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How to throw a winter luau party

Diana De Cicco is a food editor and writer based in New York City. She has a master's degree from New York University in Food Studies. Her passions are eating, traveling, and eating while traveling.

Cure the winter blues

When the winter weather has got you down, all you need to lift your spirits is something that reminds you of summer. Putting together a casual luau or tropical-themed get-together will give you just the boost you need to get through the rest of the cold, gray season. Put on your flip-flops, sunglasses and grass skirts and have a fun-filled summer party, even if it is snowing outside! Here are some simple luau party tips and recipes to chase the winter blues away.

Pineapple on Beach

Luau party tips


Turn up the heat

No matter what the weather is outside, the weather inside should be warm and sunny. Decorate your space with all things tropical and summery.

You are my sunshine

Make a large sun and hang it from a corner. If you are really innovative, poke holes in it and thread Christmas lights throughout to give the illusion of a bright glowing sun.

Louge around

If space allows, lay out lounge chairs and patio chairs, not only does it provide extra seating, but it will make you feel like you're outside.

Freshen up with flowers

Fill the area with as many fresh flowers as you can. The scent and scenery will remind you of the tropics.

Make a palm tree paradise

Get large inflatable palm trees and arrange them in various spots around the room. Place lounge chairs under them to lie out and relax under.

Say Aloha with grass skirts and leis

Give grass skirts and leis to guests as they arrive. Tell guests to wear (or bring, if it is too cold outside) shorts, flip-flops and sunglasses to the party.

Pull out the little fruity umbrellas

Have plenty of fruity cocktails on hand decorated with little umbrellas and fresh fruit.

Set the table with a tasty tropical menu

Prepare a summery tropical menu of finger foods to allow your guests to relax and munch when they want.

Luau Recipes


Lime Marinated Fish Tacos

Makes 16 servings

Ingredients:
1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup canola oil
2 pounds (1-inch thick) red snapper fish fillets
1/2 cup prepared salsa verde
1/2 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
2 teaspoons sea salt, divided
16 corn tortillas, cut in half
4 limes, cut in half
4 cups shredded coleslaw blend
32 avocado slices (about 4 small avocados)

Directions:
1. Whisk lime juice with cilantro and oil in a large bowl. Place fish in mixture and toss well. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate for 20 minutes or until to 1 hour in the refrigerator.

2. Meanwhile, whisk salsa verde together with mayonnaise until smooth and fully combined. Heat a grill pan over medium high heat when fish is almost finished marinating.

3. When fish is marinated, remove it from the bowl and season it with 1 teaspoon salt. Place it on the hot grill pan and cook about 5 minutes per side or until flaky. Remove fish from hot pan and gently flake with a fork.

4. Next, grill tortillas and limes on grill pan for a few seconds or until limes have grill marks and tacos are warmed, flipping when necessary. To serve, divide coleslaw, avocado slices, fish and salsa verde sauce, evenly among tacos. Squeeze with lime juice and sprinkle with remaining sea salt.

Coconut Chicken

Makes 16 servings

Ingredients:
8 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
3 onions, chopped
2 red bell pepper, chopped
2 green bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped roasted garlic
1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
Salt and pepper to taste
2 pinches crushed red pepper flakes
Coconut flakes

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a large skillet, sear chicken breast in oil until chicken is lightly browned on the outside. Saute onions and peppers with chicken until soft. Add the garlic and coconut milk and cook for 6 to 7 minutes, do not let milk boil. Take pan off of heat and season with salt and peppers.

2. Pour the mixture into large casserole dish and bake about 45 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked and sauce has thickened. Meanwhile, toast a handful of coconut flakes in a skillet over low heat until just golden. Remove chicken from oven and sprinkle with toasted coconut when ready to serve.

Tropical Beach Fizz

Makes 1 cocktail

Ingredients:
1/2 ounce sloe gin
1/2 ounce Blue Curacao
1/2 ounce peach flavored liquor
1/2 ounce vodka
Splash soda water or tonic

Directions:
Pour gin, Curacao, peach liquor and vodka into an old-fashioned glass. Stir and top with a splash of soda water.

More recipes for your winter luau party


Chase away the winter blues with guava recipes
Tropical Orange Waffles
Tropical Couscous
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