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Bye-Bye Pizza Parties


Photos and Words by Estefania Souza

Made-from-scratch dinner parties and luncheons are not a big hit at college, and there is a reason for that. Why go through the trouble of preparing an enjoyable home cooked meal for friends when a pizza delivery man can serve dinner in less than an hour with the press of some buttons on a cellphone? What is the point of stressing over a smoky oven when most of the restaurants around campus are on either Foodler or Grubhub turf? The point of a dinner party is sharing an accomplishment with friends and realizing that there is more to entertaining than giving out paper plates and napkins. A gourmet meal is probably nowhere near the top of a college student’s to-do list—nor is it in the budget, but a proper dinner party is something both attainable and budget-friendly. Plus, it’s guaranteed to be one of a kind.

It is easy to assume that a dinner party entails loads of complicated steps and hours of cooking, but that is not always the case.


Serving an array of smaller dishes is an easy way to simplify the work.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus (adapted from Epicurious)

Active time: 20 minutes. Total time: 25 minutes.

Serves about 8 people

  • 2 bunches large asparagus (about 3 lbs.)
  • 1-2 16 oz. Prosciutto packages
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons grated lime zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  1. Fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Season with salt and add asparagus. Cook until tender, about 2-3 minutes and drain immediately. Plunge asparagus in the ice water to stop cooking and drain again.
  2. Wrap each spear in a prosciutto slice and press lightly to secure around asparagus.
  3. Stir together mayonnaise, sour cream, cilantro, lime zest and juice in a small serving bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Serve asparagus with prepared mayonnaise.

Warm Crab Spread (adapted from Cooking Light Magazine)

Active time: 15 minutes. Total time: 25 minutes.

Makes about 8 servings.

  • 1/2 cup lump crabmeat, shell pieces removed, divided
  • 1/2 cup diced carrot
  • 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon peanut oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sriracha
  • Cooking spray
  1. Preheat oven to 450°.
  2. Combine ¼-cup crab, carrot, soy sauce, sesame oil, and peanut oil in a food processor; process for one minute or until mixture is smooth, scraping down sides as necessary. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in remaining ¼-cup crabmeat, green onions, ginger, and hot sauce.
  3. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Spread crabmeat mixture evenly on prepared baking sheet. Bake for about seven minutes or until top is golden. Let cool for a few minutes and transfer to serving bowl.
  4. Serve with crackers or sliced baguette.

*Sriracha sauce is available in the Asian isle of supermarkets or at specialty food stores.

Fresh Vegetable Taquitos (adapted from Porque Comer Es Un Placer)

Veggie Rolls

Active time: 30 minutes. Total time: 45 minutes.

Makes about 10 servings.

  • 1 large jicama, very thinly sliced OR 10 oz. Rice paper*
  • 14 oz. Imitation crabmeat sticks, shredded into thin strips
  • 16 oz. Cream cheese
  • 3 cucumbers, peeled, without seeds, sliced in very thin strips
  • 4 avocados sliced into thin strips
  • 4 avocados sliced into thin strips
  • ¾ cup Tampico sauce (see recipe below)
  • Sesame seeds for garnish
  • Soy sauce
  • Lime juice (optional)
  1. Take a jicama slice or a piece of rice paper and place it on a flat surface. Place cream cheese, cucumber, avocado and one strip of imitation crabmeat one inch from the edge of the paper. Spread one teaspoon of Tampico sauce.
  2. Carefully roll jicama or rice paper into a tight taco pushing slightly to ensure it sticks. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
  3. Place taquitos in the refrigerator and chill for 15 minutes. Serve with soy sauce and lime.

*Rice paper is available at most Asian food stores.

Tampico Sauce

  •  ½ onion, finely chopped
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
  • 4 sticks imitation crabmeat, finely chopped
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  1. In a small bowl, mix all ingredients until well combined. Chill until ready to use.