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Help? Fall Cocktail Party!

Here's the deal...

I'm hosting (with the BF) a Fall/Pre-Holiday Cocktail Party on November 11th.

Here's the glitch:

I live in Phoenix, he lives in Norfolk, VA. I'm moving there, but not till the end of the year.

So, basically, I have to do a complete party for 30-40 people in one day. I arrive on Friday and the party is Saturday at 7 p.m.

BF doesn't have all of the cooking accessories I do in my kitchen. The kitchen is small! I will have access to a micro/convection oven in one a stove and regular oven.

I'll have to do all of the shopping on Saturday. I'd like to be able to do it all in one big shopping trip to the grocery store.

I need fast, simple and easily accessible ingredients.

Here's what I'm thinking so far:
A very nice cheese & fruit assortment
Hummus, baba in hollowed out pumpkins with pita chips, veggies
Mini turky sandwiches with cranberry chutney
Spiced wine/cider, something like that
Homemade spiced nuts
Assorted sweet breads -- banana, date nut, pumpkin with butter and good preserves

Any other ideas?

Thanks in advance!

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  1. ideas? I would make sure the BF knows he's doing all the cleaning up before hand! maybe he can also pick up things for the drinks and any paper products needed? If I understand this to be a cocktail as opposed to dinner party, the menu sounds good. If there is any way feasable to make the turkey sandwichs hot-maybe panini style that might be nice b/c everything but the cider is cold. Maybe some squash or pumpkin soup as well? Great if you make it vegitarian b/c thre are sure to be some there! Using a puree if you are short for time makes it really easy.

    1. Oh yes! He will be doing all of the cleaning, paper products, liquor, ice, etc.

      I'm struggling with the hot stuff. Soup sounds good. Or maybe something in puff pastry. It's always impressive, but easy!

      1. Are you planning to make all the mini sandwiches? If you are, it might be easier to do a sandwich "bar" where there are different rolls, turkey, cheese, dressings on the side and everyone can assemble their own. That way, you don't have to worry about making them and refrigerating which isn't good for the bread and takes a lot of space.

        An easy appetizer is to bake wonton wrappers over mini miffin tins so they make a cup and then fill them(cream cheese and salmon, chicken salad, etc.). Or, on the east coast (I couldn't find them in California), I buy phyllo cups and fill them. You can do them cold or hot. Really easy to use and they look elegant.


        1. Phew, you're in for a lot of work! I entertain a lot for groups of 10-30 so I feel your pain...particularly because you will be cooking in a kitchen that is not up to your standards.

          Be sure to make a list for BF regarding the drinks station, utensils, plates, ice, cooler, mixers, etc. BF's job to get the tunes organized as well.

          I like your mini turkey and chutney idea. It's a delicious combo...I had a pilgrim sandwich (same concept; roast turkey with traditional cranberry sauce between fresh baked grainy bread) in Martha's Vineyard and I must say it was probably one of the very best I've ever tasted.

          COLD SHRIMP:
          How about cold shrimp with cocktail sauce and a dollup of fresh horsradish on top plus lemon...always a crowd pleaser.

          Guacamole is not really in line with your other eats but it's very popular.

          HOMEMADE WINGS: This is a very simple and delicious recipe.
          I know this is ultra casual but with a great recipe, everyone will love them. Stop by the local store for fresh or frozen wings (uncooked and unseasoned).

          Bag of 30-50 wings (try and buy the drummette's and wings seperately to avoid the extra work of having to trim and cut)
          Favorite BBQ sauce or Sweet Baby Ray's will do just fine
          6-8 large garlic cloves crushed with the garlic press
          Juice from 1 1/2 to 2 fresh squeezed lemons
          Pepper and salt to taste.

          On Saturday morning (do not marinate overnight as the citrus juice will breakdown the meat and flavors) wash and dry the wings thoroughly.
          Combine all ingredients except BBQ sauce and marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours prior to cooking mixing the wings 1 or 2 times.
          Preheat the grill to medium high heat and toss on the wings
          Cook wings until charred on both sides.
          In a large non-reactive bowl place a generous portion of BBQ sauce and toss in the wings as they come off the grill.
          Remove wings from bowl and place in container with lid until ready to serve. Enjoy!

          Any Steven Raichlen BBQ rubs will work fantastically as well. The Lone Star and Island Spice are unbelievable. Just wash and dry your wings and spinkle the rub all over...no marinating or BBQ sauce needed. Salt is already included. Rub the wings thoroughly and let sit for a couple of hours.

          3 Replies
          1. re: amoncada

            I have a recipe for an orange/walnut muffin that will be the bread for the turkey sandwiches. It's a major hit at all the parties!

