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Tailgate Food Ideas You’ll Love

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With football season in full swing, there will be a lot of tailgating taking place, and when it comes to creating a great tailgating menu, variety and ease are the name of the game. whether you’re planning on doing some traditional pre-game tailgating outdoors, or hosting a party in your home, we’ve rounded up some easy and tasty foods that are perfectly suited for such an event.

Chicago Hot Dogs | Blue Plate Catering

Chicago-Style Dogs

Nothing says “authentic Chicago tailgate” like the classic Chicago dog. Allow your guests to create their own hotdog by lining out all the essential ingredients: yellow mustard, chopped white onions, bright green sweet relish, pickle spears, tomato slices, pickled sport peppers, celery salt, and of course, the poppy seed bun. This is a must for Chicago tailgaters and hot dog lovers alike.

 

Chili

Chili has long been a popular dish for any tailgating party. Not only is it a delicious, satisfying dish, but it’s also easy to make and can be prepared in advance and reheated when needed.

 

Potato Salad

Potato salad is another convenient food that can be prepared ahead of time and, with so many variations on this classic side dish, you can make your own signature version. Look to add seasonal ingredients to change things up or go for a classic version.

 

Quesadillas

Quesadillas are always great to serve a crowd and a tailgate is no exception. The best part about quesadillas are the variety of combinations you can come up with. Stay traditional with cheese, veggies, and grilled chicken or get creative and incorporate some of your favorite ingredients. Feeling adventurous? Try these caramelized onion and blue cheese quesadillas.

 

Chicken Wings

Chicken wings, which can be grilled or baked in the oven are one of the top finger foods around. To provide variety to your guests, there are plenty of tasty sauces you can marinade them in such as buffalo sauce, homemade barbecue sauce, honey barbecue, and more. Try these four delicious options for drizzles for your next tailgate party.

 

Vegetables and Dip

Vegetables and dip are always a crowd favorite and are good to have on hand for vegetarians or those with dietary restrictions. Slice up some fresh, seasonal vegetables for a snack or to have with the main fare. To liven them up, be sure to have some dips such as hummus and spinach dip to accompany them.

 

Dessert

Don’t forget about dessert! These grab-and-go Fried Pies and S’mores Cookie Bars would be a sweet way to end your tailgating party.

 

Serve a variety of food, including some of the suggestions above, and you’ll have something to please all palates. Preparation is key, so make as much as you can in advance and you’ll have a successful tailgating party that you’ll be able to enjoy right alongside everyone else.

Tips for Planning an Employee Appreciation Event

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Employee Appreciation | Blue Plate Catering

It’s always important to recognize your employees on a regular basis, regardless of the reason. What better way to show appreciation than through food! Below are some tips to help you plan this event, whether it will be held at your office or an outside venue.

 

Celebrate Your Employees Through Food

Remember, food helps to set the entire mood for your event and to ensure everyone has a great time. Your food and beverage menu should be a highlight of your event, with menu items complementing your event’s style and/or theme and helping to create the desired atmosphere. For instance, if you’re having a picnic-style celebration, you can design an all-American grill menu. For a beach or luau theme, create a beach or Hawaiian menu.

Carnival-themed events are perfect for showcasing some nostalgic foods that everyone will be entertained by and enjoy, such as cotton candy, candy bars, and snow cones. Arranging to have an ice cream truck or food truck on location is sure to be a welcome surprise!

 

Select a Location and Time

Decide whether your event will be on-site or offsite, during the day or evening, indoors or outdoors. This decision will be easier to make once you have determined the style of your event (e.g. formal or casual), types of food and how it will be served (e.g. a plated, sit-down dinner vs. buffet-style), and any entertainment and activities.

You’ll need to consider lighting options if the event will take place outside during the evening.

 

Set Up Some Games

Incorporate additional fun with games (and perhaps have prizes for winners). You can set up a Guitar Hero game for some light-hearted competition, create teams for a company-themed trivia contest, or, if your event will be in an open area outdoors, have some old-fashioned games like wiffle ball, bocce ball, and a bean bag toss.

