Memorial Day BBQ Side Dish Ideas

You may consider Memorial Day the official marker of summertime. It is a time that we honor and remember those who served our country, and you may have decided to host a barbecue and invite a few veterans over to your home. If you are nervous about finding the perfect side dishes to match your BBQ, fear not because here are seven BBQ side dish ideas that you can use for your Memorial Day party:

Roasted Sweet Potato

Looking for something sweet to complement your protein choice? Roasting sweet potatoes is an extremely easy and tasty idea for homeowners. Plus, it is really simple! Just chop them up and drizzle them with olive oil before placing them in the oven!

CrockPot Mac N’ Cheese

Mac n’ cheese is a classic when it comes to barbecues. The best part is you can easily make it in the crockpot for a portable, fast recipe.

Fresh Fruit Salad

Nothing says fresh on a warm day like fruit salad. Plus, fruit salad is an easy, last minute idea that you can throw together. Try adding in your favorite summer fruits for customization.

Brown Sugar Grilled Pineapple

Looking for a dessert that will not show on the scale the next day? Brown sugar pineapples are easy and delicious options for your Labor Day barbecue. Bonus: there are only three ingredients (pineapples, brown sugar, and canola oil)!

Jalapeño Cornbread

If you love spice, you will love this savory side dish! You can add jalapeños into a box mix of cornbread or make them from scratch. Either way, the plate will be cleared off with this delicious side dish.

Baked Garlic Parmesan Fries

Everyone loves a flavorful french fry and adding a garlic parmesan seasoning turns your fries into the talk of the party. All you need is garlic, parsley, salt, olive oil, parmesan, and fresh potatoes to make this snack come true.

Watermelon, Feta, and Mint Salad

Running short on time? You can quickly throw together this 5-ingredient salad in no time! All you need is fresh, seedless watermelon, mint, olive oil, feta cheese, and salt for a new BBQ favorite.

We hope you enjoy your Memorial Day party and that your side dishes are a hit!

Tips and Tricks for Being the Hostess with the “Mostess”

Hosting guest is always a fun way to unwind from the busy week. There is something satisfying about giving your friends and family an extra special visit at the place you call home, and as any party planner knows, you need to be prepared to be a successful host. If this is your first-time having guests over, it is important to know your limits. Do not invite more than you or your house can handle at first. Your goal is to make your guest feel at home and never have to ask for anything. With great hosting skills and etiquette, your company will feel welcomed and invited into your atmosphere; however, you still should have plans for entertainment. Here are the top ways to entertain your guests and become the hostess with the “mostess”:

Food and Drink

Everybody loves food; therefore, having a dinner party can be a great idea for first-time hostesses. You have time to socialize before and after eating. You can also prepare drinks to keep the entertainment going throughout the night. Just make sure that all your guests are accounted for and served throughout the evening. You may also want to have different options available. Food allergies and intolerances are becoming more common, so check with your guests beforehand to make sure your food options will suffice.

Movie

Movies are great as well for entertaining guests. They can help keep everyone entertained for a couple of hours. Try to find a genre of movie everyone agrees will work. This comes down to knowing your guest beforehand. You may not want to do a movie if you have a very diverse crowd with different movie preferences. That being said, comedies are always crowd-pleasers. It can be beneficial to watch the movie beforehand to make sure it will be a hit.

Board Games

Board games are very interactive; they allow people to socialize while adding some fun competition. Have several board games available so you can find one that everyone will enjoy. Team board games are great ways to let individuals not feel out of the loop. Try to introduce everyone at the beginning of the night to make sure no one feels excluded or awkward.

Remember not to force anything. If you notice a guest feels hesitant or uncomfortable participating in activities you have planned, you should be adaptable. It is good to have several suggestions and work with the group. You are the host so your suggestions will be very important. You may even want to inform your guest of activities prior to the invite — this way your company knows what to expect.

If your company consists of different age groups, consider tailoring different activities for them. You may want to check-in on all groups throughout the night, and consider making kids games or other areas of entertainment for all ages.

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Use Height to Add Splash to a Buffet

food-680180_1280 - CopyYou may have noticed that when fancy restaurants host buffet brunches or dinners the food always looks splashy. One reason for that is that they display food at different heights. Take a look at this photo for one example.

