Wedding Signature Cocktails

I love a good cocktail! I have being seeing and reading about wedding signature cocktails and what a fun idea.  I mean honestly there isn’t a dirty martini that I have met and didn’t love! My brother and his wife gifted the Mr. and I a beautiful martini set one year for Christmas and the rest is history.  From the classics (the SATC cosmo) to the adventurous (Chadwick’s created a crazy delicious dirty pickle martini for the 4th of July it was ahhhmazing) the martini set has been a mainstay.  But, with our nuptials being in the AM the martini maybe just a bit too intense (even for me).

So, we started thinking about what our signature cocktail should be…I knew there had to be mimosas and bloody marys on the bar menu but, I didn’t want to change them.  There are delicious in their beautifully original recipe.  Plus, I thought our signature cocktail should have a little bit of a twist.  After taste testing and brainstorming with our favorite bartender at our local watering hole…we have finally come up with our cocktail.  This weekend while out with friends we found the perfect recipe. Yay! It has been a favorite summer drink of ours for a while now.  Then we just took it up a notch and found an adult recipe that works for us: it’s perfectly summery and yummy!  I can’t wait to cheers all of our guests on the BIG day with one of these delightful drinks.

Until then here’s my inspiration behind the “need” for a wedding signature cocktail…

Photo Credit: Laura Ashbrook Photography

Photo Credit: Laura Ashbrook Photography

Hot apple cider and a mulled cider with pomegranate liqueur  Photo: Maria Vicencio Photography

Hot apple cider and a mulled cider with pomegranate liqueur
Photo: Maria Vicencio Photography

Photo found on oncewed.com

Photo found on oncewed.com

Brides-to-be are you doing a signature cocktail for the big day?  I’d love to see what you guys have come up with!

How to Approach the Tasting with Your Caterer

Anyone that knows me well enough will certainly agree that I love FOOD! I love to cook, I love to eat, and I absolutely love to entertain.  It is with all this love that I played around with the idea of catering my own wedding.  That is until my FH and my Mama looked at me like I had finally lost it.  Then I thought that maybe it wasn’t the best idea.

Needless to say, I have decided to relinquish the control of our wedding day menu to a caterer.  I know there are some other brides out there that have struggled with this loss of control, so I am here to help with some tips on how to approach the all important tasting.

First things first, don’t sign anything before the tasting.  Going into the tastings without a commitment gives you a chance to actually test out the food.  Trust me when I say that almost every menu proposal you will receive will make your mouth water, see here.  In our case, we have received close to 10 different menus and quite honestly they all sound delicious, which is why I think the tasting is that much more important.   I would advise you to do the same.  Start out with some online research for the caterer’s reputation.  WeddingWire.com is a great resource for this.   Also, go ahead get quotes from all of the caterers you are interested in and then set-up the tastings in order of who you like the most and who fits your budget.  Side-note for all of you Batlimore-area brides, we have decided to start out our tastings with Dean and Brown Catering.  If you haven’t checked them out yet, you should.  They seemed to have the best overall online reputation and really great pricing!  Also, I love the fact that Dean & Brown didn’t require us to sign a contract prior to the tasting.  So, point #1 in Dean & Brown’s  favor.  But, again be aware that a lot of wedding caterers do require this.

Realize that this is not all fun and games.  At first I was thinking oh this will be so much fun we get to go taste a bunch of super yummy food and kind of envision the BIG day, what a blast!  But, then I got back to reality just a bit.  While, I think that the aforementioned fun will definitely be had, I also realized I had to get my bride hat/tiara back on and get to work. I will go as far as saying I kind of had an aha moment, as Oprah would say, that this tasting is one of the only opportunities to spend some one on one time with your caterer.

Give your caterer honest feedback.  During this precious one on one time give your caterer some honest feedback on your specific dishes (too salty, not enough sauce, etc.), so that then the caterer can adjust the dish to your specifications.  This just may be one area where I could get a little bridezilla and I think you should too.  Tell them how you really feel about everything, don’t sugarcoat it.  One of the biggest elements of your big day is feeding all of your hungry guests and there is nothing worse than bad wedding food.

Be prepared. Plan on bringing along a small notepad to write down your thoughts as you taste each dish.  That way you won’t forget anything.  As you go through the tasting you will obviously share these thoughts, but your notes will come in handy when you send in your follow-up email (more on that later).

Don’t be gun shy.  Also don’t be afraid to veto something entirely.  If you do not care for how the dish tastes go ahead and ask them to take it off the menu.  It’s okay not to serve something that you really don’t like.  As a bride, I think this is a time to get your brutally honest face on and put your taste buds to work.

