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Creating a Caterer-Inspired Easter Celebration

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Pla - Double Cut Lamb Chop and Pepper Crusted Ahi Tuna
Rack of Lamb and Pepper-Crusted Tuna, Blue Plate Catering

Chocolate-covered bunnies and brightly dyed eggs come to mind once talk of Easter rolls around. Depending on what side of the American tradition you land, so do rack of lamb and spiraled ham. For many, the holidays offer a special time to gather friends and family around the table to share great food and stories, which means a time to create lasting memories.

At Blue Plate, we design events big or small around the complete experience, knowing that hospitality is in the details. Whether you are planning your Easter celebration as an intimate party of select friends and family or a large gathering, use our expert tips to create an elevated experience.

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Should You Get Married on the Most Romantic Day of the Year?

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Valentines Day Wedding

If you’re recently engaged, first of all, congratulations! Secondly, you’re most likely trying to nail down the date for this extremely special day in your life.

As a wedding caterer, we’ve seen how popular the 14th of February is for both proposals and weddings. And we’re curious – is Valentine’s Day an option for your wedding day, or would you never even consider it?

Whichever side you’re currently on in the Valentine’s Day wedding debate, we’ve listed some pros and cons that come with tying the knot on the most romantic day of the year.

Reasons to Get Married on Valentine’s Day (Pros)

  1. Memorable Anniversary Date

It will be ridiculously easy for you and your significant other to always remember your anniversary! It is also the perfect anniversary date for hopeless romantics.

 

  1. Fun Theme Ideas

Don’t settle for generic Valentine’s Day themes such as hearts and cupid. Go with a theme centered around colors – think pink, red, blush, gold, ivory, and champagne colors. These colors are beautiful and would be stunning for a Valentine’s Day themed wedding. Try incorporating these colors in florals and decor, bridesmaid dresses, and groomsman ties and pocket squares.

 

  1. Pretty- and Easy-to-Find Decoration Options

Whichever theme you choose, you’re sure to find a bunch of wonderful décor items for Valentine’s Day in brick-and-mortar and online stores that will work perfectly for your reception decorations, as well as favors. Try keeping it simple by incorporating twinkle lights, floating tea candles, and blush florals.

 

Reasons to Avoid a Valentine’s Day Wedding (Cons)

  1.  Sharing Your Wedding Anniversary

Your wedding anniversary will be shared with everyone else celebrating their love on that day. And because of this, you may not be able to get a reservation at your favorite restaurant – and if you do, it will likely be packed. If the restaurant has seatings at different times, you may not be able to enjoy lingering over your meal.

 

  1.  Needing to Book Way in Advance

Typically, you’ll have to book your wedding venue even further in advance than usual since this holiday is such a popular day for weddings. People often need to book up to two years (or more!) in advance to ensure their wedding date is secured for this day. Yikes!

 

  1. More Expensive Flowers

The cost of flowers for your wedding day will likely be much more expensive than if you had a wedding on a different day. Floral prices are usually higher during this time of year to begin with. This means the prices of your wedding flowers will be inflated as well – and the price difference adds up quickly!

So did this pros and cons list change your opinion, or did it confirm your initial feelings on this subject?

Whether or not you plan to get married on Valentine’s Day,, we’d love to share our catering ideas with you for your special day! Learn more about our wedding catering services and contact us to discuss your wedding details.

Mulled Wine & Spiced Holiday Drinks

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Mulled Wine | Blue Plate Catering

Photo Credit: Jameson Fink | https://www.flickr.com/photos/jamesonfink/11467829083

The winter season provides a perfect excuse to make some spiced drinks, including mulled wine, at home. Many of the spices popular in holiday baked goods – such as clove, ginger, and nutmeg – also bring fantastic flavor to holiday drinks.

Whether you’re looking for a festive beverage to serve at a holiday gathering, or just want to cozy up with a good book and get warm, the spiced holiday drinks below will do the trick.

 

Mulled Wine

While red wine is wonderful on its own and as an addition to many drinks, one of the best ways to enjoy this wine when the temperatures drop is mulled, as the spiced flavor not only tastes great, but serves to warm you up as well.

 

Don’t be intimidated if you’ve never made mulled wine before. This drink is extremely simple to make, only requiring you to heat red wine with some mulling spices. And you don’t need an expensive bottle of red wine for this drink to taste good. Even better? As the wine steeps with the spices, your house will be filled with a warm and lovely holiday scent!

