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Throw A Green Dinner Party!

Early Show contributor Katie Lee Joel recently chaired the first-ever "Green Dance" at the American Museum of Natural History.

From organic and sustainable foods to environmentally friendly products, the whole evening was dedicated to Mother Earth.

It was a black-tie event, but there's no reason you can't throw a "green" party of your own at home!

Katie showed how on the show Wednesday.

By using sustainable, local or organic ingredients, your "footprint" on the earth is much smaller, she notes.

Katie prepared a minted pea soup, fresh mushroom and asparagus springtime pasta, and mini-cheesecakes drizzled with honey.

But when throwing a green dinner party, the food is only half the battle.

There's frequently lots of waste at dinner, especially during the summer, when we eat outside using paper plates and napkins.

But Katie's table was totally green, with everything from the placemats to the centerpiece 100 percent recycled, reusable, or repurposed.

After making the pasta, Katie poured the soup into espresso cups and garnished the dessert with the honey and bee pollen.

Bee pollen is said to strengthen the immune system through its antioxidant properties. It's been claimed that bee pollen improves oxygen uptake and helps accelerate recovery in training. Bee pollen is a mixture of bee saliva, plant pollen, and nectar. Some people take it thinking it has special health-enhancing properties; others take it because they think it acts as a performance booster.

On her table, Katie had:

  • Placemats made out of recycled brown craft paper. The leftovers from the roll can be saved for gift wrapping. It's very inexpensive and look great on a rustic table.
  • Herbs & Terra Cotta Pots: These serve a triple-purpose: place card (each one can be labeled with the guests' names), take-away gift, and table decor. Guests can take them home and every time they take a piece of the herbs, they're reminded of all the fun they had at the party. These are also very inexpensive. Each pot cost $.99, and the herbs about $1.79.
  • Centerpieces with fresh artichoke hearts: Using fresh vegetables as a centerpiece also serves a great double purpose -- artichokes are in season and, when assembled on a glass cake stand, look beautiful. When the party is over, you can cook them the following night for dinner!
  • Organic linens: Basically, using napkins that can be washed helps eliminate waste from paper or plastic products (napkins and tablecloth). People tend to use more napkins when they're disposable. Using linens also adds a touch of sophistication to the event.
  • LED votive candles: These inexpensive, battery-operated candles are perfect for outdoor parties: The wind will never blow them out! Each of the LED lights will burn for about 30 hours. Put them in your own votive, and they look like a real candle.

    FOR KATIE'S RECIPES, GO TO PAGE 2.

  • RECIPES

    Minted Pea Soup

    This soup is a classic and can be served hot or chilled.

    INGREDIENTS:
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    1 spring onion, chopped
    1 1/2 pounds fresh peas
    4 cups vegetable stock
    1/2 cup fresh mint, minced
    1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
    1 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1/2 cup heavy cream
    Plain yogurt, for garnish

    METHOD:
    In a stockpot over medium heat, melt butter. Add onions and sauté until translucent, about 7 minutes. Add peas, broth, and mint. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook 20 minutes. Stir in lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook an additional 10 minutes. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. Return to pot and stir in heavy cream. Cook on low for 10 minutes. Serve garnished with a dollop of yogurt and a small mint leaf.

    Makes 6 1/2 cups

    Fresh Morel and Asparagus Springtime Pasta

    Morels are rare wild mushrooms that look like pointy sponges. They come out in the spring when it is rainy and temperatures begin to rise.

    INGREDIENTS:
    5 tablespoons unsalted butter
    3/4 pound fresh morels or any other fresh mushroom (I like to slice the large ones and leave the small ones whole)
    1/2 cup minced spring onion
    1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
    1/2 cup white wine
    1 cup vegetable stock
    1/2 pound fresh asparagus, tips only
    3/4 pound egg noodles, slightly undercooked and drained
    1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1/2 cup loosely packed baby spinach
    6 poached eggs

    METHOD:
    In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the morels and onions. Sauté about 2 minutes. Add the flour and sauté another 2 minutes. Add the wine and stock and bring to a boil. Add asparagus and pasta and cook until asparagus is tender, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the salt, pepper and spinach. Transfer to serving dishes and top each with a poached egg. Serve immediately.

    Mini-Goat Cheese Cheesecakes with Honey and Bee Pollen

    Make with goat cheese from a local farm and use local honey and bee pollen.

    INGREDIENTS:
    1/3 cup crushed graham crackers
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
    1/4 cup goat cheese, at room temperature
    1/4 cup cream cheese, at room temperature
    1/4 cup sugar
    1 egg
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    Honey, for drizzling
    Bee Pollen, for garnishing

    METHOD:
    Preheat oven to 350 F. Using non-stick cooking spray, grease a mini muffin tin.

    In a small bowl, combine graham crackers and melted butter. Place mixture by the heaping teaspoonful into mini muffin tin and press firmly.

    Using a handheld electric mixer, cream goat cheese, cream cheese, sugar, and egg. Spoon into muffin tin. Place tin in a baking dish and fill with hot water to come about halfway up the muffin tin. Bake 20-25 minutes. Place tin on a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Chill in refrigerator until serving time. Use a knife to pop cheese cakes out of tin.

    Place cheesecakes on a serving platter and drizzle with honey and sprinkle each with a couple of bee pollen granules.