Awesome Tapas Appetizer Ideas

Spanish Tapas

Tapas are a tradition of Spanish cuisine. They're an appetizer that can be served either hot or cold, and are traditionally eaten with a glass of wine, pint of craft beer, or a nice liquor like whiskey or bourbon. Tapas are meant to encourage conversation: instead of people focusing completely on a full meal, guests can snack on small items while talking.

If you're planning a dinner party or just a friendly get-together, tapas are a perfect alternative to a fruit or cheese tray. They can use a variety of exotic ingredients, such as baby squid, or stick to more traditional items such as fried potatoes. Either way, your guests are sure to love them while they mix and mingle.

Patatas Bravas

This is a tapas staple that is famous all over the world. You'll need about an hour to prepare this one, but you can multitask while making the other tapas. Here's the recipe.

  • Fry one small chopped onion for five minutes in a pan with oil
  • Add two chopped garlic cloves, a can of chopped tomatoes, and a few pinches of sugar, salt, paprika, and chili powder
  • Let simmer for about 10 minutes
  • Cut several potatoes (depends on how many guests are coming) into small cubes, then pat dry with a roll of paper towel
  • Pour two tablespoons of olive oil on a cooking sheet, then roast the potatoes for 40-50 minutes until they look golden
  • Mix the potato cubes into the sauce and puncture with little sticks so your guests can easily retrieve a patata brava without getting their hands messy


Shrimp and Chorizo Tapas

This one is for the intermediate cook. It's a favorite recipe of Emil Lagasse, but we've tweaked it to make it a little easier.

  • In a skillet, saute half a pound of sliced chorizo in olive oil for eight minutes
  • Add a cup of thinly sliced onions and saute for five minutes in the skillet
  • Add a sliced clove of garlic and saute for one minute
  • Add half a pound of peeled shrimp and a pinch of salt, pepper, and paprika for seasoning, cooking for five minutes
  • Add a quarter cup olive oil, a tablespoon of lemon juice, and a tiny bit more salt and pepper
  • Stir the mixture around until your ingredients have been fully cooked
  • Serve with the juices, which you can mop up with slices of fresh bread


Dipping Olive Oil and Bread

This is another snacking staple which technically qualifies as a tapas. After all, it's a lovely appetizer that's simple yet tasty.

  • Mix two cups of olive oil with teaspoons of thyme, minced garlic, basil, parsley, oregano, and black pepper
  • Add half a teaspoon of salt and lemon juice
  • Add two tablespoons of grated cheese (Parmesan usually works well)
  • Mix together to create a tasty, tangy dipping sauce for fresh bread

If you're inviting many guests, you can always double the recipes; for more intimate parties, halve the recipes. Enjoy your tapas snacking!

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Get Ready for Cocktails!

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Everyone wants to be the “hostess with the mostest” during the holiday season. One of the best ways to have the most festive party is to have a great bar. The good news is that a great bar doesn’t have to be a lot of work. We are going to discuss two different simple syrups—that can be made ahead of time—and two different killer cocktail recipes, and one mocktail recipe that will get the party going and keep your guests coming back for more.
A simple syrup is a solution of flavoring, water, and sugar that become the sweet base for your cocktail. Use tastes of the season to keep party festive.
Apple Cinnamon Simple Syrup
2 cups of very hot water
2 cups—lightly packed—brown sugar
6 red apple peels
1 cinnamon stick
Stir all of the ingredients together and let them simmer for 30 minutes or so on low heat. If you make this on the day of the party, it makes your house smell fabulous. Strain the solution in to a bottle and store in your refrigerator until you are ready to use.
Honey Simple Syrup
½ cup honey
½ cup water
Stir them together in a pot and let them heat over medium heat just until they are entirely incorporated. Store in an airtight bottle in the refrigerator.
When it’s time to make the drinks, you now have a few very versatile syrups to help make your cocktails (and mocktails) stand out.
A Slice of Apple Pie Cocktail
8 oz of Everclear
3 cups Apple Cinnamon Simple Syrup
Cinnamon stick—for garnish

Mix this drink ahead of time in a pitcher. Rim your glasses with sugar and cinnamon mix.
*Note, Everclear is a very potent alcohol; err on the side of too little rather than too much. These cocktails have a real kick.*

A Virgin Long Island Ice Tea
Yes, a long Island Ice Tea is a notoriously potent cocktail. For the non-drinkers in the group, serve one without alcohol. Use the Honey Simple Syrup as a sweetener for black ice tea on the rocks. Garnish with a slice of lemon. It will be the best ice tea your guest has ever had.
The Honeybee
2 oz of white rum
1 tablespoon of Honey Simple Syrup
½ oz of lemon juice
Shake all of the ingredients together in shaker and serve on the rocks. Serve in a chilled glass. If you are feeling festive, add an extra squeeze of honey.


Smoothies…for Now and Later

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For working mothers, it can be difficult to find the time to prepare healthy meals with enough variety to keep the family happy. However, you can make ahead smoothies that have endless combinations. They are a quick way to provide a nutritious breakfast for the family. The following recipes are for one serving. However, the amount of ingredients can be increased for a larger batch. Make sure to store and freeze the rest of the batch until next time. Here are two starter recipes, one with a milk base and one with water.

First, prepare half a cup of blackberries. Both frozen and fresh blackberries work for this recipe. Also, prepare two ripe peaches and make sure to clean out the pit in the center. You'll need half a cup of low fat milk. Use nonfat for a low calorie count or 2% for full flavor. If you would like some extra sweetness, you can also use a teaspoon of honey. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.

The second recipe is a strawberry non-dairy drink that is water-based. Prepare one cup of strawberries, a quarter cup of water, four ice cubes and a tablespoon of honey. Add the water and strawberries in the blender first with the honey and ice cubes added last. Start off blending the mixture slowly while increasing the speed of the blender gradually to high until the mixture is a red, smooth liquid. Continue to blend on high for an additional 30 seconds.

You may also add 4 to 5 ice cubes to chill the drink if you want to serve it immediately. Using chilled or frozen ingredients usually eliminates the need for ice cubes, though. Freeze the rest of the batch, but it would be best not to add ice cubes to the rest as it will water down the flavor of the drink. When the rest of the frozen smoothie batch is ready to be served, just defrost it until it can be put into a blender. Then you can blend the frozen mixture until it is smooth.

You can experiment with different types of fruit according to your family's tastes, and even sneak in a few spinach leaves they'll never know are in there. Or even try an apple and spinach smoothie. 1-2 tablespoons of yogurt are great additions to most smoothies, and boost the calcium. Avocado will also add creaminess with some good vitamins. Blueberries add great color, flavor and antioxidants. Also, if you break a banana into a few chunks and freeze it, it makes a great thickener and can replace ice. Because busy mothers can make them ahead of time, these healthy beverages are a great way to ensure that the kids are getting their fair share of daily fruit.