By Ann Cipperly

A Hawaiian inspired party can be fun for gathering again with family and friends. While in Hawaii, a Kalua pig is cooked in a dirt pit with hot rocks or in an imu, an underground oven or a simple version can be oven baked with a few seasonings. Recipes for the party can blend many cultures, including Polynesian and Asian influences with rice dishes and flavorful salads. A make-ahead coconut dessert provides a delicious finale to a party with a Hawaiian theme.

Several years ago when one of our sons, Robert, was a chef, he decided to cook an entire pig for a luau party. He stuffed the pig with oranges and lemons, then wrapped it in cheesecloth. Robert and our other son, Donny, dug a hole and filled it with hot rocks. The stuffed pig was placed on the rocks and covered with soil. There must have still been an aroma as the dogs barked for hours.

The next day, the pig was dug up, carved and served at a festive luau party that was held outdoors. Of course, I was there every step with my camera, but the photos of the pig preparation turned out too dark to publish.

When Robert held this party, he was probably thinking of the Hawaiian inspired party I held years ago for our Sunday school class. This was when I often took on large cooking projects without thinking about it, which is how I learned to plan and cook ahead.

Our Sunday school class wanted to have a Hawaiian party, and I offered to cook the entire meal myself. I had fun putting together a menu, which featured a complicated main course of chicken in pineapple shells for 24. With a can-do spirit, I did most of the cooking the day of the party.

A couple of ladies from the class stopped by just before lunch to see how things were going. When they saw me cutting up whole chickens and the pile of pineapples on the kitchen table, they moaned and headed for the door, saying they had to leave because just looking at the work to be done made them nervous. They probably didn’t think I would have the meal ready in time.

Their nervousness made me uneasy for a few minutes, but I did not see the situation as being stressful. I got down to the business of cooking and had everything ready on time. The menu included shrimp cocktail, a Polynesian chicken dish with a glazed garlic and soy sauce in individual pineapple halves, a South Seas rice dish, green salad, a large watermelon basket filled with fresh fruit and, for dessert, a rainbow of sherbets.

If I were making this menu now, I would use chicken breasts or thighs instead of cutting up whole chickens, and I would adapt the fruit sauce to use all fresh fruit instead of pineapple and canned fruit. Then, I would have prepared the entire menu ahead if there was space in the refrigerator.

Since it was a large group, the party was held outside. I decorated tables on the patio with colorful sheets printed with huge flowers. A large palm accented the buffet table, and ferns were placed around the patio.

The buffet table was centered with a pineapple arrangement in a wooden bowl with greenery and fruit. Two large candles flanked the centerpiece, and sea shells surrounded the base. The dining tables held smaller pineapple arrangements, candles and seashells.

The food was arranged on wooden and wicker serving containers. Wicker baskets held the silverware and colorful napkins.

Tiki torches were placed around the patio and throughout the yard. Once everything was in place, the setting looked festive.

For the beverage, I served Tropical Nectar punch in a bowl with an ice ring filled with fruit and mint leaves. Each glass held half of a pineapple core, a cherry and a pineapple cube holding a small parasol. Straws were placed in each glass for easy drinking so the garnish would stay intact.

The party was going along great until we had a tropical storm; that is, a southern thunderstorm, just as we were finishing the main course. As rain flooded the patio in buckets, everyone rushed in the house. At that time, we lived in a small home. I was thankful the dessert was easy to eat standing up.

While you can plan a delicious menu and have lovely decorations for offering hospitality, something may happen you didn’t consider. I have learned this over the years, as once just minutes before a large party, a tornado went over our house and left a dozen trees on the ground and no electricity. Being thankful that we were alive and the house was still intact made having a houseful of guests easy with just candlelight.

If you are thinking about gathering with family and friends this summer and would like to do a fun meal, plan a luau. Decorate with flowers from your yard and bring out shells from the beach to place on tables. Whatever is on the menu, prepare as much ahead as possible, and forget about burying a whole pig. Believe me, you will enjoy your own party much more.

Cipperly can be reached at

Oven Baked Kalua Pig

I emailed family members living in Hawaii for this recipe. It is really easy to prepare, and the meat is tender. For a luau party, our son Robert cooked an entire pig Hawaiian style and buried it with hot rocks overnight. The next morning, he dug the pig up, unwrapped it and served it. This recipe is much easier.

