Archive for Food

Après Ski (And other Foods for Skiing)

It is the time of year we grab our parkas, gloves, goggles, and ski hats and escape to the mountains either for a few runs, or long a weekend.  After a day on the slopes it is not uncommon to hear, “This is one of the best beers I have ever had.” Or, “These nachos are really hitting the spot now.”  There is something about a hard but fun day on the mountain that makes everything better afterwards.  Many ski areas have a slew of busy pubs and lodges with an après ski offering.  If you really want to kick off your ski boots and warm your toes by the fire we suggest hosting your own intimate après ski at your rental, condo, or even at home.

Food

Mini Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup Keep the food hot and familiar.  In Europe, après ski food typically includes warm snacks and beers.  For this approach, we like the idea of friends gathering around a fondue pot, dipping winter vegetables and hearty breads.  Also shrunken comfort foods, like mini chicken potpies, or small servings of tomato soup in mugs with baby grilled cheese sandwiches are all wonderful warm-up foods!

For stick-to-your-bones meals, set a Crock Pot before first tracks to cook cold weather favorites, like beef stew, or chicken cacciatore.   For a really simple shortcut, serve carb-heavy foods like spaghetti and meatballs to keep energy for the weekend.

Straightforward desserts are best for cold-weather après ski meals.  Brownies hot out of the oven, apple caramel bars, hot fudge sundaes, or, if you are lucky enough to have fire, make indoor s’mores!

 Drinks

Colorado is known for our many craft beers, which are perfect for après ski hangs.  A few of our Spiced Apple Cider with Rum Whipped Creamfavorites are the heavier Oatmeal Stout from Breckenridge Brewery, the flavorfully spiced Juju Ginger from Left Hand Brewery, and Boulder Beer Company’s standard Never Summer Ale.  Sparkling wine and spiked apple cider or hot cocoas are also ideal for fireside sipping.

 

Other Foods for the Hills

Breakfast is important when heading out for an athletic day.  Before skiing, food should be thought of as fuel.  But that does not mean it can’t be good too!  Pull together a quick vegetable frittata, or pack homemade granola and have with Greek yogurt and fruit for sustained energy to keep you on the lifts and down the hills until lunch.

Vegetable frittataWith ski resorts charging astronomical prices for mediocre burgers and frozen fries it’s easy to see why many resort goers chose to bring their own lunch.  Bagged lunches have the tendency to be boring and child-like so we suggest bringing a lunch with adult tastes.  Make hearty sandwiches like turkey with bacon and avocado, pulled pork sandwiches, or salami, mozzarella, and tomato.  Try a hot wrap with seasoned black beans, rice, and cheese in a tortilla for a warm healthy burrito (most resort cafeterias have microwave for public use.)  Or bring along leftovers from the Crock Pot you had going the night before.

Most importantly, stay warm, well fed, and have fun on the slopes!

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Food Trends for 2013

Now that 2013 is well underway, it is time to look ahead to what we can expect on our plates over the coming year.  Often we find food trends stick around longer than the latest fashions (cupcakes and bacon anyone?) but, it is fun to speculate about what the new “in” foods will be and who will love them, or not care at all.

Popcorn

Popping onto the scene this year is gourmet popcorn.  Popcorn is the versatile snack that has been on the verge of wild popularity for a few years, imagesbut 2013 is predicted to be the year for the familiar snack.  Expect to see over-the-top sweet flavors like dark chocolate, coconut, drizzled with white chocolate, or savory spicy kernels like wasbi or mesquite, and many variations in between!   The best part about popcorn is that it is relativity healthy, can easily be found in stores, and can easily be experimented with by the home cook.  Aside from gourmet popcorn being more readily available in your local grocery store, look for shops like Chicago’s Edmonds, famous for their cheesy caramel flavor, to explode this year.

 

Spice

-gochujang-L-1Spicy food lovers rejoice!  There is a new spicy sheriff in town and it is not salsita, or Sriracha.  The hot condiment of the year is gochujang, a Korean chili paste made from fermented soybeans, red chili, glutinous rice, soybeans, and salt.  The distinctive sauce can be used on burgers, eggs, mayos, and anything else that might need a kick.

 

Bread

Blazing out of restaurateurs’ and caterers’ ovens, expect to see artisan breads.  Wiartisan-breadth the gluten-free fad mellowing out a little, the lovely bread basket is expected to make a comeback to a table near you.  The buzzwords at many restaurants are becoming “bread program” (In 2012 it is was “cocktail program”).  Chefs are expected to even go as far as having bread courses showing off the range of skill and flavors going into different flours, techniques complete with a range of butters to pair with.

