Party Dishes: The Main Courses

A lot of people throw parties, whether it’s 20 people or a smaller family gathering. Planning the food portion of the party can get overwhelming. Sometimes you just end up ordering pizza with a bunch of cheap beer for your “main courses”. Not this year!

These recipe ideas can be tweaked gluten-free, vegan, paleo, dairy-free or whatever needs for that person in your group. All can be easily cut down or increased depending on the number of people attending.

Looking for party snacks?

The Party Chili Bar


2 lbs. Ground Beef
2 tsp. olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp. chili powder
¼ tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. ground cumin
Salt to taste
1 ½ cups beer (brewed in Texas preferred) – optional (you can add more tomato sauce)
1 can (10 oz) of diced tomatoes and green chilies
1 can (8 oz) of tomato sauce
2 Tbsp. cornmeal or masa harina


Slow cooker option:

  • Throw all the ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4-5 hours.

Stove option:

  • Set a large dutch oven over high heat. Add half the olive oil and brown the ground beef. Work in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding the pan and stewing the beef in it’s own juices.
  • Remove the beef and set aside to drain. Add the remaining oil and onion, and cook until nicely browned.
  • Add back in beef, along with garlic, chili powder, cayenne, cumin and salt. Stir to combine.
  • Add in the beer, diced tomatoes and green chilies, and tomato sauce, then bring to a low simmer. Cover with a lid and allow to bubble and simmer so sauce reduces and thickens, and the flavors intensify, about 1 hour.
  • After an hour, stir through the cornmeal which will help to thicken the sauce. If sauce starts to get too thick, add a little water, and if it’s not yet thick enough, continue to simmer until desired consistency is reached.


Now that your chili is ready, it’s time to think of the add-ons. Here are some ideas:

1. Corn
2. Chopped tomatoes
3. Chopped white onions
4. Chopped red onion
5. Hot sauce
6. Shredded cheddar cheese
7. Chopped avocado
8. Corn fritos
9. Tortilla chips
10. Lettuce
11. Black olives
12. Green onions
13. Jalapenos
14. Sour cream

Taco Cups

Tacos are messy. There is an easy way to circumvent this. Use cups!


1 Tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 small jalapenos, seeds removed, diced
1 lb. ground beef
2 1/2 Tablespoons homemade taco seasoning or 1 packet of taco seasoning
1 14 ounce can tomato sauce
Plastic cups
Plastic forks and/or spoons


  • In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until beginning to soften. Add the jalapenos and saute an additional 2-3 minutes. Add the ground beef to the pan and cook until no pink remains.
  • Drain any excess fat then stir in taco seasoning.
  • Add the tomato sauce, kidney beans, and drained diced tomatoes to the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through.


1. Shredded lettuce
2. Shredded Mexican Cheese blend
3. Sour Cream
4. Onion
5. Jalapenos
6. Black beans or Kidney beans
7. Diced tomatoes or salsa
8. Guacamole

Meatball Sliders


2 cup Ragu traditional sauce
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
2 tbsp Olive oil
12 Slider buns
2 cup Mozzarella cheese
3 tbsp Parmesan cheese
12 Meatballs, cooked (recipe below)


  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Place the bottom half of the slider buns in a casserole dish.
  • Spoon a little sauce on each bun then place a meatball on each one, and add just a little more sauce over the meatballs.
  • Cover the meatballs in mozzarella cheese.
  • Place the top buns over the meatballs and brush them with a little oil.
  • Combine the Parmesan cheese and the Italian seasoning then sprinkle it over the buns.
  • Cover the dish with foil and bake for 10 minutes, then remove the foil and continue baking for another 10 minutes.

Meatball Recipe (serves 6)


1 lb 80/20 ground beef
1 tbsp Basil, dried
3 cloves Garlic
2 tbsp Parsley, dried
1 Egg
1/2 tsp Black pepper
1 tsp Salt
1/3 cup Breadcrumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese


  • In a bowl, combine everything except the beef and mix well.
  • Add the beef and blend, trying not to work the meat too much (works best with your hands)
  • Form small balls of the meat and place on a cookie sheet.
  • Bake at 400°F for 15-20 minutes (this could be longer or shorter depending on the size of the meatballs).
  • Place the meatballs in the sauce and simmer for at least a half hour.


*All these recipes can be replaced with other types of meats or made vegan. Look below at the infographic created by Women’s Health

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