Puff 'n Stuff Catering Blog
Five Steps to a Successful Summer Party
June 21, 2017 by Puff 'n Stuff | comments

What’s the greatest thing about summer? Some would argue it’s the flip-flop weather or soaking up the vitamin D at the pool, but for any food lover, it’s the memories created with families and friends over an amazing meal. 

Whether you’re hosting a cookout next weekend or attending a Fourth of July celebration, there are many convenient food options that will keep you relaxed and focused on what really matters, enjoying those precious summer moments. You shouldn’t have to worry about prepping, cooking and cleaning. Let us do that! To help get you started, here’s our step-by-step guide for easy hosting this summer.

Pulled Pork with BBQ Sauce

Pulled Pork with BBQ Sauce • Photo Credit: Rosena Usmani

Step One: Making the Big Decisions

Begin the planning process by deciding when and where your event should take place and consider a theme. Choosing a theme is one of the biggest decisions you will make, and it will heavily influence your guest experience and budget. To create consistency, select food, music, décor, etc., that embodies your theme and includes details such as menu cards and cocktail pairings to tie everything together. Below is a list of popular summer themes to consider for your parties this season:

  • Tropical/Luau
  • All-Americana
  • Picnic
  • Family reunion
  • Neighborhood Block party
  • Beach day
  • Carnival

If you get stuck, just click here for more inspiration.

Step Two: Send Out Your Invitations

You probably haven’t given it too much thought than beyond the guest list, but when it comes to menu planning, there are a few important pieces of information you need before you can move forward.

  • Ask guests to let you know what they’re bringing. This only applies to parties where guests are expected to contribute food or drink, but will ensure there’s no overlap in the menu.
  • Ask for dietary restrictions. You want to make sure you’re offering enough vegetarian options to accommodate everyone’s palette.
  • Ask for a total guest count. You won’t be sending the five-year-old next door a personal invite, but you still need to know if chicken fingers are a requirement on the menu.

Step Three: It’s Okay to Call for Help

That’s what we’re here for. You’re busy, and when you want to make memories with families and friends you shouldn’t have to spend hours in the kitchen or cleaning up afterward.

Choosing to work with a caterer is a great idea:

  • Unlimited menu potential. Working with a professional caterer for all or a portion of your event will give your menu more versatility and easily include dietary requirements.
  • Cooking for everyone is just plain difficult. Do you have the right amount of ingredients? Equipment? The hours and hours it will take to prepare all the food, let alone space? Hiring a professional caterer will leave you worry-free, and with really good food!
  • Be the host-with-the-most. Trust us, nothing makes a statement quite like butler-passed hors d’oeuvres or bar service.
  • Take the pressure off. Your caterer can provide décor as well as custom food items and presentation based on the theme of your event, while ensuring food safety.

P.S. If you are attending an event and plan to contribute, try picking up a platter for the party. We know you want to be the guest with the best (food, that is) so look for options beyond your local fast food chain or grocery store. A lot of catering companies have pick up or delivery menus that offer a unique twist on classic recipes an include serving utensils and disposable presentation trays.

The perfect addition to any party, the Sweet Treats Platter

Sweet Treats Platter • Photo Credit: Rosena Usmani

Step Four: It’s Getting Hot in Here

The day is here and all your planning is coming to fruition. Your catering Special Event Planner will have all the logistics worked out so you can sit back, relax and enjoy while keeping these important tips in mind:

  • One of the biggest challenges you face with hosting an outdoor event are those pesky bugs that never want to leave you alone. Make sure to use glass lids or pop-up food covers to keep them out of your food.
  • Have plenty of water on-hand. The summer is HOT. Whether you are having an outdoor or indoor event, it is important to keep guests and yourself hydrated. 

Step Five: Clean Up (Or Don’t) 

Let’s be honest, nobody likes to clean up after hours of frivolity and fun so be sure to put out recycle and trash bins for disposables and designate specific areas for dirty dishes. Or work with a professional caterer, and it’s guarantee you won’t have to lift a finger.

  • If you chose pick up or delivery option. Everything is on disposable trays and you can just toss them out. Easy.
  • If you chose full service. Don’t worry at all; your caterers’ service team will handle it and you get all the credit.

Summer is about savory flavors and making memories, and now that you’re a pro at planning summer events you can enjoy every sun-soaked moment.



The Best Menu Planning Tips for Hosted Events
June 16, 2017 by Puff 'n Stuff | comments

Whether you’re coordinating a corporate lunch for 15 or hosting a bridal shower for 30, when it comes to menu planning, a little food for-thought, goes a long way. Of course, if you have the extra time you can prepare the food from scratch, or if you’re like most hosts, you’re reading this post because your fridge is empty and you don’t have time, and you need help.

Deciding to hire a professional caterer to provide all, or supplemental food and beverage items is a great way to save time during the planning process, but it’s also an insurance policy that on the day of the event, everything will go according plan.

Purposeful Event Planning

Start by considering the purpose of your event. Thinking about the why, who, when and where will provide a blueprint throughout the planning process and help you stay on budget. During this preliminary stage determine:

  • What type of event are you hosting?
  • How many guests are expected?
  • If the event formal or casual?
  • What will guests be doing?
  • What location will provide an ideal setting to create the appropriate atmosphere?
  • What time food service is most appropriate?
  • Do you want to use china and glassware, or disposable serving pieces?
  • What is your total event budget?
  • What portion of your budget will be spent on décor, food and beverage, and entertainment?
Premium Patter for Every Occassion

Photo Credit: Rosena Usmani

Menu Planning

Professional caterers offer a variety of service levels that can range from convenient delivery and pick up menus to full-service. Typically, for smaller events such as birthdays, social parties, graduations, funerals and office or business luncheons, delivery and pick up options will provide a wide range of food choices at a less expensive price point than that of a full-service event.

