Monday, December 12, 2011

Holiday Entertaining Tip #2: Don't Stress over Drop-In Guests

We've all gotten this call at one time or another over the holiday season;  "Hi, I'm going to be in your neighborhood later today.   I thought I would drop over with your gift."

Your first reaction might be "Yikes, I haven't had time to go shopping for YOUR gift!"   Your second reaction;  "Do I EVEN have anything in the house to serve you?" 

You don't have to scramble all over your house for a re-gift idea - and risk giving your friend the same gift that he or she gave you last year.... oops;  Here a four ideas that you might want to consider.

Keep a few extra bottles of wine on hand and a few wine gift bags.   If you don't give the wine as gifts, you can open it for dinner one night.  With life being what it is these days, you don't need a special occasion to celebrate with a glass of wine.   Think every day is special.

Bake extra cookies and freeze them.   When you get that eleventh hour call, defrost a dozen, and put them into a decorative plastic bag with a bow.  

When you've got a few extra bucks when you go to the grocery store, purchase a $10 grocery gift card and set it aside.  Keep a few generic holiday cards on hand.  When that unexpected  friend shows up, dig into your grocery card and greeting card stash.  People appreciate grocery gift cards in any denomination.   A ten dollar gift card can purchase a 10-15 pound turkey on sale.   You can always use one of the grocery cards you picked up if you need something in a pinch and you don't want to pull out the credit card.

Candles make great gifts.  Stores often practically give them away the day after Christmas.  Purchase several and set them aside.   If you don't give them as gifts, you can use them on your own holiday table.  FYI - Ladies, even your male friends like to get candles.   It's not something they are going to go out and buy for themselves.  He might like to "entertain" a special someone one night, and the candle would be a nice touch. 

Now for the quick snack ideas: 

Warm Honey &
Orange Holiday Crunch
I remember the days when you you used to have to make your own Chex Mix®.  Now they sell it pre-packaged in all sorts of varieties.  You can still "kick it up a notch" as a famous celebrity chef would say.   

This easy entertaining recipe features store-bought mix , which takes on a special twist in this Warm Honey and Orange Holiday Crunch:

For every three ounces of Chex Mix®  Honey and Nut Flavor*

You will need -
3 tablespoons Honey
Zest of 1/2 an Orange

Preheat oven to 350 degrees®.  Combine Mix, honey and Orange Zest.   Bake for 10 minutes until warm.    Let cool slightly before serving.

Note:  Once completely cooled, this takes on a brittle consistency.  

Drink suggestion:  A nice winter ale will hold up to the sweetness and the saltiness of the snack.

No time to plan.  Your guests are on their way and all you've got is last night's leftover chili. Try this delicious and super easy Chili Cheese Dip:

2 parts Leftover Chili (or mild canned chili)
1 part Processed Cheese (chunked)
A few shakes of Hot Sauce (optional)

Place ingredients into a microwave safe bowl.   Cover with plastic wrap and and heat on high for two minutes.   Carefully remove plastic wrap.   Stir.  Replace wrap and microwave for one more minute or until mixture is hot.  Stir well before serving.

Serve with tortilla chips.

Drink Suggestion:  Serve with a cold Mexican Beer with a lime or a Margarita. 

The last recipe I will showcase tonight could double as a late supper if served with dilled potato salad.

For each Panini you will need -

2 slices of gourmet Artisan bread or medium sliced French Bread
1/4 ounce Smoked Salmon
1 tablespoon Light Cream Cheese with Chives
Other:  Butter flavored Cooking Spray

Heat a non-stick skillet.

Spray both sides of the bread with the cooking spray.

On one slice of bread, add the salmon.  On the other side, spread the cream cheese.

Press the two slices together.  Add to hot pan.  Weight the sandwich down with a panini press, a brick covered in tin foil, or another pan.   You only need to cook each side about one minute.

Drink Suggestion:  Semi Dry Sparkling Wine or a Dirty Martini

Tomorrow night -  I've never done this before -  I'm featuring a great holiday cocktail as inspired by my friend, Marilyn.  

See you again soon!

* Recipe was tested with this brand.  Not an endorsement and no product was supplied to blogger.
Smoked Salmon & Cream Cheese
Mini Panini

Chili Cheese Dip
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