Spring Brunch

They say March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.  This month has always been the connection between winter and spring.  And like March, brunch is the connection between breakfast and lunch favorites.  Maybe this is why most people think of brunch this time of year?  Whether you are planning a brunch for a baby shower, wedding shower, Mother’s Day, birthday, or the fast-approaching Easter holiday, the brunch get-together can be as simple or as elegant as you choose.

Décor

outdoor-party-1By now we are ready for spring and warmer weather, and while we can’t choose what kind of day Mother Nature will give us in the spring months, brunch is bright and warm, so keep your atmosphere in tune with the (mostly) sunny season. Colors like yellow, light blue, soft greens, lavender, and pink are all springtime favorites. Picking just two or three spring colors will keep your party from looking like an explosion of Easter jellybeans. For a fun garden party, weather permitting, set up a vintage outdoor seating area with brightly colored tablecloths, mix-matched china and silver, and place spring flowers like daisies and tulips in colorful vases. If you prefer your party indoors, bring bright colors inside placing flowers throughout either in the same tone or have fun with different colors, sizes and types. Set the pots in baskets for more of an outdoorsy feel.

 

Food Stations

Often when think of brunch we think of make-your-own menu items such as omelets with an array of fillings, or freshly pressed waffles withEggs Benedict Station sweet toppings.  These ideas are fun and will always be classic to the brunch menu.  More currently, we are beginning to see brunch stations branch out into eggs Benedict stations complete with flavored hollandaise sauces, vegetables, ham, salmon, and an assortment of toasts.  Also gaining popularity are crepe stations.  This lighter pancake can be filled with sweets like peanut butter, jellies, or chocolate and can also be filled with savory foods like cheeses, deli meats, or vegetables.  A station can be set with almost any kind of brunch menu, pancakes, scrambled eggs, hash browns or yogurt parfaits. For more of a lunch twist, items like a pasta or mini sandwich stations work well.  When creating your station, think of filings and toppings that typically go with the food you are serving like syrup, whipped cream and fruit for waffles, then think of surprise foods to put out, like bacon crumbles, spiced nuts, or for a real treat, ice cream.

Elegant Spring Brunch

 

Drinks

Mimosa Bar Many restaurants that serve brunch now offer the ever-popular Bloody Mary bar.  This is also a very easy way for an at-home host to set up a bar and let the guests serve and create themselves!   By simply setting out pitchers of tomato juice, one spicy and one regular, a bottle of premium vodka with shot glasses (for measuring), and a few fun garnishes like pickles, olives, salami, cheese squares, and whatever hot sauces you have on hand, a Bloody Mary bar can be an easy addition and wonderful conversation piece to any brunch party.  For a lighter breakfast cocktail, mimosa bars are a brighter alternative, perfect for spring.  With sparkling wine, an assortment of citrus juices like classic orange, grapefruit, limeade, and lemonade, you have an instant mimosa bar!  For garnishes, use a variety of fruits cut into small pieces. For a kid-friendly mimosa bar offer sparkling cider too.  Other good drinks to have on hand are fresh brewed coffee, iced tea and lemonade.

Spring Cocktails Perfect for Brunch

 

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Trulife Studios

Serendipity Catering has recently partnered with Trulife Studios, a unique collaborative event and wedding planning studio. Trulife has a beat on the most superior vendors for Colorado weddings and events.  Learn more about Trulife Studios here.

Since wedding season is almost here, we sat down with Sarah Roshan, owner of Trulife Studios, and got a few great ideas and tips for planning a Colorado wedding:

What are the qualities you look for when finding a vendor or venue?

Potted Shrimp All my professional vendors and venues have come from a recommendation from me or my other vendors. Each one has to have set up their business in a professional manner, have excellent customer service, and have worked with at least one of my other vendors.

Have you ever had any wedding disasters? How was it handled?

Some of the weddings I have personally attended that maybe weren’t disasters, but could have gone much more smoothly were those where they decided not to hire a professional to do a job. DJs not understanding the sound systems they are working on (or just not showing up). The reason true professionals cost more is because they are true professionals. They understand what it takes to go the extra mile, be a hero, provide excellent customer service, and feed their family.

What tips do you have for an over-stressed bride?

