Fall in Love with These Savory Fall Favorites from Epicurean Group

As the weather cools and the leaves start to crisp, we begin to crave warm, comfort food…the type that’s perfect for those chilly autumn days when all you want to do is curl up on the couch in a warm sweater and watch Netflix all day.

To help ease the transition from summer to fall, we’re sharing five seasonal favorite recipes that are perfect for this time of year!

GarlicPotatoFennelSoup

GARLIC POTATO FENNEL SOUP
{serves 4}

Ingredients:
¼ cup butter, unsalted, divided
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium yellow onion, peeled & diced
½ bulb fennel, chopped
1 russet potato, peeled & diced
3 cups chicken stock
2 green tart apples, peeled & diced
½ cup heavy cream
to taste kosher salt & black pepper

Preparation:
Sauté garlic, onion & fennel in 2 Tbsp butter for 5 minutes. Add potato & stock. Bring to a boil.

Add apples, boil for 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Remove from heat, puree in blender or food processor until smooth.

Return to pot, add cream & heat throughout.

Season to taste with kosher salt & black pepper.

Garnish with fennel fronds & a thin drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

PomegrantedMimosa

POMEGRANATE MIMOSA
{makes 6 drinks}

Ingredients:
1 pomegranate, seeded {reserve some raw seeds for garnish}
1 cup sugar, granulated
½ cup pomegranate juice
½ cup water
1 {750 ml} bottle prosecco {or any dry bubbles}

Preparation:
Combine pomegranate, sugar & water in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan. Bring to a boil for a couple of minutes. Reduce heat to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is soft & the liquid has thickened slightly, about 15 minutes.

Using a fine-meshed strainer over a large bowl, pour pomegranate syrup through strainer, pressing seeds with the back of a spoon until most of the liquid is in the bowl. Discard seeds, saving a few to be used as garnish.

To Make Cocktail:
Divide pomegranate syrup evenly between 6 champagne glasses. Top each one with bubbles. Stir gently if desired. Garnish with a few pomegranate seeds.

_untitled_ 244

BIG ITALIAN SALAD
{serves 4 as salad course, 2 as a main course}

Salad Ingredients:
1 head romaine heart, washed, dried & cut into ¾” pieces
½ head radicchio, julienned
1 Tbsp fresh italian parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
5 pepperoncini, chopped
1 cup english cucumber, seeded & chopped {peeled if you wish}
1 carrot, julienned
½ red onion, thinly shaved
½ cup grape tomatoes, halved
½ cup olives {green or black}, pitted & chopped
1 cup garbanzo beans, cooked & rinsed
1 Tbsp capers, rinsed & roughly chopped
1 cup fresh mozzarella, diced
½ cup parmesan, shaved
½ cup genoa salami, sliced thinly

Dressing Ingredients:
1 Tbsp italian parsley, chopped ¾ tsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped ¼ tsp ground black pepper
¼ tsp dried oregano, chopped 2 tsp honey or agave nectar
2 garlic cloves, peeled & chopped
¼ cup good quality red wine vinegar
¾ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil

Preparation:
For the dressing, place all ingredients except olive oil in the food processor. Blend well, then slowly drizzle in olive oil with motor running to create an emulsified vinaigrette. Season to taste.

Place all salad ingredients in large bowl. Toss lightly to combine.

Immediately before serving, add half of the dressing & toss well, using your hands. Add small amounts of dressing as necessary; tasting & seasoning with kosher salt & pepper until salad is well dressed & flavorful.

_untitled_ 183 - Version 2

THAI CHICKEN & BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP
{serves 4}

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp canola, coconut or extra virgin olive oil
½ lb ground chicken or turkey
2 Tbsp thai red curry paste
4 scallions, sliced on bias white & green parts separated
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated on microplane
2 tsp garlic, minced
1 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded & cubed
2 cups chicken stock
1 {15 oz} can coconut milk
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 lime, juiced & zested
2 tsp sambal or sriracha sauce
As desired: fresh basil, bean sprouts, cilantro, sliced jalapeño, lime wedges & sriracha for garnish

Preparation:
Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add curry paste, stirring until the paste darkens, about 1 minute. Add chicken & stir occasionally, until nearly cooked through, about 3-4 minutes.  Add garlic, scallion whites & ginger.  Stir until softened, about 3 minutes. 

Add squash & chicken stock. Cover & bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmering until squash is tender, about 10-12 minutes. Stir in coconut milk, lime juice & zest, sambal & fish sauce. Taste for seasoning & adjust as needed.

Serve a bountiful plate of garnish in the center of the table so guests can add toppings to the hot soup as desired.

