all vegetables and combine in a large bowl.

      Blend olive oil, juiced lemon, white vinegar, honey, salt, pepper and dill to form the dressing.

      Toss cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and red onion in dill dressing.

      Chill and serve.

        Sean’s Patriotic Pizza

        This is a pretty simple recipe and it's especially great for an Independence Day picnic, because you'll lay out the blueberries, strawberries, and bananas as the Stars-and-Stripes.


        2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

        1 teaspoon cream of tartar

        1 teaspoon baking soda

        ¼ teaspoon salt

        ½ cup vegetable shortening

        ½ cup margarine, softened

        1 ½ cups white sugar

        2 eggs

        1 teaspoon vanilla extract

        2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

        1 cup white sugar

        2 teaspoons vanilla extract

        3 large bananas, sliced - or as needed

        1 tablespoon lemon juice, or as needed

        1 (16 ounce) package fresh strawberries, sliced

        1 (6 ounce) container fresh blueberries


        Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Whisk the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.

        In a large mixing bowl, mash the vegetable shortening and margarine together until thoroughly combined, and beat in 1 1/2 cup of sugar, eggs, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Mix in the flour mixture to make a workable dough, and spread the dough out in a rectangle shape onto an ungreased 12x17 inch baking sheet.

        Bake in the preheated oven until very lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

        While the cookie base is cooling, mash the cream cheese with 1 cup of sugar and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract in a bowl until smooth. Place sliced bananas in a bowl, and gently toss with lemon juice to prevent browning.

        To decorate the pizza, spread the cream cheese filling all over the cookie base in an even, smooth layer. Place the blueberries in a square in neat, closely-spaced rows, in the left upper corner for blue stars. Arrange alternating stripes of white bananas and red strawberry slices across the pizza. Refrigerate leftovers.

          Matt's Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars

          Crust: 2 cups graham cracker crumbs 3 Tbs sugar 8 Tbs unsalted butter, melted


          16 oz. cream cheese

          1/2 cup sour cream

          3/4 cup sugar

          2 eggs

          1 tsp vanilla extract

          1 pinch of salt

          2 tsp lemon zest

          2 Tbs lemon juice

          1 pint blueberries


          Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9x13 inch pan with foil and lightly grease.

          In a bowl, mix the crust ingredients, toss with fork until well-blended.

          Press mixture evenly into pan. Bake for 8 - 10 minutes. Place on wire rack to cool.

          In a bowl, combine cream cheese and sour cream (with mixer on medium) until smooth.

          Add sugar and beat on med-high until light and fluffy.

          Beat eggs in one at a time, mixing well after each.

          Blend in vanilla, salt, lemon juice and zest.

          Fold in blueberries with a spatula until evenly coated.

          Fold mixture into pan and crust and gently spread evenly.

          Bake 35 minutes until center of pan no longer jiggles.

          Place on cooling rack until room temperature and then place in refrigerator for four hours.

          When you're preparing your outdoor area for dining and lounging, be sure to check out our selections for outdoor cooking, dining, and lounging. If you'd like help in designing or remodeling your outdoor space, Parker Gwen's design experts can help you create a beautiful space that brings your inside out. To learn more or see how we can help you, please call us at or visit our website for more information.

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