Back Yard Vacation Island Get Away

In the mood for a little get away? Silly question . . . who doesn’t need a little get away? Wouldn’t it be great to bring all your friends and family to a tropical island get away? With a little imagination and some simple planning, you can transport yourself to a vacation paradise without breaking the bank. If you happen to have a backyard pool, all the better. If not, get a little wading pool, toss it in the yard and put your outdoor chairs around the pool. If it’s a one-time use, you could even put a few bags of sand into the bottom of the pool for that “beach” feel.

Since May was a celebration of all things Asian-American and Pacific Islander, it only seems fitting to end the month on a very tropical, South Pacific note.

First things first. Head to your local party supply store for everything you might need to set the mood. Think drinks, small appetizer plates, colorful flatware. Don’t forget the Tiki lights, flowers and maybe a straw hat or two. Depending upon how much you want to spend and how crazy you want to get, a well-stocked party supply store can provide everything from cute little umbrellas to grass skirts and even a full size Tiki bar. I like to wander the party stores for ideas – sometimes a platter or bowl or even a drink cup is all it takes for a little inspiration.

As for the food, we’ve got everything from Tropical Appetizers to Tropical Rum Drinks. Hope you get inspired to have a little vacation in your back yard. I’ll be looking for my invite!

Appetizers to get things started
Grilled Shrimp Lettuce Cups
Teriyaki Meatballs with Pineapples


The Main Attractions
Beef – Teriyaki Flank Steak
Chicken – Grilled Huli Huli Chicken
Pork – Teriyaki Grilled Pork Tenderloin
Sea Food – Baked Mahi-Mahi with Lemon Zest


And on the Side
Fruit – Grilled Pineapples
Macaroni – Hawaiian Macaroni Salad with Spam
Rice – Island Fried Rice with Spam


Tropical Salad
Mango & Jicama Salad


Sweet Island Dessert
Mango Float

Mango Float

In the Mood Cocktails
Blue Hawaiian
Mai Tai

Tropical Cocktails

Appetizers to get things started:

Grilled Shrimp Lettuce Cups
1/2 Bag Shredded Carrots
3 Radishes, Julienne
1 Cup Water
1 Cup White Vinegar
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 lb Shrimp, medium
1/2 Cup Lime Juice
2 tablespoons Honey
1 tablespoon garlic
2 tablespoons chives
10 Chives, for additional garnish
1 Head Bibb or Butter Lettuce

In a large bowl, mix carrots, radishes, water, vinegar and sugar. Let soak in the fridge for at least several hours.

Remove veins from shrimp, but leave tails on. Rinse well. Place shrimp in a resealable bag. Mix lime juice, honey and garlic into a measuring cup. Pour over shrimp. Seal bag, pressing out as much air as possible. Toss to coat shrimp. Place in fridge and let marinate for several hours.

Drain pickled vegetables and set aside.

Drain shrimp and place on a hot grill. (A grilling basket is great for this). Grill shrimp until done, about 3-4 minutes per side.

Place lettuce leaves on a large serving platter. Fill each leaf with some of the vegetable mixture. Add a few strips of chive as desired. Top with a shrimp and garnish with finely chopped chives.

Teriyaki Meatballs with Pineapple
1 Jar Teriyaki Glaze
1 Can Pineapple Chunks, drained juice reserved
1 package Frozen Meatballs (plain, about 24 balls)
2 teaspoons Sesame Seeds
2 Green Onions, chopped
24 Mini Bamboo Cocktail Skewers

Place Teriyaki Glaze in a large pot. Drain pineapple chunks, and stir juice from the can into glaze. Add frozen meatballs. Bring just to a boil over medium-high heat.

Lower heat and allow teriyaki meatballs to simmer for about 30 minutes or until heated through.

Once heated, remove meatballs from sauce. Place in a bowl to make working easier and less messy.

Place a meatball on each cocktail skewer. Place a chunk of pineapple on same skewer under the meatball. Arrange skewers on a large serving platter. Drizzle with sauce, then sprinkle with Sesame Seeds and green onions.

The Main Attractions

Teriyaki Flank Steaks
4 lbs flank steak
2/3 cups soy sauce
1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons of pineapple juice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch piece ginger, crushed
3 stalks green onion, finely chopped

Place the plastic bag in a large bowl and then add all the ingredients, including steaks (add these last).  Seal bag closed, pressing out as much air as possible. Flip bag several times it to coat steaks in the marinade.

Place the steak in the fridge and marinate it overnight, or for a minimum of 10 hours.

When ready to cook, remove the steak from the fridge and build a fire on the grill. When the coals are hot and ready to use, remove the steak from the marinade, discard the leftover liquid. Sear the steak on each side until it’s cooked to your desired degree of doneness.

Let the steak rest for 5 minutes and then slice and serve.

Grilled Huli Huli Chicken
4 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs,
1 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
½ cup soy sauce
½ cup brown sugar
⅓ cup banana sauce (banana ketchup)
¼ cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons fresh ginger root, grated
1½ teaspoons minced garlic
green onions, sliced for garnish

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together pineapple juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, banana sauce, chicken broth, ginger and garlic.

