Turn kids' love of summer fun into a colorful beach theme that brightens a party for children of any age. Regardless of the season, you can add the casual appeal of a shoreline afternoon to the food you serve at your child's next birthday celebration, casual get together or sleepover. Whether your child's guests dress for the occasion or simply feast on a tropically inspired buffet, your menu can offer a memorable alternative to standard fare.
Casual Main Dishes
To carry the fun-in-the-sand theme into your menu, turn the induction cooktop of your range into a burger express, using as many flat-bottomed ferrous-metal pans as you need to keep up with guests' demand. Mold ground beef or turkey with generous-sized cookie cutters shaped like sea creatures, adding a clever look to your patties. Use a separate set of the same cutters to shape sliced cheese and buns or flatbread. If you form and prepare the meat ahead of time, you can stash it in a temperature-controlled refrigerator drawer until it's time to cook. Set up relishes and other condiments in small beach buckets with miniature shovels.
Depending on the age of your young guests, you'll want to keep menu items within the range of foods that appeal to potentially picky palates. Baking up a batch of cupcakes in your convection oven provides you with a platform for clever frostings in bright colors. Because convection relies on fan-forced hot air to produce optimal baked goods at lower temperatures than conventional radiant methods use, you can fill your oven with pans and still produce excellent results. Create a range of frosting colors and apply them in wave-like patterns, or cover half of each cupcake in a sand color and half in a cheerful watery blue. Use your tablet or the Internet-enabled touchscreen on your refrigerator to look up pictures of aquatic species—octopi, sharks and starfish make iconic choices—so you can make them from fondant or marzipan as dessert decorations.
If you want to go beyond fish-shaped crackers for snacking and finger-food options, create your own chips in your convection oven. For a healthful alternative to frying, bake thinly sliced peeled potatoes, carving out interesting shapes with cookie cutters and seasoning the results. If you cut up your potatoes ahead of time and set them in your temperature-controlled refrigerator drawer, add a squirt of fresh lemon juice to keep them from turning brown, and store them in a sealed container to minimize air exposure. Plan on turning your over-the-range microwave oven into a popcorn powerhouse, adding flavorings to plain, unsalted corn so you can control salt and fat.
A refrigerator with on-demand carbonated water and ice service through its freezer door provides the basis for a world of beach-themed drinks. Run berries through a blender to add flavor and color to sparkling lemonade. For a festive touch, add cocktail-style tropical umbrellas to your drink glasses. Your refrigerator's touchscreen includes apps you can use to track your grocery planning in advance of the party, play music through Internet radio while you prepare dishes and ingredients, and share photos of your food, drinks and decor choices, all captured with your digital camera or smartphone. If you run your dishwasher in advance of party prep time, you can place utensils and glasses directly in it as the party progresses, using its no-rinse convenience to save time and water.
Photo Credits: Pamela Follett/ Demand Media
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