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Best non-expensive treat to bring to a party? Like- $10 or less?

My new year's resolution is to be a bit more budget-conscious. So- I was trying to think of less-costly-but-still-tasty things to bring to a shindig. I'm thinking $10 or under. Like desserts, or food that lends itself to being an appetizer. Sometimes wine or beer would work, but I have quite a few friends who are sober.

Any ideas?
I was thinking about bringing two orders of New Green Bo's veggie dumplings to a gathering tonight. Any other ideas?

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  1. CUPCAKES !!!

    Also, You can never go wrong with Knorr Spinach Dip and some pumpernickel squares and baby carrots.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jenniebnyc

      Yes, I've been on a cupcake making spree lately. Picked up a copy of Cupcake Doctor, so they're more than yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Always a hit at parties, especially the red velvet with peppermint white chocolate icing.

    2. Homemade pigs-in-blankets. Corny as they are, they fly off the table. (When pigs fly?)Everybody loves them.

      1. St. Andre cheese with Jules Destrooper Butter Crisps. It should be just about $10, if it goes a little over, the comments will so be worth it.

        St. Andre looks very similar to brie but, it's not brie. It's much more smoother and creamier. The Butter Crisps add a nice little crunch and sweetness. Let the cheese get to room temperature and smear it's delectable creaminess on the crisps. Put the cheese on a nice little plate with the broken up crisps and a nice cheese spreader. Looks fancy and tastes fabulous!

        If you feel like splurging, pick up a small jar of apricot spread and just put a tiny dollop on top of the cheese that's on top of the crisp. It's a beautiful combination.

        Have fun!

        5 Replies
        1. re: calla0413

          St. Andre Cheese IS Fantastic! i've dubbed it butter Cheese. it's always devoured when i bring it to parties.

          1. re: jo blam

            Is St. Andre available nationally? (I'm in Louisville, KY.)

            1. re: mamaciita

              My suggestion is to go to a specialty Cheese shop or a Gourmet shop. They should carry it. I rarely see it in the local grocery. Ummm if you do find it, bring it to room temp (drool).

                1. re: jo blam

                  Found it. LOVE it.

                  (and so does everyone else!!)


          2. How about black olive tapenade and some rosemary/onion flatbread from Loblaws?

            That would be less than $10 and delicious!

            1. Good popcorn! make it fresh there at the party if you can, else bring it with you. offer various "dustings" cheese, chili powder, cinnimon..etc. You would be surprised how fun it is!

              1 Reply
              1. re: Quine

                White chocolate popcorn with Craisins. Quick, inexpensive, and addictive.

              2. I make pseudo-sushi.

                Use tortilla wrap shells (the green kind are the best for presentation). Spread with spread of your choice and some filling. Wrap tightly and slice crosswise into little sushi like wraps.

                Filling combos I ahve used:

                1. cream cheese, cranberries, green onion
                2. hummus, roasted red pepper, and sprouts
                3. wasabi mayo, sprouts, sprinkled of seasame/mustard seeds

                You could use meats, any veggies you wish, and any jazzy details like sesame seeds.

                I also like cucumber cups...cut cucumber lengthwise into about 2 inch pieces...scoop out seeds and fill with some thick dip...I use wasabi sour cream with a garnish of sprouts and sesame seeds.

                Cheap, yummy, and always goes over well with kids and adults!


                1. Get a cheap can of crabmeat (sold like tuna) and mix into an 8 oz. Phladelphia cream cheese. When well mixed, put into a pie plate and smooth out, making a pattern in the mixture. Spritz with Worchestershire sauce. When ready to serve, heat under a broiler till starting to bubble (don't let it burn). Serve with crackers for dipping :)

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: UnConundrum

                    This is even better if you toss in a few handfuls of freshly grated parmesan and some cracked black pepper, then top with sliced almonds. But that might nudge the price up over the $10 mark. Served with some garlic toast rounds, this has long been my go-to recipe for pot luck contributions.

                  2. one of the items at a recent brunch i hosted was deviled eggs. very retro, but people ate them by the fistful. very cheap to make. i added scallion, caper, mustard and a little chili powder to the filling.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                      I don't think I've EVER seen a leftover deviled egg!!

                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                        hotoynoodle, I add a bit of lox to your version and fill in eggs. big hit!

                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                          I made bacon, cheese deviled eggs that went really fast--I think two dozen eggs (48!) were gone in less than 15 minutes. I've also done smoked salmon and capers--popular but nothing like bacon, cheese.

                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                            You know that scene in Cool Hand Luke where the Luke eats 50 or so eggs? I think I could eat many (maybe not 50, but MANY) of these eggs, with and without lox. YUM.

