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Party Foods: Which ones are you weary of seeing?

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I love appetizers and grazing. I am always on the hunt for something new or even something old that can be revived. I also am tired of some options that everyone seems to make.

For example, I am really over the Spinach-Artichoke hot dip. Really over it.

I also liked the shrimp with lemon and parsley or basil or whatever but I'm starting to get sick of that now especially because people are buying it commercially and it is not well done.

Again I like hummous and layered dip and chips and salsa but please can we see something new out there peeps?

I suppose 40 or 50 years ago everyone served Lipton's onion dip. We seem to get stuck on the same trends until we kill them dead.

Am I being overly critical? Do you agree? Disagree?

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  1. Before I even read your post I was coming in to say Spinach-Artichoke dip.

    1. Very tired of layered taco dip, and bricks of cream cheese with anything poured over them.

      1 Reply
      1. re: nlgardener

        How could I have failed to mention the bricks of cream cheese with various sauces dumped on top.

      2. It seems that meat is out.
        Everything is some sort of modified spread- cream cheese or chickpea base, then whirr in veg or spices.
        Except potstickers. They are everywhere and a disgrace to Asian food: thick underdone boiled wrappers and a pinch of pork with scallion, or even straight "vegetarian."

        1. Oh, and how could I forget the midwestern cheese ball. My grandma always pulls that one out.

          5 Replies
          1. re: OliviaBG

            I put out a fromage forte ball and that did not last long. I have been told that is always welcomed with my family.

            Then again, we love our cheese.

            1. re: Crockett67

              Delicious.

            2. re: OliviaBG

              They're coming back into fashion among those who, like me, did not grow up with them.

              1. re: OliviaBG

                i love cheese balls. Good ones, not so good ones, even the port wine flavored ones.

                1. re: OliviaBG

                  Hey, my dearly departed grandmother used to roll out the hot sausage spiced cheese ball for years to adoring fans .... and how did you know we were from the Upper Midwest? :)

                2. Chicken wings and nuggets, enough already!
                  And any of those jive meatballs with grape jelly crap sauce.

                  13 Replies
                  1. re: mrbigshotno.1

                    Or smokies with applebutter on them. yuck!

                    1. re: Crockett67

                      Apple butter? Zoiks.

                      1. re: EWSflash

                        Oh yeah, there's far too much apple butter offered at parties these days. I am so over it (and quince jam too).

                        1. re: FrankJBN

                          It must be a regional thing... I'd never even heard of apple butter until I went to college, and still rarely see it here.

                          1. re: FrankJBN

                            I have never seen apple butter at a party (nor quince jam!). How do people use these? It might be something new for around here...

                            1. re: travelerjjm

                              I actually only mentioned quince jam as an example of another odd-ball fruit concoction that I never see at parties.

                              Maybe at the halloween parties of my youth I might have seen apple butter. That is the context of my experienec with it - a harvest time product. My mother made it when I was young.

                        2. re: Crockett67

                          I have never heard of smokies with applebutter (I must lead a sheltered life). Applebutter is one of my favorites, so it seems kinda like a waste...

                          1. re: travelerjjm

                            Smokies are good- little finger-size smoked (probably not really smoked) wieners that are really good- unless they're in grape jelly or apple butter, that is.

                          2. re: Crockett67

                            Our smokies were always set in a small crock pot full of a regional BBQ Sauce called Cookies. Every time I see them, it always reminds me of family holiday feasts long gone ....

                            1. re: hawkeyeui93

                              Even before I saw your name, my brain went "Iowa!" My husband is from Iowa and we have Cookies stocked in our pantry, even though we live in Texas where there are a bajillion BBQ sauces.

                              I make smokies according to my mom's recipe. My friends called them Drunk Weenies. One cup each ketchup, brown sugar, and bourbon. Yes, a whole cup of bourbon. Mix that until the sugar dissolves and then add 1/3 cup of soy sauce and Tabasco to taste. mmmm

                              1. re: dalaimama

                                I lived in Texas for thirteen years and wholly agree with you about Texas having more than ample BBQ Sauces. Cookies does have a hot wing sauce that is exceptional. Don't let your hubby know about it (if he doesn't already) or your pantry will be even more full! The one thing I missed more than anything [and would bring back to Texas with me when I visited Iowa] was a chip dip from a local family dairy called Anderson & Erickson's Party Dip. Your recipe sounds better than just dumping in Cookies BBQ Sauce in with the little smokies ... Thanks for sharing the recipe. I know what I'm whipping up at the next party!

                                1. re: hawkeyeui93

                                  OH man, A&E is amazing! That is always a staple at family parties. I have no idea why it is so much better than any other grocery dairy dip, but it honestly is just plain good. I'll have to get some of the wing sauce next time we go up!

                                  1. re: dalaimama

                                    I grew up near the AE Dairy and all of their products are very good, including ice cream [which unfortunately they stopped making to increase production of yogurt I believe]. I worked in a grocery store as a teen and most ex-pat Iowans visiting would claim to miss AE Dip, Hiland Potato Chips [extinct], and Pella Roll Bologna the most.

                        3. Overly critical! ;-)

                          I'm happy when anyone takes the effort to host a party. They might serve food I find boring, but they also might think the food I serve is too weird, too spicy or too boring compared to what they like.

                          Re: spinach dip, 7 layer dip, grape jelly meatballs, cheese balls, wings, etc.... I rarely see any of these at the parties where I live, so those dishes would be a novelty for me, and some of my friends. Thawed pre-frozen shrimp rings with cocktail sauce, supermarket fruit trays, cheap/supermarket sushi trays, hummus, veggies, baked brie, brownies, nanaimo bars and cupcakes are the current party standards where I live. If the event is catered, mini quiches, mini burgers, mini grilled cheese, mini rice balls, mini spring rolls, cake pops, cheesecake pops and macarons have been extremely popular the last few years.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: prima

                            I think you've hit on it. You don't have to serve something original, necessarily -- just something unexpected. I served those grape jelly/chili sauce meatballs as part of a huge spread at a party a few years back -- frankly, they were a last minute, "I need something more in that corner" addition, alongside other fairly elaborate homemade things. And no one could stop talking about them. But then, my social groups tend to be of the baked brie, hummus, and mini quiche set you describe.

                            Or in other words: why not onion dip? People liked it for a reason 50 years ago, and they probably haven't had it in 20!

                          2. Fake baby carrots and the tasteless vegetables in the supermarket party tray!

                            22 Replies
                            1. re: firecooked

                              Those sanded down carrots are pretty tasteless. I cut my crudites myself. It makes a difference.

                              1. re: firecooked

                                I'd take those over grape jelly/chili sauce meatballs, smokies with applebutter, anything poured over cream cheese block, or super market brownie bites any day!

                                1. re: Crockett67

                                  "grape jelly/chili sauce meatballs, smokies with applebutter, anything poured over cream cheese block"

                                  Do people really serve this stuff?

                                  I don't wish to pry at a personal level, but could you give me some idea of the socio-economic level, I guess specifically the income level of the hosts who serve such things? I've never seen any of these foods. Meat balls with grape jelly?

