Thursday, February 18, 2016

Ode to Crudité

"Oh kitchen, if crudité comes, can dinner be far behind?"

(With apologies to Percy Blythe Shelly)

Crudité-simple definition: vegetables in the raw.

The expanded definition would include that these fresh, mouth watering foods, bursting with color are arranged around and dipped in olive oil, vinaigrette, hummus or another dressing, and served as part of an appetizer course or as an addition to a cheese board.

The Crudité is of French origin and are considered a quite healthy menu choice.  The word crudité literally translated means: "uncooked food" (Originally from the Latin "crudus" meaning "raw" and later "cruditas", meaning "undigested food" and eventually French, crudité .)

Crudités are simple to prepare (wash, dry and slice vegetables of your choice into bit size pieces) and arrange on a dish, platter, basket or other container. Crudités can include any variety of vegetable colors, textures and tastes, and therefore offer little something for everyone.

Again, can I tell you why and how much we love appetizers? Especially a crudité?

We've compiled and included our favorite relevant links for you below. Please share-and remember to enjoy your crudités responsibly.

15 Times Crudité was the Most Beautiful Thing on the Menu (Photos)

Crudité Upgrade: How to Make your Crudité Sexier

In the Raw (with Dip Recipes)

For menu planning assistance please contact Barbara 215-257-3193

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Friday, February 12, 2016

Where Hospitality and Entertainment Meet!

Photo: Grandmom Philomena, Me,
and my Mom (standing)at my baby shower, 1999
They say that hospitality begins at home, and I definitely agree.

Most of my fond memories from childhood center somehow around a meal. 

I can remember the aroma of (tomato) gravy & braciole floating out to my grandmother's front porch as we went through her front door for Sunday dinner.

Grandmom would be in her apron, bare feet, welcoming us, grabbing our faces with her garlic-scented hands, and giving us rapid-fire kisses that made our ears ring. 

Pepe, her maltese poodle, would be barking and running back and forth, and Pop-Pop would be getting up from his recliner, gesturing and yelling "stai zitto!" (put a cork in it) to the dog. (Apparently Pepe understood Italian!)

Then came the food. Lots of it. I mean, if a bus broke down in front of the house, the passengers could all have a full meal, and there would be leftovers! Delicious, home grown, home cooked meals, all carefully prepared and served - thoroughly seasoned with love.

When it was our turn to entertain family or other guests, I got to help my mom (meaning wash the hundreds of spoons, spatulas, bowls and dishes she used) in the kitchen. She, like my grandmother, was a dynamo, often doing several things at once before I could event think of doing it.

Two things struck me about these two women: the first was that they genuinely loved to cook and entertain guests. The second was that of all the times I watched and helped them entertain, I never saw them sit still & enjoy. They would be popping up and down during the meal, ensuring that everyone had what they needed. Salt, pepper, grated cheese, an extra napkin, more wine, etc. They never got to enjoy their delectable kitchen creations, or visit with cousin Sylvia, or Aunt Nada, who had to come from North Jersey-about 2 hours away, or anyone. Even after the meal was finished, they would be packing up leftovers and cleaning dishes as guests were walking out the door to go home.

My original party service (Party Genie-Servers & Bartenders for Any Affair) was motivated from what my mother would express as regret. Regret that she didn't get to spend time with her own guests. Even with my help, she still would up doing it all. (She wouldn't allow her guests to help even when they offered. After all-they were guestsThat early experience was what helped me shape my original home & hospitality services, and commit to providing extra sets of hands to help families who entertain at home.

Recently I have had the opportunity to expand those original services (Eclectic Event Staffing) and fuse hospitality and entertainment into a full set of services for event staffing and design. This blog is designed to inform, inspire, and entertain visitors & readers, as they plan their own celebrations, whether at home, at a park or at their favorite local venue. I aim to remove the mystery & reduce the stress that builds around entertaining, and to introduce simple ways to welcome, entertain and spend maximum time with your own guests!

I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoy sharing!

Vivere  ub abbondanza

(May you live in abundance!)

Barbara Gini
Eclectic Event Staffing (of PA)

*(Chief Entertainment Officer)

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Sunday, February 7, 2016

No Place Like Home

I love how each home that we visit, whether for a consultation, housekeeping services, candy buffet set up or a family gathering has a "heart" - a very distinct personality, one which is unique to the individuals and families living there.

I live in a quirky older home, that is filled with the imprints of the family who used to live here. (Okay, it may be a bit haunted, but not in an evil 'Amityville Horror' kind of way-no, we hear laughter, friendly chatter and music all of the time! But that will be a post for another discussion.)

In spite of some of the decor being a bit outdated, one of the things I love most about where I live is light. My front windows face east, and each morning, as I sit at my computer, I get to witness the most incredibly beautiful sunrises (see below)  from my office  window.

This Morning's Sunrise
from my office window

So today's blog is all about the home: tell us, in the comments area, what you love most about your living space. Be specific and as descriptive as you like.

Please feel free to share this post with a friend!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

You Say Sangria....She says "Non-Gria"

We recently had a request to put together a menu, including sweet buffet and beverages for a baby shower. We added this "Non-Gria" non-alcoholic Mocktail to the menu as there were several ladies who were pregnant and not consuming alcohol.

The recipe is below, and is one I developed from a combination of several recipes I found. This combination has gotten rave reviews from family, friends and clients. It makes quite a bit, so be sure to have plenty of space in your refrigerator! The longer it chills, (at least overnight) the more intense the flavor. We hope you enjoy it as much as we have!

Non-Gria: (makes about 3 gallons)

1 Standard size bottle Cran-Raspberry Juice
1 Standard size bottle White Grape Juice
1 Standard size bottle apple juice
Juice of 2 whole lemons OR 2 cups lemonade (from a mix)
2 lemons sliced- with peel2 limes sliced-with peel
2 naval oranges halved and sliced-with peel
1 sweet apple-cored and sliced-skin on
1 tart apple cored and sliced-skin on
2 peaches pitted and sliced-skin on
1 Pear cored and sliced-skin on
2-3 cups fresh or frozen berries-any variety
2-3 cups fresh or canned pineapple (with juice) cut into bite sized chunks
1 liter orange or pineapple soda

1- Wash, pit, core and slice fruit, except berries. Place in a large container (I used a stainless steel stock pot-do not use aluminum!)

2- Add all juices to fruit, including pineapple from can (but NOT the soda) and gently stir to blend. Add 1/2 the berries to container/pot and place in refrigerator preferably overnight, but no less than 3 hours.

3-In a separate round plastic container or cake pan, place reserved berries and pour orange soda over so that container is 3/4 filled to the top. Plcae in freezer so that it is level. Freeze solid.

4-When ready to serve, scoop juice and fruit mixture in a punch bowl. Remove frozen soda ring from freezer and pop out of its container. (You may need to run under warm water for a moment to release it.) Place the frozen ring in the punch bowl to keep Non-Gria cold. (AS the soda ring melts it will not dilute the juices.)

Serve in wide mouth glasses, so the beverage and fruit can be enjoyed.


You can add some honey (1/4 to 1/2 cup) to the juice mixture before chilling if you like a sweeter taste

Freeze soda and berries in cube trays to add to glasses or pitchers if you are not using a punch bowl.

To make an alcoholic version, replace orange soda with orange juice, and replace white grape juice with a (liter) bottle of wine.

Garnish with a stick of cinnamon (fall and winter) or a sprig of basil or spearmint (spring and summer) if desired.

Enjoy! :)

*A downloadable version of this recipe will be coming soon!)