Tips for a Great Outdoor Meal & Grocery Outlet Giveaway

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. 

Saturday Spirits: Gin & Herbs Spring Cocktail

Saturday Spirits: Gin & Herbs Spring Cocktail

Herb & Gin Cocktail from A Well Crafted Party

My favorite thing about Spring is the emergence of all the fresh herbs. This cocktail is the perfect mix of fresh herbs and the wonderful aromatics of gin.

Ingredients
Shaker
Muddler
Ice
Rocks glass with Ice
4 Slices of Cucumber (3 for beverage and 1 for garnish)
1 sprig thyme for garnish
1 oz Basil & Thyme Simple Syrup (See recipe below)
½ oz lime juice ( ½ of freshly squeezed lime)
1 ¼ oz Gin
2 oz Sparkling Water (Or Soda Water)

Directions
1. Put ice, 3 slices of cucumber, 1 oz of basil & thyme simple syrup, squeeze of lime juice, and the half of the lime into a shaker—Muddle
2. Pour gin into shaker, cover, and shake vigorously
3. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice
4. Pour in sparkling water and garnish with cucumber slice and thyme sprig
5. Enjoy!

Herb & Gin Cocktail from A Well Crafted Party

How to Make a Basil & Thyme Simple Syrup
1. Put a handful of basil leaves and several sprigs of thyme into a small sauce pan with 1 cup of granulated sugar and 1 cup of water. 2. Stir the mixture as it heats on medium-low heat until the sugar has completely dissolved (about four minutes) 3. Remove from heat and let it sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour. 4. Once cooled, taste to see mixture as it sits to get your desired herbal flavor. 5. Once you have your desired flavor pour mixture over a sieve— to strain the solid from syrup—into a jar.The mixture can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one month.

Originally published on InComplete Magazine

Saturday Spirits: Pear & Apple Cider Sangria

Saturday Spirits: Pear & Apple Cider Sangria

Pear and Apple Cider Sangria // A Well Crafted Party

I had a really difficult time figuring out the name for this drink. It is similar to a punch, but I made it in singles. Sort of a sangria, but I don’t know many sangrias with bourbon in them. So, name it whatever you want… but, it is a tasty fall beverage!

Every year it begins to really feel like Fall to me when I get to attend the local Pear and Apple festival at the Portland Nursery. I load up on apples and pears and incorporate them in EVERYTHING until I run out. One year I bought 60 lbs of apples and pears and ended up making a ton of apple sauce, apple butter, apple pies, and many apple desserts. This year I knew that my kitchen time would be limited so I didn’t indulge quite as much as I’d have liked to… but, we did enjoy the Hard Apple Cider tasting and came home with a 20 lbs of apples and pears as well as a few delicious ciders and wines.

A few of those purchases are featured in this drink. I’m hoping that you are able to find these brands because they are fantastic, but if not then I’d suggest looking at the flavor profile and finding something similar near you. This drink is totally worth it.

Pear and Apple Cider Sangria // A Well Crafted Party

Ingredients:

(Makes 1 Beverage– Though, you can multiple by 4 easily to make a pitcher!)

  • 1 1/4 oz Bourbon (I used Buffalo Trace)
  • 2 oz Pear Wine (I used Bull Run Pear Wine )
  • 3 oz Hard Apple Cider ( I used Shilling Oak Aged Cider )
  • Squeeze of 1 large lemon slice
  • Sliced, ripe pears (I used Anjou pears and had about 4-5 slices per glass)
  • Glass with ice

Directions:

  1. Fill a glass with ice, putting in slices of pear along the way
  2. Fill glass with Bourbon, Pear Wine, and Hard Apple Cider
  3. Give it a stir and enjoy!

Don’t forget to eat those tasty pears once your drink is gone!

Pear and Apple Cider Sangria // A Well Crafted Party

About Shilling Oak Aged Cider: The hard cider is finished in 100% NW Oak. It has a smokey cinnamon flavor profile with clove and vanilla. It would be considered a semi-dry cider. There is a bit of the apple taste still there, but not nearly as sweet as some ciders.

About Bull Run Pear Wine: The Bull Run Pear wine is from Oregon! It is a sweet ice wine.  I’d say this is a nice sweet, smooth dessert wine without the punch of a brandy. Loved it.

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