Beach to Beacon is over and what a good run it was! We moved to Fort Williams for all the events and it worked out well. The new tent was amazing an we got all 500 people through the buffet lines in approximately 20 minutes!

When I think of Memorial Day, I think of the beginning of summer. When I think of Labor Day, I think of the end of summer—the last opportunity to have a party centered around the grill.

Here are a few fun facts about Labor Day that I found:

  • 67% of Americans will be barbequing on Labor Day according to a Budweiser study performed in 2016. That’s 214 million people! 150 million Americans expect to bite into a juicy burger, compared to 109 million hot dog eaters.
  • Barbecue chicken (40%) now edges out steak (37%) and ribs (32%) on Labor Day plates.
  • The total number of hot dogs eaten between Memorial Day and Labor Day is 7 billion, about 818 per second!

Now, I have never been traditional—I even wear white after Labor Day. So, for my holiday get-together, I am going with an all-grill event featuring Grilled Chicken and Grilled Salmon. Here is my menu:

Appetizers:
Grilled Watermelon Cubes with Grilled General Tso’s Pork Belly
Grilled Spicy Jump Shrimp with Shoshito Peppers

Entrees:
Hot Shot Grilled Salmon (recipe follows)
Greek Tzatziki Grilled Chicken Thighs (recipe follows)

Sides:
Grilled Potato Salad with Nancy’s Sherry Honey Vinaigrette
Grilled Asparagus
Grilled Peaches with Gino and French Vanilla Ice Cream (recipe follows)
*Gino is a Swedish dessert consisting of chopped fresh fruit and melted chocolate. 

 

Hot Shot Grilled Salmon
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Sriracha
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 1/4 cup orange marmalade
  • 4 – 6 oz. salmon fillets, skin-on and seasoned with salt and pepper
  • Chopped fresh chives, for garnish

Directions:

  1. Make marinade: In a large bowl, whisk together Sriracha, lemon juice, and orange marmalade.
  2. Add salmon to a large Ziplock bag or baking dish and pour marinade over. Let marinate in the refrigerator for at least three hours, or overnight.
  3. When ready to grill, heat grill to high. Pat the salmon dry. Oil grates and add salmon. Grill until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side.
  4. Garnish with chives.

 

Greek Tzatziki Grilled Chicken Thighs
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Greek Seasoning (any brand, can be found in the seasoning aisle of your local grocery store)
  • 4 – 6 oz. skin-on chicken thighs
  • Chopped Salad
    • 1 European cucumber, chopped
    • 20+ olives, pitted
    • 4 tomatoes, chopped
    • 1 small red onion, chopped
    • 2 oz. feta cheese
  • Tzatziki Sauce
    • 2 cups Greek Yogurt
    • 1/2 European cucumber, peeled and diced
    • 3 garlic cloves, grated
    • 1 1/2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
    • Salt and Pepper

Directions:

  1. Make marinade: In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, and greek seasonings.
  2. Season chicken with salt and pepper and add to a large Ziploc bag or baking dish. Pour over marinade and let sit in the refrigerator for at least three hours, up to overnight.
  3. When ready to grill, heat grill to high. Oil grates and add chicken. Grill until no longer pink. Set aside on a plate under tented foil to rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Prepare the chopped salad of cucumbers, pitted olives, red onion, tomatoes, and feta cheese.
  5. Prepare tzatziki sauce by combining the yogurt, cucumber, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
  6. Plate meal starting with tzatziki on the bottom, add the chicken thighs, and top with the chopped salad.

 

Grilled Peach with Gino and French Vanilla Ice Cream
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 peaches, pitted and cut into half
  • Chopped strawberries, kiwi, and bananas
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • Honey water – 1 tbs honey mixed with 2 tbs hot water
  • 4 tbs white chocolate, grated
  • French Vanilla ice cream
  • Chopped fresh mint, for garnish

Directions:

  1. Mix together strawberries, kiwi, and bananas with lemon juice.
  2. Brush the cut side of the peach with honey water and place cut side down on a hot grill for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Turn peaches over and placed chopped fruit on the top of the peach. Garnish with white chocolate. Close the top of the grill to melt the chocolate. Check the peaches periodically; it will only take a few minutes for the chocolate to melt.
  4. Remove and serve in a martini glass with french vanilla ice cream and garnish with chopped mint.

Newly engaged? Congratulations! After showing your ring to everyone that you can, reality sets in and you wonder, “What is next?” My guess is you already know how you want to look and what kind of dress you want to wear because you have been dreaming of this since you were a little girl.

