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cheap and easy....appetizer for a crowd

I am looking for a cheap and easy- plus tasty- appetizer to make for a birthday party this weekend. Anyone have any ideas? We are traveleing 2 hrs by car tothe party.

Thank you!

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  1. my favorite party appetizer is Stuffed Mushrooms. They're cheap or pricey depending on your preference.
    I stuff them with sausage and cheese
    or crab
    or shrimp
    I've made them several ways and they're always a hit.

    1 Reply
    1. re: othervoice

      a good cheap stuffing I use for mushrooms is ham (either leftover from a roast ham or chopped up deli ham) mixed with softened butter and lots and lots of chopped garlic. You can stuff a lot of mushrooms with a relatively small amount of ham. Mushrooms are also very good stuffed with pesto.

    2. You can also make vegetarian stuffed mushrooms -- even cheaper.

      A friend brought this very easy appetizer to a party recently -- dried apricot topped with a mix of blue cheese and cream cheese, and a walnut on top. Sounds a little odd but tastes really good, and no cooking involved.

      You could also bake a big pan of something, like a solid strata or egg casserole, cut it into cubes, and stick toothpicks into them. Or make little meatballs.

      1. Little labor, not too expensive - cream cheese, any size/shape. Top with jalapeno or habanero jelly. Or MAKE extra-thick, extra spicy salsa. Serve with crackers. You guys must all live near mushroom farms....I'd spend a small fortune buying enough for "a crowd."

        3 Replies
        1. re: Alice Letseat

          at $2.99 lb. 6 bucks will buy you alot of mushrooms.

          1. re: Alice Letseat

            yup. A brick o' cream cheese w/ hot pepper jelly on top. Can't be beat. Bring some crackers.

            1. re: NYchowcook

              i like to do a brick of cream cheese topped with shrimp (bay shrimp works great) and sweet hot chili sauce serve with crackers. so quick and easy.

          2. Vietnamese spring or summer rolls. If you use fresh seafood in the filling, you'll have to transport them by cooler, but they're great crowd-pleasers and hold up well after making.

            1. I made what seemed to be a really reasonaly priced appetizer for the party we had this past weekend:
              Homemade Olive Bread & Roasted Garlic & Artichoke spread. Both would last the drive and can be heated when your arrive.

              1. Maybe not original, but mexican layered dip is always easy, cheap and will withstand the drive very well (it's better served at room temp)
                In case you need some guidance:
                Mix 1 package of softened cream cheese with a package of taco seasoning. Spread on the
                bottom of a round glass pie plate.
                Pour over cream cheese, 1/2 to 1 can of refried beans.
                Cover with salsa of your choice.
                Cover salsa with grated cheese.
                Sprinkle on finely diced red or green onion.
                Sprinkle on sliced black olives.
                Serve with nachos, of course.

                1. ditto to the 7 layer dip.... if not i make a bean dip that is 2 cans hot chili with beans, a brick of cream cheese, dash (s) of hot saucse, dash of lemon juice, garlic powder, chopped onion... microwave for a few minutes, stirring..... add to the top some shredded cheese and a can of chopped olives

                  1. Goat Cheese/Pesto Spread. Mix a thing of goat cheese, a thing of cream cheese, and some pesto (not exactly a precision operation). If you want to fancy it up, make it into a log and roll it in chopped herbs. Everyone always loves it when I make it, it'll last 2 hours in the car (at least in February in New England it would), and it's good with vegetables or crackers.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Tartinet

                      I recently made something similar, but with goat cheese, low fat cottage cheese and fresh herbs. I served it with crostini and veggies. I really like cottage cheese, and this is a lower fat version of the recipe above. I used chives, dill, tarragon, and parsley. Fresh herbs make for a pretty color!

                      1. re: jules c

                        Mmmm, that sounds good--and nice to have a lower-fat version. I'll have to try it. Did you blender it to make it smooth or just stir to mix?

