Sunflowers Smile on Summer Supper

DURING summer vacation from high school, I'm pretty much in charge of the kitchen at our house. My mom is a nurse, Dad's a science teacher, and I have a sister and brother.

One day while I was outside tanning, I was trying to think of a fun meal for my family as a special treat. The bright sunshine made me think of summer gardens and a sunflower theme.

It was perfect, since I collect sunflowers and had decorated my bedroom with them. I had tons of sunflower stuff to decorate the table.

Summer Recipe Photo

Planning the menu, I knew my dad's vegetable garden would provide some of the ingredients for Garden-Fresh Taco Salad. Instead of serving the salad in a regular serving dish, I remembered a big flowerpot that we'd used to make "dirt cake" a while back.

A salad in that pot would get their attention! I even arranged corn chip "petals" around the edge to make the top look like a flower.

Along with the taco salad, I served refried beans, Fruit Salad Sunburst, Sunny Citrus Cooler and Sunflower Ice Cream Pie.

Fruit Salad Sunburst shows what can happen when you use your imagination and take a little time to arrange different fruits, rather than just tossing them together. My fruit plate turned out to be a colorful "bloom" served with a light pineapple dressing.

For a beverage, I wanted something cool and refreshing. Everyone liked Sunny Citrus Cooler because it has just the right amount of sweetness. It's great with a meal or to enjoy anytime.

A favorite family dessert also got dressed up for the occasion, becoming Sunflower Ice Cream Pie. I decorated the top of the pie with caramel sauce, chocolate and nuts. It brought smiles to everyone at the table! This yummy treat can be made ahead of time and stored in the freezer.

I let my mom in on my theme plans, and we found sunflower print fabric to make napkins for our special dinner. I also cut sunflowers out of the cloth to decorate green place mats and wove strips of the fabric through a menu I made to put on the table.

Place cards—with the letters of each person's name on petals—were set in small terra-cotta saucers filled with sunflower seeds for snacking.

I had lots of fun creating this summer theme meal. I enjoyed doing something a little special, for no reason at all, really. My family loved it, too.

I hope you'll give it a try. Sunflowers are a perfect way to celebrate a birthday, host a garden party or simply let your family know you're smiling on them while you're preparing a meal!

Garden-Fresh Taco Salad

Fruit Salad Sunburst

Sunny Citrus Cooler

Sunflower Ice Cream Pie