During the menu creation step, take the time to learn about your guests and any specific theme or dietary restrictions they might have. Tailoring the menu to your guest’s expectations and your intended event purpose will achieve a unique menu mix that ensures everyone is happy and full.

Look to your caterer to assist with quantifying food amounts, creating the food service timeline and offering creative suggestions for menu and presentation enhancements. Brainstorm the following questions with your caterer:

  • How much food do you want provide? Is the expectation lunch, light bites or a full meal?
  • Guest dietary restrictions?
  • Food safety guidelines including time food will be displayed or served.
  • Are there onsite facilities (oven, refrigerator, freezer, etc.) to maintain correct food temperature?
  • Based on the overall event agenda, what will the flow be for food service; will guests arrive all at once, or trickle in?
  • Are you providing supplemental food and beverage, or will your caterer provide everything?
  • What is your food and beverage budget?

How To Set Up A Buffet Table

If you have opted for delivery, pick up or to make your own food then you will need to consider where and how to set up your buffet display. The size, shape and direction of your buffet line will depend on the room, numbers of guests and food items.

Start by considering the relationship between the food table, bar/beverage table, and guest seating within the room. Ideally, food and bar/beverage will be presented on separate tables, so that guests may easily replenish with minimal waiting. This preliminary step will help define the overall flow for how guests will serve themselves and ensure no bottleneck areas.

Place plates and rolled silverware at the beginning of the buffet line. Then arrange food items in the expected order that a person typically eats. This is simply, hors ‘d oeuvres/appetizers, bread, salad, sides and then entrees. If you are planning to place deserts on the same buffet, than naturally go at the end. Voila!

Grazing Station

Photo Credit: Rosena Usmani

Buffet Planning Tips:

  • It goes without saying, but start with a sturdy table.
  • Strategically place receptacles for trash around the room and close to the food and bar/beverage tables.
  • Write a list of appropriate serving utensils needed for each item and purchase a few extras, or have your caterer provide.
  • Consider a small plate for holding serving utensils next to food items in a chaffing dish or container with a lid.
  • Leave enough space between food items for menu cards and minimal décor.

Your guests have arrived; your buffet is set, the only thing left to do is enjoy. And just remember, the success of any event is in the planning.



5 Tips For Planning A Backyard BBQ
July 7, 2016 by Puff 'n Stuff | comments

Summer is the time for grilling out, cool drinks and refreshing fare. Whether it’s barbecued sides or bright salads, get your party rockin’ with the flavors of summer. While chilled pastas, fresh seafood and seasonal vegetables are an obvious choice, we’re sharing some other helpful planning tips that’ll ensure your backyard BBQ goes off without a hitch!

For good drinks, it’s always best to be prepared: For a true sip of summer, create signature cocktails in batches; watermelon, cucumber, basil and citrus are a few of our favorite flavors. Serving it up in big pitchers ensures that every drink is perfectly crafted, and it eliminates the need to get messy each time you need a refill.

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Quench your thirst with our Rosemary Infused Lemonade, the perfect fusion of lemonade and herbs.

Pair your grilled meats with lighter, fresher fare: Chef Sean says, “When I’m grilling, I like to pair my meats with salads that have a light, acidic dressing composed of olive oil, a squeeze of lime, and some salt rather than using a vinaigrette. It keeps the salad light and fresh and works well with the char of the grill.”

Let your guests do some of the work: Set up make-it-yourself food bars that let your guests customize their favorite dishes. Popcorn with assorted seasonings, bruschetta with an array of fresh toppings, or even a fry and onion ring bar in different flavors. Let’s just say your picky eaters will love you.

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Onion Rings, Ancho Onion Rings, Parmesan Rosemary Fries and Black Truffle Fries.

When in doubt, slow it down: Cook your main dish with the powers of a slow cooker for rich flavors and the wonderful ability to leave it unattended. Check out our Pork Carnitas with Lime Sriracha Crema & Plantain Chip Recipe for a savory summer dish.
Note: keep out of reach of small, hungry children – chances are it will smell delicious!

Chef tip: For an easy way to cool off, fill watermelon cubes with evoo and balsamic for a refreshing afternoon snack.

Sweet endings: Move over chocolate cake! While we love you dearly, fresh and fruity are a much better fit for summer desserts. Our Valencia Blood Orange Layer Cake is an ode to Florida, and did we mention it tastes just like an Orange Creamsicle? Hello, childhood memories! Or for a healthier alternative, simply prepare our Watermelon Cubes at home. All you need is cubed watermelon, EVOO and balsamic — voilà!

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Valencia Blood Orange Layer Cake

 

Now get out there and have some fun planning your summer soirée! Or contact our Special Event Planners to get started, events@puffnstuff.com.



