Tuesday, July 31, 2012

We're Having a LUAU!

I’ve always wanted to host a Luau, preferably in Hawaii, but that’s not happening in the foreseeable future.  With my 50th birthday looming in the nearer future, my close friend Linda, my daughter Jaime and I were tossing around ideas for a party this August while hanging out on the beach last summer.  Linda offered to have a party at her beach house.  I also considered renting a house for the birthday week next August and there were a couple of houses that were options, from the house we rent in July to the house across the street from Linda.  Ideas were loosely thrown out, but no concrete plans were made…until January.

I had been racking my brain as to a theme, when it just hit me:  LUAU.  I started surfing the net for Luau party ideas, decorations and menu suggestions.  One of my international customers from eBay had placing some large orders so I began ordering Luau items from Rhode Island Novelties, Oriental Trading, eBay and a couple of other online sites.  For the next eight weeks, I ordered plastic coconut cups, hula girl straws, hibiscus hair clips, leis, table grass skirts, tiki men wine goblets and an assortment of other decorations.  Linda and I separated all the shipments, then boxed and labeled everything to make it easy to sort out once we get back to the beach.  My landlords of the house I rent in July told me I could have the birthday week in August as well.  The tent rental was arranged in July.

I selected a couple recipes to try ahead of time and it was decided against roasting a pig.  (Maybe I’ll do it when I get to Hawaii, but for this party, no pig).  So, Barbequed pork ribs (done in the crockpot so it will actually be like pulled pork) will be the stand in for the pig.  Boneless pork ribs are slow cooked in barbeque sauce and a can of crushed pineapple for a Hawaiian touch.  

The Chicken Luau dish I found online was delicious and easy to make. 

Chicken Luau

2 ½ lbs of chicken thighs
1 can of coconut milk
2 packages of frozen chopped spinach, thawed
onion chips (I used French friend onions

In a baking pan I put the chicken thighs in one layer.  I evenly spread a can of French fried onions.  I topped the onions and chicken with the thawed chopped spinach then poured the can of coconut milk over the top.  Baked for approximately and hour in a 350 degree oven.

I am not normally a fan of chicken thighs, but these were so tender and the flavors blended nicely together.  Glad to have tried this ahead of time, as I will add extra coconut milk to accommodate liquid loss from the chafing dish. 

The Waikiki Meatball recipe I found is a tried and true Betty Crocker favorite and got rave reviews on many of the online recipe sites.  It was easy to assemble, and I could use soy milk and egg substitute so it is allergy friendly for my kids.  The other nice thing is I can mix the meatballs and freeze ahead of time, then pop the thawed meatballs on cookie sheets the day of the party, mix the sauce and heat through.

Waikiki Meatballs

1 ½ lbs ground beef
2/3 cup cracker crumbs (I used Ritz)
1/3 cup minced onions
1 egg (1 egg substitute)
1 ½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ginger
1 tbsp shortening (I omitted as I chose to bake the meatballs on a cookie sheet)
2 tbsp cornstarch
½ cup brown sugar packed
1 can 13 ½ oz pineapple tidbits (reserve syrup)
1/3 cup vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/3 cup chopped green pepper

Mix beef, cracker crumbs, onions, salt, ginger, egg, milk.  Form into tablespoon size balls.  Melt shortening, brown and cook meatballs – I omitted this step, instead baking the meatballs at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.  Mix cornstarch and brown sugar.  Stir in reserved syrup, soy sauce, vinegar and cook over medium heat, stirring until mixture boils.  I then put cooked meatballs in a crockpot, added the pepper and pineapple tidbits then poured sauce over and heated on low for 3 hours.  

Again, this was easy to assemble, tasted wonderful.  I will make batches of the meatballs and freeze ahead of time.  An extra portion of sauce to account for liquid loss in the chafing dish and this will be a simple, quick and tasty entrée, served with rice.

My friend Valerie offered to make Hawaiian chicken skewers (not sure what they are, but she is a good cook, so I’m sure they’ll be delicious. Fruit salads prepared in hollowed watermelon shells cut out to look like waves and a cheese and cracker tray will be offered as well.  There will also be tossed salad. Ham & Pineapple Skewers will be served in hollowed out pineapple shells.

For desert, we will have two cupcake towers with assorted cupcakes (made egg and dairy free so my boys can enjoy).  With the exception of the cheese tray and coconut chicken, my sons can eat mostly everything on the menu. 

We’ll keep it simple for drinks, water, beer, a couple varieties of sodas, sangria and scorpion bowls.  I have a 3 ½ gallon spouted dispenser for sangria and my neighbor has one we can mix scorpion bowls in.  (I just need to find a good scorpion bowl recipe and try it out before the party and am open to any of your recipes if you have one to share).

2 weeks and counting…

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