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Fake your party food with takeout

  • Story Highlights
  • You can feed great food to guests by fiddling with takeout
  • Use cookie cutter to cut bite-size pizzas out of large uncut pizza
  • Slice a rotisserie chicken and toss with blue cheese and walnuts
  • Spoon shrimp stir-fry into Boston lettuce leaves, top with chopped nuts
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Real Simple

(REAL SIMPLE) -- Whether you're hosting a formal party or just throwing together snacks for drinks with friends, we've got ideas for transforming carryout into crowd-pleasing cuisine. Everyone will assume your sink is stacked with dirty pots and pans. (And if you keep them out of the kitchen, they'll never know the truth.)

Fake your party food with takeout

Tiny-size pizzas

Start with: A large cheese pizza. (Ask for it unsliced and, if possible, slightly underbaked.)

To make: Avoiding the crust, cut out mini pizzas with round cookie or biscuit cutters. Heat the rounds at 400 Fahrenheit for about 5 minutes. Top with slices of olives, marinated mushrooms, chopped prosciutto, an anchovy fillet, or fresh herbs (such as basil, flat-leaf parsley, rosemary, thyme, or oregano).

Mediterranean bruschetta

Start with: Garlic bread from your favorite Italian spot.

To make: Slather slices with prepared marinara or pesto sauce. Top with goat cheese or mozzarella, a marinated pepper, or an oil-packed sun-dried tomato, then toast in the oven.

Also try: Hummus po' boys. Spread hot garlic bread with hummus and top with coleslaw or lettuce and tomato. Cap with more hot, crunchy bread. Real Simple: How to know when food is cooked just right

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Chicken- or shrimp-boat hors d'oeuvres

Start with: Your favorite chicken or shrimp Chinese stir-fry.

To make: Mound spoonfuls of stir-fry into the cuplike center leaves from a head of Boston lettuce. If desired, top the boats with chopped nuts or scallion slices.

Also try: Asian-Mexican fusion. Roll the dish with rice and some soy sauce in a giant tortilla. Slice into single-serving pieces.

Chicken pasta with blue cheese and walnuts

Start with: A golden-brown rotisserie chicken.

To make: Toss thin slices of chicken with hot pasta, crumbled blue cheese, and chopped walnuts.

Also try: Quick chicken salad. Stir Dijon mustard, mayo, and chopped onion and herbs into shredded chicken meat. Season with salt and pepper and spoon onto whole-grain bread for sandwiches. Real Simple: Pasta glossary

Antipasto platter

Start with: Assorted salad-bar treats.

To make: Arrange Swiss and cheddar cheese cubes, prosciutto and salami slices, marinated vegetables (artichoke hearts, red peppers, mushrooms), mixed olives, and giant capers on a platter.

Also try: Salad bar as personal sous-chef. Make it your source for julienned vegetables, grated cheese, and bite-size meats.

Roasted duck, watercress, and brown rice salad

Start with: Half a Chinese Peking duck (1 order).

To make: Shred the meat and toss it with take-out brown rice and a splash of dumpling dipping sauce (most restaurants will add it to your order at no charge). Top with chopped watercress and scallions.

Also try: Duck crostini. Finely chop the meat and toss it with minced herbs, chopped onion, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Pile the mixture on tiny toasts. Real Simple: Easy fixes for 8 common kitchen mishaps

Spareribs, minimalist style

Start with: A few orders of Chinese take-out ribs.

To make: Simply separate the spareribs, heat, and serve on simple white plates.

Also try: Spareribs with crunch. The glaze on Chinese-style ribs provides the perfect glue for a crunchy coating. Separate the ribs and roll them in chopped peanuts or toasted sesame seeds. Serve hot on a scoop of fried or steamed rice.

Trimmings

Start with: A bucket of chicken, some biscuits, mashed potatoes, and gravy -- all from your local KFC.

To make: Heat the chicken and biscuits in a 350 F oven for 10 minutes, then place in napkin-lined baskets. Put the potatoes and gravy (request it on the side) in your best bowls.

Also try: Chicken dippers. Serve slices of fried chicken with homemade sauce -- yogurt or sour cream with honey mustard stirred in to taste.

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