¡Fiesta Like There’s No Manaña
May 5, 2016 by Puff 'n Stuff | comments

Yesterday we had a few of our amigos stop by the Tampa commissary for a little fiesta, and we obviously had to incorporate Mexican-inspired fare ahead of Cinco de Mayo. The menu Chef Sean created was fresh, flavorful and transported our taste buds south of the border. We indulged in savory dishes highlighting Mexican staples such as avocados, corn, tomatoes, beans, and chile peppers. We washed it down with two kinds of margaritas, spicy Jalepeño-Lime and sweet Prickly Pear. Take a look at our menu to inspire your own Cinco de Mayo party or contact us to let one of our Special Event Planners assist you, events@puffnstuff.com.

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Jalapeño Lime Margaritas
Prickly Pear Margaritas
Chorizo & Goat Cheese Quesadillas with red piquillo salsa

Short Rib Taquito with tomatillo dipping sauce
Chipotle Grilled Taco Cup with shredded lettuce, grilled pineapple and salsa verde
Chargrilled Bacon Wrapped Shrimp jalapeño, cheese stuffed with lime chipotle aioli
Mini Cauliflower Taco with spicy siracha salsa
Mini Black Bean Cake topped with smoked tomato and cilantro aioli
Fresh Salsa and Guacamole with fried whole corn tortillas

Mexican Donuts with housemade sweet cream filling, powdered sugar and Kahlua fudge sauce



Expert Behind the Apron
April 25, 2016 by Puff 'n Stuff | comments

Food. We all eat it, but how much do we know about the people who craft it? Before a dish can be presented, it must be developed. From consultation, to preparation at the commissary, and the final execution on-site, each menu selection has been thoughtfully designed to balance flavors and textures while meeting the client’s goals for the event.

One of the experts behind the apron, Executive Chef Sean Holden, recently shared some of his experiences, as he showcased Puff ‘n Stuff Catering’s new Tampa commissary. With over 10,000 sq. ft. of space, the state-of-the-art production kitchen is a chef’s playground in which one has the freedom to craft the finest of cuisine.

“I’m addicted to the pace of it,” Chef Sean said about working in the world of cuisine, “The rush of perfecting a menu for a flawless event.”

“I’m addicted to the pace of it,” Chef Sean said about working in the world of cuisine, “The rush of perfecting a menu for a flawless event.”

Starting as a dishwasher for a mom-and-pop establishment in New Hampshire, Chef Sean worked his way up from cleaning dishes, to creating them. He found his passion as an Executive Chef, inspired by the energizing atmosphere of a bustling kitchen. Chef Sean’s appetite for event catering grew as he traveled, working in large hotels, organizing the excitement in the kitchen down to the tiniest details of each event being executed. Calm under pressure, Chef Sean thrives in the chaos and he is easily able to identify what needs to be done, and make it happen.

Now, as king of this magnificent kitchen, Chef Sean basks in all of upscale finishes, equipment and custom culinary technologies. “My favorite aspect is the flooring. The ‘tiling’ is made of recycled plastics, a non-porous material with a slight give that is completely non-slip and really easy on the back.”

Another unique element is the one-of-a-kind chef’s table in the heart of the kitchen. Chef Sean enjoys interacting with clients while crafting and serving up dishes fresh from his imagination. “Warren really pushed the envelope with this design. It’s a very unique feature that allows me to connect with clients,” said Chef Sean.

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Chef Sean relishes the opportunity to mentor and takes great pleasure in sharing his knowledge. He teaches his staff by preparing them for advancing roles, firmly believing in the “bottom-up culture” of Puff ‘n Stuff Catering & Events. His goal? To bridge the gap and advance the team as a whole, not just himself or any single member.

“I want everyone to know everything. I want there to be multiple ‘me’s’ in the kitchen at all times.”

“I want everyone to know everything. I want there to be multiple ‘me’s’ in the kitchen at all times.”

Growing up on comfort foods, Chef Sean favorites are the classics: scrambled eggs with bacon, mac ‘n cheese, and savory soups… Now, he enjoys creating delectable recipes tailored specifically for clients’ taste, event theme and budget.

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Striped Bass, Lobster Ravioli, Spinach, Pearl Onion and Bordelaise



Dream Wedding on a Budget
December 17, 2015 by Puff 'n Stuff | comments

How To Have The Wedding of Your Dreams on a Budget You Can Afford

You don’t have to break the bank to have a beautiful and memorable wedding day. Here’s how to save cash without looking cheap! First and most importantly — remember that you only truly need three things to have a successful wedding day: you, the person you love, and an officiant. Everything else is optional. Remembering this will help you make some tough financial decisions during the planning process.

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Research to the 10th Power
Scour the Internet for checklists and ask all your friends that have been married for planning advice. For most couples, their wedding is the large event they have ever coordinated and being informed is your best weapon to saving. Educate yourself on the average cost for each element and look for creative alternatives.

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See the Top 5 Wedding & Planning Checklists

 

Talk the Talk
After you’ve done the research, talk to your fiance and determine the “must-have” items that are important to each you. Once you have created your list, talk to the key decision makers about a realistic budget for the entire wedding.father-daughter-dance-1

Date Savvy
When it comes to selecting your perfect wedding date, there are two ways to save. First, consider a non-Saturday, for even bigger deals, ask about Thursday and you will be astonished. Second, look for opportunities during non-peak months. Here in Florida, you can typically find the hottest deals from June to September. Click here to save up to 20% on food and beverage from Puff ‘n Stuff Catering and their venue partners.
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Save the Splurge
A common mistake made by those newly engaged is running out and splurging on their first wedding purchase. They haven’t yet realized that everything is 5x more expensive than they thought. Save the splurge for after you’ve had a chance to research costs for all major elements of your wedding.
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Do The Math
When it comes to your guest list, it’s all about numbers. The more people you invite, the more people that will come. Multiply that by 2 and it starts to add up quickly. Especially, since most of your guests don’t actually live in Florida, and are looking for a reason to come visit. We know it’s hard, but keeping your guest list to only the most important people in your life will have a large impact on your overall budget.vintage-davis-island-garden-club-wedding-0311

Stay organized and record all of your wedding expenses. And for ways to save even more, check out this great article, 50 ways to save $500.00.



