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Entertaining and need some great ideas to complement your table of party foods and impress your guests as the same time?

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      07.03.2010 20:31
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      Two party nibble recipes

      As I enjoy throwing my little party get- togethers with my friends and family, I always make party nibbles for people to snack on during the night.

      To what I cook it depends on what type of party we're having, but I normally stick to the basic just to make it easy for me!

      There are so many convenient party foods now it's rather easy just to pop your local supermarket's freezer section, but if you take the time to read their ingredients list you would be shocked what goes into some of them. So in many ways it's healthier for you to buy the basics and cook.

      In my eyes party food is what you make it, it could be as extravagant as you like or as simple as you like. Personally for an in-house party I think its best to keep it safe and simple. Don't forget extravagant doesn't mean its going to be more flavoursome than others.

      Here are two easy party foods:

      French stick mini pizzas

      Things needed / Ingredients
      1 large French stick
      1 pack of cheese (what type you prefer, or you can buy the ready grated)
      1 tin of tomatoes
      A few tomatoes
      A few drops of garlic olive oil

      1 - Preheat your oven at 180c (non fan assisted 190c), and have your baking tray at the ready.

      2 - Cut your French stick into mini circles, I normally do them about one inch thick, and place them all ready on your baking tray.

      3 - Drizzle some garlic olive oil over the bread, blend your tin tomatoes and put a spoonful on each slice of bread.

      4 - Cut the tomatoes into thin slices, also placing one on each mini pizza. Add some grated cheese to the top of all of them and bake in the oven for around 10 minutes (until the cheese has melted and it's golden).

      I normally always make these, it's quick and simple, plus you can change it around and use up what's in your fridge for toppings.



      Thai-Style Spicy Sweetcorn Fritters

      Ingredients
      8oz Frozen Sweetcorn
      2 Red chillies (small, deseeded, finely chopped)
      2 Cloves of garlic, crushed
      10 lime leaves, finely chopped
      2 tbsp Fresh coriander, finely chopped
      1 Egg
      2 ¾ oz Cornflour
      3 ½ oz Green beans, finely chopped

      1 - Place all the ingredients into a large bowl, and mix well.

      2 - Heat some oil in a wok or fat fryer (I use groundnut oil, gives a better taste I think)

      3 - Divide the mixture into small balls, place into the wok (don't overcrowd) and cook until golden and crispy.

      4 - Place on some kitchen paper for the oil to drain off and serve.

      This tasty nibble I like to serve with some sweet chilly dip.

      If I'm honest when I have my little parties I don't cook everything, but I find it nice to cook a few simple things to show you have made an effort.

      For the end of the night I love doing a chocolate fondue. I chop up some fruits (can be any ones you like), and a must are some marshmallows to dip in too! I think these set the night off (probably because I'm a chocolate addict and would do anything for a chocolate fix!)

      Hope you will give them a go, thanks for reading!

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        10.02.2009 12:10
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        homemade party sausage rolls

        Homemade party sausage rolls

        There is nothing like a good party, the best part for me of course is the party food. I have an fool proof way to make your own homemade sausage rolls. Of course, there is no need to take these sausage rolls to any party... I make these for dinner with beans and chips! Anyone can make these sausage rolls, they are that easy...

        Ingredients.

        1lb of pork sausage meat.
        1 Large onion, grated.
        1 teaspoon of fresh sage. (you can get this is little flakes in a pot in the supermarket)
        If you need a good pastry recipe

        175g butter
        225g Plain flour
        Salt.

        But it is just so much easier to get the pre-packet pastry from the supermarket, and I use this instead of making my own.

        How to make the filling.

        1. In a bowl, add the sausage meat, onion that has been grated, and the sage. (you do not have to put the sage in, sometimes I do, sometimes not.)
        2. Mix all together.

        This mixture makes 25 small or 12 large sausage rolls, make a square shape of the meat, and pop onto the prepared pastry, I leave the same amount of gap on the pasty as long as the sausage meat and a little extra as this gives me space to cut the pastry and allows the pastry to fold over with the meat inside and allows for pressing on the corners of the pasty. Once you have done all the sausage rolls like this - put a little knife on the top of the pastry of each sausage roll and then brush with a beaten egg.

        These sausage rolls will cook in around 25 minutes on a pre heated oven of 200 degrees.

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          30.11.2008 17:08
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          never fails to surprise guests

          Just submitting a recipe for people to cook something different this chrsitmas vacation or as a main course for any party which is really easy:

          Prawn/turkey-Bulgar on a fresh salad bed:
          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

          Bulgar wheat -2cups(washed and drained)

          Cooked peeled prawns -1 cup
          Or
          Leftover turkey roast - cut up into cubes as much as you want

          Onions chopped -3 small , 2 medium

          Margarine - 4tbsp (could use butter/white oil)

          Cumin seeds -1tbsp

          Salt -2 tsp( to taste)

          Tomato - 1 large fresh peeled and chopped

          Water/stock - 3 glasses approx 750-900mls

          Sweet chutney 6-7 tb spoonfuls(optional

          Pepper powder (coarse)-1tbsp

          Fish sauce few tspfulls( optional)





          For salad :
          ======

          Roughly torn lettuce -1

          Carrots cubed small - 2

          Raisins/dry-cranberry- 4 tbsp

          Spring onion - 2-3 sliced

          Roasted pinennuts (optional or any nut of your choice)


          Method:
          ======

          1. Melt the margarine in a big pan, splutter cumin seeds and fry the chopped onions till light brown .


          2. Add the bulgar and fry for 10 mins till all the grains look well coated in marg and translucent, with constant stirring .

