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Are you Ready for Some Football…Party Food? Tips and advice for planning a last minute Super Bowl Party

So here we are, just days away from some Super Bowl Sunday, and you might still be on the fence about whether or not to throw a party. Are you too late?

No! There’s still time to call up your friends and put together a stress-free game plan that is sure to include fabulous food, fun, and better yet, easy clean up.

Even if you are a reluctant entertainer, the casual nature of a Super Bowl party is the  ideal setting for testing out your hosting skills.

Here’s how to do it:

Define your viewing space :TV is the major focal point of your party, so the first thing you need to do is determine how many people you can seat comfortably in the room where the game will be watched. You may need to do a little furniture re-arranging to accommodate everyone. Be realistic. Too crowded=no fun.

Plan your menu: A great Super Bowl party is all about TV and food. Did you know that Super Bowl Sunday is #2 on the list (after Thanksgiving) for highest fat/calories consumed in 1 day? It’s true! But as long as you don’t make it “Super Bowl week”, one day of gluttony is not going to do you in.

What I’m getting at is plan a menu that is full of traditional Super Bowl favorites. Just like we expect traditional foods, like turkey and pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, your guests will want all the cheesy dips and chips and ice cold beer they can get their hands on for Super Bowl Sunday.

As host, decide what you will make as an entree, which will anchor all of the other elements of the party.

The crock-pot is king : Next to new TV sales for the big game, has to be crock-pots; and for good reason. You can fill them with easy , make-ahead entrees like  chili (a Super Bowl favorite), soups, or barbecue, which may be made in advance and  kept warm, ready for guests to help themselves when they are ready.

Make drinks accessible Your guests will work up a big thirst after eating all of those salty snacks, so be sure to have plenty of ice cold beer and other non-alcoholic drinks available for quick refills. I like to take the “pick your favorite approach” by filling a giant tub with ice and a variety of beverages for their choosing. It looks festive, and saves your guests from repeated trips to the fridge.

Enlist your invited guests Once you have your entree figured out,  let your friends help you with the rest of the party menu. To avoid having everyone bring the same thing, when they ask “What can I bring” tell them! How about a hot dip/chips? How about some chicken wings? How about cupcakes? This party is the ultimate pot-luck, so take full advantage!

Set up/Timing: Plan to have your friends arrive an hour before the game begins. This allows your guests the chance to enjoy some appetizers, and a bit of visiting time before kick-off, when some people may want to focus on the game.  Along these lines, I think it makes sense to have one room designated as the TV viewing room , and another room set up with a buffet style service, where guests may help themselves to the party food when they are ready. This also creates an area for people who may not be that interested in the game (me) to continue socializing without disturbing the die-hard football fans who are trying to watch the game on TV.

Don’t forget about recyclables. All of those empty bottles need to go somewhere, and cluttering up your kitchen counter is not the place. Have recycling containers or baskets out where your guests can see them to catch the empties. This makes clean up a whole lot easier too!

Speaking of clean up, one of the things a party host may dread is having to wash dishes and take care of the aftermath following an evening of fun.

Well, if you take my advice and have your friends help out with the party food, they will take any leftovers home with them on you guessed it, their platter. That is what I call easy clean up.

Miscellaneous tips:

*If you are in a rush, add chopped fresh cilantro and a clove of minced garlic to a jar of store-bought salsa to liven up the flavors.

*Avoid juggling trays of things that need to go into and out of the oven. If you need to bake an appetizer, plan to remove it just as guests arrive. Let that be the last thing you need to attend to when the party starts, so you too, can enjoy yourself.

*If you tackle the entire party yourself, focus on a few key things that you make, and consider purchasing some things (like dessert) to complete your menu.

If you are looking for some recipe inspiration, I have a few things I like to serve right here, along with a few links to other awesome food bloggers out there who have included some of their Super Bowl favorites.

You can also catch me tomorrow, where I will be a guest on the radio show What’s Cookin’, at 8:00am Pacific, where the topic of conversation is Super Bowl Party Menus/Food.

So whether you are rooting for the Steelers, the Packers, or the Black Eyed Peas, I hope you have a fantastic time on Super Bowl Sunday with your friends!

Toasted Cashews with Rosemary and Shallots

I like to have little bowls like this around for nibbling during the game

Asian Beef Rib Sliders

Make the filling a day ahead and keep warm in a chafing dish or crock-pot

Mediterranean Chicken Bites with Romanesco Sauce

Grill them ahead of time and serve at room temperature


Cioppino

Make the broth a day ahead and simply add the seafood right before serving

Links to some awesome ideas!

Chicken Wings: Look no further! What’s Cookin’ Italian Style has showcased over 20 different styles of chicken wings sure to satisfy your craving.

Home made Beer Bratwurst: Kitchen Confidante shows you step-by-step how to make your own. (You may not have time to make it this year, but bookmark for next time!)

Buffalo Chicken Wing Dip: Everything you love about wings in a party dip, provided by The Bitten Word

Hot Reuben Dip Brown Eyed Baker (a Steelers fan) knows her dip

Superbowl Cupcakes: Jeanne Benedict shares cute ideas that satisfy your sweet tooth

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Tailgait Dinner Party and U2 Concert

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I can still hear the sounds of the concert buzzing through my head today, the morning after we went with friends to see U2 in Charlottesville…

“It’s not a hill it’s a mountain” from” I’ll go crazy if I don’t go crazy tonight”—Bono’s voice and The Edge still crisp in my ears…

Before the concert began we set up a tailgait dinner party, which we have done in the past, and I have to say that these supper club “field trips” are some of the best evenings we’ve had together. With a few hours before the concert started, we enjoyed a few glasses of wine and had a picnic dinner before heading in to the show.

