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Recommendations for housewarming party

Fellow Chow-ers!
We are planning our housewarming party and I'm trying to come up with a solid list of food items.
I would expect maybe 30 people.

So far, my list is:
Homemade tzatziki and hummus with pita chips
Phyllo cups with pesto, roasted tomatoes, and fresh mozz
Bruschetta with Ricotta, Honey and Lemon Zest
Fig and Blue Cheese Savouries
Cheese plate with condiments (quince paste, nuts, crackers)
Olives
sundried tomato pesto pinwheels

Dessert:
salted peanut butter fudge brownies
fruit kabobs

Drinks:
White wine sangria
spritzers (maybe seltzer with peach nectar with floating raspberries and mint)
(wine, beer, soda)

I'd love to hear recommendations for other quick or make-ahead options for finger foods (sweet and savory) for the housewarming party. No shellfish or pork, but I'm open to other things!

Thanks for any help!

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  1. i would add a platter of raw veggies and a non-dairy dip. bowls of homemade spiced nuts placed around the room are good.

    5 Replies
    1. re: pikawicca

      Put the nuts in wine glasses so it forces people to pour them into their hands. I just think it is better than not really knowing where their hand have been and having them in a community bowl but I am all for nuts all around to help avoid a bottle neck and encourage multiple conversations around the room( s ).

      1. re: suzigirl

        I've read that before and it's an excellent idea!!!

        1. re: sandylc

          Thank you. I like olives in rocks glasses with tooth picks. Doesn't end the pickers but it helps. And it isn't hard to refill now and again or if you have enough back up glasses, just replace them.

          1. re: suzigirl

            yes, I'll get toothpicks for the olives, but probably won't have nuts around except as a garnish on the cheese plate (some marcona almonds or something). They always get left largely uneaten whenever I have them at functions for some reason!

            1. re: Jeserf

              Apparently your prepared food is better than store bought nuts. Take it as a compliment. Beside, nuts are expensive lately. :-)

    2. I would add a tray of veggies to go with the pita chips and dips

      10 Replies
      1. re: chinaplate

        Yeah, with the hummus and tzatziki, I'll probably add veggies - are there any atypical veggies that you recommend beyond carrots/celery/bell peppers that I might not be thinking of?

        I'd love some finger-food dessert recommendations, too - those brownies I make are amazing, but they are hard to cut small for finger food.

        1. re: Jeserf

          There is jicama, cucumber (english where you can use a peeler/grater for the skin for a decorate pattern), radishes, sugar snap peas, cherry/grape tomatoes.

          What if you cake those brownies in muffin or mini-muffin tins? Then you won't have to cut and it'll be pretty and decorative. What about another dessert--citrus or summer fruit based? It could be as simple as lemon cookies.

          What about some kind of salmon mousse? And, meat? Maybe meatballs or thinly sliced london broil or something else that works well at room temp?

          BTW, could you share your recipe for the brownies?

          1. re: chowser

            Here's the recipe I use:
            http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/an...

            I cheat, though - I used boxed brownie mix! I make them earlier in the day, and I make them in a disposable pan because, when finished, they are a little difficult to cut so I use my sharp scraper that usually cuts the disposable pan! I've never had someone NOT like these brownies - they are delicious.

            That said, how would you make them in a muffin tin? I'm very curious as to how that might work...

            1. re: Jeserf

              That sounds good--I love the peanut butter frosting on it. Just use muffin cups and line the muffin tips (or use the foil ones that don't need the tins). Bake for less time--I'd start checking about 15-20 mins and keep an eye on them.

              I'd put the buttercream in a pastry bag (a zip lock bag would work, jut fill and clip a corner) and squeeze onto the brownie. I'd probably just drizzle the chocolate ganache, or I'd put that on top first and then top w/ the frosting.

              The key to cutting gooey brownies is to wash the knife often. But, I like them in muffin tins because it's almost all chewy edge then. Another cheat would be to freeze them first. Cut the lines barely into the chocolate ganache, then all the way through.

              1. re: chowser

                hm, this is a great idea - they aren't gooey, they just are hard to cut - the ganache hardens and they can easily fall apart. The muffin tin version might eliminate that!

