Welcome to Tantalizing Thursday on Chief 187™Chatter.
Christmas season is upon us and with it comes many opportunities to entertain. There are Open Houses, impromptu visits, Cookie exchanges, cocktail parties, dessert parties, dinner parties, brunches, and, of course, the big meals themselves.
This time of year sticking with tried and true recipes is the way to go. Now is not the time to experiment, test, or reveal a new dish.
But it is nice to shake up the ordinary and routine. In addition, it is lovely to take help from the grocery store when possible. Nowhere does it state that every food item must be homemade from scratch to be loved and appreciated by family and friends over the holidays.
Here are some of the ideas I have for entertaining easily leaving me time to actually attend and enjoy my own party.
Having one star appetizer is great. A hot dip, prepared delectable, or cold delicacy are all great ideas – think a spicy warmed queso dip, pepperoni melts on party rye, or shrimp cocktail.
But to flesh out the scene use things like an olive assortment, fine cheeses on a platter, assorted fruits or crudité.
To add some holiday appeal, try making your own version of a “Santa Mix” to add for a sweet layer of flavor.
Mix together any combination of the following or add your favorites to make a sweet mix:
Red and Green M&Ms (plain, peanut, almond, peanut butter, or your favorite flavors)
Bridge mix (this is chocolate covered assorted nuts and raisins and can be found in your local grocery store)
Roasted peanuts (with salt, low salt, or unsalted)
Corn nuts (if you like them)
Toasted lo mein noodles (found in the international aisle in the Asian food section in a canister)
Mix these ingredients in whatever ratio pleases you and serve in a cute holiday-motif bowl.
Roasts are delicious, casseroles are homey, and pastas are superb, but sometimes you just want someone else to do the work.
Rotisserie chickens are delicious, available, and so reasonable. From your local grocery store to the nearest Costco these chickens should never be overlooked as a dinner option. And do overbuy. Served first as a carved chicken, the meal is delightful. Leftovers, however, can be done as a pot pie, tacos, or sandwiches and more!
I find it easy and even enjoyable to prepare fresh vegetables for steaming in my microwave. Others don’t have the time or inclination. In that case, use the frozen vegetables to help get the meal on the table.
Frozen veggies are flash frozen at the peak of freshness so when they are prepared according to package directions they are darn tasty.
Prepared potato products – both white and sweet – are everywhere now, too. Pick up a tub of mashed potatoes, whipped sweet potatoes, or any other potato side dish like latkes (potato pancakes) and keep your meal humming without all of the mess.
Want to make Christmas cookies but don’t want to invest the time to make the dough? Use refrigerated doughs!
Online there are myriad “recipes” to change store-brand refrigerated doughs into spectacular and wholly differently tasting cookies. Besides, most people like the decorating, not the making of dough.
Of course, if you are a mess in the kitchen, both literally and figuratively, then you can certainly resort to buying at the local bakery, ice cream shop, or grocery store for their incredible treats.
The whole point of entertaining for the holidays is opening your home. It’s not about how many hours you slave in the kitchen before, during, and after your guests.
Take help where you can, say “Yes” when an offer of “What can I bring?” comes in, and serve all of your dishes with a smile.
Wishing you a stress-free, scrumptious season of entertaining!