Archive for Green Catering

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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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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Easy Holiday Decorating

With a mere fourteen days left until Christmas it is now time to deck the halls for the holiday and for any upcoming events.  Holiday decorating can be subtle or sometimes outlandish!  We discovered a few wallet-friendly concepts that will keep any home or party merry and bright.

 

Bring the Outdoors Inside

Without the holidays, winter would just be one long cold season.  Thankfully, we have the great excuse of many celebrations to get us out and 20091229_IcicleTreesocializing, even on the coldest of days.  We like the idea of using nature as inspiration to achieve a familiar festive feeling that won’t break the bank.  Outdoor items like pine cones, birch branches, evergreen, and acorns can either be scavenged for or found at a craft store.  For a simple and elegant look, place tall birch branches in a large cylinder vase, fill the vase with pine cones, and hang with any ornaments that didn’t make it to your tree.  Make an easy centerpiece with four stackable bowls; fill each bowl with wintergreens, nuts, cranberries and smaller ornaments.  Or simply stack pine cones in a festive bowl.  To add extra sparkle, paint or glitter any of these natural findings.

 

Look to Your Grocery Store for Inspiration

321655598355825261_DNMiZCIY_cThe wonderful part about seasonal foods is that they often correlate with the celebratory colors.  Produce like cranberries, limes, kumquats, pears, and, oranges all can be part of festive decorations. Layer them in large vases adding evergreen branches.  Or float votives and smaller fruits like cranberries, or kumquats in a large colorful bowl.  Make an impressive punch bowl by freezing cranberries and evergreen twigs between two nesting bowls.  If you do not want to go that trouble, just freeze cranberries in an ice tray for a festive addition.  Pomegranate seeds are beautiful in champagne as they bounce up and down with the bubbles! For cute food displays cut a butternut or acorn squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and rinse.  Fill with nuts or olives.  Don’t forget the candy aisle!  Look for foiled chocolates to set in vases or bowls.  Get creative with candy canes- tie them to napkins for place settings, hot glue peppermint sticks around pillar candles, make candy cane trees, or make a lovely candy cane vase.

 

Recycle! Give Old Items New Life!

Think about any unused items you may have and be creative with ideas on how to repurpose them for holiday DIY+christmas+topiariescheer.  For example, use old sweater sleeves to wrap around large candle holders or turn summer’s tomato cages upside-down and place lights on them for lighted mini trees. (We highly recommend using LED lights–their bulbs are becoming brighter and better!  If you haven’t made the switch yet, that is fine.  Keep using the electric lights until they are no longer working before rushing out to buy LED.)

Use plastic milk or soda cartons for rustic candle lights.  Use old sticky bows to make a wreath, use wine bottles to display greenery and evergreen, or wrap ribbon around coffee cans for a candy display.  Just be creative and see what happens–nothing to lose with things that weren’t being used anyway!

We’d love to hear you best holiday decorating ideas!

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Simplify Holiday Traditions

Thanksgiving came earlier this year, which means a longer holiday season.  For many of us that is great, more time to plan!  The downside to this is more time to stress, and hustle and bustle to get all our holiday tasks done.   We came up with a few tips to help negotiate this “most wonderful time of the year” and make the holidays more enjoyable!

 

Simplify

Start by simplifying things where you can.  For example: organize a secret Santa with the adults in your family instead of buying of bunch of gifts that put you over budget. Or decide on a determined amount of money for each adult to donate to an agreed charity.  You can also try going green with your gifts.   Instead of a fancy dinner party have a brunch.  Brunch can be easier, more affordable to prepare, and is a nice change from the sometimes stuffy holiday dinner.  If dinner is a must, host a potluck to take the pressure off preparing the whole meal.  For decorations use accents from your own yard, like pinecones or evergreen branches to make your home sparkle.  These can be arranged naturally or you can paint and glitter them for extra pizzazz!  Even look to your grocery store for inspiration like Clementine’s, apples, or cranberries.

