Tips for a Great Outdoor Meal & Grocery Outlet Giveaway

Simple decor for an outdoor meal - A Well Crafted Party

The warmer days of Spring are here and Summer is just around the corner. For me this means that it is time to bring dinner OUTDOORS! Spring and Summer holidays and special occasions (Mother’s Day is Sunday!) are the perfect opportunity to bring a meal outdoors. The change of scenery can help make any meal feel like a special meal. But, not every meal makes for a great outdoor meal. You’ll want a meal that can hold up to the weather, be easy to serve and not too complicated to pack up and bring to wherever you are having your outdoor meal. When Grocery Outlet asked if I wanted to work with them on a post I immediately thought of all the fun outdoor items that they get this time of year, and wanted to throw a little outdoor party in honor of Mother’s Day. Below are some of my tips for creating a great outdoor meal. Check in tomorrow for a few recipes that anyone can make that are great for an outdoor meal!

Quick, Easy Outdoor Meal Anyone Can Make - A Well Crafted Party

What makes a great outdoor meal?

I think that there are a few factors that make for an outdoor meal, including simplicity. Part of eating outdoors should be that the whole meal has a more relaxed feel to it. Even if you are going super fancy and formal, the meal itself can be made simple and easy to eat while still being elegant. Last year I went to a wonderful outdoor farm to table meal that completely hit all my favorite notes of an outdoor meal! Here are my tips for what makes a great outdoor meal:

1. Keep it Simple – The meal does not need to be complicated nor have a lot of steps. The perfect outdoor meal can either be cooked outdoors, or packed up and easy carried outdoors. When planning an outdoor meal you’ll want to keep your ingredient list down (at least the items that are going to the table, if you want to prep a complicated many ingredient meal at home that still carries nicely and is easy to serve then by all means, go for it!), keep the garnishes to a minimum and let the meal really be the centerpiece of the experience.

2. Make sure it holds up to the weather- Besides food safety, considering the weather is important for the overall meal experience. If the meal you are serving really tastes best piping hot then you’ll need to figure out a way to cook or at least reheat outdoors so that the wind doesn’t take down the temp. Or, you can choose a meal that can be served at room temperature or cooled. If it is really hot then you might need to think about whether your desserts or meal items are going to just melt while waiting to be served. Of course, don’t forget about food safety as no one likes food poisoning. Items that are sitting out need to be properly cooled or heated to keep the items out of the danger zone.

3. A pretty setting – Eating outdoors can be a wonderful experience that can make any meal feel like a special occasion. Of course, if that meal is served in a not-so-ideal space and handed out wrapped in plastic it can feel more like a fast food experience than a special occasion. Take a few moments to make the meal special by taking care on how it is served. Even dressing up your picnic items a bit can make an ordinary meal feel extraordinary. When throwing parties in my back yard I often opt to cut flowers from my yard and use my basic dishware from the house. I leave my really nice dishware inside, but the basics can still feel dressed up when surrounded by nature! When I picnic I try to make things nicer by wrapping them in parchment paper and twine rather than just plastic baggies, or serving items on bamboo plates or reusable outdoor plastic plates instead of opting for paper.There are also a lot of great brands of really beautiful paper plates out there that can be perfect for making an outdoor meal feel special.

4. Think about pests – Nothing can ruin a meal faster than a few pests. Supply bug spray, plant bug repellent plants around your yard, or use some citronella candles to ward off pesky mosquitoes and flies. I found these adorable yellow tins with citronella candles at Grocery Outlet for less than $2 and bought a whole bunch of them for my outdoor parties. Not only do they look cute on the table, but they help ward off unwanted bugs!

Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for some super easy recipes that ANYONE can make for a great outdoor meal!

Enter to win a giveaway to Grocery Outlet

Grocery Outlet wants to help you serve a great outdoor (or indoor) meal and are sharing a $25 Gift Card with one lucky reader. Grocery Outlet operates 210+ stores in California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington. Check out the Grocery Outlet website to find a store near you!

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This post was created in collaboration with Grocery Outlet. All opinions are my own. Thank you for reading and sharing posts that are created in partnership with brands that help support this blog. 

Fire Roasted Corn on the Cob with Amaize Corn

Disclaimer: I was offered compensation for my work on this post about Amaize Sweet Corn. The below idea for how to cook and eat Amaize is my own. All opinions are my own. Thank you for reading, sharing, commenting, and interacting with sponsored posts on my page. This helps support this blog and keeps original content coming your way!


Fire Roasted Corn from A Well Crafted Party

Little known fact about me… I went to high school in the middle of a corn field. My senior shirt had a caricature of my entire class (all 40 or so of us) in the middle of corn with the caption “Children of the Corn!” Besides being a little bit creepy… it was great growing up with farms all around us! I was raised on tasty corn on the cob, creamed corn, sweet corn, pop corn and the likes. While I don’t eat as much corn as I used to, I do like to dress up salads, garnish tacos, or just eat a perfectly cooked corn-on-the-cob in the hot summer months.

When I received a box of Amaize, a sweet corn, right before heading out camping I knew that I wanted to try roasting it over a fire. Pretty much everything tastes better over a fire while camping. But, I gotta say, cooking over a fire isn’t always the easiest! The heat is constantly changing, you have to make sure your food doesn’t catch on fire, and you have to sometimes deal with smoke. These corn on the cobs were SO worth it though!