          3. Add the chopped tomato, salt , pepper powder and stock.

          4. Bring to boil and hold heat for 10 mins.

          5. Bring to simmer , add the prawns/turkey or both and cover and cook till grains are tender and the water is fully absorbed.

          6. Drizzle over the fish sauce if using.

          7. Toss together all the slad ingredients


          Level of difficulty:
          ===========

          Easy for pros, medium for novice.



          Serves: 6
          ======

          Serve on on sid eof the plate with a small side helping of the salad and a spoonful of any sweet chutney .

          Wouldn't recommend for dieters with that much marg .

          Allergy info:
          =======

          Don't think you can find gluten-free bulgar wheat.

          Hints:
          ------

          Bulgar wheat is available from any Turkish/greek grocery shop.

          This would also use up any leftover roast turkey you might have stored.

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            27.11.2008 22:59
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            Worth a go

            In the words of the immortal Wizzard 'It's Chriiiiiiiiistmaaaaaas!'. Well nearly, anyway. Christmas time in our house means the kids' birthday party, another party for all the family we won't get a chance to see over Christmas or Boxing Day and probably another cocktail party for friends. And then there's the entertaining over Christmas itself. All this means muchos work in the kitchen for me, but do I care? Not a jot. I love cooking and hopefully you will too if you try out these recipes. None of them are difficult to do and because of the evil credit crunch, I've tried to include some budget options...

            Family Party
            =========

            For this I'm doing a buffet of the following:

            Three bean salad. Get two tins of mixed beans, drain and pour into a bowl. Mix 30ml vinegar, 60ml of olive oil, salt and pepper in a screw capped jar until well combined and pour over.

            Gammon and beef rolls. M&S do these mini rolls, about the size of a golf ball. I buy a small joint of gammon, roast it and then carve it. A 500g joint will fill about 30 of these small rolls. I also get a small joint of beef and roast it slowly. A 500g joint of beef will also fill around 30 rolls. Miles cheaper than getting the same amount of meat from the deli counter and tastes a million times better.

            Coronation chicken. Cook some chicken thighs (I usually allow for one thigh per two people) and place in the fridge to cool. When cold, remove the skin and bones and chop into bite-sized chunks. Mix together a 200ml pot of creme fraiche, two tablespoons of mayonnaise, a good tablespoon of Pataks curry paste and a couple of large handfuls of raisins. Mix the chicken in well and refridgerate until needed.

            Cheese straws. Get a packet of pre-rolled puff pastry and unroll on a greased baking sheet. Score right through the pastry so you have lots of pastry strips, but keep them all close together. Sprinkle over around 150g of mature cheddar and bake in a hot oven for about 12 minutes.

            Cheesey boats. Buy a whole bunch of small potatoes (I budget for around one potato per person) and bake in a hot oven until cooked through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool abit before cutting in half and scooping the flesh out into a bowl. Add around 100g of grated cheese for ten small potatoes and allow extra for topping. Pack the cheesey potato mixture back into the skins and top with a bit of extra cheese. These will sit quite happily in your fridge for a day or so and need heating through at 200C for about 20 minutes just before you want to serve them. The boat effect is made by skewering a trangle of paper on a cocktail stick and sticking it in the potato half - goes down a treat with kids.


            Along with these I would also serve crusty bread, salad, carrot and pepper strips dips and a cheese board and crackers.

            Cocktail party
            ==========

            Depending on how swanky I want the party to be, I usually just pass round platters of the gammon and beef rolls and cheesey boats. I also do the following canapes if I'm feeling a bit swanky:

            Cut a few figs into eight segments each and wrap each piece with a small piece of parma ham. These always get hoovered up immediately.

            Get some smoked salmon and cut into Rectangles. Dollop a bit of cream cheese in the middle and roll up.

            There you go - a few ideas for the festive season. Ho-ho-hope it helps!

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              02.11.2008 17:43
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              Sure to go down a treat with everyone

              With the christmas season, looming upon very fast, people will start turning their attention, to parties, entertaining the family etc, on top of the stressful task of buying presents, decorating the tree etc. I love parties but most of all i love being the host, inviting people round, spending hours on buffet's seems to fill me with joy! Yes you may think i'm mad, and why don't i nip to Iceland and grab some of them party platter's you can get for a fiver? Well because i love to cook and experiment with recipes so here i will share with you what seems to be a big hit with my family and friends, they are easy to make and taste delicious too.

              * Smoked Salmon Rotollo's*
              These are a big hit as we are big salmon eaters and their simple to make.
              * 300g cream cheese
              * 1 tbsp lemon juice
              * 2 tbsp chopped dill
              * generous pinch of black pepper
              * 4 large flour tortillas
              * 350g smoked salmon
              * serve with extra dill and rocket leaves

              Mix the cream cheese with the lemon juice, chopped dill and plenty of black pepper. Spread over 4 large flour tortillas and cover with the smoked salmon. Roll up like a Swiss roll, trim off the ends and discard. Wrap tightly in cling film, twisting the ends firmly to enclose. Place in the fridge until you are ready to use. To serve, take a sharp knife and slice on the diagonal. Serve with extra dill and rocket leaves.
              Preparation time- 10 minutes.

