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Holiday party menu feedback

Hi everyone,

Throwing a very informal get-together for about 13-14 friends Saturday. I'm nervous because some of them have never been to my new house! What do you think of this spread of appetizers/christmas sweets? These are quite good friends who are also work colleagues, and we are sort of like one big happy family. We're also all drowning with work right now and Saturday needs to be a stress-reliever and laid-back fun.

Budget is a major concern--recent window replacement and unexpected car crisis has left us a little cash-strapped this month. Also, several of our friends (including my husband) have heart/health issues, so I also tried to avoid too many saturated fats (hence no cheese plate and the relatively healthy cookie recipes, and the healthy versions of traditionally sinful/trashy recipes).

sweets:
1. candied orange peel (some dipped in bittersweet chocolate)
2. peppermint bark (the layered kind with white and dark chocolate, I think from epicurious though I just make it up as I go along now)
3. oat bran-molasses cookies (http://www.recipezaar.com/Molasses-Oa...
)4. triple ginger cookies (http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/...
)5. PB cookies (the eggless and flourless recipe: http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/...

)

savouries:
1. white bean dip (just white beans, garlic, red pepper flakes, evoo)
2. bagna cauda (warmed in fondue pot) (the martha stewart recipe from her appetizers book)
roasted root vegetables, cubed and skewered on toothpicks for mini kebabs (to be dunked in the bagna cauda)
3. caramelized onion dip (http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/...
)4. baked artichoke dip (101 http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/...
) 5. crudites, crackers, chips, etc

Thoughts? Anything I should add or omit? I've already made the candied orange peel and peppermint bark, so don't say those...but anything else is fair game, haha! Thanks in advance!

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  1. to many dips, I would add some type of shrimp and maybe an antipasta platter with some meats olives veggies , maybe also something like a fruit kabob,At the moment your plan is dips and cookies and candy this is not enough food if your serving cocktails. Maybe some type of slider or empanada.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Analisas mom

      I like the idea of fruit kebabs ... that will add freshness to the menu and the sweets.

      My grocery store sells yummy marinated cippolini onions ... I believe the marinade is olive oil and balsamic. Similar to the caramelized onion dip, but if you don't do that ...

    2. I agree to many dips, but i have another question

      Is this a mid-afternoon party 2-4PM where people will have had lunch come over and then leave for dinner? If this is a dinner style party you have nothing of substance imo.

      If you get back I can offer some budget minded solutions (nothing fancy), otherwise if it's the afternoon deal, cut back on dips and you will be fine.

      1 Reply
      1. re: RetiredChef

        Please post your budget-minded solutions! :)

      2. Yes, too many dips. They are hard to eat with small plates, I find, then everyone is just crowded around the dip bowl. What about spinach balls?
        2 boxes frozen, chopped spinach
        2 c. Pepperidge Farms stuffing mix
        2 onions finely chopped
        6 beaten eggs
        ½ t. pepper
        2/3 c. melted butter
        ½ c. parmesan
        2 t. salt

        This is sort of a 70s thing, but they are always good and reasonably healthy.
        Stuffed mushrooms? I've also done a cute nibble where you buy crostini (the long, stick-like kind), put some butter or goat cheese (or Boursin) on the end inch or so then wrap in prosciutto. You can present them in tall glasses. Olives would be good, as would nuts (the Union Square Bar Nuts recipe is one I swear by-- it's in a Nigella cookbook but could also be online).

        1. If you cut back on the dips, you should add something else like a bruschetta (roasted red seedless grapes, caramelized onions & feta is good) or stuffed baby red potato halves (use spinach or a chopped salad)...another healthy meatball would be ground turkey or pork baked off and put into a BBQ sauce with cranberry sauce or something like that....

          1. I've got to agree and say there are too many dips. You want a little more contrast . Keep one hot and one cold dip, but consider adding something bready and something meaty. This could be anything from stuffed mushrooms to crostini to spring rolls or a cheese platter.

            With the respect to the sweets, there are a lot of strong, spicy flavors. I would omit the ginger cookies. I'd consider also salting the PB cookies to make them stand out a bit.

            1. if your going to forgo a dip or two - which I agree would be the right way to go, but don't want to go too heavy on cheese, think about marinated vegetables.

              You can do mushrooms with a garlic lemon marinade.
              Artichoke hearts with llittle orange and thyme marinade
              Or you can do pickled green beans (if you see Rick's Pick's in the stores, you're in for a delicious pickled green bean)

              If you want to add a hearty something, ravioli might be good and can often be found for the budget minded.

              1. personally, I love your menu and think your dips are different enough (it's not like you have 4 sour cream dips, they are all very different) and you'll be changing up the thing to dip with right. I love the roasted veggie skewers. I think it's very well balanced. I'm not a big sweets person but your selections sound great.

                1. to add some budget friendly protein in place of the some of the dips, you could make mini-cocktail meatballs (or buy them from Trader Joe's) and make a nice tangy bbq sauce to accompany them... serve with toothpicks

                  you could also make some simple pinwheel sliced sandwiches using turkey, spinach, cheese, etc. or salmon, cream cheese, capers and lemon... roll up in a whole wheat tortilla or lavash, then slice on the bias.

                  make egg white frittatas with various veggie fillings, slice in wedges...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Emme

                    I agree with a simple pinwheel...simple and inexpensive.Mini meatballs or cocktail weenie are great or even mini pigs in a blanket are a hit andnice money wise

                  2. Puala Deen's spinach pinwheels would be quick and easy. She uses puff pastry, spinach and cheese, yummy!
                    Get a wheel of Brie, top with chopped sundried tomatoes (Traders Joe's has them already sliced) toasted pinenuts, and basil, wrap with Phyllo and bake, serve with crackers.
                    Marinated, grilled vegies with some good crusty bread.

                    1. i agree too many dips and no real finger food. are you all vegetarians?

                      flatbread pizzas offer infinite variations. cut them into small pieces and they will go far. you can use pre-made dough, rolled very thinly, or puff pastry. tiny meatballs or skewered chicken or flank steak strips will also add something of a bit more substance. white or mushroom lasagne also feeds a crowd cheaply.

                      i'd probably also make a cake as a centerpiece dessert and skip the oat bran cookies. they sound like punishment instead of party food.