Now that COVID-19 restrictions have lifted (mostly) and most provinces are able to enjoy a summer fairly similar to pre-covid times, there’s a lot of gatherings and summer festivities that make this year’s summer special. I’ve been lucky enough to have a few bake-offs and barbecues at my residence the last few months. With the better weather, August is a great time to get together with family and friends.
But one thing I’m not fantastic at is planning for family and friends gatherings. What should I prepare? How much should I prepare? What are some ideas for easy appetizers and finger food?
I’ve compiled a list of my menu favorites for this summer that are easy for the AU student to prepare and host at any gathering.
If you’re looking for a minimalist appetizer—these are it! Meatballs are high in protein and can even come prepared in frozen bags. If you want to be extra fancy, skewer the meatballs and serve with a drizzle of gravy (also simple to make over the stove with pre-made gravy powder). They are filling and delicious and sure to please any crowd.
For appetizers, potato skins are incredibly easy to make. If you’re busy on the same day you’re hosting a dinner, throw some potatoes into the oven and bake until tender, then prepare a few toppings like bacon bits, sour cream and scallions for a delicious and easy carbohydrate that keeps your folks entertained while they wait for the main course.
This is another easy snack to prepare for busy hosts. I personally love making my own jalapeno poppers with fresh peppers (sometimes I will use serrano peppers instead, depending on what’s on sale at the supermarket). Purchase a block of cream cheese and stuff each half pepper with cheese. I like to use my air fryer as it speeds up the baking process, and voila! Serve with some chopped garlic, chives, or bacon bits on top for some extra flavor. It’s so easy and so delicious.
If you’re looking for a slightly fancier version of just nacho chips and salsa then this is an excellent option. I find that I want to appear like I made an effort to cater to my guests rather than pulling out a store-bought bag of chips and salsa. Mac and cheese dip is so simple and delicious. Every college student has a box of kraft dinner lying around but turning it into a gourmet dip for your nachos is a trick that I learned while in school. If you have any frozen corn or onion at home, mince those and add it to your dip for extra flavor. If not, simply adding some extra cheese and baking your mac and cheese in the oven will look gourmet. I like to top mine with some cilantro as well for extra flavor and garnish.