                They are amazing brownies, though!

          2. re: Jeserf

            jicama, sugar snap peas, cucumber sticks, blanched asparagus,endive, baby tomatoes,green onions, zucchini

            1. re: LaLa

              Sugar snaps are great -- just remember to de-string them. They're not the same as snow peas.

            2. re: Jeserf

              I like blanched cauliflower, broccoli, beans.

              1. re: Jeserf

                Chocolate dipped strawberries are easy and make for a nice presentation.

                1. re: letsindulge

                  oh, good call - I used to make them all the time

            3. jicama is great. people really like it.
              cucumber slices and radishes too.

              for dessert: lemon bars, nut cups (I'd do a mix of cashews, white chips, twice as many dark chips, and dried cherries.

              1. As someone who is lactose intolerant, the first thing that stood out to me was that almost every item has cheese in it, or a form of dairy (tzatziki, fresh mozz, ricotta, blue cheese, cheese plate). Also, are you vegetarian? I know you said no shellfish or pork, but there's no meat anywhere. How about sliced roast beef on small slices of bread with a horseradish sauce? Or grilled chicken skewers with a dipping sauce.

                6 Replies
                1. re: boogiebaby

                  no one on our invite list is vegan or lactose intolerant (I know who is invited), but do you have a recommendation for a non-cheese based item you look for?

                  We personally are vegetarian and my husband, who is more religious than I am, prefers not to have pork or shellfish in the house.

                  Is there anything I can do with salmon to entertain a crowd that isn't very expensive? I was thinking mini blinis with smoked salmon, but the mini blinis at Wegmans are like $10 a container

                  1. re: Jeserf

                    Blini are easy to make but time consuming and you really should make and serve them right away. Instead you could poach whole salmon the day before, keep it in the poaching liquid and plate the day of. Take the skin off, brush little mayo on top, and decorate with very thinly sliced cucumbers to resemble fish scales. Make a simple sauce - fage, dill, garlic and a bit of salt and let people slice a piece of salmon, take a spoonfull of the sauce. Once the top side is consumed, simply flip it without decorating the other side. It is very summery and beautiful on the table.

                    Here is a recipe from the web and there are many more: http://www.chefdecuisine.com/seafood/...

                    If you do not have fish poacher, use deep roasting pan - the salmon needs to be submerged, so, anything big enough will work.

                    1. re: herby

                      You can roast it rather than poaching it.

                    2. re: Jeserf

                      I live in a spot that knows its smoked salmon (Nova Scotia). A common way to serve it here is on a platter with some baguette slices and slices red onion for people to assemble on their own, often with cream cheese. You could also Pre-assemble for your guests.

                      1. re: CanadaGirl

                        That's an excellent suggestion, CanadaGirl! I usually serve on rye and add capers on the side. But I love your baguette idea - next time will do that. I do not buy smoked often but make gravlax frequently - would be lovely on baguette too.

                        However, smoked salmon for 30 will be expensive. On the other hand, the whole poached salmon will feel substantial and cost maybe 30% of the cost of smoked. Just saying...

                        1. re: herby

                          Poached is good too. I sometimes forget that smoked salmon is a lot cheaper here than most places.

                          Edit: rather than poaching, try broiling the salmon. I like to brush a side of salmon with maple syrup and then broil it. A bit of brown sugar rubbed on top is almost as good. By the time the top is browned and crusty, the salmon will be perfectly cooked. Just be sure to line the pan with foil, or it will never be clean.

                  2. Uh...I recommend that you invite me! LOL

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Novelli

                      It all looks so good! I agree with the vegie tray recommendations, and I'd also add a big pitcher of water.

                      1. re: SAHCook

                        Oh, yes - we'll have some water! That doesn't take any planning, though, fortunately

                    2. Never underestimate the appeal of devilled eggs. And the Cooks Illustrated method of roasting eye round beef results in the perfect cold roast beef the next day: nice and pink and very lean. You could make that the day before and serve it sliced as thin as you can (much easier when it's cold) on slider or other small rolls and an assortment of mayo, mustard, horseradish and BBQ sauce for anointing. Maybe a sprig of arugula or watercress tucked in. Sorry, can't help with dessert, no sweet tooth. Happy new home!!