                        1. re: Tartinet

                          I make a similar one with goat cheese and fat free cream cheese- (I use half the amout of cream cheese to goat cheese). I blend in a food prosseser and then add finely chopped parsley thyme and lemon zest. Pulse to combine and coarse salt and pepper- great on crostini or even spread on toast with roasted peppers- yummm and lower in fat! :)

                    2. For something "fancier" I make Spanish potato croquettes that I serve with a trio of sauces (ailioli, chipotle crema and red pepper ketchup). All you need are potatoes, butter, eggs, bread crumbs and some herbs and you can feed an army. For a party of 10 at a cocktail party, it usually takes no more than 3 large Yukon golds to keep everyone happy.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: JungMann

                        I would love your recipe!!!! I love croquettes! Thanks! :)

                        1. re: gastronomy

                          It changes depending on what I have on hand, but normally it's:
                          3 large yukon golds
                          3 eggs
                          1 1/2 tsp. mixed herbs (tarragon, chives and oregano to taste)
                          1 Tbl. minced fresh parsley
                          1/4 stick softened butter
                          salt and pepper
                          seasoned bread crumbs
                          corn oil

                          Peel potatoes and quarter. Boil in salted water until cooked. Drain. When cool, mash in a bowl with 1 beaten egg, herbs, s&p and butter until just combined. Do not overmix or your mixture will become gluey.

                          Lightly beat 2 eggs in a separate bowl. In a plate prepare a combination of seasoned bread crumbs and panko, 2:1. Roll out small balls of potato, dip in flour, then in egg, then in bread crumbs. Chill croquettes in freezer for about 10 minutes. Deep fry in corn oil until golden. Drain on paper towel and serve with condiments.

                          2 garlic cloves
                          1 egg yolk
                          2 tsp. lemon juice
                          1/2 tsp. dijon mustard
                          1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil

                          Mash garlic and a pinch of salt in a small bowl with a fork. In a food processor, combine yolk, lemon juice and mustard. Slowly drizzle in oil until incorporated and mixture is emulsified. Whisk in garlic paste and season to taste.

                          Chipotle crema
                          4 Tbsp. mayonnaise
                          2 Tbsp. sour cream
                          1 sm. garlic clove (optional)
                          1 Tbsp. chipotles with adobo

                          Combine mayo and sour cream in a food processor. Add finely chopped garlic, chipotles and adobo and pulse until mixture is uniform. Chill. (Bear in mind that this is a pretty spicy sauce, which is exactly how I like it)

                          1. re: JungMann

                            This sounds so great! I will be making them for sure- quick question- can you make ahead and freeze? Also how long will they last from deep frying to serving? I like my food hot as well! :)

                            1. re: gastronomy

                              They freeze beautifully without suffering. Just make sure you defrost completely but still need a bit of chill on the outside to keep them crunchy. They stay warm for about 30 minutes, so I also keep a batch warm in the oven and just continuously replenish the plate (and they get gobbled up very quickly, let me tell you). They're okay cool, but they're fantastic hot.

                      2. You can make salmon cakes for a crowd easily and cheaply. But it might be helpful to tell us how many are in 'a crowd' - I'm sure some posters think you mean 25 people and others think you mean 300.

                        For the salmon cakes you're just going to roast your salmon in the oven until it is cooked through. There is no point in delicate poaching for this recipe and you want the fish fully cooked though not overcooked, of course. This is also not a place for good wild salmon, use the Costco stuff. Flake the cooked salmon and add capers, dill, lemon zest and juice, salt, pepper, shallot, dijon mustard, mayonaise and fresh breadcrumb. Make sure that you check the seasonings, it will take far more than you might think. Combine this gently, roll into balls and coat with panko crumbs. Then you can simply bake them off in the oven. I usually serve them with a simple sauce of creme fraiche (or sour cream), dill, parsley,lemon, salt and pepper.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Kater

                          How long and at what temperature did you bake your salmon cakes? Do you have more specific ingredients?

                        2. If you can travel with a cooler, it would be easy to buy phyllo cups and have filling in a ziplock bag. When you get there, you just have to clip the corner and pipe. Something simple would be cream cheese, salmon, chopped onions, capers and a little lemon juice.


                          1. Gougeres are easy to prepare ahead (even freeze and rewarm in the oven). I make the small (size of a ping pong ball or small walnut), the either serve them as they are (delicate cheesey savoriness), or gently open at the top and fill with something wonderful (e.g. chicken salad, lobster/crab salad, salmon).

                            1. Empanadas are easy and inexpensive. You can make them sweet or savory (or both). Vegetarian or Not...Fried or Baked. They travel well. Are great at room temperature and you don't need plates or utensils to eat them...

