The idea of entertaining friends, family or guests can be both satisfying and scary. Satisfying because it's always a pleasure to cook for people you like or love, and hear their accolades. Scary because a lot of time, preparation, work and worry is involved with any event. You want everything to go smoothly...and the food to taste great.
But why make what should be an enjoyable situation into a stressful one? The goals behind entertaining are to relax, visit a bit, get away from everyday routines, and have some fun. Of course, as a host you still have responsibilities But there's a way to minimize them and still create a successful culinary event.
Here's the solution : Easy Entertaining...wonderful and diverse recipes.
Each recipe takes about 30 minutes or less to prepare, start to finish. May all your entertaining occasions be filled with joy and devoid of excess work and stress. Let's get started with "Easy Entertaining"!
- 12 1/2-inch-thick slices baguette
- 1 clove garlic
- 3 tablespoons chopped peeled ginger
- 1/2 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into pieces
- 1 large egg white
- 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- Kosher salt
- 2 scallions, white and light-green parts only, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup sesame seeds
- Peanut oil, for frying
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Arrange the bread on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until slightly dry, about 10 minutes; let cool.
Meanwhile, drop the garlic into a food processor through the feed tube with the motor running. Add the ginger, 1 tablespoon at a time, until minced. Scrape down the food processor, then add the chicken, egg white, rice wine, cornstarch and 1 teaspoon salt; pulse into a smooth paste.
Spread 1 tablespoon of the chicken mixture on each piece of toast and sprinkle with the scallions. Put the sesame seeds in a shallow bowl and dip the chicken-covered side of the toasts in the seeds. (The toasts can be covered and refrigerated at this point for up to 3 hours.)
Heat about 1/2 inch of peanut oil in a deep skillet over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 325 degrees F. Working in batches, fry the toasts, chicken-side down, until golden brown and cooked through, about 4 minutes. Flip the toasts and cook 1 more minute. Drain on a paper-towel-lined plate. Season with salt and serve warm.
Spicy Peppered Crab Legs
- 3 pounds Alaskan king or snow crab legs, thawed if frozen
- Freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 stick unsalted butter, cubed
- 6 cloves garlic, chopped
- 10 thin slices peeled ginger
- 8 scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 4 red jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- White rice, for serving
Cut the crab legs into 3-inch pieces with kitchen shears. Cut along one side of the shell on each piece so the meat can be easily removed after cooking.
Place the remaining ingredients by the stove. Toast 2 tablespoons pepper in a small skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes; remove from the heat.
Heat the vegetable oil and butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until sizzling (you can also set a roasting pan over two burners). Add the garlic, ginger, scallions and jalapenos; sprinkle with the sugar and cook, stirring, until the mixture is fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the crab pieces, oyster sauce and soy sauce. Cook, tossing, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Scatter the toasted pepper on top and continue to cook, tossing, about 1 more minute. Transfer the crab and sauce to a bowl. Serve with rice.
Spinach Artichoke Pasta Salad
- Coarse salt
- 1 package fresh mushroom or chicken prosciutto or spinach filled tortellini (recommended: Contadina or Buitoni brands) available on dairy aisle in most markets
- 1/2 pound fresh baby spinach
- 1 (15-ounce) can baby artichoke hearts in water, drained and chopped
- 1 red roasted pepper, drained and chopped
- 1/2 small red onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, cracked from skin
- 1 lemon, zested
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice, the juice of 1 wedge
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, a couple of splashes
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped or 1/2 teaspoon dried leaves, eyeball it
- Black pepper
- A handful sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, coarsely chopped
Bring 5 or 6 inches of water to a boil in a large pot. Salt boiling water and add pasta. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until pasta is just tender and the tortellini are floating like buoys. Drain tortellini, then cool the cooked pasta by spreading them out on a large plate or a cookie sheet in a single layer.
Coarsely chop baby spinach. Combine with artichoke pieces, roasted red pepper and red onion. Chop garlic, then add salt to it and mash it into a paste with the flat of your knife. Transfer garlic paste to a small bowl and add lemon zest, lemon juice and vinegar to it. Whisk in oil, thyme and pepper. Add pasta and sun-dried tomatoes to the salad. Dress salad and gently toss. Serve or refrigerate.
