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Looking Back at a Creative Outdoor Event with HMR Designs at Hudsonville Dahlia Farm

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It all started with a bride’s quest for dahlias.

 

Which is how we found ourselves on a bus one day last fall with Brittanie Navarro and the team from Blue Plate’s longtime partner and collaborator, HMR Designs. Destination: Hudsonville Dahlia Farm in Michigan for a farm-to-table lunch and flower-picking getaway. Brittanie wanted to host an informal lunch with the wedding planner using the farm as the backdrop, so she reached out to our team for inspiration. A simple menu request soon turned into a fully produced event; when people who cater events co-host events themselves, no opportunity is lost on the chance to create a memorable experience.

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In the Kitchen With Blue Plate: Spotlight on Strawberries

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Strawberry and Baby Arugula Salad, Photo: Blue Plate Catering

Strawberry and Baby Arugula Salad, Photo: Blue Plate Catering

When we think of summer’s pantry of ingredients, the dependable strawberry comes to the top of our list. With its vibrant red color, juicy texture and signature sweetness dotted with mild tartness, strawberries add dimension, flavor and color to a dish. They are also packed with the good-for-you stuff like vitamin c, potassium, fiber, folate and antioxidants making them both delicious and healthy; a culinary win-win. They are available year-round but summer is when they should truly be enjoyed, and using strawberries in your menu can be as easy as presenting them in a fruit tray to infusing them in your drinks. Read our chef tips from Chef de Cuisine Melissa Chickerneo on how to use one of our favorite summer ingredients.

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Pair Your Favorite Winter Foods with the Right Beer

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Winter Beer Pairings

Some of you may be well aware that wine isn’t the only beverage that pairs wonderfully with food. And some of you may be surprised to discover that beer also serves to greatly enhance a meal.

Whether you’re a veteran or novice when it comes to beer and food pairings, you’re sure to appreciate the tips and suggestions below for pairing delicious winter foods with the right beer.

Tips for Pairing Beer and Food

When the cold weather moves in, strong beers like barley wines, imperial stouts and monk-made Belgian ales are excellent choices for pairing with both savory, hearty dishes and sweet desserts. As a general guideline, you’ll want to determine if the beer and food flavors will complement or contrast one another. Then balance the intensity of both the beer and food.

Here are some additional tips to help you come up with the perfect pairing:

  • Sour beers work well with fatty cheeses

  • Hoppy beers tend to make foods seem spicier

  • Darker beers typically pair well with rich, heavy meals

  • Complementary flavors work well together. For example, brown ales/darker ales with roasted flavors go well with grilled foods that have similar roasted or smoked flavors.

  • Contrasting flavors also work well together, such as a sweet stout with a salty oyster dish.

  • It’s very important to match the intensity of the beer with that of the food. Otherwise, one will end up overwhelming the other.

Great Beer and Food Pairing Suggestions for Winter

Try some of these winter beer and food pairings, recommended by Epicurious.

  • Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale pairs well with blue cheese or a nutty pastry, like pecan pie. Contrary to its name, this barley “wine” doesn’t contain any grapes. However, it does have an elevated alcohol content, making it a strong and warming ale that’s perfect for winter.

  • Brauerei Aying Ayinger Celebrator, with flavors of cocoa, dark fruit, and brown sugar, pairs beautifully with roasted pork and chocolate desserts. This strong, malt-sweet lager was originally developed by German monks for consumption during Lent.

  • Stone Brewing Co. Imperial Russian Stout has flavors of coffee, anise, and cocoa, making it a great partner for brownies and other fudgy desserts, as well as duck, steak, and cream sauces.

Try out one or more of these pairings – or come up with your own – and let us know your thoughts! If you have any other tips for winter beer and food pairings, we’d love to hear them.

Top Fall Wedding Ideas

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Fall Wedding Ideas | Blue Plate Catering

With the weather often being more comfortable in the fall than in summer, and the beautiful fall foliage that provides the perfect backdrop for outdoor weddings and pictures, it’s no wonder that fall is increasingly becoming the season of choice for weddings.

If you’re planning a fall wedding, get some inspiration from the fall wedding ideas below:

  • Start with a menu that is seasonally inspired. Fall foods provide comfort while taking advantage of the bounty of garden fare that is available. Think of incorporating meats with paired sauces, creamy soups and bisques, and fresh, garden-inspired fare. Add popular fall pies to your dessert selection such as the classic apple pie or a pie featuring your favorite berry.

 

  • Feature a special autumn drinks menu that includes beverages like apple cider mimosas, maple bourbon cocktails, hot toddies, and hot spiked ciders, as well as an array of flavored coffees for after dinner. Our “My Favorite Godfather”  with amaro, scotch and chocolate bitters is the perfect example of creatively layering fall flavors into a unique cocktail experience.
Godfather Cocktail | Blue Plate Catering

Blue Plate Catering

  • Choose rich fall colors to use throughout your décor, such as brick, dark green, cranberry, and charcoal gray to add depth to your wedding décor. Deep jewel tones of amber, emerald, sapphire, and garnet create an exceptionally elegant atmosphere. And, if it suits your style or theme, don’t be afraid to incorporate unanticipated fall colors like light or hot pink.

 

  • Take advantage of the gorgeous scenery and use elements provided by nature in your décor, including twigs, leaves, and flowers. For a lovely color and texture contrast, add fall leaves to your bouquet. Or place a green garland in an entryway for the ceremony for guests to enjoy upon entering.
Tablescapes | Blue Plate Catering

Amy Aiello Photography

  • For a truly romantic fall setting, accent main colors like merlot and rust with shades of cream. Instead of trying to precisely match colors, experiment with different tones and shades within your palette to attain a more authentic look and feel.

 

  • Create an assorted floral tablescape by grouping flowers, such as mustard-yellow ranunculus and pink roses, in clusters. Displayed in clear vases of various heights and sizes, this visual arrangement is colorful, romantic, and dreamy.

 

  • Wheat is another fantastic fall themed wedding decoration option. Create bundles of wheat to use for centerpieces or incorporate wheat into your bouquet — or both! If using in a bouquet, stems of wheat look especially lovely when added to cream and soft pink colored roses. Wrap in burlap, and you have an ideal fall wedding bouquet.

 

When it comes to fall weddings, there is an abundance of creative ideas from seasonally-inspired menus to unique tablescapes to choose from. Using these ideas to spark your imagination, be sure that, in the end, your personal style, taste, and personality shines through!

 

Find more inspiration at our Wedding Inspiration Pinterest Board!

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.