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In the Kitchen with Blue Plate Catering: Jams

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Photo credit: Blue Plate Catering

Photo: Blue Plate Catering

 

It’s the refrigerator staple reminiscent of childhood lunches, the token condiment of late-night diners, and the tasty culmination of summertime berry harvests. Whatever you call it — jam, jelly, fruit preserves — the reduction of whole fruit into a spreadable delicacy is the ingredient you didn’t know your life needed until it’s dolloped atop buttermilk pancakes, slathered with peanut butter or spread on toast.

Jam adds natural sweetness to dishes and follows a simple recipe: fresh fruit cooked down with sugar, pectin and acid for consistency if needed. Jams can take savory spins using ingredients such as onion and tomatoes, or fresh herbs, bacon and even peppers. The list is endless.

At Blue Plate, we like to go outside the ordinary with our jams by combining savory with sweet ingredients such as our peach tarragon jam or our strawberry balsamic jam. And we like to think about creative ways to present it. With summer approaching, check out our tips below for incorporating your favorite jam into your next menu or party.

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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!

5 Fourth of July Party Food Ideas

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We’ve selected five yummy food ideas that are perfect for the occasion – whether to serve as a host, or to bring as a guest at someone else’s party.

4th of July Party Ideas

 

  • Patriotic Smoothies (or Popsicles)

Layered red, white, and blue smoothies and popsicles are healthy, refreshing treats that have “patriotic celebration” written all over them. Both are fresh tasting and delicious, and are sure to be enjoyed by everyone. Make the smoothies, or popsicles, or go crazy and make both!

 

  • Star Chips and Fruit Salsa

Make homemade cinnamon sugar star chips from tortillas with a star-shaped cookie cutter. Serve with a festive fruit salad made with strawberries,
blueberries, and apples to dip the chips into. Simple, light, and flavorful!

 

  • Red, White, and Blue Sangria

Sangria is a drink that’s enjoyed all summer long. For Fourth of July, whip up a batch of Red, White, and Blue Sangria, made with strawberries, blueberries, and pineapples. To make this sangria even more festive, use a star-shaped cookie cutter to make pineapple stars.

 

  • Patriotic Salad

Creating a Red, White, and Blue Salad goes well with any meats, making it a perfect dish for a Fourth of July BBQ. In this salad, strawberries, blueberries, cucumbers, and fresh mozzarella pearls combine beautifully with red apple balsamic vinegar. You can also add mint or basil for even lovelier
flavor.

 

  • Flag Fruit Pizza

For a dessert that will wow your guests (or the guests at the party you’ll be attending), make this scrumptious Flag Fruit Pizza. With a sugar cookie dough crust (a ready-made pie crust can also be used), a “sauce” made from a mix of cream cheese, powdered sugar, and frozen whipped topping, and patriotic colored fruits to top it off, we’re certain there won’t be any leftovers of this pizza!

For your summer catering needs, reach out to Blue Plate today! We’d love to learn about your event and help out!