                                  1. re: FrankJBN

                                    Wow. First I'd like to point out that, especially in a private social situation, the guests' income is likely to be on a par with that of their hosts. It's how the world works, man: we gravitate towards those more like "us," and our guest lists are usually culled from the people we see on a fairly regular basis, e.g. @work. The newsroom boy doesn't generally invite the CEO; nor does the CEO invite the woman who cleans his office.
                                    I have seen these things served at gallery openings, and I have seen them set out on splintered picnic tables. I have also been served some laughably low-end items at the homes or events of people whose income bracket, according to you, should put them "above" such things, and been served more-costly things that were a tight stretch for our hosts' budgets, but they wanted their guests to really, really enjoy the party foods and maybe budgeted for it or lived a little lower on the food chain to compensate.
                                    I do understand what you're trying to say, but I don't think that food as an indicator of one's social "class", as it regards income, is any kind of indicator at all. Maybe it was the phrasing I objected to; it sounded to me as though only low-income people would ever, ever serve something that gauche, even though they're proven crowd-pleasers and all social connotations aside, absolutely delicious. Same as, um, deviled eggs.
                                    Taste has nothing to do with income.

                                    1. re: mamachef

                                      Agreed, Mamachef - after all - look at what Elvis ate?

                                    2. re: FrankJBN

                                      Meatballs with grape jelly and a spicy chili sauce. A throwback to the 60s or 70s, IIRC. Yes, it sounds "interesting", but they can be surprisingly good. Most certainly *not* something I'd want on a weekly or monthly basis. But if offered by a host or hostess, I will at least politely take one or two. Try them before looking down your nose at them and the rest of the seemingly lower socio-economic level people who have at least tried them. Not everyone has the financial ability to fulfill those champagne wishes and caviar dreams.

                                      1. re: FrankJBN

                                        Frank, I think I understand you. Yes, people do serve these things and they can be very tasty! You have a point, though, that those who have always had access to more expensive, elusive ingredients at home and have enjoyed restaurant dining in higher end places may never have eaten these foods.
                                        Generally speaking it is fair to say that you use/eat/wear/live in what is available to you. If you're on a Champagne budget, you'd have cooks or chefs producing accordingly. Beer budgeters naturally choose what they can afford.
                                        Again, I did say GENERALLY, and I realize that there are many who made do with fresh, lovely foods on a shoestring or had millions but lived on cheetos and hot pockets. (Frank, you may have to google these,, tee hee just goofing around) But I think you know what I mean.

                                        No matter what, though, we need to give people room to like what they like. No yucking their yum, as is often said on this site. :)

                                        1. re: FrankJBN

                                          I've been to plenty of parties with 2%'ers where artichoke dip, grape jelly and chili sauce with meatballs, and cream cheese bricks with crabmeat and cocktail sauce dumped over it. And usually the meatballs and artichoke dip are all gone by the end of the night.

                                          1. re: jeanmarieok

                                            Wow- really?

                                            1. re: EWSflash

                                              Ya, no kidding. I don't make those things for my parties, but I know for sure that for my Labor day weekend party, someone will show up with the artichoke dip, and the plate will be licked clean by the end of the night. I am at the low end of the neighborhood, as far as income and property value goes, but most of the men love crappy meat balls, velveeta cheese dip, and that artichoke dip.

                                              1. re: jeanmarieok

                                                lol- The German Lutheran contingent is alive and well in the midwest-

                                            2. re: jeanmarieok

                                              me too...I was recently at a party thrown by a family that had just dropped 3.1 million on horses and there was cream cheese with pepper jelly....it was delish!

                                              1. re: LaLa

                                                Goat cheese and pepper jelly is very tasty too.

                                            3. re: FrankJBN

                                              Sorry Frank but yes people of all walks of life eat this type of food. A meatball is often on casual menus and if your are eat sliders I would say this is equitable to the humble meatball.

                                              1. re: Ruthie789

                                                Agreed! I've seen these meatballs and lil' smokies served by all sorts of people from all over the country. And while I hate both of these sticky little salt bombs, if it was offered to me with genuine hospitality, I'll at least have one.

                                              2. re: FrankJBN

                                                I am curious as to your socio-economic level Frank. I also find it ironic that you ask this as the economy is in such a depressed state. And, since I asked you, I will answer the question also.I am a single mother with very little. I wouldn't personally serve things like the meatballs in grape-chili sauce or smokies in applebutter, but then again, I'm from the south. More often than not, we tend to be grateful for the good company at a gathering and less critical of the food served.

                                                1. re: letaB

                                                  Southern cooking has so much hospitality built in as the starting point for very good food.

                                                  1. re: Ruthie789

                                                    I agree with that; it starts with love.

                                                2. re: FrankJBN

                                                  I'm with you, Man. I've never seen this crap served either. I believe we are both from the same geographical area. Never heard of meatballs with grape jelly (gack!) and last time I saw that brick of cream cheese thing was 1993 maybe? Served with a box of Triscuits. It was vile then.

                                                  1. re: FrankJBN

                                                    I have a divergent view. I say yes. I have some friends who wouldn't know a bowl of pho if it had a label. I've been served the cocktail wieners with grape jelly, that's what my friends grew up with. I served her broccoli once, when we were in our twenties, she had never seen it and had no idea how to eat it. Years later she told me that her mom would make one box of Kraft mac & cheese- for all five kids! No salad, no anything. else. I think their saving grace was that their dad and his sister owned a bar/really good Mexican restaurant. The iceberg and tomatoesand chiles probably saved the kids- they weren't Hispanic, they were Swedes from Minnesota). I'm very serious about this, some people really have no idea about food or nutrition. My friend had her son on formua until past his second birthday, because it was 'easier'. Probably better for him that the alternative, I think in retrospect. Some people have NO idea about nutrition or the wide world of food.
                                                    By the way, the son somehow managed to end up being a very gifted natural athlete. Some f that stuff is genetic..

                                                3. re: firecooked

                                                  > Fake baby carrots and the tasteless vegetables in the supermarket party tray

                                                  Even if fresh and home-made, how tired is it to see a tray of raw veggies (carrots, cauliflower, pepper slices, and broccoli) surrounding a ranch dressing dip? This tops my list of party food that is so ubiquitous that it often goes untouched, even though most of us love fresh veggies.

                                                  1. re: GraydonCarter

                                                    "tops my list of party food that is so ubiquitous that it often goes untouched"

                                                    This dish is popular at office parties - by popular I mean I never see it go untouched, it gets eaten even thugh I eat none of it.

                                                    "most of us love fresh veggies"

                                                    Could this be the reason it is ubiquitous? Is it better to serve foods that most people don't care for or is the idea to just not serve what people really like?

                                                4. Agree ALL of those you mention, and most of those in the responses are TIRED, TIRED, TIRED! No to any bad supermarket tray. Mini quiche. slider. sour-cream with mix-in's dip. Aaagh!

                                                  I currently like a good goat cheese/butter mixture torta (in in the late 80's - deserved to come out to play again) - layered with cilantro pesto and chopped roasted pepper/pine nuts.

                                                  Also interesting, and seem fresh:

                                                  Steamed baby new potatoes with Romesco sauce (riff on patatas bravas)

                                                  Stuffed grape leaves with tahini sauce

                                                  Gougeres - simple warm cheese puffs, or mini cream puffs with dill, sour cream and smoked salmon inside.

                                                  Crostini with cooked fava beans (mashed with garlic, oregano, OO), or with caramelized onion and goat cheese. Fig Jam and manchego.

                                                  Tiny soup shooters - cold is nice - gazpacho, chilled vichyssoise - maybe topped with a tiny shrimp and sploosh of sour cream.

                                                  A platter of roasted veg (penty of s&p, some fresh thyme and garlic while roasting) with a balsamic reduction or aioli dip, if your party has plates and cocktail forks.

