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Nov 27, 2006 09:02 PM

Party planning help!

I'm planning a casual New Year's Day open house in the late afternoon. I would like to serve enough food to make it a light dinner and was thinking maybe Spanish--sangria (easy to make ahead), cured meats, cheeses, olives. I need either something hearty and easy to eat as a "main" or lots more little things. But I don't want to cook too much--prefer to find something ready made. Any ideas?

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  1. If you are expecting most people at around the same time make paella. It's really easy if you use this recipe:

    You don't need to buy a spacial paella pan (although it would be cool), and rice, spanish chorizo, and chicken thighs are inexpensive. The most expensive item is the saffron but you don't need much. You can add as much or as little seafood as you wish. Most of the prep is done ahead of time and then the whole thing is just thrown together at the last minute and shoved in the oven.

    It has the "wow" factor too.

    1. does 'ready made' include take-out from restnts? or what?
      a paella or jambalaya or cassoulet like dish- rice, or beans, with protein,is hearty and one-pot, and doesn't require a knife to eat. also don't forget to include veggies or cold substantial salad type things for a rounded nutritional experience. do you have a trad joe's or whole foods nearby?

      5 Replies
      1. re: opinionatedchef

        By "ready-made" I meant from restaurants (though I cannot think where to go) or Trader Joe's/Whole Foods (both are near me). Anything that doesn't require too much prep on my part. I have a 2-yr old so cannot spend too much time in the kitchen.

        1. re: Mandy

          You may want to inquire with the Whole Foods prepared food section, the stuff on their food bar is usually pretty good and anything with beans in it should be substantial enough to keep your guests from perishing, and will also go with your Spanish theme. Quinoa is also very nutritious and is usually in at least one item at their food bar.

          1. re: Buckethead

            Quinoa is great. I usually make a light salad with it of cooked quinoa, bite sized chopped veggies (can be purchased from the store), fresh lemon juice, olive oil and black pepper. You can make it ahead of time and chill until you're ready to serve.

          2. re: Mandy

            Your Whole Foods people are your friends in this situation. If you talk to them ahead of time, they'll have it ready for youto pick up on the 31st; all you have to do on the 1st is plate it and do any warming up that needs to be done. They could probably recommend some things that would fit your theme. Their catering prices are a little steep, but the food is good.

            I don't know much about spanish food, but I think you could make a big rice-and-beans dish with chicken and sausage and shrimp, and if you prepare it in several smaller casserole dishes you could bring them out one at a time so it stays warm.

            Good luck, and keep us posted on how it goes...

            1. re: Mandy

              Prep on paella ia minimal versus the volume and, as Pate says, the WOW factor. I would urge you to consider it for those reasons, if you can have a few minutes away from Mom duty!

              Plus, it would be great with the items you mentioned in your original post.

          3. here's my trad joes and whole foods shopp list, includ'g pre-made products that i like. a number of the tr j things might be good for you- tarte d'alsace in particular, and their 3 layer hoomus:

            TRADER JOE'S:

            Crackers and chips:
            Stoned wheat thins
            Parmesan pita toasts
            Blue bag potato chips
            Trader Giotto crostini (best crackers for cheese I have found)
            Mini multi seed rice crackers
            Snap Pea Crisps ( i am completely and helplessly addicted)

            Stir fry snow pea mix
            French green beans(HARICOTS VERTS- stir fry these; do not blanch))
            Grilled corn
            Mandarin orange chicken (in a pinch) ; Stir fry Citrus Chicken
            Chicken spring rolls- both Coconut and Lemongrass types
            Tamales- Grn chili and cheese, and Chicken
            Mini Beef Tacos ( i have detested all their other frozen mexican products- skimpy fillings and poorly flavored)
            Mushroom Ravioli
            Tr Joe’s Spinach Pie (not Filo Factory version)
            TJ's eggplant parm in filo (good flavor but yes it is mushy)
            Exotic mushrooms/shiitakes
            Artichoke hearts(nuke 2 min.; much better than in jar)
            Tarte d'Alsace w/ gruyere and ham(what a tremendous product)
            Turkey Stromboli
            Calamari rings( good for quick protein/seafood addition to a soup or entree)

            Indian(vaccuum packed in foil pouches in box):
            Eggplant ; Dal ; etc.

