Dining al fresco is one of the best parts about summertime! Nothing beats enjoying the sunshine and fresh air while digging into delicious food with friends and family. Everyone has a go-to dish they like to bring to gatherings, but if your standby is getting a little stale, check out the Smallflower staff’s favorite recipes for some tasty inspiration. Our tried-and-true recipes are guaranteed to be a big hit at your next picnic or barbecue!
Zucchini Bread with Lemon & Cardamom
Kathy – Marketing & E-Commerce Coordinator
“Subtle and not too sweet, this zucchini bread has just the right amount of bright citrus and aromatic cardamom. I gave our copywriter a slice once and she immediately demanded the recipe!”
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups finely grated zucchini (about 2 medium zucchini)
- Preheat oven to 400°. Grease a 8″ x 5″ loaf pan with olive oil.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cardamom.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, maple syrup, and brown sugar until blended. Add the eggs and beat until mixed well. Stir in the lemon zest and vanilla.
- Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated. (The batter will be thick.) Fold in the zucchini with a spatula.
- Pour the batter into the loaf pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
- Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40-50 minutes.
Thai Garlic Eggplant
Kristi – Graphic Designer
“Sweet, savory, and spicy, this recipe is a hit with vegetarians and carnivores alike! It’s quick and easy to prepare—you can even cook it on skewers for easy snacking.”
- 2 Japanese eggplants – sliced 1/4″ thick lengthwise
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce
- 6 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar – divided
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh finely minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons chili sauce
- 2 tablespoons white wine
- A squeeze of lime juice
- 1 shallot – sliced
- A few cilantro sprigs
- 1 tablespoons sesame seeds
- In medium bowl mix together soy sauce, hoisin sauce, 2 tbsp brown sugar, garlic, and chili. Stir until sugar dissolves.
- Place the eggplant slices in a long, flat dish. Pour garlic sauce over slices, turning to coat.
- Allow eggplant to marinate for at least ten minutes, or cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours ahead of grilling time.
- Place the eggplant slices on a hot grill, 5-10 minutes each side, until eggplant has turned golden-brown and is soft when tested with a fork.
- While the eggplant is cooking, pour the remaining sauce from bottom of dish into a sauce pan. Place over medium heat, add 2 tbsp wine, 1 tsp brown sugar, and a squeeze of lime juice.
- Bring to a near-boil, then reduce heat to minimum. Add more sugar, garlic, or lime to taste. Remove from heat.
- Place eggplant on a platter and pour sauce over. Sprinkle with shallot, cilantro, and sesame seeds. Great with rice!
Grilled Shrimp Tostadas
Alex – Buyer
“I make this a lot in the summertime. It’s really light and tasty—and it pairs well with cold beer.”
- 8 6″ corn tortillas
- Canola oil cooking spray
- 3 ripe avocados – diced
- 1 small shallot – minced
- 7 tablespoons lime juice – divided
- 3 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro & extra leaves for garnish
- 1/4 cup cotija cheese – crumbled
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil – divided
- 24 medium shrimp, peeled & deveined
- 1 can of chipotle peppers in adobe sauce
- 1/4 cup red cabbage – finely shredded
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Kosher salt
- Lime wedges for serving
- A few hours before cooking, fill a large bowl with cumin, cayenne, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and can of chipotle peppers in adobe sauce. Mix together and season with salt and pepper.
- Add shrimp and toss to coat. Cover bowl and place in the fridge to marinate.
- When you’re ready to get started, preheat oven to 400°.
- Spray 2 baking sheets with canola oil spray and place 4 tortillas on each. Spray tortillas with more oil, then bake until crisp, about 8 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, mash together avocados, shallot, 3 tablespoons lime juice, and chopped cilantro. Season with salt.
- Grill shrimp over medium-high heat for 3 minutes per side, or until bright pink and cooked through.
- In a small bowl, toss cabbage with remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
- Spread tostadas with guacamole. Top with shrimp, cabbage, cotija cheese, cilantro leaves, and serve with lime.
“Every time I throw a housewarming party, I invent a new cocktail to commemorate the occasion. This one is perfect for summer—it’s crisp and refreshing without being too sweet. It’s a great option if you’re a busy host since you can make it in advance and guests can serve themselves!”
Matthew – Assistant Manager
- 1 cup water
- 1 chai tea bag
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 8 cups pineapple juice
- 2 cups rum
- 1 cup dry vermouth
- 3 tablespoons vanilla-flavored syrup
- Optional: fruit for garnish
- Bring water to a boil in a saucepan; pour into a mug and brew chai tea for 5 minutes. Remove tea bag and mix brown sugar into the hot tea until dissolved. Allow tea to cool for about 10 minutes.
