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Quick tips for summer entertaining made easy

(ARA) - As the temperature continues to rise and the dog days of summer head our way, you'll want to keep your guests refreshed with frosty drinks, cool appetizers and buffet items when entertaining this season. Following are a few tips to keep in mind when planning your party menu for a fun, relaxed event.

* Keep it simple. Focus on easy recipes to save time in the kitchen so you can spend more time with family and friends.

* Plan ahead. Begin preparing as many recipes as possible the day before the party to allow for easy and quick preparation the day of the event.

* Make it memorable. According to celebrity chef and entertaining expert, Kathy Casey, you want to invest in the right piece of equipment to provide guests with a great experience. "Whether you're mixing up cocktails or preparing for a large dinner party, quality kitchen tools, like a reliable Vitamix blender, are essential," Casey says.

For your summer party, consider a signature cocktail, such as a refreshing margarita made easy in a Vitamix Professional Series 200 machine. This high performance blender does just about anything - finely chops, grinds and blends whole ingredients all in one container - and also comes with a recipe book with more than 200 recipes for extra inspiration.

* Keep it light. Serve lighter foods during the warmer weather. Grilled vegetables, a variety of pasta and green salads, and an assortment of chilled dips and spreads - such as easy-to-make guacamole in a Vitamix - create a delightful summer buffet.

* Make it colorful. Add interest to your buffet table with a variety of colorful foods as well as decorative tableware, such as a bright tablecloth, fun napkins and fresh cut flowers.

With these simple tips and easy entertaining recipes, you can relax and enjoy your summer party just as much as your guests will.

Guacamole
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Processing time: 20 seconds
Yield: 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients:
2 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 medium tomato, halved
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
For a spicy guacamole, add 1/2 a jalapeno pepper during step one.

Directions:
Using a blender, like the Vitamix, place all ingredients into the container in the order listed and secure lid. Blend for 15 to 20 seconds. You may need to stop the machine and run a spatula around the inside of the container to integrate ingredients. Don't over mix - leave chunky. Serve with tortilla chips and garnish with diced tomato and parsley.

Whole Fruit Margarita
Preparation time: 7 minutes
Processing time: 45 seconds
Yield: 8 cups

Ingredients:
1/4 cup water
6 ounces tequila
2 ounces Grand Marnier
1 medium orange, peeled, halved
1 lime, peeled, halved
1 lemon, peeled, halved, seeded
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
6 cups ice cubes
(For a non-alcoholic version, substitute the tequila and Grand Marnier with 8 ounces of sweet and sour mix.)

Directions:
Place all ingredients into your blender in the order listed and secure lid. Blend for 45 seconds or until smooth. Pour into salt-rimmed margarita glasses and enjoy.

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