              *Spicy chicken and tomato kebabs*
              * 3 garlic cloves , roughly chopped
              * knob of fresh ginger , roughly chopped, plus extra to serve
              * 1 orange , grated zest and juice
              * 3 spring onions , roughly chopped
              * 2 tbsp clear honey
              * 1 tbsp light soy sauce
              * 2 tbsp vegetable oil
              * 4 small skinless boneless chicken breast fillets , cut into cubes
              * 20 button mushrooms
              * 20 cherry tomatoes
              * 2 large red peppers , seeded and each cut into 10

              1. Grind the garlic, ginger, orange zest and spring onions to a paste in a food processor. Add the honey, orange juice, soy sauce and oil, then blend again. Pour the mixture over the cubed chicken and leave to marinate for at least 1 hr, but preferably overnight. Toss in the mushrooms for the last half an hour so they take on some of the flavour, too.
              2. Thread the chicken, tomatoes, mushrooms and peppers onto 20 wooden skewers, then cook on a griddle pan for 7-8 mins each side or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked and golden brown. Turn the kebabs frequently and baste with the marinade from time to time until evenly cooked. Arrange on a platter, scatter with chopped spring onion and eat with your fingers.
              Ready in 40-45 minutes.

              * Goats cheese tartlets*

              Blend together-
              2 cups goat cheese
              1/2 t. salt
              1 large egg
              2 tbsp cooking cream

              Fold in:
              1 tbsp chives, finely chopped
              ¼ cup sundried tomatoes, chopped

              Method-After making the filling using the above ingredients, fill 24 mini-tart pastry shells (you can purchase these in a supermarket) using either a pastry bag or just a spoon.

              Bake the tartlets for 10-12 minutes in a preheated oven (400F/220C). Top with sprigs of chives, dices peppers, tiny rolls of prosciutto, or olive halves.

              * Bacon and Spinach Quiche*

              Ingredients:
              1 cup low-fat buttermilk
              1 cup light cream or half & half light cream
              8 eggs
              2 cups swiss cheese
              1 package chopped frozen spinach, drained
              10 strips bacon
              Dash of cayenne pepper
              2 pie shells (optional)

              Method-
              Brush pie shell with egg yolk at 400 degrees.
              Weight the center of the pie shell down with pie weights (you can also use dried beans to do this).
              Fry and drain bacon on paper towel.
              Dice bacon.
              Mix together buttermilk, cream, eggs and swiss cheese.
              Add drained spinach, bacon and cayenne pepper.
              Pour into pie shell (You can skip the pie shell and pour directly into a greased pan).
              Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees or until solid.

              Serves 16 ( two pies).

              All these recipes are cheap, quick and easy to make, even if you haven't got hours and hours to spare these will go down a treat at your party.
              Have fun making them

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                24.10.2008 20:12
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                -

                Well, its nearly Halloween, and a lot of you will either be hiding behind the door pretending not to be in as neighbourhood tykes roll up demanding treats and goodies, or out at parties. I'm actually having a party this year, for my daughter , her friends, and their parents (I don't feel its safe for children to knock on strangers doors at night).

                Its the 3rd year in a row I've done i, and I love trying to make the food look as creepy as possible, so I thought I'd share some fun recipes with you! They're all really easy!

                Witches Warts Fruit Kebabs
                ______________________


                This ones really easy . Simply melt some white chocolate, add in some green food colouring, dip raisins, cherries, grapes and other small fruits into the chocolate, lay on greasproof paper to cool, and then thread onto cocktail sticks!

                Zombie Eyeballs
                _____________

                Take some large pickled onions, and make a hollow in each one . Fill the hollow with cream cheese, and top each with a raisin. Serve on a plate smeared with tomato ketchup to look like blood.

                Worm Jelly
                _________

                You'll need to do this in clear plastic cups to get the full effect with this one .

                Buy a packet of gummy worm sweets, and place a couple of gummy worms in each cup . Next, make up some orange jelly according to the packet instructions, and after letting it cool a little pour some into each cup. Leave it to set, put another gummy worm in , and then make up some lime jelly and do the same thing.

                Yummy Eyeball Drink
                _________________

                Open and drain a 400g can of Lychees (most supermarkets sell these, if you can't find them, chinese food shops sell them also) . Each lychee will have a hole where the stone was removed - push a grape into each hole . These are your eyes .

                In a large bowl, mix a 1litre cartoon of cranberry juice, a carton of apple juice, and a can of ginger beer . This comes up lovely and red, looking like blood . Bung in your lychee eyeballs, which float and look great . If you want to make it look EXTRA creepy, you can buy some rubber gloves, give them a boil to make sure they are thoroughly clean, fill with water, tie up tightly, and freeze . Put in the bowl just before serving, not only will it look icky, but it keeps the drink cold too!

                Ghost Decorations
                _______________

                Not technically a food, but I thought I'd add this as every good party needs decoration . I got this from a magazine a few years ago, sadly I don't remember which .

