‘Tis the season once again! Or haven’t you noticed? 🙂
If you haven’t, you must be under a rock because even in non-Christian countries, celebrations for one thing or another ramp up around this time of year.
At our house, it usually means the season for snacking. It seems that as soon as December hits, all the snacks and munchies start appearing, sometimes even replacing regular meals. It’s as if we’re saving up for the big meal to come at Christmas and New Year. It’s also that time of year when people drop by for visits more often, sometimes unexpectedly. So we’ve gotten to keeping a few staples around for the just-case-company-drops-in moments. Here’s a few ideas on what to stock up on and some recipes to keep in mind if you need fresh ideas.
THE BASIC HOLIDAY PANTRY
You probably have your holiday menu all planned and your pantry is probably stocked with all your supplies. Right? Right! Well if you’re a late starter or just plain too busy working like me, you’re probably planning on winging it. We both know that rarely turns out well.
So try to not be stressing out when your doorbell rings, you can have a pleasant entertaining holiday season without going all Martha Stewart. Just try to prepare ahead of time, get a few basics to welcome your guests with. At the very least, try to keep the following items for a festive yet stress free entertaining.
Candies and other Sweets – Most basic to keep everyone happy and in joyful spirits (if not hyper) is a bowl full of candies. Chocolates are good, candy canes are a must and expected. Keep a few packs of cookies too just in case you haven’t gotten around to baking your own homemade cookies yet or have already run out.
Drinks – Coffee and tea. It’s a must and should be the first thing on the list. It’s cold and people are usually looking forward to something warm. For those who want something a little warmer, Wine or some other spirits (alcoholic drinks) depending on your drinking preferences or if you even imbibe at all. For the young, non-coffee or wine drinkers, try to keep hot chocolate mixes, fruit punch or juices, sodas and even a few plain old boring water for the un-adventurous types.
Munchies – Some of us are not all that into sweets so keep a few bags of chips, crackers and nuts. I for one like making a big batch of chexMix and saving it in an air tight container ready to be pulled out when the munchies hit. Keep a variety of snacks on hand and you won’t be caught empty-handed. Well, unless you eat all of them before your guests arrive.
Cheeses, Dips and Condiments – Try to keep a variety of cheeses; get some swiss, cheddar, brie and cream cheese to begin with and go from there. Some vegetable or fruit dips would be good to have handy too. My girls like humus for vegetables and crackers. Those fancy mustard jars and bbq sauces are good also not just for dipping but for making some basic sandwiches even more special.
Fruits & Vegetables – Not only do fruits make a pretty centerpiece, they can also come in handy when you have unexpected guests. Just cut up some to put on a platter with some cheese and crackers and you’d be looking all fancy!
Need some ideas on how to put those basics to use? Here’s a few recipes for appetizers and snacks.
Ham Pate’ or Spread – perfect for pairing with crackers or toasted bread. Can even be used as a dip.
Crostini – ok, so it’s a fancy way of saying toast. Just get a good baguette and top with just about anything.
Gruyère Cheese Gougères & Galatoire’s Oysters en Brochette – sounds fancy right? but this pair of appetizers is actually pretty easy to make once you get past the long instruction.
Lumpia and Spring Rolls – by now, everyone who comes to our house expects me to have some lumpia for them, so I try not to disappoint and try to make enough to keep some in the freezer so I can just take some out to fry when we have guests.
Spinach & Artichoke Dip – This is so easy to make, you can put it together in minutes. Having cream cheese on hand, you can also vary the flavors and additions from this basic recipe. (Try bacon, jalapeno, mushrooms, or herbs!)
Bean Dip – this is the short stack version of the seven layer dip. You can actually assemble a dip like this and keep it in the refrigerator.
That should be good to get you started. At least your guests won’t go away hungry… that is at least until you can figure out what to serve for dinner 🙂
What’s your go-to recipe for entertaining?