How To Throw the Ultimate Student Cribs Dinner Party!
Dinnertime for a student can be a dull and strenuous activity for all those who just can’t face another night of beans on toast or leftover pizza – it is moments like these that call for a culinary change in the kitchen, and that can be achieved by getting your housemates together to throw the ultimate dinner party! When we say “dinner party” we don’t mean everyone chucks in some money and orders a takeaway, which although can be great for a movie night, it does miss out on the social, money-saving element that a dinner party makes up for! Your student house is a hub for memory-making, so when one housemate has got that crucial assignment deadline approaching and another is too broke to venture out and hit the town, this is the perfect solution to make a lively evening of delicious food, done cheaply and with great company out of what could’ve been your meagre beans on toast.
Taco ‘bout a party!
Here at the University of Liverpool, my friends and I decided to host our own ultimate dinner party at our Student Cribs home. When deciding on what to cook, make sure to stay relatively within your culinary skill-range, because luckily your friends will not expect you to whip up pan-fried scallops topped with edible flowers and artichoke puree – just make something wholesome and guaranteed to satisfy your taste buds and wallet! We decided to settle on beef tacos, chicken (and veggie) quesadillas with some salad. For beef tacos all that is required is:
· Beef mince (750g at least)
· 1 beef stock cube
· A squeeze of tomato puree or passata
· 1 onion, chopped
· 1 bell pepper, chopped
· 1 garlic clove, crushed
· Herbs & spices: salt, pepper, chilli flakes, cumin, paprika. Add and taste.
· Taco shells
This super simple recipe needs only minimal work to produce delicious results – simply cook the mince in a saucepan and add the beef stock cube for a boost of meaty flavour. Once the mince browns, add the garlic, onion and pepper with the tomato puree to cook, and then sprinkle in herbs and spices to suit your taste! What makes beef tacos an ideal dinner is that the mince can be left in a low heat until everyone is ready for the main course which means no time limit, no faff and no pressure!
Quesadillas are super quick to cook and can cater to any foodie’s preference. Translated as ‘little cheese’ this dish requires 2 tortillas, grilled and served with whatever filling takes your fancy. Whilst lightly frying the tortilla base, we added on some cooked chicken, cheese and mushrooms, before adding a second tortilla on top to sandwich the melted-cheese filling. It really is that simple – and as one of our friends was a vegetarian, we simply let them choose some cheese and veg filling and could very quickly make them a batch too!
This is nacho average party - add some tasty starters and desserts!
Fear not! A three-course dinner is not as tricky or exhaustive as you might at first think, there are some corners you and your housemates can cut to make your dinner party that lil bit more special. Depending on how much effort you wish to go to, food to start with can be as simple as buying some nachos with salsa and guacamole, which is a great way to get everyone socialising and build their appetites. If you’re feeling more ambitious, try creating pan con tomate, or for those not taking a degree in Spanish, it’s pretty much Spanish tomato toast! My friends and I slightly adapted the original recipe – we cut up slices of baguette, covering both sides lightly with olive oil and quickly frying for a few seconds until the surface begins to crisp. Rub a clove of garlic on each side of the baguette slice for some added flavour – and then add some chopped cherry tomatoes, salt, pepper and topped with some Serrano ham! A simple recipe with minimal ingredients and a scrumptious taste to serve as a starter or even for a much needed snack.
Dessert is a must, especially for those who have a sweet-tooth to satisfy. As students, it is highly unlikely we’ll have scales, baking trays, piping bags, cookie cutters – the list of utensils is endless! Make your life as head chef twice as easy by buying some vanilla ice cream to accompany an easy 3-ingredient Nutella brownie, yes really – it requires only a jar of Nutella, half a cup of flour and 2 eggs. Mix in a bowl to make a smooth, thick consistency and then pour into an oven-proof dish and top with marshmallows for an extra sweet treat. Oven time at 175 degrees takes about 20-25 minutes to cook depending on how gooey you want them. What’s even better, is that if you make too much mix you can put it into a freezer bag and save it for another time you crave something chocolatey!
Forget about a siesta, it’s time to fiesta with drinks!
What’s an impressive dinner party without a beverage or two to enjoy? A summertime option we decided to try out was the refreshing taste of sangrias! A fruity concoction, it takes some attempts to perfect the Spanish cocktail, but nonetheless is some good fun to expose the secret bartenders amongst us and also those (a.k.a myself) who should probably just stick to the drinking part. For a simple Sangria, chop up some juicy oranges and apples and add to a jug with some brown sugar; give a stir with a wooden spoon to muddle up the sugar and fruit. Add orange juice and brandy (take it easy with this stage, you can always top it up!) and give another few seconds to stir the mix. Finally, add red wine and adjust flavour as required! Some ice in a glass, plus the punch makes for a refreshing, boozy drink to enjoy with your friends.
Feelin’ loco? Add decorations to spice up the evening.
A burst of colour here and a fun prop there can make all the difference to the tone and atmosphere of your dinner party! Don’t bust your wallet on anything extravagant, a little planning in advance can go a long way if you want to save money. Checking websites like Amazon, eBay or even your local supermarkets should definitely stock some party supplies from piñatas to balloons and inflatables to lighting. Lighting is especially important to create the right ambience so investing in fairy lights can make all the difference and can be reused for further occasions! And let’s be honest, what female student doesn’t already have fairy lights pinned around their disposable photos above their bed to use?
And holy guacamole! Don’t forget most importantly to relax with your friends and tuck into all the food!
The sincerest love of all is the love of food – so expanding your skills as the new head chef of the household will undoubtedly leave you and your friends well fed and in good spirits. It’s time to get that wok out and cook a stir fry, or get some puff pastry for some easy pizza-making or even give the beef tacos a whirl!
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