Comedienne and actress Lucille Ball once said, “The secret to staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly and lie about your age.” Whether you are turning 5 years old or 50, or even 21 yet again, your birthday party is sure to be a special time celebrated by friends and family. Make the food as special as the celebration with some simple, yet creative, appetizers.
Munchies for Kids
At a child’s birthday party, keep the nibbles minimal and light so that the young ones will have plenty of appetite left for the much-awaited birthday cake. When it comes to feeding kids, it is less about which foods you choose and more about how you present them. kids look at foods such as raw fruits and vegetables in a new light when you take the time to cut them into fun shapes.
Serve appetizers that keep with the theme of the party. Dip the ends of pretzel sticks in chocolate and then in peanuts to emulate a magical wand for a wizard party. Serve a bowl of animal crackers for a zoo-themed party or “ants on logs”--peanut butter-stuffed celery sticks dotted with raisins--for a creepy bug-themed treat.
Junk Food for Teens
Teens are notorious for their love of junk food, and a birthday party is the perfect opportunity to let them have their fill of it. For a casual party, put out platters of nachos, chicken wings and mini-pizzas for a pre-dinner treat. For a grown-up twist, lay out individual tortillas topped with a tablespoon or two of cooked and seasoned ground beef, shredded chicken or chopped vegetables. Top with a dollop of salsa and some shredded Monterey Jack cheese before setting under the broiler to heat.
Use prepared pizza dough to roll out 2-inch rounds. Brush with olive oil, add some minced garlic and get creative with the toppings. A slice of fresh tomato, a leaf of basil and some mozzarella give a fresh summer taste, or try a single shrimp drizzled with fresh lime juice or a thin slice of zucchini or eggplant topped with shaved parmesan for a lighter taste.
Consider the birthday party’s venue before deciding on your appetizer menu. If limited or no seating is available, stay away from dishes that require a fork and knife, and serve only foods at outdoor parties that will stand up to the heat. Bruschetta is a simple appetizer, with components that you can make ahead of time and assemble at the last minute. Top toasted slices of French bread with chopped tomatoes, fresh basil and red onion drizzled with olive oil, or spread the bread with feta cheese topped with an olive tapenade for a Mediterranean taste.
For a quick antipasti bite, skewer chunks of provolone cheese, salami or pepperoni and kalamata or garlic-stuffed olives on toothpicks. Natural ingredients such as the pods of sugar snap peas or endive lettuce leaves make good serving vessels. Fill them with a premade or purchased salmon mousse or minced chicken in Thai seasonings.
- birthday tag image by Renata Osinska from Fotolia.com