_untitled_ 287 - Version 2 (1)

TOFFEE PUMPKIN PIE BARS
{makes 32 bars}

Ingredients:
2 cups crushed gingersnaps
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup all purpose flour
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
1 {15 oz} can unsweetened pumpkin
¾ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated on microplane
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp ground cloves
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 ½ cups half & half
½ cup crumbled toffee pieces
½ cup pepitas, toasted & chopped

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 375° F. Line a baking pan with parchment paper, spray with pan spray.

Combine crushed gingersnaps, sugar & flour. Add melted butter & stir well to combine. Firmly press crumb mixture onto bottom of prepared pan; set aside.

Combine pumpkin, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, kosher salt & cloves.

One at a time, add eggs & beat lightly until well combined. Gradually add half & half, stirring until just combined. Pour filling into crust lined pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

While warm, sprinkle top with toffee & pepitas, let cool on wire rack. Cut into bars when cool. Cover & store chilled.

Innovation Chef, Jenna Johansen Shares a Family Favorite for National Applesauce Cake Day

(Photo courtesy of AllRecipes.com )

(Photo courtesy of AllRecipes.com )

In honor of National Applesauce Cake Day on June 6th, Innovation Chef, Jenna Johansen shares one of her all-time favorite family recipes with us.

One of my absolute favorite summertime sweets to make is chocolate applesauce cake. I love our handed-down family recipe; moist and delicious, and I usually always have the ingredients on hand. This version needs no frosting, so it travels easily and sits on a picnic bench perfectly, which is just what a hot summer day calls for.

I have fond memories of my mother making it often as a kid and we never had leftovers for long because everyone loves it! This version came from my Great Grandma Pearl, handed-down over generations. Today, she is 106 years old, living in Fargo, North Dakota. Maybe applesauce cake has more benefits to it than just good taste!

I like to pick the chocolate chips off the top. As I was growing up and doing a lot of the baking, I would use WAY more than the specified 1/2 cup of chocolate chips and you may want to, too!

Applesauce first came into vogue during World War I and the Great Depression when many rations were scarce. Now, I think of applesauce as being the perfect use for the fallen apples from our tree. I just peel, cook and puree to have my own homemade applesauce, so easy and simple.

P.S. This recipe pairs perfectly with corn on the cob, deviled eggs, cold beer, potato salad and anything that’s cooked on the grill!

My Mom’s Chocolate Applesauce Cake

Ingredients:
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbs cocoa {I love the baking cocoas from Savory Spice}
1 can of applesauce
2 unbeaten eggs
2 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Topping:
2 Tbs sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup chocolate chips {my mom uses semi-sweet but I like to use milk chocolate}

Directions:
Mix all cake ingredients well.
Pour into a greased 9″x13″ cake pan.
Sprinkle the top with topping ingredients {I always add more chocolate chips}.
Bake 350 F for 30-40 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Champagne Bar: Two of the Loveliest Words in the English Language

Come warm yourself by our champagne fireplace.

Ain’t that the truth?

Earlier this month we shared some ideas for a Hot Chocolate Bar; after doing extensive research on DIY stations, including ignoring my children and eating an entire bag of butterscotch chips, I couldn’t resist creating a mini-series on this idea of DIY stations for guests.

Today’s Treat: Champagne

Service with a smile.

Service with a smile at Union Station.

Just writing it makes me happy.

Nothing says ‘celebrate’ quite like champagne. My friends, family, and that one know-it-all guy at Corridor 44 who thought I should eat something before having another glass of the nectar of the gods can attest that champagne is, by far, my own personal favorite drink. But you can’t drink it all the time. Because those other mothers at preschool would be jealous concerned.

I don’t need to add anything to my champagne – like dinner – but this is not about me. It’s about you AND me – and anyone else who appreciates a glass of bubbly. Like all of us at Epicurean Group. Parties are our game. And our job. Put those in whatever order you wish.

Let's pray some of my co-workers were drinking prior to the second photo.

Let’s pray some of my co-workers were drinking prior to the second photo.

The holidays are a perfect time to create a self-serve station for your guests. It allows for more socializing and less stressing. Always a good thing.

Labels are helpful. Especially, um, later...

Labels are helpful. Especially, um, later…

Today is New Year’s Eve so if you are hosting a soiree or simply want to do something special on New Year’s Day, may we introduce you to the MmmmMimosa Station? Simple elegance, with an emphasis on simple.

Yum.

Yum.

Why bother with glasses? Tie a straw to mini bottles of bubbly!

Why bother with glasses? Tie a straw to mini bottles of bubbly!