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: GretchenS

                        Thanks! I've made grilled skirt steak with chimichurri before - I've never eaten it, but have gotten good reviews. Do you think that would be OK if I make it an hour before and leave it out unsliced? Would it be something you do as a slider or taco, or just on a platter?

                        (It's been a while since I've made it since I don't eat it, but I know how to!)

                        1. re: Jeserf

                          Leaving it out that length will be fine, IMO

                          1. re: Jeserf

                            As a former vegaterian, current omnivoir I think the steak and chimi sound perfect. No real need to add slider buns or tacos as they may get soggy prepared to far in advance or add time and valuable table space for the food and guests. Go with just dressed meat or meat and guests dress it themselves. What meateater can't get behind a good piece of skirt steak?

                            1. re: Jeserf

                              I did not realize that you were a vegetarian when I suggested the beef, Jeserf, although I probably should have from your initial post. I actually think you should serve what you are comfortable eating, I never expect my vegetarian friends to serve me meat. Although sometimes if they know they have really carnivorous friends coming to a party they might ask me if I will bring a meat thing, which I am more than happy to do (they would do the same for me, I know).

                              1. re: GretchenS

                                Oh, I'm definitely OK serving meat - I actually think it's an inexpensive option in that you can feed a lot of people in one step!

                                I can get a plate with arugula, slice the steak, and have the bowl of chimi on the side. I've gotten raves on it before (I marinate the steak in Italian dressing for about an hour, then grill or broil it). I was thinking satay, but honestly this is MUCH easier than skewers that can be overcooked really easily.

                          2. SO! The revised menu!
                            Homemade tzatziki and hummus with pita chips and a variety of fresh veggies
                            Phyllo cups with pesto, roasted tomatoes, and fresh mozz
                            Bruschetta with Ricotta, Honey and Lemon Zest
                            Fig and Blue Cheese Savouries
                            Cheese plate with condiments (quince paste, marcona almonds, crackers)
                            Olives
                            sundried tomato pesto pinwheels
                            Grilled skirt steak, sliced, with chimichuri on the side
                            Dates stuffed with goat cheese and pistachios (recipe from yum sugar)

                            Dessert:
                            salted peanut butter fudge brownie bites
                            chocolate covered strawberries

                            Drinks:
                            White wine sangria
                            spritzers (maybe seltzer with peach nectar with floating raspberries and mint)
                            (wine, beer, soda, water)

                            any input, again, still appreciated! I was thinking of also saying "bring dessert" to increase the variety? I'm not much of a baker

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Jeserf

                              Your desserts look good, but I liked the fruit kebabs on your original idea. Maybe bring back some plain fruit, as I find many people appreciate a bit of fresh fruit when finished eating. whatever looks good at the store.

                              1. re: Jeserf

                                I have a revision, but not for the menu... the invitation list needs to include me!

                                1. re: Jeserf

                                  i think this was mentioned up-thread, but you are serving an awful lot of cheesy/dairy-laden food. it's heavy and just a few pieces really deaden the palate. you've also got a LOT of little bites planned, which can be very time-consuming to assemble. instead of 5 "bites", maybe just 3? i'd do either the fig or the date, not both. you've got 2 pesto items, and i'm sorry, but anything that has both sun-dried tomato and pesto screams 1980s to me.

                                  maybe a platter of roasted or marinated/pickled veg? can be made or purchased.

                                  i think the steak addition is good, so what about a side of poached salmon? this can be made ahead and makes a nice presentation.

                                  agree about keeping some fresh fruit for the end of the meal.

                                  1. re: Jeserf

                                    Is your head spinning w/ all the suggestions? You've made some good changes. I agree that fresh fruit would be better than chocolate raspberries, especially since your other dessert is chocolate. If a guest is a baker and asks to bring something dessert would be fine but you have a good menu w/out everyone bringing something. Also, you could move the cheese platter to the dessert table--it'll go well w/ the fruit and some people prefer it to sweets.

                                    And, that is a lot of different foods. You could get rid of the phyllo cups and change the bruschetta to the traditional w/ tomatoes and basil for something lighter. That way, you don't have double pesto/tomato combos. That would be lighter w/out the cheese. It'll also cut back on the starch based bites. I also agree about the fig/blue cheese and dates/goat cheese, along with the cheese platter is heavy.

