Wednesday, December 14, 2011

7 Appetizers under $ 10.00

With the holiday season in full throttle and the Evites and Facebook event requests for family gatherings and office potlucks start to pour in, one may start to feel strapped for cash.  It's not bad enough that you already have to buy gifts for your family, then add yankee swap gifts and food or liquor to every party you go to?

Everything seems to add up and that Christmas bonus is not coming quick enough.

In an effort to reduce the stress, (plus my friend Amsi, emailed me asking for recommendations yesterday), I've decided to come up with a list of appetizers that are not only tasty but definitely fit the budget for holiday parties or even Superbowl parties for next month!

Disclaimer: Prices are based on my local grocery store (Market Basket) and Costco's and is subject to change.  Variation of brands also affect pricing.

1. Slow Cooked Kielbasa in BBQ Sauce-
Slice Diagonally (3) 14 oz packages of Smoked Sausage or Kielbasa.  You can also buy it a 3 pack at Costco's.  I prefer the Hillshire Farms brand. Heat a skillet to a high temperature and sear the sausages until it is browned.  Add the browned sausages and 2 bottles of store brand hickory BBQ sauce into a slow cooker and set on High for 3 hours.
Optional: Add a shot of Jack Daniels for a hint of whiskey
Optional: You can use turkey or lite sausage

Sausage: (3) x $ 2.49 = $ 7.47 Sale price (regular price 2.99 ea)
Store brand BBQ Sauce (2) x .99=  1.98
Total: $ 9.45 for almost 3 pounds of Savory Smoke Sausage

2. Meatballs in Sauce
For those who are Italian, please do not take offense to my non-homeade sauce.
Mix 2 pound of ground beef and .5 pound of ground pork with 1 egg, 1 cup of bread crumbs. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.

Optional: Add a dash of Adobo seasoning to mixture
Mix thoroughly and shape the mixture into meatballs
Bake in oven for 15 minutes at 400 degrees or until lightly brown.
Remove from oven and drain fat
Add meatballs in slow cooker with 2 cans of Hunts Tomato Sauce for 3 hours on High

Previously Frozen Ground beef 2 pounds: Around $5.00 (give or take since the package sizes vary)
Previously Frozen Ground pork=  $1.50
Store Brand Plain Breadcrumbs= $1.00
Hunts Tomato Sauce (2) x $1.00=2.00

Total: $ 9.50 (estimate)

3. Spinach and Cream Cheese stuffed Mushrooms
Remove the stem of 2 packages of mushrooms and wash and drain.  In a saucepan, melt one stick of butter     and 1 sleeve of store brand butter crackers (similar to Ritz).  Set aside to cool. Thaw one frozen package of chopped spinach in microwave or hot water.  Drain spinach and add half of the package to the cracker/butter mixture.  Add one bar of store brand cream cheese.  Spoon mixture into mushroom caps and bake for 15 minutes at 380 degrees.
Optional: Lightly toss the mushrooms in oyster sauce for extra flavor before adding mixture

Optional: Substitute  cream cheese for goat cheese (extra money)

Mushrooms:     (2) x 2.99= $5.98
Crackers:        (1) x 1.50= 1.50
Frozen Spinach(1) x 1.00= 1.00
Cream Cheese (1) x 1.00 = 1.00

Total: $9.48

4. Cheese and Crackers
You can't go wrong with cheese and crackers! My favorite crackers are by Pepperidge Farms (although we won't discuss the caloric count!) If you don't have time to prep a dish or you are afraid you will burn the kitchen down, try this.
1 box of Pepperidge Farms crackers, I prefer the "Entertaining Quartet" if you are only going to buy one package.  Pick up 2 packages of presliced cheddar cheese and a wedge of brie.

Pepperidge Farms Crackers: (1) x  $3.00= 3.00
Sliced Cheddar Cheese (2) x $2.00= 4.00
(I do have to mention the cheese is really only $2.00,presliced and everything! It's a steal!)
Brie Wedge (1) x 2.49= 2.49
Total: $9.49 for cheese and crackers

Note: As basic as cheese and crackers come, it is very important to display it nicely. Put some effort into it.

5. Wings, Wings and More Wings
I can write a whole blog about wings as there are so many variations on how to make them. For my last party, I made, Battered BBQ Wings, Buffalo wings and naked wings to accommodate all preferences.  A 10 pound bag of wings at Coscto's usually cost less than $16.00 so that is about $1.60 a pounds. If I wanted to, I could even save more money and big the wings by the case at the local Asian stores.  Obviously the $16.00 bag is more than the $10.00 budget, but its 10 pounds! You can split the bag and prepare it for 2 different parties, so that comes out to about $8.00 for 5 pounds.

Since there are so many variables, its hard to give an estimate on how much the wings will cost in the end. If its naked, of course it will cost less than the Buffalo wings that require Hot Sauce and side of Bleu cheese and celery.  If you bake them or slow cook them, they will costs less than deep frying them since you don't need to buy extra oil.

6. Frozen Wholesale Club Appetizers
I'm a huge fan of frozen appetizers. My family usually gets jalapeno poppers, crab cakes, coconut shrimp and my friend Chuba never disappoints at his parties.  He always has an array of pigs in the blanket and an assortment of pastry puffs.  For less than $ 20.00, you can get a box of frozen Hor D'oeuvres from Costco's with 70-120 pieces per box.  Again, you will have to split the box into 2 parties to achieve the "less than $10.00" goal.  Again, you are bringing A dish to the party, not hosting it.

My new favorite frozen food is Nancy's Petite Quiche.  Not only are the delicious, but they are also vegetarian, which helps fulfill the gaps for my Vegetarian friends.  There was a coupon for this month, so I think I ended up paying $11.00 for the box of 72 pieces which I served at 36 pcs at 2 different events.

7. French Bread Pizza
Rachel Ray's French Bread Pizza
Not sure where this recipe came from, I vaguely remembering my sister introducing it to me.
Slice 2 loaves of French Bread into 2 lengthwise long slices
Spread Hunts Tomato Sauce on the bread to cover all the white
Sprinkle Mozzarella Cheese to the 4 slices
French Bread: (2) x $ 1.50= $3.00
Hunts Tomato Sauce (2) x 1.50= 3.00
1 Bag (2 cups) of Mozzarella Cheese (1) x 2.99= $3.00
Total: $9.00
Optional: Add Pepperoni, Sausages or Peppers and Onions for extra costs

To be Continued