                Activate a glowstick and place it into a balloon, blow up the balloon ant tie it up . Use a permanant marker to draw features on it, (keep the knot at the top of the face) and then get some cheesecloth , cut a small hole in it for the knot in the balloon, and drape it over . Tie the balloon to a string, and then hang from the ceiling! These look great, and the glowsticks generally last for about 8 hours, so you can do them before guests arrive and know they'll last the whole party.

                Anyway, these are just a few fun little recipes! Have fun with them !

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                  08.10.2008 22:54
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                  Happy eating!!!!!!

                  Awwww yes I know I know I know nobody wants to hear about Christmas in October, but for those of you who (and yes, there are some!!!) who think Christmas all year round and spend every moment of your waking lives planning the next one before you've even got over the last one, I thought I'd like to share a few of my ideas for party nosh.

                  I don't mean my suggestions below to apply to Christmas Day celebrations, as the type of food I'd put on just for that day would be different to a Christmas Party, which I'd in my imagination anticipate holding perhaps one or two days before Christmas Eve, just to get everyone in the mood for celebrations.

                  I haven't actually thrown a party myself for more years than I care to remember, as these days I'm very much for the quiet life, but when I did have them, I stole a few food ideas from my ex father-in-law who was one of the world's top chefs....I'm not going to say where. Some of the following are his own creation recipes, and a couple of them are my own.

                  So, put a huge white thick cloth on a large table, lay out some condiments, paper plates, cutlery, a few Christmas crackers, some festive floral decorations (holly, pine cones etc.), have a couple of glasses of wine, and get cooking!

                  TASTY CHEESE STRAWS (my recipe)

                  Make up a quantity of shortcrust pastry, using 6oz flour and 3oz fat - before adding the liquid, mix in one tablespoon of each of these cheeses, grated.....Emmental, Gruyere, Strong Cheddar and Gouda. After the liquid & cheeses have been added, roll out the pastry (make it about half an inch thick) and cut into long straw shapes. Place on a greased flat baking tray and brush with milk, then finely dust a little cayenne pepper on top of the straws, then sprinkle a few sesame seeds over each (if you like you can do a mixture of poppy and sesame seeds). Bake in a hot pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling rack.

                  FRANKFURTER & ONION SAVOURY (father-in-law's recipe)

                  To make a large dish of this unusual party food, you need about 8 very finely sliced (slice into little disc shapes) frankfurter sausages. It is perfectly OK to use tinned ones, so long as they are well drained and patted dry with kitchen roll. Chop one large onion very finely and mix with 1 teaspoon mint jelly (it doesn't work with mint sauce - has to be mint jelly). Mix the onions/mint jelly with the sausage pieces and lay on a bed of watercress. Decorate the edges with quartered tomatoes (the riper the tomatoes are, the nicer it looks).

                  CHICKEN & VEGETABLE VOL-AU-VENTS (father-in-law's recipe)

                  Take 3 cold, cooked chicken breasts and chop finely. Mix with 3 tablespoons drained tinned sweetcorn, 1 raw finely chopped small courgette, 3 tablespoons thawed frozen peas, 1 smallish very finely grated carrot and 1 medium sized very finely chopped onion. Add 4 tablespoons double cream and mix thoroughly. Pile the mixture into vol-au-vent cases, and sprinkle a little freshly ground black pepper on the top of each one. This makes approximately 30 vol-au-vents.

                  CHRISTMASSY ICED TARTS (my recipe)

                  Make up or use frozen, around 2lbs in weight of shortcrust or flaky pastry. Roll out, line greased tartlet tins (the type you'd use for little cakes or jam tarts). Prick the base of each tart in the baking tin a few times with a fork, and bake the pastry cases in a pre-heated hot oven for about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. In a bowl, place 3oz sultanas, 3oz raisins, 3oz currants, 3oz chopped dried apricots, 1 small tub of glace cherries (finely chopped), and 2 peeled, cored and very finely chopped sweet eating apples. Mix well. Sift 4oz icing sugar into a bowl and mix to a stiff paste with a little unsweetened apple or orange juice. Stir the dried fruit and cherries mixture into the icing sugar/juice, and spoon a portion into each cooled tartlet. If you are artistically adventurous (which I'm not), you could cut out tiny little green coloured marzipan holly or Xmas tree shapes and lay one across the top of each tart. Also, you can, if you want something more colourful, divide the fruit and icing sugar mixture into parts, and add a couple of drops of different food colouring to each part.

                  DREAMY CHOCOLATE TRIFLE (father-in-law's)

                  Line a large serving bowl with broken pieces of good quality plain chocolate cake. Sift 3 heaped tablespoons of cornflour with 3 heaped tablespoons of Cadbury's Drinking Chocolate powder and gradually stir in one pint of full cream milk. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of gelatine in a tiny amount of hot water as instructed on the pack (vegetarians/vegans can use agar-agar) and stir swiftly and thoroughly into the cornflour/chocolate powder/milk mixture. Heat this mixture very gently in a saucepan, stirring continually, until it just starts to boil and is the the consistency of fairly thick custard. Remove from the heat, leave to stand for 5 minutes, then vigorously beat in a small carton of double cream. Quickly stir in 2 large bars of Cadbury's Plain Bournville Chocolate that has been broken into tiny pieces, spoon over the cake in the trifle dish, and leave to set at room temperature. When cool, transfer to the fridge and chill for 2 hours. Just before serving, beat another small carton of double cream with a whisk, until it forms stiff peaks. Using an icing kit/piping bag, pipe rosette shapes of the stiff cream all around the edge of the trifle. Crumble 2 Cadbury's Chocolate Flake bars and mix with 2 tablespoons of finely chopped brazil nuts, then sprinkle over the top of the trifle. Chill for a further hour.

