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4th of July Celebration

Spring Gathering for a Crowd

A shower event, a prom party, a graduation, a farewell or just a friendly get-together demands lots of good food. Follow this make-ahead menu planned for 20 people, and you'll be able to enjoy the party, too!


Make It Special

That Special Someone

For a special loved one who is moving or for a celebrated individual, place a photo in a 6-inch or wider mat. Have party attendees autograph the mat and send well wishes. After the party, frame the matted photo for a lifetime keepsake.

Place disposable cameras about the party scene. Guests can capture the moments for you to later compile in a memory book for the star of the party.

Request guests bring a written memory of the honored individual to be shared with everyone at a planned time. This can replace gifts.

Serve with Style

Buffet service frees the host. Consider using several small tables for a cozier feel. Group desserts on one table, beverages on another.

Hire high school or college students to serve appetizers for a special touch, or just have them replenish the tables and free yourself to mingle.

Decorations to Die For

Choose a color scheme that fits your party. Check out party stores for paper supplies or linen outlets for less-expensive table linens. Buy inexpensive rubber stamps, and stamp linens or paper if you can't find ready-made themed ware.

Scatter candles throughout the party area, or string fun lights to match the decor.

Make a flag to hang outside your home to represent the event. Use colored felts and a wooden dowel found at craft stores.


Preparation Guide

Up to 2 Weeks Before

Plan serving dishes; label with intended use and store.

Bake and cool Parmesan Puffs; wrap tightly and freeze.

Bake and cool Pistachio Fudge cups freeze unfrosted.

Up to 2 Days Before

Wash and slice fruit for Festive Fruit Platter cover and refrigerate until serving time. Mix sour cream-brown sugar dip; cover and refrigerate.

The Day Before

Pick up veggies and dip from the supermarket.

Prepare Stuffed Baby Portabella Mushroomsup to the baking step.

Cook potatoes for Party Potatoes


Make Havarti and Sun-Dried Tomato Cheesecake cover and refrigerate.

Make Pesto Eggs with Shrimp up to the step of topping with pesto. Cover and refrigerate.

Mix ingredients except for sparkling water for Sparkling Citrus Punch refrigerate.

Make Apricot Cheesecake Bars

The Morning Of

Frost Pistachio Fudge cups.

Make iced tea.

About 2 Hours Before

Finish Party Potatoes.

Cut Apricot Cheesecake Bars; plate and refrigerate covered.

About 20 Minutes Before

Put cold foods out using cold serving plates. If food will be left out for a long period of time, place plates or bowls on trays filled with ice. Use small serving plates and replace often to keep cold foods fresh and safe.

Make coffee.

About 15 Minutes Before

Bake Stuffed Baby Portabella Mushrooms.

Heat Parmesan Puffs on jelly roll pan in 350░ oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until hot. Heat marinara sauce.

Top eggs with pesto and whole shrimp.

Heat ovenproof serving plates on lowest oven setting to keep appetizers hot longer.


Spring Gathering for a Crowd Menu

Sparkling Citrus Punch

Havarti and Sun-Dried Tomato Cheesecake

Stuffed Baby Portabella Mushrooms

Parmesan Puffs with Marinara

Pesto Eggs with Shrimp

Party Potatoes

Veggies and dip
Festive Fruit Platter

Apricot Cheesecake Bars

Pistachio Fudge cups

Coffee and iced tea




Sparkling Citrus Punch

Easy to make, this recipe makes plenty--enough to quench the thirst of a large gathering of friends and family!

2 cups cold water

1/2 can (12-ounce size) frozen tangerine or orange juice concentrate, thawed

1/2 can (12-ounce size) frozen grapefruit juice concentrate, thawed

1 bottle (1 liter) sparkling water, chilled

1. Mix all ingredients in punch bowl.

2. Serve over ice.


Havarti and Sun-Dried Tomato Cheesecake

Nestled on a buttery cracker crust, cream cheese takes on the flavor of savory ingredients in this elegant party "dip."

Buttery Cracker Crust (See Below)

3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup whipping (heavy) cream

3 eggs

1 tablespoon liquid from sun-dried tomatoes

1 1/2 cups shredded Havarti cheese (6 ounces)

1/2 cup sliced drained sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil and herbs

8 medium green onions, sliced (1/2 cup)

1. Make Buttery Cracker Crust.

2. Reduce oven temperature to 325║F. Beat cream cheese in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add whipping cream, eggs and tomato liquid; beat until creamy. Stir in Havarti cheese, tomatoes and onions until well blended. Spoon evenly over crust in pan.

3. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until center is set. Run knife around edge of cheesecake to loosen. Cool completely at room temperature, about 30 minutes. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours but no longer than 24 hours. Remove side of pan. To serve, cut cheesecake into thin wedges.

Buttery Cracker Crust

1 1/4 cups crushed buttery crackers (28 crackers)

3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

1. Heat oven to 375║F. Mix crumbs and butter until well blended. Press evenly in bottom of springform pan, 10x3 inches. Bake about 10 minutes or until golden brown.


Stuffed Baby Portabella Mushrooms

Party with portabellas! You'll love them because they can be made ahead; party goers will find them delicious.