7 Satisfying Food Stations
October 13, 2015 by Puff 'n Stuff | comments

They’re interactive, they’re festive and they allow your guests to customize and sample a variety of menu items. We’re talking about Food Stations and they’re cutting out the buffet line.

Lights, camera, ACTION! Chef-attended action stations easily add the wow factor to your event; just think of it as dinner and a show. Our expert chefs prepare made-to-order dishes right in front of your eyes guaranteed to satisfy all types of taste buds. Want extra cheese on your risotto? Yes, please!

Nothing says “special event” like delicious, custom creations served from stylish presentations. Did you know we eat with our eyes first, then our mouths? Once you’ve tantalized tastebuds, spark visual interest with innovative decor, multiple elevations and festive garnishes.

Food stations, whether chef-attended or displayed creatively, are the perfect recipe to entice guests to get out of their seats, move around the room and socialize. Stations are also a great source of conversation; guests will be buzzing about their favorite bites of the night and sharing their best combinations. So, the next time you’re planning a catered event, consider elevating the culinary experience by adding a station or two!

 

Asian Station
AsianStation
Cilantro Rice, Vegetable Fried Rice, Lo Mein Noodles, Stir-Fried Vegetables, Grilled Sesame Chicken, Sweet & Sour Chicken, and General Tso’s Chicken prepared in woks and served in Takeout Pagoda Boxes.


“Puff’s Patisserie”
Pâtisserie
Featuring assorted scones, cheesecakes, macarons and verines. Our favorite part of this French inspired station is the Egg Nog & Brioche French Toast; brioche stuffed with banana mascarpone cream cheese, dipped in eggnog, encrusted with corn flake crumbles and finished with raspberry maple syrup.


Charcuterie Presentation
Charcuterie

Featuring Cuban Bread, Spanish-Style Cured Meats, Olives and Artisanal Cheeses.


Paella Station
Paella

Served from a large authentic paella skillet of saffron rice and spring peas. Guests select from little neck clams, mussels, shrimp, sea scallops, grilled chicken, and chicken sausage served with Manchego cheese toast.


Crepe Cart
Crepe

Made-to-order crepes with assorted fillings including traditional Suzette, Nutella, chocolate, dulce de leche, bananas, pears, strawberries, crushed nuts, raspberry jam, coconut cream, and crowned with cinnamon whipped cream.


Risotto Station
Risotto

Guests select from the following dishes, finished with freshly shredded Parmesan cheese.

  • Pesto with Sautéed Mushrooms and Roasted Tomatoes
  • Corn Purée with Asparagus Tips and Sautéed Mushrooms, drizzled with Truffle Oil
  • Butternut Squash Purée with Roasted Butternut and Fresh Thyme


Blazing Donuts Station
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Glazed donuts sautéed in butter and flambéed with brandy, served warm and topped with coffee ice cream.



Healthy Summer Eats
June 18, 2015 by Puff 'n Stuff | comments

With summer finally here and the low temperatures melting away, keep the cool and stay healthy with these nutritious snacks. Create a delicious, organic parfait with Lemoncella, Macerated Strawberries and Mint; perfect for breakfast or a light, refreshing afternoon treat. No cooking needed for this recipe – keep your house cool and your taste buds happy with our simple recipe below.

*Tip: Greek Yogurt has almost double the amount of protein than regular yogurt, with fewer carbohydrates and less sugar.

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Mixed Berry Yogurt Parfait with Lemoncello, Macerated Strawberries and Mint

Looking for something high in fiber and protein that will satisfy your sweet tooth? Try out our recipe for Toasted Coconut Almond Date Laddoos that are packed with flavor and a big crunch! In this tasty snack, the dates are coated with toasted coconuts and almonds to make a nutritious snack for some extra energy as the heat of summer sinks in.

*Tip: Did you know dates could be used as a sugar substitute? Use 1/3 cup of dates in place of one cup of sugar.

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Toasted Coconut Almond Date Laddoos

Looking for a new dish to roll out at your summer party this year? Look no further than our brand-new Summer Roll Collection. We’ve totally reinvented the salad by wrapping fresh ingredients with rice paper; making them so easy to pop in your mouth you can’t just have one! Travel around the world with our different options, starting in California with the Napa Valley Summer Roll before jumping the Atlantic Ocean for a trip to France and Italy with our Nicoise Salad and Caprese Salad. Come home with the All-American Cobb Salad to finish up your date with a festive, healthy snack for any summer celebration.

Getting hungry? Check out more summer-inspired options on our Summer Menu Collection.