The dish holders here allow food to be displayed at three different heights. This makes it easier to see the variety of food available, and makes the different types of food stand out. It also draws the eye in a number of directions.

Another thing height provides is more real estate in less space. You can display more food in a limited square footage, enabling a restaurant to add an extra table or two.

As a home entertainer you may not need to buy table holders that provide different heights for serving plates and bowls for a buffet, but you can create the same effect and add to your buffet real estate. Just gather up a selection of bowls and boxes. Turn the bowls upside down and use them as bases to raise serving dishes above the table’s surface. Just make sure they are stable so the food won’t tumble when people help themselves.

You can also use boxes to get that raised effect. Just cover them with extra table linens. With just a few items from your cabinets you can create a variety of heights on your own buffet display. Add some flowers and you will have a look to rival even the nicest restaurants in town!

How would you use a Butler’s Pantry?

Legacy Models 032Traditionally, a butler’s pantry was a small room between the kitchen and the dining room used to store china and serving pieces. Today, however, butler’s pantries are coming back as a resource for entertaining and display.

Now that we’ve moved into the holiday season, wouldn’t you enjoy one of these butler’s pantries when holding a holiday event? How would you use this space in your own home? Here are a few suggestions.

As drinks-central: Whether you are serving wine and cocktails or soft-drinks and juice or after-dinner coffee, this space is perfect for holding the glassware, drink options and any other items you may need. Away from the kitchen, people can help themselves to their choice of beverage without interfering with dinner or appetizer preparations.

Legacy Models 072 (1)As an extension of the buffet: Perhaps this would be a good place to present a small dessert bar or position extra plates and silverware. You could also provide room for napkins and extra placemats or other table linens.

As a clean-up resource: Use the space under the sink to hold an emergency clean-up kit for spills. Clean small white towels, paper towels, and a reliable carpet spot cleaner can easily be accessed to address unexpected messes.

As a children’s snack center: items such as pretzels, mini graham crackers and juice boxes could be arranged on this butler’s pantry, giving little hands an easily-accessed source for the kind of treats kids appreciate rather than the fancier appetizers prepared for adults. And don’t be surprised if you see some of your older guests wander over and grab a chocolate teddy-graham or two.

However you choose to use this space, a butler’s pantry provides a nice additional resource for entertaining friends and family this season and all year round. For an opportunity to check out these two butler’s pantries in person, visit our Legacy community in Gilbert.

 

Kitchens made for Entertaining

002 super browseDoes your kitchen become the central location for every party you host? Then why not create a kitchen made for entertaining in your next home? This kitchen, from the Fulton Design Center, demonstrates how a kitchen can come alive during a party.

Use your island as buffet central: With its close proximity to the oven and fridge, you can easily refresh the food as needed. Take advantage of this to provide special piping hot appetizers fresh from the oven and even offer a hot drink such as mulled cider on the stovetop for winter events.

Add height to your buffet display: The open flat counterspace that your island provides makes for a great functional kitchen but it diminishes the punch of a buffet. Find ways to include height to make the display more interesting. Place some food on pedestal stands, and include candles and fresh flowers. Setting up the buffet this way also encourages guests to serve themselves on the side away from the kitchen. This keeps them out from underfoot while you’re working.

003 super browseSet up a drinks area: You can use a corner of the island, as shown in the photo to the right, also from the Fulton Design Center. Provide cups and cocktail napkins and place sodas and other drinks in the refrigerator for easy access, or keep wine chilled in an ice-bucket on one section of the counter.

Plan your lighting: This allows you to create several moods in different parts of your home. Want the kitchen to be the light and bright area? Turn on all of your kitchen lights. On the other hand if you want people to linger around the buffet but not in the main kitchen space, use only the pendant lights and keep all the other kitchen lighting off for the duration of the party. You can turn them back on when it’s time for clean-up.