MmmmMimosa Station

Ingredients and Accouterments:

  • Ice buckets or other large bin filled with with ice
  • Four containers for fruit (try IKEA or the dollar store if you don’t have any on hand – or use the coffee cups from your wedding china set because, let’s face it, you’re not drinking coffee when champagne is available)
  • Four glass bottles for juice
  • Labels (for labeling juice and for guests to tag their glasses – I use paint sample cards – free! And any color you want. And did I mention free! )
  • Glasses (one per guest)
  • DIY labels
  • Sharpie Pen
  • Champagne or prosecco
  • Sparkling cider
  • Orange juice
  • Grapefruit juice
  • Raspberry lemonade concentrate
  • Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, pineapple (feel free to improvise)
  • Sugar cubes
How sweet are these sugar cubes?

How sweet are these sugar cubes?

Paint samples make great labels.

Paint samples make great labels.

Directions:

  • Chill champagne, prosseco, juice and cider overnight or in an ice bath
  • Pour juice in glass containers, write or print out labels and tie to the bottle
  • Place champagne in an ice bucket on the table
  • Place glasses, fruit, napkins, juice, labels, sugar cubes, and marker on the table

Pour yourself a glass and say hello to 2015 (and maybe a tiny-but-worth-it-headache)!

 

 

submitted by Stephanie Blackford

Hot Chocolate Bar: Where Dreams Come True and Reindeer Fly

Hot_Cocoa_Dessert_Bar_Chalkboard_Art_0586wm

“Self-serve” does not just apply to gas stations, you know. Parties that include a self-service component (all or some) make a lot of sense because 1: guests are more comfortable when they can eat and drink what they want, when they want, and 2: because your hostess hands are not bogged down in the kitchen; you can hold a glass of champagne and a cupcake which is much easier than if you try to balance both with one hand (I have tried this, sadly, more than once. It doesn’t end well. And people judge.)

Epicurean Group started doing stationed-catering waaayy before Pinterest was born. We practically invented DIY food and beverage stations. Sadly, we did not invent Pinterest. If we did, we would be sitting on a private beach and someone would feeding us grapes, which is the opposite of self-serve.

We have done lot of stations in our years in Denver. Yes, it’s true the 80s were all about The Pasta Bar, but we’ve grown. Oh how we’ve grown.

If I were asked to rate our station celebrations, I would put the mashed potato one at the top. But I was not asked to rate them. I was just asked to write. But it is hard to write when I am practically starving and mashed potatoes sound pretty good right now. Just saying.

Guests seem to delight in an area that is set for one distinct purpose. This, among other reasons, is why bars are still in business. You, too, can create your own holiday eats and drinks stations for friends and family. This year, we thought we’d treat you to a few station ideas on the topic of stations. (We were going to write one lovely little blog on these ideas, but there’s just too much to tackle. And sample.) So, first up: The Hot Chocolate Bar:

DSC_0158

The Hot Chocolate Station – Where Dreams Comes True and Reindeers Fly 

Ingredients :

  • Hot Cocoa Mix (you can make your own like we do at Epi, but c’mon, don’t get crazy at home)
  • Toppers for All*
  • Mix-Ins for Some
  • Mugs or Paper Cups
  • Stir Sticks and Straws
  • Napkins
  • Hot Milk or Hot Water
  • Extras

*Topper Ideas (notice the word ‘ideas’ here – add or subtract what ever floats your marshmallow):

  • White Chocolate Chips
  • Peppermint Sticks
  • Butterscotch Chips
  • Marshmallows (or those darling snowman peeps!)
  • Chocolate Sprinkles
  • Whipped Topping

DSC_0105

For the adult crowd only:

  • Rum
  • Kahlua
  • Peppermint Schnapps
  • Baileys
  • Flavored Vodkas (Smirnoff’s Marshmallow or Whipped Vodka work well with hot cocoa. Or ice. Or straight out of the bottle if you are dealing with small children or out-of-town guests. Or out-of-town guests who have small children.)

DSC_0093

Directions:

  • Place hot chocolate or hot water in an insulated carafe
  • Place mix-ins and toppings in clear glass containers, white paper bags or any other small containers that hiding in the recesses of your pantry. Or head to IKEA or the dollar store and invest in a few inexpensive stemless wine glasses – they come in handy for this idea and others. Like wine.
  • Add stir sticks, straws, mugs and liquors
  • Print out some labels or write some of your own (I use paint sample cards and a hole puncher)
  • Enjoy

Hot_Cocoa_Bar_Toppings_0609wm

 

Hot_Chocolate_Peppermint_Topping_0615wm


Tune in next week for our next station blog!

