How to Throw a Summer Outdoor Dinner Party, Part 1: The Recipes!

The days are long, the air is fresh & sweet, and that back yard that you’ve put so much work into over the past spring weeks is just begging you to throw a party. One of my favorite ways to entertain is to bring the indoors-out by hosting an outdoor dinner party. A beautiful outdoor dinner soiree is easy to host, and here I’ve got three simple, summery recipes that are sure to impress. The best part? Each recipe only uses 5-6 ingredients!

Watch the video ‘How-To’ here!

 

Super Simple Dinner Party!

Watch Video

Recipes

Balsamic Pork Chop, Apple Fennel Salad

Apple Fennel Salad

For Salad:

  • 1 bulb fennel, shaved or sliced thinly
  • 1 Granny Smith green apple, cored and sliced thinly
  • 6 cups spring mix greens
  • fresh goat cheese or goat cheese crumbles

In a large bowl, top the spring greens with fennel shavings, apple slices, and goat cheese crumbles. Toss with lemon-cider dressing.

For Dressing:

  • 4 Tbs. olive oil
  • 3 Tbs.  apple cider vinegar
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp. sugar (if desired)

Place all ingredients in a jar with top screwed on tightly, and shake until combined.

Balsamic Grilled Pork Chops

Marinade:

  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • dash black pepper (if desired)
  • 4 – 6  pork chops, approx 1/2 in thick (1.5-2lbs.)

Method:

1. Whisk all ingredients together thoroughly

2. place chops in a gallon sized storage bag. Pour marinade over the pork, and seal tightly. Refrigerate for minimum of 2 hours.

3. Grill on medium heat for 3-4 minutes on each side, until just cooked through. Remove from grill and let sit for a few minutes before cutting.

Berry Oat Crumble

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. rolled oats
  • 1/3 c. flour
  • 1/3 c. butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 c plus 1 Tbs. sugar (set the 1 Tbs. aside)
  • 1 Tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups berries, rinsed (your choice, if using strawberries, quarter them)

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and butter the bottom and sides of an 8 inch square baking dish.

2. In a bowl, mix the berries and 1 Tbs. sugar and toss well. Set aside for 20-30 minutes.

3. In a separate bowl, combine oats, flour, and sugar. Cut in butter and vanilla and mix thoroughly manually or with a mixer until crumbly.

4. Pour the berries into the greased baking dish, and cover with crumble topping.

5. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until berries are bubbly and topping is golden brown.

Pesto 3 Ways: Recipes and Video

Lip Smackin' Good

Who doesn’t love pesto? Personally, I have never met someone who would challenge that question, and these three quick and fresh recipes could change any doubter’s mind. Since pesto freezes beautifully, it’s a great sauce to make ahead and keep on hand for a quick and delicious dinner any night of the week. Toss with your favorite pasta, veggies, or bake with chicken or pork for a great flavor boost.

Clockwise from Left: Spring Pea & Roasted Tomato Pesto, Classic Pesto, Spinach Mushroom Pesto

Tip: When freezing, just make sure to use an airtight container, and press some plastic wrap over the top before snapping on the lid. If extra air pockets get into the pesto it could cause some of the basil to oxidize and change color from its bright, pretty green.

Makin' Pesto on Studio 5! Watch Video here:

Click Here to watch the video!

Classic Basil Pesto

Yields 2 cups of Pesto

Ingredients:
4 cups fresh basil leaves
3-4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
½ c. pine nuts (I also like to use walnuts or toasted cashews)
½ lemon, juiced
¾ c. shredded parmesan cheese
½ c. extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Classic Pesto

Add all ingredients to a food processor except for ¼ c. olive oil. Turn on the food processor, and allow to puree. Slowly stream in the remainder of the olive oil and salt & pepper to taste. Continue to process until all ingredients are fully incorporated and pureed.

Spinach Mushroom Pesto

Yields about 2 cups of Pesto

¼ lb. (4-5 good size) Brown Crimini mushrooms, Sliced and Roasted (see below for instructions)
Cooking spray
1 c. fresh basil leaves
3 c. fresh spinach leaves
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
½ lemon, juiced
¼ c. walnuts
¾ c. shredded parmesan cheese
½ c. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper

To Roast Mushrooms:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spread the mushroom slices on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray, and lightly sprinkle with salt. Roast for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Roasted Mushrooms

For Pesto:

Add all ingredients, including roasted mushrooms, to a food processor except for ¼ c. olive oil. Turn on the food processor, and allow to puree. Slowly stream in the remainder of the olive oil and salt & pepper to taste. Continue to process until all ingredients are fully incorporated and pureed.