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The evenings are beginning to feel more like fall–the air has a little bit of a chill, and the sun sits a little lower these days. It was a beautiful night to enjoy good food with friends.

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Toasted Cashews with Rosemary and Shallots

—-I like to make these during the fall, and especially around the holidays when you want a little something to put in a bowl for nibbling when friends stop by.

5 cups cashews

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 small shallots, peeled

3 cloves garlic, peeled, sliced thin

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/4 cup chopped fresh rosemary

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

1/2 tablespoon Kosher salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread cashews out in a single layer on large baking sheet. Toast until the nuts are golden and fragrant, 8 to 12 minutes. Transfer the nuts to a large bowl, and set aside. Thinly slice shallots crosswise  and separate into rings. Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic; fry until golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the shallots and garlic to paper towel lined plate; set aside.

Add melted butter, shallots, garlic, rosemary, cayenne, brown sugar, and salt to bowl with toasted cashews, tossing well to coat with mixture. Serve warm, or at room temperature.

Makes 5 cups

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Turkey, Arugula, Red Onion Jam, and Blue Cheese Sandwiches

Dressing:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1/2 tablespoon minced shallots

1 clove garlic, mined

2 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspon pepper

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl.

8 small crusty rolls, sliced in half

1 pound oven roasted turkey breast, thinly sliced

2 cups arugula leaves

3 ounces blue cheese (I’m a big fan of Point Reyes blue), crumbled

3/4 cup red onion jam

Open sandwich roll and place 2-3 slices of turkey on bottom half of roll. Spoon about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the red onion jam over the turkey. Add a few leaves of arugula, sprinkle with blue cheese, and add a drizzle of dressing.

8 servings

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Off to the concert—-and what a show it was! We sat in the red zone, inner circle surrounding the stage. —Proceeds from these tickets go to U2 endorsed charities–definitely worth the price of admission, and feels good to know our enjoyment of the concert helped those in need.

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For a look at last night’s show, visit thie link here  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZpUTeDfLN8&feature=youtube_gdata


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Smoked Salmon with Wasabi Cream and Sesame Crackers

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Girls weekend …well, actually, in my case it was 27 1/2 hours away (I had to get back  to prep for a week’s worth of cooking classes).    This past weekend I headed to a little place on the Potomac  River called Sandy Point with my  girl friends.  This was the second annual trip for all of us, and one I hope we continue as the years pass. We are all so busy with our day to day lives that even though we may see each other in that day to day life, we don’t always have the time for the meaningful conversations and laughter that brought us together as friends in the first place. A little time away does the spirit good.

Of course this could also be classified as a “foodie road trip”, because after all, we ate really well while away.  We divvied up  the meals for the weekend, and as I anticipated, I have lots of material for future posts. Today I will share what I contributed.

On trips like this, I plan to pack things that may be prepared ahead with minimal assembly later on. The appetizer I made involves just a few ingredients, and is simple to put together.

dsc_2939Smoked Salmon with Wasabi Cream and Sesame Crackers

-delicious with a nice glass of Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc

1/2 cup sour cream

2 teaspoons prepared wasabi paste

8 ounces smoked salmon, sliced into 1-inch-thick slices

1 package sesame crackers (I like Sesmark brand Sesame Thins)

Fresh snipped chives for garnish

Whisk together sour cream and wasabi paste in a small bowl.

Assembly:Place salmon slices on a crackers; top each with 1/2 teaspoon of wasabi cream and sprinkle with chives

6 servings

I also prepared a Soba Noodle Salad  which is a recipe I adapted from Heidi Swanson’s book, Super Natural Cooking. I’ve added some carrot ribbons for color and crunch, as well as some edamame.  This healthy salad, although light,  is packed with protein, and will leave you feeling energized. I made the dressing a day ahead and stored in a mason jar, ready to pack in my cooler. I picked up some ready prepared soba noodles from Costco…

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Have you seen/ tried these? They are preservative free, fully cooked/ individually packed and are ready to go…I use them in stir- fry, soups, and in this case, my salad.  You will find them in the prepared foods/refrigerated section. I highly recommend them!

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Otsu Salad

Ginger Sesame Dressing:

Grated zest of one lemon

1-inch cube fresh ginger root, peeled and grated

1 tablespoon honey

3/4 teaspoon cayenne

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar

1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons sesame oil

Combine the zest, ginger, honey cayenne, salt, and lemon juice together in a food processor (or use a hand held blender) and process until smooth. Add the rice vinegar and  soy sauce and pulse to combine. With the machine running, drizzle in the oils.

Salad:

12 ounces fresh soba noodles

1 cup frozen shelled edamame

2 tablespoons peanut oil

12 ounces extra firm tofu

2 medium sized carrots, peeled

4 green onions, thinly sliced

1 English cucumber,quartered, thinly sliced

3/4 cup chopped cilantro

1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds

Soften soba noodles by adding to a large pot of boiling water. Add edamame and stir to break up/separate noodles; cooking about 2 minutes. Drain in colandar, and rinse under cold water.

Meanwhile, drain tofu and thoroghly pat dry using paper towels. Cut tofu into 1/2-inch thick cubes. Heat peanut oil in a wok or large saute pan over medium high heat. Add tofu and cook 4 minutes, without stirring, allowing a crisp edge to form. Stir tofu and continue to cook and additional 3 minutes, or until  crisp and  golden brown.

Using a vegetable peeler, peel the carrots into ribbons over a large salad bowl. Add the green onions, cucumber and cilantro , and add 1/4 of the dressing, tossing well to combine. Add soba noodles, edamame, and tofu to the salad bowl along with the remaining dressing and toss thoroughly to combine flavors. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

4-6 servings

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