One of my biggest hang-ups when throwing a party is the fear that there will not be enough food to feed everyone and their uninvited tag-a-longs. Sure, I often end up throwing out pounds of pasta or watching as the third batch of cookies goes stale but even this it can’t be worse than doling out tiny portions to your guests with an apologetic smile. A hungry guest is never a happy one. That’s why I think it’s imperative to always have one or two recipes up your sleeve that can be thrown together quickly and can feed a crowd.
My go-to has always been to caramelize a bunch of onions, slap them on some toast, and call it crostini. However, at a recent party hosted at my house, we didn’t have time to be assembling our little hors d’oeuvres as guests trickled in. The party was actually a murder mystery dinner and, since my housemates and I were all characters in the mystery, we needed to be free to mingle with the guests and hunt down the murderer.
This “recipe” (it’s so easy that I hesitate to even call it that) comes from a friend whose other culinary specialty is ramen noodles. She came to the rescue during our murder mystery and whipped up her signature bean dip – it was a huge hit and left us all free to partake in the fun with our guests. Since then, I have kept this dip in my arsenal of “Plan B” dishes. It is ridiculously simple, cheap, and delicious. Best of all, it feeds a lot of people (including vegetarians).
Emily’s Bean Dip
Serves a crowd
All of the items can be store-bought or homemade if you are feeling ambitious. I am a big guacamole freak so I make my own and use canned items for the rest. You can also adjust the proportions to fit your preferences (obviously, my guac layer is extra thick). For parties, it’s also helpful to make this in disposable aluminum pans – no dishes! I generally use 9×11 but any size works, just bake it a little longer for thicker dips.
2 cans of refried beans
1 large container of sour cream
guacamole (see recipe below)
1 jar of salsa
1 large pack of grated cheese (Mexican blend is what I go for)
2 big bags of tortilla chips
For the guacamole:
½ red onion, chopped
4 roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
½ cup of cilantro leaves, finely chopped
juice from 2 limes
dash of juice from canned jalapenos (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Spread the refried beans on the bottom of a baking dish followed by the sour cream, guacamole, and salsa. Try not to mix the layers too much when you spread them out.
Cover the top with grated cheese.
Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted and bubbly.
Remove from oven and serve hot with the tortilla chips.
For the guacamole:
In a large bowl, mix the onion, tomatoes, garlic, and cilantro together.
With a large knife, cut each avocado in half and remove the pit (use the knife to twist it out). Use a spoon to scoop out the avocado and add them all to the bowl.
Using a mixing spoon or fork, mash the avocado together until all the ingredients are even blended. This is a chunky guac so it’s fine if there are still some big pieces of avocado.
Add the lime juice and optional jalapeno juice and stir together.
Katharine spent her junior year indulging in delicious food (and doing a little studying) in Lyon, France and Bologna, Italy. Back home, she loves cooking Ina’s Perfect Roast Chicken.