 

Tea

Loose TeasThe drink of year will be tea.  Gone are the days of heavy dairy lattes and flavored coffees.  Tea is a more health conscious way to get your caffeine kick without a million calories.  White, green, herbal, floral, earthy, and, spicy teas will be the choice beverages of the year. Tea is also expected to be appearing in dishes like tea-poached salmon, or deserts like Earl Grey cookies.  Also, tea will be seeping behind the bar with many bartenders featuring the new beverage darling both iced and hot.

Of course, these trends may come and go faster than you can say “foie gras,” but we look forward to a year of putting them to the test!

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Winter Parties

For many of us parties are the last things on our mind after a busy holiday season, but it can still be fun to host a post-holiday party that’s full of winter cheer!  As a busy catering company we find that many clients looking to throw social events, like weddings and cocktail soirees, are looking at options throughout the calendar.

A Winter Party at Home

White wine bottle by red fire with corkscrewWinter can feel long and sometimes a little boring.  To make your winter party stand out, think of fun winter themes like a sophisticated après ski party.  Ask your friends to come in their ski coats and hats to enjoy o’douvers and wine by the fire.  If your crowd is on the adventurous side, have an 80’s ski party!  Think campy ski movies from the decade. Serve retro-80’s food like fondue, or potato skins.  If your friends need a more family-friendly gathering, host a winter brunch party complete with to-go mugs of hot chocolate.  Bundle up the kids and head to the closest sledding hill when the meal is over.

Anxious for hot days and sunshine? Beat the winter blues and have a beach party!  Pay no imagesmind to the snow on the ground and create a summer environment by blowing up beach balls, setting out pool towels, playing reggae, or even dusting off the lawn chairs and placing them inside. Serve light summer foods like skewered shrimp, or mini pulled pork sandwiches.  For drinks, serve margaritas or mojitos—don’t forget the mini drink umbrellas!

Bigger Events

When is comes to planning a large-scale event in the winter like a wedding or large birthday bash, it is important to think of a space that creates warmth.  Places like lodges or a venue with a large fireplace or two work welScreen shot 2013-01-04 at 1.57.00 PMl for winter entertaining.  One important factor to keep in mind is, of course, the weather!  If possible, try to choose a venue with little commuting for your guests.  (It’s also a good idea to double check to see if your guests have to walk along icy sidewalks!)  As your guests arrive consider passing around a warm beverage such as apple cider or Mexican hot chocolate.

Winter food is comforting, but often times can feel a bit disheveled.  When planning the menu keep the food winter appropriate and easy to eat.  For appetizers serve items like butternut squash soup in shooter glasses, or mini potpies.  Entrées should be classics, like filet mignon with Rosemary mashed potatoes.  If an item like this is out of your price range, consider a seasonal pasta dish, such as pumpkin ravioli.  Keeping the food simple and cozy for higher end winter celebration is best.

Decorations, like the food, are typically simplified for cold weather events.  Elegant colors like silver and white images-1to match the glistening snow outside, or soft pink and gold for a little glamour.  Lots of candlelight creates a classic look, but for more unique centerpieces place ice carved vases on the tables filled with winter branches, like birch. For party favors leave small throws at each chair, your guests will appreciate this thoughtful parting gift!

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Keeping New Year’s Resolutions and Healthy Eating in 2013

We made it past a long holiday season with cocktail parties, neighborhood gatherings, and large feasts.  Now that New Year has arrived and hangovers have subsided, we take a look at the often-dreaded resolutions.  For most Americans our resolution list includes dieting or eating better.  Unfortunately, most resolutions don’t even make it until February.  With a few adjustments to your resolution it can become a long-term goal that can be achieved!

 

Make a Plan

Screen shot 2013-01-02 at 2.51.33 PMExperts say starting the New Year off with your goals written down gives you a clear idea of what you want to accomplish.  Print you goals out for your fridge, office–anywhere you see them often. Making a strict statement like, “I will not eat white carbohydrates in 2013” can set you up for disappointment. Instead, think of small steps to get you there. We are human, so it is important to allow yourself a little wiggle room! Try not to not deny your “forbidden” food while eating at a fancy restaurant or celebrating a birthday. Having a plan for when a slip-up happens will help you remember next time you are tempted, like “I had a cupcake last night so an extra fifteen minutes on the treadmill today!”  Simple things like looking at menus on-line before you go to restaurants, or bringing food to a party are good ways to stay on track. Keep in mind that there probably will be slip-ups, and that is okay.  Not being too hard on yourself will help you bounce back better than dwelling on it.  And sometimes a cupcake is worth it!

