How to Cater a Tiny Texas Party

Tiny Texas Special Event Catering Ideas

Not everything catered is bigger in Texas but
it is all catered best in Texas!

Tiny Texas Special Event Catering Ideas

These Tiny Texas Special Event Catering menu ideas were created for a special event catering to welcome some very important out-of-town guests to a quick taste of Texas while meeting entire staffs of numerous departments on 3 different floors with a time limit of 15 minutes in each department. The food had to be quick to get, easy to carry, walk and talk with, and it had to coordinate with each departments décor and theme.

So to support the mission, we created a Tiny Texas Catering menu that addressed all the objectives: Eat a little something, meet the staff, and move on to the next department.

The first department selected an initial Welcome-To-Texas theme so their Tiny Texas Catering Menu was:

Tequila Lime Shrimp

We took our marinated shrimp, placed each one on its own little plate complete with creamy tequila lime sauce, and added a sprinkle of fresh chopped parsley. Having them all pre-plated allowed the client to simply pick one up, eat it and toss the tiny plate.

Tiny Texas Flatbread Pizza

Things are hotter in Texas! With a Dallas Cowboy themed department we created a Tiny Texas Flatbread Pizza similar to their Big D Flatbread. Grilled flatbread was layered with chunky tomato sauce, tiny pepperoni slices and mozzarella cheese. To add some Texas heat, we sprinkled those with sliced jalapeno and crushed red pepper flakes. These were cut into tiny squares to fit on tiny plates and small enough to pop in a mouth and move on to the next department.

Off to the next department which chose to serve:

catered dips in dallasTexas Caviar

This marinated bean dip was presented in hand made tiny tortilla cups. Each cup was filled with dip and put on its own tiny plate to be quick to pick up and eat.

Whiskey Palmer Punch

That famous blend of iced tea and lemonade and Texas Whiskey and served in tiny shot glasses. For decor, we surrounded the punch decanter with barbed wire.

One group requested more of a State Fair theme so we know fried something had to be included. We catered two appetizer items for this area:

Fried Jalapeno Mac and Cheese Bites

These were small enough to pop in a mouth, not to messy and still just the right amount of jalapeno to be Texan. With that, we had Tiny Soft Pretzels

Tiny Texas Soft Pretzels

Just like you’d see at the State Fair – only much smaller. Those were displayed in individual tiny “bowls” with just enough room to add mustard and let the client dip their pretzel, eat it and keep walking toward the next department.

Beef flights, similar to a wine tasting only with beer, created the theme for the next department. Since the guests were going to be offered a collection tiny samples of four to five beers, we catered more of a Texas Saloon theme catering menu and served:

Original Beer NutsAppetizer Catering Texas

These were displayed in a clear acrylic cowboy hat with small shot glasses to scoop the peanuts into so they could continue on their journey to the next department.

Bacon Caramel Popcorn

Our house made fresh popcorn which was tossed with peanuts and crumbled bacon, then in a maple caramel glaze.  We served this tiny clear mugs to resemble a beer mug to compliment the saloon theme. A successful beer-fest was had and then on to the next department.

The send-off was Cobbler. Tiny Peach and Cherry cobblers in tiny cups, with a tiny crust garnish and of course whipped topping.  Easy to carry and eat while headed down to the main floor, jump on the bus and head out to dinner.

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New Breakfast Catering Menu Item

best breakfast catering dallasOur new breakfast catering menu item:

Breakfast Pudding!

Need a new breakfast catering menu item for your next office breakfast meeting or to add to a traditional continental breakfast catering? Then try our new Breakfast Pudding.

Pudding for Breakfast you ask? You bet!

If you like yogurt, you’re going to love this!
If you like oatmeal, you’re going to love this!
If you like sweet creamy pudding, you’re going to love this!

We called it pudding because it’s thick and creamy sweet, just like pudding. It has a little bit of texture to it and you can add more crunch with granola, walnuts, pecans or almonds. We chose almonds.

