Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Choosing the Right Catering Menu for a Special Occasion

When planning a special occasion, one of the first dilemmas is what to feed your guests. You may decide to cater the party yourself, or alternatively forego the stress and hire and catering company to the hard work for you. Either way, the menu decision is often a critical factor on the success of your evening! Guests are often happiest when there’s an abundance of delicious food and drink on offer.

There are types of food which should be avoided for certain occasions. For example, the food and drink choices for a baby shower would be very different to that of a wedding party. Consider the atmosphere you’d like to create with your chosen menu; is it a formal sit-down occasion with wine and gourmet courses, or is it simply background eating finger food whilst other activities are undertaken?

Informal Catering


The classic BBQ menu is simple to create and loved by many. BBQs have a relaxing and laid back nature, and the chosen food should reflect this. Buffet style eating where guests can help themselves to meat, rolls and buns, salads and other accompaniments. BBQs are the ultimate in chilled out eating. Traditional BBQ meats are chicken, beef burgers, and sausages. Typical sides are coleslaw, potato salad, and pasta.

Garden Party

Similarly to the classic BBQ, a garden party is extremely informal and usually a buffet style affair. If you don’t want to stand over a grill whilst your guests eat, try preparing a roast beforehand, which can then be served with cold sides like potato and pasta salads.

Formal Catering

Formal Reception

A more formal event like an Anniversary or milestone birthday party may call for more formal dining arrangements. If you expect a large number of guests, it may be simpler to call in outside help in the form of a specialist caterer. If not, creating the dishes beforehand will ensure you are left ‘relatively’ free to enjoy the party. Create meals which can be easily reheated and served and when guests arrive. A formal event may require a buffet style setup, or for more special events a sit down meal. If the latter, don’t forget to create a simple starter, wholesome main, and delicious dessert!

Choosing your perfect menu can be tricky, depending on the guests you’re expecting, and the type of event you’re holding. Remember to cater for special eating requirements, and it’s always a good idea to have a second option in case guests don’t like your main dishes!

Leeds Seventeen are an award winning restaurant based in Yorkshire, England. As well as hosting weddings and events, they serve delicious English food in their contemporary restaurant. They are currently preparing their Christmas menu. For more information, you can visit them, here: Christmas Party Leeds

Monday, September 26, 2011

Why and How To Make Your Own Soda

Have you ever thought about the cost of buying soda from the supermarket? Every year we spend hundreds of millions of dollars on cans and bottles that we then need to spend millions more to dispose of. Wouldn't it be easier if we could make our own soda at home? Not only would this help our bank balance but it would also reduce the load on the environment. Luckily it's very simple to do this. Sodas are made by a process called carbonation which is what adds the fizzy bubbles to your drink.

What You Need

At its simplest carbonating water requires a seltzer bottle which can hold a couple of liters of water. You will also need a charger that contains pressurized CO2. Put the two together and you end up with sparkling water. Of course this just gives you access to plain fizzy water but what if you want a more interesting drink? That's when it's time to consider a machine that is made specifically for the purpose of carbonating drinks.

A Home Carbonation Machine

There are many companies that make these machines such as Everpure and Sodastream. One of the advantages is that you can have access to a wide range of flavors and basically customize your own soda. These usually include diet flavors and caffeine free flavors and you can also get them without artificial sweeteners and with less sugar, sodium and carbohydrates than the carbonated drinks you buy at the supermarket. In addition, a home soda maker requires no plumbing or electricity -- and you never run out of the drinks you love the most.

The Perfect Blend

One of the great things about carbonating your own drinks is the ability to choose just the amount of fizz or flavor you want. Never again will you have a drink that is too flat or that tastes a little bit bland. You can experiment until you find the perfect mix or check out the multiple home carbonation flavor recipes available online. Some home carbonation machines also have water filters available so that you can get your water is pure as possible.

Finally, going back to the environmental benefits, home carbonation machines make a difference because you can reuse the bottles and the CO2 canisters. Instead of having to send cans or bottles off for recycling, all you do is exchange CO2 canisters to be refilled and use the bottles whenever you need a drink for up to 2 years. That's a much longer shelf life than the average soda can or bottle. So, not only do you get your perfect drink, but you can do your bit for the environment too.

Sharon Hurley Hall writes for Eden Springs, the UK’s No.1 supplier for water cooler hire. Eden Springs provides certified carbon neutral water - the first in the UK to do so. Eden Springs is currently offering Sodastream soda makers with hire contracts.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Easing into a Vegetarian or Vegan Diet Almost Painlessly

Many families and individuals are interested in switching from a primarily meat-and-potatoes type of diet to a vegetarian or even vegan diet. The health benefits are enormous, ranging from lowered cholesterol to increased energy. While the initial transition to a new diet can be difficult, there are many ways to replace meat and dairy products in your favorite meals. Cooking meals you love in a vegetarian or vegan style with meat substitutes can help curb cravings and get you on the right track towards your new diet. You can even increase savings depending on the kinds of replacements you buy and what type of meats you are eliminating.

