Everyone has those treasured favorite recipes that become like old friends. To plan a fabulous engagement party or bridal shower without the expense of a caterer, pooling a collection of such recipes is a great Columbia tradition. Grab some friends, make several of the delicious dishes from the recipes listed here and voilà: your party will feature food with the quality of a caterer but also with a personal, homemade flair. And even better, the cleanup is not overwhelming when the delicacies are split between various hosts contributing to the party. Try some of these favorites below that your fellow readers have used to add elegance to any occasion.
Mock Pink Champagne Punch
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups water
2 cups cranberry juice
1 cup pineapple juice
1 cup orange juice
1 12-ounce bottle lemon-lime soda
Combine sugar and water in large saucepan. Boil until sugar dissolves. Cool. Stir in juices. Chill. Add soda just before serving. Makes 12 servings.
Lemon Coconut Squares
1 1/2 cups sifted flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup softened butter
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 1/2 cups flaked coconut or shredded coconut
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon melted butter
juice of one lemon
Mix together all crust ingredients and pat firmly into a well-buttered 9-inch x 13-inch Pyrex dish. Bake at 275 degrees for 10 minutes. Combine all filling ingredients, then spread on top of baked crust. Bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Combine frosting ingredients and spread over filling while warm. Once cooled, cut into small squares. The frosting can be doubled (one with lemon and one with lime) and poured in two stages for a sweeter dessert.
Lemon Coconut Squares and Candy Fudge add an elegant sweetness.
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 chocolate, peanut, caramel and nougat candy bars, broken into bits (about 8 ounces)
1 can (16 ounces) chocolate frosting
Line 8-inch square pan with foil. Spray with your favorite cooking spray. Melt chocolate chips in saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Add frosting and candy bar bits (reserve 2 tablespoons of candy) into melted chocolate and stir until blended. Pour into pan with foil and spread evenly. Sprinkle with the remaining candy bits. Refrigerate for one hour. Remove from foil before cutting into small squares.
6 pounds large shrimp, cooked, peeled, and deveined
4 bay leaves
3 small onions, thinly sliced
2 large lemons, thinly sliced
1 cup ketchup
1 cup Zing Zang Bloody Mary Mix
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups white vinegar
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 tablespoons Worcestershire
salt and pepper to taste
Layer shrimp, onions, lemons and bay leaves in a bowl. In another bowl, mix remaining ingredients together using a hand blender to emulsify. Pour marinade over shrimp and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving. Drain in colander, remove bay leaves and serve in large bowl.
Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes
18 cherry tomatoes
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 green onions, finely chopped
Cut tops off cherry tomatoes and scoop out the insides with a melon ball scooper; discard the pulp. Mix mayonnaise, cheese, and onions in a bowl. Fill the tomatoes with the mixture using the melon ball scooper, forming small mounds on top. Place on a platter and garnish with fresh parsley.
Hot Onion Soufflé
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 cups finely chopped onions
2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
Combine cream cheese and mayonnaise in a bowl and mix well. Stir in onions and Parmesan cheese. Spoon into a baking dish. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until brown and bubbly. Serve with assorted party crackers.
2 cans (8 1/2 ounces each) artichoke hearts, cut up
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
1 3.8-ounce can ripe olives, drained
1 8-ounce jar salsa
1 6-ounce can mushrooms, drained and sliced
Combine all ingredients. Bake 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve with Frito Scoops.
Vegetables (choose any of the following: carrots, new potatoes, sweet potatoes, bell peppers of any color, zucchini, parsnips, Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, asparagus, green beans)
salt and pepper, to taste
Peel sweet potatoes and carrots; wash and dry other vegetables. Cut into large bite size chunks. Keep vegetables separate as they will cook for different lengths of time. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle rosemary on new potatoes and carrots.
Place vegetables on a roasting sheet in a single layer, trying not to crowd so the hot air can get around each one and roast them instead of steaming them. Cook at 400 degrees for the appropriate length of time per vegetable (ranges from about 8 minutes for asparagus to about 30 for potatoes, depending on how large you cut them). Halfway through, turn vegetables so the other side can cook. Test with a fork to see if they’re as soft as you want them. As they start to brown, the sugars caramelize, making them extra sweet.
Choose a serving piece that allows you to create a bountiful pile of each vegetable. Try to distribute the colors.
5 pound tenderloin
Montreal Steak Seasoning
Bring meat to room temperature. Smear olive oil on meat and season to taste with Montreal Steak Seasoning. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Bake for 10 minutes. Without opening the oven, reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 12 minutes. Use instant read thermometer to make sure meat is 140 degrees. Meat will be perfectly rare when carved.
Roasted Asparagus with Yogurt Dill Sauce
2 bunches (16 to 24 spears) jumbo asparagus, trimmed and ends peeled
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon dill
slices of roasted red peppers for garnish
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Meanwhile, prepare a large bowl of ice and water. Blanch the asparagus for about 2 minutes (time depends on size), or until just tender. Drain and plunge into the ice bath. When chilled, remove and refrigerate until ready to grill.
Make Yogurt Dill Sauce by mixing the yogurt, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and dill in a bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Preheat grill or broiler. Season asparagus with salt and drizzle with remaining olive oil. Grill, turning once, about 1 to 2 minutes per side, just until there are nice grill marks on both sides. Place the asparagus on a serving dish and serve with Yogurt Dill Sauce. Garnish with slices of roasted red pepper.
1 loaf whole wheat bread
1 loaf white bread
5 cucumbers, peeled and sliced
1/2 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup mayonnaise
packet dry ranch dressing mix
Mix 1 cup of mayonnaise with 1 heaping tablespoon of dry ranch dressing mix. Cut each loaf of bread with circle cookie cutters. Make row of whole wheat circles, and one of white bread circles. Spread thin layers of mayonnaise mixture on each circle. Place cucumbers on white row of bread circles and sprinkle with bacon and dill. Cover sandwiches with whole wheat circles so each sandwich has a mix of bread colors. Garnish tray with parsley.
Marinated Mushrooms with Mamie’s Salad Dressing
16 ounces of small mushrooms, washed and well-drained
Put mushrooms in a zip top bag with enough Mamie’s Salad Dressing to cover. Reserve some dressing for serving. Let marinate 10 hours at room temperature. Mushrooms will shrink some in size. Serve with the reserved dressing to keep them from becoming dry.
For Mamie’s Salad Dressing:
2 cups olive oil
1 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon each parsley, dill, Italian seasoning, garlic flakes, onion flakes, oregano and black pepper
5 teaspoons salt
10 teaspoons sugar
Blend all ingredients and stir until sugar and salt are dissolved.
1 to 2 pounds pecan halves
3/4 stick of butter per pound of pecans
1/2 cup sugar
In a skillet, melt butter and sugar. Add pecans and stir constantly until browned. Spread over cookie tray to cool, trying to keep pecans from piling up so they won’t stick together once cooled. Break apart to serve.
Sun Dried Tomato Dip
1/4 cup oil-packed sundried tomatoes, drained
1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
7 dashes of Tabasco sauce
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 green onions, very thinly sliced
Puree first six ingredients in a food processor. Add green onions and pulse 3 times. Serve at room temperature with crackers or vegetables.
8 oz grated sharp cheese
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick margarine, room temp
1/8 teaspoon red pepper
1/2 cup chopped nuts
Mix by hand all ingredients. Divide into 4 parts. Shape into rolls. Wrap in wax paper and refrigerate overnight. Cut into slices and cook at 325 degrees for 15 minutes.
Special thanks to Beth Baxley, Irene Booth, Mary T. Dial, Ann Gressette and Susan Johnston for sharing their recipes.