27 Perfect Party Recipes | Midwest Living
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27 Perfect Party Recipes

Bring out the best of seasonal flavors--fresh, grilled or chilled--the next time you entertain.

Chilled Tomato-Bean Soup

We created this herbed tomato soup to serve as an appetizer or first course. If you use canned tomatoes and hot-style vegetable juice, it's almost a no-measure recipe. You can experiment with substituting fresh tomatoes if they're available.

Chilled Tomato-Bean Soup

Five-Way Margarita

Switching a few ingredients in our 10-minute limeade drink opens new options. Go for Original Limeade, So Strawberry, Blue Lagoon, Pomegranate or the nonalcoholic Designated Driver.

If you love nachos with your margaritas, bite into our Nachos Grande--loaded with cheese, beans, and a variety of other toppings.

Five-Way Margarita

Nachos Grande

Blue Cheese Tart and Parmesan Mushroom Cups

These two cheesy appetizers come from a Madison, Indiana, reader who prepares them for a supper club. The Blue Cheese Tart blends blue cheese and cream cheese with pecans for a mouthwatering savory appetizer. For the Parmesan Mushroom Cups, you can make the tart shells and filling a day ahead, then just heat and serve the day of your party.

Blue Cheese Tart

Parmesan Mushroom Cups

Chile-Lime Grilled Tiger Shrimp with Avocado Cocktail Sauce

This shrimp cocktail makes a beautiful presentation for any occasion, served in margarita, martini or wine glasses The spicy shrimp and buttery avocado blend well, and the citrus of the tomato complements these flavors, too.

Chile-Lime Grilled Tiger Shrimp with Avocado Cocktail Sauce

Fresh Corn, Tomato and Chipotle Chile Salsa

Homemade salsa bursts with freshness thanks to straight-from-the-garden corn, tomatoes and sweet peppers. Chipotle chiles add a hint of heat alongside the tangy lime juice. It's like a bite of summer when scooped up on corn chips. You can also serve it with grilled meat or poultry.

Fresh Corn, Tomato and Chipotle Chile Salsa

Big Cheese Appetizer

Shelley Krakenbuhl of Prima Kase cheese factory in Monticello, Wisconsin, likes to brush a round of Gouda with mustard, wrap the cheese in phyllo and bake it until the Gouda is soft and spreadable. Here's our version.

Big Cheese Appetizer

Sweet and Sour Chicken Wings

A reader in Saint Paul gave us this recipe, which always gets raves from her guests. The sweet glaze uses pineapple juice, ketchup and soy sauce.

Sweet and Sour Chicken Wings recipe

Bacon-Stuffed Mushrooms

The Nueske family of Nueske's Applewood Smoked Meats in Wittenberg, Wisconsin, shared this never-fail appetizer recipe for mushrooms stuffed with cream cheese, bacon and sharp cheddar or smoked Gouda cheese.

Like your bacon bite-size? Then you should also enjoy Bacon and Mushroom Bite-Size Quiches, a recipe from Carma Rogers at the National Pork Board in Des Moines. Make these little quiches a day ahead and reheat them at party time.

Bacon-Stuffed Mushrooms

Bacon and Mushroom Bite-Size Quiches

Gouda and Red Onion Pizza

This easy appetizer pizza features shredded Gouda and caramelized onions. The recipe comes from Gouda maker Oakvale Farmstead Cheese in London, Ohio.

Gouda and Red Onion Pizza

Vegetable Tray Masterpiece

Sweet peppers make colorful containers for a quick-and-easy blender dip. Serve with assorted vegetable dippers, crackers or chips.

Vegetable Tray Masterpiece

Phyllo Cheese Straws

Greek favorites phyllo and feta stand out in this appetizer from Hellenic Cuisine: Secret Greek Recipes, a community cookbook featuring recipes passed down through three generations of the Ladies of St. Nicholas Greek Church in St. Louis, Missouri.

Phyllo Cheese Straws

Artichoke Canape

Serve this creamy, hot herb-and-garlic artichoke dip with crostini, toast points, crackers or bagel chips.