How to Make Fire Roasted Corn

Ingredients:

  • Corn with husks (I used the Amaize Sweet Corn)
  • Contained fire with grill grates positioned above it. (Tip: Make sure the fire is burning completely and fairly consistently. I usually wait until some of my wood looks more like charcoal before throwing down some food on the grill.)
  • Tongs
  • Sharp Knife & Cutting Board
  • Butter & Seasonings of Choice (I used salt, pepper, and an italian seasoning blend)

Fire Roasted Corn a How To from A Well Crafted Party

amaize-fire-roasted-corn-cutcorn

Fire Roasted Corn from A Well Crafted Party

Directions:

  1. After your fire is burning fairly consistently (not huge flames!) put down the corn husk and all on a grill grate above the flames. That is right… you don’t need to peel back the husks, don’t need to de-silk the corn, and you don’t need to wrap it in anything. Bonus, if you accidentally drop an ear in the dust it won’t matter because it is protected by a husk! Don’t worry if your husks are getting a little singed. Your corn will still be great unless the husks begin to come off completely.
  2. Roast for approximately 1 hour— rotating your corn every 10 to 15 minutes. This is absolutely not precise! Fire burns at different temps depending on a lot of different factors. Test the corn by squeezing with your tongs or sticking a fork in them. If it feels like there is some give or juice comes out then it is a safe bet that they are done. When I feel like the corn is done I typically pull one out and cut it up to test. If it isn’t quite done then you can always wrap the corn in foil and cook it a little longer.
  3. Using tongs, put a corn on the cob on your cutting board. Slice off the back end of your corn.
  4. Then, holding the corn husk firmly at the top of the corn, squeeze the corn out of the husk. (Saw this little corn trick via Instructables using microwaved corn. It totally works on roasted corn as well! Changed my life.)
  5. Doctor your corn with butter and seasonings… enjoy!

Fire Roasted Corn from A Well Crafted Party

 

More About Amaize Sweet Corn:

  • Amaize Sweet Corn was created using traditional, natural breeding methods through hybridization meaning this corn is never genetically modified. (Non-GMO)
  • The corn is sweet and crunchy… it didn’t get gross and mushy after cooking!
  • The corn had a 22 year development period. Seriously, so cool to think about how many different variations and flavors were created to get to this sweet and crunchy corn.
  • Amaize is available from June to September and is currently being sold for a limited time exclusively in Portland at New Seasons Market.
  • Follow along on their Facebook page to learn more!

PS. Please be careful of fires this time of year and pay attention to your local burning laws!

What do you like cooking over a camp fire?

Picnic Week: A Super Easy and Delicious Pasta Salad

Picnic Week on A Well Crafted Party

 

I’m posting a series of picnic-themed posts this week in honor of the Portland Bloggers’ family picnic that is happening this weekend. The first post was all about fun picnic supplies to make for a pleasant picnic in the park (or wherever). Now, onto the food!


One of my favorite things to make for a picnic is my super easy and delicious pasta salad. It doesn’t have any name that I know of… I learned it from word of mouth from a friend and have been making it ever since. It doesn’t have any mayo so it is pretty heat friendly. You can add in things or take them out as you like. I’ll share the base recipe I use and then one of my favorite modifications!

Easy Pasta Salad

A Super Easy and Delicious Pasta Salad

Serves a whole bunch of people… I really can’t even estimate well, but over 12 side dish portions.

Ingredients:

  • Approximately 6 cups of tortellini (You can decide the filling, I typically go with cheese filling or half cheese and half spinach)
  • 1 16oz bag of frozen peas and carrots
  • 1 bottle of your favorite Italian dressing— I’ve used everything from Wishbone to Olive Garden. My favorite is Newman’s Own Roasted Garlic and Parmesan Italian Dressing (Affiliate Link)
  • 1 bag of shredded parmesan cheese— approximately 5 to 8 oz of cheese will be used. I sometimes shred my own. I sometimes get it in a bag. The pictured KRAFT Shredded Italian Cheese Mixture (Affiliate Link) would work nicely as well.

Directions:

  • Boil the tortellini as you would any pasta— tortellini tends to float to the top when done. I always give it a taste test to check for sure.
  • Pour the frozen peas and carrots into a colander and put in sink while the tortellini is boiling.
  • Pour the finished pasta and boiling water into the colander after the pasta is al dente. The hot water will cook the veggies!
  • Rinse with cool water until the whole mess of yummy food is cool.
  • Pour in a BIG bowl.
  • Then add up to 1 full bottle of dressing (to taste, I typically use 1/2 to 3/4 a bottle) and the parmesan cheese to taste (I usually use the whole bag)
  • Cool and enjoy!

See, so easy! Now, here is my most recent modification. I used all of the above ingredients, but I added diced ham and chives at the end! One of the best things about this recipe is you can make it as simple or as gourmet as you want. If you want to go supremely foodie on this picnic favorite then get some fresh tortellini, make your own Italian dressing, grate your own super nice parmesan, and add in some prosciutto.

A great way to serve this dish is to just put them in individual canning jars. The jars can be the food storage containers and double as dinnerware.

Want some more awesome pasta salad ideas? Check out my friend Bee’s Pasta Salad with Zucchini and Sun-dried Tomatoes or Rebekah’s Six-Ingredient or Less Greek-ish Pasta Salad.

What food do you love bringing to a picnic?

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