Thursday, May 24, 2012

Awesome Appetizer Recipes in Action

This past weekend, Cory and I took it upon ourselves to throw our very own birthday party. That’s right – our birthdays are two days apart (I’m older!!) and we wanted to celebrate with as many people as possible.

We played it off as a combined “Sunday Fun-Day” and “Belated Housewarming” get together. It was a PERFECT day. The weather was sunny, not a cloud in the sky, with temperatures pushing 80 degrees. We have an outstanding porch off of our apartment, and that was really the place to be.

For me, this day was extra fun because I finally got to cook for a large group of people and share my goodies with everyone. Reviews were GREAT and I couldn’t be happier. We don’t have a grill, so I decided to pull a small selection of my favorite appetizers that I have seen made on the Food Network and give them a whirl myself.

Here are some links to the recipes. I followed them very closely, for the most part. I will share any additions, subtractions, or tips following each link.

Giada DeLaurentiis’ Meatballs a la Pizzaiola

Holy. Yum. I watched Giada make these on her show (I love the way this lady cooks!) and I knew I had to try them. This was my second go-around with the recipe, and it was just as delicious as I remember. The idea behind these meatballs is that they have all the flavors of a pizza built right inside! I decided to nix the red pepper flakes because (a) I just don’t have them and (b) as I have said many times, spicy foods aren’t my favorites. I had at least 30 meatballs from the measurements listed in this recipe, perfect for our crowd of 20+.

Alton Brown’s Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Who DOESN’T love a good “Spin Dip?” As far as I know, this is a favorite among many. This recipe is so simple it’s ridiculous. And, really, it feels so much better than putting out a jarred dip for your guests. One thing I had to compromise on here was the artichoke hearts. For the life of me I could NOT find frozen artichoke hearts. Luckily, in that sneaky aisle of canned veggies, there on the top shelf sat canned artichoke hearts. I drained these well and still boiled them to get rid of that awkward can flavor. So much else was going on in here, I doubt anyone noticed! This list of ingredients looks daunting – cream cheese, sour cream, AND mayo all in one? Look – here’s a little secret. Use the low fat or fat free versions of any two of the aforementioned carb-filled condiments. Still delicious but secretly a little more guilt-free.

Giada DeLaurentiis' Tilapia Fish Tacos with Arugula

I would definitely have to say that these nuggets of joy were probably most well received along with the Spin Dip. I wasn't sure how many of my guests liked fish, so I decided to do one batch of tilapia taco bites and one batch of chicken taco bites (using none other than the trusty Purdue Short Cuts!) I also mixed a little too much dressing in there so I decided not to do the wasabi cream. Also, to keep the wonton wrappers as crispy as possible for as long as possible, I lined the bottoms with a small piece of romaine lettuce.

Ina Garten's Cheese Straws

These were a delicious addition to the table. I didn't want to have just regular bread to try to fill out the menu, so my curiosity peaked when I saw Ina make these for one of her fabulous get togethers on her show, "Barefoot Contessa." If you like cheese, you will love these. Made from puff pastry and your favorite blend of cheeses, it's pretty hard to mess these up. The best part about them is that after you twirl them, they become a great visual for the table spread as well!

Beyond what I made, all of our friends were generous enough to bring some snacks as well! We had a veggie platter, cheese and crackers, my friend Meghan's homemade salsa (SO FRESH AND YUMMY), cookies, candy, and a precious birthday cake from Cory's sister. Check this out:
It was lemony,  fresh, and DELICIOUS!

In case you missed it ... a close up of the food table!

I loved having everyone over, and I think everyone had a great time! ALL the food went. Have you thrown a party recently? What did your menu look like?

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