 

Provide Awards and Goody Bags

Employee appreciation events are an ideal setting in which to present employee appreciation awards. If presenting awards, have a stage set up for this portion of the event and make certain your sound and lighting rental system can been heard and viewed by everyone. 

You can also give goody bags to each employee as they leave the event, making everyone feel appreciated and included.

If you’re hosting an employee appreciation event in the Chicago area and would like catering services, we’d love to work with you to elevate your employee event into a unique experience. Contact us today and we’ll be happy to discuss your event!

A Quick Guide to Beer and Food Pairings

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Beer Pairing With Blue Plate

While wine is commonly viewed as the popular choice for food pairings, over the last few years beer has entered the culinary scene and is becoming a new favorite to pair with food.

Epicurious.com states food industry professionals have learned that beer has an incredible capacity to pair with all kinds of foods – and may even be more food-friendly than wine due to its abilty to pair with a wide variety of foods. As beer & food pairing has grown, beer sommeliers, known as cicerones, have popped up in cities across the country, including our very own Chicago.

Below are some ideal food matches for a few of the most common types of beers to help you get started with beer and food pairings. Whether you’re looking for a great beer to go with your favorite dish, or want to select the best beers to pair with your menu, this guide will point you in the right direction

 

Wheat Beer/Hefeweizen

Wheat beer is light, easy to drink, and has very little aftertaste. This type of beer matches well with vegetarian foods, light soups and salads, sushi and citrus-flavored dishes.

 

Lager

Lagers are crisp, refreshing, and provide a smooth finish due to being aged longer than other beers. They complement dishes such as shellfish, light seafood, sushi, grilled pork and chicken, and light pasta dishes.

 

Pilsner

A type of lager, pilsners have a dry, crisp, and slightly bitter flavor. Compared to other lagers, the hop taste in pilsners is more distinct.

Pilsners are great with a variety of cheeses, including American cheese, Muenster, and Havarti, as well as salads, light seafood, salmon, and tuna.

 

Pale Ale & IPA

Ales are generally robust and complex, with subtleties of fruit or spice, along with a hoppy finish. They come in many varieties and pair well with fried food, spicy food, steaks, burgers, and pizza, as well as cheeses like Cheddar and Parmigiano.

 

Porter

Porter is an ale that is brewed using a combination of roasted malt for flavor, aroma, and color. It pairs with smoked foods, barbecued foods, meats, chili, and braised dishes.

 

Stout

Stout is also a roast brew like porter, but its taste isn’t as sweet and  often has a dark, coffee-like character. This beer is great for pairing with roasted, barbecued, and grilled foods, as well as salty foods, oysters, and chocolate.

 

Fruit Beer/Lambic

Fruit beer is a form of beer that’s made by adding fruit for flavoring. Fruit is often added to lambic beer to help counter the bitter flavor that frequently exists as a result of the combination of unmalted wheat and malted barley in this beer.

Fruit beer is a good match with light white meats, foods full of herbs and spices, salads with fruity dressings, and fruity desserts.
Next time you are looking to host a party, take your beer selection to the next level by providing several pairing opportunities through your menu. Share with us your favorite dish and Chicago brew pairing. Cheers!

Great Grilling Tips & A Bonus BBQ Sauce Recipe!

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With summer in full swing, you’re probably doing a lot of grilling for yourself and your loved ones, or you’re wishing you were grilling a lot more. Whichever category you fall into, we’ve got a few great grilling tips that will help you get the most out of your grill throughout the rest of the season.

Grilling Tips | Blue Plate Chicago

Below are our top three grilling tips. Incorporate these the next time you grill and you’re in for some mouth-watering grilled fare.

As an added bonus, we’ve provided an absolutely amazing BBQ sauce recipe as well!

  1. Invest a small amount of money in a meat thermometer and reap the rewards of perfectly grilled meats.

For most people, it’s difficult to tell whether or not meat is done just by touching it. Using a meat thermometer allows you to accurately check the internal temperature of meat so you can be confident about when it is actually ready. This one little tool will save you a lot of anxiety about serving meats under or overcooked.

