Easy Ways To Customize Your Wedding Menu

February 1st, 2017

wedding

Creating a wedding which is a reflection of you and your partner’s personality is quite standard in the wedding world.  Your florist will ask you to name your favorite colors and types of flowers.  Your photographer will want to know your favorite spots to get photos. The invitations will have infusions of your favorite colors and graphics, so why not your food? Yes, your food!

Many times, couples feel that they don’t have much say in customizing the menu… remember the check boxes on every RSVP card… steak, chicken, fish? However, if you are working with the right caterer, you will be surprised at how many ways there are to make your food TOTALLY about you and your partner.  Here are some ideas to make your reception as unforgettable as your vows!

Think Back To A Great Food Memory (which includes the two of you). Then Create An Appetizer Out of it!

Did you love those tater tots at that one burger joint and noshed on them every chance you had? Or maybe, those delicious sliders that you couldn’t get enough of? Since this wedding is about the two of you, think back to a wonderful experience you both had with food and re-create it as an appetizer at your wedding.  The servers can have a sign on the tray explaining this signature appetizer. Or, you can just mention it to guests as you are socializing. You don’t have to necessarily serve tater tots at your wedding. As your caterer if they can add a sophisticated twist for example… mini tater tot casseroles, tater tot pizza, tater tot and cheese stuffed jalapeños … I can go on and on.

Focus on Local Favorites!

Use regional ingredients to show out-of-town guests what your area has to offer.  Even if it’s something as basic as BBQ, your caterer can always find a way to elevate it. And always, always, work with caterers who take pride in serving farm to table ingredients.

Don’t Forget to Honor Your Heritage!

There is nothing more creative than to choose a menu which incorporates favorite dishes from your past. Whether it’s creating your Polish grandma’s pirogies from scratch or simply infusing flavorful Indian spices and sauces into popular and crowd-pleasing wedding dishes, will remind guests of your background and the special place it holds in your life.

Don’t Forget The Vegans & Vegetarians!

With so many people dealing with diet restrictions, it’s always good to speak with your caterer in regards to one or two delicious options that can accommodate them all. Create at least one option for the vegans, vegetarians, and gluten-free guests.  And no, we don’t mean another plate of roasted potatoes. Work with your caterer to create something that will make the meat eaters jealous!

10 AMAZING Things To Add To Your Cheese Platter

December 1st, 2016


cheese

If you are one of those people who can’t seem to get out of the “cheese and crackers” plate, you will LOVE this article!

Something I hear from many of my friends is that they can’t seem to get creative with the cheese plate.  It seems like it’s always an after thought with the main meal taking most of the priority.  Well, here is a cheat sheet of some of my favorite things to add to a cheese spread.  Use all these ideas, or just a few.   I guarantee these items will always be a success!

Marinated Olives

Olives are a staple on a cheese plate, however marinated olives are even better! Most supermarkets have a plethora marinated olives at their deli section and I love that you can buy them by the pound and choose the amount you would like to serve.  However, they tend to be a bit pricey and if you are sticking to a budget, making your own is always a better option.  I simply mix a little garlic (not too much)  and my favorite spices (but not too spicy) in olive oil and pour over my favorite olives.  Let them stand for an hour and you should have a great addition to your cheese plate.

A Variety of Cured Meats

Whether you choose salami, prosciutto, or ham, cured meats are always a delicious addition to any cheese platter.  If you don’t like cured meats, you could also serve deli meats, such as roast beef, turkey, or chicken slices.  Your guests will love making their own combinations of cheese, crackers, and meats.

A Variety of Breads

Most people opt for crackers with their cheese.  And if you are serving a cheese plate as an appetizer, before a big meal, this will probably be a great option.  However, if you would like the cheese spread to be your main meal (maybe for a wine tasting party), consider adding various kinds of breads to the table.  Bread can fill up those hungry guests and adding additional bread accoutrements such as olive oil dip and soft cheeses will guarantee that no one walks away from your party hungry.  Also, consider using breads that are “out of the box” and your guests would not normally consider purchasing, such as olive ciabatta, any flavor challahs, egg breads, etc.  Of course, have one “neutral” bread that everyone would like such as a french baguette.