                                                  Platter of grilled asparagus, lemon vinaigrette, sieved egg yolk garnish.

                                                  I do never get tired of good olive tapenade; with just a wee bit of orange peel , parsley, fresh rosemary? Lovely on a slice of baguette.

                                                  As for other dips I would serve - Vitello Tonatto sauce makes a wonderful dip (canned tuna dip! Dressed up! Awesome:), served with sliced fennel, celery, radishes. A nice cool looking platter especially if you can serve all on ice.... Or a warm bagna couda in your old fondue pot, with a plethora of veggies alongside for dipping, grissini too.

                                                  Love me horses-doovers, just not DULL ones!

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: gingershelley

                                                    Nice suggestions here.

                                                  2. I am over cocktail wieners in barbeque sauce, but maybe there is a new way to make them that might freshen that up.

                                                    I do like new stuff and resurrecting some old: shrimp dip made from salad shrimp, cocktail sauce and cream cheese; cherry tomatoes to dip in tequila with a little salt, pate, jicama with dip; strong-flavored cheeses like Wensleydale; fondues with fun stuff to dip and so forth.

                                                    For the fourth I am making cheese sticks: a cheesy puff pastry with lots of butter and cheddar cheese in the dough -- they never seem to go out of style.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: travelerjjm

                                                      Cool! Somoene else makes the shrimp dip with salad shrimp & cocktail sauce over cream cheese. My mom & I never had a name for it. so we dubbed it "Mash in the Pan" (since that's what you do with the cream cheese). All of my friends & family know what it is!

                                                      1. re: mollyschmolly

                                                        My best friend "introduced" me to the shrimp/sauce/cream cheese concoction about 3 years ago. It was great, but I thought she was insane! It seems she's not the only one who's made that, and I owe her an apoligy. lol

                                                        1. re: mollyschmolly

                                                          Again a dish I've never seen - funny that up the thread people are complaining about cream cheese topped with sauce, but starting a couple of posts up, the supporters of this dish have surged forward.

                                                      2. I WILL NEVER GET OVER DIPS!

                                                        Then again, parties / get-togethers tend to center around the food of my ethnic culture, so American party food excites me, especially dips . . .

                                                        I do skip over those deli-wrap things. The lavash/tortilla wraps with cream cheese and other random ingredients aren't really to my liking.

                                                        5 Replies
                                                        1. re: Eat.Choui

                                                          Not crazy about those card-boardish wraps wither.

                                                          1. re: twodales

                                                            Blergh, yes. I've seen them at a zillion weddings recently, and they're just horrible.

                                                          2. re: Eat.Choui

                                                            OMG yes, they're nothing like either a tortill or lavosh, they're some mutant hybrid gross thing that has somehow proliferated like roaches.

                                                            1. re: Eat.Choui

                                                              If you mean those awful tortilla/cream cheese pinwheels, then I can't agree more. Those have a horrid raw, doughy, mushy consistency/flavor that made me hate them after the first taste years ago. What a misuse of otherwise good ingredients.

                                                              1. re: Eat.Choui

                                                                I've never liked made ahead wraps in general - I find them bland and kind of gummy.

                                                              2. Devilled eggs, peanut butter in celery sticks...

                                                                23 Replies
                                                                1. re: Tripeler

                                                                  Considering the way my devilled eggs turn out, I'm really glad when someone else makes them!

                                                                  1. re: Tripeler

                                                                    Where I am, the plate of deviled eggs usually empties first :)

                                                                    1. re: CanadaGirl

                                                                      +1

                                                                      1. re: CanadaGirl

                                                                        Which is unfortunate for our family... they are banned from our family functions because while the men love them, the eggs don't love them back.

                                                                        1. re: CanadaGirl

                                                                          Me too! It is a man trap, they are lured to it!

                                                                          1. re: CanadaGirl

                                                                            I HEAR YA CanadaGirl! Grew up eating my Mom's Deviled Eggs at EVERY family get-together or holiday and I now carry on the tradition! NOBODY ELSE seems to EVER make them but EVERYONE always requests MINE at every potluck or party I go to and there are NEVER ENOUGH! Always the first platter to EMPTY no matter how big the amount! LOL! ;-)

                                                                            1. re: CanadaGirl

                                                                              I have a cousin that loves deviled eggs so much, I've started making a batch for his Christmas present every year. I even decorated a reusable container with his name, so everyone (including his brother/roommate) knows to leave them alone.

                                                                              1. re: mpjmph

                                                                                I thought deviled eggs were lame, but I opted to make a dressed up version last year for a 70th birthday spread after my plan A didn't pan out. The filling included finely diced salami, capers, green onions and the yolks. I put them out, along with a couple of dips and the other contributions to the event. Although I was personally more interested in helping the oyster shucker empty his bucket (love oysters!!!), those deviled eggs were the first to go. I was sorry I hadn't doubled my quantity (I'd brought 24), assuming all contributions would be equally well received. I can't explain it, but people went bonkers for those eggs.

                                                                                1. re: 1sweetpea

                                                                                  It's a combination of things, I think, 1sweetpea. They're an easy two (or one!) bite item, they can be made countless different ways, and they're a "food memory" that brings back good times from the past.

                                                                            2. re: Tripeler

                                                                              I just made deviled eggs for myself for Independence Day. I like 'em, and they usually go pretty quickly at any party I'm at!

                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                I think we need to make some this weekend -- great breakfast food!. We bake the eggs now (soooo much easier).

                                                                                1. re: travelerjjm

                                                                                  I stood in my kitchen on the 4th grinning like a fool at my small plate of deviled eggs. Silly, I know. But they're easy, you can "dress them up" *so* many ways (although I went with the old family basic of egg yolk, mayo, pickle relish, salt, and pepper all mixed together with paprika sprinkled on top).

                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                    It is pretty easy, relatively easy, to make small portions of fillings, enough for maybe four egg halfs. So you can make a trayful of eggs deviled in so many varieties that it is difficult for your guests to pick just one. Put two egg yokes in a bowl and start combining ingredients. Crab and Remoulade. Bacon and Creamed Potato and Chives, Wasabi mayonnaise and Salmon, etc.

                                                                                    1. re: GraydonCarter

                                                                                      Exactly.

                                                                                      That's why they're The Incredible, Edible Egg. :-)

                                                                                      1. re: GraydonCarter

                                                                                        Horseradish deviled eggs with seared steak and blue cheese:

                                                                                        http://www.chow.com/recipes/26660-hor...

                                                                                        1. re: GraydonCarter

                                                                                          To my horseradish deviled eggs I add a touch of Brandy to the mix. We eat deviled eggs bi-weekly I would guess.

                                                                                2. re: Tripeler

                                                                                  I have to agree with others who point out that deviled eggs are always a dish that is emptied first.

                                                                                  1. re: FrankJBN

                                                                                    They serve deviled eggs at those high-end, luxury parties you go to? The ones attended only ever by high-income people at the homes of their high-income guests? :)

                                                                                    1. re: mamachef

                                                                                      Deviled eggs are my cross-over dish when I am consorting with rich folks. I have a deviled egg Tupperware with cover that holds 20 and travels well. Before it, any time I had to hit the brakes I had egg salad.
                                                                                      My other cross-over is pimento cheese sandwiches, rich folks scarf 'em down.

                                                                                      1. re: Veggo

                                                                                        That is very entertaining!