 

Stick to the Basics

There is no magic formula to weight-loss or healthy living.  It is the same song we hear from personal trainers, doctors, and, friends: diet and BalancedMeal-Customer-Serviceexercise. The average adult dining plate should be half fruits and vegetables, the other half should be filled with grains and lean protein.  And don’t forget the fifth food group, dairy!  Add a diary serving with a slice of cheese, a serving of yogurt, or a dollop of sour cream. Seems easy enough, right?  Where most Americans go wrong is over indulging on fatty meats, like cheeseburgers, instead of lean proteins, like chicken breasts or salmon. We also tend to choose complex carbohydrates like pasta or French fries over whole grains like quinoa, and brown rice.

When building your meals think of a rainbow of colors to fill the vegetable portion– Dark greens such as spinach and broccoli, yellow bell peppers, red tomatoes, orange carrots, and purple cabbage.  Choosing a variety of vegetables, preferably those in season, helps boost nutrition and helps keep your plate interesting.  Fresh fruit is best, but frozen fruits and 100% fruit juice count too! When is come to grains, try sticking to whole, un-refined grains like wheat pasta, oatmeal, and brown rice.  These are higher in nutrients as they include the entire grain, which is also a plus for extra fiber.  images-2Proteins should be lean cuts of pork, beef, or chicken and could also be any variety for fresh fish.  For vegetarians, beans, or tofu work well.  As for dairy, add low-fat cheeses, milk, and yogurt to your diet when you can.  Dairy is a great snack option because dairy is high in protein, which keeps you full for longer.

Stick to these eating basics along with at least thirty to sixty minutes of exercise five days a week, and you are on the road to your making your New Years resolution last twelve months and beyond!

Here is to happy & healthy New Year!

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An Easy New Year’s Eve Party

After the hoopla of the holiday season, throwing a large New Year’s party can seem daunting.  We like the idea of a small celebration with close friends or even an intimate evening for two.  Any way you choose to celebrate the New Year, we believe in making it as easy as possible.  We gathered a few tips to help make your soiree sparkle and shine.

 

Cocktails

Drinking champagne on New Year’s is an iconic tradition.  Why not try adding a new cocktail to your menu such as a French 75 or a cranberry images-5mojito?  Or simply embellish your bubbles with pomegranate seeds or blueberries.  Often our designated drivers or non-drinkers can feel left out on New Year’s, make a few festive “mocktails” to make them feel included.   Having a small bar area set up will ease some hostess stress, as your guests will be able to serve themselves.  Just replace champagne bottles when they are empty or re-fill a punch bowl.

5 Non-Alcoholic Drinks to Serve on New Year’s Eve

Fun and Stylish New Year’s Eve Cocktails

 

Food

New Year’s Eve is all about the drinks so keep food easy to pick up with one hand.  Elegant mini sandwiches, bowls of nuts, miniature meatballs, images-6stuffed mushrooms, shrimp cocktail, or deviled eggs are all good easy-to-make options.  Keep the snacks flowing throughout the evening.  After midnight strikes serve simple sweets like brownies, mini cupcakes, or, whoopie pies.

New Year’s Eve Party Recipes

10 New Year’s Eve Desserts

 

Have Fun!

New Year’s is all about the celebration of the past year and looking forward to the next.  Play fun games like having your guestwrite down their New Year’s resolution and placing them in a bowl.  At 11 o’clock ask all guests to pick a card and read it aloud to guess whom the resolution belongs to. Or use the same idea to have your guests predict what the next year will bring in current events or among your social circle—“I predict Susan will have quadruplets in 2013!”  This is a way to wrap up the evening and ring in the New Year with a laugh.

New Year’s Eve Games

Decorations

After decorating for the holidays we tend to be simplistic when it comes to New Year’s parties.  Staying Screen shot 2012-12-27 at 1.59.02 PMwith the classic black, gold/silver, and white is always a wonderful route.  If you wanted to change it up, try adding one accent color to the New Year’s classics like a deep pink, or royal blue.  Decorate with balloons, streamers, white lights, and sparkly ornaments.  Place noisemakers and paper hats decoratively around the house.  If you have old fashioned alarm clocks place them on the table as a centerpiece or on a mantle.  If you have a lively crowd, hang up a disco ball (found at party supply stores) in a designated dancing area for everyone to gather for midnight kisses and dancing to Auld Lang Syne.

Most importantly, have fun and be safe!

images-2Happy New Year from Serendipity!

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Last Minute Christmas Ideas

With just four days left until Christmas Eve there is still so much to get done!  With a few short cuts we can help you achieve a flawless holiday celebration so you can relax a little during the next few days!

