How about a party on a budget!

Fight the doldrums of February. Have a party! You don’t have to spend a lot; some appetizers, beer and wine ( and if they are your friends, ask them to bring their favorite beer or wine) and an inexpensive buffet dinner.



That old favorite, pigs in the blanket. At Christmas, I served them for the first time in 30 years and they were a hit. I served them with a tarragon mustard, but that was because my son, who moved out, loves condiments, and left this mustard.

Pigs in the Blanket

So, you just buy a package of cocktail sausages in the refrigerated section of your supermarket. There were about 24 in the package. Buy two packages Pillsbury crescent rolls. Just wrap the “little pigs” in their blankets and bake according to the crescent roll directions. Serve with whatever mustard you have, preferably spicy. (But then again, I like spicy, unlike my sister Priscilla, who doesn’t).

 Cheese Plate ( See my earlier post on Cheese plates)

Artichoke Dip

1 can Artichoke hearts

1 cup mayonnaise (not fat free, it ought to be illegal)

1 cup grated parmesan cheese (you can buy already grated in the cheese section of your supermarket)

Chop artichoke hearts into small pieces. Mix all ingredients. Put into ovenproof dish. Bake at 325-35f   until bubbly and crispy on top. Serve with a plain cracker such as water crackers.

Plate of assorted olives and a dried Italian sausage, plated with a bunch of red grapes and serve with crackers.


A couple of  bowls of nuts, such as peanuts, cashews, pecans, walnuts, etc.

Salsa and Tortilla chips

Seasoned Popcorn

After you have popped the corn and maybe drizzled some melted butter on it, season it with Italian herbs such as dried oragano, dried basil and garlic powder and salt. Or Mexican, seasoned with hot pepper flakes, cumin, coriander and salt or season with Hungarian paprika for a twist. Very popular! You need plenty of napkins placed by the popcorn.



Ingredients (judge the amount for the number of people invited)

Romaine lettuce

Bunch of dandelion greens

Package of mixed greens such as mesculin

A couple of Granny Smith Apples, cored and sliced thin

A small container of  blue or  feta crumbled cheese

Lemon juice, fresh or bottled

This could be anything you like. I used Romaine lettuce, Dandelion, and mixed greens in a package.  I added sliced Granny Smith apples ( you can buy them already sliced in a package, but it is cheaper to slice them yourself, and not very hard, only takes 10 minutes) and a cheese, such as blue or feta. Wash, chop and dry the greens. Make your own or use store bought dressing. (Homemade dressing recipe to follow) Just put a little lemon juice on the apples as you slice them. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Add the dressing at the last minute.

Homemade dressing

2/3 c. olive oil

1/3 c. apple cider (preferred) or apple juice

2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar

good size pinch of salt

1/4 tsp.freshly ground pepper

1Tbsp. honey

Put all ingredients in a jar and shake. Pour over greens just before serving

Stuffed Shells

This recipe from Martha Stewart Living magazine. What a great recipe!

Can be made up to 4 weeks ahead and frozen.

 1 box jumbo shells

olive oil

4 oz thinly slice prosciutto, chopped (you can either buy this in the deli section or refrigerated section of deli meats in your supermarket)

3 garlic cloves, minced ( not jarred garlic!)

1 red onion, chopped

1 head radicchio ( I know, sounds weird, but is great) cored and shredded (about 4 cups)

1 tsp. red wine vinegar

12 oz. ricotta cheese 1 1/4 cups)

8 oz. mozzarella cheese, cut into small cubes

salt and pepper

5 cups of tomato sauce


parmesan cheese, grated

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and add pasta. Cook for 10 minutes, rinse  and drizzle with a little olive oil so the pasta does not sick together.

Heat oil in a high sided skillet over medium heat. Cook prosciutto, garlic, and onion until  ingredients start to carmelize, about 6-8 minutes. Add radicchio and cook until tender. Stir in vinegar, cook until evaporated. Let cool awhile. Stir in ricotta and mozarella, season with salt and pepper. Pour 2 cups tomatoe sauce into bottom of each of two 8×12 inch baking dishes. Stuff 32 shells with one heaping teaspoon of filling each. Pack 16 shells into each dish. Cover with plastic wrap and then foil. Freeze if desired.

Preheat oven to 375f. Dot shells with butter. Bake covered for 40 mimnutes. Uncover and raise oven temp to 450 f. Bake until golden and bubbly, about 15 minutes more. Heat remaining sauce, serve with shells and parmesan cheese. 

Now of course, if you ave more than eight people, you will have to add by a half or double the recipe.

A nice loaf of crusty Italian, Ciabatta or french bread would go very well with the stuffed shells.


Dunacn Hines  fudgy brownie mix

Good vanilla ice cream, like my favorite, Breyers vanilla

1 comment to How about a party on a budget!

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