 

 

 submitted by Stephanie Blackford

 

Easy, Now. (Or Later? Why Soup is Good For the Busy Soul)

chicken-noodle-soup

 

You can find recipes for the perfect turkey everywhere. And anyone can build a great day-after-Thanksgiving turkey sandwich (hint: it’s all about the mayo), but when you are staring back at that gigantic leftover … uh…carcass, you might be tempted to toss it out and just cut yourself an oversized slice of apple pie.

Don’t. I mean don’t throw out the turkey. Go ahead with the pie. But that leftover turkey makes some of the best soup of the year; and even if you are turkeyed-out, you can pop this easy soup into the freezer for a weeknight dinner that’s both hearty and healthy. Plus, this recipe can easily be modified for the gluten free crowd out there – simply swap out the pasta for rice, and the white flour for almond flour.

Epicurean’s Now Or Later Turkey Soup

Prep time: 25 minutes | Cook time: approximately 1.5 hours | Servings: 10-12

Ingredients:

  • Large turkey carcass (it’s such an unappetizing word but…)
  • 5 quarts cold water
  • 1 cup celery cleaned and chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6-7 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 4 cups fine egg noodles
  • 1/4 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1/4 cup flour

Directions:

  • Place turkey carcass, water, celery, onion, bouillon cubes, salt and pepper in a large stock pot
  • Heat to boiling; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour
  • Remove the turkey, place on a platter and let cool
  • Add the parsley, peas, carrots and pasta
  • Heat to boiling; reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes
  • Meanwhile, pull meat from bones and return meat to soup pot
  • Add liquid if needed (either water or chicken stock, taste to check seasoning)
  • Heat to boiling; cook uncovered for 10 minutes
  • Melt butter in a small frying pan; stir in flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the flour browns
  • Slowly stir the flour mixture into the boiling soup
  • When the soup returns to a boil reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes

I keep a couple of boxes of cornbread mix in my pantry at all times so that if I am desperate and the cupboards are bare, I have an entire meal at the ready – soup in the freezer and cornbread from a box makes me almost as happy as apple pie.

 

 

 

 

 

submitted by Stephanie Blackford

Keeping Score at Sports Authority Field at Mile High

sports-authority-field-at-mile-high-37

Obviously Peyton Manning and the Broncos team garners LOTS of attention on game day; and we wouldn’t have it any other way. But what happens before, during and after the game for our own Epicurean/Broncos team is something to brag about. If we were the type to brag, that is.

We’ve been the exclusive premier concessionaire at SAF for over 20 years. That’s a lot of football. It’s also a lot of work. And a LOT of fun. What does it take to make game day a winner (at least off the field – we can only do SO much!)? Well, the numbers don’t lie:

  • 1800 pounds of prime rib, tenderloin, strip loin, turkeys and rotisserie chickens (all leftovers are donated to We Don’t Waste) to feed guests in –
  • 133 suites during each game which leads to the clean up of over –
  • 600 hotel pans and –
  • 1000 sheet pans which are par for the course for our –
  • 150 employees on site each game day; they can often be found in our  –
  • 1450 square feet of walk in refrigerator storage – the envy of every chef that’s every seen it. We use every single inch during the busy season which includes –
  • 220 special events including corporate parties and weddings. To get geared up we spend –
  • 3 weeks of traveling nationally and internationally during the off season, allowing our chefs and leadership team to research new trends. And by ‘research; we mean eat and drink our way across the globe. Not a bad gig. By sampling foods in different regions of the country, we can customize game day menus to reflect the opposing team. Think fish tacos when we play the San Diego Chargers; fried ravioli for the St. Louis Rams. Tackling all of this takes –
  • Unlimited amounts of energy and stamina to tackle the 1.7 million square feet of space at the stadium which seats over 76,000 fans, not including us – the biggest fans you’ll find.

Mirror Mirror On the Wall – Who’s the Cheapest of Them All?

Madonna_Money_by_Madonna1250 (this might be all you get from the Material Girl)

I know the story about President Obama’s choice for Attorney General is way, way more important than  “Hollywood’s Best and Worst Tippers” on the MSN homepage, but….

I couldn’t help myself. There’s something so addictive about finding out just how generous (or not) the rich and famous can be. I won’t ruin it for you, but if Rachel Ray or Madonna or Bill Cosby walk into your section, don’t start planning that fancy beach vacay.

Parker Presley, our favorite pooch-about-town, wrote a blog on this very subject a few years ago. I dug it up to share with you because the weekend is here – go forth and eat and drink!  Happy Friday!

submitted by Stephanie Blackford