By Karin Calloway

Karin Calloway is a working mom living in Augusta, Ga., with multiple freelance jobs and a ton of dirty dishes.

Put on Some Reggae Music

Summer entertaining should meet two criteria. First, casual is best and second, keep the menu simple. Following these two notions, we've come up with a fun, festive summer dinner party menu with a Caribbean influence. The menu is entitled "Put on Some Reggae Music," and that's exactly what you should do to set the tone for an evening of fun that won't over-stress the host or hostess.

Start your menu with a cool and crunchy Mango Gazpacho that's garnished with a skewer of Spiced Shrimp. Keep the grill going to cook up Jerk Pork and Pineapple Kebobs that have just the right spice and not too much heat. The recipe for jerk spice is included with both the gazpacho and kabob recipes, making approximately enough spice for both recipes. You can substitute purchased jerk seasonings if you like.

Black Bean and Yellow Rice Salads keep things cool and can be made a day ahead. Sliced farm stand tomatoes and cucumbers would be a simple vegetable to add to the menu.

For dessert, the tropical theme continues with Cold Banana-Coconut Soup with a floating island of oh-so-easy Chocolate Bread Pudding. Add some luscious tropical drinks (think Planters Punch or Rum Runners), crank up the reggae and enjoy an evening of good time with good friends and a great meal.

Recipes:

Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus
Sometimes the simple things are the best, especially when it comes to dinner party menus. If you’re serving a special entrée, your side dishes shouldn’t occupy too much of your pre-meal time or take too much attention away from the main course.
Banana-Coconut Soup with Floating Islands of Chocolate Bread Pudding
From the sound of this recipe title, you’re probably thinking that this is one of those “weekend only” recipes. But the recipe actually was developed specifically to help harried hosts and hostesses serve a beautiful, tasty dessert with little fuss.
Black Bean and Yellow Rice Salads
Black beans and yellow rice are a classic combination, but when the weather heats up the steaming duo is replaced on the menu by cooler sides.  But why not enjoy your black beans and rice in the summer as special side dish salads?
Jerk Pork and Pineapple Kabobs
Crank up the reggae, heat up the grill and don your best Caribbean accent. Then grill up some delicious Jerk Pork and Pineapple Kabobs. The music and the kabobs are a recipe for summer fun.