Hello there!! Bet you thought I forgot all about you. Well, I haven’t! Last week was an incredibly busy week for me, and I just needed a few days to recuperate. I am not as young and resilient as I used to be! Haha.
I am all about bringing people happiness through food, which can take on many different forms. One of those facets for Plan to Plate is catering. Since it is such an intense experience, especially cooking out of my little kitchen, I only perform that labor of love for friends right now. It just so happens that two of my friends are administrators at a local school, and they decided to celebrate their teachers for a whole week. (What awesome school leaders they are!) They asked me to spoil their staff with salad luncheon for 60 people. Am I insane, you ask? Yes, clearly I am. At least a little bit, because I said yes. And I was excited!
I made five different salads- all from scratch. Every component lovingly selected and created by this girl. (With a little help from my husband and my best friend, who always come to the rescue when I am overwhelmed in my kitchen.) Above you see our Caesar Salad with homemade croutons and Adam’s famous Caesar dressing. On the right, is a Greek Inspired Orzo Salad, similar to the one I posted about with blue cheese paired with buffalo chicken. This one had feta cheese, veggies, tomatoes, sunflower seeds and a homemade Lemon Vinaigrette. I also roasted and chunked about a million pounds of chicken with fresh herbs and lemon, which you see in the bowl in the back.
I think this one was my favorite. Adam doesn’t love curry, so it’s not something that I’ve played with tons in my kitchen. But for a crew of 60 folks, I knew there would be curry lovers to feed. Yay! I created a Curried Garbanzo Bean Salad with an Orange Curry Vinaigrette. Wowzers! So much flavor in that bowl! I toasted the chickpeas in olive oil and curry powder first. Then I caramelized some red onions to provide buttery sweetness. Dried cranberries brought tartness, toasted pumpkin seeds supplied crunch, bell peppers rounded out the flavor with their special sweet/savory mix, and peas and parsley offered the perfect amount of green and freshness. The dressing was a simple mixture of fresh squeezed temple orange juice, curry powder, cumin, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and salt and pepper. An explosion of happy flavor in every bite, this salad stole my heart.
This giant bowl of goodness was an Spring Asian Salad with mixed greens and spinach, toasted almonds, carrots, and zucchini with a zesty Ginger Lime Vinaigrette. One woman came back into the room to double check the ingredients in that dressing, because it was her favorite. I love the way different foods speak to different folks.
This special salad was named after my friend Robin. Robin’s Arugula Salad had fresh arugula, granny smith apples, turnips, an extra sharp white cheddar cheese that had some serious tang, and candied pecans. I whipped up a Green Goddess dressing, which apparently Robin has been dreaming about since the first time she tasted it during a work session when we were teammates back in the day. My version is simple- just fresh basil and parsley, sour cream and mayonnaise, garlic, lemon juice, and a touch of milk to achieve the right consistency.
Oh, and on the side there, you can see the many pieces of turkey that I rolled by hand so they would look pretty on the platter. Lastly, there was a tray of hearty, good-for-you breads baked at the local Farmer’s Market to bring it all home.
Catering is a tricky beast. How many servings of each salad will 60 people eat? How many containers of mixed greens is enough? How many jars of dressing do I need? Is it humanly possible to mix all of the green salads on the morning of the event and have it all set up by 10:30 am!?!? If the train leaves the station at 10:00 am…
What I did know upon accepting this challenge, is that I have been in the position of the teacher with the latest lunch time in a school. And I remember with sadness and disappointment how it feels to walk into your “special lunch” and have nothing left to eat and no lunch-from-home in tow. : ( So, my goal was to be certain that every teacher felt just as spoiled as the first one to walk through the Teacher’s Lounge door. Success! Actually, I had more than enough food…but no one left sad or hungry!
What tickled me is that people kept walking in and saying, “It smells amazing in here!” And, “I could smell it all the way down the hall!” And, “Wow! Everything was so delicious!” Hooray! I also enjoyed my opportunity to talk with folks about Plan to Plate and my offerings. So, it was well worth the hard work preparing and the two days it took my body and brain to recover. I felt proud. And I was honored to be able to bring goodness to teachers who work so hard and are so deserving of special recognition and love. I am thankful that I had friends to lend me extra serving dishes, make me fabulous little name cards for each salad, and volunteer their extra hands to make it all possible. I am one lucky girl.
The weather has warmed up here in Atlanta and I’ve been spending a lot of time out on my screened porch listening to music, creating menus and shopping lists, and preparing recipes. I’m welcoming several new clients who found me through The Green Half, an organization that promotes businesses committed to becoming more green. They provide a wide variety of reduced price deals, and I am excited that they found me! Featured as the website’s Friday FREEBie, I was able to share about myself and my business and offer two free dinner recipes with follow-up meal ideas separately from my half price voucher.
I’ve also garnered some buzz and a couple new clients from my catering extravaganza. All is well in my world. And now…I better scoot to the market so I can get to cooking up some vegetarian masterpieces for my Wednesday friends.
I hope you are well- pushing yourself to do things a bit beyond your comfort zone. That’s what I’ve been up to, and it feels amazing to accomplish what I set my heart and mind to doing. I’m learning and growing and enjoying the work. Celebrate someone in your life this week- maybe even your child’s teacher(s)- with something delicious. Food is a wonderful gift!!