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.