                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                              I second the devilled egg - it was my "signature dish" a few summers ago and always a hit. I tried a different recipe every time with no losers. Tarragon was a nice combo and fresh basil another. Do pay attention to how you cook the eggs. A properly boiled egg is so much better than the rubbery over cooked ones so pay close attention to the timing. I cover with cold water, bring to boil, then take off heat, let sit covered for 15 minutes, then cool down in cold water.

                              Also, very fresh eggs are an absolute pain to peel, you won't get perfect smooth eggs. I bet devilled eggs were invented to get rid of old eggs.

                            2. I love bringing chocolate covered pretzels to parties. They compliment almost anything and people go nutso over them.

                              1. tuna/salmon croquettes. combine canned tuna/salmon with egg, onions, peppers, and s&p. coat with breadcrumbs and fry. yummy.

                                you can also add more breadcrumbs to the mixture to stretch it out.

                                1. i think cupcakes and deviled eggs are both great ideas - people always love both. also - rice krispy treats!!! yummy and unexpected at adult events.

                                  1. If you have a Trader Joe's nearby, you've got plenty of wonderful options for any occasion. Their cheesecakes are always a hit.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: BellaCalabrese

                                      As are the truffles, which are currently offered in tins of...56 or so?

                                    2. Carpaccio. Little meat goes a long way; tougher, cheaper cuts are actually better if you pound/flatten the already thinly sliced meat as I do. Lime juice, bit of EVOO, some capers, ground black pepper, touch of salt, and fine sliced green onions and you're done. Nice presentation makes an elegant plate.

                                      1. The above-mentioned pinwheels ("pseudo-sushi") are a great idea.

                                        Other possibilities:

                                        Buy falafel mix, make bite-size falafel (bake it for simplicity's sake) and bring a yogurt-based dip.

                                        Get a frozen thin-crust pizza, bake it, then cut it in bite-size squares.

                                        Open a couple cans of chickpeas, rinse and pat dry. Toss with a little olive oil and seasoning, then bake until crispy.

                                        For dessert, make mini-brownies (from scratch or a mix). Just cut them in smaller pieces and put a mini-marshmallow or maraschino cherry on each one.

                                        Or buy a box of mini-meringues and sandwich them together with Nutella. I guarantee they'll go quickly.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: piccola

                                          The chickpea idea reminds me of a recipe I saw in Metropolitan Home several years ago for fried chickpeas--the sort of thing one eats like popcorn. Now I have to go dig for the recipe. (Thanks. . .)

                                          Might make a good party food?

                                          As I recall, the writer made it sound compulsively edible.

                                          1. re: mamaciita

                                            They are. And while the fried version probably tastes better, baking makes the process much simpler (and cheaper, since you don't need to buy oil).

                                            1. re: mamaciita

                                              Fried chickpeas are delicious! We serve them with smoke paprika. But they are less good when they cool down, so better to make them for a party at your house.

                                          2. Cheesecake brownies, specifically the recipe in Cook's Illustrated Jan/Feb '99. People go bonkers when I make them, honest. Don't sub neufchatel, and use bittersweet rather than semisweet plus the unsweetened. Bonkers, no kidding.

                                            1. a chocolate dipping sauce w/ either pretzels, angel food cake cubes, strawberries, bananas, graham crackers, gingerbread cookes (like Anna's), or marshmallows.

                                              1. a caramel dipping sauce with fresh pears and apples is nice too

                                                1. What about a bag of pistachios, a container of great olives, or gourmet potato chips - or all 3! I think I saw Barefoot COntessa talk about serving those as munchies before dinner. I do it all the time when entertaining. It couldn't be easier, and you might be able to squeak in around $10 - or just get 2 of the 3. Costco sells pretty good pitachios and terra chips.

                                                  1. Extra cheesy Cheetos. Nobody will ever buy them, but at the end of the night, they will be gone.

                                                    1. You can platter olives, pickles and roasted peppers for under 10.00

                                                      1. Peanut Butter Cookies:
                                                        1 cup peanut butter
                                                        1 egg
                                                        1 cup sugar
                                                        1 teapoon baking powder

                                                        mix all, roll into balls, roll in sugar, put on greased sheet and press down with fork in criss-cross pattern, bake at 350 for 12 min. Do not overcook, let cool for a few min on pan then carefully remove to rack- they will be very delicate until cool.

                                                        1. What about a couple of bottles of sparkling cider? My FIL is not a drinker and I always serve sparkling juices or ciders at family get togethers. Its more festive than just juice or wtaer.

                                                          1. Hey! LOVE that mock sushi and cucumber roll idea, j2brady! Do you have an actual recipe or link? Sounds very creative!

                                                            1. An excellent cook I know introduced me to Roasted Olives just before the holidays. I took 'em to every party I attended, and they were always a huge hit.