Reserve 1 cup sauce for basting. Add the chicken thighs and sauce to a ziplock bag and marinate at least 3 hours or overnight.

Grill chicken, covered, over medium heat for 6-8 minutes on each side or until no longer pink.

Baste with reserved marinade during the last 5 minutes.

Garnish with green onions if desired.

Teriyaki Grilled Pork Tenderloin
Pork Tenderloin
1 1/2-2 Lb Pork Tenderloin
6-8 Garlic Cloves
Salt & Pepper to Taste
3-4 Pineapple rings
1-2 Green Onions, chopped for garnish if desired

Cut small slits to allow marinate to seep into tenderloin. Place tenderloin in a resealable plastic bag. Set aside and make the marinade.

Teriyaki Marinade
1 Cup Soy Sauce
1 Cup Sugar
¼ Cup Garlic, crushed
¼ Cup Ginger, diced
¼ Cup Green Onions, diced
¼ Cup Sesame Oil

Dice ginger, chop green onions, set aside. Crush garlic with the blade of a knife. Set aside.

Mix all ingredients together until well-blended. Pour into bag to cover meat, cover and refrigerate overnight.

Remove tenderloin from marinate. Place on a rimmed baking sheet. Insert peeled garlic cloves into the slits in the meat. Season with salt and pepper. Let rest on counter for 45 minute.

Prepare grill for both direct and indirect cooking. Make sure the grate is well-oiled to avoid sticking.

When grill is ready, brush with marinate, then sear pork tenderloin on all sides directly over coals, about 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer to indirect cooking, grill about 10-15 minutes per side. During last 5 minutes of grilling, sear pineapple rings.

Remove tenderloin from grill, top with pineapples rings and tent to keep warm. Let rest 10 minutes before carving into thick medallions.

If desired, bring marinate to a boil, then simmer to thicken and drizzle over pork medallions just before serving. Garnish with chopped green onions for additional color and flavor.

Baked Mahi-Mahi with Lemon Zest
4 Mahi-Mahi fillets, 8 oz. each
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped
¼ teaspoon lemon zest, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher or sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
1 lemon, peeled for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix onion powder, garlic powder, dill and lemon zest together.

Lay four 12″ x 13″ pieces of aluminum foil on countertop. Place each fillet near center and sprinkle evenly with dill mixture. Season lightly with salt and pepper; drizzle with olive oil.

Fold aluminum in half over top of fillet. “Roll” back towards fillet, then fold in sides to form an envelope; repeat. Transfer foil packets onto a sheet pan, then into the oven.

Bake 15 minutes, remove from oven and let stand 2-3 minutes before opening. Serve hot.

And on the side

Grilled Pineapples
1 whole fresh pineapple (see note)
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Note: Smell the pineapple when purchasing.  You should pick up a sweet flavor.  The stronger the smell, the riper the fruit.  Turn the pineapple upside down in an empty container for a few hours before you grill it to distribute the sugar throughout the fruit.

Trim, core, and peel pineapple.  Cut the leaves off the top of the pineapple, then peel it with a serrated knife.  Remove any eyes with a paring knife.  Cut into quarters from top to bottom.  Slice out the core from each quarter.  Cut each quarter slice into four pieces (two pieces lengthwise and two crosswise).  You should now have 16 wedges of pineapple (about 3-inch by 1-inch each).

In a small bowl, combine honey, lemon, lime, or orange juice, and black pepper.  Brush the glaze onto each slice of pineapple, coating completely.

Preheat Barbecue grill.   Either oil or spray the grill rack with non-stick cooking spray. Place pineapple wedges on the grill and cook approximately 4 minutes on each side (turning so that grill marks are on all sides) until the pineapple becomes fragrant and starts to dry out on the surface.

NOTE:  Do not overcook the pineapple spear or they will turn mushy, as the natural sugars in fresh pineapple caramelizes quickly as it is grilled.  Watch carefully or they will burn.

Remove from the grill and brush with any additional glaze one more time.  Serve and enjoy!
The grilled pineapple can be kept at room temperature for up to 8 hours.  Re-warm before serving.

The grilled pineapple can then be placed on serving dishes along with the meats.

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad with Spam
1 lb Spaghetti Noodles, cooked according to package directions
½ Cup Onion, diced
1 Bunch Green Onions, chopped
2 Carrots, grated
2 Celery Stocks, diced.
4-5 Hard-Boiled eggs
½ Cup Best Foods Mayonnaise (more if needed)
1 Can of Spam, cut into strips

Break spaghetti noodles in half and cook noodles according to package directions. Rinse well under cold running water. Drain well.

In a large bowl, combine onions, green onions, carrots and celery. Add spaghetti noodles to vegetables and toss to blend.

Chop all but 1 egg, add to salad. With final egg, cut V lines to create a flower. Reserve one half of flower, chop other half and add to salad. Add mayonnaise and fold to coat all the ingredients.

