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Backyard Summer Entertaining

This Delicious + Eye-Catching Summer Meal is a Cinch to Prepare

Looking for ways to elevate your summer entertaining without having to spend all day in the kitchen? Lauren Lane Culinarian (watch her on Netflix’s Easy Bake Battle) and stylist LeAnne Parker teamed together to create a beautiful and simple backyard meal that is tasty, fun and keeps guests cool in the summer heat. 

Make-Ahead Italian Pressed Sandwiches

These make-ahead sandwiches are impressive, flavorful and perfect for pool parties, picnics and tailgates. They are endlessly customizable. Pesto, capers or olive tapenade are great optional additions.


  • 1 ciabatta baguette or loaf, cut in half horizontally

  • 3 tablespoons butter

  • 3 medium red peppers

  • 3 cups arugula or mixed greens, rinsed + patted dry

  • 1 ball of mozzarella, sliced thin

  • 10 ounces assorted Italian deli meats (we used soppressata salami and mortadella)

  • Olive oil

  • Italian seasoning

  • Salt and pepper, to taste

  • Pesto, capers + olive tapenade (optional)


  1. To roast the red peppers, grill or broil in oven. Cook until they are mostly black, turning as needed. Place peppers in a plastic Ziploc bag or paper bag and let sit for 15 minutes. Remove peppers from the bag and peel off the blackened skin. Discard the skin and slice the peppers into wide strips. Place in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside. 

  2. Butter each piece of ciabatta and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Butter helps prevent moisture from getting into the bread.

  3. Place a generous layer of overlapping cold meats on the bread. Top with cooled roasted red pepper strips.

  4. Tap dry the mozzarella slices with a paper towel. Top the peppers with a layer of mozzarella slices. Sprinkle generously with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Top with a generous layer of arugula. Add the top slice of ciabatta.

  5. Wrap the sandwich tightly with plastic wrap and place on a platter or baking sheet in the refrigerator. Top with a heavy skillet or brick. (Alternatively top with another baking sheet and place some large cans on top for the weight).

  6. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or ideally, overnight.

  7. When ready to serve, remove from plastic wrap. Slice into pieces using a serrated knife, holding the sandwich in place while using a sawing motion. 

Honey Citrus Melon Salad

The perfect side dish to any summer meal.


  • 2 small cantaloupes

  • 1 small honeydew

  • 1 tablespoon lime zest

  • Juice of a lime

  • 3 tablespoons honey

  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint


  1. Use a melon baller to scoop round spheres out of each melon and place them into a large bowl.

  2. In a small bowl, combine honey, lime juice and zest. Whisk to combine and pour over the melon. Gently toss together before serving with torn fresh mint leaves.


  • Substitute watermelon for any of the melons.

  • Substitute basil for mint.

  • If making in advance, chill melon then toss with honey lime syrup and garnish with fresh mint just before serving.

Semi-Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches

Upgrade store-bought cookies by decking them out with delicious ice cream pairings and toppings.


  • 12 store-bought cookies

  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream or flavor of your choice

  • Miniature chocolate chips, sprinkles or chopped nuts


  1. Top cookie with a scoop of ice cream. Top with another cookie; press down with the palm of your hand gently to ensure the cookie doesn't break.

  2. Roll sides of ice cream sandwich in chocolate chips, sprinkles or nuts.

  3. Wrap in plastic. Freeze until serving.

No-Bake Dessert Bites

 This simple trick for amping up a store-bought pound cake and icing will delight guests.


  • 1 store-bought pound cake 

  • 1 can of store-bought icing (we used buttercream)

  • Berries

  • Powdered sugar (optional)


  1. Cut cake into squares or circles. We used a square cookie cutter.

  2. Place icing in a plastic storage bag (see note).

  3. Snip the tip off the corner of the bag to allow the frosting to be piped out. Start with a small hole–you can always make it bigger.

  4. Squeeze a dollop of icing onto each cake bite.

  5. Top with berries.

  6. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.


If you want to elevate the taste of store-bought icing, mix in a package of softened cream cheese or a stick of butter.

For more tips on all things hosting, cooking, decorating and more, follow

LeAnn at and and Lauren at and