                                                                                        1. re: Veggo

                                                                                          Ha! I remember having a deviled egg holder without a lid in the early '70s, I was loading up my car for an extended family wedding, so I put the deviled eggs in the El Camino, in the middle, and then somehow my Irish Setter got out and dove into my car, she trampled one, the rest just rearranged themselves. Oddly enough I had an odd number of deviled eggs, which thankfully didn't get noticed.

                                                                                        2. re: mamachef

                                                                                          Touche mamachef! Have to say u beat ME to THAT one! hahahaa!! :-)

                                                                                        3. re: FrankJBN

                                                                                          So what does get emptied first at first rated parties. Please enlighten me.

                                                                                      2. I still enjoy seeeing spinach dip cold...hot ...not so much

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: LaLa

                                                                                          I have been reviving spinach dip (cold) lately. Everything old is new again.

                                                                                          1. re: LaLa

                                                                                            See, I'm the opposite. Never had the hot kind growing up, currently obsessed with it.

                                                                                          2. I must be hungry- almost everything I've read here sounds pretty good- except for the tasteless "baby" carrots. Personally, I wish people would stop bringing potato salad- it's almost never done well and once I flat-out got poisoned by it- no idea how, but I did.

                                                                                            1. As someone who loathes cilantro and lime, I dread the ubiquitous guacamole, salsa, ceviche, etc. Also jalapeno poppers and the like, since my tolerance for capsicum is low.

                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                I happen to like cilantro and lime but they are so popular these days, I can see how it would turn you off.

                                                                                                1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                  I love cilantro, but I hate avocado. I'm always a little disappointed when a host goes "fancy" with guac and skips the salsa :(

                                                                                                2. Mee tooooo on the jalapeno poppers, and I don't like cilantro, but I do like guacamole and make it often, I offer chopped cilantro on the side, along w/chopped onions.

                                                                                                  I don't want "pre made sandwhiches" from the grocery store deli, neither do I want a grocery store veggie platter w/pre made dip. Nor do I want pre cut up fruit and dip from the grocer's. What DO they put on those apple slices? Uck.

                                                                                                  I still like the grape jelly/chili sauce meatballs once in a while, and a good cheese ball w/crackers at the holidays. I got over hot spinach/artichoke dip a long, long time ago. I still like California Onion dip, deviled eggs, and my own cold spinach dip.

                                                                                                  I was at an event yesterday that had spinach dip, fruit salsa (good ~~ I think it was mangos), tortilla chips, manicotti, antipasto green salad (cheese, pepperoni, olives, pepperocini with the salad greens), garlic bread, shrimp cocktail w/lemon and cocktail sauce, sliced turkey and cheese and crackers.

                                                                                                  It was nice.

                                                                                                  1. One thingI am surprised I forgot. I am soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo over crostini of any type. Go away already.

                                                                                                    1. I assumed this was going to be about what people *brought* to parties. At least in my social circle, people are often expected to bring something with them (they don't have to, that's just how it works) and it goes pot luck style. So you see a ton of the things mentioned in this thread precisely because they're easy to make ahead and easy to deal with at the host's place. Stuff that requires anything more complicated than a simple "throw it in the oven for 20 minutes" really won't work so well - and anything that doesn't do well in a make ahead fashion (e.g. fried foods) won't work either.

                                                                                                      9 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: jgg13

                                                                                                        Exactly. I'm a little surprised at some of this. As far as I'm concerned, anyone who goes to the effort of making something homemade & tasty should be applauded. I'm tired of icky supermarket stuff that doesn't look or taste good, but that's it. Anyone who doesn't appreciate homemade, regardless of how long it's been around the party circuit, can excuse themselves from my house. And I've lost count of the times we've ruled out bringing a particular appetizer to someone else's house b/c it should be hot out of the oven.

                                                                                                        1. re: browndogs2

                                                                                                          Personally, I'm happy with home-made and tasty, or store bought and tasty, regardless of what the actual food items are.

                                                                                                          What I don't particularly enjoy is the stuff that's just not very good, either because it's not very well made, or the ingredients are low quality, or it's the bland slightly stale grocery store version of a reasonably good dish, or it's been sitting out too long.

                                                                                                          1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                                                                            Yep.

                                                                                                          2. re: browndogs2

                                                                                                            Agreed. Ever make homemade onion dip, or ranch or blue cheese dressing? Knocks the instant/bottled stuff over. ALL the basic buffet stuff, if made fresh and from fresh ingredients, are better than any supermarket cr*p.

                                                                                                            1. re: Michelly

                                                                                                              I would guess that I have never had any onion dip not made from a package of onion soup mix (unless it was 'manufactured' as onion dip).

                                                                                                              They all taste like onion dip to me. People pick up a chip, dip it in and keep on walking. For such a dish, I can't imagine how taking an hour or so to prepare it would make it better for its purpose than as it exists in 99% of its appearances.

                                                                                                              To modify the old saying, one can polish an apple all day long, at the end of the day, it is still just an apple.

                                                                                                              1. re: FrankJBN

                                                                                                                Cynic much?

                                                                                                                1. re: FrankJBN

                                                                                                                  Nothing beats homemade roasted onion dip!

                                                                                                                  1. re: FrankJBN

                                                                                                                    Who said anything about taking an hour? I can whip up the best green onion dip in 15 minutes (and eat it in less than that).

                                                                                                              2. re: jgg13

                                                                                                                I had a get-together that i was busily (as in a panic) trying to make delicious eats for, and a gal came in from a couple of hours away and started barking orders at me regarding oven temp and pretty much took over my oven. Luckily I didn't have a souffle in there. Her dish was very good, but cripes, you don't just barge into a stranger's house (the get together was from a message board on a gardening web site and I hadn't ever met the majority of the folks who showed up in person yet) and demand control of the oven. She actually turned out to be a truly delightful person, once I got over the hijacking of my kitchen and once I was over the too-much-company fog anyway.

                                                                                                              3. On the flip side, what would you LIKE to see? There are other good suggestions on the thread, but thought you might have some good ideas to share.

                                                                                                                15 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: basketwoman

                                                                                                                  Toothpick satay
                                                                                                                  The tomatoes and tequila I mentioned earlier
                                                                                                                  Homemade sausage (smoked is wonderful)
                                                                                                                  Sushi rolls
                                                                                                                  Chips and salsa or pico de gallo or guacamole or even "con queso" dip
                                                                                                                  Wontons
                                                                                                                  Jalapeno poppers
                                                                                                                  Nice cheese

                                                                                                                  That's a start

                                                                                                                  1. re: travelerjjm

                                                                                                                    Everyone begs me to bring my homeade cheesball. It has a secret ingredient in it that no one has ever guessed.

                                                                                                                    1. re: randyjl

                                                                                                                      Cocoa powder in that cheeseball, Randy?

                                                                                                                      1. re: randyjl

                                                                                                                        What's yours?
                                                                                                                        Mine's is real butter.

                                                                                                                        1. re: randyjl

                                                                                                                          You add crack to it?

                                                                                                                        2. re: travelerjjm

                                                                                                                          Chips and salsa or pico de gallo or guacamole or even "con queso" dip

                                                                                                                          Now these are things I would say I see (and have seen) at 8 out of 10 parties or more often. Are they just so good?

                                                                                                                          I note because as I commented above, many people deem foods I have never seen as "tired, tired, tired", and here is something I see everywhere that is somehow still fresh and desirable.

                                                                                                                          1. re: FrankJBN

                                                                                                                            FrankJBN: I am curious. If you were to host a party what would you serve to your guests?

                                                                                                                            1. re: twodales

                                                                                                                              +1.... I want to see Frank's menu!