Check out these and other kitchen vignettes at the Fulton Homes Design Center. Our open browse nights happen from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. every first and third Thursday of the month. For more information visit our website at: http://www.fultonhomes.com/design-center

Designed for Entertaining – Living Space

Corsica Model at Ironwood Crossing 007If you enjoy entertaining friends and family in your home, why not consider including a space made for entertaining? This room, from the Fulton Homes Corsica model at Ironwood Crossing, is ready for any gathering.

Whether it’s just you and your daughter after dinner or a troop of teenagers visiting on a weekend afternoon, a pool table adds personality and entertainment to any group. The sleek lines of this table combine with a maroon cover to fit perfectly in this grey-toned room. People of all ages enjoy playing pool, and this table creates an inviting mood in this room.

The table in the corner is bar-height, making it easy to watch the game while enjoying a drink and snacks. This is also a great spot for some appetizers or snacks to make the party more fun. The sleek shelves on the wall bring more personality into the room while using no floor space.

Take a look at the flooring. With the look of hardwood, this rectangular mimics the classic approach while providing the convenience and ease of maintenance of tile. The whitewashed tone fits perfectly into the grey, black and maroon colors of this room.

Notice also the different style of ceiling fan. The retro stainless fans gain a modern look when built into a ceiling fan this way. All of the design elements in this room combine to make a space that shows a unique sense of style – and a confidence that allows the designer to take chances.

Cook Outdoors with Barbeque Options

Outdoor barbeque from the Fulton Homes Cascade model.

Outdoor barbeque from the Fulton Homes Cascade model.

Your outdoor entertaining options can be greatly expanded by installing a backyard kitchen with built-in grill. There’s no juggling of platters and raw versus cooked food when you have this kind of counter space.

Add a few outdoor bar chairs and you can cook and feed quite a few people right from the grill. Having the counters made from the same stone as the patio helps keep everything connected from a design standpoint.

Courtyard DSC_0301 w barbeque and fountainsThis backyard – from the Fulton Homes Cascade model – also brings in a triple fountain, creating a three-sided integrated space that is ready for a table and chairs or outdoor sofa and loveseat combo. The earth tones of the tile and coordinating stone allow you to choose from a variety of cushion colors and patterns.

A finished space such as this one makes finishing touches easier. The raised beds are ready for bedding plants – or maybe a collection of herbs could combine with tomatoes and peppers to create your own kitchen garden.

From a simple family dinner to a more elaborate entertainment for a larger group of friends, this outdoor space provides the impetus for bringing your yard into the party. With a relatively low-maintenance choice such as this one, you’ll have plenty of time to plan the perfect outdoor brunch or dinner. Just have fun and make the space your own.

Planning a special children’s party

5760630_SYou don’t have to spend a fortune to organize a special party for children. Planning and creativity can make any party something to remember. Here are a few suggestions:

Choose a theme: Current children’s movies often offer a full selection of paper products such as plates, cups and centerpieces, but don’t limit yourself to these options. For example, a “Toy Story” theme could feature actual character dolls – smaller ones to decorate a cake, and larger ones to serve as a centerpiece.

Plan activities: To keep the energy going, set up a series of games and activities. Here in the Southwest, a piñata provides a great way to get every child involved. Be sure to make it harder to hit the piñata at first, so that every child has a chance to take a hit. Other games could include relay races and, for older children, a treasure hunt. You may want to mix active games with quieter ones. Be prepared to explain the rules and process for each activity, and encourage your little host or hostess to give everyone the opportunity to play.

Stick with finger foods: Pizza fingers are easier to manage than full slices, and sandwiches are tidier than fried chicken. Offer a variety of kid-friendly options. For dessert, consider cupcakes or cookies.

Plan for parents: If you are inviting the parents to stay have an assortment of drinks and appetizers ready for them. You may want to encourage them to bring cameras to document the party, with photos that can be shared later. Clearly define a time for the party to end, for the benefit of parents who drop their child off at your home.

Prizes for everyone: Children who aren’t as good at games should leave with prizes and treats also. Goody bags filled with small packages of candy and an assortment of inexpensive toys are a nice way to wrap up the day.

Above all, remember that children may come prepared to have fun, but could still be shy and unsure in a social setting. Pay attention to the wallflowers and encourage them to get involved in the games and play. With this approach and your careful planning, everyone will have a terrific time!