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Napa Valley Summer Roll with Arugula, Red Onion, Bosc Pear, and Valencia Orange Vinaigrette

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French Niçoise Summer Roll with Niçoise Olives, Green Beans, Roasted Tomato, Sliced Egg and Vinaigrette

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Italian Caprese Summer Roll with Napa Cabbage, Fire Roasted Tomato, Pesto, Mozzarella and a Balsamic Reduction

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Cobb Salad Summer Roll with Tomatoes, Crisp Bacon, Grilled Chicken, Eggs and Champagne Vinaigrette


Recipes for the Summer Treats:

Mixed Berry Yogurt Parfait with Lemoncello, Macerated Strawberries and Mint

You Will Need:

  • 2 Cups Greek Yogurt
  • 1 Cup Strawberries
  • ½ Cup Blueberries
  • ½ Cup Raspberries
  • 1 Tsp Lemon Zest
  • 2 Oz Lemoncello
  • 1 Tbsp Mint, Minced
  • 1 Tbsp Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Piping Bag
  • 1 Martini Glass, Chilled

Instructions:
To start, mix the granulated sugar and 1 oz Lemoncello with 1 Cup fresh strawberries that have been cut into quarters then set aside. The natural juices will emerge from strawberries once combined with the sugar and lemoncello and this will create the Macerated Strawberries. To make the yogurt mixture, combine 2 cups of Greek yogurt with lemonzest and mint. Once you have all your supplies compiled, take a large martini glass, chill it and then place a few blueberries in the bottom as the first layer. Then begin alternating layers, starting with 2 tablespoons of yogurt, then the Macerated strawberries, then yogurt, then raspberries and blueberries until your glass is about full. Add an artistic flair and top your parfait with a small mixture of the berries. Don’t forget to garnish with a little lemon zest and fresh mint leaves! Add granola for an extra bit of crunch.


 

Toasted Coconut Almond Date Laddoos, serves 12-13 2 ounce-sized balls

You Will Need:

  • 12-14  Dates
  • 6 oz of roasted / Almonds
  • 1 pinch of cinnamon
  • 5 oz of lightly toasted coconut
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions:
To start, grab a non-stick pan and add grated coconut, cooking on medium heat to toast the coconut until it turns a light golden brown color. Then, in a mixing bowl, begin de-seeding the dates. You will want to smash the dates with a fork or use your fingers. Collect your almonds and roughly chop them, adding the dates and the almonds to the mixing bowl. Next, add the toasted coconut and cinnamon and mix it together well using your hands, it should have a dough ball consistency. Divide the dough into equal portions, depending on the size of date balls you want and shape each portion into a smooth ball.



Valentine’s Day: Intimate Four-Course Dinner At Home
February 10, 2015 by Puff 'n Stuff | comments

If the path to your lover’s heart is via the stomach, our sumptuous four-course menu will pave the way to a fine romance. Food and love have always been inextricably tied, and nothing says ‘I love you’ better than an intimate candlelit dinner in the comfort of your own home while being served by one of our professional Chefs.

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We have all the makings for a dreamy night in, starting with the first course: Grilled Romaine Salad. Fresh heads of romaine lettuce are split, grilled until charred and smoky, and then topped with savory blistered tomatoes and truffle croutons. The crisp salad is served with a house made Caesar dressing and finished off with shaved, locally sourced Parmesan cheese from Winter Park.

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The second course, consisting of mouthwatering Pistachio Crusted Scallops, will leave you starry-eyed. The jumbo scallops are brined, crusted in roasted pistachios, and seared until golden brown. The salty, savory flavors of the succulent scallops work in perfect harmony with the smooth dollop of pureed sweet potato, the slight tartness of the balsamic-apricot glaze, and the crunchiness of the fried leeks garnished on top.

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As if the tantalizing tastes of the first two courses didn’t already take your breath away, Porcini Crusted French Lamb Chop Milanese takes the spotlight on our Valentine’s Day menu. The lamb chops in the main course are coated in a dried porcini mushroom powder, seared in a screaming hot pan with Marsala wine and cooked to perfection in the oven. This dish is unique due to the absence of starch from rice or potatoes, and instead is served with nutritionally superior white beans. Subtly flavored yet full in fiber, the beans are infused with rosemary and thyme before they’re sautéed with fresh herbs. The full-body taste of the creamy, cheesy ragout is served alongside candied tomatoes; made with a brown sugar, cinnamon, clove reduction and sweet Vidalia onions.

It all comes down to dessert. This is where decadence comes to the forefront of the dish – sweet, rich and indulgent. What better way to conclude a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner than with an enchanting Dark Cherry and Dark Chocolate Torte?

Valentine’s Day is always about sharing; it’s about intimacy. Turn up the heat this year with our four-course dinner, designed exclusively for you and your sweetheart to share. Dim the lights, put on some music, and leave the rest of the work to us. Contact us by February 11th to reserve your ideal Valentine’s Day dinner – availability is limited!



Curtains Rise at the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts
January 26, 2015 by Puff 'n Stuff | comments

The City Beautiful was listed among the top “52 Places to Go in 2015”, in a recent New York Times article. Yes, you read correctly, our very own Orlando made the list, and it has nothing to do with Mickey Mouse. Amongst several other civic developments and an exciting food scene, the New York Times recognized the new Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts, located in the heart of downtown Orlando.

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The Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts delivers a special and memorable experience from the moment you lay eyes on the massive development. And its iconic canopy roof, overwhelming in size, jetting out over the palm tree-lined CNL Arts Plaza will make you take a second to pinch yourself and ask, “Is this really here in our backyard?”

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The stunning design and architecture of the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts tickles visitors with a sense of magic. Incredibly modern and sophisticated with a touch of whimsicality, the development encompasses a unique collection of venues, each with its own identity.