                                  2. Deviled eggs done 3 ways: standard, spiked and avocado

                                    1. I love dessert, and baking, but don't like chocolate. Two chocolate desserts would bum me out. How about mini cheesecakes (so easy) with fresh fruit and a squirt of whipped cream. Or I agree bring back the fruit kabob. Oh, and if you invited me, I'd be happy to bring dessert. ;)

                                      1. Thanks all for the input!
                                        Revised!
                                        Homemade tzatziki and hummus with pita chips and a variety of fresh veggies
                                        Tortilla chips with two salsas - regular and mango jicama
                                        Phyllo cups with pesto, roasted tomatoes, and fresh mozz (these are REALLY easy to make ahead of time and are good at room temperature)
                                        Bruschetta with Ricotta, Honey and Lemon Zest
                                        Bruschetta with fresh tomato, basil, balsamic drizzle
                                        Fig and Blue Cheese Savouries (like thumbprint crackers)
                                        Cheese plate with condiments (quince paste, marcona almonds, crackers)
                                        Olives
                                        Grilled skirt steak, sliced, with chimichuri on the side
                                        Grilled vegetables with chimichuri

                                        Dessert:
                                        salted peanut butter fudge brownie bites
                                        fresh fruit kabobs

                                        Ask guests to bring desserts if they'd like

                                        26 Replies
                                        1. re: Jeserf

                                          i'd skip the tzatziki and just do hummus. or white bean dip. (not a fan of tahini, personally.)

                                          you don't need the chips and salsa.

                                          you like the phyllo cups, so keep them.

                                          you don't need 2 kinds of bruschetta, --the tomato/basil one is another 80s throwback that you don't need.

                                          2 or 3 bite-sized items, with the cheese platter, veggie platter and skirt steak is plenty. it's much easier to replenish a few platters than fussing over lots of little things.

                                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                                            If something is good, does it matter if it's a throwback to the 80's? I like bruschetta w/ tomatoes in the summer because you can't beat fresh tomatoes with minimal prep in season and it's much lighter than the other bruschetta. And, it reduces the dishes with cheese. For the same reason, I like tzatziki because it's nice and cool in the summer, plus you can use fresh seasonal cucumbers. I'd probably get rid of the hummus before I got rid of the tzatziki. I love vegetables w/ it.

                                            I agree the salsa and chips are unnecessary.

                                            The other question is what time is the house warming? Will it be meal time?

                                            1. re: chowser

                                              I was thinking chips/salsa because it's easy and those who think dairy is too heavy can munch on fresh veggie salsa (I make my own mango jicama), but I can toss it.

                                              I was thinking two kinds of bruschetta because one with cheese, one without. We have a roof deck, and I was thinking a lot of these things hold up well if people want to take a plate of food and sit outside for a bit.

                                              I don't really like hummus, either, chowser :) (but it's SUPER cheap and easy to make, I don't add tahini to it either).

                                              I was thinking of having people over starting at 6 simply because we live in an area with a lot of bars/nightlife and people can head out to party if they want, and it'll still be light out to enjoy the sunset on the roof if people want. And "80s food" doesn't bother me, much of the above listed (like the Palmiers/pinwheels, phyllo cups) are some of the first to go at our annual office pot luck, so it doesn't bother me :)

                                              And I won't add a poached side of salmon because it's very expensive and I don't eat fish, so I wouldn't know if it was good (it's a lot easier to make steak decently).

                                              (However, my mom is recommending that we do this on a sunday afternoon and do brunch-type food. I am not sold since people have a lot to get done on Sundays).

                                              1. re: chowser

                                                Agreed. Classics don't start out that way. They get there because people keep making and eating them long after they cease to be trendy.

                                              2. re: hotoynoodle

                                                I don't want to be snotty, but it isn't your party. Take a step back and jeserf enjoy the party, the friends, the food and the new house. I would eat myself silly at this party.

                                                  1. re: suzigirl

                                                    gee, the op is asking for advice. i offered suggestions to make prep and party-planning easier. plus not everybody wants to only eat cheese and starch all night.