5 to 7 lb. pork butt

2½ to 3 Tbsp. liquid smoke

2 Tbsp. Hawaiian salt, sea salt or kosher salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Trim excess fat from roast and pierce top with a fork. Pour liquid smoke slowly over pork, rubbing to cover. Sprinkle with salt and rub into roast. Cover tightly with foil.

Roast for about 45 minutes per pound. Let roast sit for 20 minutes before shredding with two forks.

South Seas Rice with Soy Dressing

1 cup uncooked white rice (or black rice)

3 Tbsp. oil

2 cups chicken broth

1 tsp. salt

¼ cup chopped green onion

½ cup thinly sliced celery

½ cup roasted macadamia nuts, cashews or peanuts

Soy Dressing, recipe follows

Salt to taste

In skillet, heat rice in oil, stirring until golden. Add broth; heat to boiling. Cover and cook until broth is absorbed. Add remaining ingredients, except nuts; toss lightly. Chill. Add nuts when ready to serve. Can be prepared a day ahead. Serves 6 to 8. Easy to double.

Soy Dressing

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

3 Tbsp. vinegar

3 Tbsp. oil

1 Tbsp. minced parsley

Mix ingredients together.

Grilled Marinated Shrimp

½ cup oil

¼ cup soy sauce

¼ cup lemon juice

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 lbs. large shrimp, peeled and deveined

Combine all ingredients except shrimp; blend well. Add shrimp. Chill 2 to 3 hours.

Thread shrimp onto skewers. Grill 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until shrimp turn pink. Can thread shrimp onto woody end of rosemary branches. If using wooden skewers, soak in water for a few minutes.

Glazed Polynesian Chicken

The chicken is good baked as is without placing in pineapple shells with the pineapple sauce.

1 chicken cut-up or use chicken breasts or chicken thighs

¼ cup vegetable oil

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. crumbled rosemary

Place chicken pieces in a baking pan. Combine remaining ingredients and brush over chicken.

Bake in a 350 oven for 25 minutes, basting chicken occasionally. Turn chicken over and brush with remaining soy mixture. Bake for 35 minutes until chicken is done. Serves 4.

Pineapple Shells and Sauce, optional

2 pineapple shells

1 can fruits for salad (1 lb. 14 oz.)

4 tsp. cornstarch

½ cup flaked coconut, toasted, optional

Halve pineapples lengthwise, cutting through leafy crown. Cut around fruit to loosen from shell; lift out and cut out cores. Cut pineapple into chunks; set aside.

Drain liquid from canned fruit and pour into a saucepan with the cornstarch. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce boils and cooks for 3 minutes. Fold in pineapple chunks and canned fruit. Heat until just hot.

Note. The sauce can be adapted by using pineapple juice and adding fresh fruit with the pineapple instead of canned.

Place pineapple shells on plates and fill each one with Polynesian Chicken. Pour sauce over chicken. Top with toasted coconut, if desired.

Coconut Cream Pie

1 rolled refrigerated piecrust

3/4 cup sugar

4 Tbsp. cornstarch

3 cups whole milk

4 egg yolks

4 Tbsp. butter

2 cups sweetened flaked coconut, divided

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1½ cups whipping cream

5 Tbsp. sugar

Place piecrust into a 9-inch pie plate according to package directions. Prick bottom and sides of piecrust with a fork. Bake according to package directions for a one-crust pie. Cool.

Combine 3/4 cup sugar and cornstarch in a heavy saucepan. Whisk together milk and egg yolks. Gradually whisk egg mixture into sugar mixture; bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Boil 1 minute; remove from heat.

Stir in butter, 1 cup coconut, and 2 tsp. vanilla. Set aside for few minutes. Then spoon filling into prepared crust. Cover and refrigerate.

Bake remaining 1 cup coconut in 325 oven until lightly toasted.

Beat whipping cream, adding sugar. Beat until stiff.

When pie is cooled, cover with whipped cream and top with toasted coconut. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serves 8.

Easy Coconut Cake

Make three days ahead and place in refrigerator. Cake is super moist.

1 box Duncan Hines Butter yellow cake

2 cups milk

1 cup sugar

6 oz. pkg. frozen coconut

Bake cake in 13 x 9-inch pan as directed on box. About 10 minutes before cake is done, mix 1 package coconut, milk and sugar; bring to a boil. Remove cake from oven. Let cool about 10 minutes. Punch holes in top of cake with a fork; pour coconut mixture over cake. Let stand at room temperature for an additional 30 minutes, then refrigerate for 2 hours or longer before frosting.


