Labor Day is fast approaching (where did this summer go) and you’re probably getting ready for that one last big blowout to celebrate the season of suntan lotion and shorts. Since we won’t be in town for this years celebration, we opted to throw our party a little early. Instead of going over the top indulgent this year, I decided to make healthy party recipes that let everyone enjoy themselves without feeling bad about their consumption later. Don’t be concerned though. Even though these are healthy party recipes, they definitely are not lacking in flavor and fun.
This is my final post in the series for the McCormick Grill Mates Grillerhood. Since there are so many terrific recipes in their 2013 grilling forecast, I thought I would mix some of their recipes in with some of mine. Something that’s really cool about this menu? 99% of it is cooked on the grill. This lets you spend more time with your guests, and less time in the kitchen. The things that are done in the kitchen can all be done ahead of party time.
This post is going to be a bit different than my usual because there are so many recipes. I thought that I would break out each one (with photo) as I wrote about it. This should make it easier for you to print out the recipes that you like. The top photo includes all of the grilling recipes/healthy party recipes that I included in my party spread. We had 6 people over to enjoy the food and drink and had plenty to go around (yes, there was more food in the kitchen to refill platters and dishes).
I get it, there’s a lot going on this picture. So let’s break it down from left to right. See that glass of pink liquid (next to the coordinating pitcher) that’s adorned with a cute slice of watermelon? That’s a glass of watermelon lemonade – with grilled lemons! This is one of the McCormick recipes found in their 2013 grilling forecast. Yes, it’s a non-alcoholic drink, but I put out a bottle of vodka for those that wanted a little more kick in their fruit juice.
- For Simple Syrup
- ½ Cup Sugar
- ½ Cup Water
- 1 Tablespoon McCormick Dried Rosemary Leaves (optional – I didn’t use this ingredient)
- For Lemonade
- 6 Meyer Lemons Halved Crosswise(or 5 regular lemons)
- 4 Cups Cubed Watermelon
- 3 Cups Ice Cold Water
- For the Simple Syrup, mix sugar and water in small saucepan. Bring to boil. Remove from heat. Add rosemary; let stand 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar. Strain. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled.
- Cut 4 of the lemons in half crosswise. Cut remaining 2 lemons into slices. Grill lemon halves and slices over medium heat 4 to 5 minutes or until lightly charred. Set lemon slices aside for garnish. Squeeze juice from lemon halves to yield ½ cup juice.
- Place watermelon cubes and lemon juice in blender container; cover. Blend on high speed until smooth. Pour fruit mixture into large pitcher. Add Simple Syrup and cold water; mix well. Serve in ice-filled beverage glasses. Garnish with reserved lemon slices
The pitcher to the right of the pink lemonade is filled with the Bloody Mary recipe I posted earlier this month. I just kept pitchers of these available for everyone to serve themselves. You do remember how much I like cocktails that can be mixed up in big batches so that I can spend more time at the party and less time as the bartender. Oh, we also put out bottles of beer and a few bottles of wine for people interested in other libations.
The platter in front of the cocktails is full of grilled fruit. (Dessert on the grill is the tastiest and easiest thing to make.) To make it a little sexier, I made a batch of ginger syrup to drizzle over top. See that champagne coupe with a spoon in it? That’s the ginger syrup. I just let my guests use as much or little as they wanted.
- ½ Cup Sugar
- ½ Cup Water
- 1 2″ Piece of Fresh Ginger (peeled and cut into slices)
- Pour the sugar and water into a small saucepan and heat over medium high heat.
- Once water is boiling, stir until sugar has dissolved.
- Remove from heat and toss chunks of ginger into syrup.
- Let cool to room temperature, remove the ginger and store covered in the refrigerator.
These last two grilling recipes will seem a bit more familiar to you. The first one is grilled brats with grilled onions and peppers. I serve them with a pile of pita (or flat bread) and a smoky/tangy mustard from the 2013 McCormick Flavor Forecast. I didn’t use any oil to coat the onions or peppers before tossing them on the grill, but you definitely could. It’s really not necessary for the peppers (they get nice and soft all by themselves once heated), but the onions don’t really soften as much when tossed on the grill sans oil.
- ½ Cup Dijon Mustard
- 1 Teaspoon Worcestershire Pub Burger Seasoning (I used 1 tablespoon for a richer flavor, but start with the original amount and adjust from there.)
- Mix mustard and Seasoning in small bowl until well blended. Cover.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve.
The last of the healthy party recipes might seem a bit strange at first, but not only is it healthy and easy to make it’s also a lot of fun to put together and eat. I used another of the McCormick recipes that comes from their 5 minute marinating recipes. 5 minutes…not 5 hours! Yes, I was skeptical too. I didn’t think you could really get much flavor in such a short time of bathing in any marinade. I was wrong. Another strange thing about this recipe is that it calls for pork tenderloin to be cooked by grilling it. ON A GRILL! Never would have thought of pork tenderloin as something to add to my grilling recipes (it is now).
Yes, I turned a mild mannered pork tenderloin into lettuce cups. Why not? Have fun with your food. Besides, pork is pretty common at a cookout (bbq ribs?), but definitely does not qualify as healthy party recipes stuff.
- 1 package McCormick® Grill Mates® Smokin’ Sweet Tea Marinade
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon McCormick® Sesame Seed
- ½ teaspoon McCormick® Ginger, Ground
- 2 pork tenderloins, about 1 pound each
- 6-8 Green Onions (chopped)
- 6 Mini Sweet Peppers (chopped)
- 1 – 2 Heads Butter Lettuce
- Dry Roasted Salted Peanuts
- Sesame Seed (for sprinkling on finished lettuce cups)
- Mix all ingredients except pork in small bowl. Reserve 3 tablespoons marinade.
- Place pork in large resealable plastic bag. Add remaining marinade; turn to coat well. Massage pork and marinade for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove pork from marinade. Discard any remaining marinade.
- Grill pork over medium heat 25 to 30 minutes or until desired doneness, turning occasionally.
- Let meat cool.
- Once cool enough to handle, chop into small pieces and toss into a large bowl.
- Add in the onions and pepper to the meat along with the reserved marinade.
- Mix well and serve with leaves of butter lettuce and cups of peanuts and sesame seeds for sprinkling over top of lettuce cups.
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