Thursday, February 24, 2011

It's Party time!!!!!!!

I love to give to have friends over, and as a family we love to "celebrate"; whether it's holiday or birthdays (this weekend is "Roxannepalooza"..."Dannypalooza" will be here before you know it!!)

Entertaining on a budget can be want to go "all out" but your budget (and good sense) tell you not to. Honestly....if you're getting together with family, or close friends...they aren't expecting you to break the bank...good food, family, friends are enough and having these things doesn't mean you have to go broke. Shop for bargains at the store..check the clearance aisles...have your friends each bring an ingredient and as they arrive put their contribution in a dish on the counter. When everyone's arrived you can then have a pizza, omelet, frittata, or fondue party. If it's a morning get-together, you can even do a waffle bar!!

Use what you already own. Pretend you have no money in your account and look around your house for ideas. You can use cut flowers from your own garden for decoration. Party favors can even be sample items you've either gotten free in the mail, or previously bought at a Dollar Store or Target's "One Spot" (two of MY personal favorite places!!) Be flexible in what you are serving, don't stress, don't be afraid to ask for help and you can have a lot of fun getting together with those you love!

Here's a couple ideas for some nice "get together" snacks

Creamy Greek Feta Dip
1/2 c. low fat Greek Yogurt
1/2 c. reduced fat (or you can use regular) mayonnaise
1/4 c. crumbled feta cheese
2 tsp chopped fresh dill (or 1 tsp. dried)
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp white or black pepper.

Serve with crudites, crackers, or pita chips.

Mini Fruit "Tartlets"

Cookie Base (to save time, you can use a plain flat butter cookie..but if you want to completely do it yourself, here's the recipe)
2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
8 T. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 c. sugar
1 large egg plus another large egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 c. heavy cream
1/4 c. sugar
1 11 oz jar of lemon curd (you can find this in the "ethnic (or foreign) food section of your local store)
2 pints assorted fruit, such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and kiwifruit
1/2 c. apricot jam

Make cookies: Mix flour, baking powder and salt. Beat butter and sugar until light; 2 minutes. Beat in egg, yolk and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture. Knead into a ball. Divide in half, form into disks. Wrap each in plastic and chill for 2 hours. Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8 in thickness. Cut into 2 inch rounds. Transfer to baking sheets, leave 1 inch between cookies. Gather scraps and re-roll and cut out more cookies. Repeat with second disk. Bake cookies until edges are golden, 12 minutes. Let cool.

Make topping: Beat cream with sugar until stiff peaks form. Sir 1/3 of whipped cream into lemon curd to lighten. Fold in remaining whipped cream. Keep chilled. Just before serving, top each cookie with a teaspoonful of lemon mixture. Divide fruit among tarts. Melt jam in a pan over medium heat. Add 1 T. of water, stir until liquid. Strain. Dab apricot mixture over fruit.

One of my most favorite things to have on hand for parties is a dish of "M&M's". Here's some fun facts on this VERY fun food:

M&M's were invented in 1940.

For 11 years, from 1976 to 1987, there were no red M&Ms.

Blue M&Ms were introduced in 1995.

There are 340 million M&M's produced daily.

M&Ms were taken along on the first space shuttle voyage in 1982. M&Ms are also part of the permanent space food exhibit at the Smithsonian Institute's National Air & Space Museum in Washington DC.

Estimated amount of glucose used by an adult human brain each day, expressed in M&Ms: 250.

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