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A Simply Chic Backyard Brunch

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If you’re hosting a summer bridal shower, or just want to have an excuse to invite a few friends over, a backyard brunch is the perfect way to celebrate and enjoy some fresh air and the summer sun. See below for some ideas for hosting a simply chic backyard brunch that everyone will love!

Chic Backyard BrunchA Warm Welcome

Plan for how you want your guests to feel upon their arrival. A simple sign that reads “Welcome! So glad you’re here!” is a great way to greet guests. Once they’ve settled in, have a cocktail or an appetizer to offer them and make them feel at home.

Decorate the Space

Let nature inspire the color palette of your décor. With a backyard as your backdrop, you won’t need to go overboard. The naturally beautiful setting will speak for itself so a few simple, elegant accents are all you need. Think floral centerpieces, pretty table linens, and paper flower garlands.

Seating

Plan to have enough seating to accommodate more guests than you’re expecting. Although people tend to mingle, especially at an outdoor event, having various places to sit throughout the party adds coziness, encourages conversation, and provides ample space for guests to relax.
If your brunch will be more intimate, a few farm tables dressed with burlap runners and some beautiful floral arrangements make a lovely seating area. If you need to accommodate a larger crowd, consider renting tables and chairs and dressing them up with linens that complement the rest of your décor.

Beverage Bar

Refreshing drinks are a must at any outdoor gathering, so set up a beverage bar or table that holds a variety of drinks for guests to enjoy. And be sure to include a signature cocktail. Mimosas are always a hit and are perfect for a brunch. If you want to get a bit fancy and add to the fun, have a make-your-own mimosa bar!

Buffet Style

While a backyard brunch can be as chic as you desire, it isn’t meant to be a highly formal affair. Serving individual meals to each guest is time consuming and unnecessary. Keep it simple with an appetizing display of brunch dishes on a buffet table and let your guests help themselves.
Here are some delicious menu ideas that are great for a buffet style brunch:
• French Toast Casserole
• Fresh Fruit Salad
• Gazpacho
• Hummus Platter with Vegetables and Crackers
• Quiche

For a unique spin that no one will be able to resist, set up a separate pastry table with favorite items such as donuts, sweet breads and scones. Or how about a waffle bar with a variety of toppings like fruit, granola and pure maple syrup?

Now you’re all set to plan an unforgettable backyard brunch. Just don’t forget to relax and enjoy the special time (and scrumptious food) with your guests!

Food Safety: How to Keep Food Safe in the Summer

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With summer quickly approaching, there are many outdoor gatherings to look forward to, from backyard BBQs and pool parties, to picnics and tailgates. But in warm weather, it’s more challenging to keep your food safe from harmful pathogens that can cause foodborne illnesses.

Safe temperature for grilling

Follow these packing, food prep, cooking, and storage tips to prevent food-borne illnesses from ruining your summer fun.

General Packing:

  • Bring a cooler with ice to pack meat, poultry, and seafood in for times where you can’t go straight home after the supermarket.
  • Always keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood wrapped securely to keep juices from contaminating other foods. Pack them in their own bags at the store and, when taking somewhere, keep them in a separate cooler, apart from other foods.
  • Pack two sets of plates and utensils so you’ll have one set to use for raw foods and another to use with cooked foods.
  • Bring soap, a gallon of water, and some paper towels if you’ll be at a park or someplace you won’t have access to running water so you can wash your hands when needed.

Cooler Specifics:

  • A full cooler will maintain cold temperatures longer than a partially filled one, so bring plenty of extra ice to ensure everything stays cold.
  • Keep your cooler out of the direct sun and limit the amount of times it’s opened. Since beverages are frequently sought after, store drinks in a separate cooler from foods.

Food Prep:

  • Unwashed hands are a main cause of foodborne illness. Wash your hands thoroughly with warm soap and water before and after handling food.
  • Always marinate food in the refrigerator, rather than on a kitchen counter or outside. And don’t reuse marinade that has touched raw meat.
  • Don’t reuse platters or utensils that have touched raw meat, poultry or seafood.

Cooking:

  • Cook food thoroughly and use a food thermometer to ensure the proper internal temperature has been reached.
  • Cooked foods from the grill shouldn’t be exposed to the heat and sun for more than an hour. Grill in batches, only making enough for what you think will be eaten within an hour. Store extra meats in the cooler until they’re ready to go on the grill.
  • Keep cooked meats on the side of the grill rack to keep them hot.

Storage:

  • Wrap hot food well and place it in an insulated container until serving.
  • Toss out any food, both cooked and uncooked, that’s been left out for over an hour. Leftovers that are still good should be placed directly in the refrigerator or freezer. If out, pack them in a cooler until you get home.

The extra time involved to follow these precautionary measures will be well worth the effort. Keep your food safe and you’ll have a wonderful summer full of enjoyable outdoor dining adventures!

The Ultimate Picnic Menu: Food & Cocktails

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Blue Plate Steak Wrap

With summer just around the corner, we’re preparing you for planning the perfect picnic. A picnic is a relaxed, casual way to spend quality time with loved ones and enjoy simple and fresh food. But simple and hassle-free doesn’t need to be boring. If you want to take your picnic fare up a notch, ditch the cold cuts and potato salad, and see below for some great ideas from DIRECT From Blue Plate!

Components of the Ultimate Picnic Menu

The ultimate picnic menu should include one or two items from different food categories to ensure there’s enough variety. Here are some delicious, picnic-friendly foods, as well as a few refreshing cocktails, that make great additions to any picnic menu.

Tasty Mains

Just as every meal has an entrée or main food, a picnic needs some dishes that are substantial and satisfying.

  • Turkey Breast Sandwiches (turkey breast, avocado, cucumber, sprouts, aioli)
  • Falafel Wraps (avocado, tomato, cucumber, red onion, lettuce, tabbouleh, hummus)
  • Chicken Salad Mini Sandwiches (dried cherries, pecans, honey aioli)
  • Caprese Wrap (mozzarella, red peppers, arugula, tomato, basil pesto)

Simple Salads

Salads, being light and crisp, are a fantastic side dish for a picnic.

  • Cobb Salad with Herb Vinaigrette
  • Blackened Steak Salad with Blue Cheese
  • Chopped Italian Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette
  • Chipotle Chicken Caesar Salad
  • Southwest Vegetable Salad

Fresh Fruit

Who doesn’t love the seasonal fruits summer has to offer? Fruit deserves a spot at any picnic so don’t skip this one.

  • Melon Balls in Wafer Ice Cream Cones
  • Mixed Berries
  • Tropical Fruit Salad

Freshly Baked Desserts

All great meals aren’t complete without a yummy dessert and picnics are no different! Pack one or more of these simple treats and there won’t be any left to bring back home.

  • Cheesecake Lollipops
  • Chocolate Covered Strawberries
  • Fudge Brownies
  • Chocolate Dipped Pretzel Rods
  • Homemade Cookies

Pitcher Cocktails

Pitcher cocktails are the perfect choice for a picnic as they can be made ahead of time and save you the trouble of having to mix cocktails individually.

  • Classic Mojito
  • Pineapple Rum Cooler
  • Summer Sangria
  • Watermelon Margarita

Whether you’ll be picnicking at a park, the beach, or in your own backyard, you can’t go wrong with a combination of the above menu suggestions. So get out your picnic basket and a blanket, and enjoy your meal outdoors!