                  PEARS IN LIGHTLY SPICED RED WINE (father-in-law's recipe)

                  Take 4lbs soft pears - de-stalk, peel thinly, core and cut into quarters (lengthwise). Place in a large heat-proof punchbowl and cover with a little lemon juice to help prevent discolouration. In a saucepan, mix one standard-sized bottle of red wine with 2 dessertspoonfuls of soft brown sugar, a flat teaspoon of cloves and 4 cinnamon sticks. Heat gently, but don't boil - then pour over the wine through a sieve or strainer. Discard the cloves and cinnamon sticks, and float thin slices of orange still with the peel attached, on the top. Suspend the heatproof punchbowl containing the pear/wine mixture a few inches over a couple of burning tea-lights, and have a large jug of whipped cream nearby for people to have on top of their pears in red wine.

                  FESTIVE ALMOND & ORANGE BISCUITS (my recipe)
                  This makes lots and lots of tiny, bite-sized biscuits. Sift 4oz plain flour into a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly with 4oz ground almonds. In a saucepan, very gently melt and heat together 3oz unsalted butter cut into pieces mixed with the juice of 1 medium-sized orange, and the de-pithed, de-pipped and very finely chopped flesh of half the orange. When the butter has melted, make a well in the middle of the flour/almonds and beat the butter mixture into the flour until it forms a stiff dough - like the consistency of shortcrust pastry. Make a hole in the middle, and pour one large beaten egg into the hole - then knead well with fingers for about ten minutes until the egg is thoroughly combined into the mixture. Then roll out on a clean surface which has been very lightly dusted with sifted icing sugar - roll dough to approximately 2" thick. Using the smallest fluted pastry cutter available (or if you don't have a very small one, use the outer rim of an egg cup - that will give you non-fluted biscuit edges though), cut as many shapes as you can from the dough and place them onto a well-greased (with butter) flat baking tray. Brush each one with a little milk, and bake in a pre-heated medium/hot oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack. When completely cool, mix 2oz sifted icing sugar with 3 drops of green food colouring and one teaspoon of cold milk, so that it makes a paste about the same thickness as tomato puree. Drizzle a little of the green icing over the top of each biscuit - it will start to run down the sides slightly, and this gives a decorative effect. Press half a glace cherry, rounded side upwards, into the centre of the icing on each biscuit.

                  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                  Well that's all folks! Sorry once again for mentioning Christmas long before I feel it ought to be, and I can promise all the above recipes are tried, tested and have been enjoyed by many over the years.

                  In advance, wishing you all a Cool Yule, and thanks for reading.

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                    25.07.2008 00:19
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                    a 'show off' starter which tastes great & looks good

                    I love having people round to eat - I'm no Nigella Lawson but love to sit around with friends and eat.

                    There's nothing worse though than having to spend time still preparing food when your guests have arrived and you are missing out....

                    I always try to prepare a starter that I can have all ready to serve and this recipe is ideal.

                    I also like food to be attractive- looking with a bit of colour and foods that you can garnish to look dead posh!

                    This starter is great as it's easy to make and is not too filling so that you can't manage a second course followed by dessert.

                    Nutrionally this is a good starter as it contains protein and vitamins.

                    It makes a change from prawn cocktail and not everyone likes seafood.

                    Chicken is always reasonably priced compared to other foods so I think this is a good option to choose.

                    I will only ever pass on recipes that have been tried and tested by myself, family and friends so rest assured this will not let you down.

                    ~

                    CHICKEN COCKTAIL
                    ~
                    SERVES 8
                    ~
                    Ingredients:

                    225g/8oz frozen peas
                    3 tbsp hot water
                    salt & freshly milled white pepper
                    12 lettuce leaves (iceberg is good)
                    450g/ 1lb of cooked chicken meat
                    100g/ 4oz button mushrooms
                    100g/ 4oz canned asparagus tips
                    100g/ 4 oz canned pineapple chunks
                    10 cocktail cherries
                    3 tbsp mayonnaise (if you can't make your own Hellman's is best)
                    3 tbsp low-fat curd cheese
                    1 tbsp tomato ketchup
                    1 tsp lemon juice
                    dash of Tabasco sauce
                    pinch of sugar

                    METHOD:

                    1. Tip the peas into a pan with the water and a little salt, cover and cook over a low heat for about 6 mins

                    2. Wash & drain the lettuce

                    3.Cut the chicken into equal pieces.

                    4. Wipe and halve the mushrooms

                    5. Drain the asparagus &pineapple

                    6. Halve the larger asparagus tips & quarter the pineapple chunks

                    7. Dice the cherries.

                    *** keep 8 asparagus tips and 16 musroom halves in reserve ***

                    8. Drain peas & leave to cool but reserve the cooking liquid.

                    9. Beat the mayo with the curd cheese, ketchup, lemon juice, Tabasco, s&p and pea water

                    10.MIx the peas with chicken, asparagus, mushrooms, pineapple, & cherries and stir in the dressing.