                                                                                                                        3. re: basketwoman

                                                                                                                          I'm still working on the deconstructed BLT: grape tomatoes injected with a bacon/lettuce/mayo/toast filling.

                                                                                                                          1. re: GraydonCarter

                                                                                                                            How about this- large-ish cherry tomato hollowed out and drained, filled with mixture of cream cheese, chopped (cooked) bacon, parsley (stands in for lettuce), little mayo for flavor and consistency. Have not yet worked in the toast...

                                                                                                                            1. re: JTilCT

                                                                                                                              Panko crumbs sauteed in bacon grease to sprinkle on top?

                                                                                                                              1. re: LauraGrace

                                                                                                                                Maybe something constructed like a Scotch Egg?

                                                                                                                                1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                                                                                                  Scotch Eggs should be our new national dish.

                                                                                                                            2. re: GraydonCarter

                                                                                                                              Graydon, I have done this with every thing from baby cherry tomatoes to golf-ball sized, and people LOVE them, which is why I'm going to suggest you let go your idea of keeping them itsy bitsy, because you will have to make SO many per person. Regular good cherry tomatoes are a better choice for these, at least for being served straight-up as an appetizer. You got me thinking though: wouldn't the tiny ones make a kinda cool garnish for a soup, something like iced tomato or cucumber? I may have to re-visit this one. Thank you!! :)

                                                                                                                            3. re: basketwoman

                                                                                                                              I just left Dallas after a 15 month project, and my friends there will miss my duck liver pate more than they will miss me. I did manage to bring 2 pints of duck fat back to Florida.

                                                                                                                            4. Agree on the spinach artichoke and the multi-layer dips. Tired of them. Also tired of store bought bruschetta or salsas. Homemade is 100% times better and really doesn't take that much time.

                                                                                                                              1. I'm very tired of the people that bring bad supermarket pre made food and baked goods. My moms family is notorious for this, mom will have a great homemade spread, they bring a box of cookies from wal mart and a crappy supermarket cake and set it right out next to moms homemade baked goods. Someone else fromher family likes to bring a $2 brick of processed cheese and a box of crackers. Worse yet is some people actually eat it! Works for me though since mom gives us her homemade left overs!

                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: Rick

                                                                                                                                  Your mom's family sounds like my in-laws. Those people seem perfectly happy with extremely low-quality food on every level (and it's not an issue of not having the funds). Whenever I counter by making FRESH food, they are puzzled as to why I bother..."it's SO much easier to get it at the store!"
                                                                                                                                  Oh well...I try to remember that it's the thought that counts < P

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Rick

                                                                                                                                    Yes... I am really tired of my brother in law's sister bringing the tub of frozen mini eclairs from Sam's and plopping them down next to my sideboard full of handcrafted, perfected by practice desserts.

                                                                                                                                    And those grocery store brownie bites... I'm going to throw them to the birds next time. They aren't even GOOD. At least the mini eclairs taste okay. The texture of the brownie bites is completely wrong and they aren't even chocolatey.

                                                                                                                                  2. Little muffuletta (several spellings) sandwiches.

                                                                                                                                    Hunt

                                                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                      It seems a lot of this must be regional. I've NEVER seen little muffuletta sandwiches anywhere and I'd be excited if someone had those at a party.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Rick

                                                                                                                                        They are popular (though I cannot imagine why, as the "real thing" is great, but then these... ) in, and around New Orleans. Out of maybe 300 different offerings, I have yet to have one, that was enjoyable.

                                                                                                                                        Hunt

                                                                                                                                      2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                        Do you cut up a big one or use small rolls? If you do small ones, do you make your own or buy them?

                                                                                                                                        1. re: travelerjjm

                                                                                                                                          I do not prepare them, but they appear to be tiny muff loaves, that are meant to look like much smaller versions of the "real thing."

                                                                                                                                          Hunt

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                            Makes my mouth water. I miss those and the bread sacks full of crawfish.

                                                                                                                                      3. Well, here's what I am not tired of :-)

                                                                                                                                        We love going over to the Sweet Grass Dairy store and sampling. They always have good, creative ideas of what to do with their cheese. Two recent huge hits:

                                                                                                                                        They make a fabulous pimento cheese with their Thomasville Tomme and piquillo peppers. They pair it with a very thick, sweet peach preserves that has pecans in it. OMG! The perfect sweet/spicy/salty combo when smeared on a little cracker. Unfortunately, their pimento cheese is not available online, but the Thomasville Tomme is.

                                                                                                                                        Their Lil' Moo soft cheese spread with whole preserved cherries. Lil' Moo is available online.

                                                                                                                                        http://www.sweetgrassdairy.com

                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                        1. re: onrushpam

                                                                                                                                          Oh, hey! I've been to that store, since I live nearby, and yes, it's amazing! I'd be happy to see any of their spread at any party I went to.

                                                                                                                                          I bake extensively, so most of what I bring to parties is homemade stuff, although I will admit that having the store bought apple pie go before my homemade pumpkin spice cake is somewhat irritating, because my food was the "weird" choice when everyone else just wanted something basic. Oh well.

                                                                                                                                        2. Ok so after reading all of the replies I defend my party foods because I make them. My hummus is homemade...yes, I even bake my own pita chips. They are light and crispy unlike Stacey's thick chips. Tzatziki? Homemade from bleeding the yogurt onward. My spinach dip..OK I use the Knorrs recipe and hollow out a fab bakery seeded rye...but it goes fast...For the hollowed out grape blt tomato...I hope you nail it! As for me, I hollow out larger cherry tomatoes and stuff them with an oregano/minced garlic/olive oil marinated feta and calamata. olive slice. With all that being said....WHAT THE HELL is up with meatballs with grape jelly? I've never heard of it and it sounds well...not so great. Are they sweet meatballs?

                                                                                                                                          11 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: rHairing

                                                                                                                                            Most BBQ sauces include a sweet element; grape jelly is an easy crockpot toss in that reduces to a really nice glaze.

                                                                                                                                            http://makelifedelicious.com/2010/12/...

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                                                                                                              the sauce is grape jelly and chili sauce together in the crock pot with mini meatballs, surprisingly tasty... but i first had it about 25 yrs ago; maybe the idea is played out by this time?

                                                                                                                                            2. re: rHairing

                                                                                                                                              Glad someone mentioned the meatball thing. I was a little confused myself. Sounds awful. And the cold spinach dip in the hollowed out rye was my ex-gf's go to. It was so good that when we broke up, people kept asking me to bring it.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: jhopp217

                                                                                                                                                It's usually not just grape jelly. It's a combo of chili sauce or BBQ sauce with some grape jelly added in.

                                                                                                                                              2. re: rHairing

                                                                                                                                                Homemade hummus is totally different from what most people think of as hummus. Just like when there was nothing but canned or jarred salsa available. Nobody knew any better.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: rHairing

                                                                                                                                                  Am I the only Chowhound who was brought up with "Don't knock it 'til you try it." ?

                                                                                                                                                  All this anti-grape jelly meatball talk is making me want to go out and buy some grape jelly so I can try out this dish.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: prima

                                                                                                                                                    I've had some really grim ones (frozen meatballs plunked in the crockpot with equal parts chili sauce and grape jelly), but I've also had ones that I didn't hate. The meatballs have to be very firm so they don't just fall to mush in the sauce, but honestly they're not bad if they're made well.