- Mix tea, pineapple juice, rum, vermouth, and vanilla-flavored syrup together in a large punch bowl; stir well. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving. Add garnish.
Spicy-Sweet Chicken Wings
Lori – Product Specialist
“A family friend told me about this amazing recipe from Suvir Saran’s cookbook, American Masala. These wings are hands-down my favorite dish to bring to parties—everyone loves them! Something about that combo of spices and honey is irresistible. It’s also really easy to make a giant batch if you’ve got a big crowd to feed.”
- 2 pounds chicken wings – halved
- 5 tablespoons honey – divided
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling
- 2 teaspoons garam masala – divided
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon fresh pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons honey, oil, coarse salt, pepper, 1 teaspoon garam masala, paprika, cayenne pepper, and cumin. Pour mixture into a 1 gallon resealable plastic bag and add chicken wings, turning to coat. Transfer to refrigerator and let marinate at least 30 minutes or up to overnight.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and top with a wire rack. Arrange chicken wings in a single layer on rack. Transfer to oven and roast for 35 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together remaining 3 tablespoons honey, remaining teaspoon garam masala and vinegar. Remove wings from oven and brush with honey mixture. Return wings to oven and continue roasting until wings are slightly charred and crisp, 15 to 25 minutes.
- Sprinkle wings with sea salt and let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Claire – Copywriter
“I know the name isn’t super appealing, but trust me, it’s a crowd-pleaser! I like it for picnics because it can be served at any temperature & still taste great. This recipe is vegan & gluten-free, so it’s a good option for folks with dietary restrictions. A bonus for cheapskates like me: it costs less than $10 to make & still feeds the whole gang!”
- 3 ½ cups vegetable broth
- 1 ½ cups brown lentils 2 onions – diced
- 6 cloves of garlic – minced
- 2 cups pre-cooked brown rice
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/3 cup barbecue sauce, plus extra for drizzling
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce
- Heat oven to 350 F. Rinse lentils and drain.
- Fill a large pot with vegetable broth & add lentils. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat & simmer until cooked, about 30 minutes. (Make sure they’re super soft for mashing ease!)
- Drain lentils thoroughly, then mash them.
- Heat olive oil in a skillet and sauté the onions and garlic until soft.
- In a large bowl, mix onions, garlic, and lentils. Add rice, barbecue sauce, hot sauce, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
- Press the mixture into a greased loaf pan and drizzle extra barbecue sauce on top.
- Bake for 1 hour. Allow it to cool a bit before slicing so it can firm up.
Crock Pot Chicken Chili
Rachel – Copywriter
“If you’re headed to a potluck and want to prep ahead of time, making chili in a crock pot is the way to go. This recipe is adapted from Smitten Kitchen, which I can always count on for amazing recipes to impress friends at dinner parties or cookouts.”
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken
- 1 small yellow onion – chopped fine
- 2 large garlic cloves – minced
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1-2 jalapenos – seeded and chopped fine
- 1 28-ounce can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
- 3 15-oz cans of your favorite beans
- 5 1/3 cups water or broth
- Optional: sour cream or Greek yogurt, cilantro, lime, and hot sauce
- Throw everything in the pot & turn the heat on high for 4 1/2 to 5 hours or on low for 8 to 10.
- By the end of cooking time, the chicken will likely have fallen apart, but you can help it along by using two forks and shredding it to your desired texture.
- Serve with sour cream or Greek yogurt, cilantro, lime, and hot sauce.
Almond Shortbread with Fresh Strawberries
Sarah – Executive Assistant
“What is summer without fresh strawberries? My grandmother used to make this for every family picnic and barbecue.”
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 cup butter – softened
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 pints of fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
- Fresh whipped cream
- Powdered sugar
- Combine all the pastry ingredients and blend with a fork until dough is formed.
- Place half of dough into the bottom of a springform pan and prick with a fork a few times.
- Bake at 350° for 10-15 minutes until slightly brown.
- Remove and cut into 12 wedges at once while still warm.
- Press remaining dough into springform pan and bake (this time do not cut).
- Arrange wedges in a circle around the large shortbread, top with strawberries, dust with powdered sugar, and top with fresh whipped cream. Serve immediately (you can prepare ingredients ahead of time and assemble right before serving).
Feeling a little full after your big meal? Don’t let digestive discomfort spoil the fun—make sure you always have Underberg on hand. This traditional European remedy for overindulgence has been providing serious relief for over 150 years. Bonus: the portable bottles are individually portioned, so they’re easy to tote along and share with everyone.
Read more about our favorite digestive bitters—Underberg: A History