                    11. Shred lettuce & use to fill the bottoms of 8 cocktail glasses.

                    12. Cover with the chicken salad & garnish each portion with 1 asparagus tip & 2 mushroom halves.

                    A LOVELY STARTER!

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                      02.05.2008 18:22
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                      If you're having a party .................

                      I really enjoy throwing parties and, even though I say so myself, I make a good job of it. I happen to think that the main reason for this is the food and drink. I always work on the principle that if everyone has enough to eat and drink the other stuff will follow naturally.

                      The sort of party food I am going to talk about is the sort of food for a buffet style meal as opposed to a sit down meal for a dinner party.

                      If the family is coming round and I am catering for about a dozen or so then I would put out salad, meats, a selection of bread etc. - generally foods that you would pick up, load your plate and then sit down somewhere with the plate on your lap and tuck in. I have tried catering this way for parties in the past but of course people don't all have room to sit down and you just can't hold a plate whilst trying to eat food that needs to be eaten with a knife and fork especially with a drink in your hand!

                      So the next time I threw a party I decided to do 'finger food' so that you could load a plate if you wanted but it would be equally possible to walk through the kitchen and just pick something up and put it in your mouth. That way people would pick at the food when they went to refill their glasses and hopefully most of it would get eaten.

                      Obviously the first consideration has to be the number of people for whom you are catering. This is my big problem - I always prepare too much food. Still the birds enjoy the leftovers on the bird table the next day.

                      I put out plates and serviettes for anyone who wants to use them of course. I stick to paper plates as I don't have enough proper plates for a big party and also there's no washing up!

                      So let's get down to the important stuff - the food.

                      It is worth saying before I go into details that I tend to stick to plainer foods as I find rich food an alcohol aren't normally a good mix! LOL!

                      Bread / biscuits - long baguette style loaves (white and granary) cut into pieces, buttered and piled into bread baskets - bread sticks - selection of cheese biscuits such as Ritz, Cheddars etc.

                      Cheese - I find the best way to serve cheese at parties is on sticks with pineapple and grapes. If I put a selection of cheeses out on a cheese board they are difficult to cut and eat as I have explained earlier, and they go hard and stale during the evening.

                      If I can find frozen filo pastry anywhere (it's like finding hen's teeth these days) I make my own vegetable samosas.

                      I also put out a tray of dips together with plenty of crudités - carrots, peppers, chicken dippers, celery and of course the aforementioned bread sticks.

                      Then there would be sausage rolls, cheese and onions rolls, pork pie (cut into pieces), sausages on sticks, party eggs (the little scotch eggs) and quiche cut into pieces ready to pick up and eat.

                      I make a batch of small cheese scones which I split, spread with butter and then put back together. I also make a batch of vol au vents and fill them with egg or mushroom mayonnaise.

                      There would also be plenty of bowls of crisps, Doritos, Pringles, nuts etc.

                      I also have some sweet options - home made mince pies made with my own home made mincemeat using a vegetarian equivalent of suet, meaning that they are suitable for vegetarians.

                      I usually buy a selection of nice little cakes too so those with a sweet tooth are all catered for. Cadburys finger biscuits always go down well too!

                      Of course anything that isn't obvious gets a label stuck in it so that people know exactly what things are. I hate going to parties and peering at thing wondering what they are! When you have vegetarians, diabetics, people with allergies etc it is important for them to know what is safe to eat.

                      Naturally there is always a good selection of drinks from tea and coffee, through soft drinks to beer, cider, lager, wine etc. That way there is something for everyone and the drivers are also catered for.

                      I have found that this type of food is much more popular when I throw a real party and have a house full of people and it is more likely that a lot of it will get eaten. Come to think of it I shall have to use this review as a check list when we get round to having a house warming party at our cottage!

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                        11.04.2008 16:09
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                        a great way to cater on a budget

                        As some of you will already know one of my little horrors will be 5 tomorow and we are having a birthday party for her, big bouncy castle in the garden and lots of food so i thought this would be an apropriate time to write about the food i provide for our childrens partys as i have just been to morrisons to do the food shopping and have managed to cater for 40 children on a budget of just £40

                        We are having jam sandwiches, ham sandwiches, chicken sandwiches and cheese sandwiches so there should be something every one likes. The bread cost me 45p a loaf which is morrisons own, very nice indeed.
                        I payed 32p for a jar of mixed fruit jam once again morrisons own.
                        i got a pack of 20 chicken slices for 55p morrisons own and a pack of ham slices 55p morrisons own, my block of cheese cost me £2.19p but is going to be used for a plate of sandwiches and the cheese and pinapple sticks so thast wasnt too bad.

                        I have brought tinned pinapple chunks which cost me 32p a tin to put on the coctail sticks which i got a pack of 300 for 35p

                        24 party sausage rolls ready cooked cost me £1.19p and ready cooked coctail sausades in packs of 60 were buy one get one free so for 99p i have had 120 coctail sausages.

                        I have brought morrisons own biscuits which ranged from 19p to 40p a pack and bags of there fairy cakes which were 50p each for 24 cakes, these are plain with no icing so i am going to ice them myselves.

                        I got orange cordial at 16p a liter and fizzy pop which worked out at 6 liters for £1.