                                                                                                                                                    The idea of them is perfectly understandable. It's like a reeeeeally lowbrow version of any roasted meat with a gastrique or fruit mustard or something. ;)

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: LauraGrace

                                                                                                                                                      Is there a way to pimp up the meatballs? Use veal? Small batch Wine Jelly?

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: GraydonCarter

                                                                                                                                                        Siracha?

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: GraydonCarter

                                                                                                                                                          I adore a veal-pork combo for meatballs. With shallots maybe? Yum.

                                                                                                                                                          And now I want to make plum wine jelly like my mother used to make, and yes, I bet that would be fantastic. The basic idea of the sauce is that it's sweet and tangy, so... wine jelly, a splash of a nicer vinegar, maybe a gourmet-ish ketchup, but still ketchup to keep it from being too highbrow. ;)

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: prima

                                                                                                                                                        I`m with you!

                                                                                                                                                    2. I echo those tired of the spinach dip and grape jelly meatballs. Am surprised nobody has mentioned the "buffalo ranch chicken dip" which is very ubiquitous where I live. Also the velveeta/can of salsa dip in a mini crock pot. And yes, the dry, nasty crudite tray from the grocery. Awful.

                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: rockandroller1

                                                                                                                                                        I first though Buffalo Ranch Chicken Dip! I really never understood that.

                                                                                                                                                      2. For a European perspective: If I never go to another party with mini cocktail wieners; olives of any kind; cubes of cheese; deviled eggs; pate with cornichons; tuna with mayonnaise smeared on little toasts; or chips, I'll be a happy woman. I get that not everyone cooks, but is it so bloody hard to buy good party snacks somewhere??? No, it isn't, especially in Belgium where I live where every restaurant will sell you what they've got for "importer" (take out), and there are a zillion fancy food supply stores within a stone's throw anywhere.

                                                                                                                                                        For my parties Food & Wine is my go-to place for great recipes for party snacks. There's a million on their website on my "to do" list, but I usually make red pepper gougères from Food & Wine, pâte feuilletée pinwheels (with parma ham, basil and gruyere), little cups of either chestnut soup (winter) or corn soup (summer), also from Food & Wine; and for cold appetizers, I'll buy pork or rabbit rillettes, little gray shrimps in endive cups or just buy foie gras and a great baguette and be done with it. I'm still waiting to unleash the whole "slider" phenomenon on my Belgian friends, they would love little burgers.

                                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: LaMaisonSacre

                                                                                                                                                          What you mention as the European perspective overdone party snacks is also true for Chile: potato chips, cheese cubes, cocktail-type wieners, olives, mayonnaise as the dip, maybe little canapes. This is often seen as classy cocktail party food.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: LaMaisonSacre

                                                                                                                                                            And I'd commit a minor felony for a tray consisting of good olives, nice cheese, pate, and pickles.... All of those are hard to find where I am - expensive, imported, and generally not all that nice (think jarred olives with pimento and mild cheddar as specialty items).

                                                                                                                                                          2. Back when Y2K was gonna bring the world as we knew it to a screeching halt... BIL was a computer programmer for a big Philly area company. He HAD to work new years eve... at something like $1500!! And if anything had gone wrong... MORE big $$! He and my sister had no plans for any serious revelling... 3 yo at home. She threw a "sleep-over". A few rules Ya HADDA arrive in pjs and ya hadda bring something that was NOT typical for a get together.

                                                                                                                                                            NO onion dip! No veggies with ranch dressing.

                                                                                                                                                            Niece was about 17-18 at the time and TOTALLY embarassed that I walked into a place to retrieve a platter of crab claws in gree & purple pjs and slippers.

                                                                                                                                                            I brought a pretty good liver pate... homemade. Also escargot... swimming in garlic and butter. SIL cooked a killer chateau briand... including a minor FIRE in her stove?!?

                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: kseiverd

                                                                                                                                                              Sounds quite memorable!

                                                                                                                                                            2. Quinoa salad. Bah.
                                                                                                                                                              Crap carrots and other supermarket veg

                                                                                                                                                              1. Used to have a friend who threw an annual 4th of July party. His apartment had a great view of the fireworks. He would have a large bowl of chex mix, a pineapple studded with ham and cheese rolls (oscar meyer and kraft singles) with a pimento olive on colored toothpicks, some discount nuts, ruffles - always stale by the time we got there- with clam dip or avocado dip from the supermarket, and croissant sandwiches from the place down the street that he bought early that morning and were really soggy by the time we got started. Everyone always ate before we went to Rich's party.

                                                                                                                                                                Rich passed away a couple of years ago, 4th of July just isn't the same - and i'd gladly pluck ham and cheese rolls off a pineapple to be able to see him again. How sad that so many people are invited to so many parties that they tire of what is being served.

                                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                                  This goes to show, that it isn't always about the food, sometimes it's about the people.

                                                                                                                                                                  Maybe in his memory you could host a party include some of his old standbys and then dare yourself and others to come up with an elevated chow worthy dish using those as the inspiration.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                                    I am sorry you miss your friend. It isn't the end of the world if the party food is boring or not up to par. You say how sad that people tire of certain foods and yet you admit that you and your friends would eat before you attended this man's party so you would not have to eat what he provided. Perhaps you regret this now?

                                                                                                                                                                    I started this because I want people to make an effort and not give in to doing the same things all of the time. For example why not a cracker topped with goat cheese and some hot pepper jelly instead of pouring cocktail sauce over a brick of cream cheese or serving those tasteless sanded down mini carrots or making yet another artichoke spinach dip?

                                                                                                                                                                    A dish of mixed olives is also simple. Not everything has to be elaborate.

                                                                                                                                                                    We can all be good guests and be polite by eating whatever our hosts prepare. I am just trying to encourage people to be good hosts and think outside the box. Maybe go the extra step for their guests.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. My rule is, never serve anything that you need to explain (this is a carrot cake but I used cardamom instead of cinnamon and nutmeg, and I used Mascarpone instead of cream cheese and also decided to see what Lurpak would add...). The larger the gathering, the more I adhere to this rule. I don't think people want to be challenged or confronted with processing information, esp at wedding receptions, etc. where the point is to be social. Plus there's a really good possibility that your efforts will be ignored and that last thing I want is to spend kitchen time making something whose specialness won't be appreciated. Now, when I host meals or parties, all bets are off--people know they're going to get interesting stuff. But parties where not everyone knows everywhere, where there's likely a wide range of tastes and also possible food restrictions? I always play it safe.

                                                                                                                                                                    And yes, I've eaten my own weight in little meatballs and weiners and shrimp, every kind of commercially-made and homemade dip on the planet, jello, nuclear orange things with processed cheese that doesn't need to be refrigerated, etc. But I'm with family, or friends, ,or co-workers, and that's the point.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. Well, I would love to be invited to so many parties that I got tired of the food, but in my world people are so exhausted from working and raising kids that no one has any energy to host parties anymore. At any rate, when I do get to go to parties I generally bring some type of interesting salad in a large bowl that I can dress at the last second to avoid sogginess. Two memorable events were the guy who brought a roasted chicken straight from the supermarket still in the greasy plastic container and the lady that brought a bean salad in a bowl the size of a teacup (to share, really?).

                                                                                                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Kat

                                                                                                                                                                        Hee hee hee, we've had a few people bring the really small containers of something to a party before. By the end of the party it appears untouched. I don't know if people are worried to take too much or if it's just because people don't like it. lol!!

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Crockett67

                                                                                                                                                                          I've seen this before. I think it's a bit of both.