Next, you and your fiancé need to decide on a few things before you tackle the “list”. This is the list before the list–like picking out wedding bands, etc….

Consider these items:

  • How long do you want to be engaged before you actually marry? This might be determined by your budget. It also might be determined by what special touches you want to put into your wedding, such as a custom-made gown, or favors with logos on them, or maybe you need summer produce to make homemade jam favors.
  • How do you pick a date? One that works for everyone to be able to come? Who is everyone? You cannot determine if ALL of your friends and family can come! What dates do you want to avoid? What date would be meaningful for you and your fiancé? Perhaps the day you decided you fell in love! Some cultures use traditional methods to choose a date—Japanese families check out the koyomi, an ancient astrological calendar, to pick the most favorable day, while ancient Greeks used divined pig entrails!
  • In which season or month do you envision your wedding taking place? My husband and I chose spring because it is the beginning of fresh flowers and early produce.
  • What theme do you have in mind? This is your first party as a couple. What do you want to say about you as a couple? Do you want it to be casual or elegant or city chic?
  • Do you have a color palette in mind? If you decide on a fall wedding, oranges and yellows and reds are a natural match to the leaves on the trees. An Easter wedding might be all levels of pastels. Or, perhaps you have favorite color you already have in mind that you want to incorporate.
  • Have you dreamed of a wedding in a tent, on the shore or in a barn? The availability of the venue that you would like is key and can likely determine the date of your wedding. My husband and I got married in the March in Virginia. Now we live in Maine and March in Maine is still cold and snowy. When we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary I really wanted to have our party in a tent along the shore with heaters and hope that snow fell! As it turned out, it was a beautiful sunny 68-degree day and we had our party on a Casco Bay Cruise ship!
  • If you are getting married in a church, does it require pre-marital counseling? Most do. If yours does not you may want to consider this step. After living by yourself you might need to learn how to live with another person!
  • How do you meld two apartments/houses into one? Who moves in with who? What furniture do you keep and what do you sell or recycle? Do you need all new kitchenware, china, and glassware? You will need to decide for your registries.
  • Finally, how much are you willing to spend? It is all about the numbers. Think about what is important to you and set a realistic budget.

Wedding planning can be stressful, but remember to have fun with it! There is always a lot to think about; here are more tips from us and check out this awesome checklist from Wedding Wire!

The Age of Pinterest has introduced many trends in the fashion, crafting, design, and food worlds. I feel as if each month has a trendy food or ingredient that everyone is using. One that I have loved is the noodle alternative, “zoodles”! Turning zucchini (or another vegetable) into a faux-pasta not only adds numerous nutritional benefits, but it also helps turn traditional meals into gluten-free versions. Plus, they are always delicious!

When making zoodles, most recipes tell you to use a special tool called a “spiralizer” which easily turns zucchini, sweet potato, or squash into perfectly sized noodles for any dish. However, I’ve found that a simple vegetable peeler also does the trick. Simply use the peeler to create thin ribbons by running it down the length of the vegetable. You can then julienne the ribbons into narrow strips that resemble fettucine noodles.

Here are two recipes I love that incorporate zoodles. Enjoy!

 

First, with summer in full swing, I thought you might like a super simple gluten-free pasta salad to-go! Perfect for a day at the beach or just lunch at your desk. One thing I love about the recipe is how easily you can tweak it to add in proteins you prefer. You’ll see my recipe calls for edamame, but I have swapped this out for chickpeas or chicken before, depending on what I had on hand.

 

Zucchini Spiral Salad
Makes 2 Mason Jars

Salad Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups spiralized, shredded, or thinly sliced zucchini
  • 3/4 cup edamame, shelled
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in 1/2
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons kalamata or black olives, sliced

Avocado and Spinach Dressing

  • 1/2 cup fresh packed spinach
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons plain full-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Instructions

  1. In a blender, mix the dressing ingredients until smooth.
  2. Split the dressing in half and place in the bottom of each Mason jar.
  3. Add celery on top of dressing.
  4. Add peppers on top of celery, then edamame.
  5. Then, add feta cheese, tomatoes, and olives.
  6. Finally, add zucchini on top in each jar.
  7. Cover and refrigerate (will keep for about 5 days).
  8. When ready to enjoy, shake to mix, then just eat out of the jar!

 

Second, if you’re looking for a gluten-free alternative to a favorite take-out dinner, try my Shrimp Pad Thai with Zucchini Noodles!

