For those of you who know me, you know that I’m not an avid cook. I’m not too adventurous in the kitchen, but I LOVE to entertain and I do have a little arsenal of go-to recipes that people seem to really like. So I am sharing my top 5 recipes for you to use this holiday season! I am also including some shortcuts for each recipe, if time is not on your side, but you still want to impress your guests with these little creations.
1- Mac and Cheese Muffins (click for recipe)
This what the best recipe I found because of the panko crust you make. It really helps to keep the muffins intact when you serve them. This is the most time-consuming recipe, but it yields a TON of mini muffins, that you can freeze and pop in the oven for any unexpected visitors, or just hungry little people. And to make your life even easier, especially if you are making this for kids, just make the panko crust and use the trusty box of Mac & Cheese you have in your cupboard!
2. Tuna Tartare (click for recipe)
This was a huge hit at our last party. It’s so simple to make, you just need to make sure you have the freshest tuna available (we purchased ours at Whalesbone’s fish counter, but Whole Foods also has beautiful tuna steaks. We bought two big pieces and we got 24 mini cups of tartare out of it. We marinated the fish for 2-3 hours before serving it, and added a layer of guacamole at the bottom of the cups for extra taste (P.S Whole Foods makes the BEST guacamole, there’s really no need for your to make it yourself, and that will save you a lot of cutting and prep time)
3. Mini Chicken and Waffles (click for recipe)
I didn’t use a recipe for this hors d’oeuvre, but I included one that seemed pretty simple. Just batter and fry your chicken however you like (or for a shortcut, just bake some breaded chicken fingers!), toast some mini waffles and have a cup of maple syrup ready for guests to add to their bite before eating (I don’t suggest putting the maple syrup on before, the waffles will get soggy). Another kid-friendly hors d’oeuvre, but definitely a favourite amongst adults too! The fried chicken can be left in the warming drawer for 2-3 hours before serving, but not the waffles, they will get hard!
4. Cheese Lollipops (click for recipe)
My plan was to use this great recipe for my cheese lollipops. But when I was shopping for my party at Whole Foods, I found prepared cheese balls in their cheese fridge, and it was basically the same recipe that I was about to tackle, so obviously I saved myself the effort and bought the cheese ball, made mini balls, added crushed pecans, stuck in my pretzel and called it a day! Quick tip: I would add the pretzel only an hour or two before your party so the end doesn’t get soft. The balls themselves can be prepared in advance and kept cool until you’re ready to turn them into lollipops!
5. Beef Martini Bar
The piece de resistance….The ultimate crowd pleaser….and literally the easiest thing ever. I used to work in catering (I did the event planning, not the cooking!) and we served a beef martini back in the day that was super popular, so I can’t take all the credit for this amazing concept, but I took it up a notch and turned it into a DIY martini bar, which is super fun at cocktail parties.
All you need are martini glasses, mashed potatoes (recipe below), beef tenderloin cut into bite size pieces (assume 4-5 oz per person to be safe), and toppings (I used pancetta, chives, crumbled blue cheese, crumbled feta, butter, horseradish and gravy)
I kept my mashed potatoes in the warming drawer for 3 hours once they we ready and we cooked the beef right before serving.
And this is by far the best mashed potato recipe you could make, trust me. It’s my mother’s recipe and it produces the silkiest, creamiest, and most delicious base for your martinis! Enjoy!
-Boil a large bag of peeled and washed potatoes until soft, then drain
-Beat with electric hand mixer, then add half a container of garlic and herb cream cheese and a stick of salted butter
-Once mixed in nicely, add milk or cream to achieve a nice creamy smooth consistency
-Add chopped chives to garnish and keep in warming drawer until ready to serve!
For your sweet tooth, I present the cutest little cookies you can make: Melting Snowmen! I made these for the first time last week for a cookie exchange and they were surprisingly easy to make, and tasted amazing! I doubled the recipe and got 100 cookies out of it, so we will be eating snowmen until the new year!
Chocolate Melting Snowmen (click for recipe)
Some helpful tips:
-I just bought cookie icing from the grocery store to save some time, and it worked out really well. you need one tube to frost about 50 cookies. If not, you can buy the candy coating at Michaels.
-the little hats tend to slide off the cookie after you put them on, so I just moved them toward the middle of the cookie as opposed to close to the sides
-I used a tweezer to apply the eyes (dark grey edible beads I bought at Michaels) and the nose (orange sprinkles I bought at Bulk Barn)
-If there’s no time to bake, just frost store-bought cookies!
Here is a picture of my cookies, you can see that they look pretty similar to the picture on the recipe, which is always exciting!