Easy Ideas for End of Summer Dinner Party Inspiration

Grilled Summer Salad

Grilled Summer Salad

With Labor Day Weekend on the horizon, we wanted to share some end of summer dinner party inspiration & ideas so that you can close out the season with a stylish (and delicious) bang! If you want a fancy look, menu & libation selection but don’t want to exert a large amount of effort, we’ve got you covered.

Outdoor Dining Accents:

Dress up your table with some easy accent pieces like a colorful tablecloth or runner. By infusing some vibrancy into your outdoor space, you can easily and affordably make it more inviting and appealing.

Let there be light! Add some scented candles, strung lights or decorative lanterns to your al fresco dining area for mood and ambiance enhancement.  

Hanging and potted plants make people happy. These natural accents not only add color to an outdoor atmosphere, but they also quite literally add life! Dial it up a notch by housing them in handmade macrame wall hangings from a local creator like Drifter & Bloom.

Summer Menu Ideas:

Start your soiree off with something light & refreshing like a Grilled Summer Salad. Featuring an array of seasonal vegetables, including zucchini, bell pepper & fresh corn, this dish is elevated with the addition of a simple lime vinaigrette.

Trying to think outside of the box? Create an international theme for your end of summer dining experience! Consider offering an entree like Seafood Paella to your guests. This classic Spanish meal is a filling, easy one-pot dish that typically contains ingredients like shrimp, white fish and a variety of spices for an aromatic kick.

If you prefer something aside from seafood & have the urge to fire up & take full advantage of summer-time grilling, throw some Halloumi Skewers on the barbie! Halloumi is a style of cheese from Cyprus that has a very high melting point, which makes it the perfect cheese for grilling. Our recipe pairs it up with a Greek-style couscous salad that features kalamata olives, cucumbers, and tomatoes.

Creating an Ideal Outdoor Bar Station:

Whether your outdoor bar area is a permanent structure or a simple pop-up, here are a few ways to make sure you’re utilizing your space as effectively as possible. First things first, make sure you choose a sturdy table to house all of your precious libations. Consider wind and other natural elements as you put forth your plan. Secondly, ensure water is available and plentiful. With New England heat waves becoming the norm, access to hydration is critical. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, make sure your bar is set up 15 minutes prior to guest arrival. It’s important that it’s clear to them that the libations are there for the taking, and immediately!

Now let’s get down to brass tacks. From icy blended cocktails to refreshing pitcher drinks, we can help you with what to serve at your libation station. Here are a few of our favorite summer recipes:

  • Fruity cocktails are synonymous with warm weather. Kick off your party with a batch of welcoming Watermelon Sangria or a cool, light cocktail like a Cucumber-Honeydew Freeze.
  • Need company while you’re manning the grill? How about a spicy concoction like an Amante Picante Margarita or a rum-min inspired drink like a classic mojito!
  • Want punch without the punch? You can find a library of luscious liquid recipes here!

Have a unique recipe, cocktail or outdoor accentuation tip you want to share? We’re all ears!

Local Ingredients for the Week of 9/2/18

Jambalaya featuring organic green bell pepper from Harlow Farm, organic celery from Pete's Greens, spicy Italian sausage from Bianco & Sons, and creole spice mix from The Spice Mill.

Jambalaya featuring organic green bell pepper from Harlow Farm, organic celery from Pete’s Greens, spicy Italian sausage from Bianco & Sons, and creole spice mix from The Spice Mill.

Each week, we strive to include as many local ingredients in our meal kits as possible. This often means we source ingredients just a few days before delivery. If you’re a regular customer, you’ve seen our lists of local ingredients in your box letters. Now, we’ll be publishing the list each week as we source. Please note: ingredient sources are subject to change due to last-minute availability!