Nancy’s Pad Thai
Makes two servings

Ingredients:

Sauce

  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
  • 1/8 cup white vinegar
  • ½ cup fish sauce
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • dash of red pepper flakes
  • ½ pound butter
  • 1 pound peanut butter

 

  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup of zucchini noodles
  • raw shrimp peeled and deveined
  • *May substitute with ½ cup of cooked sliced chicken
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 cups bean sprouts
  • 1/3 cup dry roasted unsalted peanuts, crushed

Instructions

  1. Melt butter with peanut butter and thin with water as needed.
  2. Mix together all sauce ingredients.
  3. Scramble 2 eggs in a wok on high heat.
  4. Add zucchini noodles and sauté lightly.
  5. Add shrimp and cook until opaque.
  6. Add sauce to finish.
  7. Garnish with peanuts, chopped scallions, cilantro and bean sprouts.

I just got back from HOTlanta where I was taking care of my mom for 10 days. It might be hard to believe, but I brought the hot weather back to Maine with me! Yes, the day I returned from the South it was 91 degrees and the next day was 93 degrees… WAY too hot for Scarborough, Maine in mid-May!

 

All the warm weather got me excited for grilling season, and with Memorial Day right around the corner, I wanted to share with you some of my favorite recipes that are perfect accompaniments to foods hot off the grill.

 

I found some great quality rib eye steaks at the local grocery store for my small dinner party.  I simply seasoned them with salt and pepper and served these beautiful 3” thick babies with potato salad, my grandpa’s coleslaw and my version of Waldorf Salad. Simple, right? But oh, so yummy!

 

My potato salad always gets rave reviews from friends and family. To boiled potatoes, I add not only mayonnaise, but also some Dijon Mustard to give it a bit of a kick. To that, I add both celery and celery seed for extra flavoring. And, of course, there are plenty of hard-boiled eggs, salt and pepper.

 

I love my grandfather’s coleslaw recipe.  It’s the perfect compliment to any grilled protein. It is so simple; just cabbage, carrots, onion, and mayonnaise, plenty of apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper.

 

Our first “summer meal” wasn’t complete without my Waldorf Salad. My version is a bit different than the traditional, adding in some more sweetness with Cool Whip and using cran-raisins for a tangy punch.

 

 

Nancy’s Waldorf Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 cup walnut halves
  • 1 tub of Cool Whip
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 lemon, zest finely grated
    • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 large crisp green apples
  • 8 ribs celery, sliced into 1/2-inch-thick pieces and leaves chopped
  • 1/4 cup cran-raisins

 

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool and break the nuts up into small pieces.

Whisk the cool whip, mayonnaise, parsley, honey, and lemon zest in a large bowl and season generously with pepper.

Halve, core, and cut the apples into 3/4-inch pieces, leaving the skin intact. Add the apples, celery and cran-raisins to the bowl, and sprinkle with the lemon juice; then toss with the dressing. Cover and refrigerate if not serving immediately.

When ready to serve, toss the toasted walnuts into the salad.

It is one of the most memorable days in any person’s life: your wedding day. From the wardrobe to the flowers and the cake, a couple works hard to ensure each detail of their dream wedding is perfectly in place. At CVC Catering, we help couples turn their wedding visions into realities, merging our expertise with the selected theme and atmosphere to create the event of a lifetime.

Once you select CVC Catering to be a part of your big day, you will meet with our executive chefs to review menu options, tasting our award-winning menu items. Have something specific in mind? Each wedding menu we create is unique and completely customized to each couple’s tastes. We will gladly work with you to make sure the meals we serve are exactly what you are looking for.

An extraordinary experience with first-rate service and a delicious menu is what your guests will always remember about your wedding day. With a large and experienced serving staff, our team provides high-quality service for each guest. Each server works to make sure your guests are satisfied with their meals and beverages. Additionally, our chefs will carefully follow any special dietary requirements that your guests may have, making sure that each person feels included and nourished.

As one of the only catering companies in Maine with a professional sommelier on staff, we can also provide your event with intuitive and creative wine selections that will please any guest. Want a specific beer served at your wedding? Need help selecting signature cocktails? Don’t know when to do the champagne toast? Our well-qualified bar staff is happy to help plan your beverage experience down to the most minute detail.

Our services don’t just stop at catering and bar services, either. Our staff is highly experienced in helping every couple craft their perfect day by offering creative design advice, venue selection, menu development, and professional chef services. We are able to help you arrange a beautiful tablescape or find your dream venue—anything to help reduce the stress of planning.

We understand the excitement, and the weight, of planning your dream wedding. Let us help you make your dreams come true!