Continental breakfasts are standard fare on breakfast catering menus featuring pastries, fruit and/or juices and coffee. Bagels and cream cheese, yogurt and granola are also popular office catering staples for a quick and easy business breakfast. Then, if you want to serve something hot, there is the typical hot breakfast catering menus featuring eggs, breakfast tacos, biscuit or croissant sandwiches, bacon, sausage, and breakfast potatoes, all common corporate breakfast catering options.

Now there’s something new to add to your next breakfast catering. Our new overnight oatmeal made with oats, sweet vanilla yogurt, milk, fruit and a sprinkle of slivered almonds makes a great choice too add to any continental breakfast or hot breakfast catering menu. It makes a sweet start to any morning!!!

Want to make it at home for yourself? Here’s a quick and easy recipe:

½ cup your choice of oats

½ cup milk, skim milk or soy milk

½ yogurt or Greek Yogurt

Fruit of your choice like strawberries, blueberries, raspberries or bananas

This makes about 9 oz. of pudding so in a bowl or container large enough to hold that, (or in a fancy parfait glass) place the raw oats in the container first, pour the milk or liquid of your choice over the oarts, then spoon the yogurt on top of the oat and liquid mixture. Layer the sliced or cut fruit on top of the yogurt, cover and put in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, wake up and know breakfast will be ready when you are, and simply uncover and if desired, top with granola or nuts and enjoy. Sweet, creamy and fabulous!

You can make S’more overnight oatmeal, mango cinnamon overnight oatmeal, peanut butter and jelly overnight oatmeal and a host of other combinations. Just about anything you like to eat can be used so, for more inspiraton, or more recipe ideas check out these recipes.

Catering with Egg Dishes

Catering with Egg Dishes

Catering with egg dishes can include menu items like quiche, frittatas or omelets. But, what really is the difference between these? They all use eggs and have some sort of other ingredients like vegetables, meats and cheeses mixed in or added and that’s about where the similarity ends. All of these provide a great way to use up left overs that may have otherwise been thrown away.

Catering with egg dishesQuiche

Quiche is an oven baked, savory, custard based pie with a pastry or potato crust with meats, vegetables and cheese blended in the egg mixture before baking. The custard portion is made from eggs and some sort of dairy, cream is the best however you can use milk or half and half, which is what creates the richness of a quiche. For a 9 inch pie, a perfect ratio for the custard would be 3 large eggs (6 ounces) to 1 ½ cup (12 oz.) dairy. Too many eggs will make the quiche rubbery. Simply blend the egg and cream, add the fillings and pour into the prepared crust or put the filling into the pie shell, pour the egg mixture over the filling and bake at 350-375 for 30-40 minutes or until there is still a little bit of wobble to the pie otherwise it will be dry and over cooked. Let it sit about 5 minutes before cutting. Quiche can be served warm or room temperature as a buffet item or plated breakfast.

Frittatascatering with egg dishes

These are started in a frying pan, most commonly a cast iron frying pan, and one that is oven-safe because the frittata will end up in the oven. If you don’t have a frying pan, you can use on oven-safe dish. For a 12 egg frittata, use about a 10” dish with deep sides. Like quiche, these have egg and some sort of dairy, either milk, sour cream, yogurt or some sort of full fat dairy lightly beaten with the egg.  The other ingredients are then mixed into the egg mixture and cooked in the skillet until set and then transferred into the oven to finish. If you’re adding cheese, shredded cheddar, gruyere or fontina will add a creamy melted cheese to every bite; ricotta or feta will provide bursts of flavor and Romano or parmesan provides a nice nutty flavor. The trick to making a frittata is to cook, sauté or heat the other ingredients being used prior to starting the egg portion since those may not get hot enough or cooked enough otherwise. Frittatas bake for about 20-25 minutes at 350° or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean with no runny egg visible. These can be served warm or room temperature on a buffet, or as a plated meal.

