A Gutshot Straight
Theme: 1960’s New Orleans Riverboat Casino
New Orleans is a food critic’s dream destination, and A Gutshot Straight provides a setting perfect for a fabulous food experience. Jazz it up and serve one of the following dinner options: po-boys (meat or seafood sandwiches), jambalaya (a rice and sausage dish), or gumbo (meat or seafood stew). For dessert, go simple and purchase your favorite pralines and cream ice cream, or try the slightly more ambitious bananas foster (bananas cooked in butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and rum) served on vanilla ice cream. If light refreshments are preferred, serve guests mint juleps (an alcoholic or nonalcoholic beverage made using a sugar syrup, lemonade concentrate, creme de menthe) and beignets (scones covered in powdered sugar). If the party is taking place during the Mardi Gras festivities (February-March), king’s cakes are popular and festive and are available at most supermarket bakeries.
A Reunion to Die For
Theme: 1980’s, 10-Year High School Reunion
The 1980’s aren’t particularly known for their advancements in food cuisine, but there are still a lot of totally awesome possibilities for party food, especially considering that cocktails and appetizers are often served at a high school reunion. Head “back to the future” and offer guests meatballs served in a crock-pot, potato skins, Doritos, or sandwiches cut into fun shapes such as Pac-Man. Pay homage to the “mixed tape” by serving one of these mixable dessert options: trifle (a dessert consisting of layers of cake, pudding, fruit, whipping cream) that made a comeback in the 80’s -OR- frozen yogurt or ice cream served with a selection of various toppings, including favorite 80’s candies such as Nerds and Pop Rocks.
A Marquee Murder
A visit to the Big Top wouldn’t be complete without sweet and salty treats. You can serve your carnival favorites individually, or combine them all in a fun snack-mix containing the following: pink/white circus animal cookies, kettle corn, orange circus peanuts, pretzels, and sour cherry balls (clown noses). Dinner options might include corndogs, BBQ beef or pork sandwiches, French fries, fruit kabobs, soft pretzels, and veggie trays. A just-dessert party could feature caramel apples, cotton candy, chocolate-dipped nutter butter cookies, cupcakes with sprinkles, or ice cream sundaes topped with M&M faces, maraschino cherry noses, and sugar cone “clown” hats.
BBQ Pork Sandwiches
A Killer Wave
Theme: Pro Surfing Championship in Maui
Welcome party guests to a traditional Hawaiian luau with an “Aloha!” and a filling feast of shredded kalua pork (made by placing a pork roast with 1 T sea salt and 1 T liquid smoke in a slow cooker on low setting for 14 hours) or grilled Huli Huli chicken (chicken marinated soy sauce, brown sugar, ketchup, chicken broth, and ginger), rice, macaroni salad, tropical fruit kabobs, and Hawaiian sweet rolls. As beverages, serve make-your-own smoothies, pina coladas garnished with umbrella toothpicks, or chilled cans of Hawaiian Punch fruit drink. Other taste-of-the islands dessert possibilities could be pineapple upside down cake, coconut cupcakes, shaved ice with a splash of sweet and condensed milk, or brownies with macadamia nuts.
Kalua Pork Sliders
Malt Shop Murder
1950’s Malt Shop
A rockin’ menu for Malt Shop Murder would include foods found in a 1950’s diner, such as hamburgers, fries, sodas, and milkshakes. A spoonful of malt powder or a 1/2 cup of well-blended malted milk balls will turn any milkshake into a tasty malt. Other non-dinner options might be root beer floats, coke served in retro bottles adorned with red and white striped straws, banana splits, or ice cream sundaes. For a dramatic statement, a custom soda station is always a favorite. Provide club soda, crushed ice, sliced limes, and a variety of soda flavors, and let guests customize their own drinks. Garnish all sweet treats and sodas with spray whipping cream and a cherry on top.