 

Mulled wine is prepared a bit differently in different countries. For example, in Germany mulled wine is called Glühwein and it is occasionally made with fruit wine. In Scandinavia it’s called Glögg and is typically served with a spiced cookie or cake. And in Quebec, maple syrup and hard liquor are mixed in and it’s called Caribou. No matter how it’s made or what it’s served with, mulled wine is one winter holiday drink you want to be sure to make.

If you need a recipe, take it from us! This mulled wine recipe is perfect to get you started and is one you’re sure to love.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle heavy red wine, like merlot
  • 1 cup rum (optional)
  • 1/42cup sugar (or more), to taste.

 

for mulling spices:

  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star anise
  • 4 whole nutmegs
  • 10 cardamom pods
  • 2 tbsp orange zest
  • 2 tbsp allspice berries
  • 1 tbsp cloves

 

Directions: 

Combine the cider, wine, honey, cinnamon sticks, zest, juice, cloves, and star anise in a large saucepan, bring to a boil, and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Pour into mugs, add an orange peel to each, and serve.

 

Other Spiced Holiday Drinks to Try 

In addition to mulled wine, the three spiced holiday drinks below are perfect for holiday celebrations, as well as for treating yourself to a special (and well-deserved) beverage.

 

  1. PDT’s Gingerbread Man Recipe – King’s Ginger, a strong scotch-based ginger liqueur, is used in this cocktail to provide deep flavor, along with molasses, rum, and allspice bitters.

 

  1. Scotch Regency Punch – Cardamom and scotch blend together beautifully to provide a delicious holiday punch. For this drink, you’ll make cardamom simple syrup and mix it with a bottle of blended scotch, fresh lemon, and soda water.

 

  1. Jalisco Pear – Silver tequila, pear liqueur, allspice dram, and lemon combine to create a cocktail you’re sure to want to make again and again.

These holiday drinks are guaranteed to get you into the spirit of the season and make the cold weather much more appealing! Our team at Blue Plate wishes you a joyful holiday season and a cozy winter!

Impressive Holiday Hosting: How to Host a Spectacular Holiday Event

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fb_cover

The holidays are here! Each year, December and January are chock full of happy hours with coworkers, special dinners, and festive gatherings to mark the holiday season. If you’re planning a party of your own, here’s how to stand out from the crowd with creative, yet simple ideas to entice your guests.

 

Food: A global twist on a favorite

Holiday parties are a chance to spice things up. Our executive sous chef, Randal Jacobs, puts a worldly Christmas spin on an iconic, American hors d’oeuvre–the deviled egg. This creamy, half-moon treat actually traces its roots back to ancient Rome. Who knew?? Serve the traditional deviled delicacy alongside our four versions below with flavors from around the world. We’ll get your culinary juices flowing with a full recipe for one of the four variations on the holiday favorite.

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  • The Irish Devil with whole-grain-mustard-infused yolk with potato, bacon and chives.
  • Russian Deviled Egg, a red-beet-soaked egg with caviar and dill
  • Greek Deviled Egg with pesto, feta cheese and kalamata olives
  • Italian Deviled Egg with white-truffle-oil-infused yolk and prosciutto

 

Beverages: Iced and cozy options

Perfectly crafted, timeless cocktails, such as martinis and old fashioneds are always welcome at a party. But what about shaking things up a little with a wine cocktail? Check out these recipes from our mixologist, Lov Carpenter.

 

Wise Cabbie

1.5 oz cabernet sauvignon

0.5 oz pomegranate juice

0.25 oz lemon juice

0.25 oz sage syrup

 

Shake all ingredients with ice, strain into martini glass, garnish with sage sprig.

 

Oak and Stars

1.5 oz Merlot

0.75 oz bourbon

0.25 oz anise syrup

0.25 oz lemon juice

Whole cranberries

 

Muddle 4-5 cranberries with anise syrup. Add Merlot, bourbon, and lemon juice; shake with ice. Strain into old fashioned glass, add ice, garnish with speared cranberries and anise star.

 

Is the latest polar vortex chilling guests? Warm them up with a cozy, tea-infused beverage.

 

Ginger & Roy

1.5 oz brewed Rare Tea Cellar Gingerbread Dream rooibos tea

.5 oz Amaro Nonino

.25 oz Grand Marnier

Nutmeg-infused whipped cream

 

Brew tea, then add amaro and Grand Marnier. Top with whipped cream. To make whipped cream, prepare with bowl and whisk or combine heavy whipping cream and ground nutmeg in a shaker tin, add spring from strainer, shake vigorously.

