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. 

Opal Apple and Grilled Chicken Salad

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Salads are one of my favorite go-to items to make for daytime events. It is an inexpensive, simple, and tasty way to feed a crowd. At my sister’s “Apple of my Eye” Sip and See party, sponsored by Opal Apple, I needed easy to make items that didn’t involve a lot of cooking. I was in an unfamiliar kitchen, so I took the super simple route and got nearly everything pre-made. This salad in particular is an easy meal to serve.

I created this salad with the crisp semi-sweet, semi-sour taste of Opal Apples in mind. Bonus, I didn’t have to worry about the apples browning as the salad sat and waited to be eaten. The non-GMO apples actually retain their bright yellow color when cut.

Grilled Chicken Salad & Opal Apple Salad

Serves approximately 6 meal-sized salads or 12 side portions. All items were bought with ease of use in mind. This salad can also be made completely from scratch and will be equally (if not more) delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Bags of pre-cut and pre-washed Romaine Lettuce
  • 2 packages of pre-cooked Grilled, Sliced Chicken
  • 1 large Opal Apple thinly sliced and diced into large chunks
  • 1 1/2 cups shaved Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 3/4 cup Dried Cranberries (Dried Cherries would be equally as delicious!)
  • 3/4 cup house-made Apple Cider Vinaigrette (see below)

Directions:

  1. Heat pre-cooked chicken in microwave
  2. In large bowl, toss lettuce, chicken, opal apple, dried cranberries, and Apple Cider Vinaigrette
  3. Top with Parmesan cheese & Sliced Almonds
  4. Eat!

Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together and combine well. Add salt & pepper to taste! Seriously tasty, and simple!

 


 

This post was sponsored by Opal Apples. The thoughts in this post are my own. More information about Opal Apples: Opal is a bright yellow apple that is like none other with its beautiful appearance, distinctively crunchy texture, floral aroma and a sweet, tangy flavor. But one of the most incredible, and natural features of this non-GMO apple is that it does not brown after cutting so it stays crisp and fresh in your salads and your kids’ lunchboxes.

Bacon Wrapped Scallops and a Whole Foods Market Gift Card Giveaway

[tabs] [tab title=”Whole Foods Market Giveaway “] bacon wrapped scallops with fig butter

Over the past month I’ve had several conversations with friends (and foodies) about Thanksgiving and the upcoming meal prep and plans. While some friends couldn’t wait to get to making their traditional items, others were commenting on the fact that they’d love to experiment with new items. Me? I fall into the “loves to experiment” category.

The past few several years we have spent Thanksgiving with friends because we live so far away from family. I love that am able to experiment often with new dishes to bring to our Friendsgiving dinner table. Areas that I find the easiest to experiment with for holiday dishes, even with all kinds of tradition-loving folks around, are the appetizers and desserts!

Which is why when Whole Foods Market approached me with the idea of creating a new holiday dish with ingredients from their store, I immediately went for creating an appetizer and a dessert selection. I created bacon wrapped scallops and elevated them with a fig butter spread. I also made a fun dessert I will share soon!

Bacon Wrapped Scallops with a Fig Spread

Click the tab above for the Bacon Wrapped Scallops with Fig Spread Recipe. Read on below for your chance to win a $25 Whole Foods Gift card so you can recreate this dish or something else entirely!

Enter to win a $25 Gift Card to Whole Foods Market!

This is a flash giveaway and will be over at the end of the day on the 25! That way you might be able to use your gift card for your holiday food shopping!

