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July 2013


Safely Serving Spirits

How to play it smart when serving alcohol

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Hosting How-To Choosing the right restaurant for your dinner party

Eco-friendly Entertaining Entertaining with the environment in mind


July 18, 2013 • The

A Supplement of

117 N. Second Street, Edwardsville 618.656.4700

PUBLISHER Denise Vonder Haar, Ext. 14

EDITOR Bill Tucker, Ext. 47


4 Preparing a home for entertaining 5 How to grill for a crowd 6 Choosing the right restaurant for your dinner party

7 Tips for quick weeknight meals 8 A unique take on steak

Amy Schaake, Ext. 35

10 What to look for when hiring a DJ


12 Try your hand at pulled pork

Jennifer Dyer, Ext. 32

11 Fat-free entertaining tips

13 Add some smoke to your next pot roast

14 Pot luck parties can put guests at ease

15 Don’t be deterred by special diets when entertaining

15 Pets and parties don’t always mix

Open: Tues-Sun 11 am Lunch & Dinner

618.462.4620 • 3400 Fosterburg Road • (Off IL 255, Exit 13) • Alton, IL


July 18, 2013 • The

Play it smart with spirited parties

Party hosts and hostesses are responsible for the safety of guests when alcoholic beverages are served.


arties catering to adults are often enhanced with a variety of food and beverage options, and alcoholic drinks are a common component of such gatherings. Party hosts and hostesses who will be offering the spirits to their guests should keep safety in the back of their minds. Many party hosts are unaware that they may be held liable should a person become intoxicated at their event and then go on to injure another person while under the influence. This is why bartenders will

stop serving customers who are visibly drunk. Although laws vary from place to place, party hosts should still keep tabs on their guests’ alcohol consumption, cutting off guests who might have had enough to drink. In addition to monitoring alcohol consumption, party hosts can employ these additional practices to keep everyone safe. • Collect keys upon entry to the party. Ask guests who plan to drink alcohol to surrender their car keys to you when they arrive at the party. Guests may be

offended at having to relinquish control of their cars, but it is a wise move to remove any temptation to drive away. • Remain sober. As the party host, you will have a number of responsibilities, including ensuring your guests’ comfort and safety. Having your wits about you will enable you to make better decisions for you and your guests. • Serve plenty of food. Drinking on an empty stomach is a surefire way to get intoxicated. Be certain to have a number of foods available and encourage guests to dine before you start serving any alcoholic beverages. This way you can reduce the potentially intoxicating effects the alcohol will have on your guests. Though a full stomach won’t guarantee your guests won’t become intoxicated, they are likely to consume less alcohol on a full stomach and the food in their stomach can counter the effects of any alcohol they do consume. • Keep drinks simple. Some specialty drinks call for more alcohol than others. In addition, fruity drinks can mask the flavor of the alcohol, causing a person to drink more than he or she would normally.

Figure out what you can afford. Though a young child may love to have the circus in his or her backyard when celebrating a birthday, chances are such an expense would be too expensive for the average person. When planning parties big and small, first assess your finances for the party. If you’re trusted with planning an event for your company, work with the accounting department to develop a budget that’s realistic. Planning a child’s birthday party should involve a similar assessment, during which parents can examine their finances to determine what they can and cannot afford to spend on their youngster’s big day. Once you have determined what you can afford, stick to that figure and do not exceed it. Find ways to trim costs. No matter the type of party you’re planning, there are always ways to trim costs. Instead of hiring a clown for a child’s birthday, buy a clown costume Whether hosting a game watch for family and friends, throwing a birthday bash for a child or spouse or planning a formal dinner party and don the suit yourself. If hosting a larger for professional colleagues, party hosts must determine their budgets gathering where music is expected, create a playlist on your digital music player and play early on to ensure the party does not break the bank. Regardless of that rather than hiring a DJ. Instead of a fully whether your affair will be a black-tie event or a backyard barbecue, catered event, do some of the cooking yourthere are certain tips all potential party hosts can apply to keep their self to make things easier on your bottom line. party budgets in check.

Keeping your party budget in check

Serve simpler drinks so guests know just how much alcohol they are consuming. • Establish a cut-off time. Stop serving alcoholic beverages at a certain time. This will give guests time to sober up before the end of the party. The rate at which alcohol leaves the body and enables persons to no longer feel its effects varies depending on age, gender, weight, and even race. Experts advise only having one alcoholic beverage per hour, which is the average time it takes for that drink to be metabolized. Consuming nonalcoholic drinks between alcoholic beverages will keep blood-alcohol content down. •  Make nonalcoholic beverages available, too. Giving guests options may help them drink more responsibly. Drinking water is a way to flush out the system and reduce the effects of alcohol. Party hosts often make alcoholic beverages available to their guests. Use caution and monitor guests’ drinking so no one gets sick or injured.