This day only happens once in your lifetime. It is supposed to be fun. Fun to plan, fun to experience. The more you stress out, the Bridal Dress with shash less fun it gets. Sit back, relax, it will all work itself out. And if something goes wrong on your wedding day (which is bound to happen), just let it go and enjoy the moment. It goes by so quickly.

Any wedding/event trends you are looking forward to this spring? 

I really love the new trend in wedding gowns with the sashes around the waist. It adds uniqueness to your dress. I am a hopeless romantic when it comes to couples and love so I really love all the soft pallets that I am seeing this year.

What makes events in Colorado special?

The sunshine, the blue sky, the mountains, the gorgeous views. You can get married any time of year in Colorado and it is beautiful, even in the city.

Mountain Wedding Table Setting Serendipity Catering: Thanks, Sarah — your work to bring people and vendors together is appreciated by your clients and your partners!

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Creative Corporate Gathering Ideas

Corporate lunches are often the same expected lunch- sandwiches, a salad, assorted sodas, and cookies.  While many employees and clients may look forward to this mid-day break no matter what is being served, we always like the idea of making any event, big or small, a little more interesting.

Try Something New for Everyday Lunches

If you find your company is ordering the same lunch as often as every few weeks or more, we suggest trying a different ethnic theme each time Taco Barlunch is ordered.  Including fun and inexpensive menus like taco bars, make-your-own-salads, a Cajun themed buffet, or even an easy Italian menu are all good ways to escape the mundane lunch routine.  For corporate clients that use Serendipity Catering often, we have what we call, “Chefs Choice” menus.  These are regular menus designed by our executive chef to keep the food interesting.  We have included everything from Moroccan to South American-inspired menus.  Chef’s choice menus can also satisfy dietary requirements; if you have vegetarian or gluten free employees, the kitchen staff will take this into consideration when designing menus. Ordering regular menus like this can save a lot of brain damage and keep your crowd happy.

 

Get Outside on a Weekday

Luau Beverage Station Spring is around the corner and on some days in Colorado, it feels like it is already here.  If the weather is nice, consider getting out for energizing fresh air and a welcome change of scenery.  Having easy warm weather foods like shrimp kabobs or fun themes like a luau are appreciated and welcome during workdays. When planning larger outside events on weekdays, consider what times are busiest for your employees; if much of your business is done mid-afternoon, have your event at the end of workday so everyone can enjoy the gathering stress-free.  It is always a good idea to insure that the catering company will come to clean up and pick up supplies.  This way, you won’t get employees ducking out early in order to ditch cleaning duties!

 

Weekend Picnics

Weekend company gatherings often include families.  It is always a good idea to have gift Sundae Barbags immediately available for children.  Include items like chalk and bubbles to keep them busy and give adults a little downtime.  In order to keep business talk to a minimum and make spouses feel included, set up games like horseshoes, or potato sack races.  Picking a theme that is age sensitive will also help set the mood.  Good family picnic themes are Wild West BBQ, Tropical Island, pirates, (complete with pirate accents), carnival, 1950’s, or really go with the game idea and have the theme be an Olympic party. For desserts, bring out everybody’s inner-child with a make you own dessert bar, including treats like cupcakes, sundaes, or s’mores.

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Spring Wedding Tips & Trends

Spring is around the corner, and that means wedding season has arrived! Many of our brides have been planning for months to get the details of their Big Day right. Brides, grooms, guests, caterers, and vendors all love a great wedding. When choosing caterers, florists, photographers, and a wedding cake, take your time looking, be upfront about your budget (a good team will work with you on this), and make sure your specific vision can be executed. When you are in good hands, a wedding can truly be a piece of cake!

The wedding industry is ever changing with new trends on everything from bridal dresses to cocktails.  We took a look at what it will take to make any wedding perfect and memorable in 2013.

