Tag Archives: menus

Party time

28 Jun

Today was another fun catering gig. It’s getting more and more exciting getting these parties to cook for really makes me feel like culinary school was worthwhile. Today was a Christening for 75 at my client’s house. The menu was changed and debated more times than I’d care to discuss, but the end product was fantastic.

The menu was simple:

Veggies and Hummus

Carrots, celery, red peppers and cucumber with hummus

Spinach Artichoke Dip

Spinach and artichokes in a creamy Parmesan sauce served with baguette and pita chips

Stuffed Mushrooms

Baby portabellos stuffed with crab, spinach, breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese

and a vegetarian option with herbs, mushrooms, and Parmesan cheese

Cucumber Sandwiches

Thinly sliced cucumber with herbed borsin cheese on white bread

Napa Chicken Salad

Poached chicken with grapes, celery, and walnuts in a creamy herb dressing. Served on sourdough bread

Spanish Style Ham Sandwiches

Ham and manchego cheese with roasted red peppers and garlic aioli on italian bread

Americana Turkey Wraps

Turkey, lettuce, tomato and cheddar cheese wrapped with a cranberry mayo

Spinach Salad

Baby Spinach with strawberries, candied walnuts, and blue cheese crumbles with a poppy seed vinaigrette

Caprese Pasta Salad

Curly pasta with basil, tomatoes, mozzarella and red onion with a balsamic dressing


Pineapple, coconut, marshmallow, and orange segments tossed in a sweet dressing

I was a little nervous about this party. I had just come off of another party that had a very different execution. You know when you do the same things over and over how they become second nature? Well, in my business nothing really repeats itself.

I feel like every time I do a party I learn something else and every time it’s a new experience. It really is a great thing. I know I’ll never get bored dealing with new clients or seeing the looks on people’s faces when they taste the food. Anyway that’s a tangent I could take all day.

The party started for me the night before making some of the salads and dressings. I finished things the next morning at the client’s house and had my timing just right. The biggest hit at the party were the stuffed mushrooms, and the ham sandwiches. Here are the recipes:

Stuffed Mushrooms

1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1 pound crab meat (I use leg meat)
Juice of 1 lemon
1 clove of garlic
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil plus 3 more for drizzling
2 pints button mushrooms, stems removed

Combine all the ingredients except the mushrooms in a bowl. Stuff each mushroom with the filling and press down. Arrange the mushroom caps on a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

The secret to the ham sandwiches was the mayo. It was a garlic and smoked paprika mayo. Although I didn’t make the mayo base, I did roast the peppers and the garlic. And it made all the difference. This was layered with ham off the bone and manchego cheese and was packaged on ciabatta bread. Not only did they fly off the platter, people were asking for more. Too bad my clients wanted more chicken salad and less of everything else!

I can’t wait for the next party and more opportunities to have fun cooking!

Always thinking of the next meal (and party)


The Anatomy of a Tailgate

24 Sep

This weekend is the Penn State/Iowa at Penn State. And while I can’t claim to be as big of a college football fan as my mom, brother, and husband, but if you’ve been reading my blog you know that I never pass up an opportunity to party down.

So I wasn’t formally asked to cater this event, but I was asked to bring a few things. It made me start thinking that a checklist would be a good thing to have on hand for future planning. My brother sent me a Excel spreadsheet, but unfortunately it just had the amounts of things everyone was bringing and not what they were bringing. So below is a “tailgate must-have” list:


Grill (at least one, but the more the merrier)
Music maker, i.e. ipod and speakers, boom box, car radio
table (any kind of flat surface off the ground counts for this, including the hood of a car)
chairs (this is not so necessary but a nice luxury)
Paper products; paper towels, paper plates, plastic forks, knives, etc.
tongs and spatulas for the grill
*if you wanna get fancy, bring some sharp knives, and maybe some spoons and other kitchen-y things you might need like a cutting board

Ok so tailgate food is a one of those things that can ultra impressive of extra basic. It can range from huge porterhouse steaks, to gas station subs. Both have their merit, and I don’t know anyone who would pass up either. The key to choosing a tailgate menu is comfort. Ask yourself what you are comfortable eating outside and what you are comfortable making. For me a tailgate is not the time to try that coq au vin recipe that’s been burning a hole in my cookbook. But that’s just me…I like to go middle of the road with burgers and dogs.

Other things to consider:IMG_0848

Will you have electricity? You might need that for you music generator or the karaoke machine

If using a charcoal grill, do you have charcoal?

Propane grill, uh do you have enough propane?

Do you have matches or other grill lighting devices?

What about ice? Do you like cold beer? Then you need ice. A cooler or large container also helps with this.

Bottled water is another good thing to have on hand. You wash things with it, fill a vase and decorate your tailgate area, freeze it and keep other things cool, use it to put out a small fire, and if it’s clean enough, you can drink it.

Below is the menu (that I know of) for this weekend’s tailgate festivities.

Software (food):

Burgers and Dogs with ketchup and mustards (super low key)
Kielbasa with onion and apple relish (a little more fancy)
chips and more chips
apple, cheddar, walnut salad with roasted apple vinaigrette
apple celery seed slaw
cheese curls
Buffalo Chicken Dip: 1 lb roasted chicken shredded and mixed with 1 bottle of bleu cheese dressing and 1/4-3/4 cup of you favorite hot sauce
celery sticks
Grilled naan pizza, the topping was leftover pot roast from the London Broil post with a horseradish cream sauce (yum)
assorted desserts

Seriously this menu is all over the place and that’s ok. Don’t let any OCD tendencies get in the way of a relaxing weekend. But the star of the show has yet to be mentioned… alcohol. Let’s face it. The truth is that a tailgate is just a fantastic excuse to drink and have a great time with friends. Have fun, but be responsible. (Sorry I had to say it) Cheap beer is traditional, but why not jazz it up and get some good boxed wine, yes there is such a thing. Or go to a Wegmans and make a mixed 6 pack. Try something new. Just be sure to know if you are allowed to have glass on the party property or if you need to stick to plastic and cans.

Most importantly let loose and have fun. Football season is short so even if the tailgate is in your own driveway, party it up and cheer for Penn State! (or your favorite team)

Always thinking of the next meal