Omelet
catering with eggs

photo by ingredibleegg.org

An omelet is more of a fluffy almost scrambled egg dish made on the stove top. The extra ingredients are heated in a separate pan, and once the egg is set (kind of like a pan cake) the hot ingredients are placed in the center of the omelet and then the omelet is folded over those ingredients creating an “envelope” around the filling. A good ratio to use when making an omelet is 2 eggs to ¼ or 1/3 cup of filling. The filling can be meat, vegetables or cheese but none should be too chunky since an omelet is a bit delicate. The other differences with an omelet are these are usually made one serving at a time where quiche and frittatas serve a group, and, these are served hot right out of the skillet and can be a great action station at any catered breakfast.

 

Want help with your breakfast or brunch?

How Sweet Potatoes Can Be

New! Sweet Potatoes have joined our menu!

Aspen's Sweet Potato Medleyoffice catering meals dallasAspen Catering’s Signature Sweet Potatoes featuring our oven roasted sweet potato, tossed with crisp apples, brown sugar and a hint of onion

Aspen Catering’s Sweet Potato Medley has cubes of fresh sweet potatoes and new potatoes lightly seasoned and then baked to perfection.

Baked Sweet Potato – just like our traditional baked potato bar with butter, cheese, sour cream and chives. Or, for a more sweet option, chose honey, brown sugar and maple syrup to create your perfect potato.

More About The Sweet Potato

A wonderful food packed with health benefits like antioxidants, anti-inflammatory nutrients, and blood sugar-regulating nutrients. They have a high amount of vitamin A, and some research indicates the sweet potato may contain more beta-carotene than those famous green leafy vegetables we’ve been told to eat.  They also are a good source of vitamin C, B6, B1, B2, niacin, fiber and potassium and who doesn’t want more of all those?

Sweet potatoes can be orange, purple-fleshed or white fleshed. The orange colored are probably most common and typically called gold or have the word red in their title. Sweet potatoes should not be confused with yams though, in America, we use the name interchangeably, they are not the same! Yams are not nearly as available here as sweet potatoes and if your grocer is advertising yams, more than likely they are sweet potatoes. Since they can be the same color, don’t use that to determine if you’re buying a yam regardless of any sign. To buy true yams, you’ll probably have to shop a specialty store.

When shopping for sweet potatoes, select firm, bruise-free potatoes with no cracks or soft spots and those not in the refrigerated section. Sweet potatoes should be stored in a cool, dark well-ventilated place not above 60°F since anything cooler can alter their taste. They should last up to 10 days if stored correctly.

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10 Steps to Hosting Your Open House or Grand Opening

corporeate cateringIf your office has just moved, expanded or been updated, a great way to showcase your new address is with an Open House or Grand Opening. It’s a great way to be able to personally interact with your customers and vendors and provide a thank you for the support they’ve shown you. You really can only host this type of event once, so if you have a new address…show it off and have a party! Here are 10 steps to planning your special event!

  1. Contact Chambers of Commerce and Visitors Bureaus

Find out how they can help you plan and promote your Grand Opening. Consider including a or charity group you support now or find one to support. Community involvement is mutually beneficial to all – the charity, the community and you.

  1. Define Your Guest list which could include:

Clients, Customers and Prospects
Local dignitaries and VIP Guests
Media Contacts
Chamber and Bureaus members
Employees and their families
Vendors and supplies

Ask them if they can contribute something to this event.  They too, depend on you being successful in your business. Suggest they provide you promotional items to give your guest; maybe your printer will print the invitations at a reduced rate or free, maybe another vendor(s) will supply the catering or some of the catering. Ask what they can do or offer and try to incorporate that into your plan.

  1. Determine Your Budget:

Getting quotes and vendor donations will help you learn how much this will cost for things like:

Invitations and Postage
Food and Beverage Catering
Entertainment
Photographer or Videographer
Gifts or promotional pieces for guests
Decorations – could be flower arrangements, balloons, or a decorated table with promotional items for your guests with take away gift.

  1. Write Your Grand Opening Activities Schedule

Write down all the things you want to accomplish with the time it takes to do each one. Then , organize these in the order in which these will be conducted to calculate how long your event will be. Include things like:

Is there a ribbon cutting?
Will you have a tour of your facility?
Will there be speakers?
If so who are they, what will they talk about and how much time will they need.
Will there be drawings for prizes?

