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Appetizer suggestions for a grad student!

This weekend I am having a few girls over that I haven't seen in 10 years or so, and I need food/drinks suggestions! I recently moved back to the city where I spent my elementary school years for grad school, and I am having a few girls I knew eons ago over for drinks/appies before we head out a bar or pub. I am a big foodie and love to cook, but I am really worried about "over doing it" and making my guests uncomfortable (ie. I have been directly warned by my brother that I need to tone my cooking down for this event). Does anyone have any appetizer suggestions that are tasty but casual, and recommendations on how many varieties I should make? We are in our early to mid twenties, if that makes a difference, and I have easy access to an oven/stove top.

Thanks so much for your help!

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  1. I have a a recipe for Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salsa, that is very casual and easy. I get raves when I make it and, if you elimate roasting the corn in oil as I do, it makes it pretty low fat.. It makes a ton and I serve it with scoops and Margaritas.

    http://saffron215.blogspot.com/2011/0...

    1 Reply
    1. re: mcel215

      The salsa is a good idea, along with homemade guacamole and homemade chips. I bake the chips, easier and healthier.

      Food that everyone will recognize, but a little fancier

    2. Don't listen to you brother (I never listened to mine). I have never met anyone, in all of my 63 years, who objected to being served good food. If you don't want to overwhelm, hold the truffles, but 3 or 4 dishes, perhaps a dip with veggies, a charcuterie plate, maybe some spanakopita should please without freaking people out. I like mce's idea.

      1. Are you going out to drink or eat or both? If you're just going out to drink, I would go with substantial apps because you'll want something in your stomach - the variety and ingredients depend on your taste, of course, but make enough that you can actually make a meal of it. If you're heading to dinner, keep it light - crudites with a homemade dip, one canape of some sort and maybe a sweet.

        I agree with Pika that no one ever complains about being served good food, and in my experience ladies in their early-mid 20s are a VERY receptive audience. I threw a lot of wedding showers when I was that age and the girls were ALWAYS thrilled with tasty bites and pretty presentations.

        1. If it's really just a few girls (less than 5?), then a couple of items is probably fine. I would say partly depending on how long you expect to stay at your place before going out, and if you are gathering over dinner hour (then you should have heartier/more snacks), or this is just a starter before going out for dinner.

          Some simple hot item like puff pastry with mushroom duxelles and goat cheese rolled up in a spiral, sliced and baked would be nice. Then, perhaps a dip (doesn't have to be boring - maybe romesco?) or cheese plate - something interesting like Manchego with fig jam or quince paste, and some charcuterie would all be very nice, pretty simple, but different.

          Prosecco would be great to drink - bubbly would be a fun suprise for a festive reunion such as this, and it goes with everything!

          1 Reply
          1. re: gingershelley

            Great suggestions! I like the idea of a pintxos (San Sebastian small plates) cocktail party. A Spanish cava, inexpensive and festively bubbly, would be perfect. I would suggest making manchego w/ quince paste (membrillo) on crostini w/ a serrano ham or prosciutto and a simple mint oil gives. These give the impression of easy and casual but tastes amazing. Here's a link on CH to a recipe: http://www.chow.com/recipes/10444-ser...

            Round it out with marcona almonds and a crudite or salsa and you will enjoy the moment and still have room for dinner later.

            Have fun!

          2. +1 on not listening to the brother.

            Years ago, I had a 24/25 yr old colleague who loved to cook and everyone in the office (age range 22-42) always looked forward to her potluck contributions. I still remember a delicious sun-dried tomato/cream cheese/pesto torta she made & when I asked her about the creamy cheese, all she would tell me is that it was a 1:1 ratio of cream cheese to butter :)

            So, there's one idea :) Or may be artichoke dip with toasted baguette.