Friday, March 27, 2009

Porta Party

If you're looking for another great way to entertain on the cheap, I've stumbled across a terrific idea recently. It's called a progressive party. The party starts at the first host's house, where appetizers are served. The guests remain there for about an hour, enjoying their appetizers and drinks, and then it's on to the next house for the main course. When everyone is finished, and has had a chance to digest a bit and chat, it's on to the final house for dessert and after-dinner drinks. You might want to select a holiday theme for your party, or focus on cuisine from a certain country.

The beauty of this type of party is that you are only responsible for one part of the meal, so it's less expensive than serving all three courses. There's a lot less work involved, too. It also keeps it exciting for the partygoers to have three different environments throughout the evening. The bad news is, you still have to clean your house, even though the guests will only be there for a little while!

To make this a little more environmentally friendly by not using a lot of gas to go from house to house, make sure everybody carpools in the most fuel-efficient car owned by the group. Or to keep it even greener, this type of party could be organized among residents of the same apartment building, mobile home park, or neighborhood where the houses were close enough together to walk.

Just a few tips to help your party go off without a hitch. If alcohol is being served at the hosts' houses, you will want to appoint a designated driver at each stop. The guests could take turns, so each gets to have a drink at at least one house. Of course this will not be a problem if you are walking between houses. You'll also want to have everyone RSVP so each host knows how many people to expect. Keep the guest list small, since not every home has space enough to seat a large number of people. Finally, make sure you have directions to any house where the host will not be with you in the car! This should prevent aimless rambling with tummies rumbling!

I hope you all give this a try. I would love to hear how your parties work out. Bon Appetit!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Cook Up a Crock of Gold For Less Green

I seem to be preoccupied with cooking lately. This is my second recipe post in a row! I couldn't really let St. Paddy's Day go by without posting my simple recipe for Corned Beef and Cabbage, though. The corned beef brisket is on sale cheap at all the major supermarkets right now, and carrots, potatoes and cabbage are always inexpensive, so this is a really thrifty meal! Buy a couple of extra packages of corned beef while they're on sale, and freeze for later!

Betsy O'Bargain's St. Paddy's Day Corned Beef and Cabbage

1 corned beef brisket, marinated and ready to cook
potatoes, peeled and cut in half
carrots, peeled and cut into pieces
cabbage, cut into wedges

Put the beef into your crockpot, and add water so it comes within a couple inches of the top. Add the spice packet, if one is included with the beef. Place on high until it starts to come to a boil. Turn crockpot to low, and cook about five hours.

Add the potatoes and carrots during the last hour, and the cabbage within the last fifteen minutes. How many vegetables you use will be limited only by the size of your crockpot. It is done when the cabbage is tender.

Scoop meat and vegetables out of the crockpot with a slotted spoon. Serve with vinegar for the vegetables, and spicy mustard for the corned beef, if desired.

Mmmm, good, and that's no blarney!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Good, Cheap Food, And That's No Crock!

All this cold weather we're having lately has inspired me to share one of my favorite cold-weather recipes with you. It meets all my criteria for a great recipe. It's simple, healthy and cheap to make!

Chilly Weather Crockpot Chili


(3) 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes (bought in bulk or on sale with a great coupon, of course!)
(3) 15.25 oz cans kidney beans, drained (ditto!)
a couple handfuls of browned ground beef, or Boca (vegetarian) crumbles (optional)
salt to taste
1-2 packets of those pepper flakes left over from pizza deliveries (you know you have some)
1/2 tsp. cumin (bought in bulk from bins, or from the 99cent store, naturally!)
OR if you don't have any pepper flake packets and cumin, you can use 1 1/2 tsp. chili powder

Dump everything in a crockpot (mine was $1 at a yard sale-so what if it's an ugly 70's orange!). Start the pot on high for about one hour while you get ready for work. Reduce to low when you leave for work. Come home to a fantastic-smelling house. Eat!

Nutritional Tip: If you leave out the ground beef or Boca crumbles, serve over rice to make a complete protein.

P.S. This is very good served with cornbread.

Be sure and let me know how you like this recipe when you try it!