8 Days and Counting!
Whether you’re planning for a large party or just a family affair… it helps to plan…. plan your menu and your time…. we're here to help.
Not a football fan?... well then… how about planning a movie night …. do a menu of festive foods to make it fun.
Here are links to posts that will help you plan and give you terrific menu ideas… the posts contain links to the recipes… so planning is easy!
Time to Start Thinking About the Super Bowl Party!
Ideas for a Mexican Themed Super Bowl Party
Ideas for an Italian Themed Super Bowl Party
Looking for More Super Bowl Party Ideas?
Coffee and Tea Buying Guide for a Crowd
Tips for Making Coffee for a Crowd
Meats, Cheeses (Cold Cuts) and Condiment Guide for a Crowd
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This recipe has 4 ingredients… is low in fat and absolutely delicious! … what could be better?.... delicious fresh cherry or grape tomatoes… part-skim mozzarella pearls… black olives and a store bought Fat-Free dressing…. not everything has to be complicated… sometimes the simplest recipes are the best.
I know… the dressing isn’t homemade… but why re-invent the wheel… Kraft makes a really good Fat-Free Zesty Italian dressing… it’s so quick and easy to use it.
This dish is an excellent salad to serve with grilled meat, chicken or fish…. perfect for those trying to watch the fat content in their diet… I know cheese is not the best… but it is part-skim… and is so delicious… adds pizzazz to an otherwise plain meal.
This also pairs well with foods like a Stromboli or sandwiches… a great accompaniment.
And for those not watching their diet… it just tastes good… of course, you can substitute another dressing for this one if you prefer…
If you use cherry tomatoes … cut them in half for easier eating.
The recipe uses canned olives… but if you have fresh olives available to you in your grocery store… those will be awesome in this salad.
If you can’t find fresh mozzarella pearls like the ones pictured… you can usually find fresh mozzarella balls in water in small containers in the gourmet cheese section of the grocery store… if the balls are “cherry tomato size” cut them in half…. if they’re the larger ones… quarter them.
The ingredients shouldn’t be swimming in dressing…. just lightly coated… eyeball the quantity.
I know you will love this flavor combination.
Recipe: Tomato and Mozzarella Salad
All you need:
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes (if using cherry tomatoes, cut them in half)
1 (3.5 oz) can whole black olives or the equivalent amount from the stores olive bar
1 package fresh mozzarella pearls
Kraft Fat Free Zesty Italian Dressing (amount should be to your taste)
All you need to do:
Combine the tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and olives in a bowl.
Add the dressing and toss to coat.
Chill and serve.
As I’ve mentioned before… I love salad Spinach Salad… and this one is my basic Spinach Salad with a delicious Warm Bacon and Shallot Dressing drizzled over it… it’s very simple… fresh spinach, sliced hard-boiled egg, sliced mushrooms, and bacon bits…. it’s fabulous with a variety of dressings but this one is one of the best.
I used one hard-boiled egg, two sliced mushrooms and about one tablespoon finely chopped bacon per serving.
I chopped the bacon in my mini chopper to get it very fine.
See my post for Making Bacon in the Oven for a quick and easy method for cooking bacon.
See my post for tips for Making Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs …. eggs without a gray ring around the yolk.
Chop the shallots and garlic together in a mini chopper to get them chopped very fine and well mixed.
This salad with Warm Bacon and Shallot Dressing is very simple to make… and delicious… with a light onion flavor and a hint of garlic… you will fall in love with it.
Recipe: Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon and Shallot Dressing
All you need:
White mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
3 strips of bacon, cooked and finely chopped
2 tablespoons reserved bacon grease
2 large shallots, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 ½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar or to taste
¼ cup olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper (about 6 turns on the pepper mill)
All you need to do:
Put a generous amount of fresh spinach on a plate.
Lay 1 sliced hard-boiled egg and 2 sliced mushrooms on top of each plate of fresh spinach. Set aside.
Cook the bacon until crispy either in the oven or a skillet.
Drain the bacon on paper towels.
Reserve 2 tablespoons of bacon grease and discard the rest.
Finely chop the bacon (using a mini food processer is easiest).
Sprinkle 1 tablespoon bacon bits on top of each salad and set aside.
In a medium skillet… add the reserved bacon grease.
Over medium heat, cook the finely chopped shallots and garlic.
Cook until shallots are soft… about 3 minutes.
