Hosting holiday parties. Do you love it or hate it?
Truth be told, I have a love-hate relationship when it comes to hosting. Because I'm a trained chef, I feel a lot of pressure to create awesome holiday appetizers and dinner party recipes. Don't get me wrong...I LOVE attending parties, but hosting just isn't my thing. First of all, I have ZERO sitting room in my apartment. Unless you'd like to sit on our coffee table or squish yourself into our 2-person love seat. I SUPPOSE you could find a spot on the cat condo if you're really hard up to visit my place
Secondly, I'm a horrible host, because I'm not a good mingler. I prefer to plant myself in the kitchen and whip up the party foods, forwarding the duties of platter passing off to Brian or some other exuberant social butterfly. Lastly, like I just said, I'm a trained chef, so I feel self-pressured to make my party foods from scratch. I know that I shouldn't care, but dangit, I really want my guests to love what they're eating. What I've recently realized, however, is that there are some REALLY good frozen party foods available these days. It used to be that frozen appetizers were loaded with preservatives, lacked flavor, and almost always ended up sort of mushy and blah when they came out of the oven. After some label reading, I found that really isn't the case anymore. I came across Rich's SeaPak Spring Rolls during a grocery trip at Wal-Mart, and I kid you not...they're freaking delicious! Aside of that, they're almost all-natural, and affordable, too. Color me happily surprised!
I love pretty platters of party food. You DO know what the secret to creating a perfect platter is, don't you? EVERY appetizer looks 100 times more fabulous jazzed up with frilly toothpicks. Truth.
See what I mean? GORGEOUS appetizers! Oh, and the size is perfect for turning them into an easy meal idea during the week, too. Just add a tossed salad and you're good to go! I found some really creative ideas over on SeaPak's Pinterest page. Oh, and if you're interested in a "try before you buy" opportunity, head over to your local Wal-Mart store on December 8th between 1 and 5 pm for their product demo to score some free samples! :)
My favorite party appetizers are the ones that can be dipped into a sauce. Cheesy, sweet, or savory... doesn't matter to me. I just love dipping sauce! Once upon a time, I relied on bottled sauces for that job, and I'd be willing to bet that many of you do the same thing. After all, they're quick and convenient. The thing is, I get really sick from some preservatives, especially MSG, and it's a notorious culprit in almost all bottled Asian sauces. That's why I've started making my own. I think when you see how EASY and INEXPENSIVE my hoison, peanut, and sweet & sour sauces are to make, you might want to hop on the homemade dipping sauce train, too. Then you'll taste flavor instead of pheno-chemically-something-or-other and you MIGHT even come back and leave a comment to thank me. That would totally make my year
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter or black bean paste
- 1 tablespoon honey, molasses or brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons white vinegar
- 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 15 drops Sriracha
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
FOR THE PEANUT SAUCE
- All of the above, plus 1 additional tablespoon of peanut butter and 4-5 drops of Sriracha
- Place all ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until combined. When you first begin whisking, it may not appear that the mixture will come together. It will take several minutes for the emulsion process to take place.
- Alternatively, you can use a food processor to combine all ingredients.
TO MAKE PEANUT SAUCE, prepare the hoison sauce, then add 1 additional tablespoon of peanut butter and 4-5 additional drops of Sriracha
- 4 Tablespoons catsup
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons cornstarch, stirred/dissolved into 1/2 cup cold water
- Combine catsup, sugar, soy sauce, and a vinegar in small saucepan. Bring to a boil.
- Add the cornstarch mixture to the saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until sauce has thickened. Cool slightly and it's ready to serve!