Let’s Eat Out! Outside That Is!

Summer is here! Well, not officially, but close enough. I love the change of seasons, not only does the weather change but the food and meals change along with the seasons. With the nice warm weather comes grilling out and eating alfresco; outside of course. I have a small patio in the back of my house, directly outside of the kitchen, which makes it very convenient for bringing items in and out. It is a great place to get together, with the fresh air and warm summer breezes. I make sure there is plenty of room for everyone, and since I have only one table I keep a few smaller folding trays and seats for extra guests.
During spring I plant many containers of flowers, placing around the house and rearranging when the mood strikes. Having the flowers in movable containers makes it easy to redecorate the patio with splashes of color here and there; just to change it around.
Here are a few recipes to try and serve outside on these warm summer evenings. The Thai Chicken Salad is easy to prepare and you can have the salad tossed and chicken marinating ready to grill. Try the Pineapple Cheesecake Squares for dessert!  Enjoy both of these recipes together or separate, outside on a relaxing summer evening.

Grilled Thai Chicken Salad


4 ServingsPrep: 20 min. + marinating Grill: 10 min.


  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 3/4 cup flaked coconut
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh gingerroot
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (4 ounces each)
  • 4 cups torn mixed salad greens
  • 1/2 medium sweet red pepper, julienned
  • 1/2 cup canned bean sprouts, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup fresh sugar snap peas
  • 1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-fat creamy peanut butter
  • 4 teaspoons sugar


  • In a blender, combine the first six ingredients; cover and process
  • until blended. Pour into a large resealable plastic bag; add
  • chicken. Seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  • Drain and discard marinade. Using long-handled tongs, moisten a paper
  • towel with cooking oil and lightly coat the grill rack.
  • Grill chicken, covered, over medium heat or broil 4 in. from the heat
  • for 4-7 minutes on each side or a meat thermometer reads 170°.
  • In a large salad bowl, combine the greens, red pepper, bean sprouts
  • and peas. In a small bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients until
  • smooth. Pour over salad and toss to coat. Cut chicken into strips;
  • arrange over salad. Yield: 4 servings.
Nutritional Facts: 1 serving equals 261 calories, 9 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 63 mg cholesterol, 936 mg sodium,

Pineapple Cheesecake Squares


9 ServingsPrep: 20 min. + cooling Bake: 1 hour + cooling


  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup cold butter
  • 1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Ground cinnamon


  • In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt; cut in butter until
  • mixture is crumbly. Press into an ungreased 8-in. square baking
  • dish. Bake at 325° for 12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
  • For filling, drain pineapple, reserving the juice; set pineapple and
  • juice aside. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar and
  • flour. Add egg; beat on low just until combined. Add pineapple
  • juice. Gradually add milk and vanilla. Sprinkle pineapple over
  • crust. Slowly pour filling over pineapple. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
  • Bake at 325° for 1 hour or until a knife inserted near the center
  • comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 1 hour. Store in the
  • refrigerator. Yield: 9 servings.
Nutritional Facts: 1 serving (1 piece) equals 234 calories, 15 g fat (9 g saturated fat), 69 mg cholesterol, 212 mg sodium, 20 g carbohydrate, trace fiber, 4 g protein.

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