Add the red wine vinegar to the skillet and deglaze the skillet.
Add mustard and sugar and whisk to mix…. cook for an additional two minutes.
Remove from the heat.
Add the skillet mixture to a medium heat resistant bowl.
Whisk in the oil and black pepper.
Drizzle dressing over each salad.
Every year I would make a big deal of Valentine’s Day… we always celebrated with a special meal… and of course… we had to have dessert. I like this giant cookie heart... it's such a special idea for a family dessert....or even for that special someone.... store bought ones are so expensive... and making your own is quick, easy and best of all... inexpensive....
I also made heart shaped cookies to put in my son’s lunch box with a note… actually I made them periodically throughout the year … and tucked them in my hubby’s briefcase or my son’s lunch box… I firmly believe in telling those we love… just that… we love them.
Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be extravagant to be special… just thoughtful. What better way to do it than with sweets. This cookie heart is so easy to make and the folks at Betty Crocker have made decorating it easier than you ever thought possible.
I have an icing bag… and I do make icing from scratch and do the whole decorating thing… but I don’t always have time… and Betty Crocker solves the problem with their canned icing …. it comes with a small assortment of tips and is very inexpensive… they really make decorating very simple.
It doesn’t have to be as perfect as a professional baker would do it… it will look terrific… trust me.. and whoever is the lucky one to have it… will love it.
I used a Wilton baking pan… see my Tip of the Day… I used their recipe because I felt it probably would turn out best using their quantities… the recipe is below.
Make sure that you spray your hands lightly with cooking oil before you gently press the cookie dough into the pan.
Gently spread the dough out.
Take the dough and using a large serving spoon… divide the dough in fourths… dropping a spoonful of dough in the pan… I dropped the dough in different areas of the pan… then used my hands to gently spread it out. This helps to spread it evenly throughout the pan.
Leave about a ¼ inch border from the sides of the pan… the cookie dough needs room to expand.
Cool completely before icing…
This is a super easy and great way to celebrate the day…
Recipe: Valentine’s Day Chocolate Chip Cookie Heart
All you need:
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
All you need to do:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Spray the pan with cooking oil spray (I used butter flavor).
In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the butter and the sugars until light and fluffy.
Add the egg and vanilla, mix well.
In a separate small bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and salt.
Add the flour to the butter mixture and mix well.
Stir in the chocolate chips.
Spread the dough into the prepared pan.
**Make sure you leave a ¼ inch border from the sides of the pan so the cookie dough has room to spread.
Bake 15-20 minutes or until light golden brown.
Cool on a rack for 5 minutes.
Remove from the pan.
Cool completely before decorating and/or cutting.
Makes 8-10 servings.
Tip of the Day
Plan ahead… sounds so simple… yet we all seem to procrastinate … I have learned the hard way over the years… when you see something you like… and know you will be getting it soon… get it then… when you see it.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen holiday baking pans… or kitchen tools and gadgets… and thought… oh it’s too soon… I’ll get it next time… only to find I can’t find it again…
So where am I going with this?.... If you see a heart shaped pan or cookie cutters… or cupcake paper liners that you like… get them… chances are there were a hundred other people that saw them and will want them too.
The folks at Wilton have a large selection of wonderful baking pans… I bought the heart pan months ago… yes.. that’s right…. months ago… all my heart shaped pans are in New York and I’m in Georgia… and I knew I’d use it lots…
Their pans are fairly reasonably priced and durable… and best of all they come with recipes and tips… the pan above will take any recipe that would normally go into a 9x13 pan… perfect!
The other day I was reading one of the blogs I regularly visit, Mangos, Chili and Z…. Lea Ann did a fantastic post about soup and salad…. like her… I eat a lot of salad… and I love soup. She inspired me to make soup… since living in the south in winter… I haven’t made as much soup as I used to. It was a staple when I lived in upstate New York in the winter… on those bitter cold days of January and February… there was nothing better than to have soup for supper…. I would get a loaf of fresh bread… and we were in heaven.
So I resolved to make soup… I picked several favorite recipes and bought the ingredients with the full intention of making one of them today for lunch…. Well you know what they say about best laid plans… unfortunately Warren got sick today… and called in to work… he never calls in… he has to be feeling absolutely horrible before he caves and calls in… but call in he did…
So being the loving person I am… I changed plans a bit and made Chicken Noodle Soup… nothing is better than a bowl of Chicken Noodle Soup when you’re sick….