There are a handful of meals that are easy to transition for a meat-free diet. Lasagna, for example, is typically prepared with layers of lasagna noodles, cheese, sauce and ground beef. Replacing the ground beef with tofu and spinach can taste wonderful and still make a hearty meal for the whole family. If you’re trying to cut eliminate dairy products, you can eliminate the cheese all together or find a vegan cheese substitute for your meal. Tacos are another meal that is easy to prepare without the use of meat. Processed meat replacements are available, along with the use of beans. Trying different combinations can help you prepare delicious meals without the use of any meat.

If you are interested in pursuing a vegan diet, you may have difficulty also avoiding milk and other dairy products. Luckily, there are a variety of milk substitutes that taste great and are cruelty-free. Almond milk is a nice choice for many people since it tastes slightly sweet and works great in recipes that call for milk. Many vegans and vegetarians are fond of soy milk, and its ready availability in most stores makes it a very popular option.

Trying to find substitutes for your favorite food can be a very helpful way to transition from a meat-based diet. Instead of thinking that you can never enjoy ice cream again due to a new vegan diet, you can look out for blends that have been made just for vegans. The number of vegetarians and vegans in the world is growing significantly, allowing you to enjoy a much broader range of products from which to choose.

Switching to a diet full of plants and other forms of protein rather than meat and dairy products is not only good for your body, it’s also a wonderful change for the environment. Taking the time to find different food and drinks free of animal by-products and meat will ease the transition and reduce habit-induced cravings. As you browse through the safe products, you will likely notice that many of the items available allow you to prepare similar meals as before. Soy milk, tofu and meat replacements can easily fit into recipes you typically follow, so that cravings aren’t difficult to tackle. By researching the substitutes that are available, you can begin following a healthy vegetarian or vegan diet and be well on the way towards a healthier body.

Article written by Sara Woods, a writer for Coupon Croc; Visit us for Argos discounts to save on health supplements, kitchen appliances, and everything you need to maintain a healthy diet.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ten Fantastic Restaurants You Could Own

As time progresses, some people can begin to feel that their lives have begun to stagnate. In these instances, new and exciting opportunities – especially in the world of business – are a great way to help you find new direction. One great way to embrace change and development is to own a restaurant. Here is a list of ten fantastic restaurants which you could own:

1. French Attraction

As the centre of high-class cuisine, France is the perfect location for anyone committed to starting their own restaurant. Great restaurant opportunities include top-class restaurant establishments within the Dordogne region of Southern France. One such example comes complete with thirty seven acres of beautiful landscape and is priced at around €2,000,000 (just over £1,750,000).

2. Californian Dream

Sun and glamour await restaurateurs who embrace the Californian dream. With great venues available on Sunset Boulevard, situated within West Hollywood, there are a great business opportunities to be enjoyed. One example includes a 5,000 square foot property, which was established in 1947 and offers fine dining.

3. Spanish Variety

If you are interested in something a bit more varied then this type of venture could be the perfect opportunity. A new complex in the Spanish island Menorca has six themed restaurants for sale and plans for further development. Priced at nearly €5,000,000 (just under £4,500,000), these units comply with EU regulations and are constructed primarily from English sourced materials.

4. English Retreat

Restaurants don’t have to be situated on land and floating venues are a great way to offer a unique dining experience. This great Thames based floating venue costs £2,600,000 and supports a capacity of 1,000 people. It has two separate dining areas and additional bars.

5. Australian Sunshine

The Australian city of Sydney is a bustling hive of activity. With a great establishment situated within the Blue Mountains on sale for over £2,600,000, there is a real opportunity for an ambitious young restauranter. This particular property seats up to 150 guests in a 325 square metre venue that has won multiple awards in the past.

6. Thai Paradise

The bustling city of Bangkok is home to a number of great restaurants all of which provide great opportunities for budding businessmen and women. A great establishment just outside of the busy centre is currently on the market for just over £300,000. An idyllic and peaceful location, this is perfect for a unique dining venture.

7. Mexican Flavour

Mexico is well known for its sensational food, combining sharp flavours with bright colours for excellent cuisine. With a commercial property on the market in Quintana Roo for just over £350,000, this would be the ideal location for a restaurant or bar.

8. Italian Flair

Italy is the home of amazing food and culinary expertise. The Northwest region of Liguria offers great venues for restaurant development, and one such establishment is currently on the market for just under £1,500,000. A 16th Century Florentine building, the property has a 250 square metre terrace with views of the spectacular mountainous landscape surrounding it.

9. Alaskan Serenity

Alaska has great restaurant venues available such as the one situated alongside the Sterling Airstrip. Currently styled as a 1950s themed cafe, this property, costing just under450,000 US Dollars (under £300,000), comes complete with six acres of stunning views. Located near world class fishing rivers, this restaurant could be developed into a truly great establishment.

10. Canadian Class

Canada is a beautiful landscape and home to a number of thriving restaurants. The region of Ontario boasts an amazing opportunity for a budding restaurateur, with an award-winning restaurant for sale at a price of around £1,100,000. The property has been established for nineteen years and has an indoor seating capacity of 180, with an additional 54 seats in the outdoor patio.