 

Colors and Décor

pink-and-green-wedding-decorCool colors are in this year.  Shades of green, blues, and yellow are popping up everywhere.  For girly-girls, pinks and purples can still be on trend, just consider balancing them with a complimentary cool shade such as a deep pink and a light mint green. Mint green seems to be the color-darling for this year, as it can be matched to almost any theme and as a bonus, most brides and grooms can agree on the color.  Using patterns, like stripes, gingham, delicate floral and bold graphic prints as fun accents for details like table runners, ribbons, and chair cushions will add a touch of personality. For added whimsy, match groomsmen bow-ties or, bridesmaids skirts to the desired pattern.  During the reception, many brides are considering have a reception lounge area.  This is an area set away from the dance floor with comfortable, quite seating and sometimes extra snacks, or drinks.  This is wonderful for older guests, and friends that may want socialize before hitting the dance floor.  Flowers like peonies, garden roses, and hydrangeas, are current.  Instead of tall vases for centerpieces, look for long garlands tied with printed bows or hanging from chandeliers.

1920′s Theme Weddings will be big this year.

Decorating with love birds adds fun detail to a natural setting.

Main Course

With many brides becoming environmentally aware, we are begging to see more localized weddings.  Brides are looking to incorporate local itemsMini Heirloom Pockets on their menus.  Local wines, cheeses, local baked breads, in-season flowers, and produce will all make appearances on wedding menus.  Brides and grooms are incorporating their heritage into menus by serving items that reflect their backgrounds, like crab cakes (From the Northeast) or empanadas (South America).  As we were beginning to see the past few years, the mini menu is expected to be ever more popular this year.  Serving a miniature menu with many options is an easy, attractive, and affordable way to please everyone.  Also, guests appreciate the no-mess bite size meal. The set up of a mini menu can serve as wonderful conversation and centerpiece.

Food trucks will be driving to reception and wedding after-party near you!

Move over champagne, there are new bubbles for toasting!  Beer is expected to be incorporated into wedding drink menus.

Desserts

Dessert Bar Wedding cakes are going vintage with lace details that often mimic the bride’s dress.  So think big, white, beautiful cakes with lots of detail and maybe a soft colored flower or two.  For the more modern look, brides are choosing silhouette cakes with bright colors and hand painted fondant.  As alternatives to cakes, the new fun choices are doughnuts,  and miniature bundt cakes.  Dessert bars are also gaining momentum.  Dessert bars are a great way to use food as a decoration and give guests options aside from cake.  Some fun dessert bar ideas to look for this spring:

Dessert Tables from Real Weddings

Creative Dessert Table Ideas

 

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Foods of New Orleans

Fat Tuesday kicked-off yesterday with the famous Mardi Gras parade. Mardi Gras is celebrated on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.  The Bourbon Street, NOholiday is the start to Lent, the forty days leading up to Easter.  During Lent many Christians give up bad habits, or repent.  This may explain why Madri Gras is the exact opposite!  Known for indulgences and chaos, the Mardi Gras holiday is one of a kind.  It is a day that has been celebrated since medieval times in Italy and France.  The tradition was introduced to Louisiana by French-Canadian explorer Jean Baptiste de Bienville, New Orleans founder.  Today, New Orleans is one of our country’s most unique melting pots of culture.  The city is full of mystery, excitement, music, jubilance, and some of the best food in the world.  With the French bringing their cooking techniques to the area and the locals incorporating their unique flavors, along with a mixture of cuisines, New Orleans has introduced us to food that is exclusive to the Big Easy.

 

Gumbo

shrimp-gumboIn New Orleans gumbo is nearly in its own food group.  This stew served over rice is a perfect example of the diverse groups of people that contributed to the foods of the area.  The base flavors, bay leaf and sassafras were introduced by native Americans, the thickener is a roux,  a classic French method which New Orleanians decided served them better blackened rather than the traditional blonde.  Gumbo receives its name from the West African word for okra– kimgombo.  Gumbo recipes vary dramatically between eras, regions, restaurants, and families.  You can find almost anything in gumbo: squirrel meat, turtle, sausages, chicken, various sea foods, frog legs…The two hard and fast rules for gumbo are that the stew must be thickened with something and contain rice.

Shrimp Chicken and Andouille Gumbo 

Vegetarian Gumbo

 

Muffaletta

This massive sandwich comes from one of New Orleans’s most famous Italian delis, Central Grocery.  In 1906, Signor Lupo Salvatore, the owner Muffuletta-Sandwichof the deli would supply the hardy lunches for the men who worked on the wharves.  Originally the workers, mostly Sicilians, would come to the deli and asked for salamis, provolone, olives, and bread and ate them each separately. Signor soon realized he could serve all the savory Italian items on large, (10” round) and sturdy bread, muffaletta bread.  To this day, folks line up out the door at Central Grocery for a taste of their famous muffalettas.

