party food

Entertaining is a thoroughly delightful and rewarding activity. I also find it to be quite delicious, as I love serving yummy snacks and finger food, which I consider “party food.” To me, party food is synonymous with delicious and fun. It is non-fussy and very forgiving. Party food delights and enchants guests alike and keeps hosts calm and proud. Take a look at some of my recipes for your next party!

Orange and a blend of spicy red pepper is one of my favorite flavor combinations to prepare chicken with. The sweetness and acid of the orange balances the heat and punch of the red pepper, creating a a marinade that is kind of like a spicy margarita, with equal parts sweetness, spice, and salt. This dish of spicy orange chicken, blistered corn and green peppers, and flat fries with spicy orange aioli incorporates that flavor combo into a meal complete with a bounty of summer vegetables. This is a very forgiving recipe, as it can be made in a variety of vessels, grilled, roasted or seared in a pan, but the flavors are the consistent stars.

The key is to marinate the chicken for a few hours before cooking, as the acid really gets the juices flowing and tenderizes the meat. It almost jump-starts the cooking process. The aioli can be made in advance, while the chicken, vegetables, and flat fries are best when served hot. I used green bell peppers here, which I believe are highly underrated, but any pepper would benefit from this flavor and blistering process. This spicy orange chicken marinade infuses the chicken with heat and flavor which when cooked, retains its juicy seasoning.

serves 4


for the spicy orange chicken

  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • ¼ cup orange zest
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced horizontally into thick strips
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

for the spicy orange aioli

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons mustard
  • ½ cup neutral oil
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest

for the flat fries

  • 2 pounds yukon gold potatoes, sliced into ¼ inch rounds
  • 2 gallons of water
  • ¼ cup baking soda
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

for the corn and green peppers

  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil
  • ½ red onion, diced 
  • 4 ears of corn, husked and with the corn sliced off
  • 2 green bell peppers, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided 
  • ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

for assembly

  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime

chicken steps

2-4 hours before you are ready to begin cooking, whisk together the orange juice, orange zest, garlic, maple syrup, chili powder, smoked paprika, and cayenne. Place the chicken in a large dish or bowl and cover with the marinade. Let sit for 2-4 hours until you are ready to cook.

Once the chicken has marinated, heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add the olive oil. Place the chicken in a flat even layer on the pan and cook for 10-12 minutes on the first side, then flip and cook for another 10-12 minutes.

spicy orange aioli steps

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, garlic, lemon juice, and mustard until combined. Slowly drizzle in the oil, while continuing to whisk vigorously until the mixture comes together, this is called emulsification. Add in the chili powder, smoked paprika, cayenne, black pepper, and orange zest. Set aside. 

flat fries steps

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Place the sliced potatoes in a large bowl and cover them in the water and baking soda, allowing them to soak for 30 minutes to an hour. This helps extract some of the starch, allowing the potatoes to be their crispiest when cooked. After they are finished soaking, rinse and pat them dry with a paper towel, and transfer them to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle them with the olive oil, salt, and freshly cracked black pepper. Bake the potatoes for about 35 minutes, shaking the tray halfway through to ensure even cooking.

corn and green peppers steps

In a large cast iron skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the red onion and cook until it turns translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the corn, half of the lime juice, the salt, and the pepper, and cook for 7-10 minutes until it begins to slightly char. Remove from the pan and add the green peppers, skin-side down. Pour the remaining lime juice, salt, and pepper over the peppers and cook them for 7 minutes then flip them and cook for another 5 minutes until softened. The peppers will sizzle and the skin will blister.

assembly steps

Transfer the chicken, vegetables, flat fries, and aioli to a large plate or platter and dress with the lime juice and chopped cilantro.

There is something about grapes and feta that I find extremely appealing. Each has a very distinct texture and consistency that, when combined, beautifully accentuates the other. Grape and feta pasta salad happily integrates crisp grapes and salty feta while allowing each to maintain its individual brilliance. Crunchy pine nuts and fresh herbs complete this flavor profile, which envelops chewy bits of penne for a deeply satisfying snack or meal.

This recipe for grape and feta pasta salad can easily be doubled for a larger group and made in advance to allow the flavors to co-mingle and deeply marinate. I use penne, but free to mix it up with different pasta shapes!