                                                              Pitted Kalamata Olives in oil
                                                              garlic cloves
                                                              thinly sliced lemons
                                                              fennel seed (I use about 1/2 t. for 12 oz jar of olives)
                                                              hot pepper flakes (1/4 t. for 12 oz olives)

                                                              Mix the olives (drained) with the fennel and red pepper flakes; roast at 400 for 10-15 minutes. Stir in the garlic and lemon and roast 15 minutes more.

                                                              Simple, inexpensive, and unusual. Everyone goes for the great salty taste. Low-carb fans will chow down.

                                                              1. New Green Bo's veggie dumplings are practically my favorite food. With those on my mind, everything else pales in comparison, but Bittman has a recipe for white bean croquettes that's cheap and easy (p. 521 of How to Cook Everything); the ingredients are basically stuff you have in your fridge plus beans, def. under $10. The fanciest thing I did to them was use thyme instead of parsley, but thyme is only a buck in my hood. It's good with a dipping sauce; I made one up that was mainly yogurt or greek yogurt and country mustard, but you could use anything.


                                                                dolma, if you have a market near you that has it in its prepared food thing.

                                                                pears, chocolate, and cheese.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: tomato

                                                                  thanks, tomato. this is off-topic, digressive and a long shot. nevertheless, you mentioned that you are also a fan of the veggie dumplings at new green bo. i was wondering, were you also a fan of the veggie buns (shu cai bao zi)? they don't make them anymore (please correct me if i'm mistaken), and i haven't found veggie buns that compare. so- if you were a fan, have you got any suggestions of alternate ways to scratch the new green bo veggie bun itch? i believe that they used the same or similar fillings for both the bao zi and the dumplings.

                                                                  1. re: sloppydelicious

                                                                    I have to tell you, it was the veggie bun that started everything. I love the dumpling, and I would not have quibbled about it unless it came up . . . but I agree that it's not the same; the level of satisfaction with the bun is nonpareil, and as far as I know it is also non-existent now. I haven't found a replacement yet, but I have to admit I haven't looked very hard; I'm sort of like, tomato just face it, it's gone, and so I just get the dumplings instead. I wish I could be more helpful. Please, please post if you find something that fills the space where the bun used to be . . .

                                                                2. Orange candy slices with one half dipped in a melted semi-sweet chocolate then set aside to harden. You'll be surprised how fast these go.

                                                                  1. Take greek yogurt or middle eastern yogurt spread it on a plate, sprinkle zhatar and a little smoky paprika on top and drizzle w/ a little evoo. Serve w/ cut up toasted pita wedges as a dipper.

                                                                    1. Quick fresh guacamole- just need mashed avocados, roma tomatos, red onion, garlic, lemon juice (I have done it without the lemon juice) and hot sauce to taste. Bring some interesting chips- like blue tortilla, even whole wheat flat bread and you have an under $10 treat (at least in California where avocados and tomatos are cheap this time of year).

                                                                      1. homemade wontons.


                                                                        1 package of wonton wrappers
                                                                        1 lb ground pork
                                                                        fresh ginger
                                                                        soy sauce
                                                                        white pepper

                                                                        1 bottle of the sweet and spicy thai chili sauce

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: jenniebnyc

                                                                          I'm vegetarian, so I haven't bought meat in over a decade but... can you really get a pound of pork that cheap?

                                                                          Cuz just the produce, wontons and sauces run close to $10 already...

                                                                          1. re: piccola

                                                                            in chinatown i can get wontons for a dollar as well as the waterchestnuts, scallions, ginger and the pork....probably $2.50

                                                                        2. Make a large frittata with 8 eggs, caramelized onions, frozen peas and fresh tarragon. Cut into bite sized squares - serve room temp. Great inexpensive hors d'oeuvre.

                                                                          1. I cut pita in to 8 triangles and brush with EVOO, and a little garlic salt and maybe a very little cayenne, or spices of your choice. You can vary the flavors.

                                                                            Bake in the oven at 375, and turn, checking at about 5 or 6 minutes per side. Two bags of pita is about 5$ where I live, leaving $ for a batch of baba or hummus, or even cheaper, make your own.

                                                                            My daughter makes brownies from a mix with mini chocolate chips and spreads crushed peppermint candy over the top for the last 10 minutes of baking. Good looking and delicious.

                                                                            Both of the above treats go fast at parties.

                                                                            1. Crepes and Nutella. A frugal dessert that flies off the table. When the season is right whipped cream and berries are a suitable option other than Nutella.

                                                                                1. A few of my go-tos:

                                                                                  Frozen edamame - boiled/steamed lightly and salted. Done.

                                                                                  Cream cheese spreads - spread a softened brick of cream cheese on a platter on top with either cocktail sauce and salad shrimp/canned crab or mango chutney and crushed peanuts. Serve on Ritz.