Invite guests to lend a helping hand. One of the ways to keep your budget in check is to invite guests to lend a helping hand. If hosting a laid back gathering of family and friends, make it a pot luck affair that encourages guests to bring their own special dishes or share beverage detail. Guests at companysponsored events should never be asked to bear some of the financial burden of the party, but you can even shed some of the cost at such events by having a cash bar instead of an open bar. Guests often want to help their gracious hosts, so don’t be afraid to ask. Don’t go overboard with food and drinks. It’s always a good idea to anticipate your guests will eat a lot at the party. So you might want to go the extra mile when stocking up on food and beverages. However, there’s no reason to go overboard, especially if you know the exact number of guests who will be attending the festivities. An excessive amount of food likely won’t keep for long, and you are liable to be left with more leftovers than you can reasonably consume. When buying food and drinks for the party, plan for guests to overindulge, but don’t go overboard with your estimates.


July 18, 2013 • The

Preparing a home for entertaining on preparing their homes for their guests.


osting a party at home is a costeffective way to entertain. But inviting friends over can be a lot of work, as the host and/or hostess is responsible for all aspects of party preparation and cleanup. While party hosts often must wait until the day of the party to tackle many of their responsibilities, they can get a head start

THE CLEAN-UP It may seem counterproductive to clean prior to having everyone over, but it is a necessity if you want to present your home in its best light. The goal is to give the home the appearance of tidiness. Every surface need not pass the white-glove test, but attention should be paid to any rooms in the house where guests will be spending time. Begin with the rooms that will be occupied the most. Ensure that they are free of clutter. If you do not have time to put every piece of dĂŠcor back in its rightful place, simply put misplaced things in boxes or baskets and store them out of sight until you can sort accordingly. Quickly vacuum the main entertaining area and wipe down any dusty surfaces. While cleaning, pay special attention to the bathrooms, which will be subject to

significant foot traffic. Spend ample time cleaning the bathroom because you want to present a clean, sanitary space. In the same vein, make sure the master bedroom is neat. Put on your best comforter and ensure the bed is made. Unless you lock the bedroom door, expect at least one guest to mistakenly wander into the bedroom. SEATING You will want to have enough seats for the majority of guests to be comfortable. Expect at least 75 to 80 percent of guests to be seated at any given time while the remaining guests mingle. Your regular furniture may be able to accommodate a number of guests. If not, bring in seating. It could mean temporarily moving out bulky sofas in lieu of folding chairs. If you will be serving a sit-down meal, then you will definitely need a seat and place at the table for each one of your guests. Buffet-style meals and finger foods are often the best option when table space is limited. SAFETY AND COMFORT Investigate your home for any potential safety hazards before inviting guests. Repair any chipped concrete on walkways

and ensure that railings are sturdy so no one trips or falls. Make sure that there is adequate indoor and outdoor light if you will be hosting your event in the evening. If you will be inviting a person with mobility issues, make sure that the path between the entryway and the bathroom is free of obstructions. If you have a pet, keep in mind that some guests may be allergic to pets or uncomfortable around animals. In such instances, it is better to tuck away your pet in a quiet, out-of-the-way room for both the comfort of guests and the safety of the animal. Keep all exits and windows easily accessible in the event of an emergency. Make sure that fire extinguishers are charged in the event a candle or chafing dish sterno gets knocked over. Have a few seats available outdoors for smokers or those who want a break from the action. Preparing a home for party guests takes some patience and elbow grease. But party hosts can get a head start on preparing their home to make the day of the party less hectic.


July 18, 2013 • The

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How to grill for a crowd C

ooking over an open fire is a staple of warm-weather entertaining. Tossing some steaks or vegetables on the grill for a family dinner is usually an easy undertaking. But even the craftiest grill cooks may need to apply some tricks of the trade when grilling foods for the masses. • Cook a large piece of meat. Rather than individual burgers or chicken wings, think about barbecuing an entire pig or a roast. In many cases, the meat can be set up on the barbecue early in the morning. By the time the evening arrives, the meat should be tender and cooked through. With just occasional checking, turning and basting, this may be the most low-maintenance option when feeding a crowd. • Rent or borrow a second grill. Unless you are working on industrial-sized or commercial equipment, a standard grill may not have enough surface area to cook a lot of food at once. Find a friend or a family member who is willing to lend you his or her grill. Having twice the room means you can cook twice the amount of food. You also may be able to rent a larger grill for an event. • Precook the food. You can put bratwurst, hot dogs or burgers on the grill to partially cook them before the party, then store them in aluminum pans. When guests arrive, simply reheat the food to the right temperature and they’ll be hot

