Week Three How to ENJOY Entertaining
Day 18 Quick and Easy Food for Unexpected Company (or How to Turn any Occasion into a Party)
So you have friends over and you are all having such a great time, you don't want it to end yet, but dinner is approaching and everyone is getting hungry...should you ask them to stay? Then your mind goes into a panic over what to serve... never fear, with some simple ingredients, it's easy to throw something together to appeal to every appetite.
These are a few extremely easy things to always have on hand in your kitchen/ pantry so that you are always ready to entertain - any kind of crowd. The idea behind having these ingredients is that they will accent what's already in your fridge or on the counter/stove. You can "dress things up" so that the food looks like you put some thought and serious effort into it, but really you didn't. The added bonus is that your guests feel pretty special and everyone's hunger is satisfied.
I've created this list based on the assumption that most of us at any given time will have veggies, bread, ingrediants for main dishes and the other staples needed to feed yourself or your family. These are a few extras I suggest keeping stocked even if you don't use them every day because they can definitely take things up a notch.
1. Whole Grain Nachos
I love having these on hand to throw together any variety of nachos/Cheese tray. But they are also great to serve with a chunk soup or chilli. You also can crumble them to create a crunchy, salty topping for tuna melts or sandwiches.
Salsa is another ingredient with many uses.
Of course its the primary topping for nachos,
but it can also be used as a topping on soups
or served as a condiment for meats and spicy dishes.
3. Variety of Cheeses
Certain cheeses freeze pretty well.
Old cheddars that are already crumbly or brie for example.
Any cheese you will most likely melt can also be frozen.
So stock up when your favs go on sale.
Others last quite a while in brine
- so buy feta in a bucket if possible.
Then you can serve a brie with salty crackers smothered in jelly or salsa.
Or you can sprinkle feta over anything from hot dishes to salad to fruit.
Or serve it fried up a bit drizzled with balsamic and olive oil.
4. Ice Wine Jelly (or hot jellies)
Yumminess in a jar.
You can spread this over crackers plain or with brie.
You can melt it down and serve as a sauce
over icecream or pie.
You can use it as a condiment for meat.
You can eat it straight - well, maybe not that.
5. Fresh Fruit - esp. Apples, Grapes and citrus
Not everyone keeps these on hand,
but they really should.
They are an easy snack to fancy up.
They can fancy up any dish really.
They can make a super easy dessert served
with ice cream or melted chocolate
6. Shrimp, Crab Meat, Smoked Salmon
Served alone, or even to fancy up dishes like
plain old mac and cheese.
Smoked salmon on toast with cream cheese and spinach.
Make a wrap or a dip or as an addition to salad.
Serve on crackers for an appetizer.
Serve in a dish with seafood sauce.
Serve in glass dessert bowls, like a cocktail.
7. Swedish Toasts or non-generic crackers (like rice crackers or paris toasts)
One of my personal favs.
They are great any time of day.
They can be made savory or sweet.
8. Canned Chickpeas
These are great to be thrown into a salad.
Or a hot dish like chili
Or mashed into a dip like hummus.
Or toasted in the oven with olive oil and eaten like nuts
Or Served with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper
Made spicy or plain.
9. Gingerale, Juices
This is great to have on hand to turn any drink
into a "sparkly drink".
Its also great to serve with citrus slices served up
on the side of the glass.Its also handy to have on hand for upset stomach.
10. A really good Olive Oil
and a Really Good Balsamic Vinegar
These are essential for salads
These are great to drizzle
on a plate and serve with crusty bread.
or over tomatoes and sprinkle with sea salt.
These can be used to make sauces for other dishes.
11. A variety of Pickles and Olives
Served alone with the bread and oil mentioned above.
Or to snazz up something like tuna salad.
Or to add to appetizers.
12. A variety of nuts and dried fruits
like cranberries, raisins, currants, etc
Toast them to add to dishes.
Used to spice up salads or veggie dishes.
Throw into melted chocolate to make bark.
Chop up and top desserts with them.
Glaze with brown sugar and butter, or spices.
Obviously always great to have on hand for desserts in them or melted on top of them.
Melt for a last minute fondue.
Add to stew, chili or other meat dishes for an exotic punch.
Grate it and use as a topping for desserts or coffee.
14. Ice Cream
I know its hard to keep on hand in some houses, but if you can bury one in the deep freeze, do it.
Easy to serve alone
Makes other desserts like pie, extra special.
Jazz up with fruit, melted chocolate or nuts.
15. Plain Cookies - shortbread, gingersnaps or wafers
These are easy to add to icecream or whipped cream
served with fruit and chocolate or caramel sauce
and make a simple dessert extra special.
I hope that give you a few ideas and peace of mind to be able to keep the party going with ease.