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When you walk through the front doors, a breathtaking, 5-story glass staircase instantly greets you. Described by Dr. Phillips Center as the, “theater before the theater,” the lobbies on each tier features naturally lit open space, seating areas, concessions and bars.

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Look up! A colorful ceiling of abstract artwork graces the ceiling of the Pugh Theater, another awe-inspiring event space located on the second tier of the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts. The orchestra level seating can be transformed to a flat floor to accommodate any type of intimate celebration for up to 200-seated guests, or 150 inclusive of a dance floor.

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On the third tier, the DeVos Family Room is the primary location for catered events. This floating glass room features breathtaking panoramic views of downtown Orlando and when Florida’s weather permits, the incredible sliding glass doors open up to allow fresh air to circulate. With enough space for up to 325-seated guests or 275 with the inclusion of a dance floor, galas, luncheons and wedding receptions can easily take shape in this admirable space.

Can’t decide which event space to choose for your celebration? We totally understand. For the first-ever wedding held at the performing arts center, multiple rooms and floors were utilized to create a stimulating yet, cohesive event experience. Our Puff ‘n Stuff Catering team was honored to be selected as the exclusive caterer for the very special nuptials of our friends Andrea and Mickey.

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Cocktail hour was held on the top tier Kessler Lobby, overlooking the bright, colorful hues dancing on the signature wave wall. A display of fresh breads, cured meats, Spanish-style olives and cheeses were beautifully presented on a large farm style table.

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Afterwards, guests made their way down to the Pugh Theater where the dinner took center stage. A very much enjoyed Lasagne Verdi featured fresh house made spinach lasagna noodles layered with pancetta Bolognese and béchamel sauce, topped with aged Parmesan cheese and herb toasted breadcrumbs. Full bellies and happy hearts then trickled into the DeVos Family Room to kick off the second half of the reception, dancing the night away amongst downtown Orlando’s glittering skyline.

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Together, all of these unique spaces make this like no place else in Central Florida. The Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts is more than just a stage or a place for entertainment; it’s the backdrop to foster learning, exercise creativity, unite people, and allows us all to dream.

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Puff ‘n Stuff Catering is the preferred caterer for the venue and can assist you with bookings. For more information about Dr. Phillips Center of the Performing Arts please click here.



Vowed and Proud
January 13, 2015 by Puff 'n Stuff | comments

Dreams finally become a reality for same-sex couples here in Florida, as it becomes the 36th state to legally recognize gay marriage.

After ending a drawn-out battle over same-sex marriage, group wedding ceremonies were scheduled across Florida last Tuesday as couples rushed to make their relationships legally binding. Group weddings were planned in Florida’s larger cities including Fort Lauderdale, Key West, Miami Beach and right here in Orlando!

Mayor Buddy Dyer officiated the wedding ceremony at Orlando City Hall where 47 couples exchanged their “I Do’s”. This moment was a long time coming for some couples that had been together for 10, 20 and 30 years. Some even traveled from Daytona and as far as Tampa to take part in this special ceremony. All of the couples were invited back to The Veranda at Thornton Park for a “Vowed and Proud” reception to commemorate this historic day, and Puff ‘n Stuff Catering was honored to be chosen as the Orlando caterer to sponsor the event.

The Veranda was buzzing with excitement and happiness as newly married couples gathered with friends and family to celebrate their love and lifetime commitment. Delectable hors d’oeuvres including our signature Crab Cake Towers and juicy Bacon Wrapped Scallops were passed and a toast of champagne was raised to honor the newlyweds.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015 not only marks the turning point in marriage equality, but brings with it basic human rights that have been long denied to same-sex couples. “Couples are not just making lifetime commitments to each other, they are finally granted greater legal protections, the same rights as any other couple,” says Damian Keenan, one of our Special Event Wedding Planners.

As the third most populated state in the country, it may come as a surprise that changes in marriage equality are just taking effect in Florida. With Florida, 70% of Americans now live in marriage equality states. Cheers to same-sex marriage progressing!

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Holiday Party Planning Tips from the Experts
September 30, 2014 by Puff 'n Stuff | comments

It’s almost that time of the year again. The season of giving and gathering with loved ones is upon us. Okay, so we technically have to celebrate Halloween AND Thanksgiving first, but with all the hustle and bustle around the holidays, right now is the perfect time to start planning your holiday celebration.

We’re making a list and checking it twice… While a holiday gathering may not require the military precision needed for orchestrating a black-tie gala, a little organization and a few unique ideas can go a long way. To help get this party started, our Sales Directors/Planning Gurus, Heidi Brice and Lauren Balden have shared some insights for hosting a seamless holiday party.

1. Don’t get your tinsel in a tangle. There are so many reasons to begin planning early, especially if you’re in need of a venue for your party. Be sure to secure the date of your event at least three to four months in advance; December is one of the busiest months for venues.

Heidi suggests, “If you find yourself in a bind, consider a Thursday of Friday evening affair; and if it’s a company party you can even plan for a weeknight.” More and more companies are also holding off until January to host their holiday parties. This can be a cost effective alternative that may even work better when considering busy December schedules.

Looking for the perfect venue to host your holiday party? Easily navigate 100s of unique venues from Orlando to Tampa Bay on our Venue Guide.

