Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New Year's Bites Fit For Any Party

This year, I had the pleasure of throwing a New Years Party at my apartment. Though it was not the first time I have hosted one, it was the first time I decided to go all-out with the food spread. Planning recipes is one of my favorite things about get-togethers (other than the time spent with friends and family) whether it be a weekend afternoon football game or a big party like New Year's Eve, so I definitely spent a lot of time planning on this one! At the same time, my goal was to not let my spending get out of control, so I simplified some of the recipes.

I stuck to buying most of my ingredients at Trader Joe's since you can always rely on them for gourmet on a budget. I know I plug them a lot, but some of my favorite things about shopping there for a party are:

  • Their baguettes and small loaves of artisan bread are amazing for making crostini or mini-toasts to dip
  • They have a great cheese selection (although not quite as extensive/exPensive as Whole Foods, but still excellent) to make platters or use in recipes
  • Basics like chips and crackers are varied, affordable, and delicious
  • Their produce is always cheap and fresh
  • If you're not one for making your own appetizers, their frozen party food is awesome! Everything from mini quiche to taquitos, whether you're looking to go fancy or fun, they will have it for a good price
  • Wine section. No need to elaborate there

Anyway, here are some of my recipes that I reccommend for your next parties (these are recipes that I made myself, although they were inspired by other recipes. Recipes that are not my own have been linked)

Beef and Watercress Bites with Horseradish Cream

You will need:

1 sourdough baguette

Beef of choice (you can use leftover prime rib, a steak of your choice, whatever is affordable - I bought a small tri-tip roast from the store. If it's cooked and seasoned well, it doesn't matter what kind you use as long as it's not tough)

1 bunch of watercress (I reccommend the smaller leaves, as they are less bitter)

1 cup light sour cream


Spicy brown mustard

1. To make these, it is pretty simple and they can be adjusted to how you prefer. First, you want to cook your beef so that it is medium rare to medium. Do not overly season - some pepper will do. This can be done in advance to prepare the dish later.

2. To make the cream mixture, simply add horseradish and mustard to taste to the sour cream. (Also can be prepared in advance)

3. To assemble, top the slices of baguette first with the cream, then with a few sprigs of watercress, and then with the beef. I served them with the beef cold, but it could be prepared warm if you like.

Cheesy Crab Wonton Cups

You will need:

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1 package wonton wrappers (Nasoya brand is good)

1/2 package of shredded Mexican cheese blend with seasoning

1/2 package of reduced fat mozzarella

1 package of flake style imitation crab meat, shredded into fine pieces

I love using wonton cups with crab because the flavors work really well together. This is a fast recipe that should be served hot so the wontons are crispy and the cheese is still warm

1. Spray a mini-muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray and place 1 wonton wrapper down into the wells of the tin. For extra crispiness to the wonton cups, you can lightly brush them with some vegetable oil and they will taste more like they have been fried, but they are also good baked as-is

2. Mix the cheeses, diced red pepper, and crab together and fill the wonton cups with the cheese/crab mixture

3. Place the cups in an oven that has been preheated to 375 and bake for 6-10 minutes, or until the wontons have crisped to a golden brown color and the cheese has fully melted.

Ham and Pineapple Pops - (recipe from Whole Foods) These are really good. I reccommend buying a ham steak and cubing it if you don't have leftover sliced ham

Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms - (recipe by Paula Deen from the Food Network) My sister picked this recipe and was in charge of making these. They were great and not as difficult and they seem. Even though we know Paula doesn't typically make the most healthful recipes, this one is not too fatty and can be lightened up if you want to use light versions of some of the ingredients, i.e. the cream cheese and other cheeses. The recipe link above is a short video that is easy to follow.

Hope you get to try these recipes for some of your parties in the new year. Happy 2011!

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