  1. Schedule Your Grand Opening

Consult with your Chambers and Bureaus about the time of day and what day of the week to actually have this event.  The list of scheduled activities might also help to decide the date and time of this event.

  1. Distribute Invitations and coordinate the RSVP’s

  2. Write your press kits and assemble packets and distribute to local news sources

  3. Announce your Grand Opening on all media and your website

  4. Conduct your Grand Opening and take photos!

  5. Thank your guests and share Grand Opening stories and photographs with them and your local media

 

Corporate Catering DFW
No time to do this all your self? Let a professional Caterer take care of all the details for you.

 

How To Plan Hors D’oeuvres or Appetizer Parties

crostini appetizer catering dfw Today, you hear these menu items used interchangeably but there truly is a difference between the two. Hors d’oeuvres are small bite-sized foods served before a meal. They can be hot or cold and are typically a more savory offering.  These should be something to eat before the dinner is served, but not be so filling that guests won’t eat the actual dinner.  Fruits, cheeses, dips, nuts and vegetables offer a light bite for your hungry guests without filling them up too much.

Appetizers on the other hand, technically are served at the table prior to the meal. They are also small in portion size and should complement the actual meal being served.  Items like soups, salads and shrimp cocktails would all be appropriate as a meal starter, or appetizer. Today, since both names are used to imply small bite sized food served prior to or as a meal we’ll consider them together. So, how much do you need? That all depends on a few factors:

     1. What time of day is the party?

    If you’re hosting an afternoon get together, the amount of food you need to offer would be less than if you were having your event at dinner time.

    If you’re hosting a cocktail party first, then the amount of food you need to offer would increase depending on how soon dinner will be served. For a one hour party, typically 4 – 5 bites per person would be appropriate. For a two hour party, because people will eat more the first hour than the second, you’ll still need the 4-5 bites and also about 2-3 more per person for the second hour so a total of 6-8 bites per person.

    2. How many types of appetizers?

    The number of people you’re expecting will determine how many different types of appetizers you should offer. A common mistake people make planning their menu is offering too many options with too small an amount of each. If 25 guests are attending, don’t plan on 15 different appetizers with only 10 bites each.  Limit the number of actual appetizers and make sure you have enough of each type for each of your guests. To help balance out your appetizer menu, plan on using one meat, cheese, vegetable or fruit, and a fish or shellfish item.

    3. How many bites per person?

If you’re hosing 25 -35 guests, plan 3-4 bites per person if a full dinner is to be served afterwards, or 5-7 bites per person if a lighter meal will be served. If you’re hosting a party of 50, then you can offer 6 to 9 different items.  Parties with over 60-75 guests can easily have 9 or more items without over doing it.

4. How long will the party be?

The length of the party will also be a determining factor in how much food to plan. The longer the party, the more food you’ll need. People will eat more the first hour and about half as much for the following hour so depending on when dinner is served, about 4-7 bites per person should be sufficient, depending on the how large the dinner is.  For a lighter dinner, plan more appetizers, for a full meal, plan fewer appetizers.  For example, for a cocktail hour for 25 people, you’ll need at least 100 total appetizer “pieces” or bites if a full meal follows.

5. Will alcohol be served?

Alcohol will always influence how much food should be served and always increases the quantity, almost doubling how much food you’ll need.  Again, the time of day and any dinner that might follow will determine how much to offer your guests so plan on more rather than less.

6. Are they being served before a meal, or as the meal?

Appetizers for dinner is becoming more common with action stations, carving stations and more hearty hors d’oeuvres allowing guests to mingle and mix and match their menu item choices.  If appetizers are replacing an actual dinner, then for a two hour party, the amount of appetizers needed to “replace” the amount of food a dinner would be requires about 18- 20 bites per person or 4 to 5 times as many if a meal were to be served.