and ready in no time. • Make steak sandwiches. Make the food go further with less work by cooking rib eye steaks or a flank steaks on the grill. Slice up the meat and serve over garlic bread with melted jack or mozzarella cheese. The result will be savory and such sandwiches don’t take much time to create. • Opt for pulled pork. Start the basics of pulled pork in a slow cooker so that the meat cooks for several hours under low heat. If you have a smoker, you can opt use that, but smokers may take longer to cook the meat and require more maintenance. If you opt for the slow cooker, transfer the meat to an aluminum pan when it is nearly done and put on the grill to impart that smoky flavor. Add more seasonings and keep warm until guests are ready to dine. • Go with hot dogs. Hot dogs are usually precooked and will heat up quickly on the grill. Their small size means they don’t take up much space and several can fit on the grill at one time. Grilling for a crowd is easier when you plan with foods that are precooked or heat up quickly. This way you can enjoy more time with your guests.

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July 18, 2013 • The

Choosing the right restaurant for your dinner party

TROY LIONS HOMECOMING July 25, 26 & 27, 2013

restaurant. If you, as the host, intend to pick up the tab for everyone, then you might want to find a nice restaurant with reasonably priced entrées. A five-star restaurant might break the bank, but you might be able to find a three- or four-star restaurant that’s still elegant and more affordable. If each guest intends to pay for his or her own meal, discuss with guests how much they would like to spend before making a reservation. Once you have an idea of what everyone is willing to spend, you can start to narrow down your options.

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Getting together with family and friends for a good meal is a great opportunity to reconnect and share a few laughs. Though such gatherings have traditionally taken place at private homes, today’s busy adults are increasingly turning to restaurants to host their mini reunions. Restaurants don’t require hosts and guests to wash any dishes, and hosts won’t have to find time to clean their homes top to bottom like they would if they were to have a party at home. Such a reality makes a dinner party at a local restaurant a lot less stressful for the hosts. There are a number of things to emphasize when looking for the right restaurant to host the next dinner party. PROXIMITY Whether entertaining family and friends or a business dinner, the restaurant where you will be gathering should be easily accessible to all people who plan to attend. A centrally located restaurant that’s only a short drive for guests and hosts alike is ideal, as it cuts back on the time people will spend driving to and from the restaurant. Try to accommodate those guests who don’t drive by choosing a restaurant that’s accessible via public transportation. PRICE Perhaps the only downside to hosting a dinner party at a restaurant is that such gatherings tend to be more expensive than parties at private residences. Hosts should first determine who will be paying the bill. If everyone has agreed to pay their own portion of the bill, this gives you a little more flexibility when choosing a

MENU The menu is an important thing for hosts to consider when choosing a restaurant for their next dinner party. Many men and women adhere to certain diets or lifestyles that restrict what they can and cannot eat, and you will want to find a restaurant that can cater to as many of your guests’ needs as possible. Discuss any dietary restrictions with your guests before you begin the process of finding a restaurant. If the responses are slow to come in, you can still go ahead with your search, but look for restaurants that offer vegetarian and gluten-free fare. When examining the menu, take into consideration any offerings for kids if any guests are planning to bring their children along. Kids tend to prefer chicken fingers and fries over filet mignon and baked potatoes, so the restaurant should have some menu items for young children if kids will be joining in the festivities. ACCESSIBILITY When looking for a restaurant, try to find one that’s easily accessible for any older guests who might not get around as easily as they used to or any guests who might have a disability that requires handicap accessible seating and restrooms. Many restaurants can fill both of these needs, but it’s still up to hosts to ask in advance so all guests have a comfortable evening. The parking lot should not be too far away, but if it is, ask the restaurant manager if valet service is available for those guests who might prefer it. A dinner party at a restaurant with family, friends or even professional colleagues often makes for an enjoyable evening for guests and hosts alike. But hosts must consider several factors before ultimately choosing where they and their guests will dine.


July 18, 2013 • The

Tips for quick weeknight meals


njoying a meal together on a weeknight is a goal for many families. But adults often find themselves pressed for time on weeknights, and that time crunch can make it difficult to enjoy a homecooked meal. But time is not the only thing getting in the way of family meals. Be it after school activities, long commutes or late hours at the office, many things can make it difficult for a family to sit down and enjoy a meal together. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse notes that family dinners are one of the most effective ways for parents to engage in the lives of their children. Studies have also shown that families who eat together tend to eat healthier, as parents can more effectively monitor their kids’ diets, including whether or not their youngsters are getting enough fruits and vegetables, when they are dining together. While it may not be feasible for parents and kids to scale back their busy schedules, there are steps parents can take to make weeknight meal preparation quicker. By shortening the time it takes to make meals on weeknights, families might be able to sit down to dinner together more often. Plan ahead. The most effective way to make more time for family meals is to plan ahead. Planning meals on the fly encourages everyone to fend for themselves, making it difficult for families to enjoy nutritious meals they can eat together. Plan for the coming week’s meals on the weekend, when you can survey your pantry and make a trip to the grocery store if need be. Planning ahead also allows you to prepare certain parts of a meal in advance, which will save you time on busy weeknights. Make cold meals. Dinner does not have be served hot, and cold meals often take

