Like many of you, I am getting ready to host a holiday gathering at my house. While I’m excited to celebrate the season with good friends and family, I dread all the work that goes into the planning, prepping, cleaning, organizing and shopping for the event. Not to mention the money and time spent before, during and after the party. So this year, I’ve decided to make it easy on myself, and my wallet, by hosting a “Pairing Party.” Similar to a cocktail party with hors d’oeuvres or a Spanish tapas party, I’ll be serving mingle-friendly appetizers and other finger foods for my guests to sample and build their own light bites. Not only will the pairing party cut back on the amount of prep work and the cost of a full-course meal, it will allow your guests to select which food combinations they want to try. So instead of cheese and crackers, maybe your guest prefers mini meatballs sandwiched between two Pretzel Crisps® with a slice of parmesan cheese. Think of it as a buffet of appetizers open to guests throughout the night. They will be able to sample a variety of foods, the way they like to eat them, while catching up with old and new friends.
For my holiday pairing party, I’ll be setting up food stations for guests to experiment and challenge their taste buds. Each station will contain pairing options, as recommended by me, and an assortment of crackers, breads, veggies and Pretzel Crisps® for guests to use as the base of their appetizers. When it comes to the types of food stations, the possibilities are endless, but I’ve listed a few to help you get started.
The Dip Station – This hot and cold station offers a selection of cheese, fruit, meat, and veggie based dips and spreads. Some of my favorites include spinach dip, buffalo chicken dip with blue cheese, peach and mango salsa and mushroom, goat cheese and herb dip.
The Grill Station – Hot and savory sausage, kielbasa, chicken strips, cocktail franks and grilled shrimp will be the focus of this station. Served with a side of sautéed onions and peppers, sauerkraut, spicy mustard and bacon crumbles, yum!
Cheese and Fruit – A simple station where guests can sample a variety of gourmet cheeses, fresh fruit and preserves, lightly salted and raw nuts and an assortment of olives. All of which can be paired with veggies, baguette slices, Pretzel Crisps® or your favorite protein from the Grill Station.
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