Fruit

Fruit is a MUST!!  Fruits are beautiful, delicious, and best of all, help the digestive process.  Fruits have always complemented cheese and the best part of creating a cheese platter  is adding fruit which may be out of the box a bit.  Grapes are always great, but fruits such as figs, cherries, and strawberries look beautiful and taste great with cheese.  Of course, doing a bit of research and checking to see which cheeses go with which fruit is always recommended. For example, stay away from any high acid or citrus fruit.  But it’s not rocket science so don’t overthink it!  And don’t forget, dried fruit is wonderful too!!

Honey

Honey is a wonderful addition to any cheese platter.  It is the perfect juxtaposition of sweet and sour.  Generally, I recommend you use varietal honey which is made from bees who pollinate on just one flower rather than bees that pollinate a bunch of different kinds of flowers.  Also, just drizzle a little honey on the cheese, don’t soak it.  A little goes a long way!

Honey goes really well with aged cheeses that have a good amount of nuttiness. Parmigiano-Reggiano, a tangy Cheddar, or any of the alpine cheeses (Comté, Gruyère, Appenzeller).  Other sweet and creamy cheeses like ricotta, goat cheese, or feta are wonderful with a citrus based honey.  Don’t forget the blue cheeses which are spectacular with honey.  For some, the spicier the better, but you may want to experiment to see what you and your guests like the best.

Other Wonderful Additions:

Pepperoni Chips – Simply place pepperoni slices in your oven at 375 degrees for 5-10 minutes or until they get crispy and serve!

Chocolate – Did you know that dark chocolate and Parmesan cheese have been scientifically proven to work well together.  That’s right, scientists have actually proven that these two items are perfect for pairing.  Here’s the link to the full article on HuffingtonPost Taste, it’s fascinating.  And the good news is that  your guests will be WOWed by your brilliance   Another cheese you may want to try with chocolate is mozzarella cheese.  But don’t over do it, just a small amount will make a huge impression!

Fondue – So many of us think that we have to have wedge cheese on our cheese plate, but a hot delicious and creamy fondue will bring oohs and ahhs!  Plus, they are very easy to make.

Nuts – Don’t forget the nuts!!  Almost any nut will look wonderful on your cheese plate.  You can do a little research to see which nuts pair well with cheeses, but honestly, it’s hard to go wrong.  My ultimate favorites are almonds and cashews.  They work well with most cheeses.

Preserves – Fig preserves are incredible on top of a delicious brie!  Other preserves such as plum, apricot, and even wild blueberry are unbelievable!!   Stop in at your local supermarket or gourmet grocer and talk to the cheese monger about the best pairings for their cheeses.  I find that the people behind the counter can answer all my questions and even teach me a thing or two!  Also, if there is a special gourmet cheese section at your grocer, take a look around to see if other items are displayed.  Many times, the cheese section has all you need to find the perfect preserves.

Things to avoid would be vegetables, spicy foods, heavy garlic flavored crackers and breads, citrus or high acid foods, and Tannic Red Wines.

Five Holiday Napkin Folding Ideas We Are IN LOVE With!!

November 28th, 2016

As food industry folks, we know how important presentation can be, and we can’t help but be a little obsessed with Tablescaping…. yes, it’s a thing! Here are our five favorite holiday napkin folding ideas to impress your guests before the first bite is ever taken!

1. The Elf Hat Napkin Fold

Absolutely in love with the Elf Hat the creative folks at goodhousekeeping.com came up with… pure genius!

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For those of you who love to watch videos… here ya go!

2.Elf Shoe Napkin

Who wouldn’t want an Elf Shoe as their place setting! serendipitypatchwork.com.au

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3.The Classic Swan Fold

4.The Double Roll

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The folks at thepartydress.net know how to set a beautiful table!

5. The Scarf Fold

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In case you want to be “out of the box” we are loving this “scarf fold” from rachaelraymag.com

Our TOP FIVE Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes!

November 22nd, 2016

Celebrating Thanksgiving may be fun for most, but for a few of us (who are watching our waistlines or have specific food restrictions) Thanksgiving can be a challenge.  We scoured the web to find five of our favorite recipes that are perfect for just about anyone! Whether you are vegan, paleo, diabetic, or just love eating clean, these delicious recipes will make your Thanksgiving a bit easier.  And from all of us at Beauty of the Bistro, we hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving full of love, family, and delicious food!