less time to prepare. Consider serving salad or sandwiches on those nights when you are especially pressed for time. When serving sandwiches, serve them on whole grain bread to add some nutritional value to the meal. Turn breakfast into dinner. There are no laws regarding what qualifies as dinner and what does not, so families without much time on their hands on a weeknight can turn breakfast into dinner. Eggs are both quick and easy to prepare, and they can be served alongside toast and grapefruit. When making omelets for dinner, add some spinach or another vegetable to make the meal more nutritious. Lean on seafood more often. Seafood can be healthy and delicious, but that’s not the only reason it’s an ally to timestrapped families. Seafood should not take much time to cook, as even those dishes that take more time than simpler dishes like sautéed shrimp will still take less than 30 minutes to complete. That’s significantly less time than meals in which beef, pork or poultry is the main entrée. Leftovers aren’t just for lunch. Leftovers are often relegated to lunch, but extras from a meal cooked over the weekend can be used as a quick go-to meal on a hectic weeknight. If the family enjoyed the meal the first time around, there’s no reason they won’t enjoy it again. When eating leftovers for dinner, make sure the leftovers are fresh, but try to avoid serving leftovers the night after they were initially cooked. Enjoy meals as a family is a great way for families to eat healthy and stay engaged in one another’s lives. And even families with hectic schedules can employ a few tricks to make dining together more convenient.

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July 18, 2013 • The

A unique take on steak F

ew foods have as much universal appeal as steak, and filet mignon might just be the most beloved steak of them all. When hosting a dinner party or enjoying steaks at home with the family, consider the following recipe for “Filet Mignon With Braised Oxtails and Purple Potato Purée” from Tony Mantuano’s “The Spiaggia Cookbook” (Chronicle Books). Filet Mignon With Braised Oxtails and Purple Potato Purée Serves 4 For the Braised Oxtails: 1 ⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil 2 pounds oxtails 1 yellow onion, chopped 3 carrots, peeled and chopped 3 stalks celery, chopped 1 tablespoon tomato paste 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

For the Oxtail Sauce: 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 small carrot, finely chopped 1 ⁄2 yellow onion, finely chopped 1 stalk celery, finely chopped 1 teaspoon tomato paste

Purple Potato Purée Makes 4 cups 1 ⁄2 pounds purple potatoes, peeled and quartered 1⁄4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature 1⁄2 cup heavy cream, warmed Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper 1

Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes and return to the pan. Place over low heat until all excess water is gone, 2 to 3 minutes. Pass the potatoes through a ricer into a warmed bowl or transfer to the bowl and mash by hand with a potato masher. Fold in the butter and cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 4 filet mignons, 5 ounces each Sea salt and freshly ground pepper 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley 11⁄2 cups dry red wine 2 cups veal stock 2 cups water 1 ounce caul fat, cut into four 5-inch squares 1 bay leaf 5 peppercorns 1 ⁄2 cup dry red wine 11⁄4 cups reserved braising liquid 2 cups blanched and chopped broccoli rabe Purple Potato Puree (see below), for serving 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

To make the braised oxtails: In a large roasting pan over medium-high heat, heat the 1⁄4 cup olive oil. When the pan and oil are hot, add the oxtails and sear, turning as needed to brown on all sides, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a large stockpot and set aside. Add the onion, carrots and celery to the roasting pan and return to mediumhigh heat. Sauté until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste, thyme and parsley. Stir well to combine and cook, uncovered, until the vegetables are browned, 6 to 8 minutes longer. Add the wine and scrape to loosen any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the vegetables and liquid to the stockpot, along with the veal stock and water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and gently simmer, uncovered, until the oxtail meat just starts to fall off the bones, about 3 hours. Transfer the oxtails to a platter and let cool. Pull the meat off the bones and set aside. Strain the braising liquid and reserve. Discard

the solids. Line a lightly oiled 3-inch ring mold with 1 caul fat square. Pack 1⁄2 cup of the braised oxtail meat into the mold, pressing gently to pack the layer. Fold over the edges of the square. Carefully remove the mold. Repeat with the remaining 3 squares. Set aside. To make the sauce: In a saucepan, heat the 6 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the carrot, onion and celery and sauté for 3 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook 2 minutes longer. Add the bay leaf, peppercorns and wine. Bring to a simmer and reduce for 5 minutes. Add the reserved braising liquid, return to a simmer, and cook until reduced to 1 cup, 15 to 20 minutes. Strain. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Keep warm. Heat a large sauté pan over mediumhigh heat for 1 minute. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pan and heat. Add the oxtail packets, seam side down, and brown for 4 minutes each side. Remove the packets and pat dry with paper towels. Keep warm.

