The holidays are in full swing. From Halloween on it seems there is some food centered gathering or happening. Don’t get stressed if you are hosting. Instead, using careful planning and in-advance preparations, you can be the Perle Mesta of your neighborhood. (And if you know who I’m referring to, welcome to my generation!)
And as an added benefit, as a writer, I can collect dialogue bits, imagine someone face-planting into the punch, or a dead body on the kitchen floor. Parties like this are fodder for authors! But I digress!
To plan how much food to make, my rule of thumb is to assume each guest will eat one or two of each dish offered and will sample the sweets so I make a lot of mini dessert options. This column focuses on a Happy Hour menu.
For ideas beyond these check the archives of this blog for my Month-of Recipes I produce each February. In 2014, I did at least one appetizer recipe each day of February. In 2015, I shared at least one mini-dessert recipe each day. Add to your repertoire by reading those.
But let’s face it, they’re coming to be with you and not to evaluate the food. Much of this can be done a day or two in advance and reheated if necessary. But keep it plentiful, colorful, and easy on you and they’ll be impressed and you won’t be stressed.
Throw in a couple of prepared items like the taquitos and/or egg rolls from frozen section of the store. There also are other items you might like. Start in the frozen section first then fill in with some of these:
Shrimp with Cocktail Sauce
Mix 1 cup catsup with the juice of half a lemon and 2-4 tablespoons horseradish (adjust to your taste). Stir. Let sit for a couple of hours before dipping in the shrimp.
Bag of frozen meatballs and jar of red pepper jelly
Coat meatballs in zipper bag. Cook on low in microwave for four hours.
Mushrooms with Stuffing
Buy the boxed stuffing mix and prepare as directed but put in another two tablespoons butter. Take the stem out of mushrooms and fill with stuffing. Bake for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees.
3 Roma tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
10 basil leaves cut in ribbons
2 T olive oil
1 loaf refrigerator French bread baked then cut into 18 (or so) slices.
In small bowl mix everything but oil, cheese, and bread.
Brush bread slices with olive oil and sprinkle on some cheese.
Bake in 350 degree oven for a few minutes until cheese begins to melt.
Remove from oven and spoon on tomato mixture. Sprinkle top with more cheese.
Cut into rounds about 1/2” thick and brown on both sides. Have a dish of toothpicks for serving.
Buy the box of crackers with different kinds of crackers. Slice up a variety of interesting cheeses paired with a bowl of grapes.
Veggies and Dip
Put a bowl in the middle of a platter and fill with dressing (ranch or something else).
Cover the platter with a broccoli base cut into bite size pieces.
On top of the broccoli, dot the surface with cherry tomatoes and a few cauliflower pieces. At the bottom, make a bow from red bell pepper. It will look like a wreath!
Puff Pastry Desserts
Get a box of puff pastry sheets and one of 24 puff pastry cups.
Bake the puff pastry cups and when cool put a teaspoon of fig jam (or other favorite) into the cup. Top with blue cheese crumbles.
Thaw one (or both) puff pastry sheets. Open up on pastry mat and roll thinner.
Spread a layer of Nutella over the top but not all the way to the edges. Sprinkle with finely chopped walnuts.
Roll up each pastry sheet tightly and place seam side down on a baking sheet. Bake for about 15-20 minutes until nicely browned.
When cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar and cut into 1” slices for serving.
Fruit and Cake
Bowl of kiwi and strawberries to spoon over bought pound/angelfood cake crumbles in a shot or liqueur glass
Candy Pretzel Rods
24 rod pretzels, 1 c choc chips, 1 cup white choc chips, 2T oil (divided), sprinkles or other toppings
Melt each chocolate in its own bowl and add oil. Stir to blend.
Dip one end of pretzel rods into chocolate. Roll in sprinkles (or crushed candy cane or other topping). Chill.
Holiday appropriate drinks.
Make one seasonal drink option, like eggnog (both naughty and nice) or peppermint martini, and offer wine, beer, and soft drinks rather than a full bar. Everyone serves him or herself.
Here’s an interesting sounding peppermint martini, if you’re into alcohol. http://allrecipes.com/recipe/230306/peppermint-martini/
I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season filled with family, friends, food, and fun!
If you liked this post, I’d be appreciative if you’d share! Thanks!
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