Planning a party that excludes some or all of the top 8 most popular allergens (soy, wheat, dairy, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, fish) can be overwhelming if you’ve never done it before. Heck, it can sometimes even be overwhelming for me! I get so wrapped up in trying to make sure all the food tastes “normal” that I can sometimes go a little crazy.
With super bowl and Valentine’s Day coming up and lots of great cold weather get togethers being planned, I thought this was the most appropriate time to cover a little bit of Entertaining 101.
Let me being by telling you a little story…
Long before I had any allergies (or maybe I should say long before I KNEW I had any allergies), I had a friend who was intolerant to dairy, soy, and gluten. I decided it would be my challenge to try to make all the foods I was serving at my party edible for her. I chose a delicious bean dip (yep the white bean dip I posted on here), made mini pizzas using Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Pizza Crust, picked out an allergy free dessert, and set out a few other appetizers I can’t remember anymore.
But there was one thing I was not sure I could make, but wanted to attempt…
And that challenge was – Mini Cocktail Weenies. I know, my party food wasn’t too exciting, but this is what my guests screamed for! Never underestimate the power of a cocktail weenie – I learned that in college when we hosted our student fashion show and 3/4 of the class voted that at our fancy reception (where many actual, live, professional, rich fashion designers would be in attendance) that we should have cocktail weenies.
Anyway, after scouring online I found a recipe I thought I could work with. I had to make the dough by hand and I bought all of the 20 different flours I needed (okay, I’m exaggerating about the amount of flours, but if you’ve ever cooked gluten free you know it’s not just throwing in some all purpose flour and going with it).
I followed the recipe exactly and half way through realized the recipe was completely incorrect. They told me to put in WAY too much liquid and I had to do something to even it out so I tried to double the recipe.
The dough got sticky and then hard and then broke apart like a normal gluten free dough does. I was frustrated, but didn’t want to give up. I thought, I came this far.. let’s just do it.
I wrapped my weenies (ooh, that sounds SO dirty haha but at least I was practicing safe cooking:) and threw them in the oven.
Needless to say, they came out with the dough being rock hard, tasteless, and bland. My friend loved them… Seriously. I think she’s a little crazy (love you!), but she will still insist if I ask that she liked them. Again, I think she’s trying to make me feel better.
It was a mistake, it sucked, and I owned up to my horrible recipe. But that’s the moment in time I got fed up and realized life can’t be like this for people living with allergies. And eventually I got good at it. Maybe one day I’ll try those weenies again, with my own recipe this time, but I still had fun. And I admit, even though I did all that, I didn’t go overboard.
Okay, where was I again?
What I’m trying to say is that, besides the cocktail weenies, everything else I made at my party was super simple to make. I spent maybe an hour preparing all the foods and they were delicious and no one even noticed that my friend, who normally couldn’t eat a thing at parties, was digging in with the rest of them (they didn’t know the foods were allergen free).
You don’t have to go out and buy 100 different flours. Actually, now you can find a ton of really great gluten free all purpose flours that work almost as good as normal flour and all you do is swap out AP flour for GF flour your recipe.
There are also a ton of foods that are easy to find allergen-free (ALWAYS make sure to check labels or ask someone):
- Chips (just make sure to check labels sometimes chip companies use lechitin or soy or wheat)
- Dips (especially bean dips or hummus or guacamole or even layered taco dips)
- Popcorn (esp homemade with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper)
- Kabobs (check any seasonings you may use)
- Mozzarella, Basil, and Tomato (or sans Mozzarella if you are going dairy free)
- Deviled eggs (if you can eat egg and as long as the mayo is soy free Canola mayo and there’s no dairy)
- Homemade Meatballs without breading in them
- Tacos (especially if the tortillas are corn and you can choose your own toppings)!
If you put your mind to it, all of the above would make a great party and they can all be simple to make and eat! Allergen free cooking can be easy and fun, it just takes a little more brainpower sometimes.
And don’t forget. When people have parties… they remember the people who were there, the conversations they have, and the friends they saw or made. If you’re worried, just remember.. it’s never the food you have at a party that people remember, it’s the mood your host sets. So relax and smile and have a few fun games and topics of conversation on hand.
My favorite way to get the convo going, especially with people who may not know each other well, is with Tabletopics! Adam and I even like to play this by ourselves. So interesting!
Have an amazing party and feel free to post any pictures of your parties on my Facebook wall!