Heat another large sauté pan over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and heat. Season the filets with salt and pepper, add to the pan, and sear for 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare. Prepare the broccoli rabe. To serve, place an oxtail packet in the center of one of four warmed plates. Arrange a filet mignon on top of the oxtail, then place a large oval of purple potato purée on top of the filet. Ladle 1⁄4 cup of sauce on the plate. Arrange the broccoli rabe and garlic around the packet. Repeat to make the remaining 3 servings and serve immediately.

July 18, 2013 • The



July 18, 2013 • The

Throw a great party on a budget


any life events are worthy of celebration. Many families aspire to have parties honoring special events, such as graduations, births, retirements, bar mitzvahs, Sweet Sixteens, and much more. Hosting such a party can be a great time, and such hosting duties need not break the bank. Hosting a party can be an expensive undertaking. An unsteady economy has left many families pinching pennies for the necessities, and hosting duties are a luxury many families cannot afford. But hosts who can create a budget ahead of time might find their party is easier to plan. Creating a party budget may mean compromising on a few elements, but it does not have to mean compromising a good time. Here are a few ways to budget for a party and still have a blast. Determine a realistic party budget. The first step is to determine exactly what you can spend. You will need to base all of your plans on what you can afford. It can be tempting to go above budget, but that may land you in debt. Without a budget, you will not know how to allocate your money effectively. Get price quotes from various venues. The cost of renting a venue will likely be the biggest expense on your list. But you can save a substantial amount of money if you can host at home. Those who have limited house or apartment space need to seek other options. While restaurants may be expensive, parks, gardens or church basements may be more reasonable. Figure out what elements are important. Are your guests gourmands who pay special attention to food quality and taste? If so, you may have to spend more on food and beverages. If a flashy location is more desireable, then know that a large portion of the budget will be allocated for a place with a view. Some people flock to parties for the entertainment. If you are like-minded, then budget a larger portion for the band or deejay. Keep a tally. As you start securing elements to the party, be sure to deduct the expenses from the total budget. Hold on to all receipts and reconcile them against the amount you have to spend. This will present an accurate picture of the total cost of the party. If you start to break your budget, you will know you it’s time to curtail any additional spending. Don’t plan on the gifts covering expenses. Some families circulate

tales of brides and grooms dipping into their gifts at weddings to pay for the party. Those who have to do this have overextended themselves. Many throw parties with the intention of breaking even once monetary gifts are collected. Not only is this in poor etiquette, it is risky. There is no guarantee that guests will cover the cost of their meals. Do as much as you can yourself. Cutting out the middleman will dramatically reduce the cost of many party services. If you want floral centerpieces on tables, make them yourself. If you want guests to take home chocolate lollipops or other trinkets, spend time putting them together. Printing your own invitations reduces the cost of using a printing service or buying them. Set your own playlist of compiled music on an mp3 player for the music. If hiring a caterer exceeds your budget, prepare the food yourself. The more services you can provide on your own, the less expensive the party will be. Pare down the guest list. Another significant way to come in at budget is to be realistic about how many people you can invite. While it may be nice to extend an invitation to everyone you know, that will quickly drive up the price. Only invite the closest of friends and family. Delegate some of the work. If a friend or family member offers to bring something to the party, don’t hesitate to accept such an offer. You may know someone who takes excellent photos or a friend who has a deejay business on the side. Every little bit helps when working on a budget. Start saving early. Look ahead to the events that are coming up that may warrant a bash. Pick and choose among those you want to celebrate and begin putting away money toward those events. Once the time arrives, you may have more savings than you thought and the ability to indulge a little more.

What to look for when hiring a DJ


he success of a social event is often dictated by the activities that keep guests busy. At many parties, dancing is the primary activity. And as veteran party hosts know, who you hire to keep the music flowing and the guests dancing can make or break a party. When the party is over, guests want to remember dancing to their favorite songs and how the music complemented the event. A professional disk jockey, or DJ, can be instrumental in setting the mood of a party, helping to create a festive atmosphere while choosing the right songs to enhance certain moments throughout the event. Here is how to choose a DJ that will fit with your goals and the scope of your event. WHY HIRE A DJ? One reason many party hosts choose a DJ is affordability. Disc jockeys are traditionally less expensive than bands, and a DJ will have access to a selection of music that spans various generations and genres. Some hosts prefer a DJ because they enjoy hearing the real thing instead of a band covering a favorite artist. Whereas a band may be playing their own rendition of songs, a DJ will have the original recordings or particular dance mixes that are familiar to guests. While the music is playing, a DJ may offer some type of entertainment, such as leading guests on guided dances or distributing toys to those on the dance floor. Some DJs work in conjunction with emcees or party professionals who