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: scarmoza

                                Please! tell me of an easy empanada!

                                1. re: NYchowcook

                                  The easiest would be to use frozen empanada shells (La Salteña or Goya). If you can't get them, then use a frozen puff pastry dough. I usually cut the shells in half (right before I start, cut right through the plastic sheets in between and all) so they'll be more bite sized.

                                  The filling can be anything you want. I use what I've got around: shallots and mushrooms or chopped olives or cheese and jam or spiced ground beef. Epicurious published a recipe recently with bananas and black beans that sound like a great combo. The filling can be whatever you want. You don't really need to make all that much filling as the empanadas won't seal well if they're overstuffed.

                                  Then you just spoon about one tablespoon of filling onto one side of each cut half empanada shell, fold over the other little side and use either your fingers to pinch it sealed or the end of a fork. Put them on a cookie sheet. Give them a quick brush with egg wash. Bake as directed.

                                  1. re: scarmoza

                                    Now that's what I call a good idea!
                                    I wonder if you could do samosas using the same dough???

                                    1. re: chef chicklet

                                      Sure you could. I don't see why not. I guess the difference is that the South American empanada shells like the La Salteña brand are loaded with butter and most samosa shells are not?

                              2. Buy half a ham---they're on sale after the holidays. Bake it. Glaze with brown sugar and mustard, plus stick a few whole cloves into it. Put it out on the buffet with a lot of rye bread cut into quarter-slices, also a pot of mustard. Let people carve for themselves and make their own small sandwiches. This is always very popular. There's a bonus---you can save the bone and make bean soup after the party.

                                1. Guacamole
                                  Sliced Chicken, Bean & cheese nachos
                                  Baked Chicken wings
                                  Vegetable Frittata
                                  Cold Shrimp Cocktail

                                  1. Make mini pizza rolls with a biscuit/scone crust. Mix up the crust and roll it out, then spread with tomato paste, slivered ham/olives etc, then roll it all up and slice it, spread it out on trays and sprinkle parmesan cheese on top. You can eat it cold or heated up, and it's incredibly easy to make, and they disappear like greased lightning. A big plus is that it's temperature-stable and won't fall apart in transit.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Kajikit

                                      Do you bake it at any time? I can't imagine eating raw biscuit/scone dough..

                                    2. If you're looking for something simple and really tasty try this parsley, garlic and havarti cheese ball recipe. I took it to a party and people loved it


                                      It's really fresh with all the parsley added. It also has a fun retro feel but without the retro flavor of old fashioned cheese balls

                                      1. Here are 2 of my favs and I rarely bring home leftovers:
                                        Glorified Vidalia Onion Spread

                                        5 to 6 medium sweet onions
                                        1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
                                        1 cup sugar
                                        2 cups water
                                        1/2 cup mayonnaise
                                        1 teaspoon celery seed
                                        Finely chop or grate onions. Soak onions in the water, sugar,
                                        and vinegar for 4 hours. Drain well. Pat dry.
                                        Mix onions with mayonnaise and celery seed. Serve with buttery crackers.

                                        White Pizza Dip
                                        Serves 60 people

                                        5 envelopes herb and garlic dry soup mix
                                        2-1/2 lbs. sour cream
                                        2-1/2 lbs. ricotta cheese
                                        5 ounces pepperoni, chopped
                                        5 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
                                        5 loaves Italian bread, sliced
                                        Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl.
                                        Stir in 3-3/4 cups mozzarella. divide evenly among 4 or 5 ovenproof dishes.
                                        Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 30 minutes or until heated through.
                                        Serve with fresh Italian or French bread.

                                        1. I made this cheese ball for a party last weekend and it was very inexpensive. I left off the pecans because I needed the ones I had for something else, and didn't want to spend the money to buy more. Most grocery stores have cream cheese on sale right now ($1 at my local Kroger-owned store). http://traceysculinaryadventures.blog...

                                          Another girl at the party served a large wedge of brie with a cherry pepper jelly poured on top. It was very good too.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: juliejulez

                                            That is the second time I have seen this recipe this week on different threads. Can't be certain it was the same posters on each thread. But it is either really tasty and popular or you love it juliejulez and reccomended it twice which says you love it. Either way it looks damn good and i wanna try it. :-)