Tips for Feeding Your Friends

January is a dark and dreary month, when you’d expect to hole up like a gopher after the Christmas party season. But wait, the party season isn’t over! As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, there’s Carnival, an excuse for nonstop parties from Epiphany to Mardi Gras. And last year, I wrote about Burns Night, January 25th. This unique Scottish holiday gives us an excuse to perfect our haggis recipes, clean the old turnips out of the fridge, and feed our friends enough Scotch that they don’t notice they’re eating haggis and turnips.

Then there’s football season. Last week in Seattle, the Seahawks had their first playoff win in 21 years. Even people like me, who normally don’t pay any attention to football, are starting to get excited. It’s a great excuse to host a Sunday afternoon party.

If you’re finding yourself inspired to invite a few friends in the next few weeks, here are some ideas for party food that won’t keep you in the kitchen for hours.

We have a friend in New Orleans who cooks dinner for about 20 friends every single Monday after work. You can read about Dave’s weekly dinner, or just check out his red beans and rice recipe.

I once did something similar with minestrone, which can serve a lot of people in a hurry. A loaf of nice bread and a bowl of fruit is all you need for a simple meal.

Football gatherings generally call for snack foods. If you’re tired of tortilla chips and salsa, try making up a batch of Chex Mix or Helen’s Caramel Corn. Tortilla Pinwheels are easy and elegant, and you can vary the filling.

Everybody seems to love a nice warm artichoke dip. It’s one of those super-high-calorie dishes that you can only have at a party, when there will be lots of people to share the guilt.

Here’s one last tip, a trick to feed maximum people with minimum work: Cake. A huge cake can serve 20 people without much bother. My favorite recipes start with cake mixes, but as you can see, they don’t end there. Try lemonade cake or rum cake, or even pineapple upside-down cake.
For thoughts about entertaining, see The Life of the Party, under Meps and Barry’s Adventures.