One of the most frustrating components of hosting a party is cooking and preparing food for all of your guests. This frustration seems to increase exponentially in relation to the amount of guests you have to serve. Fortunately, busy cooks can create an easy party food menu by mixing and matching simple appetizers, entrees, side dishes and desserts.
The easiest way to kick-start your party is by offering an appetizer. The simplest option is to load up a plate with your favorite cheeses -- perhaps some brie, goat cheese and blue cheese. An effective complement to a cheese plate is antipasti, which is simply an assortment of deli meats, olives, pepperoncinis and other Italian-inspired treats. The biggest reason to choose these appetizers is that no cooking is required.
On with the Entrees
Laboring away in the kitchen and producing an extravagant, complicated entree may serve to impress your guests, but it will also take away precious time that you can use to entertain and chat with your guests. Tacos are a versatile party entree and a conversation starter, if you let your guests assemble their own. Provide taco fillings like pulled pork, black beans with onions, and freshly chopped mango with tomato salsa to add color. Include soft tortillas as well as crunch taco shells, which will appeal to kids and adults in attendance.
On the Side
One of the simplest and healthiest food options for serving alongside your entree is a salad. While you can stick with a classic tossed salad -- with lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers -- an alternative is to make a festive bean salad, which you can create by combining corn kernels, chopped bell peppers, cilantro and canned beans from the grocery store. Stir up the ingredients with a flavorful bottled salad dressing, such as creamy ranch or chipotle. For a side dish with a bit more starch, rice pilaf, couscous and quinoa are all easy-to-make options.
By setting up a make-your-own-sundae station, dessert can be more than the final course of your party meal: It can be a party activity. Just put out some ice cream, whipped cream and all of your favorite toppings for guests to add on themselves. You won't be able to keep kids away from sprinkles, caramel sauce, chocolate fudge sauce, cherries and strawberries. For a healthier option, serve frozen yogurt instead of ice cream. Instead of -- or in addition to -- sundaes, whip up a batch of cookies. Buy pre-made cookies or cookie dough, or -- if you have a bit more time -- make a very easy homemade Italian cookie known as brutti ma buoni. The recipe requires just four ingredients: hazelnuts, confectionery sugar, egg whites and vanilla extract. Just mix the ingredients into balls, place them on a baking sheet and pop them in the oven.