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Make-Ahead For Easy Entertaining
March 29, 2010 - Jill Anderson
Happy (rainy) Monday mornng Cape Coral! Fortunately it was not raining on Saturday and my out of town company got to enjoy some of the sites of our beautiful region.
The biggest complaint I hear from hosts/hostesses about entertaining is that they feel everyone else is having all the fun while they are stuck off in the kitchen preparing the food. It doesn't have to be that way.
I will preface these tips by saying...no one EVER wants to cook for me! Either at my own home or the homes of family or friends, yours truely usually ends up doing the cooking! At home I have a little more control over the menu though and when I know ahead of time that company is coming, I spend the day before my guests arrive making simple dishes that can be put on the table in no time.
Getting Ready For Guests
Ever heard the saying "failure to plan is planning to fail?" This is true of entertaining as well. Without a clear plan of attack... you may just end up in the kitchen sweating over pots and pans while everyone is lounging by the pool! Here are a few basic tips for easy entertaining.
When Company Comes Calling
When your guests arrive, you will be surprised by how much more relaxed and enjoyable the visit will be for YOU with these advance preparations out of the way. It is such a great feeling to know you are ready for a weekend of fun and fantastic food that will impress your guests and allow you time to socialize as well.
My simple menu for Friday night was a fresh spinach and artichoke dip appetizer, sliced Italian Roast Beef (which I cooked and sliced ahead) with fresh Italian Bread from a local Cape Coral Italian market, some of my dark chocolate drizzled coconut biscotti (see previous post) and a cup of espresso. A late night treat- Virgin Ginger Lime Mojitos with some left over artichoke dip and pita chips.
Saturday, we started the day with coffee and fresh bagels, cut fruit and MIGHT have dipped a couple of those biscotti in our coffee. We spent the day on Sanibel Island at the beaches and attending the art festival. We grabbed a tropical smoothie and a sandwich so there was no work at all for lunch.
For dinner Saturday night, I served that lovely spinach and stone fruit salad with the Mango Heather Honey Dressing, Grilled Chicken seasoned with a key lime seasoning blend (made locally) and black bean, corn and brown rice salad inside spinach wraps. For dessert we enjoyed a dish of chilled Strawberry Coconut Fruit Soup and more biscotti for dipping. Everything except the chicken was made ahead and dinner was on the table in 20 minutes! Our final indulgence Saturday evening was Virgin Pina Coladas by the pool.
Sunday morning was crepes (the batter made ahead as well) filled with strawberry cream cheese and topped with more sliced fruits. Sadly, it was time for my guests to leave after brunch. We had a wonderful time sightseeing and I didn't have to spend the entire visit in my kitchen.
An Elegant Make Ahead Appetizer- The Ultimate Spinach and Artichoke Dip
This recipe makes quite a large appetizer. I don't usually reduce the amount even for small parties because it is so good that there are not any leftovers anyway. The dip can also be used as a sandwich spread and eaten at room temperature...its fabulous!
Food Quote for Today
"I once went on a diet for two weeks - all I lost was two weeks." Cass Elliot, "Mama Cass", folk singer and member of The Mamas and The Papas
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The Ultimate Spinach and Artichoke Dip