  • Apples from Champlain Orchards in Champlain, VT. – Pork Chops and Savoy Cabbage
  • Baby Spinach from Fresh Box Farms in Millis, MA. – Meatballs with Spinach
  • Organic Green Bell Pepper from Harlow Farm in Westminster, VT. – Jambalaya
  • Organic Celery from Pete’s Greens in Craftsbury, VT. – Jambalaya
  • Organic Red Leaf Lettuce from Harlow Farm in Westminster, VT. – Grilled Salmon and Summer Salad
  • Organic Cherry Tomato from Long Wind Farm in Thetford, VT. – Fettuccine with Feta and Olives
  • Organic Scallion from Kitchen Garden Farm in Sunderland, MA. – Vegetarian Bean Burrito and Ginger Tofu in Lettuce Cups
  • Gulf of Maine Salmon from Red’s Best in Boston, MA. – Grilled Salmon and Summer Salad
  • Spicy Italian Sausage from Bianco and Sons in Medford, MA. – Jambalaya
  • Butter from Cabot Creamery in Cabot, VT. – Pork Chops and Savoy Cabbage
  • Cheddar Cheese from Grafton Village Cheese in Grafton, VT. – Vegetarian Bean Burrito
  • Feta Cheese from Narraganset Creamery in Providence, RI. – Fettuccine with Feta and Almonds
  • Sour Cream from Cabot Creamery in Cabot, VT. – Vegetarian Bean Burrito
  • Chili Powder and Cumin from The Spice Mill in Manchester, CT. – Vegetarian Bean Burrito
  • Creole Spice Mix from The Spice Mill in Manchester, CT. – Jambalaya
  • Smoked Paprika from The Spice Mill in Manchester, CT. – Meatballs with Spinach
  • Flour Tortillas from Cinco De Mayo in Chelsea, MA. – Vegetarian Bean Burrito
  • Fresh Fettuccine from Mariah’s Gourmet Pasta in Malden, MA. – Fettuccine with Feta and Olives
  • Tomato Sauce from Foss Farms in Sandwich, MA. – Meatballs with Spinach

 

Local Ingredients for the Week of 8/26/18

Seafood Paella featuring organic red bell pepper from Red Fire Farm, fresh fish & shrimp from Red's Best and bay leaf from The Spice Mill

Seafood Paella featuring organic red bell pepper from Red Fire Farm, fresh fish & shrimp from Red’s Best and bay leaf from The Spice Mill

Each week, we strive to include as many local ingredients in our meal kits as possible. This often means we source ingredients just a few days before delivery. If you’re a regular customer, you’ve seen our lists of local ingredients in your box letters. Now, we’ll be publishing the list each week as we source. Please note: ingredient sources are subject to change due to last-minute availability!

  • Organic Red Bell Pepper from Red Fire Farm in Granby, MA. – Seafood Paella, Halloumi Skewers and Couscous
  • Organic Sweet Corn from Joe Czajkowski Farm in Hadley, MA. – Grilled Summer Salad
  • Organic Fresno Chili from Kitchen Garden Farm in Sunderland, MA. – Spiced Latin Sliders and Bean Salad
  • Organic Scallions from Kitchen Garden Farm in Sunderland, MA. – Ginger Hoisin Tofu, Halloumi Skewers and Couscous, Green Curry Chicken
  • Organic Green Cabbage from Pete’s Greens in Craftsbury, VT. – Moo Shu Pork Tacos
  • Organic Zucchini from Jericho Settlers Farm in Jericho, VT. – Grilled Summer Salad
  • Whitefish and Shrimp from Red’s Best in Boston, MA. – Seafood Paella
  • Cage-Free Eggs from Maple Meadow Farm in Salisbury, VT. – Moo Shu Pork Tacos
  • Halloumi Cheese from Narragansett Creamery in Providence, RI. – Halloumi Skewers and Couscous
  • Bay Leaf from The Spice Mill in Manchester, CT. – Seafood Paella
  • Cumin from The Spice Mill in Manchester, CT. – Spiced Latin Sliders and Bean Salad
  • Flour Tortillas from Cinco De Mayo in Chelsea, MA. – Moo Shu Pork Tacos

Local Ingredients for the Week of 8/19/18

Cuban Pork & Yellow Rice featuring local ingredients from Fresh Box Farms, Pete's Greens, Kitchen Garden Farm & The Spice Mill

Cuban Pork & Yellow Rice featuring local ingredients from Fresh Box Farms, Pete’s Greens, Kitchen Garden Farm & The Spice Mill

Each week, we strive to include as many local ingredients in our meal kits as possible. This often means we source ingredients just a few days before delivery. If you’re a regular customer, you’ve seen our lists of local ingredients in your box letters. Now, we’ll be publishing the list each week as we source. Please note: ingredient sources are subject to change due to last-minute availability!