16 oz. sour cream

1 cup sugar

8 oz. carton Cool Whip

6 oz. frozen coconut, thawed

Combine sour cream, sugar and Cool Whip. Add a little coconut. Frost cake. Sprinkle remaining coconut over frosting. Tightly cover for at least 3 days. No peeking.

Honey and Soy Glazed Salmon

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup soy sauce

3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice

2 Tbsp. water

1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 to 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

4 (6-oz.) pieces salmon fillet, skin removed

In a small bowl, whisk together honey, soy sauce, lime juice, water and mustard.

In a small non-stick skillet, heat oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and cook salmon 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until golden and just cooked through. Transfer salmon to 4 plates.

Add honey mixture to skillet and simmer, stirring occasionally, until it reaches a glaze-like consistency. Pour the glaze over salmon.

Grilled Hawaiian Style Chicken

1 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup soy sauce

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 Tbsp. chopped fresh ginger or 1 tsp. ground ginger

1/4 onion, sliced

4 Tbsp. melted butter

3 green onions, chopped

In a large Ziplock bag or bowl, mix together brown sugar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger and onion; add chicken.

Marinate chicken in the refrigerator for four hours or overnight.

Place melted butter and chopped green onions in a glass pan; set aside.

Grill chicken until fully cooked; place in the glass pan with butter and green onion, turning to coat. Place on platter and serve.

Cole Slaw with Pineapple

1 head green cabbage, shredded

½ to 1 head red cabbage, shredded

3 carrots, grated or finely chopped

½ cup onion, finely chopped

1½ to 2 cups fresh or canned pineapple chunks

2 Tbsp. sugar

1 Tbsp. salad vinegar

1½ cups mayonnaise

Combine cabbages, carrots, onion and pineapple. Mix sugar, vinegar and mayonnaise together; fold into cabbage mixture. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serves 8.

Bobbie’s Hawaiian Banana Muffins or Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

1 cup chopped pecans, optional

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

4 eggs, beaten

2 cups ripe bananas, mashed

1½ cups vegetable oil

1 small can crushed pineapple, drained well

2 tsp. vanilla

Cooking spraying

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, pecans, soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside. In a medium-sized bowl mix together eggs, bananas, vegetable oil, crushed pineapple and vanilla. Add this egg mixture to flour mixture and stir by hand just until moistened.

Spray muffin tins with Pam or other spray oil. Fill about ½ to 2/3 full. Bake until light brown or the muffin springs back at touch. Makes many muffins, according to size of muffin tins. These freeze well.

Note: To make as a loaf, grease and flour 2 loaf pans. Divide mixture between pans and bake at 350 for about 1 hour until tests done. Cool at least 10 minutes in pan.

Tropical Nectar with Ice Mold

46 oz. can apricot nectar

46 oz. can pineapple juice

Two (6 oz.) cans frozen concentrate limeade

Two bottles (28 oz.) ginger ale

Pour apricot nectar, pineapple juice and limeade into a punch bowl. Before serving gently stir in ginger ale.

Ice Mold

Partially freeze a layer of water in a ring mold. Arrange a wreath of fruit, such as strawberries, grapes, lemon and lime slices. Garnish with mint sprigs. Freeze.

When frozen, add another layer of water and freeze.

Instead of water, can use fruit juice.

Let mold sit for a few minutes, then place in punch bowl. If necessary, quickly run hot water over mold for a few seconds.

Pineapple Tea

6 tea bags

1/2 cup sugar

4 cups boiling water

Fresh mint

Juice of 3 lemons

5 Tbsp. pineapple juice

Place tea bags and sugar in a 2-quart container.

Add 4 cups boiling water. Steep for 5 minutes; remove tea bags.

Steep fresh mint leaves in tea for at least 3 minutes. Add lemon and pineapple juices. Pour in pitcher; fill with cold water. Serve over ice.

Garnish with pineapple and fresh mint leaves.

Grilled Teriyaki Style Chicken

1 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs

1/2 cup pineapple juice

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup brown sugar

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. ground ginger

Place chicken thighs in a glass bowl or gallon-sized Ziploc bag, set aside.

Combine remaining ingredients in medium-sized mixing bowl, blending well. Pour marinade over chicken; cover bowl tightly or seal plastic bag. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Remove chicken from marinade, and pour marinade into a saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer 10 minutes.  Brush marinade over chicken and grill until chicken is fully cooked at 165 internal degrees.

Place chicken on platter and pour remaining boiled marinade over chicken and serve.