Archive for Food

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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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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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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Super Bowl Party!

No matter which team you are rooting for, Super Bowl Sunday is a great excuse to have a party even if you are not a football fan.  Super Bowl Sunday is a day spent relaxing in front of the television with good friends and American snack food—who doesn’t like that?  The Super Bowl is the most watched televised event.  Some like it for the game, some like the commercials, we like the party!

 

Décor

Super Bowl Table Setting A Super Bowl party does not need much in the way of fancy decorations.  If your whole crowd is rooting for the same team, use the team’s colors for plates, napkins and a few balloons.  If you are a super fan and have any vintage memorabilia, team pictures, or game souvenirs like foam-fingers, use them as décor!  For a crowd that is divided between teams, ask your guests to wear their teams colors, sweatshirts and hats.  Divide your living room into two sides with each team’s colors and signs with each logo.  Supply each side with their teams colored pompoms and wigs. Leave out markers and blank poster boards for your guests to make their own friendly rivalry signs.  Watch out, this can lead to a hilarious and rambunctious evening!

The center of the party is the game on television; so don’t spend too much time or money on decorating.

 

Drinksimages-4

Beer, and lots of it. Sending friends out for a beer run mid-game is never fun.  Beer cocktails are another good play for drinks. For a lighter twist on beer, try a basic Michelada. For alternatives to beer, have a pre-made drink or two.  Fill the punch bowls with this masculine touchdown tea or linebacker limeade.

(Look for Friday’s blog on American beer for more ideas!)

 

Food

Finger foods and football watching go together like baseball and Cracker-Jacks. For the best football foods think of easy to pick up items that do not require a lot of assembly.  After all, a Super Bowl party host wants to be cheering on the couch too! Kick off your party with classic football foods like wings, veggies with dip, meatballs, and nachos. In order to really score points with your guest set up a buffet table (not too far from the TV) with a chili or nacho bar.  Set out a variety of toppings like cheese, onion, bacon, tomato, hot sauces, guacamole, and sour cream.  You could also follow the same idea with a slider bar.  Make beef or turkey patties the day before. When guests arrive, just reheat and invite them to create their own “super slider.”

BuffaloChickenCupcakesHave fun with bite-sized desserts.  Cupcakes frosted with team colors, or these Buffalo chicken cupcakes to keep your guests commentating.

Super Bowl Party Foods

Sensational Super Bowl Party Foods

 

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A Wild West Round Up

With the legendary National Western Stock Show in town we like to pay tribute to our hard-working farmers and cattlemen. This event has been a part of our state’s history for years and gets everyone from cow-folk to city slickers in the Wild West spirit.  We have a few ideas to keep the theme alive in your own homestead.

 

A Western Themed Hoedown

cactusRounding up your friends for a western themed party is easy.  With affordable decorations and a laid back atmosphere any cowboy would be happy to kick off their boots.  Hand out inexpensive cowboy/cowgirl hats as your guests arrive. Create the feeling of west by covering tables in red and white-checkered tablecloths and use flowers or cacti in a tin can for centerpieces.  For napkins, use multi-colored bandanas.  Also, line bandanas in cowboy hats to hold chips and rolls as a fun touch.  Set out toy guns, old boots, camping lanterns, and, if you have them, any horse-riding accessories like saddles, spurs, or lassos. If your party is outside, set out a few haystacks for sittin’. For a fun personalized addition make “wanted” posters with pictures of your guests with fun descriptions of their crimes, “Wanted: Peter, for being too handsome.”

 

Food

Hitch up the chuck wagon and think of the simple, hearty foods our pioneers ate.  Foods like chili, ribs, Chili6pulled chicken or pork, baked beans, and cornbread are all easy-to-make foods of the west.  To cut down on hosting duties, consider having a chili cook-off.  Ask your guests to bring their best chili recipe and vote judging for the spiciest, most unique, and best all-around.  The same can be done with desserts using the old time pioneer favorite: pie!  Give the winners ribbons tied to tin mugs as rewards. For sides, serve grilled corn with chili butter and biscuits.

 

Drinks

imagesCowboys are tough and so are the drinks. In addition to serving beers, like the Texas favorite Shiner Bock, serve whiskey (we are partial to local favorites like Stranahans, or Leopold Bros.) and tequila.  Since refrigeration wasn’t big in the 1800’s many of the drinks were straight up.  Of course, we don’t expect our modern day settlers to consume drinks this strong so offer simple mixers like sodas and limeade for tequila.  If you’d like to offer a signature cocktail, serve a batch of Wild Wild West or Juan Collins cocktail mixes in large rustic glass bottles. Make sure you have old-fashioned root beer on hand for designated drivers.  Make a sign over the bar with that reads the “(hosts name) Saloon.”

Giddy up!

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Winter Baking at Home – Breads & Cookies!

This long cold snap has kept many of us indoors, giving us time to connect with family, catch up on television, finish books, and watch our favorite football teams (we are picking a second favorite now that the Broncos are out!).  This extra time spent indoors also gives us the opportunity to explore more in our own kitchens.  The perfect compliment to long cozy days indoors are the aromas of fresh bread baking, cookies warm from the oven, or cooling cupcakes waiting to be decorated.  Whether you are perfecting a family recipe or trying something new, these cold winter months are the ideal time to test them out!

Cookies

macaroonsThe nostalgic favorites will always be chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin.  This year’s trendy cookies include French macaroons and whoopie pies.  The macaroons can be brightly colored to cheer up the dreary weather and whoopie pies are kind of like a soft stuffed cookie that can be filled with a variety of flavors.  For anyone baking cookies at home, experts recommend a good layered cooling rack–this way you won’t have to over crowd when cookies are cooling this can cause them over-steam themselves and stick together.  Another fun (though not necessary) gadget is a cookie press.  Cookie presses allow cookies to come out uniform in shape and will keep your hands out of the dough!  For those of us who like dough sampling, use a small ice cream scoop.  Another essential to cookie baking is the Silpat.  This is a product that professionals have known about for a long time.  Silpats are used in place of parchment paper; they are made of non-stick silicone and make for even baking and easy clean up.

Cornflake Chocolate Chip and Marshmallow Cookies

Lemon Sandwich Cookies

Bacon Banana Cookies

Breads

Colorado’s high altitude keeps many of us away from bread baking.  However with a few simple tools and tricks it is vimages-2ery do-able.  Breads can be very easy, such as a simple French loaf, or more complex, like a brioche.  A bread machine is not needed, nor is tons of time.  With only a few pantry ingredients (flour, sugar, yeast, and, water) your kitchen can crank out bread to rival your local bakery.  A bench scraper is the tool bread bakers use to divide dough and assists when kneading.  This tool makes it easy to separate your dough in half, as most bread recipes make two loaves–which brings us to another essential: two standard sized loaf pans.  A baking stone is also a must have as bread can be baked directly on it or in loaf pans.  It is the best way for a home baker to achieve the tastes and texture of a hearth oven.

BriocheFor high altitude bread baking, start by looking at the yeast.  Be sure that the one you use is instant active dry yeast and not the rapid rise kind, and decrease the amount of yeast called for by one forth.  High altitude breads typically rise faster, which can be a plus! Punch the dough down after the first rise and let the dough rise again until it has doubled.  Be careful not to let the dough over rise as this may cause an unmanageable bread monster!

Of course, if you are impatient and do not want to fuss with all the bread baking techniques there are the easy-to-bake quick breads, like banana breads or blueberry muffins.

 

Honey Quinoa Bread

Jalapeño Cheddar Bread

Hawaiian Bread

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