Stepping Out

Time for Oscar to shine

Host an award-worthy bash with red carpet appeal

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As the Oscars seek to maintain their relevancy in the complex 21st century landscape, many movie buffs still enjoy the glitzy, glamorous scene. So gather round the TV on Sunday, Feb. 24, and settle in for some celebrity watching during that spectacle known as the 91th Academy Awards.

Be part of the festivities with an A-list Oscar night bash that will keep everyone entertained all evening long.

The envelope, please. Everyone loves to try and guess who will be Oscar night’s big winners. Download free printable Oscars ballots (widely available from many sites). Distribute them to your guests to fill out and seal before the ceremony begins. At the end of the night, tally up the totals and give out your own awards for highest and lowest scores.

When there’s a break in the action, use those moments for mingling and party fun — such as movie trivia, movie quotes, or favorite Oscar night moments.

Delicious bites. Plan a menu of glamorous, delectable finger foods. And don’t forget that staple of movie treats — popcorn.

Try these recipes to get you inspired.

Chocolate Popcorn

2 quarts popped popcorn

1 cup peanuts (optional)

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup corn syrup

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 250° F. Oil a 10x15 inch baking pan with sides.

Place popcorn and peanuts into a large, metal bowl, and set aside. Stir together the sugar, corn syrup, cocoa powder, and butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat until it comes to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Stir in the vanilla, then pour over the popcorn. Stir until the popcorn is well coated. Spread the popcorn into the prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, stirring several times.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Break into small clumps, and store in an airtight container.

Hot Crab Dip

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

1 cup mayonnaise

2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning

1/2 teaspoon ground mustard

1 pound lump crabmeat

1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350° F. Mix cream cheese, mayonnaise, Old Bay seasoning and ground mustard in medium bowl until well blended. Add crabmeat; toss gently.

Spread in shallow 1 1/2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle with Cheddar cheese and additional Old Bay Seasoning, if desired.

Bake 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Serve with assorted crackers or sliced French bread.

Hoisin Meatballs

2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/4 cup dry bread crumbs

3 tablespoons chopped green onions

3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon minced fresh gingerroot

1-1/2 pounds lean ground beef

Sauce:

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup hoisin sauce

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons sesame oil

2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon honey

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon minced fresh gingerroot

In a large bowl, combine the first eight ingredients. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well.

Shape into scant 1-inch balls. Place in a 13x9-inc baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake, uncovered, at 350° until meat is no longer pink, 20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the sauce ingredients; heat through. Serve with meatballs.

Mini Cheesecakes

2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

12 Oreo cookies

1 kiwi

1/2 cup fresh blueberries

1/3 cup fresh raspberries

Heat oven to 350° F.

Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with mixer until blended. Add eggs; mix just until blended.

Place 1 cookie in each of 12 paper-lined muffin cups; top with cream cheese mixture.

Bake 20 minutes or until centers are almost set. Cool. Refrigerate 3 hours. Peel kiwi; cut into 6 slices, then cut each slice in half. Place 1 kiwi piece on each chees