Appetizer catering

July 4th Menu Inspiration

dessert catering strawberry pound cakeWith the heat of the summer, and July 4th right around the corner, it’s time for some Red White and Blue Menu inspiration. When creating your July 4th holiday menu, whether you’re grilling outdoors, roasting inside, going to friends or having them over, there are so many fun food ideas to bring to the party. Here are just a few…

With fresh fruits like raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and even watermelon, you can make some fun dessert foods, salad and beverages to jazz up your celebration.

Beverage Ideas

Watermelon Blueberry Mojitos – just sounds perfect for a hot summer afternoon

Red White and Blue Sangria – apples, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries then add a bit of bubbly

Red White and Blue Punch – perfect for the whole family!

Salad Ideas

Strawberry, Blueberries and Salad greens with honey Vinaigrette

Watermelon salad with Blueberries and Stars – jicama is the secret

And who doesn’t love feta on salads? Salad Greens, blueberries and strawberries all tossed with poppy seed dressing. Add some almonds or walnuts for a special treat.

Desserts

July 4th dessert ideas are endless. From cupcakes and cakes, to layered gelatin desserts, skewered fresh fruit, pies, tarts, candies and many many more!

One of our favorites is Strawberry Shortcake.  Adding fresh blueberries to your favorite shortcake is super easy to do. No time to bake? Add some whipped cream, fresh berries and serve with angel food cake slices, pound cake or just over your favorite ice cream!

Not in to sweets? Watermelon to the rescue! Skewer some fresh watermelon with honeydew, raspberries or strawberries and blueberries and you’ll have a centerpiece to enjoy later. The melons can be cut in different shapes like stars, cubes, circles or whatever shape you want. Once you’re done skewering, just arranged on a platter!

Strawberries dominate a lot of July 4th ideas.  Here’s a guide to help you pick the best strawberries?

Check out more July 4th Menu ideas here!

Have a SAFE and HAPPY July 4th!

Want a caterer to serve with your party? Just ask us, we’re catering just for  you!

The New Spin on Fruit and Veggie Salads

A new way to spin your fruits and veggies!

Having a party? Want a fun and festive way to add salads to your menu?

Ask your caterer to sprialize your salad which will create a beautiful presentation for any catered buffet or special event you’re hosting.

A client asked uSpiralized Salad Aspen Caterings to produce some different kind of salads and not those built on traditional salad greens. They wanted a veggie based salad using no lettuce of any kind so in comes our spiralizer to the rescue.  A spiralizer can create spaghetti like strips and ribbons of zucchini, squash, beets, carrots and other vegetables and those become the base of the salad. Toss with other vegetables, fruits, nuts and cheeses and you have new way to eat salad – and a beautiful presentation too!

Here is a great resource for using this wonderful appliance. Not only does this site show you how to use it, but also the health and other benefits of spiralizing.

We created theses salads using ours.

Basil Almond Zucchini Salad

Pictured above is spiralized zucchini noodles, toss with some sliced cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, pesto and slivered almonds and drizzle with red wine vinegar and red pepper flakes.

Apple and Pear Salad

This salad features fresh apples, pears, seedless grapes fresh mint and walnuts all tossed with a honey poppyseed dressing. How refreshing for summer.

More Fruit Salad Ideas

Veggie Slaw Salad

Matchsticks of zucchini, red pepper, carrots, onion and yellow squash tossed and sprinkled with corn and then nestled on a bit of spring mix for color

For even more ideas on what you can spin in a salad you can almost never run out of ideas.

Catering Cooking Tip – Cooking with Ounces

What’s in your ounce?