            Niman bacon
            Niman ham/corned beef
            Cilantro lime noodle salad
            Spinach, red chili, flour tortillas
            Mexican layered dip
            North Atlantic (navy label)smoked salmon
            Grated parm in navy blue bag(watch out- this can go moldy)
            Aged Old amsterdam gouda w/ black rind
            Goat cheese crumbles
            Greek yoghurt w/ honey on the side
            Greek tzatziki yoghurt sauce
            Salmon caviar
            Pate in mini loaf- shaped crock

            Baked Goods:
            All scones
            Almond croissants
            Triple ginger gingersnaps in tub

            Dry Goods:
            All nuts/ roasted sunflower seeds
            Thai chili lime cashews
            Raspberry chocolate trail mix
            Dark chocolate bars- the single source ,and the larger tr joes bittersweet and extra dark ones( i use all these for baking)

            Cans and Jars:
            Canned hearts of palm( neat addition to salads; though some of theirs are too fibrous)
            Thai Coconut, Mojito and Moroccan simmer sauces
            Vodka marinara sauce
            Salsa with corn and black beans
            Salsa verde
            Black truffle oil (better than the other cheap[less than $25] ones i've tried)
            Black tea unsweetened, in jug (the bottled one is better but more exp.)


            Packaged Starches:
            Seeds of Change 7Grain Pilaf(TREMENDOUS ), and Cilantro Quinoa
            Casbah Saffron Jasmine Rice
            Casbah? Moroccan Rice w/Lentils ,and Couscous w/Lentils and Tomatoes

            Chips etc:
            Barbara's Cheese Puffs in White Bag (the ONLY great cheese puffs i have ever found);
            Frontera Chipotle Lime Tortilla Chips

            Blue Moon sorbets- grapefruit campari, and peach melba
            V cornmeal pizza crusts (TREMENDOUS;the ONLY pizza crust for me,but i pre-bake 7 min. before topping)
            Nature's Touch veggie patties- vegetable medley and spicy black bean- good low carb starch
            Rudolph’s Whole Rye Bread, brown wrapper- The most toothsome hearty Rye bread i have found -for toast- not sandwiches)

            Pigs Fly- Dark Rye , Harvest
            Iggy's- all theirs but especially Francese(though the holes are a drag)

            Vosges Bars- esp. Red Fire Bar and the Barcelona with salt and smoked almonds
            Newman's own peanut butter cups
            Orange Choc. bar :Black and Green, and Chocolove

            Cheese dept.:
            Fresh ricotta
            Red pepper and feta spread in jar
            Vermont cheese co. lightly salted or unsalted butter in yellow paper-wrapped tube
            bruderbasel smoked cheese- for pizza
            Parmesan (their new wisconsin parm is very very good, as cheaper alternative to the expensive italian ones)
            Danish feta in a jar (with herbed marinade which can be used to marinade lamb or chicken or beef; add red wine vinegar first)
            Fresh ravioli- Smoked mozzarella and Red pepper; and Lobster; and Pea and mascarpone
            Cilantro pesto (Bear pond farm)

            Lifeway Raspberry Kefir

            Salad Dressings:
            Cindy's: Chipotle ranch, Cilantro, Deeply Roasted Sesame, Greek with Feta and Olive,
            (Cindy’s Ranch and Creamy Miso need work)
            Annie's Goddess
            365 Peanut Sauce (for peanut noodle salad)

            Trout, Skate ( both are very flavorful fresh fish that won't break the bank)
            Charlie Trotter's 2 gravlax types
            Frozen minced clams
            Smoked scallops
            Whole foods teriyaki orange marinade next to seafood
            Assorted Chicken Sausages

            Risotto Cakes
            Masa Cakes
            Cilantro Fritters
            The best deli Corned Beef i have had
            Turkey/Smoked Turkey
            Sesame Noodle salad
            Roasted Beets
            Guacamole-not low fat
            Corn tortillas
            Red pepper hoomus
            Teryaki Chicken Wings

            Corn chowder(i add cooked shrimp, smoked and regular scallops,clam juice, cilantro and pesto to this)
            Clam chowder(i add more clams, and corn to this)
            Tomato fennel soup (i add cooked wheatberries or brown and wild rice, and/or chopped ham to this)
            Butternut Squash Soup

            Peeled garlic
            Mixed sprouts- for salad

            Arrowhead crunchy peanut butter and almond butter
            Maple syrup- (grade B for stronger flavor)

            They are the only ones who carry my fav curry powder-Sun brand Madras-in small gold square can- TONS better than any other brand,(even from Indian food stores).
            Flours, Grains, Spices, Dried Fruit
            Ginger Chew candies

            1. Thanks to all who responded! I think I'll make paella and add ready-made salads,etc. I'll report back after the party.

              1. I would like to start cooking for Christmas eve now. Can I cooked chicken francese now and freeze/