Tuesday, November 1, 2011

a halloween potluck

This past Sunday I ran 13.1 miles. For fun. I had no excuse not to, really. The half marathon started and finished 1 block from my apartment. I literally woke up, walked down to the starting line, ran ran ran, and then was back up in my apartment enjoying some eggs benedict (homemade by Josh!) before 10 am. I would call that a productive morning.

(i'm the one fist pumping)

Part of the fun of running a half marathon is getting away with eating and drinking whatever you please for the rest of the day. What better way to enjoy this leisure than inviting your friends over for a Halloween party? And, because you can totally ride the excuse of just having run 13.1 miles, why not make it a potluck so you really only have to focus on decorations and the main course? My thoughts exactly...

I wanted to make a dish that could be prepared well before the party, so I could relax on the couch for a bit. I wanted it to be filling, inexpensive, and something that all my friends could engage in - you know, like a make your own taco bar or something. So I came up with a chili bar. I whipped up two different types - one with beef, pinto beans, and kidney beans and the other with chicken, green chilis, and white beans. (You can find the recipes here and here. Both were fantastic, but the chicken chili was practically licked clean.) There was an assortment of toppings so everyone could make it just the way they like. And my friend Kim was gracious enough to bring the cornbread because it's not truly chili without cornbread.

(I used 2 cans great northern beans instead of dried beans - it turned out great)

A few weeks ago, I headed down to Moskatel's in downtown LA. This place is nuts. I now see why people describe it as "Michael's on crack." They have everything - literally everything - you could dream of for decorating, crafting, or hosting a party. AND they were having a 40% off Halloween items sale. In the beginning of October. Jackpot. 

We don't have much storage in the loft, so I had to control the urge to buy everything. I picked out a few packages of fun paper napkins, black tealights, black glitter bats and skulls, orange candlesticks, cobweb and spider confetti, and a Happy Halloween banner. For like $12. I know, right?! I mixed those items in with some Ikea brown and white wicker balls, mini and large pumpkins from Trader Joe's, and some folded fabric runners (one in orange and white stripes and one in black shimmer). And our loft was just festive enough.

I set up our loft in 3 sections: the dining table was dedicated to the potluck. I preset the table with platters and serving spoons in case my friends needed them. Plus, it just looked more festive when they all arrived. The stove and kitchen counter were dedicated to the chili bar. I made a sign describing the 2 types of chili and the toppings. I set out assorted bowls and spoons and let people grab them when they were hungry. The kitchen island was the cocktail station. Wine, beer, and glasses were ready for those who were thirsty. Based on the empty bottle count, we were plenty thirsty.

The chili bar was a huge success and would work for any occasion. (It kind of screams Super Bowl Sunday, no?). 

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