I had my sole annual big party last night, and I am incredibly happy with the dishes I made. Due to a water-shutoff in my building, I had to trim the menu, but what I did make got gobbled up. So, I think I'll be adding the recipes to my party-ready repertoire. Here's what I made:
-Epicurious' Beet, Chickpea, and Almond Dip--basically hummus, but turned a festive magenta color from the beet. Thankfully not too earthy-tasting from the beet, but I did toast the almonds for greater flavor, which I think helped.
-Crab dip--a neighbor's recipe from years ago. It uses the fake crab, which sounds a bit midwestern-retro, but got rave reviews all these years later. I thinkn the fake stuff holds up better than the real, and in this recipe, it tastes good too! (used "crab," mayo, cream cheese, bookbinder's cocktail sauce, & green onions--basic but yummy with butter crackers)
-Epi's Dates stuffed with herbed goat cheese and wrapped in basil and prosciutto. Broiled. Time consuming, but not difficult. Very sophisticated-tasting, but not scary for the picky eaters. Went fast!
--Chocolate-mayonnaise cupcakes with caramel-butterscotch frosting. Decided to go with cupcakes instead a full-sized cake, because require no slicing--easier to grab and go at a cocktail party. Great flavor, but frosting was rather loose (recipe also made about 3 batches worth of frosting). Not sure if it was my inexperience, since it required whisking eggs & sugar over simmering water, then beating in butter and homemade caramel sauce. At the very least, I would eat the caramel sauce straight! Cupcakes themselves were very rich, a bit dense--people were surprised at the "secret" ingredient of mayo--I think the effect was a bit like sour cream.
--Buttercup's red velvet cake turned into cupcakes--very springy cupcakes, which was a relief considering the conversion from a full-sized cake and the fact that I think their cupcakes at the bakery tend to be dry. The frosting was (I think) the traditional one--a milk-flour "gravy" beat into butter and sugar. I thought the frosting was a bit too greasy for me, but other people loved it.
--Pitchers of cranberry kir royales--always a hit. Elegant, girly, and fun at the same time.
--Pitchers of gin-gin mules--Guests were shocked that they liked this, for some reason I can't figure out. Personally, I love gin and ginger beer! Very fresh tasting, and converted well into a pitcher-sized recipe (see my post on the Spirits board). Also, not as insanely strong as many mixed drinks, which I think is a good idea for a big party--best to pace oneself!
Anyway, on this note, fellow Chowhounds, what are your tried-and-true party recipes?? A plus if it's something that requires no utensils to eat (ie can be eaten standing in a crowded room!)!