A themed cocktail is a must for Katie Lee's parties. (Photo courtesy of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!)
Springtime is the perfect time to bust out the lawn furniture and host an outdoor gathering. But with warm weather come humidity, bugs and some unpredictable elements. We tapped back into the hostess with the mostess Katie Lee to get some rules on how to handle seasonal surprises when throwing an outdoor party.
1. Keep it simple! You want to be able to enjoy your guests rather than get stuck in the kitchen and miss all the action. If your outdoor area is partially covered set the table and decorate the night before, so it's never a rush the day of the party. The day of, give yourself an hour to get ready before guests arrive.
2. Get creative with decor. I'm a girl who loves a theme. Pick a country and go from there, it will give you direction when deciding on a menu, wine, decor and even music. Lighting is also incredibly important for anything outside. I like to hang paper lanterns from a tree, and a well-placed string of white Christmas tree lights goes a long way to set the ambiance.
3. Be prepared for unwanted guests. I avoid decorating with scented candles, which attract bugs and can overpower the smell of your delicious food. If you have some lingering critters, protect your dishes by covering plates with an overturned wire mesh colander before serving.
4. Serve lighter bites. An array of finger foods means your guests can mingle without trying to balance a big plate. Sliders, chicken skewers and mini sandwiches are always great options.
Read on for the recipe to one of Katie Lee's favorite finger foods.
Finger foods make it easier to socialize at your spring and summer soirees. (Photo courtesy of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!)
Unfried Chicken and Homemade BBQ Sauce
Makes 18 skewers
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
"This is a hit at all my summer parties, especially because it's a healthier option than traditional backyard BBQ fare," Lee says.
Homemade BBQ Sauce
- 1 tablespoon I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! Spread
- 1 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 cups ketchup
- 3/4 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Melt I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! Spread in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook over medium heat, stirring often until tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes for flavors to develop.
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup seasoned panko bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! Spread
Preheat oven to 400°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and brush each with 1 tablespoon melted I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! Spread. On 18 skewers thread chicken, dipping into flour to coat. Dip into beaten egg the bread crumbs to coat. Place on prepared baking sheets. Brush chicken skewers with remaining 1/4 cup melted spread. Bake 8 to 10 minutes until chicken is thoroughly cooked. Serve with BBQ sauce.
Nutrition information per serving (3 skewers): 180 calories, 5 grams of fat