Classic Muffaletta

King Cake

King CakeKing Cakes can be found nearly everywhere in New Orleans during Mardi Gras season.  The cinnamon dough is iced colorfully with traditional Mardi Gras colors (purple, green, and gold) and sometimes filled with praline or cream cheese. Unlike other cakes, hidden inside this treat is small trinket, usually a tiny toy baby.  These cakes are popular from parties at the office to soirees at home. Whoever is lucky enough to receive the piece of cake with baby becomes the king or queen of party and is meant to buy the king cake for the next get-together. The baby is also thought to bring good fortune.  French and Spanish settlers brought the tradition to the Gulf where similar cakes were made to celebrate Twelfth Night.

Traditional King Cake 

Other classic New Orleans recipes:

The Sazerac: A cocktail dating back to the early 1800′s.

Crawfish Etouffée: Hard to find outside of the Big Easy, but easy enough to make at home!

Beignets and Cafe au Lait‘s:  A true Southern breakfast.

 

 

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Ladies Night In

Valentine’s Day is next week and with that comes a mixed chocolate box of feelings towards the sentimental holiday.  Some love it, some loathe it, and others just don’t care.  In honor of lovey-dovey hoopla that comes with Valentine’s, we suggest a ladies night in. In lieu of a crowded over-priced restaurant dripping with couples all celebrating the same notion, invite your married, dating, and single friends over for a twist on the often overly dramatized holiday.  After all, many of us see our significant others daily- why not spend the evening with the good friends you love?  (Save the restaurant date for a less packed night.)

 

Décor

Instead of going with a full-on Valentines theme, just think an elegant appetizer party with friends. This is a celebration of friends whether, DIY Wine Charmssingle, married, or just needing a break from the kids! Treat your friends to fancy party with candlelight, great food, wine, and over-due catching up.  Buy inexpensive wine glasses and set them on a colorful tablecloth, each with these easy DIY wine charms that can double as party favors.  No need to spend a lot of money, this is not an evening spent for romance.  Use colorful flowers (aside from roses) in fun different creative vases, like teapots, wine decanters or Mason jars as centerpieces.  Set out colorful candleholders in different shapes and sizes.  Put together a fun playlist of upbeat songs.

Menu

Mini tacos Since it is just the girls, keep the food small and dainty.  Mini tarts, chicken satays, assorted sushi rolls, endive leaves with herbed ricotta, and a good cheese and cracker plate should keep the ladies full and happy. Setting up a few interactive stations is a nice way to keep everyone engaged.  Fun ideas for make-your-own-stations are a mini panini station or mini tacos; this will give everyone a chance mingle while trying out new twists on their creations.  Dessert could be a melting pot of chocolate fondue set on a coffee table.  Cut up fruits and set out skewers and serve!  Place plenty of pillows around the fondue pot and invite the girls to sit and talk around the fondue fire.

 

Drinks

A celebration of any kind usually calls for champagne, but to stay from getting too “Valentine’s” include a drinkRasmopolitan that just uses champagne as an ingredient.  Try a signature drink like the girly Rasmopolitan, or champagne mojito’s.  If you do not have the time or energy for planning a signature drink, ask your friends to bring one of two different wines under twenty-five dollars, for example either a Shiraz or Pinot Grigio.  Cover the labels with paper bags and tie colorful ribbons under the opening. Mark each one by number and at the end of the evening vote on a crowd favorite.

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American Beer

Super Bowl Sunday is this weekend and with that comes food, friends, and beer.  A ton of beer, in fact– Americans drink 50 million cases of beer on Super Bowl Sunday. That is roughly four beers for every person in the country. That’s a lot of suds!  We delved into present day beers and our history with the brewing what is now America’s favorite adult beverage.

