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Dec 8, 2009 12:48 AM

'Tis the Season--To Go To a Party

I just looked at my calender and I have 8 events in the next two weeks. Everything from a formal dinner for 150 at my boss's house to a Christmas carols and dessert party. I have to bring something to at least half of them (Not my boss's house), but because I will either be at work, or at another party, I will have almost no time to make anything. Plus, I am supposed to be a "good cook" and people kind of expect something a little fancy and fussy when I show up.

So, what are some FAST, no-last-minute-fuss treats, either sweet or savoy, that I can whip out to impress people? Ideally these can be prepared at midnight, while slightly tipsy, for serving the next day.

Festive, healthy and not overly processed are all pluses!



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  1. Spiced nuts are about the quickest to do, pretty healthy...topics and ideas abound here on CH...personally, I love Epi's Sweet and Spicy Pecans...there's a cashew with rosemary recipe somewhere on the 'net ... many interesting recipes for nuts! Perhaps mini-quick breads? Also, would wine or dark chocolate not be a consideration? Both are somewhat healthy if not over-consumed unless you're trying to keep to something homemade.

    1. smoked salmon and cream cheese spread would be my vote.

      my latest brushetta love is: hummus and roasted eggplant diced(salt, pepper, oil, cumin)

      I'm in big favor of seasoned nuts too - chowhound has a great one on here for rosemary walnuts but there might also be a thread dedicated to them as well

      5 Replies
      1. re: lexpatti

        Do you do anything fancy for the salmon spread or are the two obvious ingredients it? That sounds like a perfect gift for my office mates.

        1. re: tcamp

          a great salmon spread for me is: smoked salmon, cream cheese, great sourdough bread rounds or good cracker, capers, slivered red onions, lemon wedges to squirt on the finished assembly. :-) Heaven in a mouthfull!!!!

          1. re: lexpatti

            Smoked salmon spread is one of my go-to recipes and will certainly make an appearance in the next two weeks. My recipe calls for a big brick of cream cheese, about 4 oz of lox, plus one of the tinfoil packets of smoked salmon that are sold in the canned fish section (it's thicker and moister than regular smoked salmon). lemon juice, red onion, a dollop of horse radish (the creamy style) mix it all the night before, (I like to blend the foil packet of salmon in completely, and then roughly chop the lox for a little texture. Sprinkle with capers or more red onions and serve with fancy crackers.

          2. re: tcamp

            Here is the recipe I use:
            8 oz softened cream cheese
            1/2 C. sour cream
            4 oz salmon flaked
            1 tsp lemon zest
            1 tsp lemon juice
            2 tsp chopped chives
            S & P to taste
            make the day ahead by mixing everything together
            serve with crackers, crostini's, celery or endive

            1. re: JEN10

              the nice thing about the salmon spread is you really don't have to mix up anything - let people fix their own, I'm a purest when it comes to my salmon and just like to do my own bread or cracker with plain cr cheese, then salmon slice, then the rest on it. I think it's a nicer presentation than what might look like a dip or spread - but might be less messy with a crowd to mix ahead of time. Great Taste is still there.

        2. is baking ahead and freezing an option?

          how about making chocolate bark or toffee ahead of time so you don't have to cook at midnight? i'd do the bark w/exotic add-ins

          1. If you're considering the nuts, Ina Garten's rosemary cashews are really good.

            This fall I had dried apricots to use up, scouted around here on chowhound, and made a bastardized version of an appetizer that pikawicca made. I chopped the apricots in the food processor, then added the other ingredients and spread it on crackers or baguette, i can't remember which. Her version has you split the apricot and pipe the cheese mixture on, no cracker required. It was delicious, and could not have been any easier. Read down a few posts as she and Candy discuss it.
            This led me to using up the rest by mixing them with blue cheese and walnuts. Delicious.

            You certainly will be busy these days! Have fun and remember to get your water. I think it helps alot during party season.

            2 Replies
            1. re: fern

              fern...Ina's recipe says to serve the cashews warm from the oven. Is there any harm in baking them a day or two (maybe even more) ahead, and serving? If so, can they just be stored at room temp?

              1. re: critter101

                No, they don't have to be served warm. As a matter of fact, the last time I made them I used the foodsaver to seal them up and kept a bag in the fridge for months. When I finally opened and served them they were delicious, just fine. Room temp might be fine, I don't know why not, but the fridge certainly worked well for me. I hope you try them, they're really good. I just bought cashews so that I can make some next week. I'll seal some up to have on New Year's Eve, too.

            2. one of my never fail fall backs that everyone devours.

              All-Purpose Cheese Spread

              1 (6-ounce) jar cheese spread
              1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
              1/2 cup mayonnaise
              1/2 cup butter, softened
              1 teaspoon garlic powder
              Place all of the ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Mix well with a handheld electric mixer for about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until completely combined. Store in a plastic container with a snap-on lid in the refrigerator. Serve at room temperature.
              Cook's Note: Try serving spread with celery sticks, crackers, crusty French bread or baked potatoes.

              5 Replies
              1. re: laliz

                I saw this done recently on tv and loved the idea - it's called italian spring rolls.
                You take a slice of proscutto and lay some arugula, a sliver of parmesan cheese and green onion on top, roll it up like a cigar and serve with a balsamic vinegar for dipping. It looked so fresh, healthy and good, can't wait to try it myself.

                    1. re: wekick

                      Most welcome! What makes it so special, besides being dead easy, is that it's healthy and light. Something you don't see a lot of around this time of year.