 

  1. Avoid the temptation to flatten meats and squeeze them.

Whenever you flatten and squeeze meat, you’re squeezing out the fat. And along with the fat, you’re squeezing out delicious flavor and moisture – two important components you don’t want your meats to be missing.

 

  1. After cooking, set meat aside for about 5 to 15 minutes to rest before slicing it.

Letting meat sit untouched after cooking allows the juices to redistribute and ensures the meat remains juicy. Bigger pieces of meat will need more time to rest than smaller ones.

 

The Best BBQ Sauce

Ready for a truly amazing BBQ sauce? Check out our Blue Plate Summer Recipe card to learn how to make our very own BBQ Sauce!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 ¼ cups brown sugar
  • 1 ¼ cups red wine vinegar
  • ½ cup molasses
  • 4 tsp liquid smoke
  • 2 tbs butter
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onioin powder
  • ¼ tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp celery seed
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper

Directions:

In a large saucepan over medium heat, mix together the ketchup, tomato sauce, brown sugar, red wine vinegar, molasses, liquid smoke and butter. Season with garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, paprika, celery seed, cinnamon, cayenne, salt and pepper.

Reduce heat to low, and simmer for up to 20 minutes. For thicker sauce, simmer longer, and for thinner, less time is needed. Sauce can also be thinned using a bit of water if necessary.

This BBQ sauce is one we’re sure you’ll be using over and over again with various grilled foods, so you’ll want to keep it handy.

Let us know your thoughts once you’ve tried our BBQ Sauce. We think you’re going to love it!

6 No-Bake Summer Desserts

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no-bake desserts - Blue Plate CateringWhen you’re craving something sweet in the summer, the last thing you want to do on a hot day is bake. That’s what makes no-bake summer desserts a dream come true – you get your dessert fix without having to turn your oven on!

We’ve rounded up some of the yummiest no-bake desserts that feature fresh fruits. You’ll find these to be truly perfect summertime treats.

 

  1. Semifreddo with Honeyed Peaches

Semifreddo, a partially frozen Italian dessert with the texture of frozen mousse, is both delicious and refreshing. We love this version that incorporates the wonderfully complimentary flavors of pistachios, peaches, and honey.

 

  1. No-Bake Strawberry Chocolate Tart

No-Bake Strawberry Chocolate Tarts not only make for a gorgeous dessert, but super simple to make. And it’s quick too, taking just 15 minutes from start to finish! Made with a crispy Oreo crust, a soft chocolate ganache, and topped with fresh strawberries, this is one dessert that’s sure to please everyone.

 

  1. Chocolate-Raspberry Trifle

Trifles are traditional English desserts that are typically made with layers of cake, jam or jelly, custard, and then topped with whipped cream. These popular desserts allow for a lot of creativity, with an endless amount of opportunities to create different versions.

This Chocolate-Raspberry Trifle recipe uses slices of store-bought pound cake drizzled with a mix of coffee and liqueur, chocolate pudding, chocolate shavings, fresh raspberries, and homemade whipped cream. With an ingredient list like that, this dessert will not disappoint!

 

  1. Cheesecake-Stuffed Strawberries

While fresh strawberries are delicious on their own, these Cheesecake-Stuffed Strawberries really bring this fruit up a few notches, turning strawberries into a decadent treat!

Fill fresh strawberries with an easy (read: no-bake) cheesecake filling and you have an impressive little dessert.

 

  1. No-Bake Raspberry Cheesecake Pots

Grab a few glass jars and get ready to make some super creamy No-Bake Raspberry Cheesecake Pots. These little gems are layered with graham cracker crumbs, cheesecake batter, fresh raspberries, and raspberry jam. Alternating the red layers with the cheesecake batter creates a lovely presentation, making these great for serving at a dinner party or other gathering.

 

  1. No-Bake Mascarpone Fruit Tarts

These colorful No-Bake Mascarpone Fruit Tarts are an excellent choice when you want to make an elegant and pretty dessert without having to fuss – or for anytime you just want a special treat!

In these tarts, a homemade graham cracker crust combines with a smooth and creamy mascarpone cheese filling, which is then topped off with a mix of fresh berries…need we say more?