Sizzle Simmer Sauté Sylvania – Stock the pantry for holiday entertaining

Jennifer Alexander Ruple

When it comes to entertaining during the holidays, there’s no such thing as being too prepared. Take it easy on yourself by stocking your pantry and refrigerator with a handful of essentials to ensure you’ll be ready for any event such as the annual office potluck, the ornament exchange with the girls, or the neighborhood cocktail party. Here are some ideas for what to keep on hand and a couple of recipes for quick and easy holiday hors d’oeuvres.

Make baked brie with a round of brie cheese, puff pastry and fruit preserves. Wrap up pepperoni, shredded cheese and other pizza toppings in refrigerated pizza dough for a quick stromboli. Serve it with a favorite marinara sauce. Pull together a festive charcuterie board by arranging an assortment of meats, cheeses, olives, spreads and crackers on a large board or platter. Garnish with fresh herbs such as rosemary and thyme.

With a little planning, you’ll be ready in a pinch for any holiday gathering.

The Well-Stocked Pantry

  • Puff pastry, crescent rolls and pizza dough
  • Mustards – Dijon, honey and whole grain
  • Assorted crackers, crisps and breadsticks
  • Jarred olives, peppers and gherkins
  • Fruit preserves, chutneys and spreads
  • Meats – salami, pepperoni and prosciutto
  • Cheeses – brie, cream cheese and Boursin
  • Nuts – Marcona almonds, pine nuts and walnuts
  • Fresh herbs for garnishing – rosemary, thyme and Italian parsley

Holiday Olive Wreath

Dress up the hors d’oeuvres buffet with a wreath assembled from a ring of fresh rosemary and topped with gourmet olives, mozzarella cheese balls and cherry tomatoes. For the best selection of olives, visit the olive bar at a local grocery store. You’ll find many varieties and olives stuffed with cheeses and meats such as feta, gorgonzola and prosciutto. Since the olives are sold by the pound, you’ll only pay for the amount you need.

  • Fresh rosemary
  • 1 pound mixed olives, pitted
  • 1 dozen mozzarella cheese balls
  • 1 dozen cherry tomatoes
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

On a round plate, arrange fresh rosemary sprigs in a circle. Top rosemary with olives, cheese and tomatoes in a random pattern. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Petite Spinach Pies

The best reason to keep puff pastry on hand, these tasty and adorable spinach pies are two bites of deliciousness. 24 appetizers

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Toasted pine nuts for garnish

Heat oven to 400 F. Coat a mini muffin pan with non-stick baking spray.

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together softened cream cheese, egg, oil and dill. Add spinach, onion, feta cheese, salt and pepper and nutmeg. Stir to combine.

Cut pastry sheet into 24 squares. Add pastry squares to muffin tin stretching them slightly and pushing them into the bottom of the pan.

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Evenly divide spinach filling among the cups.

Bake for 12-14 minutes or until pastry is puffy and cheese is browned. Allow pies to cool slightly before removing them from the pan. Top each pie with a sprinkle of pine nuts, and serve immediately.

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