 

Decor: Keep it simple and festive

  • Twinkle lights are a holiday season staple, but they’re not just for shrubs and light posts. Bring them inside your space and string white twinkle lights over the bar, buffet or dance floor to set the mood.
  • Purchase simple, yet festive greenery and berries from a wholesale flower market to dress up the bar, dinner table, or buffet. And don’t forget the mistletoe!
  • Invite guests to bring a holiday photo, decoration or stocking from their childhood and display them on the fireplace or above the bar. The most original memorabilia takes home a bottle of wine!

 

Music: Conversation backdrop or dance party?

First, ask yourself if your gathering will be more of the mix-and-mingle sort or if you expect guests to eventually hit the dance floor. Next, choose a band or a playlist. Yes! You’ve heard of bands instead of DJs at weddings, but what about live music at your holiday party? Depending on the mood you want to set, ask a trio of high school, college, or professional musicians to play at your cocktail party. If you want something a little more casual, invite a guitarist/vocalist to play holiday tunes and take requests. If you’re on a budget or crave the crooning of original artists, create a playlist so that you can easily select and organize songs to set the perfect backdrop for conversations all the way up to spirited spinning and twisting on the living room floor.

 

Activities: Ornament decoration or gift exchange

If your guests are the interactive, creative sort, designate an ornament- or cookie-decorating station. If children are in tow, set up a space for activities and crafts that will keep them engaged (err… occupied). Play-doh® (if you can stomach the cleanup) and Lego® building blocks are always a favorite among kids of any age. So set aside an area where young guests can create holiday sculptures, buildings and scenes so that parents don’t have to worry about bored kids. A viewing area for holiday movies completes the activities area.
Happy holiday party planning!

Making a Caterer-Approved Thanksgiving Spread

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thanksgiving-spread

Are you hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year? Whether this will be your first time having the honor of entertaining loved ones on this special day or you’ve been doing so for years, it can be…well…stressful.

Use some of the caterer approved tips to help take some of the pressure off by helping you put together a Thanksgiving spread that you’ll have fun putting together.

Planning Your Menu

Just because you are hosting Thanksgiving doesn’t mean you have to make every single dish yourself (and we don’t advise that you do). Figure out what parts of the meal you really love preparing and focus on only making those key dishes. For everything else, delegate.

For example, if you love making turkey but don’t exactly love baking, ask guests to bring dessert or order pies from your local bakery. What if your specialty is in creating savory side dishes but the mere thought of making the turkey causes you anxiety? We promise no one will mind if you order a turkey! And if you’d like some dishes catered, consider reaching out to your local caterer or a restaurant to see if they can work with your needs.

Mix it Up

While a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with sides like mashed potatoes and green bean casserole is always wonderful, don’t feel like you are required to be married to this type of menu. Feel free to mix it up by serving a combination of classic dishes or you can try bringing in unique fall flavors with roasted squash or some of our favorite fall comfort dishes.

Think about your guests and what you know they truly enjoy. Then see how you can incorporate their tastes and preferences into your menu.

Plan Like a Caterer

Read through all your recipes in advance to be sure you have everything you need and understand how long everything will take to make. Then determine what can be prepped and made ahead of time and what dishes can share the oven or stove so that you don’t leave everything for the day-of.

Do as much as you can before Thanksgiving, such as making desserts and appetizers, chopping vegetables, and, of course, thawing the turkey.

A general rule for a 12-16 pound turkey is to thaw for 3-4 days, 16-20 pounds: 4-5 days and 20-24 pounds: 5-6 days.

Keep Appetizers Simple

Simple dishes like artisan cheese plates, stuffed olives, and fresh vegetables served with hummus for dipping are quick to put together, look lovely, and – most importantly – are both easy to eat and tasty.

Be sure to have appetizers (and beverages) ready to go when guests arrive. It will give them a chance to mingle while keeping their hunger at bay and allow you to calmly put the finishing touches on everything.

Be Prepared to Send Guests Home With Leftovers

Don’t forget to have containers ready for packing up leftovers to send with your guests on their way out. Not only will guests feel cared for, but you won’t be stuck having to eat turkey for the next week!

For additional Thanksgiving Day inspirations, check us out on Instagram at @blueplatechicago.

Happy Thanksgiving from Blue Plate Catering!