Spring Pea and Roasted Tomato Pesto

Yields about 2 cups of Pesto

Ingredients:
½ pint of grape tomatoes, or 2 Roma tomatoes, sliced and roasted (see below for roasting directions)
2 cloves garlic
12 oz. package of frozen peas, thawed (use fresh peas if available!)
½ lemon, juiced
¼ c. walnuts
½ c. shredded parmesan cheese
¼ c. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper

To Roast Tomatoes:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spread the tomato slices on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray, and lightly sprinkle with salt. Roast for 15-20 minutes until shriveled and sizzling. Remove from oven and set aside.

Roasted Tomatoes

For Pesto:

Add all ingredients, including roasted tomatoes, to a food processor except for half of the olive oil. Turn on the food processor, and allow to puree. Slowly stream in the remainder of the olive oil and salt & pepper to taste. Continue to process until all ingredients are fully incorporated and pureed.

Sweet and Savory Mole Sauce

I’ve been on a quest to create a mole sauce that packs a punch, but that is simple to assemble. You won’t find any butter or chocolate bars in this recipe– I’d rather save that for a yummy dessert. The sauce is great for a make ahead meal, and is so versatile that you can just add it to shredded chicken, pork, tofu or any protein you like to create tacos, lettuce wraps (my personal favorite!), sandwiches, enchiladas… you get the idea.

Chef’s Note: This recipe makes quite a large batch. If you want, separate 1/2 of the sauce into a plastic container and freeze for later!
 

 
Ingredients:
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion (or 1/2 of a large one), finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 Anaheim pepper, cleaned of seeds and diced
  • 1 lime, for juice
  • 1 6 oz. can of tomato paste
  • 12 oz. water (fill the tomato paste can twice)
  • 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
  • 3 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbs. organic sugar
  • 1 Tbs. cumin
  • 1-2 Tbs. Hot Sauce (your favorite kind! heat level up to you)
  • 1/2 Tbs. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
 
Directions:
1. In a sauce pot or medium Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat, and sweat onion and garlic until translucent.
2. Add the Anaheim pepper and lime juice. Stir and continue to cook on medium heat for  about 5 minutes.
3. Stir in tomato paste. Refill the tomato paste can with water and add to the mix, repeat (add 12 oz water total). Stir in crushed tomatoes. Mix all ingredients well.
4. Add cocoa powder, sugar, hot sauce, cumin, onion powder and salt. Stir so all ingredients are fully incorporated.
5. Allow to simmer on low heat for 20 minutes.
6. If you like a chunkier sauce, skip this step. If you like a smooth sauce, use a hand immersion blender,  or transfer sauce to a food processor, or conventional blender  and blend until smooth. This might take a couple of batches to complete.

Back to the Beginning: Hapa Sushi in Boulder, CO

There really is ‘No Place Like Home’, and I owe it all to Hapa Sushi Grill in Boulder, CO. Hapa is my culinary home; the place where I got my start, learned lessons in life and fish, and created my second family through sushi. The name ‘Hapa’ is derived from a Hawaiian word that refers to the ‘harmonious blend of Asian and American cultures.’ Fusion at it’s finest, Hapa serves up non-traditional sushi along with old favorites in a modern setting with a fun vibe. Have a seat at the sushi bar in any of Hapa’s four locations, and strike up a conversation with your new best friend — the sushi chef. At Hapa, you’re in good hands.

Green Eggs and Ham, Statue of Liberty Roll

The Man, The Myth, The one who gave me a chance. Thanks Ken! I owe you one a ton.

Hapa’s selection of sake and specialty cocktails is bar none. Try the famous ‘G-Spot’: Raspberry infused sake, raspberry vodka and ginger ale. Hit up their Happy Hour (twice a daily!, varies upon location), for an unbeatable deals on the best bites in town.

Banana Bread Pudding. MMMMMMMM.

Hapa’s Signature Dessert: Banana Bread Pudding. Note:  be careful if it’s your Birthday, and you’re at Hapa. The sassy chefs will serve this up with a special surprise…

On the Web: http://hapasushi.com

Locations:
Boulder (Pearl Street): 1117 Pearl Street, Boulder, CO   (303)473-4730
Boulder (The Hill): 1220 Pennsylvania Ave., Boulder, CO  (303) 447-9883
Denver (Cherry Creek): 2780 East 2nd Avenue  Denver, CO (303) 322-9554
Denver (Landmark at Greenwood Village): 5380 Greenwood Plaza Blvd #101
Greenwood Vlg, CO (303) 267-8744