Looking for taster night ideas? There’s SEVEN recipes down below. I’m not surprised you want inspiration, nothing seems to strike fear into slimmers at Slimming World more than ‘we’re having a party next week, bring something along‘. Well, perhaps the words ‘let’s split the room in half, someone keep points, we’re going to do group activities‘. God I hate that. I’m too antisocial at the best of times but being forced to come up with a witty team name and shout out speed foods makes my throat hitch. For those not in the Cult of Mags, a taster night is where everyone is expected to bring along some food to share with the rest of the class and usually results in about twenty quiches and a box of grapes bought from the Co-op over the road by the lady who forgot it was on.
I struggle with taster nights because, as previously mentioned, I don’t like eating food when I don’t know how clean the kitchen it’s coming from is. Luckily I’m in a class now with people who do look familiar with a bottle of Ajax, but Christ, some of the sights I’ve seen in other classes, well I wouldn’t eat what came out of their kitchens even if it contained the antidote to a life-threatening poison I’d accidentally ingested.
Oh! A quick word. When a buffet is served up in class, try and allow the meek amongst us access to the food. A couple of years ago, in a class in Wakefield no less, Paul and I didn’t get any food because half the class – not the better half – dashed forward as soon as the ‘party’ began and formed one giant body of impassable bulk. It was like the Berlin Wall, only smelling faintly of chips. I’ve never seen food shovelled and devoured with such ferocity and I’ve seen Sicilian wild boars being fed. All I wanted was a (nothing-like-a) Ferrero Rocher and a few ‘JUST LIKE DORITOS’ crisps that I could have planed a door with. I had my revenge anyway – the wasabi peas that I put on the table thinking they were syn-free were actually about eight syns a handful. What can I say? My knowledge of the Mandarin language is a little rusty.
So, with all the above in mind, we decided to do a post on snacks, also fuelled by the fact it was Eurovision last night and we like to have a trough of food to work through whilst we watch our entry get annihilated. Before anyone says the UK will never win because ‘it’s too political’ and ‘no-one votes for us because of the war’, that was relevant maybe ten years ago and certainly isn’t now. Russia almost won it and well, that Putin’s been a bit of a tinker this year, has he not? We don’t win because we send absolute shite – po-faced, dreary, period-pain music with insipid staging and crap tunes. No doubt that Aldi Jedward can sing a tune and strum a guitar but they lost a singing competition where literally tens of people voted for someone else to be a winner. Why would that translate to success in the Eurovision Song Contest? EH? We need to send something amazing, with a massive chorus and an uplifting melody, not a song that would barely make its way onto the second CD in the Now That’s What I Call White Noise 87 compilation.
Anyway come on now, let’s get to the recipes, shall we? This is the spread.
Fancy, right? On view then:
- Bánh Mì balls with a spicy dip
- our teeny tiny teriyaki tasters
- sandwiches filled with syn-free egg mayonnaise and tuna and cucumber
- sweet potato crisps with four different types of houmous
- baked new potatoes with cheese and bacon topping
Out of sight:
- spicy couscous balls
- gin and tonic lollies
Three caveats that I’m going to throw in before we begin:
- some of these recipes are ‘tweaks’ in the truest sense of the word – especially the crisps – and it’s up to you whether you follow the rule of synning them or not – tweaks being when you use an ingredient in a way it isn’t intended to be used, such as slicing a sweet potato to make crisps. I will mention it where appropriate. My own view (which you can find here) is that it’s better to be eating something made from a healthy ingredient than a processed packet of crisps. It boils down to this – 100g of sweet potato is around 85 calories, 100g of Walkers crisps kicks in over 550 calories. I’ll be fucked if I’m synning sweet potato crisps at the same rate as normal crisps. If you feel the need to be all frothy and leave a comment castigating me for my temerity, please save yourself the finger strain, wipe the spittle from your lips and simply don’t bother – personal choice;
- a couple of these recipes you’ll have seen before if you’re a long-time follower, but I thought it would be handy to put them all in one place; and
- as usual, I’ve given syn values for a normal portion and I’ll mention when it uses up a HEA/HEB. If you’re eating the entire buffet, you’ll need to think about how many HEB/HEA’s you’re using! It’ll make sense as we go along. Basically, each recipe stands on its own. Right? Right.