This recipe is so easy and quick… you either use homemade chicken stock or purchased stock or broth…. I must admit I have been lax lately about making stock and freezing it… so I used purchased broth…
I used baby carrots and diced them for perfect little carrots… I cut the celery small as well… the vegetables cook pretty quickly this way.
I happen to have had some cooked chicken… but you can use rotisserie chicken purchased in the store for a fuller, more robust flavor… or simply cook the chicken yourself.
A bouquet garni is a little bundle made of fresh or dried herbs... made of cheese cloth and tied with string... you can buy them already made... but then you must use whatever herbs are in it and the purchased ones are dried. In the bouquet garni used in this recipe... I used fresh parsley, 2 dried bay leaves and peppercorns.... you could add more herbs that you like as well. For more information about Bouquet Garnis... see my Tid Bits of Information section in the lower right column.
I used 2 cups egg noodles… use as many or as little as you like in your soup… I always cook the noodles in the soup…I like the way the noodles absorb some soup and flavor them… however you can also cook them separately in water and add them to your soup already cooked… whichever way you prefer.
This soup cooks in about 30 minutes (including prep time)…. serve it with fresh baked rolls and a small salad and you have yourself a really good weeknight dinner…
Recipe: Chicken Noodle Soup
All you need:
8 cups chicken stock or broth
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 cup chopped carrot
1 medium onion sliced and then rings cut in half
2 cups cooked chicken diced
A bouquet garni made with 3 sprigs of fresh parsley, 2 bay leaves and 3-4 peppercorns
Egg noodles (about 2 cups)
All you need to do:
Add all ingredients except the noodles to a large stock pot and bring to a boil over fairly high heat…
When soup boils, lower heat so the soup just simmers.
Simmer for about 15 minutes.
Add the noodles and continue to simmer for another 8-10 minutes or until noodles are tender.
NOTE: You can cook the noodles in water in a different pot and then add them to the soup after they’ve finished cooking….
Remove the bouquet garni and serve.
Making Blueberry Pancakes from scratch is so easy and the taste just can’t be equaled by using a boxed mix. I find the boxed mixes heavier and more floury tasting.
This recipe uses my basic pancake recipe and simply adds blueberries…
You can either mix the blueberries into the whole batter or...after ladling the pancake batter onto the grill pan or skillet... you can drop some blueberries on the pancake as it cooks...if you do the latter method you must work quickly before the pancake sets...
Personally I like to drop them on each pancake... this way I can make plain ones for picky eaters and I can control the amount of blueberries in each pancake... when you flip them they will cook and burst a little.. but that just makes them taste better in my opinion....
Here is a wonderful recipe for Blueberry Pancakes…. I know you will enjoy these.
Recipe: Blueberry Pancakes
All you need:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 ¾ cups whole milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter melted and cooled
¼ cup melted butter for frying or cooking oil spray (butter flavor preferred)
1 pint blueberries
All you need to do:
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Stir well to mix.
Make a well in the center of the flour mixture.
Pour the eggs, milk and 2 tablespoons melted butter in the well.
Gradually mix the dry ingredients with the wet..pulling your whisk from the center outward until combined…batter will be a little lumpy.
Do not over mix the batter…this will make the pancakes heavy (like lead).
Gently stir in the blueberries *(or you can wait to add some blueberries to each pancake after ladling the pancake batter on the grill pan or skillet).
Heat a skillet (non-stick is preferred) over medium high heat. (To test if the skillet is hot enough… drop a droplet of water onto it… if it dances and evaporates instantly… you are good to go).
Brush the skillet lightly with some of the ¼ cup melted butter or spray with cooking oil.
Use a ¼ cup measure to scoop out your batter. Do not completely fill the measure… fill it to just shy of the top.
Drop scoopfuls onto the hot griddle. Make sure you pour from the center of te pancake so the batter runs fairly evenly into a round pancake.
Make sure you leave enough space between pancakes so they don't run together or you have trouble flipping them.
*This is where you would drop blueberries into the pancakes if you chose to do this method.
When bubbles appear and the batter is set, check the bottom, when the bottom is golden brown (about 2 minutes) … flip and cook the other side. When that side is golden brown (about 1 minute), remove to a warm oven proof plate.
Keep warm in an oven set on a low temperature (200 degrees F).
