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Share your super easy entertaining recipes

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So I like to entertain and I also have a tendancy to over-host (spend all day cooking etc..). I enjoy this most of the time but wanted to share some actually easy entertaining ideas. I have been thinking of this as I am in the middle of exams but because some family members will be away for Christmas we will be having some celebrations during my exam period.

So here are my super easy ideas.

Always available around Christmas
Mini- Oranges (and Chocolate)

Appetiser platter one (5 minutes)

Almonds (open package, dump in bowl -1 min)
Grapes (Rinse, cut off snippets, put on plate- 2min)
Sharp Chedder (Open package, cut entire package into cubes put on plate 2 min)

Alternative Appetiser platter (the shop two months ahead edition-I try to keep an emergency supply on hand)
Olives (open jar, dump in bowl)
Artichoke hearts (open jar, dump in bowl)
Potato Chips (Every time I eat pototo chips I forget how dingdangity tasty they are)
Canned or jarred Dip (Hommous or eggplant)

Final alternative Appetiser platter
Veggie tray with pre-cut carrots, grape tomatos and cucumber (only cucumber needs slicing)
Dip (sour cream and mayonaise and herbs if made ahead, sour cream and ranch or blue cheese dressing if made immediately)
Baked frozen appy (mini quiches are often tasty)

Holiday Dinner for 10 (1 hour including setting table)
Crackers (The type with the prizes and the hats)
Order Indian Food and transfer to preheated serving platters
Add-Ons such as
thick Greek yogurt
diced almonds
sunflower seeds
dried chopped cranberries
Mango chutney

-ask someone else to bring
-ice cream, crumbled chocolates and the nuts and berries left over from dinner


I may have posted this before, but it's very easy (unless you can't find prepared pico de gallo, in which case you'd need to chop veggies).  The hardest part is rinsing the beans.

Texas Caviar

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed of sauce
1 can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed of sauce
1 can sweet corn, drained
2 twelve-ounce packages of prepared pico de gallo (your choice of heat level)
     -- or (if your store doesn't sell pico) then the equivalent (about 1 cup each, total 3 cups)
         of diced onion, tomato, bell pepper;
         you can also add a bit of cilantro and/or chopped jalopenos or other peppers.
1 bottle of Italian dressing
Lots of minced garlic (to taste)

Mix everything together, and allow to marinate in the fridge.  Shake the covered bowl every so often to distribute the dressing.
Serve as an appetizer with tortilla chips, or use as a salad topping.

This recipe makes a LOT of Texas caviar.  If you want to halve it, leave out the corn or one of the beans, and use only one package of pico de gallo.

To make this diet-friendly, use a fat-free dressing.  (I use a fat-free balsamic.)

Another easy one, based on a sandwich from New Orleans.


Small round hard-crusted rolls (about 3-inches in diameter), sliced in two halves for sandwiches
     -- These are intended to resemble ten-inch round Italian bread, which is usd for the authentic full-sized sandwiches
Prepared olive salad marinated in olive oil, minced if it doesn't already come that way
Lots of minced garlic mixed with the olive salad (if it doesn't already have some)
I'm sorry I don't have exact amounts -- I just kind of estimate, depending on how many I want to make.  I would use a double-thickness of ham and cheese, as the sandwiches are fairly tall and stuffed.

Layer the meats and cheese on the rolls, and top the meat/cheese with a generous amount of olive salad.
If the olive salad is light on the olive oil, you can spread a bit of olive oil directly on the bread slices.  I usually at least put some olive oil on the bottom bread slice which isn't next to the olive salad.
Secure sandwiches with toothpicks.
Put into a warm oven until the sandwiches are warm and toasty, and the cheese is melty but not running off the bread.
Serve warm (but can be eaten cold).


If you want to make your own olive salad, the typical stuff from New Orleans includes green olives, pimientoes (but not too much of these), cauliflower, celery, carrots, capers, oregano, and lots of garlic, all of which are marinated in olive oil.  (You can buy the cauliflower pre-marinated.)  The salad also usually contains peperoncinis -- I think that's the same pepper that Olive Garden puts in their salads.  There are some good recipe online.

Different recipes add different things to the olive salad, such as green onions, parsley, or other kinds of sweet peppers (not jalopenos!)  Some recipes include black olives, but in my experience, a "real" New Orleans muffaletta has green olives only.

For a ten-inch muffaletta, the veggies would be cut in chunks (a bit larger than diced).  For the mini-muffalettas, you'd want to mince the veggies, so they don't fall off the bread.

You can also use the olive salad, spread on French bread, as  bruschetta.

If you want "authentic New Orleans," then the muffaletta actually contains capicola ham and genoa salami, but that can get pretty expensive.  I find the more generic (and cheaper) versions work just as well for the mini's.  An authentic regular-sized muffaletta would also probably contain mozzarella, but for the mini's you don't want too many layers or the top slice of bread will fall off.

Last of all (contrary to what is served in many restaurants outside New Orleans) an authentic muffaletta does not contain mayonnaise, mustard, butter, lettuce, tomatoes, jalopenos, or turkey!

For something casual, I like pizza rolls.  Pre-made dough cuts down prep considerably.  Just roll it out your dough, sprinkle a goodly amount of cheese, some seasoning, and toppings.  I like turkey pepperoni or veggies.  Then roll, seal the ends, and bake until golden.  Cut into pieces and serve warm with pizza sauce.

Puff pastry, with almost anything.  Pepperidge Farm's puff pastry from the grocery freezer makes regular appearances on my shopping list, and is a go to in a time pinch.

For light nibbles with cocktails, lightly roll or stretch a sheet or two of the pastry, cut long strips, twist, place on cookie sheet and dust with grated Parmesan and cracked pepper.  Bake at 350F for 15 minutes.

For more substantial apps, take cooked sausage, cut into bite sized pieces, lightly roll a a sheet or two of pastry and cut into squares between 1 and 2 inches long and wide.  Put a piece of sausage in each square, top with a good dab of flavored mustard, twist the four corners of dough together on top - kind of like a won-ton, bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes.  This can also be done with pie fillings, or bites of cheese with nuts and honey.

Puff, the magic pastry!


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