Around my neighborhood, once the weather breaks I get a lot more "pop in's", company that stops by at the last minute. I like to keep some staples on hand so I can whip up a quick and easy snack to pull out quickly.
Here is my list of ingredients I like to always have around. I keep the non-perishable stuff in a bin in my Pantry labeled "Entertaining":
Kirkland's Raspberry Chipotle Sauce (from Costco)
Little crispy breads
With these basics added to some fresh fruits and veggies, you can pull together a quick spread that is a step above ordinary chips and pretzels.
Cream cheese is most versatile, you can whip up some things like...
Raspberry Chipotle Cheese Spread: Place a block of cream cheese on a plate and pour Raspberry Chipotle Sauce over. (The cream cheese will have a creamy, smoky brie taste.) Surround with crackers.
You can also make a similar spread using cocktail sauce and tiny frozen (thawed) shrimp.
Easy Fruit Dip: mix equal parts softened cream cheese and marshmallow fluff + a bit of almond extract.
Stuffed Strawberries: Fill cored strawberries with fruit dip and sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs
Buffalo Chicken Dip: I got this recipe from a friend and I swear it shows up at nearly every party.
1 8oz pkg. cream cheese, softened
2 cups shredded cheddar
1 large can chicken
6-8 oz Frank's Red Hot sauce (depending on how much heat you want)
6-8 oz ranch dressing
Combine ingredients and bake 350 degrees 25 - minutes, until bubbly. Serve with tortilla chips and celery sticks.
Artichoke Dip: I got this recipe from my sister in law about 10 years ago and still make it several times a year!
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup mayo
1 can chopped artichoke hearts
1 med sweet onion, diced
1 clove diced garlic
Saute the onions until golden, add the garlic during the last 2 minutes of cooking. Meanwhile, combine cheese, mayo, and artichokes.
Add the onions and garlic and stir to combine. Pour into baking dish and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake 350 degrees 30-40 minutes.
You can alter this recipe to make it a crab dip or spinach dip by substituting 1 cup of either for the artichokes or adding chopped crab or spinach in addition to the artichokes.
Black Bean Dip: In 5 minutes you can whip up my favorite black bean dip from the Food Network.
1 plum tomato, diced
2 tablespoons diced red onion
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped, plus sprigs for garnish
2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons hot sauce
Place the tomato, onion and cilantro into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until well chopped. Add the black beans, cumin, hot sauce and salt, to taste, and pulse until the mixture is mostly smooth. Scrape into a decorative bowl and garnish with cilantro sprigs.
Serve with tortilla chips and carrot sticks.
So, now you are ready for last minute company. Come back tomorrow for my Entertaining Check List to help you be party ready in minutes!
What last minute snacks do you like to whip up for company?