Sunday, January 5, 2014

Hosting HEALTHY parties

So, I LOVE hosting.

Holidays, birthdays, the third Sunday of the month... I don't care what it is, I just love having people in my home! I love being surrounded by loved ones and making them feel at home. In the transient life that is common among military families, it is essential that people learn to feel at home FAST.

Having people to your house is the best way to do that when you have young children. Of course, restaurants are a common meet up spot, but with little kids that doesn't always (read: EVER) come out to be as relaxing as I'd like.

Hosting means cleaning, getting your home ready for company and stocking up on beverages...but my FAVORITE part is cooking and baking for people!

My daughter just turned three, and I'm planning her birthday party menu tonight.  I wanted to share it with you all so that if you too are hosting a party you can add a few HEALTHY dishes in to the mix! A lot of these also make some great snacks throughout the week -- so if you mix them up on Sunday you'll have some great options of things to snack on when you come home starving!

Bruschetta - I got this one from my sister! We had it at the Thanksgiving she hosted and it was WONDERFUL!

2 1/2 C. Roma tomatoes
2 tsp. minced fresh garlic
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 C. parmesan cheese, grated
1/3 C. chopped fresh basil
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt 
1 tsp. pepper

Mix together and let sit to let flavors blend! 
You can serve this with slices of broiled bread, but if you are searching for a gluten-free, or "heavier" option it can also be served with cucumber slices or over pieces of roasted chicken! 

Bacon-Wrapped Squash - who doesn't like bacon?

1 large squash, personally I like acorn 
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. olive oil
sprinkle of black pepper
1 package of bacon

Heat oven to 450. Toss squash (peeled and diced) with salt, olive oil and pepper. Cut bacon strips in half lengthwise and roll around each piece of squash. Place seam side down on a baking sheet. Cook about 15-20 minutes, or until bacon is done. 

Chili Pepper Popper - say that ten times fast!

12 jalapeƱo peppers
1 1/2 C. chili <--- recipe for that below! 
2 avocados, soft enough to mash

Preheat oven to 375 and line a baking tray. Cut jalapenos in half, removing the sees and membrane. Fill the peppers with chili mixture. Roast uncovered, 10-20 minutes, until peppers are cooked. Mash avocado. Place small amount of mashed avocado on hot peppers and serve immediately. 

 Chili - Hosting a party? Chances are, the night before you'll want to clean a little extra! Give yourself that time (and prep a bit for the next day's menu!) by making crock pot chili! 

1 lb. ground beef or turkey
1/2 C. diced onion 
1/2 C. diced celery
1/4 C. green pepper
2 cloves minced garlic 
20 oz. tomato puree 
15 oz. kidney beans, use liquid
15 oz. kidney beans, drained
1/2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dried basil 
3/4 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. pepper

Brown meat in skillet and drain excess fat. Place all ingredients in crock pot and cook on low for 8 hours. 

I got compliments on ALL THREE of these items, and had NOTHING leftover! So, these are TESTED and APPROVED by some of America's finest ---> my pals. :)  Whether you are hosting, or just offered to bring a side to a friends party ANY of these would be great (and relatively simple!) options!