Test the waters.  We have taken the tasting as an opportunity to put two hors d’oeuvres up against another.  If you can’t make up your mind about an element of your menu I think this is a great idea.  Most caterers should be willing to “cater” to this to help you finalize your menu.  In our case one hors d’oeuvre  is rather expensive, but something that I thought sounded so fun and delish.  But, my more practical other half wants to make sure it’s worth the extra mullah so, we are putting it up against a less expensive option that we both think sounds yummy.  He is so clever appealing to my obsession of Bravo’s Top Chef.  It’s going to be like a Top Chef quickfire, fingers crossed the voting goes well between us two judges.  Dean and Brown were more than obliging with this request, which I thought was so kind of them, point #2.

Follow-up. I think that writing a followup email to your caterer thanking them for the tasting is absolutely necessary!  Tastings are expensive and labor intensive so, take the time to thank them!  Also, include your feedback on what you would like changed.  This is a good way to ensure that they haven’t forgotten your discussion at the tasting.

Have fun! While it isn’t all fun and games as I mentioned earlier, it is still fun!  You are planning one of the most important parties of your life.  Live it up!

Pre-Wedding Dress Shopping Brunch

This past weekend my MOM and MOH joined in for some wedding day dress shopping fun.  I wanted to thank them for coming by preparing a super yummy brunch to start our day off right.  Our menu included a yummy fruit salad, lemon poppy seed pancakes with a sugared blueberry topping, bacon (because what’s brunch without bacon, we may love bacon a little too much in our house), and of course mimosas.

Everything was so delicious I thought I would share some of the recipes:

Sunrise Golden Fruit Salad, adapted from recipe found here

1 mango, cubed
1 banana sliced into thick rounds
1 lemon, juiced
1 fresh pineapple, cubed
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp. honey 
3 bartlett pears, cubed

Directions- Toss all ingredients in large bowl. Serve immediately or slightly chilled. Note: This salad does not do well overnight since the pineapple enzyme bromelain will eat away at the other fruits.

Sugared Blueberry Topping, recipe found here

2 cup fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Directions- mix together blueberries, sugar, honey and fresh lemon juice. Let marinate in the fridge while you prepare pancakes.

Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes, recipe found here

2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
butter, shortening, or vegetable oil for frying

Directions- In a small bowl combine granulated sugar and lemon zest. Rub together with your fingers until sugar is fragrant. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the lemon sugar. Set aside.

In a separate bowl (or you can use a large liquid measuring cup), whisk together buttermilk, eggs, vanilla extract, lemon juice, and melted butter. Pour the wet ingredients all at once into the dry ingredients. Add the poppy seeds and stir to combine. If a few lumps remain, that’s no problem. Let the batter rest for 10 minutes while the griddle heats.

Place a griddle, or a nonstick saute pan over medium heat. Add a bit of butter, shortening, or vegetable oil to the pan. A teaspoon of fat will do for a n0nstick saute pan, a bit more fat may be necessary for a griddle. Dollop batter onto hot pan. For small pancakes, I use about 2 tablespoons for each pancake. For larger pancakes, I use about 1/4 cup of batter. Cook until golden brown on the bottom and and bubbling on top. Flip once and cook until golden brown on each side.

Place cooked pancakes on an oven-proof plate and place in a warm (about 150 degrees F) oven until all pancakes are cooked and ready to serve. Serve with butter and the sugared blueberry topping.

Enjoy :)

Shopping for Caterers Makes You Hungry

My lunch breaks this week have been spent either researching food, talking about food, or thinking about food as Chadwick and I begin our search for the perfect caterer.  So, needless to say it has been making me hungry.

Brunch is by far one of my favorite meals.  During the work week you don’t really get to treat yourself to a stack of delicious pancakes, eggs benedict, or any other fabulous breakfast option because you’re short on time. More often than not I’m scarfing down oatmeal at my desk while working…not exactly glamorous, which is why I think there is something special about a weekend brunch spent catching up with family or friends.  It takes me to a whole new  level of happy, hence the decision to attempt to make a brunch wedding reception a possibility.  We still aren’t sure if this is the route we are going to take but it is really hard to say no to some of these awesome brunch hors d’oeuvres:

Mini Pancake Stacks

Mini Pancake Stacks

Chicken & Waffles

Chicken & Waffles

Bloody Mar yShrimp Cocktail

Bloody Mary Shrimp Cocktail

YUM, YUM, & YUM!

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