 

Plan Ahead

Part of the reason holiday time can feel so stressful is because we are scrambling to get so much done at once.  Between stringing up lights, finding the perfect gifts for friends, family, and kids, attending office parties, social parties, family gatherings, finding outfits for each function, decorating the house, hosting out-of-towners, cooking, and baking, we barely have enough of our holly-jolly left for the season.  Planning ahead will help to ease the holiday stresses.  Start the season off with a detailed list including gifts, food and, holiday tasks.  Every time you are out shopping try to get a few items on the list such as wrapping paper or a poinsettia for as a hostess gift.  Having a list will keep you on track, organized, and help to keep your budget down.  Try to have all items on your list done three days before Christmas or your big event.  This will give you a few days to get organized beforehand without running around tying up last minute loose ends.

 

Start Something New

Between the media, the mall, and our kid’s excitement, it is easy for us to get caught up in the holiday hoopla.  Find new ways to get together with friends like hosting a cookie or recipe swap.  Get the family involved in charity work for a day.  Find a sledding hill and bring thermos of homemade hot chocolate or cider. Take a long walk to collect pinecones and branches to take home and paint or glitter… Most importantly, in order to really appreciate the holiday season, take moment to turn down the jingle bells and look at what the season means to you and your family.  Remind yourself of this when you find things getting chaotic. Try to let go of expectations for how a dinner or event should go allow room for spontaneity, who knows?  Maybe a new tradition will start!

 

Stay tuned to the Serendipity blog for more event and menu ideas for the holidays!  

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Why Meatless Mondays (or any day?)

With Meatless Mondays becoming a growing trend, many of us are looking for ways to include vegetarian meals in our diets on a regular basis.  We discovered more about this growing movement and found some delicious ways to be vegetarian just one day a week!

While Meatless Monday may seem like a recent movement it, in fact, started during World War I. The U.S. Food Administration encouraged families to forgo meat on Monday and wheat on Wednesdays in order to save supplies for our troops with the slogan, “Food will Win the War.”  The response was a success. New York City hotels alone saved over 116 tons of meat after just one week of Meatless Mondays.

In 2003 Meatless Monday was revived as a public awareness campaign when health advocate Sid Lerner noted the issues associated with America’s over-indulgence in eating meat.  The movement is now supported by over 30 schools of public health, celebrity chefs, nationally recognized restaurants, and local establishments.

Going meatless one day a week or more has been linked to many health advantages including: limiting risks associated with cancer, reducing heart disease, helping to fight type 2 diabetes, and curbing obesity.  After trying Meatless Mondays many are finding ways to incorporate vegetarian meals into the rest of their weekly menus.  And as a bonus many are finding it easier on their wallets too!

Eating vegetarian is beyond salads, fruit, and dried out veggie burgers.  Vegetarian meals can be exciting and fun!  Follow the foods of the season and take cues from there.  In the fall, the winter squashes, apples, grapes, sweet potatoes, kale, brussels sprouts, and figs are just some of the season’s highlights.  Use seasonal produce to make a lasagna, soup, top a pizza, make a veggie patty, or pie.  Many vegetables such as broccoli and potatoes have protein.  Tofu may get a bad rap, but its bland flavor can be an asset when preparing flavorful meals, as it will easily take on most flavors and, give vegetarian meals a protein boost.  Beans or grains such as quinoa or farro are also good alternatives to meat.  Explore new fruits and vegetables you haven’t tried before and experiment with recipes that favor vegetables.  Who knows, you may find that going meatless occasionally is easier and better than you expected!

 

Cooking Light: Fall Vegetable Curry

Delish: 18 Hearty Vegetarian Recipes for Fall

Huffington Post: 15 Fall Vegetable Soups

Martha Stewart: Chocolate Beet Cake

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A Cold Weather Brunch

Party season has arrived and we are all getting ready with decorations, menus, and fancy dresses.  Parties can range from over-the-top extravaganzas to low-key gatherings.  Of course, we love all types of parties, but during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season it is refreshing to attend or host a party that is more unexpected and casual like a brunch! Between all the evening engagements, brunch is great time to get guests together for a laid back affair.  As a bonus, brunch can also be more affordable than an evening party, though we think it can be just as fancy.

