Tag Archives: easy party snacks

Home-Made Hummus: Easy, Delicious, and Versatile

29 Mar

I haven’t made my own hummus in a while; laziness, really. I used to make it regularly and it was a terrific go-to for quick lunches as well as unexpected guests. But there are quite a few on the market that I like well enough to forget how much better it can be when you make it yourself.

As easy as pushing a button.

As easy as pushing a button.

But I had several cups of chick peas that I had soaked and needed to do something with.

I considered making falafel, but what I really need in my fridge right now is something to help me get through Lent with no cheese. (I gave it up for this pre-Easter period of mindfulness and have found it somewhat trying not to be able to just reach for a slice of something salty, creamy and filling whenever I am feeling peckish. While on a spiritual plane it is reminding me to be grateful for all the abundance that is in my life, I am also realizing how much of my son’s dinners and leftovers I have been snacking on. I had no idea how routine it has become for me to nibble on his cheesy pastas or melted cheese tortilla chips while making food or washing up. Wow.)

Ready to be stored in the fridge

Ready to be stored in the fridge

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When Food Allergies Happen to Food People (Gluten-free champiñones al ajillo)

25 Mar

They sidle up to you in the hallway at work when no one else is around. They approach you with the hangdog expression of a sinner headed to the confessional for the same reason they went last week. Or they send you a hesitant text, dangling uncertainly between apologetic and grief-stricken, unable to tell you directly in person. They are embarrassed, bewildered, ashamed.

They are….Foodies with Allergies and they are coming to your house for a dinner party!

This happened to me during the planning of that play-reading party you’ve been hearing a lot about in my recent posts.

Let me clarify. The food allergies didn’t happen to me, the guests with food allergies did (see how quickly I distance my own foodie self from any suggestion of an allergy?). Two friends, food-lovers both, came to me with their tales of woe. One, (who is already vegetarian, for the love of God) has celiac disease, which means her small intestines can’t tolerate gluten – found in wheat, rye and barley. The other is getting tested for possible lactose-intolerance.

Gluten-free tapas...

Gluten-free tapas…

Now it does seem like food sensitivities and intolerances and flat-out allergies are on the rise in our population. The whole peanut thing has taken over many schools, which have nut-free areas. Gluten-free has been the latest way for companies to flog their products as ostensibly healthier because it has less of something.

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Classic Tapas: Champiñones al ajillo (Mushrooms in Garlic)

22 Dec

I have such good memories of Old Madrid, fragmented yellow afternoon light poking into the bar from the narrow street outside; standing at a stainless steel bar focused on stabbing mushrooms with a toothpick as they swam in garlicky sauce in a red clay cazuela, the peasant poetry of light red wine poured into a homely, stemless glass with a thick bottom,  crusty rounds of bread crumbling under your elbows. Nothing better to do than spend the summer evening exploring more windy streets and more interesting little appetizers.

Whether you’re preparing a cozy tête à tête with something light to nibble on,  looking for a simple vegetable dish to round out your appetizers or accompany a meat, seeking something to serve with the aperitif at your next cocktail party, or just want something a bit more befitting your station than Cheese Doodles to nosh on while you watch T.V. with a glass of something, look to Spain, and specifically to the iconic tapas: Champiñones al ajillo or mushrooms in garlic sauce, Spanish-style. Continue reading

Delusional – Why am I hosting a jewelry party? For the snacks!

21 Nov

A do-the-best-you-can jewelry party snack table. White cheese and grapes are on the far left

It really was a great idea.



I decided to host a jewelry party at home, with the help of my mom, on the eve of Veteran’s Day since I and most of my friends had the next day off. Super.

Then my parents scheduled a trip and wouldn’t be around. Not-so-super.

Then the day actually came. Oh…sugar.

I don’t have time for this…

But, thankfully, Amanda, another mom at Spanish school, had just asked me for a quickie interesting recipe she could take to an outdoor party. “I know! Dominican white cheese and red grapes.”

All you need is cheese, grapes, toothpicks and a knife. Really.

Here’s your clever answer when someone wants to know where the idea came from (after you mention Hot, Cheap & Easy, of course).

Spain’s classic fruit and cheese combo of Manchego sheep cheese and membrillo (quince) is probably what inspires New World Latinos to try other pairings of fruit with local cheeses. Caribbean white cheese – sort of like firm mozzarella with more salt and muscle – goes unbelieveably well with tart-sweet red grapes. But to convince your guests to pop both in their mouths at the same time, skewer each block of cheese with a single grape and force the flavor explosion.

White Cheese and Grape Cocktail Skewers


16 oz block of Queso Blanco (Latin white cheese, firm. It is available at Latin grocery stores, but my Costco also sells it in economy size bricks)

bunch seedless red grapes (the firmer the better)


Cut cheese into 1/2 inch square blocks. Skewer each block with a red grape. Arrange artfully on a tray. Enjoy the expressions of startled pleasure on faces.

Addendum: Amanda reports that she took it a step further and shredded parmesan cheese on a foil covered baking sheet at 300 or so, until browned and crisp. She then put the skewers on it for an edible (and therefore disposable) tray for her potluck. ¡Gracias amiga!

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