Fried Chicken Salad
- 1 (12-ounce) box popcorn chicken (recommended: Tyson)
- 1/2 cup ranch dressing (recommended: Hidden Valley)
- 2 teaspoons BBQ seasoning (recommended: McCormick Grillmates)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Line baking sheet with aluminum foil and place popcorn chicken on baking sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
Mix together ranch dressing and BBQ seasoning in small bowl and set aside.
Place lettuce in large bowl. Add dressing and toss with tongs until lettuce is coated. Set aside. Cut each tomato into 8 wedges and the cucumber into 16 slices. Divide lettuce onto 4 cold plates. Arrange each salad with 4 tomato wedges, 4 cucumbers, and 4 baby carrots. Top each salad with 1/4 of the chicken pieces.
Gravlax with Mustard Sauce
- 3 pounds fresh salmon, center cut
- 1 large bunch of dill, plus 1/4 cup chopped dill for serving
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons white peppercorns, crushed
- 1 tablespoon whole fennel seeds
- Pumpernickel bread, for serving
- Mustard Sauce, recipe follows
Cut the salmon in half crosswise and place half the fish skin side down in a deep dish. Wash and shake dry the dill and place it on the fish. Combine the salt, sugar, crushed peppercorns, and fennel seeds in a small bowl and sprinkle it evenly over the piece of fish. Place the other half of salmon over the dill, skin side up. Cover the dish with aluminum foil. Place a smaller pan on top of the foil and weight it with some heavy cans. Refrigerate the salmon for at least 2 and up to 3 days, turning it every 12 hours and basting it with the liquid that collects.
Lay each piece of salmon flat on a cutting board, remove the bunch of dill, and sprinkle the top with chopped dill. With a long thin slicing knife, slice the salmon in long thin slices as you would for smoked salmon. Serve with dark pumpernickel bread and mustard sauce. You can also serve with chopped red onion and capers, if desired.
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon ground dry mustard
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Combine the mustards, sugar, and vinegar in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the oil and stir in the chopped dill. Serve with the gravlax.
- Nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray
- 8 large eggs
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 ounces thinly sliced ham, chopped
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Spray 2 mini muffin tins (each with 24 cups) with nonstick spray. Whisk the eggs, milk, pepper, and salt in a large bowl to blend well. Stir in the ham, cheese, and parsley. Fill prepared muffin cups almost to the top with the egg mixture. Bake until the egg mixture puffs and is just set in the center, about 8 to 10 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, loosen the frittatas from the muffin cups and slide the frittatas onto a platter. Serve immediately.
Cheesy Baked Tortellini
- Olive oil
- 2 cups marinara sauce
- 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 1 pound purchased cheese tortellini
- 2 ounces thinly sliced smoked mozzarella
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil an 8 by 8 by 2-inch baking dish.
Whisk the sauce, mascarpone cheese, parsley and thyme in a large bowl to blend. Cook the tortellini in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 2 minutes. Drain. Add the tortellini to the sauce and toss to coat. Transfer the tortellini mixture to the prepared baking dish. Top the mixture with the smoked mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover and bake until the sauce bubbles and the cheeses on top melt, about 30 minutes.
Carne Asada Tacos
- 1 12-ounce jar sliced pickled jalapenos, drained
- 1 1 3/4-pound flank steak,trimmed
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped white onion
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
- Lime wedges, for serving
- 2-4 tablespoons Salsa (homemade or store-bought)
- Corn tortillas (homemade or store-bought)
Make tortillas, if you're using Homemade Tortillas
Marinate the steak: Spread the jalapenos in a baking dish and press the steak on top. Cover and set aside at room temperature, about 1 hour.
Preheat a grill or grill pan to high. Brush the jalapenos off the steak, pat dry and season with salt and pepper. Grill the steak for 4 to 6 minutes per side for medium-rare. Let rest 10 minutes, then slice.
Assemble the tacos: For each taco, stack 2 tortillas and lay a few pieces of steak in the middle. Top with onion, salsa and cilantro. Top with lime wedges.
