Entries in easy party food (4)



Like most people, I love anything with pasta and Parmesan cheese. Add a skillet to the equation and you have something pretty fantastic. Make this for dinner, as a side dish or anytime you have leftover pasta. Perfect party food: easy, cheap and always a crowd favorite. You’ll love it.  

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Skill Level: Easy   Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes




1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove garlic, smashed

12 ounces angel hair pasta, cooked until al dente and drained

3 eggs

1 ½ cups Parmesan cheese, grated

1 teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Cook the pasta according to package directions but just shy of done. You want it to be al dente. Drain. Toss with ½ teaspoon olive oil.Put the eggs in a large bowl and whisk them with salt, pepper and the garlic. Add the pasta and the cheese. Toss to coat. You want this to be slightly soupy. If it isn't, add some heavy cream or milk.

Put  olive oil in a cast iron or oven-proof skillet over medium high heat. When it gets hot, add the smashed garlic clove and let it cook 1-2 minutes but don’t let it burn. Remove from heat. Use the back of a knife to turn the garlic clove into a paste. Mix it into the pasta.

Turn the heat down to medium. Carefully spin the hot skillet to distribute the olive oil. Pour the pasta mixture into the hot pan. Let it cook 3 minutes or until browned. Flip the cake and brown the other side. The cake is done when the eggs are set.

Serve with more grated Parmesan cheese and grated Italian parsley.


Party One Bite Appetizer: Gougères a.k.a. Cheese Puffs

There are lots of easy appetizers I have in my arsenal of recipes but this one is one of my favorites... Gougères, the fancy French name for cheese puffs, are simple to make and you can freeze them and reheat them later so that makes them perfect party food in my book. Based on a classic French recipe for cream puffs but without the sugar, this base recipe can be used for all sorts of things: make them a bit larger, slice in half and use as a bun for a tea sandwich, for example. With sugar, it becomes a cream puff when you fill it with custard. Perfect for just about any menu- make a ton and freeze some for later... they are best served warm. Addictive, in fact!


1 1/2 cups water

1 stick butter, cubed

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

6 large eggs, beaten

1 1/4 cups shredded extra sharp Cheddar cheese

pinch cayenne pepper

1 1/4 t coarse ground black pepper

1 1/2 t coarse sea salt

Prepare a sheet pan with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Put the water into a large pan over high heat. Add the butter and bring to a rolling boil. Remove from the heat. Add the flour all at once, stirring until the mixture becomes a smooth, thick paste with no lumps. Add in the beaten eggs, a little at a time, stirring vigorously after each addition until incorporated and the dough is not slippery.

Stir in cayenne, black pepper, and the cheese. Put the dough in a pastry bag or a ziptop bag and push it down into the corner. Snip the end.   

Pipe the dough into 2" mounds. Use a bit of water on your finger to tap down the top slightly so the tip won't burn. Sprinkle the top of each with sea salt. Bake at 400 for about 30 minutes or until dry and browned. Serve warm.

Leave off the cheese and you can make these to stuff with all sorts of goodies. Chicken salad comes to mind.....



Labor-Free Labor Day Party Ideas: One Pot Seafood Boil

Hey everyone! I just got back from a great weekend in Charleston with friends and am inspired to try a little Lowcountry cuisine for Labor Day. A Lowcountry Boil is what's on my mind. It's the end of the summer so I want my party food to be really simple. What could be easier than putting everything in one pot to cook and serve? No labor for this Labor Day party! I love it!

A good boil starts with the freshest seafood. I think you can put just about any kind of shellfish in your pot---- so go to the market and get what is the freshest but traditionally it is made with shrimp and clams. And here in the South- Old Bay Seasoning is a must with shrimp. You can usually find it at the grocery or ask the guy at the fish counter. You can cook your boil on the stove, on the grill or over a fire.

One Pot Lowcountry Boil

5 pounds whole fresh shrimp (in the shell)

3 dozen small clams in shell-optional (make sure the shells are closed when you purchase!)

3 pounds smoked sausage (I like Hilshire Farms Smoked Beef Sausage or Hot Chipotle Smoked Sausage)

3 pounds small red potatoes, skin on-- cut them in half if they are large

3 large white onions, cut in quarters

5 pounds of fresh corn-on-the-cob cut into 4 inch pieces

1/2 stick butter

2 lemons, sliced

6 cloves garlic, finely minced

Old Bay seasoning to taste (add a little at a time)

1 bottle of your favorite beer (optional)

Salt & Pepper to taste

Put the potatoes and onion along with all of the seasonings (garlic, butter, lemon, too)  in a huge stockpot with enough water to cover and add  the beer. Put the lid on and simmer until almost done. Add corn and sausage and simmer until the corn is almost done. Add the shrimp and clams. Cook until the clams just open and  the shrimp turns pink. Don't keep cooking once your seafood is done--- it will get tough.

For patriotic decorations and backyard party games- check out this blog post from Memorial Day! 

You can get tons of great party decorations from Oriental Trading Company and they can still get them to you in time for your Labor Day bash!


Cheap is the New Chic: DIY Buffet Bars for Your Next Party

So many of you are planning weddings, birthday parties (I have my Dad's 80th next week) anniversary parties, bridal showers and graduation parties right now, I am getting daily emails asking for help and ideas.  

One easy and affordable idea for parties of any kind are DIY food stations. Caterers have used build-it-yourself food and beverage bars for a long time. These DIY bars are affordable, fun and interactive, too! Coffee and dessert bars have been popular forever but now we're seeing everything from mashed potato bars to cupcake bars. Guests love to customize their dish. That's why ice cream shops with all of those mix-ins are so popular; people can get exactly what they want. Here are some ideas for your own DIY Buffet Bar:DIY is easy wtih all of these toppings and mix-ins at a kid's party. Photo: Arden Photography

  • Pizza Bar   
  • Pasta Bar
  • Risotto Bar
  • Soup Bar
  • Ice Cream Bar
  • Bloody Mary Bar
  • Gumbo Bar
  • Baked Potato Bar
  • Candy Bar
  • Martini Bar
  • Hot Chocolate Bar
  • Hot Fudge Sundae Bar

Start with your base. Add containers of your favorite toppings or mix-ins. Guests can add what they like to create their dish their way! Tell us your own ideas for a DIY buffet bar!