mingle with the crowd and dance along. These people help guests overcome their inhibitions, encouraging them to dance and enjoy the party. SELECTING A DJ When choosing a DJ, it is important to first get recommendations from friends and family or to witness in person how the DJ has performed at a prior function. It is always better to choose a DJ who has a proven track record. If guests walked away from a particular party with glowing accounts of a DJ’s work, then that should bear considerable weight as you make your decision. It is one thing to simply play music, but a DJ will need to establish a rapport with the crowd and recognize when to liven things up and get the crowd back on the dance floor. If you are employing a DJ from an entertainment service, be sure to request that a particular DJ be present at your party. Companies that farm out work to a variety of vendors may not guarantee that a particular person will provide the music for your event. You may need to specify the name of the DJ you prefer in writing. THE MUSIC MIX Talk to the DJ about your preferences as to the playlist. Together you can work out a playlist that will accommodate as many guests as possible. The DJ also will help keep the party on track, alerting guests as to when food is served or when certain games or activities will be played. If ever during a

July 18, 2013 • The will be played. If ever during a consultation you feel that the DJ is not listening to your suggestions or is unwilling to play the type of music you would like, then this is not the person for you. Most DJs will listen to requests and make suggestions for certain songs that will fit in with the party theme. Remember to mention if any songs should not be played. Depending on the age group at the party, off-color songs or ones with explicit lyrics may be discouraged. In addition to keeping in touch and working with you on the planning of the event, the DJ should confirm your reservation and arrive early to set up. Carefully researching your DJ options prior to hosting a party can mean the difference between a successful party where guests had a good time and a dull event that lacked a spark.


Fat-free entertaining tips


ntertaining is a big responsibility. Party hosts welcoming guests into their homes must prepare their homes for guests and plan a meal as well as any entertainment, while those hosting a night out on the town must find a restaurant that’s conveniently located and offers a menu that’s versatile enough to cater to guests who adhere to various diets. When hosting at home, catering to guests’ dietary needs rests entirely on hosts’ shoulders. This may entail preparing vegetarian meals for your guests who do not eat meat or serving low-sodium fare for those with certain medical conditions. Some hosts like to go the extra mile when cooking for their guests, preparing healthy meals even when guests don’t make such requests. Trimming fat is a great way to serve a healthy spread to your guests, and there are many ways you can cut fat from some of your favorite foods without sacrificing taste. Banish the butter. Sandwiches are popular and convenient options when having a less formal affair, such as those when you’re hosting friends for the big game. Though it’s common to butter sandwich bread before piling on the deli meats and other fixings,

leaving the butter behind is an easy way to trim some fat from your favorite sandwiches without greatly affecting taste. Let guests butter their own sandwiches if they so prefer. The same principle can be applied to mayonnaise, which can add lots of fat to a sandwich. Prepare sandwiches sans mayo, allowing guests to add their own spreads if they want to. Cook with skim milk. Many recipes call for a dash or two of milk, and healthconscious hosts can look out for their guests by cooking with skim or even low-fat milk instead of whole milk. Continue the low-fat or fat-free milk theme after dinner when serving coffee. Instead of offering whole milk or heavy cream when serving coffee after dinner, offer low-fat or skim milk instead. Physically remove fat from some foods. Perhaps the easiest way to cut fat from foods you will serve to your guests is to actually trim the fat from beef, pork or chicken before cooking. When hosting a backyard barbecue, trim fat from steaks, chops and chicken breasts before putting them on the grill. While some people love the taste of some grizzled fat with their barbecue, such an indulgence is very unhealthy.

Serve egg whites for breakfast. When hosting friends or family members overnight, avoid starting the day off with fatty fare by serving up egg whites for breakfast. Unlike eggs, egg whites contain no fat and no cholesterol but are still flavorful. And egg whites have become increasingly popular, so chances are your guests already opt for egg whites when making their own breakfasts at home. Another way to trim some fat from the most important meal of the day is to offer low-fat butter and cream cheese when serving bagels, muffins and toast. Low-fat or fat-free spreads tend to be just as flavorful as their less healthy alternatives. Serve whole grains. When hosting a dinner party at home, opt for whole grains whenever possible. If serving a pasta dish, choose whole grain pastas instead of traditional white pastas. Whole grain pastas tend to have fewer calories, and their fats are healthier fats. Whole grain pastas tend be less filling as well, so your guests likely won’t be feeling bloated and uncomfortable after eating. When hosting a party at home, hosts can prepare healthier fare by limiting fat content in the foods they serve.


July 18, 2013 • The

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Try your hand at pulled pork


ulled pork is a popular staple at barbecue restaurants across the country. Though it begins with lots of fat and connective tissue, the pork butt, when cooked slowly, becomes a tender, melt-in-your-mouth culinary delight. Though often made in sandwich style, pulled pork can be served in a variety of ways, including in tacos, burritos and in casseroles. Though it takes a considerable investment of time, pulled pork is worth the effort. For those who want to test their barbecue skills, consider the following recipe for “Pulled Pork With Tangy Barbecue Sauce” from Jon Bonnell’s “Texas Favorites” (Gibbs Smith).