Serves 6


  • 3 tablespoons salt, divided
  • 1 pound penne rigate
  • 2 tablespoons aioli
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 cups grapes, halved
  • ½ cup basil, chopped
  • ½ cup parsley, chopped
  • 6 ounces feta, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper


Bring a large pot of water with 2 tablespoons of the salt to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente, about 8 minutes, then strain the pasta and rinse it in cold water to cool it and wash off excess starch. This will prevent the pasta from sticking together. Transfer the pasta to a bowl and toss it with the aioli and olive oil. Season with the remaining 2 tablespoons of salt and the black pepper. Add in the toasted pine nuts and toss to combine, then gently fold in the grapes. Add the basil and parsley until evenly distributed. Lastly, toss in the crumbled feta.

I firmly believe that pigs in blankets are one of the greatest crowd pleasers. As a compact finger food and all, they are suitable for guests of any age and can be enjoyed in nearly any setting. I have many childhood memories of Pillsbury crescent rolls appearing at gatherings. Sourdough ham and cheese crescents are essentially a pigs-in-blankets-inspired sandwich. They are built around a naturally leavened dough that is enriched with sour cream for tang and brown sugar for sweetness. During a long rest period of 14-16 hours, the dough develops a deep flavor and elasticity. This dough subsequently envelops the salty ham and buttery manchego, making sourdough ham and cheese crescents a perfectly portable party food.


for the dough

  • 120g / 1 cup sourdough starter
  • 200g / ¾ cup sourcream
  • 1 egg
  • 70g / ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • 10g salt
  • 120g / 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 120g / 1 cup white whole-wheat flour

for the filling and assembly

  • 8 ounces ham, sliced
  • 4 ounces manchego cheese, sliced

dough steps

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl and pinch and squeeze the dough to work the ingredients together until all is incorporated. Wet your hands and stretch the dough up and fold it in half over itself. Turn the bowl clockwise 90° and stretch and fold it once again. Turn the bowl twice more, each time 90° and stretch and fold each time, for a total of four stretches and folds. Then let the dough sit for 30 minutes. Repeat the stretch, fold, rotate, and rest sequence for a total of 6 times, over the course of 2 and a half hours. Then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a dish towel and let the dough sit until it has doubled and nearly tripled, about 14-16 hours at room temperature.

filling and assembly steps

After the dough has rested, transfer it to a floured surface and roll it out into a 12 inch x 24 inch rectangle. Cut the dough in half vertically then in half horizontally to make four pieces, then cut each of the four pieces in half to create eight pieces. Cut each piece diagonally to yield 16 triangles. Place a few slices of ham and a few slices of cheese in the center of each triangle. Fold one corner over the center of the crescent then continue to roll it up.

Repeat with all 16 crescents, place them on a baking sheet, and let them rise for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bake the crescents for 25 minutes until puffed up and lightly golden!

This recipe is an entirely sourdough, naturally-leavened dough that I often experiment with. It is extremely versatile and flexible in either a sweet or savory direction. I learned to make pizza with potatoes in Tuscany years ago, and I personally love it, though I know not everyone would agree. These sourdough bites with potatoes, scallions, and cream cheese are a sort of reference to classic potato pizza with an added flair of scallions and cream cheese. These sourdough bites will be sure to satisfy many cravings. 

Makes about 24 bites 


for the dough

  • 50g butter
  • 150g water
  • 100g sourdough starter 100% hydration
  • 50g sugar
  • 350g flour
  • 18g salt

for the toppings and assembly

  • 2 ounces (¼ cup) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 russet potatoes, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup scallions, sliced
  • ¼ cup chives, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt


In a large bowl, mix together the butter and water then add the starter and mix until combined. Add in the sugar and mix, then add in the flour and salt and mix until the dough is evenly combined. It will be shaggy at first but become blended and somewhat sticky as you mix. With wet hands, pinch and press the dough until it is smooth then cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for 2 hours. 

After the dough has rested for 2 hours, stretch the top of it up and fold it over itself. Turn the bowl 90° to the right and pull the top of the dough up and over. Repeat this 8 times total. Let the dough sit for another hour then repeat the folding process 8 more times. Let the dough sit for one more hour then repeat the series of folds one last time, for a total of three stretch and fold sequences.

Let the dough rest for about 14 hours overnight until it has doubled in size. After this bulk fermentation, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and cut it into squares. I used a 2 ¾ x 2 ¾-inch square cutter, but you can just as easily use a knife or bench scraper.

Let the squares rest for 1-2 hours until they puff up. After this final rest, preheat the oven to 375°F.

Spread about ½ teaspoon of softened cream cheese on each square then layer with potatoes, scallions, and chives. Top each square with cracked black pepper and a pinch of salt. 

Bake for 20 minutes at 375°F, then turn the oven up to 450°F and bake for 10 more minutes. 

