Planning on having an Oscar viewing party or some other soiree of the sort? So am I! Take a look at some of the ways that I plan on making this Sunday’s event one to remember (on a budget, of course).

Great Appetizers for Your Belly and Your Budget

I plan on making the majority of these easy dishes. I’ll start with a few of my favorite frugal staples:

Easy Mexican Dip:

dipThe Hedonistick Kitchen

This has been one of my favorites since college. It couldn’t be easier to make and only requires 3 ingredients.

  • 1 large jar of salsa (your choice of how spicy you want it – I usually go for medium)
  • 1 or 2 packages of cream cheese (I usually opt for the low fat kind)
  • I package of shredded cheddar cheese

Here’s what you do:

  1. Use a spreader or spoon to spread a layer of cream cheese (about 1″ thick) on the bottom of a casserole dish.
  2. Dump salsa on top of cream cheese layer and spread evenly.
  3. Sprinkle cheddar cheese on top of the salsa layer until you’ve mostly covered the salsa.
  4. Put casserole dish in the oven on 250 degrees or so for about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on your dip. You want the cheddar cheese to be completely melted over the top, but you don’t want it to burn!

Remove and let cool for 5 minutes or so and then serve with your favorite brand of tortilla chips. This one has always been a hit in my experience!

Simple Brushcetta

bruscettaWikiMedia

The best thing about this recipe is that it’s very simple and you can customize it based on your tastes and the amount you want to spend on ingredients.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2-3 large loafs of bread (French or Ciabatta work well)
  • 5 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 4 tbsp of olive oil
  • 4 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped basil

Firstly, preheat your broiler. Then cut your bread into individual toast slices. Cut 2 of the garlic cloves in half and rub cut side over each piece of bread, then drizzle bread with a little olive oil. Heat the bread under the broiler for a few minutes until toasted, then turn and repeat on other side. Mince the rest of your garlic and mix it in with chopped tomatoes, basil, remaining olive oil, salt and pepper (to taste). Spoon generous portions of tomato mixture onto bread once it cools and you’re good to go! I also like to drizzle on a bit of balsamic vinegar and throw some shredded mozzarella cheese on top of my bruschetta to give it a little extra flavor.

Stuffed Mushrooms

mushroomsWikiMedia

This one is inspired by a recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks, The Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook. It makes 24 mushrooms and only takes a little over a half an hour to prepare and cook.

Here’s what you need:

  • 24 large mushrooms (1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter)
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onion (2)
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (your choice, but I like shredded mozzarella)
  • 2 strips of crisp cooked bacon, crumbled
  1. First, clean the mushrooms, remove the stems and set the stems aside.
  2. Place mushroom caps with the stem side down on a 15X10X1-inch baking pan, spray mushrooms lightly with cooking spray, and bake at 425 degrees for 5 minutes. Afterward, drain the caps (stem side down) on a double layer of paper towels.
  3. Chop reserved stems to make enough for 1 cup. Cook the cup of stems, green onion and garlic in hot butter in a saucepan until tender. Stir in the bread crumbs, cheese and bacon. Turn mushroom caps right-side up and fill with your mixture.
  4. Return caps to baking tray and bake for another 8-10 minutes until thoroughly heated.

Deviled Eggs

deviledBits and Breadcrumbs

What’s more frugal and more delicious than deviled eggs? They look fancy displayed on a tray but the recipe requires little more than the eggs themselves.

Here’s what you need:

  • 12 hard-cooked eggs (to make 24 deviled eggs)
  • 3-4 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1-2 tsp prepared mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp white vinegar
  • Paprika
  • Crumbled bacon bits (optional)

After you’ve cooked the eggs and they’ve cooled, cut them lengthwise and pop out yolks into a small bowl and mash with a fork. Add in the mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar and salt and mix together thoroughly. Fill the empty egg whites with your mixture. Then top with bacon bits if desired and a sprinkle of paprika.

Cranberry-Sauce Meatballs

cranJennifer Officer

Since the slow cooker (a Christmas gift from my lovely parents) is my new best friend, I couldn’t let an article about food go by without including a great slow cooker recipe. I plan on using this one that I found over at Better Home and Gardens.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup seasoned dry fine bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries or golden raisins, snipped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves or all spice
  • 2 lbs. of uncooked ground turkey or chicken
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 1 16-ounce can of jellied cranberry sauce (leftover from Thanksgiving, anyone?)
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce (homemade or bottled)

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. To make meatballs – beat an egg with a fork in a large bowl. Stir in the bread crumbs, dried cranberries or raisins, onion, salt and cloves or allspice. Add in your ground turkey or chicken and mix together well. Shape into 60 meatballs.
  3. Place meatballs on a 15X10X1-inch baking pan that’s been lightly coated with non-stick cooking spray.
  4. Bake for 15-18 minutes until meatballs are cooked to 165 degrees (regardless of color).
  5. Meanwhile, stir together cranberry sauce and barbecue sauce in your slow cooker. Add the cooked meatballs once they’re done, stirring gently to coat. Cover and cook this for 2-3 hours on low-heat.
  6. Serve with toothpicks (and napkins)!

Want to Go the Extra Mile?

Looking for a little more pizzazz in your appetizers? Try these creative movie snack ideas from YumSugar.

If you are truly hardcore, you could try fashioning a menu inspired by this year’s Best Picture nominees. Check out some incredible ideas, like “Miso Cod and Apple Martinis with Sean Parker” (The Social Network) or “A Royal English Tea” (The King’s Speech), from Epicurious.

Other Tips for a Glamorous (or Just Fun-Filled) Evening

Here are some frugal ways that I plan on making my Oscar party a success, beyond the food.

  • Require Formal Dress: just because you’ll be enjoying a night in doesn’t mean you can’t dress for a night out.
  • Simulate the Red Carpet: okay, so you may not actually have a red carpet, but you can treat your guests like they’re walking on one. Take “red carpet” photos of your guests as they arrive at your star-studded event. Email them or create a photo album on Facebook so you don’t have to pay printing costs to share them later!
  • Fashion Police: have your guests over to watch the red carpet before the big show. Play fashion police and decide who makes your best and worst dressed lists.
  • Put It to a Vote: prepare ballots listing all of this year’s nominees. Print out enough for all of your guests and have them fill out the sheet before the show starts. At the end, tally up who got the most correct. You can decide what the person wins – whether everyone threw in a couple of dollars or the winner just gets to accept a fake Oscar and give the room a speech.
  • Potluck: if you’ve already prepared enough food to feed a small country, have your guests bring their favorite bottle of wine, champagne or non-alcoholic sparkling cider to enjoy throughout your classy evening.
  • Play Bingo: the official Academy Awards website is offering free printable bingo cards. Spaces include things like “Political Statement,” “Winner Not Present,” and “Music Cuts Off Speech.” (You could also use these as inspiration for creating your own bingo cards!)

Do you plan on celebrating Oscar night? What kinds of food do you plan on preparing? What are some of your best tips for a fabulous, fun-filled, frugal evening? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks for being a Tip Hero!