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Published: Friday, 1/28/2011

Great Dishes For A Carefree, Casual Feast


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(ARA) - Casual, laid back dining with family and friends is definitely a must -- and what's more relaxed than a utensil-free feast? Think beyond burgers, and serve up some great tasting finger foods. Bruschetta, dips and quesadillas can make backyard bashes easy, fun and flavorful.

Here are some other ways to make sure your party is the talk of the neighborhood.

* Shake up the flavor of any dish with a spice blend. Try it on main dishes, sides and salads for a bold, unexpected twist.

* Since there are no knives needed, think about making smaller versions of the typical recipe. For instance, sliders are a big hit for both parents and kids and you can add all types of fun toppings and flavors.

* Turn sandwiches into wraps! You can cut them into slices and serve them as small pinwheels that guests can munch on without a mess.

Here are three tasty dishes to try at your next "fork free" party:

Zesty Shrimp Bruschetta

Ingredients:

1 pound cooked shrimp, finely chopped

1 plum tomato, finely chopped

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 tablespoons finely chopped green onion

1 egg white

2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning

1 loaf French bread

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F. Mix the shrimp, tomato, green onion, olive oil, egg white, Old Bay Seasoning and garlic powder in a medium bowl until blended.

Slice the bread into 24 (1/2-inch thick) slices. Place on a baking sheet and broil until lightly toasted on both sides. Spread lightly with mayo, then spoon the shrimp mixture evenly over the bread slices. Bake for eight to 10 minutes or until heated through and lightly browned.

Party Dip With a Zip

Ingredients:

1 pint (16 ounces) sour cream

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup sliced green onions

1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning

Assorted cut-up fresh vegetables, crackers and/or chips

Directions:

In a medium bowl, blend sour cream, mayo, green onions and Old Bay Seasoning, then cover.

Refrigerate the dip for at least 1 hour, and then serve with crunchy, fresh crudites, assorted crackers and/or chips.

Southwestern Shrimp Quesadillas

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons oil

1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 red bell pepper, sliced thinly

2 green onions, sliced

1 tablespoon Old Bay 30 Percent Less Sodium Seasoning

6 flour tortillas (8-inch)

1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend

1 avocado, sliced

sour cream

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400F. Heat oil in a large skillet on medium-high. Add shrimp, peppers, green onions and Old Bay Seasoning. Cook and stir four to five minutes, or until the shrimp turn pink.

Place three tortillas on a baking sheet. Spread them with shrimp mixture. Sprinkle with cheese, then top with a second tortilla. Bake for five minutes or just until the cheese melts. Cut each quesadilla into four wedges and serve with avocado slices and sour cream.



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