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Drop-in guests at holidays

Although we may have drop-in guests at other times, at the holidays in particular, we have people stop by to say hello. This is often unplanned, so I like to have some foods on-hand that I can pull out for a small bite with a glass of wine. A few are store-bought, but I like to make my own. If nothing else, we always have olives/pickles, cured meats, cheeses and fruit that I can quickly assemble.

What things do you keep on hand? I particularly like warm hors d'oeuvres that can be kept in the freezer and heated/cooked through in under 20 minutes. In general I am thinking of savory bites, not desserts, but am open to any ideas people have.

(I tried to search for old threads, and while I found some good appetizer threads, I am thinking specifically of things that are good to prepare at the last minute when caught off guard.)

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  1. I like to keep sausage balls in the freezer and when needed, put some in the oven to bake. I also like to have some meatballs frozen and ready to heat in the oven and serve them with my barbecue sauce. Cheese puffs and olive cheese balls are good to have in the freezer and bake when needed. I also keep angel biscuit mix in the fridge and ready to bake to serve with ham for guests. Little mini pizzas made with English muffins are good. Also I like to keep thinly sliced smoked salmon on hand and make a dill spread to have with party bread. I also make fruitcake cookies and keep them in a tin and I make a big batch of spiced pecans to have on hand. I also like blue chees and walnut crackers. I'm sure others have more elegant ideas, but my friends and neighbors are just like me- plain and ordinary. LOL If you want any of the recipes, let me know.

    1. there is always puff pastry and phillo dough in my freezer.
      there is always brie cheese wheels in my freezer.
      there are always a huge variety of nuts in the freezer.
      flour and corn tortilla's are always in the pantry.
      I freeze turkey/chicken/ham lunch meats and use them only for this, not regular sandwiches.
      that way, if I want to make a ham spread or turkey or chicken salad type thing I know where to find the ingredients.
      dried fruits are plentiful in the kitchen store aka pantry.
      canned beans in the kitchen store too.
      you can come up with much if you have much on hand

      2 Replies
      1. re: iL Divo

        if it's all frozen, how do you get it to thaw so quickly in order to serve it to impromptu guests?

        brie cheese & lunch meats -- what, do you nuke them or throw them in the oven?

        1. re: linguafood

          Wow, I would like to hear too. I keep phillo dough/puff pastry in my freezer all the time, but it takes at least 30 minutes to unthaw enough to deal with it. I have tried nuking it- but it turns into a gooey mess!

          Lunch meats can be defrosted in the microwave on the defrost setting without compromising too much.

      2. Popcorn with parmesan cheese or herbs de provence.

        1. I, too, keep a variety of cheeses, saloumi, olives, and pasturised shelled crab, in the fridge "at the ready".
          In the freezer: ready-to-bake hand pies or savory turnovers, and tart shells, pre-cut puff pastry rounds, grated cheese, slow roasted pork or lamb shoulder... useful items for quick-to-make savory treats. A variety of nuts, also in the freezer, are handy to have.

          1 Reply
          1. re: KarenDW

            If you're fortunate enough to live near a Cajun/Creole store (or are amenable to ordering on line at TheBoudinLink.com) boudin balls are another fine treat.

          2. Union Square Cafe Bar Nuts. These nuts are great, can be tossed in the microwave to warm them in a matter of seconds.