Socca is a giant chickpea flatbread from the south of France and the Ligurian coast of Italy, where it is known as farinata. I really enjoy serving it for dinner parties because it is a delicious base on which to pile vegetables and protein and it is gluten-free and vegan which means highly inclusive. Here is one flavor pairing I really enjoy – socca with harissa aioli, shrimp, asparagus, and arugula.

Coating the socca with a layer of harissa aioli creates a sort of adhesive for the vegetables. Caramelized red onion adds a hint of sweetness and peppery arugula and scallions complement the crisp asparagus and delicate shrimp. Socca with harissa aioli, shrimp, asparagus, and arugula is a delicious meal in celebration of spring.

serves 4-6 (6 with another side)


for the harissa aioli

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup neutral oil
  • 2 tablespoons harissa paste

for the socca

  • 2 cups chickpea flour
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons parsley

for vegetables & shrimp

  • 1 pound shrimp, deveined with the tails removed
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced
  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed (bend the ends off and wherever they snap is where to trim them)
  • 2 cups arugula
  • ¼ cup scallions, sliced

harissa aioli steps

Place the garlic cloves in a food processor and pulse until chopped. Add the egg, mustard, and lemon juice and pulse until blended. Slowly drizzle in the oil while the food processor runs to ensure the mixture fully emulsifies. Once the consistency thickens, mix in the harissa. There will definitely be extra harissa aioli from this recipe, so feel free to use it on any bread, vegetables, potatoes, meat, etc. The harissa aioli will keep for 3 months in the refrigerator.

socca steps

Combine the chickpea flour, warm water, 4 tablespoons of the olive oil, salt, pepper, and parsley in a large bowl and whisk until you have an even consistency without lumps. Let the batter sit for 30 minutes to an hour.

While the batter nears the end of its resting, preheat the oven to 450°F, and place a 10 or 12-inch cast iron skillet in the oven as it heats up. After 20 minutes, drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the pan and swirl it around. Pour ¼ of the batter (about 1 cup) into the pan. Place in the oven and bake for 12 minutes until it begins to brown on the edges and can be lifted from the pan. I like to flip it and cook it for an additional 3 minutes on the other side, but you don’t have to do that. 

Repeat with the remaining batter and while the remaining socca cook, prepare your vegetables and shrimp.

vegetables & shrimp steps

Fill a kettle with water and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, marinate the shrimp in the lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper and set it aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and add the sliced red onion. Cook until caramelized, 7-10 minutes. While the onion cooks, place the asparagus in a colander in the sink and pour the boiling water over it to blanch it. Immediately transfer it to the pan with the onion and saute for 5-7 minutes. 

In a separate skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Transfer the shrimp to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes on one side then flip and cook for 2-3 minutes on the other side. Be careful not to overcook the shrimp as you will wind up with rubbery bands. The shrimp will turn from grey to pink when they are finished cooking.

assembly steps

Spread a layer of harissa aioli over the socca and top with ½ cup arugula, ¼ of the asparagus and onions, and ¼ pound of the shrimp. Cut each socca in quarters (you will have 16 pieces) and serve warm or at room temperature!

I have been craving arancini so much, first of all because they are delicious, second because I associate them with parties, and parties are certainly missing these days. This recipe for spicy white bean croquettes offers that familiar arancini vibe using a different medium. Spicy white bean croquettes are a nice treat and change of pace.

White beans, blended with herbs, spices, egg, and parmesan cheese, create a creamy contrast to the crispy, crunchy exterior. Serve these spicy white beans croquettes with marinara sauce for a yummy snack or pair them with a salad for a full meal! 

makes about 9 large croquettes


  • 1 can white (cannellini, great northern, navy) beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons parsley
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon basil
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1-2 cups neutral oil (the amount will vary depending on the size of your cooking vessel)
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup marinara sauce, for dipping


Place the rinsed beans in a large bowl and mash with a potato masher until smooth. Add the salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, and lemon zest and mix with a spatula or spoon. Mix in the parsley, oregano and basil, then add the parmesan cheese. 

Meanwhile, heat the oil over medium-high heat. I cooked these in a 6 ¾ quart dutch oven, so it took about 2 cups of oil to fill it an inch high, but you can use any heavy-bottomed pot or cast iron skillet. Depending on its size, you may need more or less oil, but measuring out the oil exactly is not critical, just fill it enough so that about half of the croquette is covered when placed in the pan.

Once the oil has been heating for 5-7 minutes, it is time to prepare the croquettes. Measure out two tablespoons of the mixture, roll it into a ball, and set it aside. Repeat until all of the bean mixture has been rolled into balls. One at a time, coat each ball in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs, then place it in the pan. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan as this will cool the oil and prevent the croquettes from properly crisping. 

