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)!