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1. Cauliflower Mash With Ricotta and Roasted Garlic

Delicious and healthy, Katya (Little Broken) / Via littlebroken.com created a yummy and healthy alternative to mashed potatoes. YUM!!

2. Roasted Broccoli, Chicken, and Cheddar Quinoa Bake

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Who’s says comfort food has to be rich and unhealthy. This delicious Quinoa bake will make you rethink “comfort”!! Two thumbs up to Serena (Domesticate Me) / Via domesticate-me.com!

3 Individual Baked Apple Crisps

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Basically a crustless apple pie recipe, made for you by BuzzFeed Food editor Christine Byrne.

Recipe: Core 8 medium apples without cutting all the way through to the bottom — leave about a ½-inch of uncut apple at the bottom — then cut away a little bit extra so there’s a well in each apple about ¾-inch thick. Put the apples on a lined baking sheet, then sprinkle each apple with cinnamon and 1 teaspoon brown sugar, and top with 1 teaspoon unsalted butter. Bake until the apple is very soft, 30–35 minutes. Serve warm, topped with whipped cream and sprinkled with your favorite maple granola.

4. Curry-Roasted Brussels Sprouts

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Add a little kick to your sprouts with some black pepper and curry powder… need we say more? Lokness (The Missing Lokness) / Via themissinglokness.com

5.  Salt and Pepper Roasted Green Beans

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Thanksgiving without green beans? We think NOT!!! Thank you theresacookinmykitchen.com

 







Five Simple Tips on Staying SANE While Hosting the Holidays!

November 21st, 2016

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So, you’ve decided to host a soiree during the holidays, congratulations!! Now, it’s time to prep yourself, and we’re not just talking about the food and décor. You need to prep your mind, body, and soul because hosting a holiday function can be a whirlwind of emotions, pressures, and expectations.  So before you deck the halls or order the turkey, read these simple tips for hosting the day and enjoying it too!

  1.  PLAN AHEAD… YOU’LL THANK YOURSELF!!  It’s easy to get caught up in the holiday details.  Did I decorate enough? Are there enough Christmas lights? No matter how small or large your holiday party will be, creating a game plan is key! Don’t let the decorations consume your life. Allow yourself permission to “let go” of certain decorating elements while spending that time checking to see if you have enough plates, seating, cutlery, or even refrigerator space for your upcoming celebration. Delegating responsibilities to guests and family members is also recommended. Chances are, they’ll want to contribute and would be happy to bring over extra plates, utensils, or prepared food to your party. You may even want to ask another family member (or two) if they would like to come over and help you prep.  I know plenty of hostesses that make preparation for the party —  a party on its own.  Allowing the helpers to sip cocktails and catch up, while preparing the meal.
  2. MANAGE EXPECTATIONS!! Visualize your party focusing on what type of Holiday celebration you are expecting this year. Will it be large and over the top? Or small, cozy, and conservative?  Once you decide on your vision, share it with others you will be inviting. Many people will be relieved to know that they don’t have to wear their jacket and tie to your Christmas dinner, because you are keeping it relaxed this year.  While others would be disappointed if they showed up in yoga pants to your posh Cocktail party. Realizing what you want and sharing your vision with guests can make the evening more relaxed, no matter the atmosphere. And keep the expectations to a minimum.
  3. KEEP IT REAL!!  Keeping your exceptions realistic, not obsessing over the details, and simply “letting go” can be life changing.  For some, this is easier said than done, but part of having a well executed evening is realizing that you are not in control (or should you be) of everything, and most importantly, that’s OK!  Uncle Willie may talk about politics and grandpa may make those “colorful” jokes everyone feels awkward hearing. But, that’s OK and that is what makes your family unique and special.
  4. PREP AHEAD!! Planning ahead is key, prepping ahead is a MUST!!! Creating dishes you can make one or two days before the party will not only save you time and energy, but a massive amount of stress.  Focus on salads with grains, which will absorb flavor over time and will actually taste better the day after they are prepared.  Make ahead dips, such as hummus and pesto, are perfect for holiday entertaining and can be prepared well in advance.
  5. WHATCH YOUR INTAKE!! Whether you like to splurge on alcohol or food, maintaining control over both, during the holidays, will contribute to your overall emotional and physical state. It’s easy to “let go” and reward yourself, because hey… it’s the holidays! But overindulging on both alcohol and food can be hazardous.  So, if you are hosting, fuel yourself throughout the day with healthy nutrition and consider limiting your alcohol consumption to stay emotionally connected and in control.

