Healthy Hollywood: Try It On Tuesday - Gail Simmons' Outdoor Party Tips!

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Top Chef Gail Simmons -- TalismanPHOTO
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Top Chef Gail Simmons -- TalismanPHOTO

Aw, summer is just around the corner and the warm weather finally seems here to stay. Yay! So, fire up the grill and get ready to take your party outside.

Top Chef Gail Simmons has teamed up with Cascade Platinum and shares her party advice with Healthy Hollywood. "Outdoor entertaining should be casual and easy so make sure to stock your kitchen with everything you need ahead of time to cut down on stress when guests are arriving."

Gail suggests chilling drinks the night before, serve dishes that have fun toppings, like tacos or do-it-yourself salads, so it cuts down on your time in the kitchen. Plus, Simmons suggests, "I like to make at least one or two dishes that can be easily prepped in advance and served cool or at room temperature to start, like a fresh chilled soups (gazpacho, sweet pea or spicy cucumber and avocado are favorites) or a few great veggie salads (try beet and goat cheese with chives, asparagus with arugula pesto or carrot with radishes and lots of fresh summer herbs). This allows me to focus my attention on the main course."

Spring is also a great time to serve lots of veggies. Asparagus, sweet spring peas, ramps, leeks and morel mushrooms are all in season and add lots of nutrition and flavor to recipes. "My absolute favorite ingredient for spring is artichokes! I love steaming them and eating them with herb butter or vinaigrette, shaving them into salads or frying them to eat with grilled lemons," suggests Gail.

And, if you're thinking of hosting an outdoor bash, Gail shares these tips on how to spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your guests.

1. Never be afraid to ask for help in the kitchen. Encourage friends and family to bring dessert, wine or even a great side dish so you are not tasked with all the heavy lifting.

2. Prepare a few dishes that can be served at room temperature. That way you can focus on grilling and mingling instead of being stuck in the kitchen.

3. Do as much prep as you can in advance and take stock of all the dishes and glassware you need to prevent being strapped during dinner.

4. Stock your pantry with all the supplies you need to cut down on cleanup. My go-to is Cascade Platinum, which gives me sparkling dishes and glasses, more time with my guests, and less time spent pre-rinsing my dishes, even if I wait until the next morning.

-- Terri MacLeod

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