Whether you plan on a quiet evening for two… or a family event or a party… planning is essential to making your life easy and economical.
We usually plan a nice evening for two…. I either make an abundance of appetizers and hors’dourves followed by a really nice dessert or I make a several course meal…. depending on how elaborate the main course is… which it usually isn’t …. will dictate how much work I put into the appetizer, side dishes and dessert. I’m big on a make ahead plan… I don’t spend my time ringing in the New Year in the kitchen slaving away.
When planning a party… I follow my Father’s cardinal rule… always make sure you serve a enough food and have a wide variety to suit all tastes when serving alcohol. You certainly can buy large boxes of hors’dourves at Costco and BJ’s…. or a sampling of smaller ones at the grocery store… but that can add up to a really expensive evening, especially when you factor in alcohol.
So what do you do?
Plan ahead and make ahead…. make a list of possible food choices and then divide the list into things that need attention during the party or dinner…. keep those to an absolute minimum… eliminating anything too time consuming.
Make sure your list includes healthy alternatives… vegetable and fruit trays for an example. Cheese and cubed summer sausage are paired well with grapes, apples and pears.
Try to limit your hot hors’dourves to about three or at least three turns in the oven… what I mean by that is I try to group a variety of hors’dourves baking at the same temperature and baking times so I can put a variety on a tray and only have to watch it once in the oven. I do this whether I’m making a variety for two people or twenty…. it saves time.
Commercially made…even at discounters… are still expensive…. smaller packages can run you between $9-$12 dollars for what they call “serves 8 or 12” at the grocery store….. larger boxes at discounters… will have 100 count boxes running you some serious cash… for example… Kosher Potato Puffs… 100 count box sells for $79.99… OUCH! … and what’s doubly bad about it… that’s only one kind of hors’dourve…. you need a variety.
So my advice is figure on fruit, vegetable and cheese trays…. The trays can be done in advance…. I like to make one chafing dish food… say spicy cocktail meatballs…. make them heat them and forget about it… your done…. and I pre-make a variety of appetizers and freeze them… you can make fried raviolis for under ten dollars… something that would cost you probably over $50 to buy pre-made. The savings add up.
It’s not too late to start… it’s only December 27th… make one or two kinds each day… when using pie crusts… for example… I make my mini quiches and mini empanadas the same day… the fillings are quick and I already have the pie dough setup …. so making them is a snap….freeze them and you’re ready!
One last thing…. How Much to Make?
I like to have an assortment of 6-8 types of snacks including the cheese tray …. plus the fruit and vegetable trays…. I don’t count the fruit and veggie tray because I consider that as an extra to cover all dietary needs…..then I figure 3-4 per person per type of snack I make….
And don't forget dips... Mexican Layered Dip is a perfect example of a festive dip to serve.
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