2 packages (5 oz each) fresh baby portabella mushrooms


large regular white mushrooms

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

3/4 cup chopped red onion

1 cup frozen chopped broccoli, thawed, drained

1/4 cup Progresso« garlic & herb dry bread crumbs

1 package (5.2 oz) Boursin cheese with garlic and herbs

1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon chopped roasted red bell peppers (from a jar)

1. Heat oven to 350░F. Carefully remove stems from mushrooms. Chop enough stems to measure 1/2 cup.

2. In 10-inch skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Cook onion and broccoli in butter 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in mushroom stems. Cook about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until broccoli is crisp-tender. Cool slightly. Stir in bread crumbs, cheese, basil, oregano, garlic salt and pepper.

3. Spoon vegetable mixture evenly into mushroom caps, mounding slightly. Place stuffed mushrooms in ungreased 15x10x1-inch pan. Garnish each with bell pepper pieces.

4. Bake uncovered 12 to 15 minutes or until filling is light golden brown.


Parmesan Puffs with Marinara

A quick and easy batter becomes a batch of golden brown "dippers" that are heavenly when served with warm marinara sauce.

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup butter or margarine

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 eggs

3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup marinara sauce, heated

1. Heat oven to 375║F. Grease cookie sheet.

2. Heat milk and butter to boiling in 1 1/2-quart saucepan. Stir in flour; reduce heat to low. Stir vigorously about 1 minute or until mixture forms a ball; remove from heat.

3. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth after each addition. Stir in cheese. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto cookie sheet.

4. Bake about 15 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Serve warm with marinara sauce for dipping.


Pesto Eggs with Shrimp

A touch of pesto brings deviled eggs to a whole new level!

16 hard-cooked eggs

1/2 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)

1 cup chopped cooked small shrimp

3 tablespoons basil pesto

32 cooked peeled deveined large shrimp

1. Cut eggs lengthwise in half with rippled vegetable cutter or sharp knife. Carefully remove yolks and place in small bowl; reserve egg white halves. Mix yolks, mayonnaise, garlic powder, salt and red pepper until fluffy. Stir in chopped shrimp.

2. Carefully spoon yolk mixture into egg white halves. (If not making ahead, cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours.)

3. Just before serving, top each with about 1/4 teaspoon pesto. Top each with whole shrimp. Serve immediately.


Party Potatoes

If you can boil water, you can make these elegant individual appetizers!

15 small new potatoes (1 1/2 pounds)

2/3 cup sour cream

Dill weed sprigs or chopped fresh chives

1. Heat 1 inch water to boiling in 3-quart saucepan. Add potatoes. Cover and heat to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer 20 to 25 minutes or until tender; drain and cool.

2. Cut potatoes in half; place cut sides up on serving tray. (Cut thin slice from bottom of each potato half, if necessary, to help stand upright.) Top each potato half with 1 teaspoon sour cream and dill weed. Cover and refrigerate about 2 hours or until chilled.


Festive Fruit Platter

You’ll love this healthful-minded dessert! This eye-catching platter has 6 varieties of fresh fruit and an easy sour cream dip.

1 pound seedless green or red grapes, cut into small bunches

1 pint strawberry (2 cups)

1/2 honeydew melon, peeled and sliced

1/2 cantaloupe, peeled and sliced

3 medium apricots, pitted and cut in half

2 medium kiwifruit, peeled and sliced

1 cup sour cream

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

Fresh white currants, if desired

1. Arrange fruits on large platter.

2. Mix sour cream and brown sugar. Garnish dip with currants. Serve with fruit.


Apricot Cheesecake Bars

If you think cheesecake is tops, wait until you try this smooth and elegant dessert.

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup light corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened

3 eggs

1 cup light corn syrup

2 teaspoons vanilla

3/4 cup apricot preserves

Powdered sugar, if desired

1. Heat oven to 375║F. Grease bottom and sides of rectangular pan, 13x9x2 inches. Beat flour, butter, granulated sugar, 1/3 cup corn syrup and the salt in large bowl with electric mixer on low speed until dough forms. Press evenly in pan.

2. Beat cream cheese in medium bowl on medium speed until smooth. Beat in eggs until well blended. Beat in 1 cup corn syrup and the vanilla until smooth. Pour over dough.

3. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until edges are light golden brown and filling is set (filling may appear puffy.) Stir preserves; spread over hot bars. Refrigerate at least 3 hours until chilled.

4. For 64 bars, cut into 8 rows by 4 rows; cut bars diagonally in half. Sprinkle with powdered sugar just before serving. Store covered in refrigerator.


Pistachio Fudge cups

These dainty treats showcase a fudgy filling nestled in a tender cream-cheese crust.

1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened

1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons baking cocoa

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Pistachio Fudge Filling (See Below)

1. Heat oven to 350║F. Beat butter and cream cheese in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with spoon. Stir in remaining ingredients except Pistachio Fudge Filling. 2. Divide dough into 24 equal pieces. Press each piece in bottom and up side of ungreased small muffin cup, 1 3/4x1 inch. Make Pistachio Fudge Filling. Spoon about 2 teaspoons filling into each cup.

3. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until almost no indentation remains when filling is touched lightly. Cool slightly; loosen from cups with tip of knife. Remove from pan to wire rack.

Pistachio Fudge Filling

2/3 cup granulated sugar

2/3 cup chopped pistachio nuts

1/3 cup baking cocoa

2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened

1 egg

1. Mix all ingredients until well blended.