My mom adventures in Fort Collins


Kitchen success: Kid-friendly party menu

Occasionally, we will have people over. I say “occasionally” because if it were up to me, we’d have people over daily, but as far as my hubby is concerned, he’s happy to live his life sans people, er, I mean complications. We are the merging of Chatty Cathy and Thoreau. Don’t think it’s escaped me how odd this is, but as they say, “Opposites attract.”

Um, yeah, back to the party…This is super-easy, I promise.It does take some prior planning, but when the guests arrive, you’ll not be stuck in the kitchen. Here’s your menu: Fruit kabobs, hummus and veggies, and chilli dogs. Eclectic and weird, just the way I like it. The best part of this “party in a flash” is that nearly everything can be made in advance, and once the friends arrive all you have to do is grill up some hot dogs. Simple, right?

Fruit kabobs:

The spears stick into a large piece of watermelon, but alternatively you could use pineapple, cantaloupe, honeydew, or even a big ol’ block of styrofoam if you don’t want to use the fruit.

I used blackberries, blueberries, kiwi chunks, cantalope, pineapple (fresh), and strawberries. Plus, I used a huge slice of watermelon to hold all of my kabobs. I threaded these fruits in various combinations onto large wooden barbeque skewers (found in the grilling section of our local grocery store) and cocktail spears. I liked the varied lengths.

Hummus:

Oh, Ina, I want to thank you for making the world a better place with this hummus recipe.

I need to give credit where credit is due, and this recipe is mostly inspired by the delicious Barefoot Contessa’s recipe that I couldn’t for the life of me find on her website (do you think it’s a plot to withhold the world’s best hummus recipe from the masses?). Lucky for you, I’m like a steel trap when it comes to remembering the ingredients to my beloved recipes.

Use 1 can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed), 3 cloves of garlic (minced), the juice of 3 lemons, 1/3 cup of tahini, 1 tsp. of salt, and a little squirt of Sriracha (that part is all me!). Whip it all up in a food processor, let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour before serving. Serve with veggies (I like carrots, celery, cucumber slices, sliced peppers, kalamata olives, etc.) and some chips (tortilla chips, pita chips, I really love the mult-grain “Food Should Taste Good”-brand chips). Seeing as though I think hummus is kid friendly, but not everyone might, kids can eat their veggies without the hummus, or you can offer them some–gasp–ranch dressing as an alternative.

Chilli Dogs:

First, the chilli. This is actually BETTER a day or two old. I made our  batch of chilli in the crock pot the day before we used it for the party. I know that many, many people have strong feelings about chilli, so I will just warn you that this is the standard, tomato-based, ground beef and beans deal. I am sure somewhere they serve green chilli or white chilli on top of hot dogs, but not at my house.

My chilli in the works the day before.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 to 2 lbs. ground beef

3 cans assorted beans, rinsed and drained (I like kidney, black and pinto, myself)

2 cans (28 oz) of crushed tomatoes (I like the Muir Glen roasted tomatoes, yum)

2 ribs celery, chopped

1 bell pepper, any color, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 T cocoa powder

1 T cumin

2 T chilli powder

1 tsp. molasses

1-2 tsp. salt

2 cloves of garlic, minced

Brown your ground beef, breaking into tiny crumbles as you go 7-10 minutes. Drain. Throw all of this and all the other ingredients into an 8-qt. slow cooker and cook on low 7-8 hours. (Note: I have a 6-qt slow cooker and I can barely make it all fit if I leave out one can of beans.This recipe makes A LOT.) Ideally, you’d make the chilli a day (or two) ahead, store it in the fridge, and serve it up warm on the day of the party in your slow cooker.

As for the hot dogs: Grill ’em or boil ’em, it’s your choice, I suppose. There’s a better answer here and I’ll let you discern for yourself. (No judgement. Sometimes you do what you gotta do.)

To serve a chilli dog, you’ll want a dog, a bun (my hubby prefers a grilled bun), chilli, shredded cheese (cheddar or monterey jack are good choices), and diced onions. Another bonus is that if the kids turn their nose up at chilli dogs, you just serve them a hot dog without the chilli. Alternatively, if someone is not feeling the hot dogs, offer them a delicious bowl of chilli. See–you’ve got options with this meal!

Ta-Da! I told you this would be easy!

I can take no credit for this one (although mine were delish!), but I slacked and got no photo of my dogs–here’s one from simplyrecipes.com

Now, you’ll want to serve all of this with some delightful lemonade for the kids and some “grown up drinks”, too.

Lemonade: Juice from 3 lemons, 1/2 cup sugar (alter to taste), 3 cups of water. Make this in a container where you can shake it up without spilling all over the place (I use a nalgene bottle). You’ll want to shake shake shake until the sugar is pretty much dissolved. Chill. Serve over ice. Throw in some delightful lemon slices, too.

Grown up drinks–Tequila and tonic: You’ll need limes, margarita salt, ice, tequila and tonic. Using a lime to wet the rim of your glass (I serve these in Ball pint jars), salt your rim. Dump in your ice until flass is nearly full of ice. Add 1 1/2 to 2 oz of tequila (brand doesn’t need to be stellar since you’re just going to dump a bunch of tonic water in it). Add a the juice of 1/3-1/2 of a lime, depending on taste. Fill remainder of glass with tonic water, being careful that the carbonation fizz doesn’t run all the way up to the top and dissolve your carefully plotted salt-rim. Throw in a little lime slice to pretty it up. Voila, now we’re all set, right?

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