                                                    jeebus.

                                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                      thanks for the input, all - I've added the grilled veggies with the steak and I'll add a variety of veggies to dip.

                                                      A lot of the ingredients will come from the farmers markets I live near, so I don't think it will be as heavy as people might be imagining - homemade pesto = less oil, homemade hummus without tahini (so, chickpea dip, I guess!), and local cheese.

                                                      I might add watermelon, feta, and olive skewers but every time I've made a watermelon dish, it seems to sit there. I make a fantastic gazpacho, and I could add gazpacho shooters, but tiny cups are expensive and prepping all those cucumber cups is a pain. I was also thinking mini fritatas, some with Serrano ham on top and some without (because apparently people need meat at a party? lol).

                                                      thanks, all - it should work out:)

                                                      1. re: Jeserf

                                                        It all sounds wonderful!

                                                        Would you share your gazpacho recipe?

                                                        Thanks, and congratulations on your new home!

                                                        1. re: AnneMarieDear

                                                          sure! It's my go-to Weight Watchers recipe :) the measurements are not exact, and it's more a technique than anything else

                                                          1 large english cucumber
                                                          1 large vidalia onion
                                                          1 green bell pepper
                                                          1 red bell (or orange/yellow or a mix)
                                                          2 serrano peppera (or jalapeno for more mild)
                                                          1 jar of low-sodium tomato (or vegetable) juice
                                                          salt/pepper to taste

                                                          in a food processor or blender, blend 1/2 cucumber, 1/2 onion, all green pepper and one whole serrano. Add some tomato juice to combine, but not all of the juice. In a large storage container, pour the remainder of the juice and the blended mix of veggies and juice. With the remainder vegetables, dice/chop (depending on your preference for size of vegetables) and stir in the large container. I happen to remove the seeds from the serrano that I use diced simply because the seeds aren't pleasing (but I keep them in when I blend it for the heat). Salt and pepper to taste.

                                                          If you let it sit in the fridge overnight, it's best. Also great served in chilled bowls with some avocado and fresh sprinkle of salt.

                                                          It lasts a week in the fridge and is DEEElicious

                                                          1. re: Jeserf

                                                            Thank you, Jeserf! It sounds delicious. I'll make it after my weekend trip to the farmers market. I love that it lasts in the fridge so long, too.

                                                            Thanks, again!

                                                        2. re: Jeserf

                                                          This thread has taught me never to ask for recommendations on a menu. Jk, but still. And you're correct Jeserf, in a crowd, a lot of people will be looking for meat dishes at a party, and will respond voraciously to them. Your party sounds great, and your guests are lucky to have such a conscientious and innovative host.

                                                          1. re: charlesbois

                                                            I get that meat is popular, but if you're going to a party at a vegetarian' house, it's not like they assume they'll get meat. But since I've done that one recipe before, I'll do it, no problemo.

                                                          2. re: Jeserf

                                                            My honest thought is that you're putting so thought and energy into this and considering your friends that no matter what you decide, it'll turn out great. Your menu sounds wonderful. At this point, I'd probably start thinking logistically on where you're going to store it all, when you'll make it, how you'll replenish and that might help w/ fine tuning. I have no problems w/ 80's food either--I love watermelon and feta and mini-quiches. But, I think you can make yourself crazy w/ what you can add. Stop w/ what you have and work with that and cut back, if necessary but don't add more (or, come up w/ a list of things to do for future parties).

                                                      2. re: hotoynoodle

                                                        Try telling Italians that tomato/basil bruschetta is an "80s throwback." This is an Italian classic, with good reason -- it tastes great.

                                                        1. re: pikawicca

                                                          i'm sure the party will be very fun and it sounds like the op likes to entertain. i'd still consider streamlining the menu to keep prep and replenishing tasks that much easier. less fussing over many little items and more time with friends.

                                                      3. re: Jeserf

                                                        I think it looks good. There are a variety and I think everyone will be pleased with at least a few items. Me, I'd be happy with them all !!