Décor

Brunch is early in the day, which brings freshness to mind.  Seasonal flower arrangements, fresh fruit like apples or oranges piled in decorative bowls or large vases, or mini pastries or cookies stacked high on floral plates; floral pumpkins, poinsettias—these all make great centerpieces.  Use nature’s decor for accents: autumn leaves, and juniper or holly branches.  Keep the colors in season.  Often when we think of brunch, we think of springtime, so it is important to keep the colors relevant to the season.  For fall colors we favor light yellows and oranges and for winter, off-white with deep red.

Menu

Prosciutto Cups Brunch is a balance of sweet and savory foods.  Keep the familiar brunch food interesting by adding a spin on classics.  For the sweet side try pumpkin pancakes, gingerbread waffles, stuffed French toast with apples and raisins, or pecan cinnamon rolls.  For savory items: quiche in prosciutto cups, roasted potatoes with rosemary, maple bacon, sausages with sage, or a strata baked with mushrooms and sweet potatoes.  Include a salad with fresh greens and seasonal fruits like pears or dried cranberries.

 

Drinks

The mimosa is the standard brunch cocktail and easy enough to make.  For a more interesting route, experiment with different types of mimosas like a pumpkin ginger mimosa or a festive cranberry mimosa.  To keep a fun flow to any party, it is always great to have an interactive station such as a make-your-own bloody Mary bar with vodka, tomato juice, a variety of olives, salami, provolone squares, a variety of hot sauces, and celery stalks.  For non-alcoholic drinks offer a twist on hot chocolate like the spicy and warming Mexican hot chocolate, or serve a classic holiday punch.

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Selecting a Venue

Party season is around the corner and many of us are dreaming of holiday parties.  One of the most important parts of party and wedding planning is selecting a venue.  With choices spanning small intimate parties at home to large affairs in a rented spaces, how do you know what kind of venue is right for your party?  We got our team of Serendipity Catering party planning specialists together to ask what they look for when selecting a venue and the right things to keep in mind when planning a big event.

Evergreen Lake House

 

What is the most important thing to keep in mind when selecting a venue?

Kelsey (Service Consultant)- I tend to look for space layout. It is so hard to do a big wedding or event in a small space or one where you have to travel a long ways to get people their food. You need a venue that will provide a good “flow” for the party with enough space for both guests and the caterers to move.

Shauna (Senior Event Coordinator) – Space and floor plan! You don’t want to be separated from any of your guests. Everyone should feel included. 

Diana (Event Coordinator)- Space!  Having ample space for the guest count is important, but you also don’t want there to be too much extra space or you lose the event’s mood.

Boettcher Mansion

 

What is an important question to ask when visiting a venue?

Erin (Service Consultant)- Do they allow outside catering and where is the best place for a catering van to unload and park?  Also, do they supply rentals such as tables, chairs and eating ware?   For a wedding ask about changing areas and if you are going to be outdoors at all ask about a contingency plan!

 

How important is it that your caterer communicates with the venue?

 ShaunaOn a scale of 1-10, it’s a 12!

 

What is your favorite Colorado venue?

Kelsey – Boettcher Mansion is a fabulous example of a great catering venue. It has a full commercial kitchen with fridge, ice machine, grill top, ovens, warmers, commercial size sink, and a ton of prep space.

Shauna – Grant-Humphreys Mansion is a perfect venue for large events.  They have a large kitchen, a gorgeous patio and ceremony space.

Diana – Not necessarily a venue, but I love parties at residences.  It gives you an idea of who the host is and gives that personal touch to the event.

Grant-Humphreys Mansion

 

Serendipity Catering works with several top-notch venues and loves them all for different reasons.  Here are just a few:

We love the open and versatile, urban space that an art gallery can provide, not to mention the cool ever-changing artwork!   We love working Space Gallery and Translations Gallery.

For history and elegance in the city we like Grant Humphreys Mansion.

Close mountain retreats with breathtaking views: Evergreen Lake House, Chief Hosa Lodge or Della Terra are all classic Colorado options.

For wine lovers, consider a vineyard!  We love Balistreri Vineyards.

And, for the best of the city and the outdoors, Denver parks such as Cheesman Park, Washington Park and City Park are great for spring and summer events!

Cheesman Park Wedding Catered by Serendipity

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