Tip of the Day
Celebrate the day with delicious Blueberry Pancakes… the recipe is quick and easy… don’t have time in the morning? Surprise the family with them for supper. Treat them to a wonderful nighttime breakfast…
Have fun with your family celebrating National Food Days... I have a special section I update each month that lets you know what celebrations are coming up.... pick a few Food Days to celebrate... kids love to do different things for meals... especially supper.
So just scroll down and look for my special section in the right column for this month's listing.
This recipe came together because I wanted to make Baked Spaghetti and wanted something Mexican… I couldn’t decide… so I combined the two… First, I did a little research about Mexican cheeses and found that ricotta was a substitute for one and parmesan a substitute for another… I decided it could work… and it did… very well, I might add.
It turned out so good, in fact, I would definitely consider making it for a Mexican themed party.. I would change the pasta though… it would work better with a ziti noodle … spaghetti is difficult to eat at parties… I found that out the hard way… but that’s another story… for another time.
This dish is assembled in three parts… the spaghetti… the cheese filling… and the meat sauce. I recommend you make it in three parts… it’s just easier… then assemble the casserole.
When taking the picture below for ingredients… I goofed….I forgot to put butter (or margarine) and shredded cheese in the picture… sorry!
I used my Taco Seasoning recipe…. the recipe makes just a little more than the recommended 3 tablespoons for taco meat… use the complete recipe… . or use a Taco Seasoning packet you buy at the grocery store.
I used a can of Green Giant Southwestern Style Corn… I hadn’t seen it before… I don’t know if it’s something new or just new to us… but I like it.. it has corn, black beans, onions and red peppers in it…. if for some reason you can’t find it… you can substitute Mexicorn by Green Giant.
I used a Mexican cheese blend that I found in the grocery store… you can use that or a Colby-Jack blend… or cheddar…. I wouldn’t recommend you use the cheese blends that have seasoning mixed with it… this recipe has enough seasoning on its own.
I used red pepper, green pepper and yellow pepper… the colors made the dish look awesome… and we like the taste variations between the peppers… if you need to substitute and use only one kind of pepper … use red pepper… it has a milder flavor than green pepper… or use a combination of two kinds… just make sure the total you use equals ¾ cup.
To serve it.. allow it to stand for about 5 minutes after coming out of the oven… then, using a sharp knife, cut it into squares and scoop out the squares with a spatula.
This recipe will make a large 13x9 casserole… it’s hearty… and will make about 6-8 servings… if you need less… cut the recipe back… or enjoy leftovers.
I served it with a small salad.
I hope you try this … it’s simply delicious!
Recipe: Baked Spaghetti – Fiesta Style
All you need:
For the Cheese Filling:
1 (15 oz.) container part-skim ricotta cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 can mild green chilies
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ cup shredded Fiesta Blend or cheddar cheese
For the Meat Sauce:
1 lb. lean ground beef
¼ cup chopped green pepper
¼ cup chopped red pepper
¼ cup chopped yellow pepper
1 medium onion finely chopped
Taco Seasoning (my recipe) or 1 store bought seasoning packet
2/3 cup water
1 can (11 oz.) Green Giant Southwestern Style Corn
1 can (10 0z.) Rotel Mild Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies
For the Remaining Ingredients:
1 lb. spaghetti, cooked al dente according to package directions
5 tablespoons butter or margarine
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 ½ cups shredded Fiesta Blend or cheddar cheese, divided
3 green onions, chopped (optional)
All you need to do:
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Cook the spaghetti according to package directions. Drain. Allow pot to cool so you can mix the pasta with other ingredients in it. (saves on clean-up time)
Mix the cheese filling ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.
Brown the ground beef in a large skillet over medium high heat.
After about 5 minutes of cooking the beef, add the onions and peppers. Cook until beef is cooked and onions are translucent. Drain and return the beef and peppers and onions to the skillet.
Add the Taco Seasoning and water. Stir well. Cook for 5 minutes.
Add the canned tomatoes and canned corn and cook for 5 minutes. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a small measuring cup in the microwave.
Put the spaghetti back into the pot and add the melted butter, toss to evenly distribute the butter.
Add the ½ cup parmesan cheese and toss to evenly distribute the cheese.
Add the meat sauce and stir well to evenly distribute the meat sauce throughout the spaghetti.
Spread half the spaghetti mixture in a 13x9 baking dish.