2. Infuse the party with holiday cheer. Consider a mixture of unique and traditional items, such as our Shrimp Cocktail and Butternut Squash Risotto Cakes, which are currently offered on our 2014 Holiday Catering Menu Collection. A little bit of excitement is always noticed, but keep dietary restrictions in mind by including options for your vegan and gluten-free guests.

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Lauren shares, “If you are trying to watch your budget, offer beer, wine, and a specialty cocktail instead of a full bar.” Make spirits bright with our very own Candy Cane Martini that is sure keep partygoers feeling jolly.

Don’t forget the dessert! Our new Financier Collection offers delicious petite pastries that appeal to everyone, from the chocolate lover to the guest who truly appreciates a freshly made, sponge cake. The most difficult task will be picking your favorite pastry from the collection!

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3. Dazzle your guests with a flawless presentation. Heidi also encourages holiday party planners to display offerings in a way that adds visual interest. Consider staggering dishes and building in different heights instead of laying all the dishes out flat on the table.

Color is another great way to make your buffet tables interesting. Tempt your guests’ taste buds by coordinating the colors of serving dishes, tablecloths, décor, and the food items themselves. By arranging colorful dishes like our Fresh Green Beans Picada next to an item with a complimentary color, such as our Oriechette Pasta with Prosciutto and Sage, makes for an attention-grabbing presentation.

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You can take your presentation a step further by garnishing your platters and buffet tables with enticing ornaments as well as herbs, seasonal fruits, nuts and vegetables.

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Bonus Tip: Once you have your holiday party ready, sit back, relax and enjoy that time with coworkers and loved ones. We have a lot to be grateful for and the love we share with our friends and family is at the top of the list.

We hope these tips help, but keep our experienced team of professionals in mind. From menu customization and recommendations to linens and décor, our Special Event Planners can assist with any size holiday gathering. Give us a call today!



Summer Menu + The Perfect Venue
July 7, 2014 by Puff 'n Stuff | comments

Summer is the season of barbecuing in the backyard; picnics at the park and evenings spent enjoying a cold one with friends. The weekends between Memorial Day and Labor Day present the perfect opportunity to host all kinds of celebrations, including: graduations, birthdays, anniversaries, showers and corporate functions to name a few.

Whether you have a get-together planned this season or you’re looking for a reason to cheers, we invite you to savor the flavors of summer with five new menu collections.  To make your planning even easier, we have paired our delicious recipes with unique venues throughout Tampa and Orlando to provide the perfect setting for any occasion.

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Wine Party:
Quantum Leap Winery, Orlando
Industrial yet contemporary, Quantum Leap Winery’s 17,000 sq. ft. space is decorated with accents of wood, leather and cork. Sip on wines from around the world in their Barrel Room or rent out the whole venue for you and up to 400 of your closest friends.

220 West Seventh Avenue, Tampa
Reach for the stars at 220 West Seventh Avenue, a rooftop venue featuring a large partially covered roof deck and two roof top gardens.  With stunning waterfront views, you will not find a more memorable rooftop setting in Tampa Bay.

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Picnic Lunch:

The Acre, Orlando
Not far off the beaten path yet still surrounded by lush landscape, this rustic one-acre sanctuary is located in Orlando’s historic College Park neighborhood. Home to several scenic settings, The Acre is an ideal place to host a relaxing afternoon picnic party.

Tampa Bay Sporting Clays & Archery, Tampa
Looking for an exhilarating experience for your next company picnic? Look no further than Tampa Sporting Clays & Archery, sprawling across 250-acres of forest and brush. Guests will have the opportunity to refine their marksmanship by shooting clays launched into the sky and getting comfortable with a bow and arrow in several of the venue’s archery courses.

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Fresh:

Winter Park Farmers Market, Orlando
The Winter Park Farmers’ Market building is one of the area’s most popular sites due to its unique architecture and historic nature. Brick walls and wood sliding doors are original to this former train depot, which is within walking distance to parks and various retail shops Park Avenue has to offer.

The Lange Farm, Tampa
As you approach the secluded and charming setting of the Lange Farm, you will instantly feel tensions ease. Breathtaking, panoramic views of manicured acres will make you forget you’re still in Florida – a refreshing change for a fresh-inspired menu.

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Flatbread and Salad:

Veranda at Thornton Park, Orlando
Leave behind the typical, windowless ballroom for a space with an abundance of character and natural light. Just steps away from downtown Orlando and nestled below beautiful century-old trees, The Veranda at Thornton Park’s colonial-era buildings are ideal for collaborative workshops, retreats, and intimate parties.

Tampa Garden Club, Tampa
Craving a lunch with a view? It doesn’t get much better than the Tampa Garden Club, featuring a spacious ballroom with floor to ceiling windows that look out to Hillsborough Bay.

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Indulge:

Crystal Ballroom, Orlando
Bathed in lavish décor, the Crystal Ballroom offers a glamorous space decorated with elegant ceiling draping and crystal chandeliers. Live the life of luxury you’ve always dreamed of, at this magical venue.

Powel Crosley Estate, Tampa
Built in 1929, the Powel Crosley Estate is home to a captivating two-and-a-half-story Mediterranean mansion that sits right on the Sarasota Bay. Let its red tiled roof, rounded archways and wrought-iron details become the backdrop for your next celebration.



Exciting Developments Impacting Orlando Conventions
June 11, 2014 by Puff 'n Stuff | comments

This week kicks off the Americas Incentive, Business Travel & Meetings Exhibition, the leading global exhibition for the U.S. meetings and events industry. AIBTM gives convention visitors an in-depth look at places to host a wide range of events right here in Orlando.

