Posts Tagged ‘BBQ’

A Perfect (and Affordable) Soirée

July 7, 2010

It’s that time of year when you just want to be outside in a summer dress — flipping burgers and sipping a refreshing drink with your friends and family.  Setting up a summer BBQ party can be easy on your wallet AND stress-free so you can enjoy your party with your guests.  Here are my top 5 tips for planning your fabulous summer soirée:

 1)  Buy party decorations off-season. The best time to buy colorful and affordable party table items is after a holiday or summer season when the items are on sale and clearance.  Pick up some reusable (plastic) glasses from your local party goods store.  They won’t break and are dishwasher safe, making for easy clean up.  Often you can find the glasses in a variety of colors and use them for parties year-round.  You can even set up the glasses as centerpieces and add some flowers.

Acrylic Stacking Double Old-Fashioned Glasses from Crate and Barrel

2)  Use what you own. If you already have paper plates and plastic utensils in your home, use them up before buying new supplies.  Take a bright-colored paper napkin, wrap it around a plastic fork, knife and spoon, tie it up with another color ribbon and display the finished utensil sets in a basket with your paper plates.   

Courtesy of The Hip Hostess

3)  Buy a grill pan.  For those of us living in NYC, it’s often a challenge to find an outdoor area to BBQ.  To get the full summer dinner experience, I turn to my handy, non-stick grill pan to do the trick. Most grill pans cost less than $40 and will last forever (or close to it).  The grill pan cooks food quickly, requires little clean up and is a healthy way to prepare food.



4)  Don’t spend hours cooking food for your party.  Grill up some sliders, chop up some burger toppings, grill some veggies (like asparagus) and buy a few prepared items, i.e. potato salad, cole slaw and chips.  Just throw a few small burger patties on the grill pan next to a few thin slices of onion and you’re on your way to a delicious meal.  You can even toast the buns on the pan!  Set up the dinner items buffet or family style and let your guests dig in!  If you are looking for some yummy grilling recipe ideas, check out Cooking Light’s “Budget-Friendly Grilling Recipes.”  

Courtesy of

5)  Make a party drink.  You can often save on costs if you mix up a large pitcher (or a clean vase!) with an icy cold drink. It’s fun to pick a signature drink for your party… and you can even name your drink, i.e. Pink Party Punch or Sunny Summer Sangria.  You don’t need to go out and buy a full selection of drinks if you have a signature drink and some wine and beer available for guests.  One of my favorite restaurants, Parlor Steakhouse, makes an Arnold Parlor, part iced tea vodka, part lemonade.  You can make your own at home!  Just mix up a pitcher of sweet tea vodka,  lemonade and ice to go with your summer dinner.  Then sit back and enjoy… 


What Will You Be Eating Next Year?

January 29, 2010

The Fancy Food Show just wrapped up at the Moscone Center in San Francisco Tuesday, showcasing just about anything you might put in your mouth.  Over 250,000 products were exhibited, including cheese, coffee, snacks, spaces and much much more.  Thanks to Greg Sabin who attended and posted some of the highlights at this year’s show.

SlowCow Smooth Drink

The fizzy, bubblegum-flavored drink features a comatose looking cow on its label and seems to be marketing itself as an antidote to energy drinks like Red Bull. The makers claim that it’s like an acupuncture session in each can. I don’t know about you, but I’m not crazy about picturing myriad sharp needles when I’m putting something into my mouth.


Bacon, Bacon and More Bacon

Who doesn’t like bacon? Featured at the show this year were smoky treats like Sir Francis Bacon’s Peanut Brittle, bacon flavored pretzels, and, get this, bacon envelopes.

That’s right, J&D’s Foods, maker of Bacon Salt and Baconnaise, brings you bacon flavored envelopes. Called “mmmvelopes,” the things actually do taste like bacon when you lick them, and feature a fanciful pink and white exterior reminiscent of a nice marbling of fat.


Fartless Chili

The Fartless Factory in Idaho claims that their chili lacks most of the gaseous output of regular chili. Do they have any empirical evidence? No, but the owner casually refers to himself as “The Old Fart,” and whether his chili makin’s deliver on his gasless promise or not, you’ve got to like a business owner with a sense of humor.


Watermelon Wheat Beer

Brewed by 21st Amendment Brewery in San Francisco and called “Hell or High Watermelon Wheat Beer,” this brew is just flat-out bizarre: fruity and yeasty and hoppy and watermelony. It may be a good gateway beer for light beer drinkers, or fruity drink lovers, but a bit of a departure for those who would rather sip on IPAs and stouts.


Quirky Combinations

Earth & Vine Provisions, a small jam and sauce maker from Loomis, CA, figures that if you like bananas and oranges and jalapenos and mustard and garlic, you’ll like them all at the same time. And, for the most part, they’re right. Their apricot-pineapple-tangerine jam is delicious, and so is their blueberry-lemon-ginger. Their chipotle-honey-lime mustard is great on pretzels, and their banana-rum-pineapple jam is killer on ice cream.  However, I’m not sold on the spicy apple garlic jam.


Funni Bonz Barbeque Sauce

Classic Marketing. With over 80,000 products at the Fancy Food Show, you’ll try anything to get noticed. Funni Bonz goes for the old “crazy spelling trick,” which probably isn’t even necessary since their ridiculously good sauces speak for themselves.


Hippie Chips

Hippie Chips, however, goes for the other classic: “sex sells.” While they claim that the “hippie” label refers to their all-natural baked potato and hemp seed chips, it equally applies to the impossibly hourglassed ladies on their bags of chips. These girls make Barbie look as curvy as a fencepost.

Cheese Honey

The Savannah Bee Co. markets its honey not by variety—wildflower, orange blossom, etc.—but by what they think goes well with it. Hence, Cheese Honey, Grill Honey, and Tea Honey. Sure, they sell regular honey too, but the pairing idea is rather genius when you think about it. The one thing to look out for is a consumer expecting a big chunk of Roquefort floating in his honey pot.


The Jelly Belly Motorcycle

OK, this one isn’t edible, but I had to include it. Jelly Belly is one of the most popular candy brands in the country. I’m sure they’re comfortable putting their logo on just about anything. But I fail to see what audience they’re going after with the Jelly Belly low-rider motorcycle. I just can’t picture myself putting on my leathers and pulling out with the local Harley gang on my candy orange hog.

“The Food and Drink of Scotland”

Not exactly famous for their culinary prowess, the Scottish are trying to remake their image somewhat. A Scottish trade group had a large, sleek booth at the FFS and was telling anyone who would listen about their edible bounty. While no one is claiming that the Scottish are nipping at the gastronomic heels of the French—Gordon Ramsey be damned—a case can be made for the really fantastic ingredients that come out of Scotland: angus beef, Pacific salmon, shellfish, and, lest we forget, Scotch whiskey. Now pardon me while I go deep-fry a Snickers bar and watch Trainspotting.