taster night ideas #1: sweet potato crisps with four different types of houmous:
to make the sweet potato crisps, you’ll need:
- a couple of big sweet potatoes
- spray oil – a few squirts of Filippo Berio’s olive oil is only half a syn, and that’s all you need
- chinese five spice
to make the sweet potato crisps, you should:
- to make the crisps, use a microwave, it’s much easier
- get a big old sweet potato and cut it to uniform thin slices – this is where having a mandolin slicer comes in very handy, because it’ll take no time at all to do the slices – buy one here and never look back, not least because it makes your food look great when it’s all uniform
- arrange the slices on a plate, squirt with some spray oil, dust with chinese five spice (or indeed, any flavouring you want) and rub it in
- microwave on full power – it usually takes about six minutes, but keep checking every couple of minutes, and once they start to look dry, turn them over
- keep a proper eye on them mind, because they can burn easily once they dry out
- once done, take them off the plate, set aside, and do the next batch
to make the four way houmous, you’ll need:
- a few small tins of chickpeas
- garlic cloves
- fat free cottage cheese
- a lemon or two
- sea salt
to make the four way houmous, you should:
- the basic houmous recipe is simple enough – for enough to fill one of those little square bowls above, you’ll want to use one small tin of cooked chick peas (syn free), a nice round tablespoon of fat free cottage cheese, a garlic clove, pinch of sea salt and some lemon juice. Blend it together, adding a little more lemon juice if you like it runny or keeping some back if you prefer it chunky. It’s up to you. You will save yourself so much time if you get yourself one of these little express choppers that Delia Smith was always going on about between tumblers of Scotch – you can find one here – it’ll make houmous in no time
- to make the different variations, you just add a few ingredients:
- lemon and garlic (add an extra couple of garlic gloves, a squidge more lemon juice and decorate with finely grated lemon peel) (don’t take the pith, literally, as that is very bitter – just the top layer, please)
- basil and parmesan (10 torn basil leaves, 10g of shaved parmesan, bit of salt) – up to you if you want to syn such a tiny portion of parmesan but bearing in mind you’ll be getting what, 2.5g of it, I wouldn’t bother
- pickled red cabbage (just a few chunks of pickled red cabbage and some of the pickling vinegar added to give it colour
- paprika and sun-dried tomato – I chucked in 1tbsp of sundried tomato paste (1.5 syns, but again, through the laws of dilution, it’s up to you if you syn it)
Easy! Of course, if you don’t want to fart on making the crisps, just chop up some peppers, carrots and cucumber and use them instead to dip into your houmous. If you want our little serving dish, you guessed it, it’s on Amazon!
taster night ideas #2: teeny tiny teriyaki tasters:
This makes enough for 36 sticky teeny tiny teriyaki tasters (fnar fnar), if you make them bigger, adjust the syns per ball. There’s 12 syns in the overall recipe.
to make teeny tiny teriyaki tasters, you’ll need:
- 500g lean pork mince
- 250g lean beef mince (remember our fantastic freezer filler has lots of lean beef mince in it, plus all that chicken and bacon…!)
- 1 egg yolk
- 60ml light soy sauce
- 60ml white wine (2 syns)
- 2 tbsp sherry (1.5 syns)
- 1 tbsp honey (2.5 syns)
- 2 tsp freshly grated ginger
- 15g of a mix of black and white sesame seeds (6 syns, as 25g is 8 syns – and to be honest, you’ll not use all of these because a lot will end up on the chopping board, but let’s err on the side of caution)
to make teeny tiny teriyaki tasters, you should:
- in a large bowl mix together the pork and the beef mince with the egg yolk
- using a tablespoon, scoop out a spoon-size ball and roll into meatballs – do this for all of the mixture (you’ll need about 36 – if you want, you could weigh out each ball at around 27g each…but life’s too short)
- heat a large pan over a medium high heat and add a couple of squirts of spray oil or, urgh, Frylight, bleurgh
- cook the meatballs until browned all over and cooked right through – you WILL need to do them in batches
- place cooked meatballs onto a baking sheet and place in the oven to keep warm whilst you cook the rest
- when done, mix together the soy sauce, white wine, sherry, honey and ginger in a small jug and pour into the same pan you used to cook the meatballs and reduce the heat to medium
- cook for a few minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened
- add the meatballs back into the pan and stir carefully to coat – I find it easier to tumble the meatballs in and then pick up the pan and gently slosh them around rather than trying to stir with a spoon
- serve on cocktail sticks and sprinkle over the seeds – don’t sweat it if you can’t find these, you could easily leave them off and that brings the syn count to 1 syn for six – even better – but they look so pretty with the seeds on
taster night ideas #3: Bánh Mì balls with a spicy dip:
to make Bánh Mì balls with a spicy dip, you’ll need:
- 500g turkey mince
- 1 onion (grate half of it, chop the other half)
- 1 carrot, grated
- 3 spring onions, finely sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp fish sauce
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp of sriracha, (1 syn) (you can use any old hot sauce)
- 1 egg
- 25g panko (4.5 syns) (or use breadcrumbs from your HEB allowance)
- ½ cucumber, thinly sliced
- 5 radishes, thinly sliced
- 1 tsp rice vinegar
- 100g quark
to make Bánh Mì balls with a spicy dip, you should:
Full disclosure: we got this recipe from the fabulous cookingforkeeps.com – her recipe can be found here and looks equally as delicious – we’ve tweaked ours for Slimming World!