                                                                                                                                                                          Perception probably is that A. Someone that brings such a small amount didn't have the money or time to make a larger dish and that B. People are afraid to take too much and C. that if they didn't care to put the effort into a larger dish that it probably doesn't taste that good anyway.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Crockett67

                                                                                                                                                                            For a pot luck, a coworker brought in a quart of soup from the deli...for 75 people.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Kat

                                                                                                                                                                            < bean salad in a bowl the size of a teacup

                                                                                                                                                                            At potluck suppers everyone brings a big casserole, big enough to feed a family. But mathematically speaking, if everyone brought enough food to share that was equivalent to the portion an average person would eat, you wouldn't need those big dishes. The guy who volunteered to bring Pepsi, well I don't know what to tell him. I guess the problem with my proposition is that some people don't bring anything, and some people just bring paper plates and napkins. So even if each person brought enough for themself and one other person, it probably wouldn't be enough. Why is that?

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: GraydonCarter

                                                                                                                                                                              At least in my experience , that is planned out.

                                                                                                                                                                              No one just brings pepsi, they may bring non alcoholic drinks. - juice, tea, and sodas
                                                                                                                                                                              There is a person who brings paper products and utensils, brings paper plates, napkins, plastic wear, and cups

                                                                                                                                                                              I don't see a problem with people buying store bought items to participate, if you are inviting them, then they are friends and worth the company.

                                                                                                                                                                              Something I'm not weary of seeing is a vegetarian dish - for all that are health conscious.

                                                                                                                                                                              If I was in charge of a potluck I would make sure that someone was willing to make a dessert instead of just buying something from the store.

                                                                                                                                                                              Also the person that brings salad needs to make it count. Iceberg lettuce with tomatoes onion and hidden valley ranch is not a salad to me

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                                                                                                                                                                Depends. Even a lack luster salad is welcome at some.

                                                                                                                                                                                When at the University we had a few potlucks and it was pretty much split by gender. The women would bring a dish while very few men did. The guys would mostly just bring their appetites. Ah but at least they were very appreciative and let you know.

                                                                                                                                                                          3. I don't really like chicken wings as appetizers, or a large variety of the boxed appetizers that require heating up. I like a simple appetizer at a dinner, e.g. a small portion of pate sliced served over toast, with onions, tomatoes on the side. A simple homemade hot appetizer for a large party.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. I try very hard to be appreciative when somebody puts on a party and goes to all that trouble, but a couple of ubiquitous party-prone :) foods do stick in my craw just a little bit. I have to say though, that all the deviled eggs and smokies in jelly and meatballs, etc., sound just as good to my obviously not-Chow-worthy palate as truffled Snipe's tongues with minnow caviar. So to keep with the topic: those supermarket veg. trays. I don't like plastic. In fact I hate plastic. So the fact that they come displayed in a huge horrible plastic container (black bottom, clear top) is their first offense, even before eating. Then there's the fact that they have absolutely zero taste; second strike. (It's not that difficult to cut up some crudite, folks... :) heading smackdab around the bases for the third strike is the fact that due to their lack of taste, nobody really eats it. So, IMO, those could just......go. I'm also getting tired of the weird and weirderer hummus-type creations: COME ON! Lentils pureed with spices and a tiny bit of tahini is NOT hummus; it is lentil dip or spread. It's great to be creative, but the classics are all good and when too much tampering is applied, they become something else entirely and should be called what they are. (Yes, I'm a prescriptivist.) And finally: things that drip and stain one's clothing.

                                                                                                                                                                              7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                                                                                I agree with all of this mamachef.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                                                                                  at the risk of being repetitive, I offer the idea of thinly sliced pepperoni cooked in tomato sauce until they "melt" into the sauce (several hours in a crockpot) served on a buffet with 3-4 inch bakery rolls pre cut so a spoonful of pepperoni and sauce fits well enough not to drip onto clothing, etc. always finished at whatever party i host.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: betsydiver

                                                                                                                                                                                    And the supermarket dessert trays!

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: jbsiegel

                                                                                                                                                                                      Although I have to admit that my kids ADORE those supermarket frosted sugar cookies.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jbsiegel

                                                                                                                                                                                        Ugh. I hate those things. We have a holiday cookie exchange in the office each year, and someone always shows up with a tray of those. I'd rather bring extra homemade cookies to cover my non-baking coworkers, than seen them waste money and calories on those cookies.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: mpjmph

                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm totally with you...guess there's no explaining the tastes of those under 15! The funniest is that they think Chips Ahoy are good chocolate chip cookies. I guess it's time for me to whip up a real batch!

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: jbsiegel

                                                                                                                                                                                          As do I, mind you, not being much of cookie freak. My Food Services dept does a grand job with those cookies. And in the cafeteria, we have Otis Spunkmeyer cookies, which have to be the tastiest, most addictive cookies around. Not that big a cookie freak, but there are some superior examples.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. I'm not at all worried about it not going over well, but seeing as how some people are coming down or prepackaged or redundant and overused foods, I'm just curious about your folks thoughts on my bbq/party offering for a pool party I've been invited to this coming weekend.

                                                                                                                                                                                    I'll be bringing frozen store bought meatballs (angus beef, President's Choice which for those of you not in Canada who may not know, is a national grocery stores's brand). I'll be frying these frozen meatballs up, and then tossing and warming them up in my home made bbq sauce.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Frozen meatballs vs homemade bbq sauce. Would it meet your approval? Yay or nay?

                                                                                                                                                                                    9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Midknight

                                                                                                                                                                                      I'd eat 'em. But that being said, if you're going to the trouble of making homemade bbq sauce, why not just roll some meatballs while it's simmering? But please understand: this is neither an objection or a bringdown; just an observation. I've taken more than my share of shortcuts in my time and am still regarded as a pretty gosh-darned good cook by the people who eat my food. I think it's okay to cut corners on ease of preparation, but never on food quality. And re your meatballs - they pretty much ARE all about the sauce anyway, and I'm sure folks will love them. Prediction: dish goes home licked clean.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                                                                                        I prefer making my own meatballs, whether they be Italian or Swedish in their style. I have tried some frozen meatballs and generally I find them a bit bouncy or spongy to the bite. A quality I don't care for. I have to say that I have tried the mini-party balls from Trader Joes and have found them to be quite good. In a pinch I have mixed the General Tso's sauce and the Island Soyaki sauce together with the mini meatballs and it turned out ok.Coming from me this is a compliment as I am a from scratch kind of gal.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Midknight

                                                                                                                                                                                        My response, we all do our best in life. Some of the president's choice meatballs and entrees are really good. In an ideal world, yes, homemade is better. I am tired of the prepackaged entrees thats what this thread was about, however, if presented to me at a party, I would be happy to enjoy. I was taught that you eat what is in front of you, and always compliment the chef when at another person's house. I like the fact that you are making your own sauce, I'm sure it will be good.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                                                                                                                                          I can't help but ask........Are you going for the food????........Or for the company and fun of friends gathering to share whatever food is there and each others company??? It's not a contest to see who can out-do whom.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Nanzi

                                                                                                                                                                                            Not quite sure why you are asking this. I go to any party for the opportunity to be with friends and family. I also happen to be the one that kicks in and helps to cook and clean up afterwards. I appreciate any hospitality offered to me and am always encouraging and appreciative of my invite. I thought my thread was encouraging. I responded to what I do not like however I do not set my standard on others. Food is food. I have worked with homeless hungry people, I do not take food for granted and consider it a BLESSING.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Midknight