                        I have brought lots of silver foil plates and bowls to put them all in and got crisps and other snacks too.

                        I decided to write this after hearing so many people say how expensive it is to provide food for a childrens party, i have managed to cater for each child at £1 per person the only thing i am hoping for now is nice weather.

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                          21.01.2008 21:55
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                          Nibbles for your parties..

                          Party, party, party, who does not like a little bit of partying here and there. Every time we throw a party in my family either a birthday, house, summer, Christmas or an anniversary party we always make sure we have some foods. A party wouldn't really be a huge party without food.
                          If your party does not have food you would be lucky if you find me there to be honest. A lot of people only go to the parties if they hear the word food, because you do need to cover all those calories you lose via dancing on the party. A lot of the times, I go to parties to see the types of foods they might have, if the food look depressing, I get depressed so it's crucial that you prepare the foods to impress.

                          However when I throw a party I always make sure I have a few snacks on the table of course that includes crisp (different types), a few drinks, sweets, biscuits, cupcakes etc. I always thought instead of just buying ready-made foods from the supermarkets and chuck it on the table for the guest to scoff on, is not always a good idea. It is however, to prepare some of the foods on your snack table, this always makes it look like an organized party that has been put time into, thus making it rather special.
                          If you always prepare some of your party foods and put your secret ingredients, your guest will never turn your party down, just to get hold of your delicious home-made foods. It does not have to be cooking it can be blending your own juice even with different fruits that gives a unique taste.

                          There are three things which I always try to prepare when we are having a party at me house. Those are chicken satay and prawn toasts. After looking at how I prepare these lovely snacks and you still prefer ready-made party foods from the supermarkets, then go ahead but I always hate to say 'I told you so' when the guests call your party boring.


                          _____Prawn Toasts____
                          Prawn toasts have always been popular for a party snack. Home made prawn toasts are always better as they have this home-made texture that makes them a lot different.
                          The good thing about Prawn toasts is that they only take about ten minutes of preparation and less than five minutes of cooking time. Therefore, they are not going to waste your time on your party day.
                          To prepare the prawn toasts you will need:
                          1 tablespoon corn flour
                          4 thin slices white bread
                          25g butter, melted
                          1 egg white, lightly beaten
                          175g cooked, peeled prawns, defrosted if frozen
                          Sea salt
                          Vegetable oil, for frying
                          75g Sesame seeds

                          1. Use a fork to mash the butter and prawns in a large bowl. Afterwards, stir the mixture in salt, corn flour and egg white.

                          2. Cut crusts of the bread slices and discard them. Divide prawn mixture between slices of bread and spread evenly. Sprinkle the sesame seeds lightly over the prawn mixture and press down.

                          3. Cut the bread neatly into rectangle shapes. Fill a pot or deep frying pan with oil (about 2.5cm deep). Heat until almost smoking (don't heat the oil further than that as it will flame up). The oil has to be really hot so that they can fry quickly and absorb less fat. Add bread into the oil. Let it cook for two minutes, turning them around till golden

                          4. Use a fork to remove from the pan and drain them (can use absorbent kitchen paper).

                          ---For a better taste prepare the prawn toasts an before they have to go into the oil. You need to serve them hot.

                          ---Just like you need ketchup for chips, you would need fish sauce for these prawn toasts to have a better taste.

                          ---The snack only has around 350 calories, therefore not too bad for your health.

                          ---The prawn toasts taste very delicious and are crunchy when you eat them.


                          _____Chicken Satay_______

                          Chicken satay are probably the reason why people come to my parties. They are ideally for any party. You can put them anywhere on your snack table. It is best you cook loads of these because they will go before you even blink your eye.
                          They are quick (take less than 30mins to cook) and easy to prepare and are worth the trouble in finding the ingredients for the sauce.
                          To cook and prepare them you will need:
                          4 lime, sliced
                          4 table spoon oil
                          4 red and 4 green peppers (de-seeded and chopped)
                          1.8kg chicken breasts, diced

                          ___For the marinade and Sauce___
                          100g creamed coconut, grated
                          12 small onions, finely chopped
                          400g smooth peanut butter
                          4 table spoon lemon juice
                          4 tablespoon caster sugar
                          4 table spoon ground coriander
                          4 tablespoon ground cumin
                          4 clove garlic, crushed
                          8 tablespoon light soy sauce
                          10.6cm piece fresh root ginger
                          2 table spoon chilli powder

                          1.For the marinade, mix onions garlic, ginger, soy sauce, chilli powder, coriander, lemon juice, cumin and caster sugar in a big bowl. Add the chicken and stir to coat. Cover and chill for a few hours. Its possibly better to prepare this the night before the party so that the ingredients can have more time to stir.

                          2. Thread chicken and peppers onto metal or bamboo skewers (it is best that you soak the bamboo skewers in cold water for around 30 minutes before you start using them, so that they won't burn). Set aside the marinade. Brush the chicken and peppers with oil. Grill for about 20 minutes, turning them occasionally.

                          3. Add 200ml of cold water to the marinade and simmer for around five minutes. Add the peanut butter and coconut and stir until it has thickened. Put the hot sauce in a bowl, the chicken on the plate and you are done.

                          ---The ingredients I gave will make around 24 satays.

