Everybody knows that the cocktail party is the fasyon thing in the party scene right now. Everybody who is anybody has been throwing their own little parties, and, well, not all of them have resulted in great nights. If you want to try your hand at throwing your own cocktail party, you would want to consider a lot of things. For example you have got to take care of the lights, the music, the guest list, the drinks, the theme, and the ambience.
And probably, the most important thing to consider when throwing your own party is the food you serve. Food, in a sense, is what draws people in, it is what your guests remember long after they have left your party, and it is often what starts conversations.
Obviously, you would want people to be talking about your food in a positive light, so instead of serving up your “special” spaghetti (trust me, everyone has gotten tired of your “secret” recipe), some kanto-bought barbeque, and fruit salad (without a morsel of actual fresh fruit), why not try something new?
This week, I am going to give you easy recipes to fun, flavor-packed food that are light on the budget, and easy enough for kids to prepare. All the ingredients are readily available in your local grocery, and some ingredients are straight out of a can. Consider this the lazy party-thrower’s recipe guide.
Take out your scissors because you would want to cut this article up and keep it in your secret party-recipe book.
Tuna Quesadilla with Bean Dip
Everybody seems to love this recipe, and it gets rave reviews every time I serve it in little get togethers. This Mexican-inspired dish is easy on the pocket and has the simplest ingredients you are sure to already have stocked in your pantry.
What you need: A small can of pork and beans, a can of tuna in brine, a block of quick-melting cheese, dried cumin powder, and a bag of frozen tortillas.
Tips Before you Start: If you can’t find tuna in brine, tuna in oil or water could work just as well. If you have Spanish sardines stocked in your pantry, you could use that also. If you do not have quick-melting cheese, you may use any good brand of cheddar cheese. Remember though that the cheese will be the “star” of this dish, so if you could spend a little extra bucks, spend it on the cheese. I buy Whole Wheat tortillas just because I hear it is healthier. They come in packs of twelve, which makes six whole tortillas. If you have trouble finding frozen tortillas, you can find it at a Mall-based supermarket. Clue: the name of the mall consists of two letters. Also, this recipe would require you to have a stove top grill or a non-stick pan.
Steps: Heat the pork and beans in a sauce pan and add a dash or two (or three, if you really want it to taste all Mexicany). When the sauce starts to boil and thicken a bit, take it off the heat and transfer it to a bowl. Mash the beans until you form a chunky, thick sauce, instead of the runny sauce the pork and beans come in. Set this sauce aside. On a clean working surface, lay out a piece of frozen tortillas (make sure that you have thawed them beforehand), top with some cheese, making sure that you do not over-fill the tortilla, as the cheese may drip out once you fry the quesadilla. Top the cheese with some tuna, and add a dash of dried cumin powder. Cover this with another piece of tortilla. Repeat this until you are done preparing all your tortillas. Set them aside and then start heating your non-stick pan. Once your pan gets hot enough, place your quesadilla on it, as if to fry it, but do not add oil. Once the quesadillas fluff up and get a deep brown color, you may take them out of the heat, and then slice them lengthwise and then crosswise. Your quesadillas are now ready to serve with your easy-as-pie bean dip. Enjoy!
This recipe is familiar to everyone, but it does not get served in parties too often, or as often as people would like. It is another take on the traditional chips and dip, but this time, it has all the stuff that everyone loves about tacos: the sumptuous beef, tomatoes, and cheese.
What you need: Bags of nacho chips, oil, garlic, onion, ground beef (I usually combine round beef and ground pork since beef gets too oily for my taste), tomato paste, cubed tomatoes, dried cumin powder, salt pepper, and quick melting cheese.
Tips before you start: If you prefer using butter instead of oil, make sure to mix in a minimal amount of oil with your butter, since it prevents the butter from burning too fast. Try putting the garlic on the pan before turning the burner on, and before adding the oil; this way, the garlic would have more time to release its oils, instead of heating too fast. This also reduces the risk of burning the garlic. Also, make sure to de-seed your tomatoes before cubing them, otherwise your final product might be runny from all the moisture in the tomatoes.
Steps: Sauté as much minced garlic as you want. Once the garlic starts smelling heavenly garlicky, add in the onions and sauté until they seem translucent. Add in the ground beef and pork, and season with slat, pepper, and cumin. Once the ground beef is cooked through, add in the tomato paste, cubed tomatoes and cumin. This should make a thick and chunky meat sauce. In a microwaveable platter, arrange the nacho chips and top with meat sauce and quick-melting cheese. Pop in the microwave until the cheese melts right before you serve it to your guests.
Crostinis are simple, traditional Italian, open-faced sandwiches. They are crunchy, flavorful and fresh-tasting. They go well with any drink, alcoholic or otherwise, but they are traditionally served with wine.
What you need: Baguette (yes, what some people call French bread), garlic, cubed tomatoes, basil, and some cheese.
Steps: Slice five large heads of garlic into four to five tablespoons of olive oil until the garlic turns brown and soft. Turn off the heat and brush the garlic-infused oil on sliced pieces of baguette. Top the baguettes with cheese and toast until the cheese has melted. Set aside. In a bowl, combine cubed and deseeded tomatoes and some basil. (If you can’t find fresh basil, use the dried ones.) Top the toasted baguettes with the tomato-basil combination and your crostini is ready to serve.
Cheese and Crackers
Cheese and crackers are little finger food that packs a punch. The velvety texture of the cream cheese against the dry crackers is wonderful, and with the addition of simple herbs and spices this recipe is bound to be your new fave party treat.
What you need: Cream cheese, round crackers (like Ritz or Fita), basil, oregano, paprika, curry, cumin and other spices.
Steps: Simply whip your cream cheese with the herb/spice of your choice. Put inside a piping bag and pipe on your round crackers for a more festive look. The trick for this treat is to mix and match the spices. You could go for a single spice, or mix them all up. Your flavor choices are only as limited as your spice cabinet.
Deviled Eggs are simple recipes that everyone loves. They are smooth, spicy and give just the right amount of kick.
What you need: Hard boiled eggs sliced lengthwise, curry powder, cayenne powder, salt, pepper, and milk.
Steps: Slice your hard boiled eggs crosswise and take out the egg yolks. In a bowl, mash all the egg yolks together and add curry powder, a dash of cayenne, salt and pepper. If the mixture seems too thick, ad a teaspoon of milk until it is smooth enough to scoop with a spoon. Put enough curry powder to alter the color of the egg whites into a light green. Scoop the mixture back onto the egg whites or pipe through a piping bag for a more festive look.
This muffin recipe is the epitome of cheat-cooking. You just might make your friends believe that you made these cupcakes yourself.
What you need: Grocery-ought cupcakes (you know, those cupcakes your younger siblings make baon), strawberry flavored all purpose cream, sugar, marshmallows.
Steps: Chill your strawberry-flavored all-purpose cream for around three to four hours. After chilling, whip the cream with some sugar (make sure it tastes sweet enough for your guests). Pipe them (with a piping bag) on to your store-bolught cupcakes and top with marshmallows. Tada! Instant desert that looks like you have slaved for hours in the kitchen to make.
There, I hope those recipes are easy enough even for non-cookers. I hope to see those recipes on the next cocktail party I am invited to, and I really hope you try them out for yourself. By the way, make sure to try these recipes out before the actual day of your party to get a feel of the process and to test the recipe. If you don’t get a good finished product, maybe you could contact me for some private lessons.
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