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Three Swashbuckling Inspired Recipes for Pirate Party Grub

Cheryl Najafi, author of You’re So Invited: Panic Less, Play More, and Get Your Party On!, shares three recipes for pirate-inspired grub for your swashbuckling soiree, including homemade barbecue sauce, barbecue roasted turkey legs, and a pirate ship fruit bowl.

watermelon pirate ship fruit bowlWatermelon Pirate Ship

To make the sail:

1. Buy a few wooden dowels—we used one long one and two shorter ones to create the mast.

2. Cover with black spray paint; let dry.

3. Tie dowels together with cooking twine to create a double “T.”

4. Dip a length of cheesecloth into Stiffy Fabric Stiffener (available at crafts stores). Tie to top and bottom short dowels while still wet. Mold the cheesecloth over a sink to design the “windblown” look of your sails. Let dry overnight.

To make the ship:

1. Look at the watermelon to see which side seems the flattest. Using a long sharp knife, slice a piece of rind off that side to stabilize the boat. Don’t cut too deep—you don’t want the boat to leak and capsize.

2. With a permanent marker, draw the outline of a ship in a staircase design. Do this on both sides.

3. Work in sections. Take your knife and carefully carve along the drawn line, taking off the top when you can and continuing until you have completed design.

4. Using a larger spoon, carve out the melon and set aside.

5. Place sail (see above) into the fruit boat and press into the base.

6. Cut up a variety of mixed fruit (including the watermelon you removed) and place in boat.


Tasty Turkey Legs

Serves 10
Prep time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 4½ hours

You’ll need:

  • 10 turkey legs, trimmed
  • 3 cups barbecue sauce
  • Cooking spray


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Pat legs dry, then brush liberally with your favorite barbecue sauce (or use sauce below).

3. Place legs in a deep pan and roast for 2 to 2½ hours or until internal temperature is 180 degrees. Spray with cooking oil after 1 hour to prevent dryness.

4. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes.


Barbecue Sauce


  • 2 cups ketchup
  • ½ tablespoon onion powder
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1½ cups honey
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce


1. In a medium saucepan, combine all the ingredients with 1 cup water and bring to a boil.

2. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for 1½ hours, stirring occasionally.

Tip: The sauce can be made a day in advance and kept in the refrigerator, tightly covered.


Check out Najafi's tips for decorating for a pirate party or tips for hosting a spa party.

Cheryl Najafi is a mom of three, an entertaining expert on The Today Show, and the New York Times bestselling author of You’re So Invited: Panic Less, Play More and Get Your Party On! ($29.99; available at major booksellers) from which this article is excerpted. Learn more about Najafi and her work at,, or


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