Spread the ricotta cheese mixture over the spaghetti.
Sprinkle ½ cup of shredded Fiesta Blend cheese over the ricotta.
Spread the remaining spaghetti mixture over the shredded cheese.
Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of shredded cheese over the top.
OPTIONAL: Sprinkle chopped green onions over the cheese.
Cover loosely with foil.
Bake at 350 degrees F. for 30 minutes.
Remove the foil and bake an additional 10 minutes or until bubbly and cheese has melted.
Let the casserole stand for 5 minutes before cutting.
To serve, cut into squares and remove with a spatula.
Tip of the Day
When selecting green, red, or yellow peppers, there are a few things you should look for. They should be shiny and firm. They shouldn’t show signs of shriveling or have any soft or brown spots.
To prepare peppers… cut the top off and pull out the core and seeds. Rinse them under cold water and dry well. Cut the sections along the white membrane and discard the membranes. Then you’re ready to dice, chop or julienne the pepper according to your recipe instructions.
February is coming up on us fast… and the Super Bowl isn’t the only day we celebrate…. we have Valentine’s Day… followed by Fat Tuesday… so desserts are definitely on the agenda….
This dessert is a nice and easy dessert that can finish a romantic dinner or can be a family affair… after all… Valentine’s Day is for kids too.
Caramel Brownie Toffee Trifle is loaded with flavor…. a moist fudgy brownie…. with caramel drizzled over it… followed by whipped cream…. toffee bits…. rich chocolate pudding … finished off with more whipped cream and toffee bits…. and of course… capped with a cherry on top!
You can make brownies from scratch…. or use the boxed variety…. the same goes for the chocolate pudding …. use my recipe for chocolate pudding… or make it from a boxed mix… you can use the instant variety… although… I think the cooked kind has a better chocolate flavor… and finally you can use a frozen whipped topping such as Cool Whip…. or make my recipe for Chantilly Cream….
You can make all the parts ahead and assemble it when you plan to serve it…
Making the parts of this trifle from scratch really doesn’t take long and really tastes so much better… and after all…. Valentine’s Day is special.
You can find toffee bits in the baking aisle in the grocery store.
If using my recipes… you should be able to get 4-6 servings, depending on the size glass you use…. If you’re making this for two…. leftovers are always wonderful…
Recipe: Caramel Brownie Toffee Trifle
All you need:
Brownies (my Brownie recipe)
Caramel ice cream topping
Chocolate pudding (my Chocolate Pudding recipe)
Whipped cream (my Chantilly Cream recipe)
All you need to do:
Make a batch of brownies.
Make chocolate pudding.
Make whipped cream.
To assemble the dessert:
Cut the brownies into 1 inch squares… break the square up a bit to fit in the bottom of a trifle glass or other dessert glass.
Drizzle caramel ice cream topping over the brownie.
Put a layer of whipped cream over the pudding.
Sprinkle toffee bits over the whipped cream.
Put another layer of chocolate pudding on top of the whipped cream.
Top off with a dollop of whipped cream.
Sprinkle toffee bits on the whipped cream.
Put a cherry on top of each dessert.
You’ve come to the right place!....... I’ve posted Mexican and Italian food ideas…. so what if those ideas don’t ring your chimes?... well here are a few other ideas for you to think about…. the choices are basic… you can go with munchies, dips and chips… throw in a few sweets… or sandwich type ideas… with salads… a menu that can be made almost completely ahead of time…
So here are a few more ideas …
Munchies...check out our Appetizer and Hors'dourves label...want to see a list?... Go to our Recipe and Tip Index to see a listing...now to name a few:
Lil Smokies in a Blanket
Nachos... instead of making them in a pile... use a large baking pan.... for example a 17x9.... and separate the chips more.. so it's easy for your guests to take a portion.
Mexican Layered Dip
Ranch Spinach Dip
Corned Beef Bread Dip
Want more substantial food?... here are some ideas:
Mini Ham and Swiss Party Sandwiches…. I just posted this today… they’re quick and easy and can be made completely ahead… and won’t break the bank… don’t like Ham and Swiss? … make any combinations of meats and cheeses you want…. salami and provolone… turkey and pepper jack cheese….you can even make tuna melts… just make the tuna salad and use whatever cheese you want … be creative!
