You don't have to be a film aficionado or a celebrity gossip enthusiast to appreciate the Academy Awards – but it doesn't hurt. If you're looking forward to watching this year's Oscars spectacle and know a bunch of family and friends who feel the same, why not host a viewing party? Together, you can make predictions about the winners, be your own red carpet fashion police and maybe even get to watch Leonardo DiCaprio finally score that coveted award. Of course, no gathering is complete without a festive spread of appetizers. Here are some ideas for Oscar-worthy apps to sample while you watch the show.
Crostini are basically slices of glorified toast topped with various spreads, fruits, veggies, cheeses, nuts and meats, but when you take the time to make their presentation perfect, they look like they could be what's on the menu at the actual awards show. From basic bruschetta to elaborate ricotta, kale and mushroom versions, you'll have no trouble finding a crostini recipe that everyone on your guest list can appreciate. For a sweet and savory version, try Martha Stewart Living's recipe for pear, walnut and ricotta crostini:
- Country-style bread loaf
- 1 1/4 cups ricotta cheese
- Pear slices
- Walnut pieces
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
Slice the bread and toast until golden brown. Divide the ricotta cheese evenly among the toasted crostini. Add a few slices of pear and some walnut pieces to each crostini, then season with salt and pepper. For the finishing touch, drizzle each crostini with honey.
2. Not-your-average popcorn
Every viewing party needs its popcorn, but popping a bag in the microwave and pouring it into a bowl doesn't do the Academy Awards justice. Food Network Magazine has recipes for three different varieties of popcorn that will satisfy every craving: cheesy, sweet, spicy and chocolaty. Start with a bag of natural microwave popcorn without the butter, pour it in a bowl, then add:
- Cheesy: Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the popcorn and toss to coat. Add 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese and toss again. Season with salt.
- Sweet and spicy: Microwave 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon chili powder in a bowl until butter is melted. Stir, then drizzle over popcorn and toss evenly to coat.
- Rocky Road: Add 1 cup chocolate chips and 2 cups mini marshmallows to popcorn. Microwave about 1 minute until the chips and marshmallows melt. Add 1 cup salted peanuts and stir to coat.
The best part about these recipes is that they can be made ahead of time and enjoyed once the party gets started!
3. Wonton envelopes
And the envelope goes to … you and your guests, after you whip up this easy and tasty app. All you need are some square wonton wrappers, beaten egg whites and the fillings and toppings of your choice, from cream cheese and chives to jam and confectioner's sugar.
Food Network recommended brushing the edges of the wrappers with the egg whites, then folding in the points to form an envelope. Fold the fillings inside if you wish. Now deep-fry the wontons in vegetable oil until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with any toppings you're using.
4. Endive boats
Is there anything fancier looking than a stuffed endive boat as an appetizer? Even though it looks like celebrity gala fare, this app is super simple to make, according to the Imagelicious blog. Just wash and separate an endive into its individual leaves. Chop up 2 tablespoons of pecans, 1 tablespoon of dried cranberries and mix with 2 tablespoons of blue cheese. Stir until well-incorporated, then place a spoonful of the mixture on each leaf before arranging them on a fancy tray.