The Very First Meal You Should Eat Outside: Springtime Garden Party Menu

As spring begins to set in, throw an alfresco gathering with a menu of fresh, celebratory recipes that are just begging to be taken outside.

Hey, you wanna take this thing outside?

Before you lose your cool, we're not picking a fight with you. In fact, we just really, really want to get outside already. As spring begins to set in, think of this time as an excuse to throw a gathering in the great outdoors and plan an alfresco party anywhere from the garden or your backyard to the park or your patio. As for the menu, we've got that part covered with fresh, celebratory recipes that are just begging to be taken outside.

To start, graze on veggie-topped Spring Pizzas (pictured above) that couldn't be easier to make. Stretch store-bought pizza dough into mini rounds for a fresh take on your usual sauce-and-cheese pizza. Topped with ramps, scallions and other in-season treats, Alex Guarnaschelli's ricotta-and-Parmesan-topped individual pies are invigorated with fresh basil and lemon zest. Cut them into triangles for an easy outdoor appetizer.

Rachael-Ray-Strawberry-Salad

Rachael-Ray-Strawberry-Salad

Photo by: Tara Donne ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Tara Donne, 2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Toss together Rachael Ray's simple, five-minute Green Salad with Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette. With a pint of fresh strawberries scattered throughout, this vibrant salad gets its tangy sweetness from a dressing of whisked balsamic vinegar, strawberry jam and olive oil.

For your main course, make Ina Garten's easy Parmesan Chicken. The chicken is coated in Parmesan-dusted breadcrumbs, then cooked in a skillet with both butter and olive oil until crispy. This six-serving recipe is ready to go in just 30 minutes, so you won't have to stay inside for long.

On the side, tender, in-season spears in Alex Guarnaschelli's Chilled Asparagus Salad come graced with lemon, vinegar, honey and smooth Dijon mustard. Since it's served cold, this salad is a low-maintenance winner for alfresco eating.

07_BrandySidecar_241.tif

07_BrandySidecar_241.tif

Weekend Brandy Sidecar in a small glass with ice

©Food Styling - Jamie Kimm Prop Styling - Marcus Hay

Food Styling - Jamie Kimm Prop Styling - Marcus Hay

This extra-special Sparkling Sidecar from Food Network Magazine is shaken with cognac, orange liqueur and lemon juice, then topped with seltzer for a little refreshing effervescence. Rim the glass with sugar for a sweet finish.

With a super-crispy graham cracker base, Tyler Florence's creamy and tart  Lemon-Blueberry Cheesecake Bars have to sit in the fridge for a few hours so the filling can set, meaning they'll be ready for you to grab them from the fridge when it's time for dessert outside.

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