History

breweryIn 1584 brewing beer had a quick and mysterious run in America’s “lost” English colony in Roanoke, North Carolina.  The beer must have not satisfied the colonists, as they would continue to request shipments from England. Many of these shipments were unsuccessful as the sailors tended to get thirsty on their trans-Atlantic journey. By 1650, New Amsterdam (the settlement on the southern tip of Manhattan Island) boasted twenty-six breweries and taverns. Many families even brewed their own beer, including our forefathers, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.  It wasn’t until the mid 1800’s that brewing emerged as a profitable industry.  The immigrants arriving from beer loving countries like Britain, Ireland, and Germany created a huge boom in the industry.  The arrival of artificial refrigeration was becoming widely used during this time allowing brewers to brew during hot summers.  Pasteurization was also being used to increase shelf life and portability. Before this time Americans were drinking darker, heavier beers known as British style ales.  These beers were made from top fermenting yeasts and yielded a beer that ranged from pale to dark brown in color.   Thanks to the growing number of German immigrants, Americans began favoring the German style lager. Lager uses the bottom fermenting yeast, which is much more sensitive to temperature.  Americans were finding the lighter German lager more drinkable and by the 1900’s lager outsold ale.

Prohibition

When prohibition was passed many of the large breweries shut down completely and a few of the big names of today (Schlitz, Pabst, and Prohibition Beer Picketers Anheuser-Busch) stayed open, making what they referred to as “near-beer.”  This was a malt beverage made with less than one half percent alcohol. In order to not sell or destroy the expensive beer making equipment, the big breweries remained open during prohibition, holding out until the law was lifted. Many of these breweries also made malt syrup, which was marketed for baking and cooking, but it was clear that the main purpose for malt syrup was in home brewing. Americans were desperate during prohibition and it was not uncommon for people of the ‘20’s to go to stronger alcohols, like whiskey and gin, to get them through the era!

In the 1930’s prohibition was lifted. This was great for many of the big name breweries that remained open during prohibition, but many of the smaller breweries were not able to pick up business, as during the pre-prohibition era.

Present Day Craft Breweries

Craft Breweries Per Capita_(US)Thanks to American’s new found appreciation for gourmet food, mostly on the west coast in the late 1970’s, we were also looking for more interesting beverages.  However, at the time, low-calorie, light, and un-flavorful beer was monopolizing the market. By the 1980’s grassroots movements of craft brew began in cities like Portland, San Francisco, Boulder, and Boston. By the 1990’s craft brewers, many of them here in Colorado, were experiencing growth of up to 35% in the marketplace. The number of craft brewers in the US has gone from 8 in 1980 to 1,989 in 2011.

Colorado and Craft Beer

Many consider Colorado a brewing Mecca, and it is often dubbed the Napa Valley Beer. We have 139 licensed craft breweries (85 brewpubs, 54 manufacturer breweries) with another seventy-five breweries in planning as of May 2011. These breweries employ over 6,000 people and attract beer tourists worldwide. It is not expected that our craft beer market will go flat.  We craft beerspicked a few our local favorites for Super Bowl Sunday and beyond:

Best Local Beers for Super Bowl Sunday –

The canned Dale’s Pale Ale from Oskar Blues is a hoppy flavored pale ale that receives high accolades from across the country.

Boulder Beer Company’s light pale ale, Hazed and Confused is sip-able and flavorful.

New Belgium Brewery’s Mothership Wit is a hybrid between a light lager and the Belgium style beer the brewery is known for–and it is organic!

Best Local Beers for a Steak Dinner –

Great Divide’s, Claymore Scotch Ale has a light body with roasted and caramel malt flavors that pair well with a juicy steak.

Ellie’s Brown Ale from Avery Brewing is a lighter option for meaty dinners with chocolate and nutty notes.

Best Local Beer with Dessert –

Left Hand Brewing‘s Black Jack Porter hits sweet chocolate notes and strong hints of espresso, a perfect compliment to sweet endings with citrus, vanilla, or chocolate flavors.

Best Local Beers for Happy Hour-

Del Norte’s Mañana goes down easy like a Mexican style beer with a Rocky Mountain twist.

 Joe’s Premium American Pilsner from Avery is a bright brew with a low alcohol percentage, so it is ok to have a few!

Sweaty Betty Blonde from Boulder Beer is a sweeter and lighter beer great for after-work sipping.

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