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Bacon Wrapped Scallops Ingredients

Bacon Wrapped Scallops with Fig Spread

Ingredients:

  • 12 Whole Catch Sea Scallops (Thawed)
  • 12 slices Wellshire Bacon
  • AFA Organic Fig Spread
  • 1 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Tsp Pepper
  • 1 Tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • Bamboo Skewers (optional)
  • Aluminum Foil

Directions:

1. Cut a length of foil off so that it will cover the bottom of a cookie sheet (a sheet that has at least a 1/2 inch edge) crumple up a bit, and then spread onto the cookie sheet. This will be a place for your bacon to rest on and drain as it cooks in the oven. Lay out slices of Wellshire bacon on the foil. Place bacon in cool oven, set at 350 degrees F, and cook for approximately 30 minutes. You’ll want to check your bacon to make sure it is done, but still pliable. Avoid crunchy bacon as it won’t wrap well around the scallop.

2. While bacon is cooking, spread some of the Fig spread on a platter or dinner plate. Spread using the back of a spoon.

3. While bacon is cooking, and after your platter is prepped, toss your scallops in a bowl with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper.

4. Take Bacon out of oven when done and let cool some.

5. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Put tablespoon of butter in pan. The pan needs to be hot to sear the scallops just right. Place about 6 scallops in the hot pan. DO NOT MOVE. Just let the scallops sizzle for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Turn the scallops using a pair of tongs. Then, let that side sizzle for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. The scallop will come opaque in color and firm. Move out of pan and onto a plate. Sear the remaining scallops.

6. Take bacon pieces and wrap around the scallops. Place on the platter with fig spread. Or, alternatively, place a few on a bamboo skewer and serve on skewer.

Garnish with chopped green onions if desired.

When eating the scallops make sure  you get some of the fig spread in each bite. It is divine! Serve as an appetizer or with a green salad as a light lunch or dinner.

bacon wrapped scallop dinner

 

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Featured: A Tomato and Herbed Goat Cheese Pastry Recipe

I love late Summer tomatoes. SO good. I’ve shared a quick and tasty recipe over at Live the Fancy Life for this delicious Cherry Tomato and Herbed Goat Cheese Pastry. Go check it out and let me know what you think!

Featured On: My Open Faced Tomato Sandwich on the Lilac City Momma Blog

Recipe for a Roasted Tomato Open Faced Sandwich

I shared a recipe with the Lilac City Momma Blog and it’s now live! Run, don’t walk, over to her blog to get this scrumptious open faced tomato sandwich made with roasted heirloom tomatoes! It truly is one of my favorite things I’ve made of late!

Summer Entertaining Series: Grilled Bacon Wrapped Pork with Kung Foo Feltus

As part of my Summer Entertaining Series I’ve asked several of my favorite bloggers to share tips, parties, recipes, and ideas for great Summer parties. Today I’ve got one of my FAVORITE bloggers (and friends!) sharing one of her Summer recipes. Please welcome Shannon from Kung Foo Feltus to A Well Crafted Party!


I am so happy to be writing a guest post! Wahoooo for Summertime!! I am know for few things. Bacon is pretty much top of the list and gardening is high up there too. I am combining these two loves to bring you a really awesome recipe for a fresh and mostly healthy meal. I am not going on any Paleo diet anytime soon but I have been told that this can fit into that style of eating as well. Bonus! It is low carb for those into that and low sugar too. Really I feel like you can’t go to wrong with meat and veggies when you want to feel full and satisfied. But, more importantly, this dish can totally feed the masses if need be for relatively low cost. Double Bonus! We grow a massive amount of kale and tomatoes at our house among so many other foods. If you can’t grow your own, the next best thing if you don’t live near me, is hitting up the local farmers markets. Produce there is out of this world flavorful too. Grocery stores are great and all but nothing beats fresh local fruits and veggies if you can get your hands on them.

My sister helped me pick a recipe because I had about 30 ideas and no focus. She reminded me of a few very good points. Not everyone is a plant nerd like me. I grow a bazillion vegetables and like, research them and their origin, how they pollinate, how much of the plant can be eaten and of course how to prepare it. Which leads to her best point; Not everyone knows how to cook some of the veggies they like to eat. Like spaghetti squash. Before I had ever learned to cook it, I had eaten it at various friends houses for meals and even a few times in restaurants. With it looking like it does and turning out how it ends up it’s no wonder this delicious food can be botched ( I learned through trial and error horrible error). So, I give you one of my favorites and all the steps I can think of to help make preparation as simple and no nonsense as I can.

