Warm up your outdoor party

Colder weather is the most glorious time to host an event. Use your outdoor space in style. Try these cold-weather recipes for your next backyard fete – they’re easy to prepare and sure to please. We recommend a small crowd of 6 guests to keep things intimate. Enjoy your get together!

Cleil’s Chicken Chili

Serves 6

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 cup green or red sweet pepper, seeded and chopped
  • ½ cup jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
  • ½ cup chopped green chile peppers
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 28-oz can tomato puree
  • 2 14 ½-oz cans diced tomatoes
  • ¾ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 16-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 16-oz can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 16-oz can white beans, rinsed and drained
  • Toppings: fresh chopped cilantro or parsley, sour cream, lime wedges, shredded cheddar and/or Monterey Jack cheese, finely chopped red onion, green salsa


Pre-heat 6-quart Dutch oven over on hot grill, then heat oil over medium heat. Add chicken in two batches and cook till chicken starts browning. Do not overcook. Remove with slotted spoon. Sauté onion, celery, peppers and garlic in Dutch oven, until onion is tender, stirring occasionally. Add cumin, chili powder, oregano, cayenne, salt and pepper and cook for 3 minutes. Return chicken to pot and stir in tomato puree, undrained tomatoes and vinegar. Bring to boil and reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add beans, then simmer for 10 minutes more. Ladle into bowls and serve with assorted toppings.

Mark’s Secret Sliders

Makes 12 sliders/Serves 6

  • 2 lbs of ground chuck
  • 1 lb bacon, crumbled
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • Pinch red pepper
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium sweet onions, sliced
  • 1 lb. gouda cheese, sliced for each patty
  • 12 slider rolls
  • Mayonnaise, dijon mustard, ketchup, pickle slices

Cook bacon till crispy, drain and crumble. Set aside. Heat grill to medium high. Add salt, pepper, red pepper and Worcestershire sauce to meat and mix well. Portion out 2 ounces of beef per patty. Gently form patty slightly wider than roll and make an indention in the center of each patty. Season both sides with additional salt and pepper. Grill patties for 5 minutes, turn over and cook for 2 more minutes.

Brush olive oil on onions slices and season with salt and pepper. Grill or saute onions for 3 minutes, until slightly softened. Cover and keep warm.

Add bacon to slider patties, then cover with cheese slices. Cook an additional 2 minutes. Place sliders on rolls and serve with grilled onions and condiments.

Manassas mulled wine

Serves 6

  • 1 750-ml bottle dry red wine - Burgundy, Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot
  • ¼ cup brandy
  • 3 cups apple cider
  • 3 oranges, sliced
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1 star anise
  • 3 teaspoons finely shredded lemon zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 orange sliced for garnish

In a large saucepan, combine wine, brandy, cider, orange slices, cranberries, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, lemon zest and nutmeg. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove saucepan from heat and stir in syrup until dissolved. Strain liquid through a fine-mesh strainer. Garnish with additional orange slices and serve hot in mugs.