While the ‘Big 3’ theme parks have always been a must for visitors, we’re uncovering some of Orlando’s best-kept secrets to meeting locations. Our fair city is on the fast track to growth and it continues to bring developments that its communities can enjoy. Whether you’re looking for something new to do, or a hidden gem loved by locals, this post is for you.


Fantasy of Flight:
Home to the world’s largest private collection of vintage aircrafts, Fantasy of Flight can become the setting for an intimate party, or an extraordinary large-scale affair. With over 100,00 square feet of combined meeting space, your event will soar to new heights. Offering several versatile and unique event spaces, Fantasy of Flight is conveniently located only 20 miles west of Walt Disney World.
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Church Street Station:
Situated in the bustling downtown Orlando scene, the Church Street Station recently underwent several renovations, restoring this historic hot spot back to its glory days. Many iconic venues make up this unique location including, the Ballroom at Church Street, Orchid Garden, Event Venue Orlando and Cheyenne Saloon, all of which can accommodate various types of meetings, events and other gatherings. With the ability to host parties from as little as 10, all the way up to 10,000 guests, the history and grandeur of these venues is unlike anything in Orlando.
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Dr. Phillips for Performing Arts:
What is to be one of the largest developments downtown Orlando has seen since the construction of the Amway Center, the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center will open its doors on November 6th to host a mix of cultural and social activities. Plan a gala in the all-glass DeVos Family Room over looking the CNL Arts Plaza or a soiree of any size across their multi-level facility. The awe-inspiring design of this venue can become a spectacular backdrop for your next event.
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Fun Spot America:
Smack in the middle of the world’s largest theme park corridor, Fun Spot America welcomes groups of all sizes, giving them them the ability to rent portions of the park for private events. Home to Orlando’s only wooden coaster, Fun Spot America’s ultra clean environment lures guests in, to experience several activities, thrill rides and coasters.
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Richard Petty Driving Experience:
Located at The Walt Disney World Speedway, the Richard Petty Driving Experience offers guests an interactive event experience, and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ride shotgun in a NASCAR racecar, reaching speeds of up to 165mph. Utilize the large in-field for a Food Truck themed event like we executed last year for one of our clients, or relax in the shade of their massive overhang.

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Learn more about these and other Florida venues on www.venues.puffnstuff.com or contact one of our Special Event Planners today for a personal tour of over 200 unique meeting spaces!



Orlando Caterer Blows Pass 107% To Qualify
May 19, 2014 by Puff 'n Stuff | comments

Often used in Formula One or other racing series, the 107%  reference is a time which the driver must qualify the car within 107% of the polesitter’s speed to be allowed to compete. On a cold and rainy day in March, this is exactly what our Puff ‘n Stuff team did to take home the win.

Having served Florida for over 30 years, our event planning team has braced countless storms and some of the most unforgiving weather conditions, but what happens when a sudden thunderstorm rains out YOUR event?

Recently, a client planned a fun-filled afternoon at one of Orlando’s favorite event venues, the Richard Petty Driving Experience, located at The Walt Disney World Speedway. It was to be an action packed day, as this unique venue allows guests to ride shotgun in a NASCAR race car, reaching speeds up to 165mph.
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On the day of the event, massive storm clouds rolled in, eventually soaking the track, which prompted the speedway to cancel the event. Upon the cancelation, the client proposed an interesting question, “What if we opened up an empty ballroom at the hotel where our group is being accommodated?” The client exclaimed, “The event must go on!” or something very similar to that we imagine; and so it did.

Instantly, our pit crew (service and culinary teams) sprang into action, once permission was received to access the hotel’s kitchen and provide service. In record time, they packed up and headed to the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center. One of Florida’s typical afternoon monsoons wasn’t going to stop our crew from putting on a memorable affair. Because what’s an event without a mouthwatering catering menu, anyway?

With no time to set up the food buffet as initially planned, our team cleverly devised an alternative strategy that would get the food out quickly and still provide excellent service. By creating several mini-plates, dishes were butler-passed to guests within 15 minutes of touching down at the Gaylord Palms, making a full recovery of an event that was almost washed away.

This successful recovery was made possible, in part by of our very gracious host, the Gaylord Palms, but just as important our dedicated team members led by Sarah, the Event Supervisor and Patrick, the Lead Culinary. Even in the most unexpected of circumstances, each team member went above and beyond, which speaks volumes about the work ethic and passion that shines through at every Puff ‘n Stuff catered event.



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Puff 'n Stuff Catering is a full service wedding, corporate & holiday event caterer and planner serving the greater Orlando Area and all of Central Florida including Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Volusia and Lake counties. Puff 'n Stuff Catering has catered simple meals to buffets to gourmet dinners for private & public functions in areas such as Downtown Orlando, Winter Park, Maitland, Windermere, Lake Mary, Bay Hill, Belle Isle, Oviedo, Clermont, Heathrow, Thornton Park, Lake Nona, Isleworth, Delaney Park and Lake Buena Vista. Our experienced catering staff has worked in office buildings, private homes, convention centers, conference rooms, meeting halls, churches and almost every other place more then two people gather. Puff 'n Stuff Catering offers Vegan, Vegetarian and Eco Friendly Catering. If you are looking for the best caterer in Orlando that can fit your event budget, contact Orlando Caterer, Puff 'n Stuff Catering today.