Wings… make them ahead or buy those in the freezer section of the grocery store… heating them up is a snap
Burgers… for those of you in a warmer climate… put your man to work!... let him barbeque burgers… you take care of the rest… on a tight budget?....don’t want to make full size burgers … make mini ones (sliders)… set out fixin’s such as lettuce, tomato, onions, etc…. and condiments
Chicken Dippers…. Make your own ahead or buy the frozen ones and heat them up on game day… put out sauces to dip…
TIP: put spoons out in your sauces… gives them a hint to put the sauce on their plates and not dip in the bowl… helps prevent double dipping.
Make salads … they’re fairly cheap to make… make them completely ahead and they go with a number of terrific foods…. terrific with sandwiches, wings, burgers, or chicken dippers
Salads to go with your sandwiches, wings, burgers and chicken dippers:
Egg Potato Salad Fit for a Party…. the name says it all… a perfect go-together for a sandwich.
German Potato Salad...
New York Deli Style Potato Salad...
Classic Macaroni Salad...
Tuna Macaroni Salad...
Quick and Easy Salami and Provolone Pasta Salad...
Three Bean Salad...
Don’t forget Desserts…. cookies and bar cookies go well… lots to choose from… pick a couple and you’re good to go! To name a few….
Caramel Oatmeal Chewies
Neiman Marcus Urban Legend Chocolate Chip Cookies
I’m always on the lookout for casual finger foods that go well for parties or even just a late night weekend supper… Warren and I got to talking and he told me about these little bun sandwiches his Mother used to make around the holidays for parties…. basically what he remembered were the little buns… ham and Swiss cheese… mustard and butter… no other details… so I went to work on it… the result is this quick and easy recipe…
So for these Mini Ham and Swiss Cheese Party Sandwiches… I used Brown and Serve rolls … which you can find in any supermarket… any brand will be fine… I would look for ones where the buns are attached to each other… I original plan was to just slice them in half as a group and work with them that way… which is easier and quicker than having to slice each individually like I ended up doing… but if your package ends up like mine… no problem… they slice fine.
Another reason for wanting them all attached to each other… it will help keep them from sliding…. After making mine… I was going to call them sliders… but that culinary name seems reserved for all kinds of little burgers. If you do have to cut them individually… have fancy toothpicks ready when they come out of the oven… then just adjust the tops of the little bun and secure with a toothpick… as you can see from the picture… I didn’t have any… but they were fine.. just some had the bun tops a little askew.
The directions on the Brown and Serve Roll package I had said to bake them in a 450 degree oven… I thought that was a little too high for them…. I baked mine at 400 degrees… use your judgment when deciding on an oven temp… if your package specifies a lower oven temperature… I would lower the temperature to what your package says.
I used a store brand mustard which worked fine… for a late Sunday night supper it was okay… for a party I would purchase a good mustard… I used spicy brown mustard… we like the bold flavor… but you can use any type mustard you prefer… Dijon mustard works particularly well…
Black Forest ham is best… but regular cooked ham is good too… again … that’s what I happened to have had so I used it.
And finally…. use your imagination when making these… smoked turkey and provolone would be great… change up the ingredients… especially if these are for a party….
You will need to figure about 3-4 rolls per person depending how much other food you are serving.
In fact… these a re perfect for a Super Bowl party…. they’re inexpensive to make and are a great finger food.
Recipe: Mini Ham and Swiss Party Sandwiches
All you need:
1 package Brown and Serve Rolls
Thinly sliced deli Ham (you will need the same number of slices as the number of rolls in your package)
Slices of Swiss cheese (you will need one slice for every two rolls in your package)
2-3 tablespoons mustard
3 tablespoons melted butter
All you need to do:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. See my notes above under TIPS regarding the oven temperature.
Line a baking sheet with foil… for an easy cleanup.
In a small bowl or measuring cup… melt the butter in the microwave until just melted. Set aside.
Cut the buns in half… and place the bottoms on the baking sheet.
Spread the mustard on the bun bottoms.
Fold the slices of thinly sliced ham in half and in half again… to make the slice folded in a quarter.
Place the ham on each roll.
Cut the slices of cheese into quarters… put two quarters of cheese on each slice of ham.
Brush the inside of the bun tops with butter.
Place the bun tops on the mini sandwiches.
Brush the tops with the remaining melted butter.
Bake at 400 degrees F for about 8 minutes… or until tops are light brown and the cheese has melted.
