Bring a Cool Caffeine Kick
As we head into the summer months, consider serving an iced coffee or tea. In particular, coffee is particularly amenable to recipe variations that can be customized to match the level of formality of the event and the amount of complexity you have time for. Whether it’s for a simple iced coffee, gorgeous southern-inspired coffee punch or clever coffee cocktails, you start with a basic pick-me-up ingredient that can be dressed up or down and made in advance for convenience.
If iced tea is your preference, you might try a green tea brewed from scratch (not too strong, as too strong a brew of green can upset the stomach) and packed while still warm with a tied bunch of bruised mint and slices of lemon or orange.
Cut the Carbs a Little
Keep party guests from becoming sluggish by offering alternatives or antidotes to carbohydrate-heavy treats such as birthday cake. Vegetables and a wee bit of protein in the right proportions are key.
Your favorite Swedish or sweet-and-sour cocktail meatballs could play a part, as could the classic presentation of chilled shrimp and a zesty cocktail sauce. Keep bread to a minimum and fresh raw veggies abundant.
For a real dazzler, put together an antipasto platter. Antipasti consist of a couple of cured meats sliced razor-thin, morsels of one or two cheeses, and loads of fresh, pickled and marinated vegetables and olives. If you can, find marinade recipes for one or two of the foods yourself because it’s easy but then you can say, “Yes, I made that.”
Half of the antipasto platter’s reason for existence is the beauty arising from thoughtful assembly of colors, shapes and textures. Visit your favorite Web search engine for tips if needed, and be sure to choose pretty party picks and tongs from catering supplies to complete your work of art.
Apply Direct Heat
Another way to keep the munching lively is to introduce a little spice or even pack a snack with real heat. Slice a spicy sausage into bite-sized chunks, cook and pair it with an appropriate dipping sauce (marinara with a hot Italian, chutney with a curried variety, etc.) or break out your favorite stuffed jalapeno recipe.
If you are looking for a spicy-sweet snack, go for a glazed nut recipe that includes a touch of cayenne.
Another suggestion for maintaining alertness through an event – especially in hot weather – is to lighten up alcoholic offerings. Instead of hard liquor, opt for beer; instead of wine, mix up wine spritzers and so on. A favorite in this category is sangria, a refreshing mixture of wine and fruit juices with a little sparkle.
To make sangria serving 6-8, pour a bottle of a cabernet sauvignon you like into a pitcher that holds at least two quarts. Stir in a heaping tablespoon of sugar, a couple ounces of orange juice and a couple ounces of dry gin. Drop a couple handfuls of chunked fresh or canned pineapple into the pitcher. Quarter a lemon, a lime and an orange, squeeze their juices into the pitcher and then drop them into the pitcher too. Chill the sangria for eight hours minimum.
Serve the sangria half-and-half with chilled ginger ale in festive party drinkware. If you like, garnish the drinks with lemon half-moons or skewered pineapple chunks.