Five Entertaining Tips to SAVE YOU TIME at Your Next Party!!

November 1st, 2016

With the holidays fast approaching, there’s a high probability that you’re contemplating hosting a special dinner or even a holiday celebration.  Nervous? Don’t be! Just think: lots of people manage to do it every single year, and somehow they survive.  So, if they can do it, YOU can do it!! And with our five easy (time saving) entertaining tips, there’s no reason why your next soiree shouldn’t be your BEST… holiday or any day!

champagne

SERVE CHAMPS!!

There is nothing that can dress up your party more than some bubbly, the ultimate sign of a celebration! Having glasses of champagne waiting for your guests, whether at the front door or at an area reserved for cocktails, immediately adds a festive element to your home. You can still serve beer, wine, or mixed drinks, but champagne adds an immediate “welcome to the party” vibe. It’s kind of like confetti going off every time a guest walks in your door, but much cleaner! Best of all, you don’t have to stop what you are doing to offer or make your guests a drink as soon as they walk in. To really impress, add a strawberry and a sugar cube to each glass to create a champagne cocktail…BOOM!… you’ve just created your signature drink for the night. Yes, it’s that easy!

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INCORPORATE AS MANY “MAKE AHEAD” DISHES AS POSSIBLE!!

Give yourself a break and try to prepare as much the day or night before as possible. Make-ahead recipes are perfectly acceptable for entertaining, and a little secret, sometimes taste better than “day of” dishes because you let the flavors marinate and blend over a period of time. There are several salads, like potato and pasta, that taste much better prepared ahead and chilled than if you were to make them an hour before the party.  Cheese balls, dips, and pestos can all be prepared ahead of time, ready to be quickly incorporated into your appetizer tray a few minutes before the guests arrive. So, save yourself time and energy on the day of your party, instead spend that time enjoying a glass of bubbly before the guests arrive… see, you GOT THIS!

dessert

DON’T BE SHY TO ASK YOUR GUESTS TO BRING SOMETHING.

It’s pretty much a given…  you invite someone to a party or dinner, their first question is “what can I bring?”  It’s perfectly acceptable (even encouraged) to let your friends know what to bring to your party… as long as they ask first.  Guests don’t like to come empty handed and chances are, they’ll probably bring something anyway… most likely wine! If they ask, tell them EXACTLY what to bring, as long as your requests are simple… HUGE time saver!

Also, if you are having many guests over, don’t feel obligated to cater to every dietary restriction.  If a guest has specific food allergies, you can ask them to bring something for themselves. For example, if they have gluten allergies, have them bring their own crackers or a side dish which you can incorporate onto your table and share with others. Chances are, your guest will be excited to share their item or prepared dish with other people at your party.

table

SET THE TABLE AND DO ALL THE DECORATING, THE NIGHT BEFORE!

This little entertaining tip is known by all the experienced hostesses. Setting your table, the night (or even a few days) before your party, not only saves you time on the “day of”, but also gives you a chance to really play with your table design.  If you realize you are missing something or want to add a little something extra, you have plenty of time to find something vs. running frantically to the store. The same goes for cleaning and organizing the house before the party.

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OUTSOURCE, OUTSOURCE, OUTSOURCE!

There is no better way to save time, while planning your next party, than to realize YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING!! Outsourcing certain things, especially the tasks you may not necessarily enjoy, is perfectly acceptable and even encouraged!! Some hostesses have a simple system, preparing the dinner and delegating the dessert and appetizers to a caterer or grocery store, or vice versa. We know some hostesses that don’t prepare ANY food and outsource everything to a caterer. As a rule of thumb, if you have six or less guests, you can handle most things on your own and may want to purchase appetizers and/or desserts at the store.  But if you have more guests, consider outsourcing certain tasks to a professional caterer… Beauty of the Bistro, for example (yep, we just recommended ourselves!!).  Delegating certain things to professionals allows you, as a hostess, to focus on what you enjoy most about entertaining, spending more time WITH your guests than AWAY from them!