                                                                                                                                                                                          Nay. You can make way better meatballs than anything PC offers. A good bottled BBQ sauce is fine, but meatballs made with real meat, vegetables and spices will have a much more pleasant taste and texture. Meatballs do not require exceptional cooking skills, just a couple of hours of your time.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: 1sweetpea

                                                                                                                                                                                            Maybe this individual does not have a couple of hours of time 1sweetpea! He or she is trying to personalize the meat with their own house sauce and making an effort to contribute to the party in her own way.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                                                                                                                                              Fair enough.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: 1sweetpea

                                                                                                                                                                                              I disagree about the BBQ sauce. I've never found a bottles one that I think is even okay. But I think PC meatballs are okay. They aren't great, but they are fine, IMHO.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Since I started this thread I thought I would just kick in some thoughts. I think some folks have the impression that because we might wish for something less repetitive that we are not grateful for what is served. That is not the point I am trying to make at all. It seems that once an item appears at a party, let's say buffalo chicken dip, that once that recipe catches on every pot luck or celebration will have that on the menu. The same with the artichoke dip. Then the commercial versions pop up which are often very salty or artificially flavored. After five or ten years of these things isn't it understandable that a person might wish for something else? I have never really liked the artichoke dip and I have a friend whom we have dinner with quite often. She has been making that dip as a starter for about 7 years. I politely and discreetly don't eat it because I really do not like it. Simple. I guess she likes it and that is fine.

                                                                                                                                                                                            I am just the kind of person that tries to changes things up. Maybe my guests don't care but that is just me.

                                                                                                                                                                                            It's not that anything has to be overly fancy or expensive. I just like to cook so I like to try and make a variety of items. I like to please my guests with something different. For example, this might seem exotic to some but it is not expensive at all. It uses cream cheese, smoked oysters and cherry tomatoes. You mix the cream cheese and chopped oysters together maybe with some worcestershire, or chives or lemon juice or horseradish...whatever you like and stuff the scooped out tomatoes with them. Something fairly easy and probably costs you 2 or 3 bucks for the lot. So instead of putting the brick of cream cheese on a plate and dumping something over it maybe mix the ingredients into the cream cheese and serve it in a nice little dish. Maybe mix up some cream cheese with a little chopped scallion and some sweet chilli sauce. Easy and cheap and not the usual.

                                                                                                                                                                                            As for the pre cut veggies in the supermarket: Not cheap at all and not usually very good. Especially those so-called baby carrots. Better to to it yourself even if it does take a little time.

                                                                                                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: twodales

                                                                                                                                                                                              I like to keep it simple as well. Some tomato varieties with fleur de sel is a lovely appetizer for me. I do tire of the old standard and often cannot handle the additives in prepackaged food, so I do prefer homemade. I did make a comment that food was a blessing but it was in response to a thread not to your original post.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                                                                                                                                                No Ruthie, there have been several comments made where folks seem to think people are ungrateful, so I just wanted to clear that up was all. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: twodales

                                                                                                                                                                                                Would you agree at some level some of the repetitiveness you describe is by those who lack the time to put in some preparation and effort? And I truly mean this in a non-judgmental way. My wife is a professor at a large university in the Upper Midwest and we get a far greater and more homemade diversity of food from her graduate students at potluck-type get together(s) than we have if we have our colleagues and friends over for the same type of party, in which over half of them often bring things already prepared from Whole Foods, Sam's Club/Costco, and/or the local grocers' deli departments.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: hawkeyeui93

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I think there are two kinds of "cocktail parties". The first is having less than a dozen people over with a planned wine/cocktail list, etc.. Then it's much easier to make a spread of tiny, elegant treats and you know they will be eaten in a reasonable time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  On the other hand, I go to a large number of parties where 40+ people will show up. We all tend to over-invite and it ends up being pot luck. Not many people are going to make deviled eggs or things in little cups of endive or whatever to serve a sizable crowd. And these are people who know good food, are excellent cooks, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  We bring things that are OK sitting on a dining room table for several hours and do not require use of the host's kitchen or elaborate plating or serving. Dips, things you can eat with a toothpick, etc. are simple and tasty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sure, things look better on a nice platter, but sometimes I don't want to have to deal with reclaiming my platter and I get something plastic and disposable at the party store because then I can leave when I want and if my food isn't all eaten, I don't have to try to get another plate or toss it or wrap it or whatever.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Honestly, one of the better party decisions is when people have everyone chip in for the taco truck!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: dalaimama

                                                                                                                                                                                                    From our friends and family, I am often asked to do the same two things over and over. One, is make my fresh salsa when my garden's bounty arrives. The other is to make Texas-Style Brisket that I learned to make when I lived in West Texas for thirteen years, which I generally make when we are doing the meat for a large potluck/get-together. I certainly appreciate any and everything brought to our homes by our guests, but I do enjoy the diversity we sometimes get from my wife's multicultural graduate students/colleagues.

                                                                                                                                                                                              3. Maybe I don't go to enough parties or invite people over enough to get tired of those appetizers. I enjoy them all - cream cheese covered with salsa, onion dip, clam dip, guacamole, spinach dip, spinach artie dip, li'smokies in bbq sauce, meatballs in bbq sauce, mini quiches, mini turnovers, deviled eggs, relish trays... etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                However, I don't like are the mass produced veggie trays and cookie trays.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                                                                                  +1, unless one is in food snob mode, which doesn't even count those mass produced trays, they tend to be gross (although I"ve tasted some god ones, they're in the minority).

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                                                                                    +1, except for the deli potato salad.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. I'm not tired of any of them. If it's something i don't like, I won't have any. But stuff I like transcends many culinary trends over at least a century.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I am over the "tiny serving vessel" school of appetizers: Chinese soup spoons, shot glasses, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      If you want "upscale", you can't beat peaches wrapped in Serrano ham. Also, skewers with wedges of home grown tomato with a bit of salt and pepper on it. (Skewers and toothpicks do not violate the "tiny vessel" rule as they are easy to eat from!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Like many posters, most of the cocktail parties I go to are pot luck on appetizers and focus more on the friends than the food. We all tend to over invite people and it's a pain to do fancy for 40. People bring things that are quick and easy and that they know will be eaten.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I make a veggie dip using sour cream, dehydrated veggies (not soup mix but the plain veggies you can find in bulk sections), and harissa. It's familiar but fun and yes, the dehydrated veggies work better than fresh because they don't make the dip watery and they provide a bit of texture.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. I just read through this whole thing (fascinating!) and I'm surprised nobody's brought up any sort of crescent roll creations. Like mini weenies in crescent rolls, a few slices of pepperoni and a bit of cheese in crescents, you name it...
                                                                                                                                                                                                        They just are always undercooked on the bottom, or not cooked through, and generally soggy. And I don't like the sort of sweetness in the dough to begin with.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Sorry if I've offended any crescent creators, but if I never see one of these things again, I'll be thrilled!

                                                                                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I haven't seen these treats in a while, but I recently saw a Pillsbury ad campaign touting the might crescent meat roll-ups over the weekend on TV ...

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: hawkeyeui93

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Oh, and there's a recent boom in all sorts of pull apart breads, sweet and savory, made from a bunch of crescents all stuck together. I blame Pinterest.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I've tried a crescent roll, ranch dressing, cheese and crumbled bacon appetizer.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            It was so-so. I'm not a fan of ranch dressing. The app was cooked properly and had a lot of potential, if it weren't for the ranch dressing inside the roll.