Ideas for apps with BBQ
I'm having a surprise party for my husband and am having BBQ (ribs, pulled pork, bbq chicken, baked beans, cornbread, etc.). I'm trying to keep costs down and have some food to start with that is fairly simple to make that people (about 50) can nibble on while we wait for the guest of honor. Any ideas? Thanks!
A southern classic is deviled eggs.
Or maybe veggies (including blanched asparagus and green beans perhaps) with spinach dip? Or crab dip?
Stuffed tomatoes or stuffed mushrooms
Nachos and Guacamole are always a hit. Cold shrimp with homemade cocktail sauce. Check out Rick Bayless's cookbooks for these recipes.
A dip is easiest, cheapest, and can be made ahead.
One of those flavorful blackbean and corn (southwestern type) dips would be tasty.
I like to buy a variety of fresh sausages like you can find at Whole Foods and smoke them along with the rest of the 'que. They only take 1.5 - 2 hours and then I slice them up and serve them with a variety of mustards and pepper jellies. In addition to Brats and Italian sausages, throw in some cherry pork, chicken with feta and olives, cajun, apple and sage, sun-dried tomato or chicken portobello sausages.
Always a hit and since you are running the smoker anyway it couldn't be easier.
I've BBQed the hickory farm mini-sausages and put them out with toothpicks for everyone to munch on. They are very good, and you would probably only need 2 or 3 bags of them for appetizers.
If you have a crock pot make the Jimmy Dean Sausage and Velveeta hot dip. It sounds gross I know but it's REALLY delicious and easy.
Hummus & Pita Chips
Make a few different flavors, Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, Sundried Tomato Hummus, Hummus with toasted cumin, Hummis with jalapeno, whatever you have on hand. It's amazing how much hummus an inexpensive can of garbanzo beans can make.
An enormous bowl of guacamole. Buy the avocados at Costco a week before and make them using "Great Guacamole" in the foil pouch in your produce section. The absolutely easiest guacamole I know. A ginormous bag of tortilla chips at Costco is about 3 bucks and the avocados there should be about $5-$6 for 5 or 6 large ones. The foil packets are about $1 each and each one needs 2 avocados.
It's spring vegetable season so how about steamed artichokes? Grilled/broiled asparagus. Both of these can be served room temperature and should be affordable this time of year. Actually steamed artichokes that are then reheated over a smokey BBQ to get a little crispy and charred are about my favorite Bandera (Houston's sister restaurant) app.
The ever popular warm artichoke/parmasean cheese dip.TJ's sells cans of artichokes (not marinated) for about 69 cents. Mix 2 cans of artichokes that you've buzzed in the food processor (or roughly chopped) with with 1C of mayo, 1C of parmesan, a cloved of minced garlic, and a couple splashes of tabasco or a chopped jalapeno and bake at about 350 for 30 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips and/or crackers. Don't microwave or the mayo will separate and you'll end up with a greasy mess. You can also make this spinach and artichoke dip by using a package of chopped frozen spinach drained (and really squeezed dry) with 1 can of artichokes and the other ingredients.
If you can find good cantalope I always like catalope with prociutto wrapped around it dusted with a crack of black pepper. This one is slightly more labor intensive for 50 people though.
Maybe go to Costco and get a sushi boat. That is always a nice presentation and certainly easy.
The three cheese tray: a blue, a sheep/goat, a cows milk, with the green and red grapes, almonds, figs, and apricots arrayed around it for presenation and to give guests even more to nibble on. Always looks pretty and couldn't be easier.Just remember to let it sit at room temperature for an hour before serving so the cheese gets aromatic and releases it's full potential.
Go easy on the apps though because you want them to be really hungry when the main course comes out so it'll taste extra great. There's nothing worse than over-feeding guests on apps and then nobody is hungry for the dinner.
A good simple appetizer before bbq is celery or belgium endive filled with a little cheese mixture and topped with chopped walnuts. Mix 2/3 really good bleu cheese and 1/3 cream cheese, black pepper and a little chopped parsley. Put a small spoonful in the celery or endive and sprinkle with toasted and chopped walnuts. It's light enough, but flavorful enough to precede all that meat, and ecomonical.