                                                                                  Frozen potstickers - boiled and served with a pre-bottled dumping/teriyaki-like sauce.

                                                                                  Con Queso - Velveeta and salsa mixed, nuked and served with tortilla chips (my boyfriend makes a version of this with canned nacho cheese soup and canned chili).

                                                                                  Pretzel rods dipped in a jar of decent mustard (Trade Joe's makes an awesome sweet/sour mustard)

                                                                                  Doritos dipped in sour cream (we use the Guac-flavored Doritos)

                                                                                  1. Drain 2 cans of butter beans and run it in the blender with olive oil, lemon juice and garlic to taste. Serve with pita wedges and chips and any "dressing" that strikes your fancy, for example, hard boiled eggs, pickles, veggies, whatever. Very easy, and so cheap.

                                                                                    I've also made Chinese-style ribs, and they're very cheap, usually under $2 per pound at the Chinese butcher. People love them.

                                                                                    1. I'm a dessert fanatic - so I either make "gussied up shortbread" cookies (basic shortbread recipe (maybe I'll mix in the beans of one vanilla pod for visuals and flavor), topped with candied ginger, pecan pieces, almond slivers) or a basic fudge-like brownie, using primo cocoa powder/chocolate (the initial buy of premium chocolate (Callebut, Valrhona) did cost me $30, but I was able to make about 5 batches out of it - and all the other ingredients are cheap and readily available.)

                                                                                      Or a fruit pie with whatever's in season (strawberry in glaze /w whipped cream being my personal fave.)


                                                                                      1. A big plate of in-season strawberries, with a bowl of sour cream and a bowl of brown sugar for dipping. Heap Cheap, and oozes sophistication.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: Booklegger451

                                                                                          Add a couple of cents worth of amaretto into the mix and we're talking. Although for the recovering, maybe a tad bit of almond extract.

                                                                                        2. Second the rec for boiled and salted/vinegared edamame

                                                                                          Homemade candied nuts

                                                                                          Mini quiches

                                                                                          1. I also recommend the deviled eggs - they always go over well.


                                                                                            Wontons - I made shrimp and pork wontons for under $10 yesterday, assuming you already do have the seasonings on hand, otherwise, it would be pricey. You could also just use a filling of bean sprouts, napa cabbage, and other veggies to make them vegetarian.


                                                                                            quick breads

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: yumcha

                                                                                              Inari, that's what you take to gatherings in hawaii... well, maybe not everyone does. Get a can of 'inarizushi no moto' from the japanese shop. make some sticky rice and pour the juice from the can into it, then mix it up and let it cool to touch temperature. in the can there are flat little squares of wet tofu and if you're very careful you can open them into pockets. now, stuff them nicely with the rice.Yum! (I also take spam musubi to parties)

                                                                                              1. We have an Italian market by my house that makes wonderful bruschetta for about $6/lb. A lb of that, a loaf of bread (drizzled with oo and toasted if you like) and you've got an app. If you're splurging, get the homemade buffalo mozzarella that is also available at such places.

                                                                                                1. When I find frozen tiramisu on sale, I make tiramisu bonbons. Scoop out the tiramisu into little balls with a melon baller and freeze them on a line cookie sheet for about an hour. Melt some baking chocolate (I prefer milk chocolate myself), then dip the tiramisu balls in them, then put them back in the freezer and take them out about 15 min. before serving them.

                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: ap616

                                                                                                    This is absolutely brilliant. Though I bet I end up eating far too much tiramisu while making the balls.

                                                                                                    1. re: ap616

                                                                                                      This sounds wonderful! I'm guessing you thaw the tiramisu, correct? could be a dumb question....but....

                                                                                                      1. re: amyvc

                                                                                                        sorry about that...actually, when I buy tiramisu it's refrigerated, so it's slightly soft already.

                                                                                                    2. If it's a summer barbecue, stop by an i
                                                                                                      Indian grocery for a couple of packages of pappadums in various flavors and a jar of two of chutneys or pickles. About 10 seconds on each side on a hot bbq and the pappadums puff up and get crispy, add a bowl of chutney and you have the Indian equivalent of chips and salsa. Tasty and all but fat free chips, in a pinch you can even do them in a microwave.

                                                                                                      They keep forever uncooked and run around a dollar for a pack of 20 8 inch rounds. People get a big kick our of watching them cook on the grill.

                                                                                                      1. Peanut Butter and Honey Rice Krispy Treats
                                                                                                        Heat 1 c honey w/1 c peanut butter on low heat until all melt together. Mix w/5 or 6 c rice krispys (or brown rice krispys--may be more costly). Press into baking pan and chill 15 min. Tasty! Unusual! No Bake!