Deviled eggs make for a welcome side at any gathering. (Image via Getty Images.)
Deviled eggs make for a welcome side at any gathering. (Image via Getty Images.)

North Carolinians are getting vaccinated and getting together. Here’s some ideas of what to bring next time you grill out with friends and family. 

July in North Carolina is hot and muggy, but that doesn’t get in the way of getting together with loved ones outside. We at Cardinal & PIne know there can be some stress if you’ve got to figure out what dish to bring to wow the crowd. So we came up with some ideas to help you out. 

Many of these recipes below capitalize on the oh-so-good fruit and veggies we have this time of year in North Carolina.

Take a look and get ready to relax safely. Two things we’d suggest: Make sure those mayo-based dishes don’t spend too much time in the sun and follow all those COVID-19 precautions if there are folks in your gathering who aren’t yet  vaccinated. 

Deviled Eggs, Prepared All the Ways 

Put a plate of these out, and they’re sure to go fast. Deviled eggs are welcome at just any gathering, and can be made ahead of time. It’s also a chance to show off your deviled egg dishes or carrying trays, a staple in many Southern homes.

The steps are not all that complicated, but there’s room for plenty of variation. The basic gist: 

A.  Hard-boil some eggs.

B.  Pop out the yolks and mix those up with some mayonnaise, mustard, salt, pepper and seasonings of your choice. 

Dill and pickles are popular add-ins, but there’s plenty more you can do to jazz things up.

The NC Egg Association has an entire webpage filled with deviled egg recipes, from adding in pimento cheese to jalapenos to mixing in some crab.

Here’s a tip: Fresh eggs can be hard to peel, so try to use eggs that have been in the fridge for a week or more to make your life easier come peeling time.

The Staple: Mac and Cheese 

The first rule of any  Southern gathering is that any respectable get together of more than two people needs to have at least one mac n’ cheese option.

Crunchy top, creamy cheese interiors, fancy cheeses or not. Everyone has their own style and preferences when it comes to macaroni and cheese, but here are a few approaches you could try at your next party.

This baked version used Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese. And if you don’t want to turn on your oven in July (we’re with you), there’s a slow cooker option here.

A Summer Trifecta with Peach Corn Salsa

If you want summer in one dish, let us introduce you to this peach corn salsa from the NC Peach Growers Society. 

First, there are few things better than a North Carolina peach come mid-July.  (Sit down, Georgia and South Carolina, we’re all about supporting our farmers).

Once you’ve secured your NC-grown peaches, add in some fresh summer corn and locally-grown tomatoes and you’ve got summer perfection in salsa form.  

Watermelon Sides, from Savory to Sweet

Turn to watermelon if you’re short on time, money, or cooking slices. Pick one up at a local farmer’s market, roadside stand, or grocery store, this time of year you’re guaranteed a sweet and refreshing melon.  

You can slice it up for kids and adults alike, and simply set it out. If you’d like to get a bit fancier with your watermelon, make a savory salad with some red onions and feta (here’s one take on that).

Or if you want to really wow everyone come dessert time, think popsicles. The day before, throw some watermelon in the blender with lime and sugar, then pour the mixture in some popsicle molds. If you don’t have those, pick up some small paper cups and popsicle sticks to make your own pops. 

Pound Cakes for the Win

Satisfy those sweet tooths with a slice of this oh-so-decadent and not-so-difficult-to-make cake.

Pound cakes get their name from the ratio: a pound each of butter, eggs, sugar and flour. There’s a bit more to it, of course, but these cakes are a standard at gatherings and offer plenty of variations when it comes to add-ins or glazes.

You can show your North Carolina-grown pride with a Sweet Potato Pound Cake (recipe here) or try this recipe for a more traditional loaf shape. Regardless of what pound cake recipe you choose, we’re sure you’ll go home with an empty plate.