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From the River City Kitchen

Recipes and tips to make a perfect summer dinner with friends

Article by Kit Garrott

Photography by Sarah Bell, Sélavie Photography

Originally published in River City Lifestyle

There is nothing like a summertime dinner with friends, complete with a seasonal cocktail or glass of wine. The River City Lifestyle team gathered this month to prepare and enjoy such a meal. The River City Kitchen collectively has many recipes, tips and kitchen hacks to share that are perfect for hosting this summer. 

Whether you’re prepping for a graduation party or a casual barbeque, these recipes are crowd-pleasers. A Mediterranean-inspired salad topped with toasted garbanzo beans fills you up, leaving room for a few chip-fulls of avocado, tomato and feta dip. These fresh flavors are complimented by the perfect chicken tenders, fried or grilled, from Abner’s Famous Chicken. Finally, spice up your typical sweet potato side of fries with cinnamon and sugar to break up all the wonderful savory flavors.

We headed to Joe's Wines and Liquors in Midtown to compliment our evening's menu with a few drink options. Sisco Larson, General Manager and beverage expert, provided insight into perfect wine pairings for our dishes. For our white wine, he pointed us towards Basque country. The crisp Txakolina Ameztoi we enjoyed is comparable to a sauvignon blanc with a little pop - perfect with our chicken and citrus flavors. For the red wine, Sisco showed us a Swick pinot noir. Swick does not add anything to their wine during the fermenting process, allowing the grapes to speak for themselves. We also prepared a crisp Southside cocktail with muddled mint, fresh-squeezed lemons and McQueen and the Violet Fog gin. This gin is summery, with over 21 botanicals gathered from all over the world. Cheers to the perfect early-summer night with great food, fresh drinks and wonderful company. 

Abner’s Chicken Tenders 

An easy way to make everyone happy – and they deliver!

Cook Time: You may need to reheat depending on the timing


  • Abner’s Sauce
  • Fried or grilled chicken filets


  1. Plate chicken on a large serving platter with Abner’s signature sauces. Option to add a homemade ranch or mayonnaise!

Avocado, Tomato and Feta Dip 

A light appetizer to get the party started!

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Ready In: 10 minutes

Serves: 6-8


  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1-2 Roma tomatoes
  • Feta to taste - about ½ small carton
  • Red onion
  • Fresh lime juice
  • Small tortilla chips or Frito’s scoops


  1. Chop everything up and squeeze lime on top. 
  2. Stir and serve with tortilla chips or Frito’s scoops 

Cinnamon Sweet Potato Fries

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15-25 minutes

Ready In: 30-45 minutes

Serves: 5-8


  • 3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ¼ inch strips
  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • Cinnamon to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  2. Peel, rinse and cut the potatoes.
  3. In a large bowl, place the potato strips and toss in oil, salt and pepper
  4. On a large, non-stick baking sheet - you may need 2 - lay the sweet potatoes flat. Do not overcrowd them.
  5. Option to sprinkle sugar and cinnamon over the potatoes for a caramelized texture.
  6. Bake for 15-25 minutes. Remove from the oven after 10 minutes to flip the fries for even browning. Cook for the remaining time or until the potatoes are golden brown. 
  7. Remove from the oven, and while the potatoes are still warm, sprinkle with more salt, cinnamon and sugar if desired.

Kale and Shaved Brussels Sprouts Mediterranean Salad

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Ready In: 25 minutes

Serves: 5-8


  • 1 bag of kale, rinsed and destemmed
  • 1 bag of pre-shaved Brussel sprouts. Option to slice whole Brussel sprouts
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • ¼ red onion, peeled and chopped
  • Grape tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained, rinsed, and lightly toasted with dill, salt and pepper
  • Feta cheese, crumbled
  • Dill, finely chopped


  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • Dill
  • Salt, pepper and garlic to taste
  • A few crumbles of feta cheese for the dressing base


  1. On a nonstick pan, heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Over medium heat, add garbanzo beans, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Toast until lightly browned.
  2. Add all dressing ingredients to your salad serving bowl. Whisk until combined and feta crumbles are broken down.
  3. Rinse and de-stem the kale
  4. While the kale sits in cold water, chop cucumber, onion, tomatoes and dill. Shave Brussel sprouts if needed
  5. When ready to serve, add kale and shaved Brussel sprouts to the salad bowl. Mix well to coat in the salad dressing
  6. Add chopped vegetables, garbanzo beans, feta and dill
  7. Option to squeeze more lemon juice on the added veggies for a crisp finish

Southside Cocktail

A minty citrus refreshment

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Serves: 6-8


12 ounces of dry gin – Ask Sisco at Joe’s Wines and Liquors!

Juice of 7 lemons – 6 ounces of juice

6 ounces of simple syrup – 4 ounces if a more tarte taste is desired

Fresh mint, muddled


In your serving pitcher, pour the gin and add the mint leaves. With a long, wooden spoon, roughly muddle the mint with the gin.