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Jeff Conner

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Exquisite edibles to enjoy during your solar eclipse celebration

All eyes will be to the sky this coming Monday, August 21, when the moon passes between the sun and Earth, blocking all or part of the giant star for up to three hours. It is the total solar eclipse of 2017 – the first in the United States in 38 years!

The path of total solar ‘blackout’ will move through portions of 14 states – stretching from Lincoln Beach, Oregon, to Charleston, South Carolina. However, all North Americans, and even parts of South America, Africa, and Europe will be treated to at least a partial a partial solar eclipse, with the moon covering part of the sun's disk during Monday’s spectacle in the sky.

Such a rare sight calls for celebration, and nothing sounds more suave than a sophisticated eclipse soiree! But after stocking up on verified eclipse-viewing glasses, equipping your guests with a list of eclipse-exploring mobile apps, and creating a stellar playlist (complete with Bonnie Tyler’s ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’), you’ll want to ensure that you have the perfect menu to accompany the phenomena. After all, no party is complete without a smorgasbord of goodies, and the solar eclipse holds no exception!

Let’s remember that the actual event will be passing through the United States during the daytime, depending where you are located:

  • Western United States: The first in the country to see the eclipse will be along the coast of Oregon around 9:04 a.m. PDT. The moon will completely cover the sun there by 10:17 a.m. PDT
  • Rocky Mountains: The eclipse will begin in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, at 10:16 a.m. MDT, with the moon blocking out the sun completely by 11:36 a.m. MDT
  • Central United States: In Southern Illinois, a partial eclipse will begin around 11:50 a.m., with maximum coverage at 1:19 p.m. and culminating at 2:45 p.m.
  • Eastern United States: The coastal areas of South Carolina will be the final place in the United States to experience a total eclipse, with the peak eclipse occurring around 2:47 p.m. EDT and the shadow of the moon moving offshore shortly after 4 p.m. EDT.

As most of the direct action takes place during the earlier hours of the afternoon across the entire country, it’s important that you offer both savory and sweet options for your guests – it’s too early in the day to do JUST sweets, and too late not to provide them at all. Being during the day, you also don’t need to feel obligated to serve a full entrée. Small snacks and bites will fit perfectly.

Grilled eggplant and “moon”-zzarella

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Belisimo! Your guests will grant major creativity props for this eclipse-inspired appetizer!

Slice an eggplant into ½ inch thick rounds (the eggplant will be your moon), brush with olive oil, and throw those babies on the grill! You can also roast them in the oven at 420F for about 10-13 minutes. While the eggplant cooks, slice a ball of mozzarella into ½ inch thick rounds (the bright mozzarella will act as your sun).

Layer the eggplant and mozzarella on a serving platter caprese-style. Drizzle with balsamic glaze and garnish with some fresh basil.

The contrast between the dark eggplant and the white mozzarella mimics the same idea of the eclipse… the two objects, similar in size and shape, aligning with one and over and covering each other. Viola! A quick and easy catered app.

Get lunar-fied with pizza moons

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This one’s super easy and a great finger food option.

Preheat oven according to directions on crescent roll packaging. Unroll the dough on a flat surface. Top each triangle of dough with shredded cheese and a few slices of pepperoni. Sprinkle on a bit more cheese, and roll into crescent shape. Place pizza “moons” on a baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes. Top with Parmesan cheese.

Since your party will most likely be outside, these pizza moons offer an easy, hand held way to enjoy a lunar-themed snack.

Explore the skies with pretzel-ations

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Have kids coming to the party? This little offering acts as both a snack and a craft for the kids.

Use mini pretzel rods and mini marshmallows to create pretzel constellations. Let the children make their own crazy combinations, and have some pre-made designs out on display for inspiration (and decoration).

Party snack catering doesn’t get easier than this – and the kids will thank you, too, for being the cool party host.