  • Baby Spinach from Fresh Box Farms in Millis, MA – Cuban Pork and Yellow Rice
  • Organic Green Bell Pepper from Pete’s Greens in Waterbury, VT – Tex-Mex Macaroni and Cheese
  • Organic Cucumber from Kitchen Garden Farm in Sunderland, MA – Lentil Fattoush
  • Organic Easter Egg Radishes from Pete’s Greens in Waterbury, VT- Cuban Pork and Yellow Rice
  • Organic Japanese Eggplant from Kitchen Garden Farm in Sunderland, MA – Thai Curry with Black Rice
  • Organic Heirloom Tomatoes from Queen’s Greens in Amherst, MA – Lentil Fattoush
  • Shrimp from Red’s Best in Boston, MA – Southwest Shrimp Tacos with Lime Crema
  • Goat Cheese from Vermont Creamery in Websterville, VT – Poached Chicken with Haricots Verts
  • Monterey Jack Cheese from Cabot Creamery in Cabot, VT – Tex-Mex Macaroni and Cheese
  • Sour Cream from Cabot Creamery in Cabot, VT – Southwest Shrimp Tacos with Lime Crema
  • Pita from Middle East Bakery in Lawrence, MA – Lentil Fattoush
  • Chili Powder from The Spice Mill in Manchester, CT – Tex-Mex Macaroni and Cheese
  • Cumin from The Spice Mill in Manchester, CT – Cuban Pork and Yellow Rice
  • Ras el Hanout from The Spice Mill in Manchester, CT – Sweet Potato and Chickpea Tagine
  • Southwest Seasoning from The Spice Mill in Manchester, CT – Southwest Shrimp Tacos with Lime Crema
  • Turmeric from The Spice Mill in Manchester, CT – Cuban Pork and Yellow Rice
  • Sriracha from Kitchen Garden Farm in Sunderland, MA – Cuban Pork and Yellow Rice

New England Summer Activity Roundup

Thomas Land at Edaville Family Theme Park

Thomas Land at Edaville Family Theme Park

We wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone who participated in the Summer Fun Giveaway. You brought to light for us some New England adventure spots & activities that we weren’t familiar with and that we’re eager to share with others who may not be aware of all that New England has to offer.

To start, here’s some information about our Summer Fun Giveaway partners:

  • Animal Adventures: Located in Bolton, MA, owners Ed & Brenda Laquidara take in exotic animals that are no longer able to be kept by their current owners and provide them with a high quality of life. These animals are used for educational programs or are placed at other animal facilities, depending on their needs. Enjoy daily animal shows, private tours and even host a birthday party or corporate event here… after all, it’s #waycoolerthanazoo.
  • Edaville Family Theme Park: From Cran Central to Thomas Land, Dino Land & more, Edaville, located in Carver, MA, offers everything from rides and attractions to food, shopping, and daily events. PLUS, parking is always free. Edaville also offers events outside of the summer months: “Pumpkins Aglow” in October, and their Christmas Festival of Lights, which offers train rides through brilliant displays lit with over 7 million lights during the Christmas season!
  • The Butterfly Place: Open 7 days a week from Valentine’s Day through Columbus Day, The Butterfly Place is an indoor garden filled with hundreds of free-flying butterflies from New England as well as tropical species from all over the world. Located in Westford, MA, The Butterfly Place is able to host a wide variety of events from birthday parties to bridal showers, weddings, family gatherings, corporate events and more.  
  • King Richard’s Faire: As one of the biggest and best Renaissance fairs in New England, King Richard’s Faire sits on 80 enchanted acres. Featuring entertainment, rides, skilled games, acrobats, aerialists, jugglers & more, you can expect to see hundreds of talented performers as you traverse the grounds. Indulge in spit-roasted turkey legs, ringlets of fryes, and boules of chowder or stew, and wash it all down with champagne, wine or a brew.

And here are a few that to us, we found new:

  • Fourth Cliff: Located in Scituate, MA, Fourth Cliff is a 56-acre seaside resort. In the spring & summer, enjoy a variety of boating, camping, party & sports equipment, as well as access to picnic areas – reservations accepted!
  • Squam Lake Natural Science Center: Located in Holderness, NH, the mission of Squam Lakes Natural Science Center is to advance understanding of ecology by exploring New Hampshire’s natural world. It’s open from May 1 to November 1 and offers a variety of educational and enlightening programs, including guided discoveries, natural adventures, lake cruises & more.

And more for the kids:

  • Roger Williams Park Zoo: With over 160 animals from around the world ranging from pandas, elephants & giraffes to sloths, snow leopards, anteaters & more, the Providence, RI zoo is one of the oldest in the country and rests on 40 acres of land. Enjoy animal encounters, camel & train rides, concessions and much more, the Roger Williams Park Zoo is an awesome adventure for the whole family.
  • Story Land: Recognized as the best children’s theme park in New Hampshire, Story Land has been offering rides and entertainment to families for over 60 years. From the Antique Cars to the Whirling Whales, Crazy Barn, Flying Fish & Splash Battle, the park has evolved and expanded over the years and continues to offer all-inclusive attractions, events and shows, plus FREE parking & pet kennels!