Easy Gifts

imagesStill looking for a few gifts for neighbors, acquaintances, or for a party hostess?  Look no further then your own pantry.  Assemble a few hot chocolate mixes in colorful mugs and add candy canes and marshmallows.   Or for something new, try a cupcake mug where an instant cupcake can be microwave right in the jar!  Tie the mugs with a festive bow.  If you have been collecting cookies baked by friends or yourself start to arrange them on small holiday platters (inexpensive platters are easily found at craft stores) wrap in cellophane with a bow.  This way if you are running out to see someone you have a sweet offering.

Children’s artwork makes great gifts for grandparents and relatives.  Frame masterpieces or trace and decorate handprints.  Or, make bookmarks by laminating the art in bookmark sizes.

Simplify Holiday Traditions

DIY Christmas Gifts

Quick and Easy Holiday Food

For last minute touches on a meal at home, or to bring to a party think of season favorites that don’t need a fuss. Keep appetizers easy and Screen shot 2012-12-21 at 4.08.37 PMelegant. Classic cheeses like Brie and Roquefort served with grapes and crackers, a simple shrimp cocktail or spiced nuts, are always a crowd favorite.   Side dishes don’t have to be overly complicated, if possible make sides a day ahead.  Add apples to store bought stuffing, add spiced granola to potatoes, or, roast sweet potatoes with maple syrup for easy holiday additions.  Ham is a standard for Christmas feasts.  Make it easy by glazing a pre-made ham  for a personal touch.  For dessert try simple quick fudge or a no-bake cheesecake.

Easy Recipes for a Holiday Feast

10 Easy Holiday Desserts

 Have a fun, delicious, relaxing, and happy holiday!  ~ The Serendipity Team

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Meeting Dietary Needs on Holiday Menus

You have all the details planned for your holiday party: décor, drinks, and playlists are ready to roll.  However, you just received two late RSVPs from your vegan friend and gluten free brother in-law.  Now what?  We came up with a few ideas to help any host work around guests with certain dietary requirements and picky palettes. Depending on your personal eating habits any of these specific diets could seem extreme; however, with so many people being health conscious these days, there are lots of good options!

 

Vegetarian to Vegan- Who Eats What?

If you have a vegetarian attending your party find out how strict they are.  There are a few variations on the vegetarian diet; pescetarians  eat imagesseafood and refrain from land living animals, so you can still serve the classic shrimp cocktail! Flexitarians are fair-weather vegetarians that typically stay away from meat, but may cave on special occasions. Ask your guests if what you are serving qualifies for their meat eating exceptions.  Regular vegetarians don’t eat meat, fish and sometimes stay away from eggs, they do however eat dairy like cheese, yogurt, and milk.  Vegans are the strictest of the vegetarian dieters.  Vegans do not eat any animal products of any kind.  They stay away from all meats, seafood, diary, eggs, and even honey.

 

Instead of going into a panic over what to serve, look at your existing planned menu and see if any modifications can be made such as no dairy in the mashed potatoes or, omit the bacon from a batch of roasted vegetables.  Do not worry about re-designing a whole menu to accommodate a few guests, but it is a good idea to have a few items for them.  For a main dish for a vegetarian make a hearty mushroom risotto that could double as side dish for the rest of the guests or a roasted vegetable tart. This with a few modified sides will be plenty to have your veggie friends feel included in the big feast!

Holiday Meatless Main Dish Recipes

Vegan Holiday Recipes

 

Accommodating Gluten Free Friends

images-1In a nutshell a gluten free diet is staying away from the protein, gluten, found in wheat, barely, and rye.  Gluten is also commonly found in processed foods.  To avoid upsetting gluten free guests there are many easy options.  Many gluten free folks stick to lean proteins, fruits and, vegetables.  And luckily many of our holiday menus include these items.  If you are serving any store bought items like a roasted ham or turkey make sure they are made with gluten free spices and marinades.  Potatoes serve as a great starch, try an elegant scalloped potato dish or the savory gluten free latkes. Main courses are relativity easy to work around with gluten free guests—dessert is the tough part.  Since most of our sweets contain flour, decadent cakes, decorated sugar cookies, fruity pies, and petit fours, it leaves little room for a gluten free sweet tooth.  There are however a few sweet treats everyone can enjoy! Try rich gluten free truffles or a velvety gluten free cheesecake.  If you do not have time to bake out of your way, most organic markets carry gluten free baked goods these days.  Or simply whip fresh cream and serve with fruit!

 Gluten Free Holiday Menu

12 Gluten Free Recipes for a Holiday Menu

 

Do you have any go-to vegetarian or gluten free recipes you’d like to share?images-2

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