Soar into space with rocket dogs

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Time to break out that dough once more! Pre-cook hotdogs to your liking. Wrap a regular sized hotdog in Pillsbury Bread Stick Dough and bake it according to the instructions on the dough package. 

Push a skewer through the hot dogs when done and top with a triangle of cheese. Instant. Rocket.

Now let’s add something sweet…

Get galactical with galaxy popcorn

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Your guests will get a kick out of this one – which is a lot easier to make than it looks! For it, you’ll need microwave popcorn, three bags of candy melts (black, lavender, and blue) that can be brought at your local craft store, and edible star sprinkles.

Take a bag of microwave popcorn and prepare as per the instructions. Melt the bag of black candy melts in microwave and gently combine popcorn with melted, black candy until coated. Next, spread popcorn in a single layer onto a wax paper-lined cookie sheet. Melt ¼ cup blue melts and ¼ cup lavender melts and drizzle each over the popcorn. Sprinkle edible stars on top, then refrigerate for 10-15 minutes. Break up into bite-sized pieces and serve!

Edible eclipse cookies

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You’ve eaten these guys for as long as you can remember… but did you ever realize how perfectly they fit into an eclipse-themed party? Whether you decide to buy these black and white cookies from a bakery or make them from scratch, they offer the perfect, celestial balance of dark and light – and fit the feel of the party perfectly!

Let’s not forget a libation…

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Whether you are celebrating in the path of eclipse totality or viewing partial coverage from your party place, the ‘Perfect Solar Eclipse’ cocktail is absolutely delicious and a great way to mark the occasion.

Simply mix 4 oz of sparkling clementine or orange soda with 1 ½ oz dark rum. Pour over ice and garnish with an orange slice.

Want to get even simpler than that? Stock up on some Blue Moon beer, of course!

With the main event just days away, the above snacks are quick to pull together, delicious for everyone, affordable, and add the perfect catered touch to your eclipse viewing party’s snack table. In fact, with such creativity and ease, your guests will most likely deem the party out of this world.

When’s the next solar eclipse event after Monday? You’re guests are sure to be wondering when they’ll be able to come back for more!

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Summer is upon us again and it’s that time of year to start planning and having your company picnic. These are great events for your company to show sincere appreciation and gratitude for your team members. According to Paul Spiegelman from Inc. magazine, having a company picnic shows your commitment to your employees, it breaks down walls, shows you support families, inspires gratitude and makes your employees feel rewarded.

With all of these benefits, a company picnic should be a top consideration for your summer planning. There are so many different ways to have a great picnic. Having on-site grilling/roasting always increases the fun because the ambiance created is so perfect to the festivities. Your employees will enjoy the build up to mealtime as the aromas linger in the air and they can interact with the catering staff and learn great roasting methods at the same time.

Here are a few menu ideas and themes to help you get started!

“Classic” Pig Roast- On-site roasted whole pig with a second meat option like turkey or chicken. For side dishes consider potato salad, baked beans and coleslaw.

Brats and Burgers- Grilled on site with summer pasta salad, baked macaroni and cheese, and a fresh fruit bowl.

Slow Roasted Beef Brisket with Grilled Chicken Breasts- serve roasted red potatoes, roasted vegetables and fresh watermelon slices.

Country Hoe Down- BBQ Chicken, spare ribs, baked macaroni and cheese, baked beans, corn cobbettes, coleslaw and cornbread.

State Fair- Pork chop on a stick, fresh fruit skewers, whole pickles on a stick, roasted sweet corn, mini corndogs, and chocolate covered bacon.

These are just a few ideas to get the creative juices flowing as you begin the planning process. You can always give Unique Dining Catering a call and we’d be happy to provide you with many other options.

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Providing games and children activities is always a good idea as well. Face painting, bouncing houses, dunk tanks, etc. all up the ante in terms of fun. The goodwill you earn from the families of your employees will definitely make everything worthwhile.

 

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