Cook each croquette for 4-5 minutes on one side then flip it and cook for another 4 minutes. Feel free to turn it onto the other sides to achieve a thoroughly crips + golden texture. Serve hot with marinara sauce.

Crabbies are a tasty creation which, throughout my childhood, my family always served on special occasions or holidays, particularly during the winter months. They are sort of like a deconstructed crab dip, spread on a tangy english muffin and toasted to perfection. Crabbies are classic, cozy, and old-fashioned.

As a child, I remember visiting a B&B in Spring Lake, NJ, sitting down with the proprietors in front of a crackling fire, and being served crabbies. They also served classic popcorn tins which are, in my opinion, one of the most festive winter delights.

My aunt traditionally made crabbies using a soft cheese spread, but my recipe uses cream cheese infused with crushed red pepper to add creaminess and spice.

Serve these delights for a romantic date or as a delectable party snack. I promise, crabbies will never disappoint!


  • 8 ounces / 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 10 english muffins, split with a fork
  • ½ pound lump crab meat


Using a food processor or electric mixer, blend the cream cheese and 1 cup of the shredded cheddar cheese. Add crushed red pepper. Pulse until the mixture becomes a spreadable paste, much like typical cream cheese but now infused with cheddar. Set aside.

Toast english muffin halves in batches of 2-4 depending on the side of your toaster (if you do not have a toaster, toast them on the rack in the oven at 350°F) and spread with cheese mixture. Top with crab meat and shredded cheddar cheese.

Place all 20 prepared crabbies on a sheet pan and put in freezer. Freeze for at least 1 hour. These will last in the freezer for up to two weeks, so feel free to do this ahead of time.

When ready to cook, preheat oven to 300°F. bake for 20 minutes. Turn on oven broiler and broil for 6 minutes, rotating the pan 180° every 2 minutes so ensure each crabbie is evenly browned. Serve whole or cut in quarters.

Worcestershire sauce is complex and layered with its distinct elements of salty, sweet, and umami. You might recognize it from the classic American snack Chex mix. I love to experiment with snack mixes, particularly roasted flavored nuts, like roasted almonds. I find it adds something special to an already delicious and healthy snack, especially when there are both sweet and savory components. Such is certainly the case with these worcestershire brown sugar almonds.

With the well-rounded combination of Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, and smoked paprika, these sweet and savory nuts check every flavor box.


  • 3 cups whole raw almonds
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place almonds in a large bowl and add Worcestershire, brown sugar, paprika, and salt. Mix until combined. Pour onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and cook for 30-35 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to evenly distribute the almonds, until they are golden and caramelized.

A dutch baby, also known as a German pancake, is a crowd pleaser in every way. It captivates children and adults alike when it puffs up in the oven into a fluffy, hearty delight, similar to a popover or Yorkshire pudding. So, not only is a dutch baby incredibly satisfying and delicious to make, it is also entertaining. On top of that, it is simple and can be used as a base for any number of toppings including, meat, cheese, vegetables, or fruit, and consumed any time of day!

This ham and cheese dutch baby with maple dijon drizzle is kind of like an open-faced sandwich meets omelette. It is sweet and salty and savory with herby bits throughout. A ham and cheese dutch baby is an excellent meal or snack, all day long.

NOTE: It is very important not to open the oven while the dutch baby cooks, to prevent it from deflating prematurely, something that tests my patience, but that I promise is rewarding! 

serves 2


  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon chopped chives
  • 1 teaspoon chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried herbs de Provence
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
  • ½ cup flour
  • 4 tablespoons butter or refined coconut oil (I use a mix of the two) 
  • 6-8 ounces ham, bacon, or rendered pancetta
  • 8 ounces swiss or gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, to garnish
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup


Preheat the oven to 425°F. Place a cast iron skillet in the oven and allow it to heat.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs until they are light and fluffy. Add the milk and continue to beat. Add the salt, chives, parsley, herbs de Provence, nutmeg, lemon zest if using, and mix. Beat in the flour until it is evenly combined and the batter has been thoroughly blended. Let sit for 15-20 minutes.

Remove the skillet from the oven and add butter or coconut oil. Swirl it around until it melts then pour in the batter.

Bake it in the oven for 17-20 minutes until it begins to puff up and become golden.

Add the mustard and maple to a small bowl and evenly mix.

Remove dutch baby from oven and layer on ham and cheese. Return to oven and cook for another 4 minutes or until cheese has melted. Drizzle with maple dijon and parsley.