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Posts tagged as “casual party”

Devils on Horseback

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Also known as stuffed dates, these are a great addition to your tapas board or as a quick and simple appetizer with cocktails before a meal. They're salty, sweet, and incredibly addictive... impossible to eat just one! This recipe makes a dozen but it's foolproof: scale it to make as many as you'd like.

If blue cheese typically isn't your jam, a creamy gorgonzola is a good choice that is a little milder. If you love blue cheese as much as I do, St. Agur is fantastic, probably one of my favorite blue cheeses to both use in recipes as well as just eat by itself with some crackers, since it's so damn delicious. It's also made with vegetarian-based rennet.

Menu Inspiration: Summer cocktail party

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Believe it or not, it's August. If you're gearing up for the long Labor Day weekend already or planning a casual end-of-summer party, here are some quick and easy entertaining ideas that will help you send the summer season off right.

Fresh, Mediterranean-inspired flavors highlight this menu, and for something sweet at the end that's still light: easy to make grilled peaches with honey-sweetened whipped cream. As a bonus, there's something for everyone: several recipes are vegetarian-friendly and could be made vegan with a few omissions or easy swaps.

Menu Inspiration: Easy Weeknight Italian

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Growing up in New Jersey, Italian food was a big part of my life. It seems like no matter where you go in the state, you can throw a stone and hit a pizzeria. In fact, a quick search on Yelp for "pizza" in Newark, NJ, the largest city in the state with a population of 285,154 in 2017 (Wikipedia) brought up over 620 search results for me. By contrast, a search of Flemington, NJ (Wikipedia says it had a population of 4,621 in 2017), the town where I went to high school and location of the famous Lindbergh "Trial of the Century", still brought up 28 results. I even worked at a few of those pizza places... three, actually, while I was in high school.

Menu Inspiration: Comfort Food Feast

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Comfort foods are far-from fussy and everyone loves them, which makes this menu perfect for a casual get-together—whether celebrating a birthday, the upcoming Super Bowl, or just because. For a country-inspired birthday party (think bandannas, plaid shirts, jeans) I attended years ago, this menu was a winner. It fed a group of 30 adults and children with enough variety so everyone, meat eaters and vegetarians alike, could find something to enjoy.

Most things on this menu would be also be great for an outdoor party because they travel well. A few of these things, like the cornbread, don't have to be served hot. Chili can be made in advance and heated up outdoors in the slow-cooker, if you have power where you're going; transferred to a chafing dish; or heated right over a camp fire in a cast iron pot (very outdoorsy!)

Tropical Mango-Lime Party Punch

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For anyone who has ever attended a college party or two in their time, flashbacks of overly sweetened "jungle juice" might instantly come to mind (along with memories of some crazy hangovers the next day after drinking the stuff, perhaps.)

The recipe? It was always simple: combine assorted liquor with assorted juices to end up with a concoction that was potent to drink and seemed to always vary in color—sometimes orange if a lot of pineapple or orange juice was added to the mix, othertimes a greenish color from what had to be a healthy dose (a whole bottle?) of melon liqueur.

Whatever you call it, it's was a great idea to serve for big, casual parties—and it's still a good idea today, with some modifications, of course.

These days, I pair back the juices and booze so it's not a base of "everything and the kitchen sink" anymore. I also generally make mine with better ingredients, like organic juices and seltzer instead of soda which adds fizz without extra sugar. A base of mango and pineapple with a touch of lime juice make it tropical and flavored vodka provides extra kick of flavor.

Baked Pimento Cheese Dip

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The Super Bowl is this Sunday and, well, I'm not a football fan. A red-blooded Patriot I still am, yes, but no, I don't have a favorite football team, and I don't care who wins or loses the game.

As a marketer and foodie, though, I am sure you could've guessed that I do enjoy watching the commercials and eating snacks. In the kitchen is where I can be found during any given Super Bowl with a drink in hand, pausing to watch a funny commercial now and again. Works for me.

It's basically a prerequisite to have some kind of pretzels or chips and dip to snack on during the game (or commercials.) If you ask me, chips and salsa gets boring after a while. Guac, even if given a healthy dose of lime juice, is bound to turn brown. And while I enjoy a good queso, it, too, comes with challenges. The first challenge is keeping it warm. (A Crock-Pot can take care of that quite nicely, true.) The second challenge is that it can be drippy and messy to eat.

Pimento cheese, on the other hand, is absolutely divine, easy to make, and easy to eat. I wasn't born or raised in the South and I never ate it as a kid. I found it a few years ago by accident when looking for something at the grocery store, and, boy, am I glad I did.