Forks in the Road: Food and Travel in Central PA - A Community Blog

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7 Surprisingly Simple Party Dishes

Written by Adrienne Wolter, Community Blogger | Jun 2, 2014 8:14 AM

Being the host or "hostess with the mostess" is a lot of pressure. Not only does your home need to be virtually spotless, but you also have to consider how you present ourselves and keep the party as smooth and enjoyable as possible. However, to be a truly successful host, one of the biggest problems you face is preparing mouth-watering dishes that everyone will like. You constantly wrestle with the presentation and of course, the flavor.

How do you go about pleasing all of your guests while saving ourselves unnecessary stress? Of course, you don't want to throw together something at the last minute, but let's face it, you always have a to-do list that is miles long. Sometimes, the last minute is the only chance you have to put something together. Whether you are hosting a party or even bringing a dish to a party, it's okay not to slave in the kitchen for hours.

Preparing a party dish doesn't have to take forever and begin from scratch. What really matters is that you don't compromise on flavor and presentation. After all, that's what your guests care about, now the hours you spent laboring over a dish. So, why not start with a few of these simple dishes that will have your guests gawking over how long it must have taken you to prepare such an exquisite dish. Remember, what they don't know won't kill them.

Pick a Little, Talk a Little

1. Spicy Sweet Pretzel Mix

Have you ever wondered why people always flock to the nuts and pretzel mixes for that salty or sweet fix? Why not have the best of both worlds with this unique spin on the "pub mix" with the Spicy Sweet Pretzel Mix. Just add some simple ingredients like almonds and pretzels with some cayenne pepper powder and brown sugar. Instantly, you will have a little snack that will tithe your guests over during introductions and a drink.

2. Buffalo Chicken Dip

Don't let this seemingly spicy facade fool you, this Buffalo Chicken Dip is perfect for the lovers of all things spicy and the ones that like a mild spice. You can choose the amount of heat in this dish, but always keep in mind your goal is to accommodate as many of your guests that you can. With a little mixing of cheese, chunked chicken, ranch and hot sauce, you can't get any simpler then mixing it all together and baking. Bake while you complete the finishing touches to your party and serve warm.

3. Tomato Basil Mozzarella Salad

Want something fresh for a summer gathering? The Tomato Basil Mozzarella Salad is a beautiful addition to a party. Not only does it taste refreshing and light, but it's bursting with color and vibrancy that would decorate and adorn that solid wood furniture set of yours. Your guests will find this dish the epitome of sophistication.

The Best in Comfort: Friends and Food

4. Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese

Guests want to feel comfortable and welcome to your party. During a good conversation or spending time reconnecting with friends and family, comfort food is what we typically flock to when choosing what we eat at parties. Instead of spending a lot of time prepping to make a "to die for" macaroni and cheese dish like grandma makes, try the speedy Crockpot Mac and Cheese version. Just add the ingredients and let the slow cooker do the work. That way you kill two birds with one stone. You can cook and clean at the same time. How's that for multitasking?

5. Seven Layer Taco Salad

At a party, there is always a guest that is health-conscious. Typically, we want to gorge on party food or desserts and heavy dishes. However, why not think of all your guests and serve up a fairly healthy yet hearty dish. Believe it or not, but Dr. Oz has a wonderful Fat-Fighting Seven Layer Taco Salad that is meant to get your metabolism rolling. Plus, it's absolutely delicious. Grab some whole-wheat tortilla chips and go to town.

Getting A Sweet Fix

6. Dunkaroo Dip

Maybe you need to serve up a dish to satisfy children at your party. Or, you have a lot of "big kids" that have a sweet tooth? Remember those Dunkaroos snack packs that go into school lunches? Well, this is the amped up version of that delightful icing and cookie fix. With a simple Funfetti Cake Mix, you can recreate this treat and follow this Dunkaroo Dip recipe to make enough to feed a whole party. Go out and buy some vanilla wafers for the larger than life version of this snack food classic.


Photo by Raj Taneja

7. Chocolate-Caramel Fondue

Okay, so maybe you don't have one of those amazing chocolate fountains. You don't need all the bells and whistles to have a comparable dish like this Chocolate-Caramel Fondue recipe. Just a simple addition of minimal ingredients and you have the sophistication and smoothness of chocolate and caramel together. Talk about heaven. Serve up your fondue with some apple slices, strawberries, marshmallows and other sweet treats for your guests to sit and pick.

By trying one of these simple recipes, not only are you saving yourself hours of kitchen prep time, but you are also impressing your guests with what seem like elaborate party dishes. Don't worry about having to cook during your party either. Keep in mind these dishes take about a half hour or less to prepare, so use your time wisely and work on your priorities. Step out of the kitchen and enjoy the party and your guests. They'll be so happy to see you!

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