                          --- These chicken satays are mouth watering, the smell of the peppers makes it even better. Having these on your party will definitely be worth while.

                          --- Each chicken satay has 45 calories. So you can always eat as many as your stomach can hold.


                          I love having something that is home-made on my parties and really do think that everyone should consider trying it out, as it always make the party exclusive all the time.


                          ____Note____
                          ---A lot of the ingredients mentioned, can be bought in major supermarkets.

                          ---It won't be a perfect party without food.

                          --- If anyone is allergic to anything associated with the ingredients, they mustn't consume the foods.

                          ---Wash your hands before preparing the food (who knows were you've been scratching).

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                            02.12.2007 13:01
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                            A good, classic recipe for a party food staple - bye bye diet!

                            This is one of my favourite recipes for making cheese straws, which are great either as part of a large party buffet or if you just want to provide a few "nibbles". What they're not great for is your figure - cheesy pastry is always going to ruin your diet but - what the hell - it's Christmas!

                            I can't attribute this recipe to anyone in particular - it's an amalgam of lots of different ones and a fair bit of trial and error. I've always thought of this as a really simple & quick recipe, but it's only when you start typing it up that it seems rather long and complex. I promise you it's not, and it's worth it.

                            When choosing which cheese to use, it's pretty much a case of personal taste, but it does need to be something quite strongly flavoured. A mature cheddar is a safe bet, but I usually use a mix of cheeses - cheddar, parmesan & gruyere is my favourite - mix them in whatever quantities you fancy or have available. A small amount of Red Leicester works too - it doesn't have the strong flavour, but it gives a deeper colour.

                            Seasoning is also a matter of taste. Cayenne Pepper or Chilli Flakes are good if you like things a bit spicier. Paprika is a milder option. Whichever you use, a little sprinkling should be enough - you don't want to kill the taste of the cheese. Salt is also an option - I use unsalted butter and don't add any additional salt to the mix as the cheese should provide enough. If you like your snacks a bit saltier then sprinkle some salt on when you lift the straws out of the oven whilst they're still hot enough to absorb it. Doing it this way also means you can just salt however many you want. One thing I have tried was adding a pinch of Celery Salt - this added a nice "tang" to the taste.

                            --------------------

                            Ingredients
                            Amounts given below will make about 40 straws (2 large baking trays full), or just scale up or down as needed.

                            - Plain flour 200g
                            - Butter 200g
                            - Cheese 350g
                            - 2 x medium egg yolks
                            - ½ teaspoon Baking Powder
                            - Black Pepper
                            - Cayenne Pepper, Paprika or Chilli Flakes (or all 3 if you're brave)

                            Method
                            - First things first, pre-heat your oven to 220 C / gas mark 7, and prepare your baking trays by greasing them really lightly with olive oil and lining them with baking paper. Oh, and wash your hands.

                            - Grate the cheese as finely as possible into a large mixing bowl and sift in the flour and baking powder. Add a couple of twists of black pepper and a sprinkling of cayenne, paprika or chilli flakes.

                            - Chop the butter into small pieces (it's best to keep it chilled up until this point) and add it to the bowl. Now rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips until the whole mixture has a crumbly, "sandy" texture. This is my favourite bit, and very therapeutic.

                            - Separate the egg yolks from the whites and add the yolks only to the bowl. Mix in with a palette knife or wooden spoon until the mixture starts to bind together (I prefer to use my hands, but it's not advisable if you've got long nails as it's a pain to get out from under them!). The mixture will remain quite crumbly but sticky.

                            - Flour your work surface and rolling pin quite heavily, and tip the cheesy pastry out. Roll it out into as near to a square as possible, getting it to a thickness of about 7 or 8mm. Dip a sharp kitchen knife into flour and slice the pastry into "straws" - I do them roughly 15cm long by 2 cm wide. Don't worry about the edge ones being an uneven shape - these are your "test" ones once they're cooked - chef's privilege!!!

                            - Lift each straw on the baking tray, leaving a little gap between each one to allow for expansion, and bake for between 6 to 9 minutes - the ones on the top oven shelf are usually ready first. They should be a pale golden colour (I always have to leave half a dozen in for another 3 or 4 minutes for the boyfriend who likes everything overdone!).

                            - Once cooked, gently lift the whole sheet of baking paper with the straws on off the baking trays and leave to "set" for about 5 minutes before transferring onto a wire rack to cool.

                            - Test the imperfectly-shaped ones just to make sure they're perfect!!!

                            --------------------

                            These cheese straws are fabulous when eaten warm, and they usually are as they're so yummy. However, they will keep well for a couple of days - pop them in plastic storage boxes lined with kitchen roll as this absorbs some of the oil from the cheese and stops them going too chewy - store them in a cool place but not the fridge.

                            They can also be re-warmed in the oven - pop them back in for about a minute in a pre-heated oven at the original cooking temperature.

                            To serve, I stack them in criss-cross patterns on a large plate with a bowl of dip in the middle (gorgeous with tzatziki), or - if serving them cold - put them end-up in a jug or bowl.

                            --------------------

                            And to end with, a little pastry-making tip from my dear departed Great Gran. Before doing your "rubbing-in" put your wrists under cold, running water for about half a minute then gently pat dry. This cools down the supply of blood going to your hands & fingers and stops the butter from getting too warm and making the pastry greasy.

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