Once summer heats up, so does the outdoor party scene.

When planning parties, especially large ones, organization is key, says Jeffrey Gabriel, a certified master chef and instructor at Schoolcraft College in Livonia, Mich.

"Choose a menu that will be easy to execute," he says.

Serve items that can be prepared in advance and will hold up well during the party, such as salads. The more cold items you include on your menu, the easier it will be.

"And it's best to keep the hot foods simple, such as barbecue chicken you can grill in advance," he says.

An easy alternative to chicken is pork tenderloin. "It's inexpensive and you can grill them whole and slice and make little sandwiches," he says.

Here are some tips for party success:

* Prepare as much as possible in advance. Cut up vegetables and place in sealable bags in the refrigerator.

* Grill dishes like chicken and beef and reheat later. Grilled vegetables hold well for a few hours.

* With salads (pasta, potato, etc.), figure about 1 cup per serving if you serve one kind of salad. If serving two to three salads, figure on a 1/2 -cup per person.

* Serve any kind of veggies with guacamole, make a grilled vegetable salad or serve marinated tomatoes on a platter with fresh mozzarella.

>Greek Pasta Salad

For the salad:

2 packages (16 ounces each) cavatappi pasta or elbow macaroni

2 pints grape tomatoes, washed, halved

1 jar (7 ounces drained) kalamata olive pieces in brine, drained

10 ounces feta cheese (use half regular and half reduced-fat or fat-free), crumbled

1 large red onion, peeled, diced

1 hot house cucumber, seeded, diced

1 large bunch radishes, washed, ends removed, thinly sliced

1 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

For the dressing:

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 cloves garlic, peeled

4 ounces fat-free, reduced fat or regular feta cheese, crumbled

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon all-purpose seasoning

1 1/2 cups olive oil

To make the salad: Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Spread the pasta out on a baking sheet to dry for 30 to 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare all the remaining salad ingredients and place them in a large serving bowl. Add the pasta and toss together.

To make the dressing: In a blender or food processor place the red wine vinegar, garlic, feta cheese, oregano, sugar, salt, pepper and seasoning blend. Pulse to chop up the garlic and cheese. With the machine running, slowly and in a steady stream add the olive oil and process until emulsified. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. The dressing should be salty enough from the feta cheese; try not to oversalt. Adjust the salt as needed. The olives and feta cheese will contribute to the saltiness.

Pour the dressing over the salad. Toss to thoroughly combine and serve. Or you can make both the salad and the dressing a day in advance, pouring the dressing over the salad and combining just before serving. Serves: 48 ( 1/2 cup servings).


>Grilled Pork Tenderloin

2 pork tenderloins (about 1 1/2 pounds each)

Marinade (optional):

1/2 cup orange juice

1/3 cup canola oil

1 tablespoon sesame oil, optional

5 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon hoisin sauce, optional

Rub (optional):

4 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon Morton Nature's Seasons Seasoning Blend

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons onion powder

Trim the pork tenderloins of any silver connective tissue. If marinating, whisk together all the marinating ingredients in a glass measure. Place the tenderloins in a plastic sealable bag and pour the marinade over. Seal bag and marinate at least 4 hours or overnight.

If using the rub, combine all the rub ingredients in a small bowl. Rub the mixture all over the tenderloins. Place in a sided dish and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours.

When ready to cook, preheat the grill to medium-high. Oil the grill grates.

If you marinated the tenderloins, remove them from the marinade and discard the marinade.

For either method, grill each tenderloin about 3-4 minutes on all sides to get nice sear and grill marks. Reduce the heat to medium or move the tenderloin to a cooler part of the grill. Continue grilling until the center reaches 145 to 150 degrees, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from the grill and let rest about 5 minutes -- the tenderloin will continue to cook.

Slice on a slight diagonal into 16 slices about 1/4 -inch thick. Place on a platter and serve. Serves 32 (1 1/2 ounce servings).

The marinade and rub make enough for 2 pork tenderloins. Try the marinade on one and the rub on the other.


>Chicken Delights

3 pounds ground raw chicken breast

2 shallots, peeled, minced

2 large ribs celery, washed, finely minced

2 eggs, lightly beaten

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 jar (12 ounces) mango chutney, divided

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 cups dry stuffing mix such as Pepperidge Farm, crushed

1/2 cup almonds, coarsely ground, optional

Nonstick cooking spray

Hot water as needed

In a large bowl combine the chicken, shallots, celery, eggs, Dijon, curry powder, 8 tablespoons chutney, lemon juice, salt, pepper, stuffing and, if using, almonds. Mix together thoroughly, trying not to work the mixture too much. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat a sided baking sheet with nonstick spray. Place the remaining chutney in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Add a little hot water if the mixture seems too thick.

Using about a heaping teaspoon of the chicken mixture, roll into balls about 1 inch in diameter. Place the balls on the baking sheet. Bake about 12 minutes or until thoroughly cooked.

Remove from the oven and immediately brush with the chutney. Serve immediately or store and reheat just before serving. Makes about 130 chicken balls.