- preheat the oven to 200 degrees
- in a bowl, mix together the turkey mince, onion (grated and chopped), carrot, spring opnions, garlic, fish sauce, soy sauce, 1 tsp of sriracha, egg and the panko until combined
- roll into 1″ size balls and place on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper
- cook in the oven for twenty minutes
- meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together 1 tsp rice vinegar, 1 tsp sriracha and the quark to make a dipping sauce
- slice the radishes and cucumbers as thinly as you can and skewer one of each onto a cocktail stick with the meatball
taster night ideas #4: little sandwiches:
to make little sandwiches, you’ll need:
No need for a full recipe here, really. Take whatever bread you want from your HEB – we use Kingsmill Crustless Wholemeal bread, which you can have three slices of. Cut nice circles out of them, remember you eat with your eyes.
- for the egg salad, boil up four eggs, break them up with a fork, add a tablespoon of quark, lots of black pepper, a chopped tomato and some spring onions
- for the tuna – well, we’re old school, we just like tuna mixed with vinegar and served with cucumber. You could splash out and add a bit of Quark to bind it, I suppose…
taster night ideas #5: baked new potatoes with a cheese and bacon topping:
to make baked new potatoes, you’ll need:
- 1.5kg small salad-type potatoes
- 100g fat-free fromage frais
- 30g parmesan (1x HEA)
- 4 rashers of bacon, all visible fat removed
- 4 spring onions, sliced
to make baked new potatoes, you should:
- preheat the oven to 200 degrees (or an actifry with the paddle removed is just as good – Amazon are selling them for £125 at the moment too!)
- prick the potatoes with a fork, spray with a little frylight and bake in the oven (or actifry) for about 45 minutes
- grill or dry-fry the bacon until crispy and chop into small pieces
- mix together the fromage frais, parmesan and spring onions and set aside
- when the potatoes are cooked, leave to cool for about ten minutes
- make a cross in the top of each potato and squeeze the bottoms to open them up
- spoon in a little of the fromage frais mixture and top with bacon pieces and chives
taster night ideas #6: spicy couscous balls:
Please note: that’s an old photo, it’s actually now 4 syns for all the balls, but you’re not going to eat them all yourself anyway, surely? I’ll nip back in time and change the photo later.
Not worth making a full recipe breakdown for this, because it’s so, so easy. I use two packets of Ainsley Harriott’s spicy sensations couscous, which come in at 2 syns per pack made up with water (so don’t be adding butter, you cheeky buggers). Add the appropriate level of water (whatever it says on the pack) and leave to absorb. Fluff with a fork. Beat an egg and mix it into the couscous, then squeeze as many balls as you can out of the mixture. Pop onto a tray and stick it in the oven on 150 degrees for an hour or so – you want to ‘dry’ them out. Cooked low and slow, you’ll be laughing. For a dip, make tzatziki – greek yoghurt (I use Tesco Finest 0% fat – no syns) mixed with cucumber cut into tiny cubes and mint. Stir, chill, eat.
taster night ideas #7: gin and tonic ice lollies
Again, no need for a full recipe. We mixed 25ml of gin with a glass of diet tonic, poured it into a cheapy ice-lolly mould like this £3 from Amazon and added a slice of cucumber. Between six, it’s half a syn each. Of course, it’s easy to customise this, put your pint of whisky in, add lime, add fruit, don’t add alcohol, do what you like!
OK, I hope that’s given you some inspiration. It’s certainly made my fingers ache!
Do me a favour though – share this page in as many facebook pages as you can, because taster recipes is one of the main things people need. Spread the love! Leave me your comments below!
Oh it’s worth noting, we did have a couple of drinks to get us through Eurovision, see…