This article originally appeared on the Springs "You're Home Blog."
Let’s face it: few of us are okay with drop-in guests. While the idea of a spontaneous, impromptu gathering at your place sounds like fun, the reality is that you’re usually completely unprepared: your apartment isn’t picked up, your hair is a mess, and, like Mother Hubbard, your cupboard is bare.
We can’t do much to help tidy your apartment or turn that mess on your head into something stylish, but we do have some tips for entertaining that will make guests feel like you’re the host or hostess with the mostest!
It’s all about being prepared with the ingredients to whip up something simple and delicious.
You could go the easy route and pop open a bag of chips and scrounge up some salsa, but it’s actually pretty simple to impress your guests with something special. You can create a variety of fancy-looking (and great-tasting) hors d’oeuvres just by stocking these essentials in your kitchen:
- Black and green olives to make tapenade
- Bottled roasted peppers and sun-dried tomatoes
- Cooked bacon and sliced pepperoni
- A wedge of both Parmesan and a soft cheese like Brie, and a “tube” of goat cheese
- Dry dip mixes and a tub of sour cream
- An assortment of crackers
- Pita chips
- A baguette (they freeze well and take just minutes to thaw)
- Olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey
With these ingredients you can do a sort of “mix and match” to create appetizers like:
- Toasted bread rounds with goat cheese, balsamic vinegar and a drizzle of honey
- Mini pizzas: crackers topped with a slice of pepperoni, a sun-dried tomato and Parmesan, broiled until melted
- Pita chips topped with hummus and bits of bacon
- A dip made with equal parts sour cream & goat cheese, mixed with a little tapenade
Your “bar” should be stocked with enough alcohol, mixers, soft drinks and water to serve two beverages for each person who might drop by; we’re not talking a big party, so figure maybe 4 people tops for this kind of gathering.
When it comes to “adult beverages,” if you keep a couple bottles of wine, one or two 6-packs of good craft beer and the basic liquors (and mixers) on hand, you’ll be able to mix just about anything a guest might request.
It’s just as important to have a variety of non-alcoholic options available: clear and dark sodas, sparkling water, and flavored tea or juice. Keep a bag of ice in the freezer so you’re not serving your beverages at room temperature.
You don’t need to have garnishes on hand, but it’s a nice touch and they don’t take up much space: course-ground salt for margaritas, cherries, olives, and lemon and lime wedges should cover it.
Having these basics on hand will keep you from scrambling next time someone drops in unannounced, or from running to the store when you want to catch up with friends. The right ingredients and a little creativity will have guests raving about your abilities in the kitchen!
What’s your “go-to” appetizer for those last-minute get-togethers? Share your ideas and recipes and we’ll share with our other Springs community members!