Rachel is a business blogger currently on the lookout for restaurants for sale.

Expand Your Culinary Repertoire by Cooking Over Fire Pits

Did you know you can turn your backyard's fire pit into a grill? All you need is an inexpensive grill grate to place over the top of the pit and you'll be ready to grill in style. With their large size, fire pits make great grills. Whether you're grilling up kabobs, hot dogs or steaks, cooking over a fire pit is a great way to enjoy your backyard.

Choose the Right Wood for Fire Pits

Standard grills utilize charcoal for cooking, but when it comes to fire pits, using wood is a very popular method for grilling. This will give your cookout some old-fashioned character, not to mention add delicious flavor to the food.

Experiment with different types of wood, as each will give a different flavor to your food. Whether you choose hickory, maple, oak or another type of wood, you can be certain that any food cooked on a fire pit will be delicious and juicy.

Get Grilling With Your Fire Pit

You can use your fire pit just like you would use any other grill. If you want to start simple, stick with grilling hotdogs. Grill the hotdogs over the fire pit the exact same way you would over a traditional grill. Be sure to rotate the hotdogs with tongs as they grill. If you used wood in your fire pit, you'll be pleased with the unique flavor the wood gives hot dogs. You'll never go back to a traditional grill again!

Once you're comfortable grilling over your fire pit, give yourself a cooking challenge. One of the best aspects of grilling over a fire pit is using wood, which gives the food a distinct, smoky flavor. Think of all the restaurants you've been to that grill their meats over apple wood or some other type of wood. This trend is all the rage right now in the grilling industry, and you can achieve the very same taste with the meats you grill over your fire pit.

Impress Your Friends with Fire Pits

Before you know it, your friends will think of you as a culinary genius after they've sampled the foods cooked on your fire pit. Remember to keep your fire pit clean. Just like with a traditional grill, you need to scrub down your grill grate and clean the ashes out of your fire pit after each use. But the extra work is worth it once you see how great it is to have a fire pit in your backyard.

Not only does a fire pit add a warm quality to your backyard, but it also can make your backyard feel like an outdoor oasis. Add some nice patio furniture and hanging baskets of flowers and you'll be ready to wine and dine your family and friends. Just don't be surprised when they want to come back for dinner every night.

Post by guest blogger Stephanie Kalina-Metzger, a writer who enjoys blogging about fire pits.

How To Buy Wine Online

Whether you have a birthday, engagement, wedding or simply want to celebrate without need for specific reason, the Internet has become the best place to start organising. There’s now no longer a need to rush around to find a friend who can DJ or speak to your next door neighbour who happens to be supremely fast at putting together a buffet of sandwiches and sausage rolls. Everything can be done in a sophisticated and efficient way without breaking the bank. One of the hardest aspects of organising any event has always been ordering the food and drink. Being able to select the right food and beverages that suits everybody’s tastes it almost impossible. That’s why I put together this handy little guide which outlines how to buy wine online. This guide will help to avoid any last minute dash to the supermarket where you’ll end up struggling to fill your car boot with low quality and high priced wines.

1: Think About Your Food

As we all know, a fine wine to match a great meal is memorable. It’s pointless serving up a wine that does not compliment your meal and thankfully you don’t have to be a wine connoisseur to find out which wines match which foods. The best place to start is by looking online at cookery websites or YouTube videos. Type into ‘wines that match...’ and then list your food. It’s a quick and easy way to find the wine you’re looking for! Generally, red wines tend to have a deeper, heavier taste than sweet white wines.

2: Have A Quantity In Mind

If you’re planning a romantic meal, you may only need to find one or two bottles of fine French wine. Whereas if you’re planning a larger scale event with more attending, you need to think about what’s best for your budget. Most people are unable to afford vintage wines in large quantities so it may be more suitable looking for companies that offer mixed wine cases or discounts on large orders. When you order wine online, the wine merchant’s website should have a page dedicated to mixed case wine offers.

3: Select Your Vintage

A vintage refers to the year the wine was produced. Due to varying weather conditions each year, some years are better for wine production than others. In more recent times, 1990 was a great year for wine production and may be a good choice if you want to impress for a particularly special occasion. It’s a common misconception that older wines are the best. This is not true as they may have been produced in a low quality vintage. All wine merchant websites should provide the vintage date within their product description.

4: Customer Reviews

A quality wine merchant website should offer information on customer reviews. These are usually listed below each product. Not only should you use customer reviews to help you choose which website and company to order from, but you may also find out useful information about the wine itself and occasions that the wine is suitable for.

5: Wine Delivery

The best thing about ordering wine online is that you don’t have to worry about going to collect and lift large cases of wine. An online wine merchants should offer you several different options at checkout and for more expensive purchases, particular those of premium vintages, a courier service and a money back guarantee should anything arrive broken. Always be sure to check the estimated delivery date for the wine in case you are running on a tight deadline, as some premium vintages may have to be withdrawn from their larder.

Scott Cole is a writer who loves nothing more than letting words flow to paper smoother than red wine from a decanter.

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More