GREAT Food, GREAT Drink, GREAT Service, BIG Party, BIG Fun,


Pulled Pork With Tangy Barbecue Sauce Serves 12 to 14 pork shoulder (Boston butt or pork butt), approximately 7 lbs. tablespoons kosher salt teaspoon ground cumin teaspoons ground coriander teaspoon chili powder tablespoon hot smoked paprika tablespoon onion powder teaspoons garlic powder teaspoon dry mustard powder teaspoon freshly ground black pepper cups apple cider vinegar, divided

Clean the pork shoulder well and pat dry with paper towels. Mix all dry ingredients together and rub liberally all over the pork. Let the meat absorb the dry spices at room temperature for 3 to 4 hours. Prepare a smoker with pecan chips and bring the temperature up to 210 F. Place a water pan with 2 cups apple cider vinegar in the bottom of the smoker. Place the pork shoulder in the smoker and cook at a temperature between 200 and 210 F for 14 hours. The smoking chips will need to be replenished every few hours. Each time the door is opened, baste the pork with the remaining apple cider vinegar to moisten. After 14 hours, remove the pork and use two forks to pull the meat apart. Serve with Tangy Barbecue Sauce.

Tangy Barbecue Sauce Makes roughly 4 cups 3 tablespoons canola oil 1 large sweet onion, chopped 1 jalapeño, seeded and diced 3 cloves garlic, minced 1 ⁄2 cup ketchup 1 ⁄2 cup canned diced tomatoes 1 ⁄2 cup apple cider vinegar 1 ⁄2 cup dry red wine 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 2 pasilla chiles, stems and seeds removed 5-7 shakes hot sauce 1 tablespoon honey 1 tablespoon plus 11⁄2 teaspoons molasses Juice of 2 lemons Juice of 1 orange 11⁄2 teaspoons dry mustard powder 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1 ⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onion, jalapeño and garlic in oil until soft. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a light simmer. Stir well, being careful not to burn the sugars. Simmer for 12 minutes, then puree the mixture with a stick blender until smooth. Reduce until the sauce thickens slightly and serve.

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July 18, 2013 • The

Pot luck parties can put guests at ease


TAKE SUGGESTIONS Allow guests to make suggestions regarding the menu. Perhaps someone will handle cutlery and serving pieces. Maybe a friend has chafing dishes that you can borrow. A family member who owns a business may be able to contribute a product from his or her store or service. Guests can do more than just bring food or beverages to make a contribution. Extra seating and tables are always welcome.

hile a good time is the goal of many social gatherings, too often the host and the hostess spend the majority of the party catering to guests rather than enjoying themselves. But pot luck parties that encourage guests to contribute to the festivities can allow even party hosts to relax and enjoy the festivities. Such parties a great option for contemporary hosts or hostesses who want to host a gathering but are too busy with their day-to-day activities to plan a party. During a pot luck, everyone is invited to bring their signature dishes to the event. These types of parties enable everyone to come together and share the work so the party hosts aren’t inundated with all of the labor. Pot luck parties are typically informal gatherings, which can help put guests at ease and make them more inclined to attend. A casual party where no one is expected to put on airs can create a relaxed and fun environment. Although pot luck party guests will be sharing the workload, pot luck parties still require some planning. In fact, such parties may need a bit more organization than others, if only to ensure that the right ratio of food and beverages is available. Party hosts do not want to be stuck with duplicates of menu items or a scarcity of something essential. Here’s how to throw a successful pot luck. GETTING ORGANIZED The first step is deciding which type of pot luck you want to have. This will dictate the menu. A cocktail party requires finger foods, while a sit-down event may require more substantial dishes. Many party hosts like to associate a theme with their parties, and tying food into the theme can help guests decide what to bring. Create a list of what’s needed Determine how many dishes will be needed. The number of dishes available does not have to equal the number of guests in attendance, but it is a good idea to have a variety of options. When notifying guests what they can bring, give a general list of guidelines. Perhaps you would like to have a beef dish, poultry, side dishes, a vegetarian option, and a salad. By giving guests the guidelines, they can work within them to create foods that they enjoy. It is best not to dictate exactly what to bring, as that may seem overbearing.

STOCK UP ON TAKE-HOME CONTAINERS Even the most carefully planned pot luck party is sure to generate a good deal of leftovers. Send everyone home with their own doggie bags. Aluminum or plastic containers can be used to divide any remaining foods. Pot lucks can be a comfortable, informal way to host a number of people without taking on all of the work or expense of a party.

