Wining and Dining: Hosting a Party on a Whim Event at Harvest Ridge Winery, 1/16/06

Entertaining and opening your home to friends and family is one of the most rewarding things you can do, but it can also be one of the most stressful.  But it doesn’t need to be.  No one expects you to whip up a 7 course chef’s tasting menu.  You shouldn’t over complicate things, especially since you want to spend time with your guests, but you should also look like you put in a little bit of effort.  Trust me, thought and effort goes a long way.  Here are a few simple recipes you can make at home in no time to bring your entertaining game to the next level.  Remember, keep it simple and don’t add to your stress level.  I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I do.

Spinach Artichoke Dip

2 (10 oz) packages of frozen spinach, thawed and drained
2 (14 oz) cans artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup pepper jack cheese or sharp white cheddar
Healthy pinch of fresh cracked black pepper
Healthy pinch of red pepper flake
Salt to taste

What to do:

Combine all ingredients together. If serving cold, chill for 2 hours before serving. Serve with tortilla chips, crackers, or cubes of fresh bread. (Can it get any easier than that??)

If serving hot, mix all ingredients together, reserving half of the pepper jack or cheddar cheese. Place mixture in greased baking dish. Top with remaining cheese and bake at 350°F until hot and bubbly. Serve with tortilla chips, crackers, or cubes of fresh bread.

 

 

Black Bean Hummus

2 (15oz) cans low sodium black beans, drained
1 medium sized jalapeno, seeded
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
2 tsp lime juice
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp minced onion, dried
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp cilantro, freeze dried or fresh

Place all ingredients in a food processor, except olive oil. Pulse until well combined. Turn processor on and stream in olive oil while running until nice and smooth. Add more olive oil if needed. Place hummus in serving bowl and garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and chopped cilantro. Chill until ready to serve. Serve with tortilla chips or vegetables.

 

 

Apple Chutney

6 Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 tsp fresh ginger
1 cup orange juice
¾ cup Apple Cider
1 cup light brown sugar
½ tsp dried mustard
¼ tsp minced garlic
¼ tsp red pepper flake
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
¾ cup golden raisins

Place diced onions in a medium sauce pan set over medium heat.  Sweat onions in canola oil until soft.  Add all remaining ingredients except raisins.  Simmer until apples are tender and liquid has reduced by half.  Mash with potato masher until apples are broken up.  Remove from heat and add raising.  Allow chutney to cool completely.  Serve with crackers and any type of cured meat.

 

 

Old Bay Candied Peanuts

125 g granulated sugar (about ½ Cup)
40 mL water (2 tbsp plus 2 tsp)
165 g dry roasted peanuts, unsalted
1 tbsp Old Bay

Place water and sugar in a medium sized sauce pan.  Bring to a boil.  Once sugar and water has boiled, add peanuts and stir constantly until  the sugar has crystalized, will take about 5 mins.  Just before the sugar has crystalized, add the Old Bay.  (be prepared to stir a lot)  Once sugar has crystalized, reduce the heat and continue to stir until the sugar and nuts have browned slightly.  Pour nuts onto a parchment lined sheet pan and separate to prevent them from clumping.

 

If you have any questions, please leave in the comments below.  I hope you had a wonderful time at Harvest Ridge and that you feel inspired to throw your next party.  Enjoy these recipes, make them your own and may they make you the host(est) with the most(est)!

 

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Sangria-Poached Fruit

This recipe offers a wonderful alternative to fruit salad. Poaching the fruit in wine really enhances its flavor and provides a nice change-of-pace to the traditional summer side dish.

Sangria-poached fruit also makes an excellent dessert. Eat it as-is or serve it over vanilla ice cream topped with toasted pistachios. Heaven!

What you’ll need:

2 C pinot noir
2 C water
2 C sugar
Zest and juice of one lime
4 apples cored and cut into 1 inch pieces
4 peaches, stones removed and cut into 1 inch pieces
4 plums, stones removed and cut into 1 inch pieces
4 pears, cored and cut into 1 inch pieces

What to do:

Bring pinot noir, water, sugar and lime juice to a boil. Set aside. Place cut fruit in shallow baking dish. Pour enough poaching liquid to cover the fruit. Cover baking dish with foil. Pierce foil with a paring knife. Place covered baking dish in preheated 325°F oven. Bake fruit until tender (about 15 minutes).

Remove and allow to cool completely. Store fruit in half of the poaching liquid. Place remaining poaching liquid in a sauce pan and cook at medium-low temperature until liquid has reduced by half. Cool and store in refrigerator.

To serve, place cooled, cooked fruit in a serving bowl and top with a bit of the reduced poaching liquid. Sprinkle with toasted pistachios or granola for added crunch.

Savory Palmiers

This recipe is very easy but looks difficult. It is flaky, cheesy, and people can’t get enough. You can make it with homemade puff pastry or store-bought if you’re in a pinch.

What you’ll need:

1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
6 oz goat cheese
3 oz cream cheese, room temp
1/3 C heavy cream
½ C grated parmesan cheese
2 T finely chopped fresh parsley
1 T finely chopped fresh chives
Salt and pepper to taste

What to do:

In bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the goat cheese and cream cheese until creamy. Add heavy cream and continue to paddle until smooth. Add cheese, herbs, and seasoning. Mix until combined. Set aside.

Roll sheet of puff pastry on lightly floured surface until pastry sheet is 1/8th of an inch thin. Spread a thin, even layer of the cheese mixture on the entire surface of the puff pastry. Fold left side of pastry length wise in by one forth. Repeat with the right side of the pastry. You should have a gap between the two folded over sides that is equal to twice the width of the folded over sections. Spread a thin layer of cheese mixture over the left and right sides. Fold each of the two sides in again lengthwise so that the seams of each side are now touching. Spread another thin layer of cheese mixture over the folded sections. Fold puff pastry in half lengthwise. Wrap dough tightly with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Slice puff pastry log width-wise in slices about ½ an inch thick. Place slices flat on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Bake palmiers at 350° for about 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool on sheet pan until ready to serve.

Spinach Artichoke Dip (served hot or cold)

I love spinach artichoke dip because it works for just about any type of party. It’s appropriate at a tailgate, and you can fancy it up with an elegant presentation for a cocktail party. And I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t like spinach artichoke dip!

This particular version is one of my favorite dip recipes because it can be served hot or cold. Serving it hot is a classic approach, and you can’t go wrong. Serving it cold is a bit more unexpected, and it’s perfect for hot summer days or any time you need to transport the dish. A hot dish that is no longer hot by the time it’s served is a bit of a letdown. But with this spinach artichoke dip recipe, you can serve the dish cold and it will be absolutely delicious.

One recipe, two uses!

What you’ll need:

2 10 oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained
2 14 oz cans artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
½ C mayonnaise
½ C sour cream
1 C grated parmesan cheese
1 C pepper jack cheese or sharp white cheddar
Healthy pinch of fresh cracked black pepper
Healthy pinch of red pepper flake
Salt to taste

What to do:

Combine all ingredients together. If serving cold, chill for 2 hours before serving. Serve with tortilla chips, crackers, or cubes of fresh bread. (Can it get any easier than that??)

If serving hot, mix all ingredients together, reserving half of the pepper jack or cheddar cheese. Place mixture in greased baking dish. Top with remaining cheese and bake at 350°F until hot and bubbly. Serve with tortilla chips, crackers, or cubes of fresh bread.