NOTE: If your rolls are attached… slice the whole group in half… spread the mustard on it… then lay the slices over the entire bun bottom area…. overlapping them… do the same with the cheese… butter the tops’inside … place it securely on the prepared bottoms …. Brush the top with the remaining melted butter and bake…. when they come out of the oven… using a sharp knife… simply cut the buns apart.
Allow to cool slightly and serve.... or these can be made ahead and served at room temperature.
So a Mexican themed party is not for you or you’ve been there done that…. and want to do something different this year…. Italian foods can be casual… easy to make… many can be made ahead… and are generally universally liked….
So here are some ideas….
Pizza… is an obvious choice… but buying pizza can get expensive… and most pizza places are overwhelmed with orders for that day… can you be sure it will be ready when you want it? Making your own pizza is easy… but make sure you have enough for your party guests… if you can only fit one pizza at a time in your oven… then you might have to re-think your plans… consider how many guests you have and how many slices are coming out of the oven at one time… you could make a large rectangle pizza and cut it into squares… it feeds a lot of people and you will have other foods for them to eat… you can prepare two… and when one comes out… put the other in…
Stromboli…. is a perfect choice…. you can prepare one or more ahead… slice it and serve at room temperature… you can vary the ingredients between the different Strombolis.
Italian Spinach Bacon and Cheese Sandwiches…. these sandwiches can be made with small party bread…. perfect snack or horsdourves size…. the smaller size will eliminate the need for a fork and a knife…. they will require use of the oven… but you can bake them first… before foods that take longer… and serve them at room temperature
Fried Ravioli…. These can be made ahead and frozen…. then re-heated in the oven… again you will need the use of an oven… you could use a toaster oven… but I would lower the temperature and use a lower rack in the toaster oven …. Keep an eye on them to prevent over-cooking and incinerating them ( I did that with a batch on New Year’s Eve… luckily I had more in the freezer).
Quick and Easy Salami and Provolone Pasta Salad… a perfect choice too… can be totally made ahead … is pretty versatile and goes really with most other menu choices.
Mini Calzones….. these can be assembled quite a bit ahead…. then baked ahead also….say an hour or so ahead…. they can be warm or room temperature… keep in mind this will require oven time…. so do a timetable to ensure everything goes smoothly. Serve with tomato sauce they can ladle on their plates.
Antipasto Salad…. another food item that can be totally assembled ahead…. make a large platter, put out tongs and let your guest take a serving….
Italian Meatballs…. make them ahead…. I mean really ahead… a week ahead… freeze them fully cooked… then defrost them and put them in a crock pot with Italian tomato (spaghetti) sauce and you’re done…. and no other work is required….party perfect!.....I have the perfect recipe….I’d make them a bit smaller than usual…. If you do make them smaller … remember to cut back on the baking time (my recipe doesn’t fry them … instead you bake them in the oven).
Garlicy Parmesan Bread Sticks…. also can be made ahead … wrap them in foil and place them briefly in the oven with another food your baking…. sprinkle a little water on them so they don’t dry out in the oven… and don’t reheat them too long otherwise they’ll get hard…… serve with tomato sauce or garlic butter… put a ladle in the sauces so guests can ladle the sauce onto their plates… to avoid double dipping.
Baked Ziti…. If you want to serve something substantial… this dish can fit the bill…. It’s easy to serve can be assembled ahead and baked…. goes well with Antipasto Salad… Garlic Bread… Breadsticks… Meatballs…. Stromboli… Fried Ravioli…. Just an all around terrific choice if you want something hearty… and not expensive to make.
Italian Mini Subs…. You can purchase sub rolls… and make subs in advance and cut them in half…. make a platter and you’re good to go…. goes well with other finger foods… and the Quick and Easy Salami and Provolone Pasta Salad. Use salami… ham… provolone… pepperoni … meatballs…. sausage, peppers and onions…. just some ideas to get you started….
Desserts… as with the Mexican themed party… my advice is the same… you need them… but keep it pretty simple… brownies or other bar cookie…. cupcakes are always fun... decorate them with a football theme... I’d have two kinds of desserts…. or do something a little different… get small clear plastic cups… and make “Dessert Shooters” like those in restaurants… again these can be made ahead too…. consider something like my Chocolate Pudding Parfaits… do two or more versions for variety.
I hope this helps you start thinking about your menu plans…
White Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Filling and White Chocolate Coconut Frosting
Sweet Potato Pancakes with Pecan Butter