Thursday, December 2, 2010

How To Have a Cocktail Party....

and not break the bank.  I love to entertain, but I'll be the first to admit that it can get a little pricey.  Food costs are always rising, and adding drinks to the mix can really be cost-prohibitive. 

I have a few ideas for you.  I have a menu that will satisfy the pickiest of eaters and still be easy to prepare and pay for.

Here is the menu:

crostini with oven-roasted tomatoes and cream cheese
crostini with goat cheese and roasted garlic and onion jam
hot crab dip with veggies
crackers and cheese
pumpkin bread
caramel pecan bars
white chocolate, macademia and cherry cookies
mulled wine
cider spritzer (non-alcoholic)

total cost for 50 people - $160

Have I convinced you yet?  The people I prepared food for are shopping - but I would estimate that you could recreate this menu for less than $75 for 25-30 people.  The other benefit to this menu is that everything can be made ahead.  

Crostini with Roasted Tomatoes -
ingredients needed: baguette bread - $1.29 per loaf (approx 40 slices)

                              8oz cream cheese - $1.09
                              4 lbs roma tomatoes - $1.19/lb

      (pantry items - balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic powder, kosher salt, sugar)

1.  Slow roast tomatoes - slice roma tomatoes, drizzle with oil, vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt - roast at 245 degrees for 2 hrs.
2.  slice and toast baguette bread 
3.  mix softened cream cheese, garlic powder, and pepper
4.  smear toasted baguette with cream cheese and top with tomato                  
this crostini is decadent, creamy, and to.die.for.

Crostini with Goat Cheese and Roasted Garlic and Onion Jam

    ingredients needed: baguette bread - $1.29

                                 Stonewall Kitchen Jam - $7.95

                                 7 oz goat cheese - $6.99


This is as simple as it sounds (and mine and my friend, Marion's,  favorite snack).  Smear softened goat cheese onto toasted baguette and top with a dollop of jam.  And, just so you know, the Stonewall Kitchen jam is worth.every.penny.                                

Hot Crab Dip, what can I say?  It sounds decadent and appears like a splurge - it's totally not. 

ingredients needed:   8oz cream cheese - $1.09

                                can of "white crab meat" - 2 @ $2.65

                                1 bunch of scallions - 2/$1.00

(pantry items: horseradish, mayo, sour cream, lemon juice, sliced almonds, Tabasco, worcestershire)

Hot Crab Dip Recipe (courtesy of

  • 1 8-ounce package of cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 2 green onions, sliced, greens included
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley, or 1 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 Tbsp horseradish
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Tabasco or more to taste
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 cup of fresh lump crab meat (or a can of crab meat)


1 Preheat oven to 350°F. Beat together the cream cheese, mayonnaise, lemon juice, water, onions, and parsley until smooth. Mix in the Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, and horseradish. Fold in the slivered almonds and lump crab meat. Place in an oven-proof casserole serving dish.
2 Bake until bubbly and heated through, about 20 minutes. Serve with crackers or thinly sliced baguette.

Pumpkin Bread and Cookies are baked goods - notoriously affordable - choose which desserts you love! Here is a recipe for pumpkin bread.  I found this recipe on, but I substituted dried sour cherries for the cranberries. 

Lastly, the mulled wine.  Super simple and super cheap!  The liquor store had huge bottles of merlot on sale for $7.99 each.  I bought two and a medium-sized bottle of brandy (on sale for $11.99).

ingredients needed : 2 bottles of wine - $7.99 each
                               1 bottle of brandy - $11.99 (I only needed to use 4 oz)
                               3 oranges, sliced - $1.29
                               small baggies of cinnamon sticks, cloves, and allspice - 4 @ 69 cents
(pantry item - sugar)

All you do is simmer all of the items in a stockpot for 20 minutes - adding sugar to your taste.  Put into a punch bowl and serve.

I hope I have inspired you to whip up a few snacks, throw on a dressy outfit and invite some friends over!  If you do, will you tell me all about it?

1 comment:

  1. I want some of that crostini for breajfast since it's 7.45 am here. Pop on over and whip some up for me will you K?