In addition to these destinations, we also learned that most of our contest participants enjoy beach going, lake life, community boating, baseball games, day trips and fun with family. We hope this list provides you with new ideas for exploration and activities… and as always, we look forward to hearing any other suggestions you may have!

 

Local Ingredients for the Week of 8/12/18

Grilled Salmon & Quinoa Salad featuring organic scallions & zucchini from Kitchen Garden Farm and Gulf of Maine salmon from Red's Best

Grilled Salmon & Quinoa Salad featuring organic scallions & zucchini from Kitchen Garden Farm and Gulf of Maine salmon from Red’s Best

Each week, we strive to include as many local ingredients in our meal kits as possible. This often means we source ingredients just a few days before delivery. If you’re a regular customer, you’ve seen our lists of local ingredients in your box letters. Now, we’ll be publishing the list each week as we source. Please note: ingredient sources are subject to change due to last-minute availability!

  • Baby Spinach from Fresh Box Farms in Millis, MA. – Daal Curry
  • Organic Carrots from Kitchen Garden Farm in Sunderland, MA. – French Beef and Barley, Daal Curry
  • Organic Collard Greens from Harlow Farm in Westminster, VT. – West African Peanut Stew
  • Organic Lacinato Kale from Pete’s Greens in Waterbury, VT. – Veggie Quesadillas
  • Organic Scallions from Kitchen Garden Farm in Sunderland, MA. – Grilled Salmon and Quinoa Salad, Chicken Pad Thai
  • Organic Zucchini from Kitchen Garden Farm in Sunderland, MA. – Grilled Salmon and Quinoa Salad
  • Gulf of Maine Salmon from Red’s Best in Boston, MA. – Grilled Salmon and Quinoa Salad
  • Cage-Free Eggs from Maple Meadow Farm in Barre, VT. – Chicken Pad Thai
  • Monterey Jack Cheese & Sour Cream from Cabot Creamery in Cabot, VT. – Veggie Quesadillas
  • Berbere Spice Blend from The Spice Mill in Manchester, CT. – West African Peanut Stew
  • Caraway Seeds & Nutmeg from The Spice Mill in Manchester, CT. – French Beef and Barley
  • Cumin, Dried Oregano, Paprika & Sazon Seasoning from The Spice Mill in Manchester, CT.  – Casa B Cuban Chili
  • Cumin Seeds, Mustard Seeds & Turmeric from The Spice Mill in Manchester, CT. – Daal Curry
  • Flour Tortillas from Cinco De Mayo in Chelsea, MA. – Veggie Quesadillas

7 Summer Food Safety Tips

jac-foodsafetyblog

Summer calls for BBQs, outdoor events, family gatherings and lots of delicious food. While we all enjoy the mouthwatering meals that these celebrations bring, here are 7 tips for avoiding food-borne illnesses during the hottest months of the year here in New England:

  1. Wash EVERYTHING properly: Well, the items that make sense. Namely hands & produce. We are often the vehicles that kick off a food poisoning run so get seriously soapy before diving into the main tasks of the day.
  2. Remember to keep your meat & veggies separate: High temperatures mean fast bacteria growth. To avoid the possibility of contamination, it’s important to use separate containers, cutting boards, and utensils when prepping your meat and veggies.
  3. Keep cooked meat away from raw meat: Make sure that you have separate dishes to hold your cooked meat and your raw meat. Don’t let your meat sit out while you’re firing up the grill. In fact, it’s best left in the fridge until you’re ready to throw it on the heat.
  4. Let the meat rest: Meat will continue cooking once you take it off the grill. Make sure to cover it with aluminum foil to trap the heat in and let it rest for at least 5-10 minutes. This also keeps your burgers nice and juicy. Use a thermometer to insure ground beef, pork, and lamb are cooked to a minimum internal temp of 155°F while poultry should be cooked to 165°F.
  5. Keep your condiments refrigerated: At least until it’s time to serve the food. These can spoil easily when left in contact with direct sunlight.
  6. Follow the 2-hour rule: Food left out for longer than 2 hours should be thrown away. If you’re going to have leftovers of meat, veggies or items like pasta salad, make sure that you refrigerate soon after serving.
  7. The cooler situation: The more chilled, the better. Chill your coolers before packing them and use separate coolers for drinks and perishable foods. Coolers that are frequently opened, like those holding beverages, tend to see ice melt more quickly.

These, of course, are just a few. If you have any food safety tips to share – summer or year-round – please share in the comments!