Artichoke Canape

Fresh Tomato Tart

This recipe has been a favorite with Midwest Living® readers since it was first published in August 2000. It's from Geri Boesen, creative director of the magazine. Geri combines Midwest-grown tomatoes (her favorites are from her home state of Iowa, of course) with fresh basil in a cheesy tart. The recipe makes eight appetizer servings.

Fresh Tomato Tart

Peanut Sauce with Veggies

Chef Sara Moulton, who provided this recipe, says it's a longtime favorite. "Many years ago I hired my friend Rosa Ross, a cooking teacher and author who specializes in Chinese cuisine, to teach me some recipes for a Chinese New Year's party," Sara says. "One of the recipes was Summer Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce. The dipping sauce was completely addictive. Here is my adapted version."

Peanut Sauce with Veggies

Savory Cheese Scones

Sage, dry mustard and a pinch of red pepper add zip to these scones. Serve warm with butter, if you like.

Savory Cheese Scones

Grapes and Prosciutto with Cheese on a Skewer

Salty hamlike prosciutto, creamy cheese and grapes create a party-perfect, easy-to-eat finger food.

Grapes and Prosciutto with Cheese on a Skewer

Tomato and Cheese Tart

Assorted varieties of tomatoes add color and freshness to this puff pastry tart. The pastry can be made ahead, then topped and baked at the last minute.

Tomato and Cheese Tart

Tomato-Topped Baked Brie

An herb-tomato topping brings out the flavors of summer in this baked brie appetizer. Serve with toasted French bread slices.

Tomato-Topped Baked Brie

Beef-on-Rye Canapes

Fresh-from-the-garden herbs added to softened cream cheese and chopped roast beef make a tasty twist on traditional English sandwiches in Beef-on-Rye Canapes. Another classic tiny treat: Egg-and-Herb Tea Sandwiches, made with hard-cooked eggs and fresh-snipped watercress, chives or parsley.

Beef-on-Rye Canapes

Egg-and-Herb Tea Sandwiches

Gruyere-Walnut Pesto with Crudites

We paired this flavor-packed pesto with the usual vegetables and included breadsticks and crackers, too. Display these colorful dippers around the pesto mixture for a party centerpiece.

Gruyere-Walnut Pesto with Crudites

Chunky Fresh Tomato Salsa

"A very good fresh tomato salsa is within everyone's reach," says Chicago chef Rick Bayless. He developed this recipe for people who aren't knife wizards. It uses a food processor for the garlic, green chile, cilantro and half the tomatoes. "Green onions are the easiest to cut," he says, "but feel free to use white or red onion if that's what's available or appealing."

Chunky Fresh Tomato Salsa

Marinated Lime Shrimp Appetizer

The lime-and-cilantro marinade gives this seafood appetizer a flavorful punch.

Marinated Lime Shrimp Appetizer recipe

Charred Corn Guacamole with Tortilla Crisps

Lightly charring corn kernels under the broiler adds a nice corn flavor to this make-ahead dip. Prepare it the day ahead and store in the refrigerator.

Charred Corn Guacamole with Tortilla Crisps

Chilled Tomato-Bean Soup

We created this herbed tomato soup to serve as an appetizer or first course. If you use canned tomatoes and hot-style vegetable juice, it's almost a no-measure recipe. You can experiment with substituting fresh tomatoes if they're available.

Chilled Tomato-Bean Soup

Grilled Flank Steak

Serve this thin-sliced beef on baguette slices for an appetizer or on hearty whole-grain bread for a sandwich. Chicago grilling expert Elizabeth Karmel says it's also delicious without bread, just topped with the sauce.

Grilled Flank Steak

Sauerkraut Balls

This traditional German appetizer, popular in northeast Ohio, comes from the Hey Hey Bar and Grill in Columbus. Even if you're not usually a sauerkraut fan, you may love the sweet-sour tang of mustard and kraut inside crispy deep-fried shells.

Sauerkraut Balls

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