            1. re: geg5150

              geg5150, don't leave us hanging. Please share your recipe. Thanks. Alex

              1. re: amoncada

                This is for six full size muffins. I double or triple it and make the mini sized muffins and watch in the oven. You can add dried cranberries or candied orange peel to this too.

                flour -- 1 cup + 2 tbls.
                2 tb Brown Sugar -- Lt. (packed)
                1 1/2 ts Baking powder
                1 t orange Rind -- Grated
                1/2 oz Walnuts -- chopped (12 halves)
                Salt -- pinch
                1/2 c fresh squeezed Orange juice
                2 tb butter -- melted + cooled
                1 Egg -- large

                Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In medium bowl, stir
                together flour, sugar, baking powder, orange rind,
                walnuts and salt. In small bowl, mix together orange
                juice, margarine and egg. Add to dry ingredients,
                mixing with fork until just combined; do not overmix.
                Spray six 2 1/2 inch muffin cups with nonstick cooking
                spray; divide batter evenly among the cups. Bake 20 to
                25 minutes, or until golden brown. Makes six servings.

                On another note...I've seen orange cranberry muffins frozen at costco and Trader joe's...those would work too!

          2. It would also be very easy to put together an antipasto tray: salami, cheese, olives, peppers, etc. You can get most everything in jars and just put it out on a tray.

            1. I don't know if you have the capability to take a cooler on the plane with you or not (or if you would even want to mess with it) but Fine Cooking has three recipes for appetizers that you can bake from frozen in this month's issue. Bacon, Leek, and Cheddar Mini Quiches, Pork Shiu Mai, and Spinch, Feta, and Sun-dried Tomato Phyllo Triangles Just a thought!

              1. You might firm up your menu and give your BF a very detailed shopping list and let him get the food in before you get there. That has got to save you some time and if he misses anything you can send him back out.

                We had a good sized party and one dish which was really good was spicy pork meatballs served with guacamole for dipping them in.

                1. A great hot appetizer you could try are phylo purses filled with carmelized onions, fig and feta. They take a bit of prep but are well worth it. Your bf might need to by a couple mini muffin tins but they are only 6 bucks at target. I do three layers of phylo cut into 3-4 inch squares.
                  Stuffing is carmelized onion (have bf chop onions day before). You just cook them in oil for 2 hours while you do other things, stirring occaisionally. When they are done. toss in some diced figs and some crumbled feta. a scant table spooin of filling in the middle. pop each one in a mini muffin cup to make a purse. Bake for 10- 15 minutes and Voila, fancy pretty easy (other than brushing the phyllo) hot appetizer. Doing ahead is the only question. I am not sure if the phyllo would hold up under a damp towel for a few hours so they could be thrown in teh oven when the guests arrive.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: kolgrim

                    Those sound great! Where does "brushing the phyllo" come in?

                  2. In this situation, there really is no reason you should feel the need to make every single dish from scratch. There are so many prepared foods that are terrific and there are great ideas that don't need cooking -- just assembling.

                    I think the antipasto is a great idea -- hit the deli and buy various meats, cheeses, olives, roasted peppers, marinated mushrooms, artichokes, etc. Arrange them on the largest platter you can find (send him to a party/paper store for one of those plastic "cut crystal" ones if he doesn't have an appropriate platter, or to Bed Bath & Beyond if he wants to invest in a good one).

                    Crudite with a very different dip or two (I am partial to bagna cauda, the hot olive oil and garlic "bath" -- if he doesn't have a fondue pot, send him to BB&B for the $19.99 one and tell him to make sure he gets the fuel for it). If you want to save time, buy your crudite platter already to go from the supermarket. Buy some curly kale to put underneath the veggies -- a very easy way to dress it up.

                    Your mini sandwich idea is fun, but you could also continue with the Italian idea here and have 2 or 3 toppings for crostini and let people help themselves. Buy a jar of good tapenade -- one topping down without having to cook! Buy some canned cannelini beans and puree with garlic, olive oil, a little lemon juice and a little minced rosemary. The third could some herbed or peppered goat cheese. Or oven roasted mushrooms. There are so many things you could use.

                    Mini caprese salad on picks -- a cherry tomato and a bocconcini on wooden picks, drizzled with a basil and olive oil dressing. Very easy to assemble.

                    There has to be some good seafood in VaBeach and I would add something like steamed clams, raw oysters, cold shrimp, etc. If your boyfriend has a grill, consider grilling something. If he can get smoked bluefish (a Chesapeake regional treat), make pate with it (I will be happy to give you a recipe for that one).

                    Enjoy your party! And, make it easy on yourself!

                    1. Here are my suggestions that people have enjoyed at my parties. One thing to think about is that you want to have recipes that are not time intensive and would serve many people, but still have variety.
                      hot artichoke dip (make a double or triple recipe and put it in a pie plate with fritos or tortilla chips)
                      an assorted cheese tray, some fruit to go with it
                      jumbo precooked shrimp with cocktail sauce
                      hot meatballs
                      7 layer dip
                      spinach dip in bread bowl

                      1. Easy and hot-

                        Spread some good preserves on a wheel of camembert, wrap it in phylo or puff pastry, coat with a little melted butter. Toss that puppy in the oven till it turns brown.

                        Stupidly easy, but it never fails to impress...