Transfer macaroni salad to serving bowl, smooth out top for a flat finish. Place egg tulip in center of dish, pressing down lightly to keep tulip in place. Top the finished salad with spam in a spoke-wheel patter from egg. (Note: The Spam is purely optional but a nice touch). Cover and refrigerate for several hours or until well-chilled.

Island-Style Fried Rice
1 1/2 cups uncooked jasmine rice
3 cups water
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 (12 ounce) can Spam, cubed
1/2 cup sliced Chinese sweet pork sausage (lup cheong)
3 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 (8 ounce) can pineapple chunks, drained
1/2 cup chopped green onion
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Bring the rice and water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the rice is tender, and the liquid has been absorbed, 20 to 25 minutes. Let the rice cool completely. (Rice can be made a day ahead – day old rice is best for fried rice).

Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a skillet over medium heat, and brown the Spam and sausage. Remove from skillet and set aside.

Pour the beaten eggs into the now empty skillet. Scramble the eggs until set but not firm. Remove from skillet and set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the now empty skillet over medium heat, and stir in the rice. Toss the rice with the hot oil until heated through and beginning to brown, about 2 minutes.

Add the garlic powder, toss the rice for 1 more minute to develop the garlic taste. Add meats, scrambled eggs, pineapple and oyster sauce. Cook and stir until the oyster sauce coats the rice and other ingredients, 2 to 3 minutes, stir in the green onions, and serve.

Tropical Salad

Mango & Jicama Salad
¾ Cup Jicama, peeled & Julianne cut
½ Cup Ripe Mango, peeled and cut into chunks
1 Tablespoon Fresh Lime Juice
½ Teaspoon Sugar
1 ½ Teaspoons Chopped Cilantro
¼ Teaspoon Salt
Dash of Pepper

Peel Jicama. Cut Julianne style. Place in a large bowl.

Peel Mango. Cut into chunks. Place in bowl with Jicama.

In a small bowl, combine lime juice, sugar and chopped Cilantro. Toss to coat.

Season juice with salt and pepper. Pour lime juice mixture over Mango & Jicama salad. Toss to mix well.

Cover and keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Best to serve when well-chilled.

Sweet Island Dessert

Mango Float
2 Half Pints (236 ml each), whipping or heavy cream, chilled
1/2 – 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk, or to taste
3/4 – 1 cup  Mango puree
1/2 – 1 teaspoon, Vanilla Extract
A little Honey, to taste (optional)
3-4 Mangoes, thinly sliced (use soft or tender Mangoes for easier slicing)
1 pack Graham Crackers
6 Tablespoons Sliced Almonds (divided into three)
A few Maraschino Cherries, for garnish

In a mixer beat the cream on high-speed until the volume increases and the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes.

Stop the mixer and gently stir in the condensed milk. Add the vanilla extract and mango puree. Taste and add a small amount of Honey if the mangoes are not naturally sweet enough for your tastes..

To Assemble: Place the Graham Crackers on the bottom of a 9 x 13 freezer-safe glass baking dish. Fill in any gaps with smaller pieces of Graham Crackers.

Spread 1/3 of the cream mixture on top of the Graham crackers.

Arrange the mango slices on top of the cream.

Sprinkle with about 1/3 of the sliced Almonds.

Repeat the process twice. For the third layer, add some Maraschino Cherries for garnish. You can add as many Mango slices as you have available. Sprinkle with the remaining sliced Almonds.

Once assembled, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the freezer for 2 hours. Remove from freezer and hold in refrigerator until ready to serve.

In the Mood Cocktails

Blue Hawaiian (per drink)
1 ounce silver (light) rum
1 ounce blue Curacao
1 ounce cream of coconut, such as Coco Lopez
2 ounces pineapple juice
Fresh pineapple wedge
Maraschino cherry

Fill a large Tiki or hurricane glass with ice. Fill cocktail shaker half-full with ice. Add the rum, Curacao, cream of coconut, and pineapple juice to the shaker. Shake well.  Strain the cocktail into the glass.

For Frozen Blended Blue Hawaiian cocktails, process all the liquid ingredients in a blender with 1 cup of cracked ice. Blend until smooth, the pour into glass.

Garnish with the pineapple and cherry.

Mai Tai (per drink)
1 ounce aged or dark rum
1 ounce silver (light) rum
1 ounce triple sec or Curacao
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon Orgeat or Almond beverage syrup
1 teaspoon Grenadines (optional)
Fresh pineapple wedges
Maraschino cherry
Mint sprigs

Fill a large Tiki or hurricane glass with ice. Half fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the rums, triple sec, lime juice, orgeat, and Grenadines. Shake well. Strain the cocktail into the glass.

Garnish with the pineapple, cherry, and mint.

Happy Backyard Vacation!

Author: Rosemarie's Kitchen

I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and avid home cook.I believe in eating healthy whenever possible, while still managing to indulge in life's pleasures.

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