March 21, 2017

Simple Colorado-Themed Party Menu

As I wrote on Saturday, this week is my “Coloradoversary” – the anniversary of both the day I moved to Colorado and the day I closed on my house. I celebrated on Saturday night with a big party for all my friends, and it was a blast!

For a Colorado-themed menu, I started with the most obviously Coloradan food: pork green chili. I don’t know the origins, but green chili is all over the place here – smothering burritos, omelets, fries, or just in a delicious bowl by itself. I had never attempted making green chili before (though you can check out my prize-winning red chili here), so I asked around for advice. My friend Hillary said she had a great recipe, but with a caveat. “It’s by Food Babe.” Groan.

Both Hillary and I dislike Food Babe because of her fearmongering tactics and how she uses faulty logic / ignorance to get people to her side (check out Dan’s post hereCassie’s post here, and this NPR article). But Hillary swore up and down that this recipe was great, so I trusted her. And oh. my. gosh. it was delicious! Super simple, and it felt a little like cheating to throw a jar of salsa into a recipe (I used Trader Joe’s Salsa Verde), but it came out so ridiculously good and is now going to be a staple at my house. I simplified the recipe further by browning the meat and onions, cutting the broth in half, and then dumping everything into a crockpot for a few hours, rather than fretting over it on the stove. Seriously, you have no reason not to try this fabulous simple recipe.

This chili was seriously awesome, and I was disappointed at the end of the night to realize we had eaten it all. I need to make it again soon!

With the main dish taken care of, I turned my attention to appetizers / snacks. I decided that since Colorado is known for craft beer (of which I served plenty), I could get away with typical bar food as my appetizers. Obviously, that meant buffalo blue cheese dip. I frequently make this skinny Buffalo chicken dip recipe for parties (omitting the chicken), and it’s always a huge hit. One of my friend’s husbands even specifically asks for it, and will park himself in front of the bowl! (Which is great, because it keeps me from doing the same.) Since this recipe calls for Greek yogurt and light cream cheese, it’s not too terrible for you, and I usually serve it with both chips and baby carrots, so I at least have a healthier choice of crunch on some bites 🙂 I also put out some basic chips and salsa to round out the spread. Colorado is all about low-key simplicity!

Finally, for dessert, I decided it would be funny to serve brownies. (Because legal marijuana is what everyone asked about when I said I was moving to Colorado.) I made this super healthy, super simple brownie recipe that calls for just five ingredients: pumpkin puree, eggs, cocoa powder, honey, and chocolate chips. As weird a combo as that sounds, the brownies come out very fudgy but also very tasty and (mostly) guilt free. And as a joke, I did my best to attempt to draw a pot leaf on top of them with green icing. Well, the joke was on me: while I was afraid no one would eat them because they might think I was actually serving pot brownies, it turns out that everyone knew there was no way I’d eat / serve pot brownies. Joke ruined by my own uncoolness!

In fairness, my icing artistry was so poor that they kind of looked like Christmas tree brownies…

But fortunately for my sad-looking joke brownies, my friend Kristin has become quite an accomplished cake decorator, and she brought over fabulous homemade cupcakes with little pieces of fondant shaped to look like the Colorado flag! My guests and I were blown away by her artistry in cake decorating… I think I’m going to offer to hire her to make desserts for all my future parties 🙂

Pretty sure I ate three of these myself.

So combine all that yummy food with some Colorado craft beer and some local Colorado wines, and I had quite a party!

This was pretty sweet, but I liked the fruity notes. And how fun that it’s from Palisades, Colorado, where I’ve actually been out biking!

Overall, this was a really fun theme for a celebration (even if it felt awkward when people came to the door shouting “Happy Coloradoversary!” and I had to refrain from replying “You too.”). I had a lot of great friends over, made some new friends too, and also had a relatively easy time prepping this simple menu! That was a great Saturday, and I look forward to repeating my party success again soon. Now I just need to figure out what theme is on tap for my April shindig…


2 thoughts on “Simple Colorado-Themed Party Menu”

  1. Hey Laura! (Belated) Happy “Coloradoversary” I love your brownies just because it only has 5 ingredients. Yeah, I guess it’s a good idea to just hire your friend Kristin to make desserts or may be do the baking and she makes the decorating. LOL It was nice reading your blog.

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