Continue Reading…

{Recipes} Tips for the Perfect Pie Crust

When I make a pie, I focus a LOT on the crust of the pie. To me, the perfect pie crust is rich, flaky, buttery, and has a taste of saltiness. I’ve been “perfecting” my pie crust recipe for about a year now. I go into stages where I really want to get something done to my liking so I make them OVER and OVER again. This past year has been the year of pie crust in my home (maybe part of the reason for my expanding waist line…)

Continue Reading…

Monday Menu Madness: Farmer’s Market Frenzy

If you saw Saturday’s post then you know how much I LOVE the Farmer’s Market and the opportunities for parties that come with it.  So, today’s menu features my recipe for a delicious dinner party meal using things that are in season RIGHT NOW! I used a grill for this meal but a broiler would also work just fine.

Wouldn’t this be a beautiful dish to set in front of people at a dinner party? It would be great served individually or family style.

Ingredients: 
-Tuna (We used one big tuna steak for 2 people and it was more than enough)
-asparagus
-1 large tomato (we used beefsteak)
-1 lemon
-rice (we used short grain but any will do)
-sea salt, pepper, olive oil
-optional wine (we used Chardonnay)
-salad greens (not pictured)

Directions:  1. Prep the asparagus by washing and then cutting off the ends (cut to just where the white ends and the beautiful green color begins) 2. Cut the tomatoes in wedges– if you are using smaller tomatoes just cut in half 3. Put the asparagus and tomatoes in a bowl and squeeze the juice of 1 half of the lemon (then throw the lemon in the bowl) 4. toss in a couple of teaspoons of sea salt 5. drizzle olive oil over the vegetables (about 2 tablespoons) 5. grind pepper onto the vegetables (about 6 twists)

Directions: 1. Prep rice in rice maker (use rice cooker directions). You will end up needing about 1/2 a cup of cooked rice per person 2. Start the rice (if you do not have a rice cooker then just follow the directions on the rice package to cook the rice. 3. Season tuna with the juice of half a lemon and olive oil. Put the lemon half in the bowl with the vegetables. 4. Heat grill to a high even heat (my grill is electric so it just meant turning a knob– if you have charcoal you might want to do this step earlier.

Grilling Directions: 1. Start grilling the tuna. If you want the tuna to be cooked through then cook 4-5 minutes per side on high heat. If you prefer a seared tuna then cook 1-2 minutes on a very high heat per side. 2. After about 3 minutes turn the tuna 90 degrees to get the beautiful sear marks. At this time also put the vegetables on the grill. 3. At five minutes turn the fish over and rotate the vegetables. 4. Turn the fish 90 degrees at the 8 minute mark. The tomatoes will be finished before the asparagus. Once they are softened a bit take them off the grill. If you want the lemons to have the nice charred face then put them face down on the grill. 5. Take everything off the grill at the 10 minute mark. Cut the fish into serving sizes and plate.

Want to make a delicious appetizer instead? This dish can be served as a first course to a menu with an Asian flair. Or, if you make several, they’d be great for passed Hors D’Oeuvres.

Prep the vegetables and tuna the same as the recipe above. For this recipe you will also need Nori (a seeweed paper used in sushi) and soy sauce.
1) wrap the rice in the nori (you really need to use the short grain rice for this appetizer) 2) slice the wrapped rice into 1/2 inch or smaller slices 3) top the wrapped rice with the grilled tomato 3) slice into the asparagus making equal sized portions. Using two portions make an X on top of the tomato 4) add a cube of salmon and place the entire portion on top of a bed of soy sauce

Delish!

Oh, and the optional wine? That is for drinking! I’d suggest a Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc to pair with the grilled goodness of the tuna. Enjoy!

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