Holiday 1.2.3.

We entertained this weekend, twice. I was prepared with the first. Had a menu designed earlier in the week. Grocery shopping was completed by Thursday. The second was less planned. The menu, less deliberate. Still, I felt prepared. A quick sort through my PANTRY ESSENTIALS. Some creative blending of refrigerator ingredients. Dinner was served with no less care than what was expended the night before.

Holiday entertaining should be easy (as 1.2.3). A party's menu should include AT LEAST one pre-made item (or better yet, store-bought). For the "over-achievers" who feel obligated to make everything, here are three quick and easy recipes, that can be prepared ahead (even over a couple of days), and will put any holiday menu over the top.


1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon water
1/4 teaspoon salt

ONE: Combine sugar and water in a pan. Swirl until sugar dissolves. Boil until sugar turns a light amber, about 4-5 minutes. 
TWO: Add almonds and salt until almonds are toasted and caramel turns dark amber.
THREE: Pour onto a plate to allow cool. Break into shards. Can keep in an air tight container for a few days.

USES: Crumbled on salads. Served with cheeses and pâté. 

1 stick butter, room temperature
1/3 cup blue cheese, room temperature
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary

ONE: Combine butter, blue cheese and rosemary in a bowl until blended.
TWO: Lay out a large square piece of saran wrap. Scoop the blended butter in the center of the wrap. THREE: Form a tight log and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours. Will keep in the refrigerator for a week.

USES: Atop steaks. Melted on popcorn. Spread on toasted bread.


zest strips of citrus (lemon, orange, lime, grapefruit)

ONE: Drop a few strips of citrus into each compartment of an ice cube tray. Freeze.

USES: The "wow" factor on any holiday bar.

Any quick and easy holiday tricks you have up your sleeve?

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