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Housewarming on a budget

We're having about 30 people over to an early-evening housewarming party next weekend, and our total budget is 200 bucks. Ideally, I'd like to have an assortment of finger foods/appetizers, a couple salads/cold dishes, perhaps a quiche, another main-type dish, and assorted desserts. Also, it's going to be vegetarian. Priorities are that there be a variety or tastes, textures, temps etc -- and that things be easily taken and eaten (i.e. lots of finger food). Here's what I've been thinking:

Appetizers:
Baked Brie (either with apricot and caramelized onion or with raspberry preserves)
Spinach and Feta turnovers
Artichoke spread and Tomato confit on crostini

Salads:
Asian slaw or asian noodles (which?)
spinach, pear and gorgonzola salad

Mains:
Quiche (broccoli? asparagus goat cheese?) or mini quiches?
Other main?

Desserts:
lemon bars
apple pie?
sand dollars or other cookie
double chocolate cookies
fudge?

Ok -- I'd love any suggestions/critiques you have!

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  1. What about making a roasted vegetable torte for the main course? Barefoot Contessa/Ina Garten has a great recipe that you make in a cake pan in layers. It's easy, delicious, and beautiful presentation. You can google and get the recipe. I've also added a pesto/goat cheese layer with success. She suggests to serve it on a cake stand which looks so nice on a buffet table. It also isn't very expensive to make which should help with your overall budget. You could also keep the appetizers very simple ( so that you enjoy yourself) and just put out a large bowl of pistachios and homeade marinated olives.

    2 Replies
    1. re: JennyHunter

      I love the vegetable torte idea -- thanks! And the pistachios/olives thing is also appealing, but then again, I do love making the apps - they're just fun. Truthfully, if this week's cooking club theme weren't finger food, I'd be doing an entirely finger-food menu.

      1. re: tastytamarind

        The torte is so easy and makes such a stunning presentation. I make it for my Sister in Law who is a vegetarian at holiday time. I think vegetarians appreciate something special made just for them. It's great served at room temp which is also a plus for a party.

    2. just to update:
      yes on the vegetable torte, the artichoke/tomato app, and at least one of the listed salads. Any recs for another salad, a possible other main, and which of the desserts are best?

      2 Replies
      1. re: tastytamarind

        What about something with portabello mushrooms? They are already pre-portioned, a little different than everything else so far, easily made as upscale (blue cheese or some other kind of fancier cheese) or as 'normal' as you'd like.

        Also - I have made these eggplant roulades too:
        Eggplant sliced lengthwise, salted, and grilled
        Put a bit of mozzarella (or any kind of cheese) at one end of the eggplant slice, then a sliver of roasted red pepper and a sun dried tomato. Roll up eggplant to make a little roulade. Place roulades in a baking dish. You can top with tomato sauce (if you do this I recommend adding lots of garlic and some red pepper flakes for lots of flavor) or with a goat-cheese-bechamel.
        Bake until everything is warm and bubbly. Yum!

        1. re: tastytamarind

          How about edamame succotash? I can post the recipe, I make it every Thanksgiving and people love it. If you live near a TJs you can get almost everything for short money. The TJs frozen corn is really superior to any others I've tried out there. The salad is bright and makes a great presentation!
          Just a thought as well, for easy sweet idea, how about homemade caramel corn? I made that for a party this weekend and is was gone FAST. EASY and very yummy.

        2. Hi there - if going veggie on a budget why not make some hummus? That is one of my all time fave go to's when on a budget. A can of chick peas costs a buck, takes minutes to make and makes lots. Another great cheap veggie option is green onion cakes - they always seem to dissapear when I serve them. I'd be happy to share my recepies if needed :)

          PS: I also have agreat old family for a wild rice, broccoli/cheddar casserole that is always a hit if you're interested :)

          2 Replies
          1. re: eastcoastgirl_westcoastlife

            Do you mean the Chinese-style scallion pancakes? I'd love a recipe.

            1. re: piccola

              Yes I do - they are so fast and cheap to make and crows dig them :)

              I am heading to bed for the nite but will post my recipe tomorow!

          2. For your dessert selection, how about the spoon cookies that are on epicurious. I extol the virtues of these whenever I can because they are so good. I skip the filling -- just make them plain. They are pretty easy to make and the best thing is they benefit from being made ahead. Make them a week ahead and store in metal tins or really tight tupperware. They benefit from some aging. People love these.

            1. Previous posts have covered mains and appetizers better than I could have... I have two ideas re desserts:

              Kahula/Baileys trifle: marinated chocolate cake layered with chocolate mousse, whipping cream and toffee bits. This dish gets a wow every time and most ingredients (aside from say the whipping cream) are found in most people's pantries...

              or-

              Shortbreads: can be made in a variety of flavours, less wow factor but easy and cheap.
              I served them (and the trifle in mini cups) at a baby shower this past weekend. Variations were: chocolate swirl, traditional and a caramel and chocolate topped shortbread.

              HTH Be sure to let us know how it turned out :)