DON’T FORGET THE BEVERAGES Sometimes it can be easy to get swept up with the menu and overlook the beverages and other treats. Guests who do not need to bring a dish or those who admit their culinary capabilities are lacking can opt to bring drinks or ice. If you will be offering alcohol beverages, delegate who will bring which spirits and mixers. DIVVY UP THE DESSERTS Desserts are a big part of pot luck gatherings. Ask which guests prefer to make desserts and then keep track of who is bringing which items so you do not overlap. Chances are there is a seasoned baker in your midst who enjoys delighting the crowd with delectable desserts.


July 18, 2013 • The

Pets and parties don’t always mix Many people are allergic to shellfish, so hosts who plan to serve shellfish should make alternative foods available to their guests.

Don’t be deterred by special diets when entertaining


ntertaining a crowd with various dietary restrictions nowadays may mean more than simply having a vegetarian alternative or avoiding peanut products. Food and beverage allergies vary, and some people steer clear of certain foods not because they have made a lifestyle choice, but because their health depends on it. As a result, party hosts should be mindful of any food restrictions and try to be as accommodating as possible. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America reports that approximately 6 percent of allergy sufferers have food allergies as their primary allergy. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology offers similar findings while noting that 38.7 percent of food-allergic children have a history of severe reactions. Milk, soy, eggs, wheat, tree nuts, fish ,and shellfish are the foods most likely to cause a reaction among food allergy sufferers. Each year allergies account for millions of outpatient office visits and hospitalizations. For some, allergies may be so severe that they result in extreme swelling and anaphylaxis. To ensure that dinner guests are not subject to uncomfortable or potentially fatal

reactions, be sure to take into consideration food restrictions when preparing a meal and consider the following tips before and during the party. Speak to guests. The best way to learn of any food restrictions your guests may have is to ask them if they have any such restrictions. Some guests may only eat kosher foods while others may have a gluten intolerance. Knowing what to expect and being able to research proper preparation methods can make the process go more smoothly. Read labels carefully. Certain foods, especially premade items, may be hiding certain ingredients that can be dangerous to those with a food allergy or a dietary restriction. Foods that contain gelatin may be inappropriate for those on a vegetarian or vegan diet. Some items that are wheatfree may be produced in factories that also process wheat products. You have to be careful with all foods you serve. Consider kosher foods for all of your guests. Kosher foods tend to be made of simple ingredients and packaged in strict adherence to religious practices. Kosher foods are now easier to find than ever, as a substantial percentage

of the packaged goods available in the supermarket are certified kosher. People with food allergies may appreciate the simplicity of kosher foods, and you can rely on these items when preparing meals. Label foods clearly. Your mother’s recipe for turkey casserole may be a fan-favorite, but those with food allergies may shy away from items they can’t easily recognize. Attach tags to buffet-style items that indicate their ingredients so guests with dietary restrictions can still enjoy a good meal like everyone else. Prepare foods separately. When cooking, be mindful of kitchen hygiene by using separate dishes, bowls and utensils for preparing foods to avoid cross-contamination. If you will be preparing something with a known allergen, such as dairy or wheat, keep it separate from other foods and do not use mixing bowls or spoons for the different foods. It may take some extra effort, but making guests who have dietary restrictions feel comfortable at your next party means having menu items that are compatible with their personal diets.


ets have become much more than companion animals. For many people, pets are full-fledged members of the family. People who are proud of their pets may want them to be around when friends and family visit, including those special occasions when hosting a party at home. Yet not all pets enjoy the boisterous nature of parties, and not all guests are excited about being in proximity to animals. Party hosts must keep the safety and comfort of their pets and guests in mind during the party. Certain elements of a party can be hazardous to pets. For example, the ASPCA warns that children’s toys may not be pet-friendly. Furthermore, balloons can frighten animals should they pop, and the remnants can present a serious choking hazard. Pets can swallow other items, including party sandwich toothpicks or even

ribbon from gifts, which can get lodged in their digestive tracts and cause injury. Foods served at parties may cause digestive distress for pets. Should a dog or cat consume cake and other sweets he or she may vomit or suffer from diarrhea. Certain foods, including chocolate, raisins, grapes, garlic, and onions, can be toxic to pets in high quantities. Pets that end up lapping up alcoholic beverages can become quite ill. Alcohol poisoning can occur even when a pet consumes a small amount of alcohol. According to author Becky Lundgren, DVM, pets can die from alcohol ingestion, depending on the level of ethanol in the drink. A veterinarian should be contacted if a pet has had an alcoholic beverage. Well-behaved pets may not behave in the same manner when their home is filled with party guests. Animals can be territorial, and when their


July 18, 2013 • The

Summer Entertainment  

A guide for dining, entertainment, and celebrations.

Summer Entertainment  

A guide for dining, entertainment, and celebrations.