How to throw a last-minute, stress-free Academy Awards party that everyone even the host will enjoy.
EASY DOES IT | Pamela Anderson, one of Frugalbits’ favourite food writers, says people should stop entertaining and “have people over” instead. “Having people over,” says Anderson, is about coming together casually with good pals and enthusiastic acquaintances. It’s about serving uncomplicated food and having no other expectation for an evening other than that it be fun. The Oscars this Sunday is the perfect “having people over” occasion. No worries that today’s Thursday and you’ve only got four days to get your event together. We started planning our Oscar party yesterday, and you’re welcome to follow our game plan and our menu.
Frugalbits Oscar Party Day-By-Day Game Plan
Thursday—(today) we will do two things: 1) Determine our guest list and send out invitations. 2) Decide on the menu, find the recipes, take stock of ingredients on hand and make a shopping list.
INVITES—Our group is never more than 14 family members and friends, so we will call everyone and invite them personally, following up with a Cocodot e-invitation (the one shown above), a fun way to thank them in advance for coming, reinforce the date and time (ask them to arrive between 3:30 and 4:30) plus list any BYO specifics.
MENU—Since we need our menu to be double easy, we will combine scratch-made with pre-made items. For starters we’ll serve our own mashup of red carpet snacks: President’s Choice Salt & Pepper potato chips (because they’re the best!); cheater guacamole with corn chips; edemame in the shell (sprinkled with a finishing salt like Maldon); specialty olives (from Whole Foods because they have the widest variety); and a premade vegetable platter (supermarket variety) sexed up with a few other kinds of veggies. For the main we’ll have bowl food, Pamela Andersons’ to-die-for chicken chili, along with broccoli-cheddar cornbread wedges. Dessert will consist of open-face ice cream sandwiches. Everything on our menu is easy, easy, and recipes follow below.
Friday—is a day to shop for ingredients and beverages, alcoholic and otherwise. Print out Oscar scorecards for your guests, if you intend to use them. We like the one on MUBI and you will find the link HERE.
Saturday—is the day to make the main course, which is going to taste better tomorrow; set out unopened non-refrigerated snacks in appropriate bowls, and open refrigerated ones, bowl them and cover till tomorrow; to the extent that it’s possible, preset your buffet table because red carpet antics will start around two-ish tomorrow.
Sunday—tidy up, of course; have everything but cornbread ready to go by 3:30; bake cornbread after your guests arrive and start serving it along with your main course around 5:00 ( Pacific time), when the Oscars awards show starts.
Frugalbits Oscar Party Recipes
Cheater Guacamole—Cheater guacamole is premade guacamole (we like Yucatan brand from Costco) mixed with fresh-made Salsa Cruda from Whole Foods and a chopped-up fresh avocado. It is infinitely more tasty than store-bought guac straight from the tub.
Red Chicken Chili
2 store-bought roast chickens, meat picked from bones and pulled into bite-sized pieces (no skin)
2 quarts chicken broth (store bought)
6 tbsp vegetable oil
2 large onions cut into medium dice
2/3 cup chili powder (not, too much, really)
1 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tbsp dried oregano
2 cans (28 ounces each) crushed tomatoes
2 cans (16 ounces each) black beans, drained and rinsed
6 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
3 tbsp cornmeal
Heat oil in a large pan on medium high heat. Add onions and sauté until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add chili powder, cumin and oregano, reduce heat to medium low, and cook, stirring, until spices are fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in chicken, tomatoes and broth, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, to blend flavours, 25 to 20 minutes.
Stir in beans, garlic and chocolate, and simmer to blend flavours, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle cornmeal over chili, stir in and simmer to thicken chili, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Turn off heat, cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Ladle into bowls and serve with accompaniments of your choice.
Broccoli Cheddar Cornbread—A foodie friend of mine discovered this tasty recipe on epicurious.com. HERE is the link.
Open-Face Ice Cream Sandwiches—You need two things to concoct this treat: big, flat, round chocolate cookies, and rock-hard vanilla ice cream. You can make the cookies yourself if you have time, but we also found big, flat ready-made ones at Whole Foods (they aren’t cheap). Plop a scoop of vanilla on top of each cookie, smoosh just a bit with a spoon and serve.