Flatbread With Bacon and Scallion Pesto
- 4 thick strips bacon, thinly sliced
- 1 large white onion, thinly sliced
- Pinch of sugar
- Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper
- 6 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon capers
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley
- Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
- 1 pound frozen pizza dough, thawed
- All-purpose flour, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring from time to time, until browned and crispy. Transfer to paper towels to drain; keep warm. Add the onion slices to the drippings in the skillet; sprinkle with the sugar and season with salt and pepper. Cook until light brown and tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Taste for seasoning.
Combine the scallions, capers and parsley in a food processor. Add salt and pepper to taste and half of the lemon zest; pulse gently to chop and blend. Turn the processor on and add the olive oil through the top in a steady stream. Transfer the scallion pesto to a bowl; set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk the creme fraiche and the remaining lemon zest until smooth. Season with salt and pepper; set aside.
Roll the pizza dough into an 8-by-14-inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough around therolling pin and unroll it onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place in the center of the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown.
Spread the creme fraeche mixture on the crust. Dot with the onions and some of the bacon drippings from the pan; sprinkle with the bacon. Slice into pieces and drizzle with scallion pesto.
Fresh Fruit Platter
Suggested list of ingredients:
- 2 small ripe melons
- 1 "golden" pineapple
- 2 bunches grapes
- 1 pint fresh figs
- 1 pint raspberries
- 1 pint strawberries
- 1 pint blueberries
- 1 red papaya
I like to begin the platter with a base of ripe, colorful, sliced melons and pineapple--for example, cantaloupe, honeydew, Galia, or Cavaillon melons, plus the new "golden" pineapples. Peel the outside of a whole melon, cut it in half through the stem end, and scoop out the seeds. Place the melon halves cut side down on a board, and slice them straight across into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Fan each half-melon out slightly and arrange it on the platter. Next, cut off the top and bottom of the pineapple, peel the outside, and use a sharp knife to remove the "eyes." Cut the pineapple in half lengthwise and remove the core by cutting a "V" down the center of each half. Again, place the pineapple halves, cut side down, on a board and slice them straight across into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Fan the slices out and arrange them next to the melon on the platter.
Once the base is set, you can add any kind of fruit that's available. I like to have one thing that is taller than the rest, such as a large bunch of grapes or a decoratively cut papaya, to give the platter height. Then I addraspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and fresh figs in casual but organized groups. The platter can look like a bowl of M&M's if there are too many colors scattered with no order. Visually, your eye needs to have a focal point and to be able to see each type of fruit. After all the fruit is arranged, I add flat green leaves around the outside of the fruit, to set off the colors. Use lemon and galax leaves from your florist, or fig leaves and grape leaves from your garden. Make sure they are pesticide-free and well washed.
Any kind of fruit will work well on this platter. For special occasions, add persimmons, kiwi, passion fruit, Queen Anne cherries, fresh apricots, and mangos. Choose whatever is colorful and seasonal.
Iced Tea with Grenadine
- 4 cups iced tea (homemade or store-bought)
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (1 to 2 lemons)
- 1/4 cup grenadine
- Ice, for serving
In a large ball jar (or other transporting container), mix together the tea, lemon juice, and grenadine. Pour over ice when ready to serve.
Spiked Iced Cappuccino
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons water
- Crushed ice
- 2 cups freshly brewed espresso, chilled
- 6 tablespoons amaretto liqueur
- 1 cup whole milk or whipping cream, chilled
Stir the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Cool the sugar syrup completely.
Fill 6 (8 to 12-ounce) glasses halfway with crushed ice. Pour the espresso over the ice, dividing equally. Pour 1 tablespoon of the sugar syrup and 1 tablespoon of amaretto into each glass. Stir to blend. Pour the milk into each and serve.
Stewed Escarole with Feta
- Kosher salt
- 2 heads escarole, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 onions, chopped
- 2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 3/4 pound feta cheese, crumbled
- Freshly ground pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the escarole and cook until bright green, about 1 minute. Drain and transfer to a bowl of ice water; drain and squeeze dry.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft, about 6 minutes. Add the escarole and tomatoes, reduce the heat to low and cook until tender, about 6 minutes. Add the feta and cook until partially melted, about 5 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
I hope all your entertaining is easy and successful. I hope these recipes will help in some small way. Remember to always cook, eat and be happy!