All good catering menus start with some sort of recipe. In those recipes are many ingredients measured in or by ounces. So, what’s in an ounce? It really depends on what is being measured. Most people do not realize that ounces can be used to measure dry ingredients like flour, sugar, pastas and rice but also wet or liquid ounces like milk, oils and sauces. Should the same measuring utensil be used for both dry and liquid ounces? The simple answer is NO! An ounce of flour is not necessarily an ounce in weight and the difference can impact any recipe being made.

catering measuring cupDry ounces are based on weight. One pound of anything weighs 16 ounces. So if a recipe calls for one pound of flour for example, you’d want to get the scale out and weight the flour. And if you are weighing flour, what kind of flour is it? Each type will yield a different amount based on what kind of flour it is, the humidity and how “packed” the measuring utensil is. Typical measuring utensils for dry ingredients are called measuring Cups.  King Arthur has a wonderful video on the proper way to measure flour in a measuring Cup.

And, just with flour, there are different types of flour (cake, rye, wheat, bread and all-purpose just to name a few) and each will weigh differently. Flour will also weigh differently in the summer and winter, and in dry versus damp climates. On average, flour should weigh about 4.5 ounces per cup.

measuring cup cateringLiquid ounces are based on volume like pints, quarts or gallons.  Measuring a liquid in a measuring cup used for dry ingredients will more than likely not measure an accurate amount of ingredient for your recipe.

To take out all the confusion, here is a chart that can guide you to what your ounce should be:

Dry Measure Chart

1 Pound = 16 Ounces
1/2 Pound =  8 Ounces
1/4 Pound = 4 Ounces
¼ Cup = 2 Ounces 4 Tablespoons (tbsp)
1 Ounce (oz) = 2 Tablespoons (tbsp) 6 Teaspoons (tsp)
½ Ounce = 1 Tablespoon (tbsp) 2 Teaspoons (tsp)
1 dash 1/8 Teaspoon (tsp)
1 pinch =1/16 Teaspoon (tsp)
Liquid Measure Chart
1 Gallon = 128 Ounces (oz) = 4 Quarts = 16 Cups
½ Gallon = 64 Ounces = 2 Quarts = 8 Cups
1 Quart = 32 Ounces = 1 Quart = 4 Cups
1 Pint = 16 Ounces = 2 Cups
1 Cup = 8 Ounces
½ Cup = 4 Ounces
¼ Cup = 2 Ounces
1 Ounce = 2 Tablespoons(1 tbsp) =6 Teaspoons (tsp)
½ Ounce = 1 Tablespoons(1 tbsp) =3 Teaspoons (tsp)

 

Event Planning Tips

It’s time to start planning your holiday gatherings!

Catering Holiday Desserts
3 questions to answer first are:

1. Decide WHERE to host our party

2. Decide WHEN you want to host your party

3. Decide WHAT holiday catering you want for your party

The answers to these three questions will quickly and easily define your holiday event. If WHERE you have your party is more important, then contact your venue immediately and find out what dates and times they have available. If the date is most important, it’s time to make your reservation now. There are so few dates to host a holiday party, the venue will, more than likely, already have dates and time spots blocked out, so the sooner you get your reservation situated, the better.

If the date is available but the time you wanted the party isn’t, shifting your event to a different time will still allow you to have your party where you want it. If the WHERE is most important, then adjustments to our original party plans will have to be made like deciding on a different holiday catering menu since serving your original plan of an evening holiday cocktail reception is now becoming a holiday brunch menu based on the only time that party venue is available.

If the WHEN is most important, then you’ll be in search of any venue that has that time available. And once you find the venue that does have the time slot you want, your ideal date may have to change from you original one because the second Friday of December but, the venue can only host your event on the first Friday of December. The good news is that you can still have that evening reception you initially wanted. However, time is of the essence for any holiday party hall or reception site will be filling their calendars quickly.

Holiday Dessert CateringThe WHAT, the holiday catering menu you should serve, comes in to play once you’ve picked your venue, date and time. With those details, you can proceed on with the  WHAT you’d like to have catered at your holiday celebration. Most professional caterers will have special holiday menus available for all kinds of holiday gatherings including breakfast, brunch, afternoon and evening receptions along with holiday dinner menus soon. Until then, you can start penciling out your menu ideas and discuss with your caterer now! Just like venues and party halls, caterer’s calendars will fill up fast too so  NOW  is the time to get started making plans for your holiday gathering and get the best deal you can.

best holiday party catering