                                                        Enjoy :-)

                                                        1. re: Jeserf

                                                          You have about 12 items on your first course....you have a meal that requires a knife and fork, not just a toothpick and napkin....do you have enough seating for everyone?...will this take place outside of the house? are all your floors carpeted?...when people use a knife and fork, they need to place the plate on a soild surface. the menu sounds delish, and you are serving alcohol as well...try to adjust the quanities to about 15 to 18 pounds of total food....that is just slightly more than 1 1/2 pounds of each item....ie; you don't need a 5 lb cheese plater...and about 1/2 pound of food per person.... from the above you are serving very tasty and rich food.....also try to control any alcohol...30 people in your new home is quite a bunch....

                                                          One more idea....when we go to a house warming party, and we know the people like to entertain, we always try to bring a nice serving plate or table cover that can be used for special occasions.....I don't think you have to ask anyone to bring any deserts....(if 5 of your guests show up with 2 pounds of cookies each.....you are going to have open up your buttons to make room!) Sounds like you really have all under control.

                                                          1. re: PHREDDY

                                                            Thanks for the input - there's no seated meal (the steak will be help yourself, I'll carve it and put it on a platter), and I don't expect 30 people at once - It will probably be 20 at a time, with people coming and going given where we live), and I'll have decent seating plus we have the outdoor deck. I don't anticipate the need for significant knife and fork action, and we have hardwood floors.
                                                            I was going to plan on 1 1/2 of each item per RSVP'd guest, with a few items in the dining room and a few on the kitchen bar.
                                                            Good point about the dessert, but then people show up with wine and we don't drink!
                                                            (I won't have too much alcohol- our circle isn't full of heavy drinkers, so it'll just be a few bottles of wine and a mixed drink that I pre-make or two in a pitcher).

                                                            However, we're friends with eaters. And too few desserts might go noticed! lol
                                                            I can buy some mini-desserts at Trader Joes which tend to freeze well if there are leftovers, that isn't a problem at all!

                                                            1. re: Jeserf

                                                              Sounds like a plan....the mini desserts sound good....what we like to sometimes do is serve ice cream pops!.....(they can be eaten without utensils)....everyone usually says..."you didn't"...but they work, and with two or three different flavors you should address all of the palates....of course the leftovers freeze nicely and never go to waste in out castle!

                                                              1. re: PHREDDY

                                                                I had THOUGHT about just making an ice cream sundae bar, which I've done before for a summer-time party but I think we're inviting too many people for that. I've done it before for 10 people or less and it worked well and was a hit (and SUPER easy to put together)

                                                                1. re: Jeserf

                                                                  Actually an ice SCREAM bar would work well in this scenario....probably as you know, people love ice cream....even if it is 30 persons...you will score big time....and by the way...it is all about the toppings...not so much about the ice cream.....i find M&Ms and Oreos are the most popular.....what have you found?

                                                                  1. re: PHREDDY

                                                                    butterscotch/caramel, brownie bits, Oreos and M&Ms for sure.
                                                                    It would be hard to not have the ice cream melt all over everything, but we'll see!

                                                                    Maybe the invite could be for an ice cream social! :)

                                                                    1. re: Jeserf

                                                                      A soft serve machine would be really fun.

                                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                                        you're welcome to buy me one! :)

                                                                      2. re: Jeserf

                                                                        Just let me know...I once worked in a Baskin & Robbins...

                                                          2. Pinterest.com is a great place to get ideas...visual sensory overload

                                                            Great ideas from all..I would add dates wrapped in turkey bacon..mini peppers halved with a goat cheese and dill..goat cheese with halved cherry tomt on toasted baquette..
                                                            Costco is your friend and they make this delicious artichoke, jalapeno dip for around $7 big ol' tub of it and it is a huge hit at parties..pretzel crackers, pita chips, baquette.

                                                            Have fun!

                                                            1. I'd put out a big bowl of fried cauliflower and ranch dressing:
                                                              http://www.vodkitchen.com/2010/10/11/...

                                                              but that's just me.

                                                              1. I'd suggest maybe adding a nice hearty (but still light and summery) caponata, too. Has that "meaty" look, which might balance the colors and textures you already have, and is finger-food friendly with crackers or bread rounds. There's a good simple recipe at epicurious (http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...). Sounds like a great party!